This is the spiritual path of our master, the leader of the awliya of his time, the pillar relied-upon, the fountain of knowledge, the inheritor of secrets, al hajj al imam Imdadullah Al Makki Al Hanafi Al Chishti (May Allah be well-pleased with him).
His teachings were passed on through the faqih of our times, the storehouse of treasures, the qutb of the age, al ghawth, hakim al ummah wal imam al kabir, our master, Ashraf `Ali Thanawi (May Allah be well-pleased with him).
The Chishti-Imdadiyya-Ashrafiyya path links back to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) through a connected spiritual sanad (chain) via Imam Hasan al Basri (Allah be well-pleased with him). The knowledge of this chain is well known and thus will not be presented here. Those who seek it will find it without any trouble.
The Haqiqa of the Tariqa
This path is built on certain key principles, believing and following which – whether through ones verification or through taqlid – will remove ones troubles, confusions, and perverse dispositions that deviate from moral rectitude.
Firstly: In everything sought there are certain fundamental starting-points, goals, and supplements. In reality, the basis is seeking the goals themselves. The fundamental starting-points precede this, and are sought in so much as they are a means in achieving these goals. The supplements follow afterwards, but they are not sought in themselves nor as a means to achieve the actual goals.
In this path there are also fundamental starting-points, such as certain types of knowledge, goals that are primarily sought, which form the foundations upon which ones success and failure rests, and supplements whose non-existence does not entail failure and whose existence does not imply success.
Secondly: The fundamental starting points relate to knowledge; Knowledge of the essential points of the religion, for example, fiqh, or the specific practices assigned by the shaykh, such as daily reading, and so forth. The seeker should inform his shaykh from time to time about his progress, such as the completion of his assigned reading or non-completion.
As for the goals, they are of two types. Firstly, the asl is to please Allah and attain love (hubb), closeness (qurb) and knowledge (ma`arifa) of Him. Secondly, are the actions that are sought (a`amal maqsuda), which are further divided into two types.  Those that relate to the limbs, such as prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, and other acts of obedience among the necessary and recommended acts. This concerns fiqh.  Those that relate to the heart and the nafs, such as sincerity, love, patience, thankfulness, consigning ones affairs (to Allah), and doing away with blameworthy traits that are contrary to the above. This concerns suluk. Both the actions related to the limbs and the heart/nafs are considered within the voluntary capacity of humans and are referred to as maqamat. The utmost extremity and degree of these acts is connection with Allah, ma`arifa, and ridha bil haq. This is the essence of the path as alluded to in the beginning.
The supplements are certain states experienced while traversing the path, such as ecstasy (wajd), intuitive perception (dhawq), intense yearning (shawq), extreme despondency (qabdh) and elation (bast), immersion (istigraq), intoxication (sukr), and so forth. The appearances of such states are not within the voluntary control of the seeker. If such a state arises then it is praiseworthy. If it does not then there is no harm in it, nor does it decrease ones capacity to reach the goal. It is said:
المقامات مكاسب و الأحوال مواحب
Thirdly: The above points were the general guidelines. The particular details embrace these general guidelines of which the first is seeking out a shaykh whose position will be like that of a doctor, making the seeker like a patient. The seeker informs the shaykh of his conditions and based on that the shaykh prescribes certain ‘medicines’, upon whose usage the seeker informs the shaykh again of his condition. After this, whatever the shaykh prescribes to the seeker should be carried out. This is how the matter continues. Thus, the two main commands in this are informing and then following (itla` wal ittiba`)
The reason for the need of the shaykh is due to the ignorance on the part of the general populace regarding the inward states and conditions. Even if one does understand such states, he does not understand properly the methods of purifying the nafs (self). Even if he understands the methods, his nafs makes it difficult for him to implement them effectively. This is why a kamil shaykh (complete; achieved) is required for he understands best the conditions of the nafs and its reality, the most effective methods to subdue it, the best ways to facilitate reaching Allah, and so forth, based on the individual conditions of each seeker.
It is a fallacy to think one can achieve such knowledge simply through reading books just as it is fallacious to think that one can master the science of hadith or fiqh without a teacher. This is why Imam Junayd al Baghdadi said:
سمعت الجنيد يقول : المريد الصادق غني من العلماء # وقال أيضا : سمعت الجنيد يقول : إذا أراد الله بالمريد خيرا : أوقعه إلى الصوفيه ومنعه صحبة القراء
-“When Allah desires great goodness for the seeker, He makes him flock to the Sufis and prevents him from accompanying those who (merely) read books.”
And May Allah Facilitate Our Way To Him
(Main Sources: Anfaase `Isa & Al Takashaf)