Maulana Professor Sayyid Suleman Ashraf Bihari (Allah have mercy on him) said,
Tasawwuf has two sections,
- Knowledge of spiritual endeavor (ilm e ma’amlah)
- Knowledge of revelation (of spiritual secrets) (ilm e mkashafa)
The knowledge of spiritual endeavor fulfills the purpose of scared law (Shariah). It entails that an individual develops within his soul a faculty that if he commits something sinful or is lax in performing a pious deed he feels a subjective pain similar to the one he experiences in physical sickness or with monetary loss. It is like the extreme (mental) suffering a noble, respectable and well known person feels if he has to beg for money.
After developing this ability even the thought of committing something inappropriate is spiritually distressing to this individual.
The second section, knowledge of revelations, consists of performance of specific pious actions and bearing hardships on one’s self (nafs) to develop in one’s spirituality special (malakuti) powers . This is to become worthy of receiving the hidden secrets of the sacred law (Shariah).
Al Sabeel 33-4
It is the first section that is the most important for novices like me and you.
The way to develop it is the islah (betterment) training done under the supervision of a spiritual mentor.