THE FAIZI PATH
The Faizi Path is the path of the Faizi Order, founded by its sole teacher Waqar Faiz. The teachings of the Faizi Path, like all orders of Sufism, are deeply and completely rooted in the words and actions of the final messenger Nabi Pak Muhammad ﷺ and they allow the spiritual adherent to experience the stations of spiritual wayfaring, sometimes at an incredibly intense pace. This intensity has to do with Murshid Waqar Faiz’s place in spirituality as well as his place in time as a spiritual guide calling the people of this time to the path of the Divine.
We live in an era that is physically over 1400 years after the earthly life of Nabi Pak Muhammad ﷺ. As time moves forward, the physical path left to us by Nabi Pak Muhammad ﷺ remains incumbent upon all adherents, but the spiritual path itself becomes easier. Nabi Pak Muhammad ﷺ once said to his companions:
You live in an era in which anyone who abandons even one-tenth of what he has been given will be destroyed. Then, a time will come in which anyone who performs even one-tenth of what he has been given will be saved. (Tirmidhi)
In this manner, Nabi Pak Muhammad ﷺ accounted for those who would come after his time and follow his path, and the Faizi Order is part of this accounting. It is a Sufi order that starts with Murshid Waqar Faiz and goes through the Penultimate Master of Spirituality Hazrat Ali, who also physically lived over 1400 years ago and was the cousin and son-in-law of Nabi Pak Muhammad ﷺ. Spiritual travelers who are adherents to this order will the opportunity to experience spiritual realization and the stations of the Sufi path.
To be an adherent to this order, one must officially become a student by formally accepting Murshid Waqar Faiz as his teacher and sole spiritual guide. For these students, the path is divided into three distinct and consecutive phases:
1. Strengthening of the Soul
2. Service to creation
3. Journeying to the Divine
No single phase can be completed without first traversing the phase before it.
The First Phase: Strengthening the Soul
Murshid Waqar Faiz says, “In order to strengthen our souls and heal our inner illnesses, we must work on spirituality in this physical life. There are many methods that can be used to strengthen our souls.”
The first phase of strengthening the soul involves litanies. These are words or phrases, taken from Nabi Pak Muhammad ﷺ, that when repeated have an augmentative effect on the soul. Nabi Pak Muhammad ﷺ is the Creator’s ultimate mercy on mankind, and each human soul longs for this essential mercy. Consequently, these words have the effect of increasing the light of the Creator on the soul of the human who recites them, and the soul in turn absorbs this light and grows like a plant that absorbs water.
Murshid Waqar Faiz tells us that all souls are created the same, but depending on how we live our lives, the souls in the bodies of the living have varying levels of strength and ability. Some souls are like birds caged within the confines of the body. They do not get the chance to even gain any extra light because the person is engrossed in his worldly desires. Some souls receive Divine light, but not enough to come out of that cage. They are like dimly burning candles that shine some light on the inner darkness. Some souls are brightly shining because of the Divine light they regularly receive as a result of the regular worship or spiritual activities of the person. These souls are restless because they desire to journey to their Creator but are still caged by the confines of the body. Some souls gain enough strength to travel and move about, shedding the body during sleep just as the body sheds its clothing. Finally, some souls are so strong that they are constantly traveling and ascending. These are the souls of those who walk the path and become close to their Creator.
This first phase is when the soul of the student develops this strength of the soul and traverses these levels using the various litanies provided by the spiritual guide. The guide will provide a particular litany for a certain amount of time, and when this litany is completed with consistency and determination, the next litany is given. Each different litany will cause the soul to take in the Divine light with greater and greater intensity so that the soul is given greater and greater strength. In this manner, the levels of the strength of the soul are traversed.
In this phase, dreams are quite common. Dreams can often be the result of the soul traveling while the body is asleep. They can contain wisdoms or messages that help the student develop in the path and reach spiritual realization. These messages, however, are not easily understood. Dreams are shared with the spiritual guide, who interprets them and provides the exact wisdom or lesson that the student needs.
At this point, spiritual travel begins to become possible for the seeker. Murshid Waqar Faiz says, “Always remember that the journey of our soul arriving, transcending, and returning is entirely and only made possible with the Divine Light of the Creator.” The strength of the soul given through this light is needed for spiritual travel, so that the soul has the energy and wherewithal to return to its source.
The Second Phase: Service to Creation
Once the soul has been strengthened, it is ready for the work of the Divine. Murshid Waqar Faiz says, “Within yourself, there is always a war between the soul and the self (nafs). When the soul is weak, the self overpowers it and controls the body according to its own selfish desires. When the soul is strong, it is operated in accordance with the Divine Order.”
This is the phase where true spiritual work begins and spiritual realization is attained. It is the point at which the guide begins the student’s journey to build a relationship with the Divine and acknowledge the Divine Order.
