The Shaykh of the Tariqa, the Imam of the people of Shari’a, and the Paragon of the People of Haqiqa, sayyidi ash-shaykh al-imam al-Azhari, Saleh al-Ja’fari al-Husayni, said in his book Al-Ilhaam an-Naafi’ li-Kulli Qaasid (The Beneficial Inspiration for Every Seeker):
Know my brother, may Allah guide you and guide us: That that shaykhs of the path say: “Obedience brings us together, and disobedience seperates us”.
And what greater catastrophe is worse on the mureed then separation between himself and his shaykh?
For the shaykh is the door to the Prophetic Presence (al-Hadra an-Nabawiyya), and the Prophetic Presence is the door to the Holy Presence (Al-Hadra al-Qudsiyya), and he who knows both doors, enters into the presence of both. [Sayyidi ash-shaykh Saleh al-Ja’fari, radi Allahu anhu, has said about that]:
فبابك للمختار شيخك يا فتى * به الوصل بالمختار في حضرة القرب
وبالسيد المختار ترقى إلى العلا * ويدنيك من رب الوجود بلا حجب
Your door to the Chosen One is your Shaykh, oh fataa!
Through him is your connection to the Chosen One, in the Hadra of Nearness
And by the Master, the Chosen One, you rise up high
And he brings you close to the Lord of Existence, without veils!
What I meant by the Shaykh, is the Shaykh of the Tariq who is in the Barzakh. As for the one from whom you took the awraad, he is your door to the Shaykh of the Awrad, and without him arrival becomes very difficult/impossible. And it is enough in him the uprightness (istiqaama) of his outward (zaahir), in doing what is obligatory and leaving what is forbidden, because his obedience (to Allah) does not benefit you, and his disobedience (to Allah) does not harm you.
And the connection of your actions, sayings, and this figurative/metaphorical shaykh of yours is only to your real shaykh, who has idhn (permission) from the Prophet (al-Hadra an-Nabawiyya).
A Beneficial Story:
( A long time ago) I saw in my sleep while I was in the noble Azhar a man coming to the Azhar, and a sign appeared to me from sayyidi as-sayyid Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, radi Allahu anhu, to receive him. After the vision, the man came, and he was from Algeria, 60 years old, and wearing a worn out Maghrebi cloak. I had brought a white thobe from the Sudan that is called a Shiqqa and taken it to the tailor, and told him to make a Maghrebi cloak from it, but he stalled for two months. But when I took this man with me to the tailor, he said to me: This is the owner of the cloak, not you! Then he finished it on the same day, and I gave it to him. Then I said to him: What is your name? He said: Ahmad al-Jilani. I said: What is your tariq? He said: Qadiri.
He stayed in the Azhar months, fasting the day, and worshipping at night, and sitting by himself, seperating himself from the people. I entered upon him once, having made the intention in my heart to seek some secrets from him, and found him sitting facing the Qibla, repeating the name “Allah” silently and stretching it, and his tears coming out of his eyes. So I sat to his right side. He turned to me and looked at me with anger and said to me: Because you were generous to me, and served me, you want me to give you a secret from the secrets of Allah? I have nothing to give you, there is no idhn.
Then his anger quietened and he said to me: My son, because you were generous to me I will guide you to something greater than the secret that you want:
Know that the shaykh of every tariq has permission from sayyidna Rasool Allah, salla Allahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, and so the maddad (spiritual sustenance, support) for his mureeds is in his awraad. Stick to the awraad of the shaykh to whom you are affiliated, because the maddad is in them, not in any other. Do not seek a shaykh or a wird other than his.
And the Principles of the Sufis are confined in these kamaalaat (completions):
1- Fanaa’ in the shaykh.
2- If he saw that from you he would take you/present you to the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam.
3- If the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, saw from you fanaa’ in him, salla Allahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, he would take you/present you to Allah Most High.
This man then traveled to al-Madina al-Munawwara and stayed in it a while, then returned to his country, and died there around the year 1370 A.H., Allah’s mercy and pleasure be upon him.
And it is a great catastrophe for the mureed to deny his immediate shaykh, or his shaykh who is in the Barzakh, and he should have complete acceptance/surrender.