Ships sail on the water. If there is no water, then there is no ship. Because ships can’t sail on land. It is a sea vehicle. So if there is Shariat somewhere, then there is haqiqat there or if there is haqiqat, then there is Shariat as well.
Shariat is like a ship. Haqiqat(=Truth) is like sea. They are not separate from each other. However the limit of Shariat is like the space the ship occupies at sea. The life of the people on the ship is limited. Because they live on the ship. If they leave the ship, then they are drowned.
On that subject Yunus says,
Shariat is a ship, Truth is its sea
Many of them didn’t leave the ship and dive into sea
Boys of Shariat justified their own ideas
However the wise weren’t deceived by their egos/such things
Shariat is a ship but the sea below the ship is haqiqat (=truth). Many of the people didn’t leave the ship and dive into sea; in other words, they didn’t become aware of or experience the Truth.
Here sea refers to heart. The durr-i akbar (= big, unique pearl) which is at the bottom of the sea refers to the spiritual joy in the heart, in other words Sufism.
‘There is a pearl at the bottom of the sea. You should dive into the sea to take it. If you dive, then you should take the unique pearl from there.’
Yunus says, ‘ Boys of Shariat ’ so he likens them to young boys. In fact they are not young. They are middle-aged or old people, but Yunus sees them as young boys. He says, ‘Boys of Shariat justified their own ideas ’.They claimed that their idea was correct.
Hodjas always discuss with each other. I am among them. They say, ‘ What you say is not religiously permissible. Mine is permissible. It should be so.’ All their ideas depend upon a source. They are right in some way but they are full of egos. They try to prove that they know more and better. Of course, not all of them. Yunus expresses this by saying, ‘Boys of Shariat justified their own ideas’.
Those who attain truth are different. What is the difference? They weren’t deceived by their egos. They dived into the ocean of spiritualism and left their egos. They didn’t judge each others’ ideas instead they searched the Truth.
Shariat is limited. It is inside the ship. When you leave the ship, there is no bound. It is boundless. The knowledge of the Shariat is perfect. One can not attain haqiqat without Shariat. I occasionally said this. Now it is time to say it again. Some fanatics of Sufism say, ‘ We passed through the stage of Shariat. Now our way is the way of haqiqat (=reality) and marifat. We left Shariat behind. ‘These are wrong and incoherent words. This is a mistake, a sin . Without a body, soul cannot exist. If there isn’t body, there isn’t soul .
Body is Shariat and the soul is haqiqat. They are not apart from each other. Haqiqat and Shariat are within each other like the body and soul. How can they be separated? Thinking Shariat apart from Haqiqat is a great mistake which is that of ignorance. It is not knowing Shariat and Haqiqat completely. Mother Semiha Ayverdi who was the disciple of Hazrat Kenan Rýfai and who tries to keep the Turkish Islam culture alive in her works expresses this truth with the following words,
‘I don’t know why we think the material and the spiritual, which were created together and which complete each other, are separate and we act as if we are our own worst enemy. Those who don’t know themselves are the biggest enemy of themselves and those who know themselves are the most loyal friend of themselves.’
This is the vital point. Material and spiritual. Material refers to the Shariat and the spiritual refers to the haqiqat. Wherever there is material, there is spiritual. Likewise the ships’ being found where there is sea.
Each material comprises spiritual. Man is an ocean of spiritualism. As Ibrahim Haqqý Arzurumi says,
If you know your value in the ocean of spiritualism
You can realise how precious you are
Man is appointed as God’s representative. He is the Khalif of God and has the ocean of spiritualism inside.
On Shariat and haqiqat Hazrat Gaibi says,
Neither be a divine ecstatic and be mistaken for Shariat
Nor be the beloved of God and go forward in Haqiqat
Not being mistaken for Shariat means not making a mistake and not going forward in Haqiqat means staying in Reality.
My master Hodja Mustafa Effendi ( k.s.)’ s sublime words on that subject are the clear expression of the Shariat’s and Haqiqat’s being together.
Our path is not without Shariat
We are not without Marifat (=true wisdom)
We are not away from Haqiqat (=reality)
We are the nightingales of Shabani
In another Nutku Sharif Hazrat Gaibi says,
Purify your body, enlighten your heart
Sure you’ll burn if you don’t burn for love
How can body be cleaned? Through Shariat. There is dirt which can be cleaned with water. Shariat removes them. Water cleans them. Because they are outside. What about pride, passion, hatred, jealousy, grudge, anger in the heart and especially thinking oneself superior than others. These feelings can’t be cleaned with water. Because they are inside. One should feel repentance and cry a lot to remove them. Asking God’s forgiveness and tears are requested.
