Religion (Sharîat), the Path (Tarîqat), and Truth (Haqîqat).

Religion is a way laid down by a Prophet for his followers, with the help of God. All Prophets equally call the attention of men to Monotheism and Service. So there is but one Religion, one appeal, and one God. Their teachings cannot be contradictory, as they are based on Divine inspi­ration. The difference is merely verbal and formal, but there is no difference in the essentials. They are the [spiritual] physicians of humanity, and have prescribed religions for their respective followers according to their needs. Religion consists of a series of injunctions and prohibitions, and deals with monotheism, bodily purification, prayers, fasts, pilgrimages, the holy war, charity, and so on.

The Path is based on religion, and consists in seeking the essence of the forms [dealt with by religion], investigating them, purifying the heart, and cleansing the moral nature of impurities such as hypocrisy, avarice, polytheism, and so on. Religion deals with external conduct and bodily purification; the Path deals with the inner purifi­cation.

Religion is the soundness of external purifica­tion. Truth is the soundness of the inner condition. The one is liable to alterations, is the work of man and can be acquired; the other is immutable, the same from the time of Adam to the end of the world, and is the Divine Grace. The one is like matter, or the body. The other is like spirit, or the soul.—Letters 25 and 26.

[A higher stage is simply mentioned, in Fawâed-i-Ruknî, as Mârfat (the Divine Knowledge), without any detailed explanation. Thus, Sharîat corresponds to the exoteric religion of any given nation; Tarîqat to the Lesser Mysteries of the ancient Western mystic, or the Probationary Path of the Eastern mystic; Haqîqat to the Greater Mysteries of the ancient Western mystic, or the Path Proper of the Eastern mystic; Mârfat to the stage of the Perfect Man, or the Master—Trs.]