Makhdum quotes from Abu Bakr’s (Allah have mercy on them) book Kibrit al Ahmar,
“and among the folk, the sharia is like a ship, the tariqa like the sea, and the haqiqa like a pearl; so whoever desires the pearl must board the ship, and embark on the sea, and only then will he arrive at the pearl. Whoever leaves this sequence, will not reach the pearl. So the first obligation on the seeker is the sharia, by which is intended what Allah and His messenger have commanded.
The Guidance for the Intelligent