The pilgrims’ stoning devil symbolizes this. Asking God’s forgiveness, repenting and tears are the traits of the second stage which is Lawwama (=blaming Nafs). Lawwama is derived from the word ‘Lawm’. It means not being pleased with oneself and feeling sorry for his previous sins. He says, ‘ It’s a pity! I mustn’t have done that sort of things. Why did I do them?’ As I said before pilgrims’ throwing stone to devil is the behaviour of second stage in Sufi Way. The three stone pillars which are big, middle and small devil are only symbols.
Where are these stones thrown? To one’s own Nafs. He stones himself for his past sins. Each of these stones represent the hadji’s asking God’s pardon thousand times, his repentance and tears. This continues up to a certain point. The spiritual stages’ being seven is based on a reason. Seven stages are like a seven grade school. One’s fulfilling what is required by Shariat and his being aware of the reality of Sufi way spiritually, emotionally, mentally is called Sufism. It is a path of love. It is cleaning heart. The disciple gets purified fully. He passes through a Purified Nafs (=Nafs-i Safiyya). Then he attains divine perfections through his good intensions, the grace of God, intercession of Prophet and support of Pirs.
Let us return to our original subject by repeating the first lines in the Nutki Sharif of Yunus.
Shariat is a ship, Truth is its sea
Many of them didn’t leave the ship and dive into sea
That is to say, many of them remained within the limits of Shariat. However, one should leave the ship and dive into the bottom of the sea to experience tafakkur (=reflection), tazakkur (=lightning remembrance of Allah) and Divine love. There is a story related to this subject in Masnawi;
‘A Mollah (= a learned man, a doctor of the law of Shariat) gets on a ship. The ships sails through sea. The mollah has lots of knowledge which he gained from hodjas in madrasah. He is in a gown and a turban.
When the convents were still open, mollahs were able to wear a turban and a gown in their daily lives. The mollah wants to talk to someone. He wants to show how knowledgeable he is and feeds his ego. He goes to the pilothouse? and starts to talk to the captain. He says,
‘Peace be upon you (= salamun alaykum)!’
The captain says, ‘ Hail to you(= alaykum salam)!’
He asks, ‘Did you ever study accidence and syntax, captain?’
The Captain says sadly,
‘No my hodja. I started to work on that ship when I was small. I fastened hawsers. I cleaned the ship. Then I became the captain of this ship. I didn’t understand anything what you said. What is accidence and syntax?
The Mollah says, ‘You know, it is Arabic grammar? ’
Captain says, ‘Sorry, I have no idea about such things.’
Then the mollah says, ‘If you don’t know grammar, you’ve wasted half your life.”
Captain says, ‘ It’s a pity. But what can I do? This didn’t fall to lot.’
Captain has no claim. He is modest. The mollah is aware of this. He leaves the pilothouse. An hour passes. A storm breaks at sea and the ship starts to toss. The mollah shouts,
‘O the captain, we are sinking.’
Hodja asked the captain whether he studied accidence and syntax before and the captain said, ‘ No’. Now it is captain’s turn to ask a question. He asks,
‘Didn’t you ever study the science of perishing? Didn’t you learn how to perish?’
Molla says, ‘No’.
‘In that case’ the captain replies, ‘You’ve wasted all your life. I have spend half of it but you spent all of it wastefully.’
This is a Sufi teaching story . Knowing oneself or being aware of one’s nothingness are good deeds. The supreme aim of Sufism is ‘ the annihilation of self ’. One day my master Hodja Mustafa Effendi(k.s.) said,
‘My son, you and God can not both exist so annihilate your Self and leave it to God.’
Sufism entails leaving one self behind. It is to give self totally to God. It is to attain a high level of awareness and to know one’s belonging to God wholly. Did the Self belong to us before? It was given to us. It was God’s before. The goal of Sufism is to know this is so. When you understand this, you will become aware of your nothingness and know that there is nothing in the body , which came from the womb of mother (=rahm-i maden) , belongs to you and the soul is imprisoned in the body’s cage.
Hazrat Gaibi says, ‘The face of Man is the face of God.’ Self annihilation is to know this. If one doesn’t annihilate self, he can not be aware of truth. For self annihilation one should spend lots of effort, think a lot , remember God continuously and cry a lot.
We will end with the fine lines of great Sufi Hazrat Niyazi,
See that the word is the same
It is not steep, it is straight
All the faces are his face
Those who see him are amazed
Listen to the words of Niyazi
Nothing veils the face of God
Nothing is apart from God
This is hidden from the blind ones