The spiritual meeting opens with a collective recitation, in a loud and rhythmic voice, of the wird, sometimes called hizb or wazīfah, which is the litany proper to the brotherhood. Made up essentially of a series of formulas taken from the Quran which individually are repeated a certain number of times - 3, 7, 10, 29, 33, 100, or 1000 times - the wird represents a symbol for the fuqarā' of their connection with the initiatic chain (silsilah) going back to the Prophet, with the master who brought them into the tarīqah being the most recent link. To recite the wird is, in a sense, to renew the pact made with the shaykh, with the Prophet, and with God Himself. And it is also, symbolically at least, to traverse the entire distance of the spiritual path, the order in which the formulas are arranged having been conceived to retrace the principal steps to the approach toward God.
Thus, the wird of the Qadiriyyah, the first to be recorded from the great Sufi orders, founded in the sixth/ twelfth century by 'Abd al-Qādīr al-Jilani, like that of the Shāhiliyyah (seventh/ thirteenth century), always includes at least one hundred repetitions of the following formulas:
(1) the plea for forgiveness (istighfār), (2) the prayer upon the Prophet (Salāt 'ala'l-nabī), (3) the testimony of faith (Shahādah or haylalah). 21 These formulas correspond to fundamental spiritual attitudes which each aspirant to the mystical life must assimilate: (1) the station of fear of God (makhāfah), which implies repentance (tawbah) and renunciation of worldly pleasures (zuhd); (2) the station of love (mahabbah) which implies patience (sabr) and generosity (karam), qualities that were united in an exemplary fashion in the person ofProphet Mustafa (Allah bless him and give him peace); and (3) the station of gnosis (ma'rifah), that is, of discernment (furqān) and of concentration on the Divine Presence (muhāarah).
The Sufis also establish a concordance among these three formulas and the three stages of religion (al-dīn) mentioned in the hadith called "from Gabriel": the stage of islām`, which engages the external faculties (jawārih) and consists in carrying out the prescriptions of the religious Law (Sharī'ah) and in abstaining from that which it forbids; the stage of imān, which gives access to the internal faculties (bawātin), which asks for progress along the mystical path (tarīqah) and the total giving of oneself; and, finally, the stage of ihsān, wherein the Divine Light penetrates and illuminates the innermost souls of beings (sarā' ir), becoming the place where total Reality (Haqīqah) is unveiled. The first stage is that of the common people, the second that of the elite, the third that of the elect among the elite, the gnostics who have "attained" God (wźilūn).