Murshid Waqar Faiz says, “Private worship and spiritual practices can allow one to reach his goal in this path, but in my own experience, the fastest way to reach the Creator, along with private worship, is through service to creation.”
What exactly is service to creation? Murshid Waqar Faiz gives us his Three Tenets of Service as follows:
1. Feeding others
2. Clothing others
3. Comforting others
These are the actions that the Creator Himself loves and favors. Murshid Waqar Faiz tells us that this path is one of friendship. How does one become close to his friend? By engaging in the same activities as that friend. He is the One who feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, and comforts the distressed.
There is, however, one other thing that the Divine is constantly engaged in, and it is the most prominent practice of this phase. He says of Himself:
Truly, God and His angels send durud upon the Nabi. O those who believe, send durud and salam upon him!
(Quran, 33: 56)
Durud means sending blessings. They are sent upon Nabi Pak Muhammad ﷺ constantly by the Divine, and the student is required to constantly recite them upon him as well. This practice is not exclusive to this phase; it is practiced in every phase and at every stage and station of this path. To build a relationship with the Divine, acknowledging and revering His final messenger are of utmost necessity and importance. The Divine is present with all of creation, but the completion of this presence, along with completion of the Divine Light and beautification of the soul, is found with the final messenger Nabi Pak Muhammad ﷺ and can only be attained by accepting, loving, and revering him.
The Three Tenets are first practiced in an outward capacity.
The seeker begins with practices, given by the guide, associated with the first two tenets, feeding and clothing. These practices start giving a new type of strength to the soul. Murshid Waqar Faiz says, “Nourishment for the body is found in feeding one’s self. Nourishment for the soul is found in feeding others.” This new strength prepares one for the Third Tenet, comforting.
The Third Tenet requires sitting and listening and is the most difficult of the Three Tenets. When one practices the Third Tenet, one takes the first step toward the station of spiritual realization. Murshid Waqar Faiz says, “Listening to others is done for the purpose of understanding them, but the majority of us listen just to reply with our own thoughts. If we are lost in ourselves and cannot understand others, then we can never hope to move past ourselves and focus on the Divine.” The Third Tenet can only be properly mastered by the guides of this path. Murshid Waqar Faiz says, “The criterion for being a complete guide is being a complete listener.”
The various activities of this phase in accordance with the Three Tenets, along with durud, are given to the student in order for him to build a relationship with the Divine. As this relationship develops, the seeker attains to the station of spiritual realization (ihsas). Spiritual realization begins with recognition of the Divine Presence and Order and then extends to creation. Just as the student recognizes the Divine Light in himself, he begins to see that Divine Light in others. His character traits become purified and he begins to see others as holders of the Divine Light instead of himself. Murshid Waqar Faiz says, “A knower of the Divine considers everyone other than himself to be a knower of the Divine.” The student begins to realize his own mistakes and seeks forgiveness for them. He also gains the strength to let go of grudges and forgive others. Murshid Waqar Faiz says, “The best worship is charity, and the best charity is to forgive others.”
Now the Three Tenets begin to take on an inner dimension. The student, acknowledging others to be better than him, begins to listen intently to the words of others, and finds the wisdom of the Divine in his everyday activities and routine. He begins to realize the statement of Murshid Waqar Faiz, “The Divine is found among the people.” He begins to realize the spiritual feeding found in sharing wisdom, the spiritual clothing found in beautifying one’s character, and the spiritual comfort found in listening to others without saying a word, allowing the Divine Action and Order to take place. He begins to see this Divine Order in his life as well as in the world. He begins to surrender his own will and allow the Will of the Divine to cover him. His actions can eventually become a conduit for Divine Activity. He begins to rely less on what is seen and more on what is unseen. He realizes the truth behind the words, “One who knows himself knows his Lord.” The self begins to become subdued and the soul begins to become prominent.
Finally, this station of spiritual realization reaches its zenith when the student, having acknowledged the Light of the Divine in others, finds that this Light is most prevalent and intense with the one who shaped and molded him along this path: the spiritual guide. At this point, the student has completed the second phase and is ready for the third phase.
The Third Phase: Journeying to the Divine
This phase of the Faizi Path is where true spiritual journeying begins. Having realized the initial love for the guide, the student becomes a true seeker of the Divine. This love is ignited in part by realizing the reality of the constant love, care, and attention given by the guide throughout the first two phases. It stems from a relationship of consistently seeking guidance and consultation.
This phase contains almost all of the major stages and stations of the path. The three main waypoints of this phase are as follows:
1. Removal of the Burden of Self
2. Unity of Mercy
3. Presence of the Divine Essence
The first waypoint is absolutely essential for spiritual travel. Murshid Waqar Faiz says, “The Sufi is the one who travels to the Divine Essence after removing his own self. We have our own desires, our own ‘self’, and the Divine has His own Self. We can never hope to reach the Divine Self if we are always engrossed in our own ‘self’. This is the Burden of Self, and we cannot take a single step in this journey without removing it.”
The Burden of Self is fueled by self-love, and so that love must be cut in order to remove this burden. The poison of self-love can only be cut with the antidote of complete love, and it is only through this love, along with the assistance of the guide, that the self can be completely subdued.
What is complete love? To understand and attain complete love for the Creator, we must first look at the Creator’s love for us. His Mercy and Light are falling on all of His creation, but when we choose to take a step towards Him, this Light and Mercy exponentially increase. Nabi Pak Muhammad ﷺ tells us that the Almighty says:
When My servant comes towards Me by a handspan, I go toward him by a forearm’s length. When he comes towards Me by a forearm’s length, I go towards him by a full arm’s length. When he comes towards Me walking, I go towards him running. (Bukhari)
This Light and Mercy become laser-focused when someone places his hand in the hand of a guide and becomes a student of the path. Now, the Light and Mercy that were generally flowing over him beam directly into his heart. This is done by means of the chain of masters, or Silsila, of this path. The student is specially linked with the Divine through a chain of masters, starting with Murshid Waqar Faiz, continuing to the Penultimate Master of Sufism Hazrat Ali, and ending with the final messenger, the founder of Sufism, Nabi Pak Muhammad ﷺ.
This Silsila is the sole means by which the student receives spiritual energy from the Creator during all phases of the path, but at this phase it takes on a special significance. Having attained spiritual realization, the seeker begins to actively focus on the Silsila, and the remembrance of these masters becomes his primary practice. The seeker at this waypoint experiences various stages of love for these masters until he reaches absolute love for the Creator. This is why when the seeker delves further into love for these masters, he actually receives assistance from the Divine. When the seeker remembers the masters of the path in this manner, his love becomes complete.
To define this connection as love is itself inadequate, as it cannot be learned from books. Similarly, it cannot be understood as what we see of love in the physical world.
Love for everything other than the Divine becomes like idols for the soul, and these idols will only serve to distract and stop the seeker on his path to his Lord. Love for the Almighty, however, is what breaks these idols and frees up the soul to move towards its Creator.
When the seeker’s love is complete, his Burden of Self is removed, and he becomes ready for the second waypoint. When the seeker reaches Unity of Mercy, he begins to directly experience, with assistance from the guide, the complete Divine Mercy that is embodied by the founder of Sufism Nabi Pak Muhammad ﷺ. This Mercy, like the Divine Light, was always present with the student, but the seeker at this waypoint begins to perceive it more intensely and completely. He begins to see the completion of the Divine Activity and Attributes that he had begun to witness during the second phase. The soul begins to absorb this special Mercy in a unique way, like a polished mirror that completely reflects the light that shines on it. He witnesses the completion of even his own inner peace and his character traits. He begins to witness this complete Mercy in all of creation.
The only concrete practice at this waypoint is durud, as it contains the remembrance of the Paragon of Mercy Nabi Pak Muhammad ﷺ.
Once Unity of Mercy is reached, the seeker is ready for the final major waypoint. Murshid Waqar Faiz says, “The goal of this path is very high. We must look beyond not only our earthly desires, but also heavenly delights. We cannot even afford to become lost in Divine Attributes. Our goal is nothing short of the pure Essence of the Divine Himself.” It is at this waypoint that the Almighty ceases to be just a concept and begins to be a true and living presence in the life of the seeker.
The primary practice of this waypoint is pure remembrance of the Divine without any Name or Attribute. This remembrance is done with the heart after it has been cleansed of the Burden of Self and illuminated with complete love, and this remembrance then spreads to the entire body and soul. It is at this point where, via the assistance of the guide, the love between the seeker and the Divine reaches its maturation. Nabi Pak Muhammad ﷺ tells us that the Almighty says:
When I love [My servant], I become his hearing by which he hears, his sight by which he sees, his hand by which he strikes, and his foot by which he walks… (Bukhari)
The Divine Presence completely envelopes the seeker. His heart becomes truly alive and fully engaged in remembrance of its Creator without any invocation or prompting. This is the waypoint where the truth of Divine realities is witnessed, and true knowledge of the Divine (ma`rifat) is attained.
The seeker started this path as a student who put his hand in the hand of the guide. When the stations are traversed, and the inner idols are destroyed, and the self is totally subdued, the guide leads the seeker by that same hand into the presence of the Divine, effectively bringing the soul to its Creator.
The Divine is by necessity unlimited, and so is love. The deeper one wishes to delve into the Divine, the deeper his love must be. The guide takes the truly determined and consistent seeker evermore into the depths of Divine Truth and Reality, and the seeker himself can become a wellspring of spiritual knowledge and wisdom. At this point, the Divine Himself sets the path for the seeker, with his hand remaining in the hand of his guide, and the journey continues on and on, past this life and into the Afterlife, that which will remain forever.