Monday, April 28, 2008

a sufi tale | dhikr of la ilaha illa Allah

la ilaha illa Allah1.
Once a Sheikh (sufi master) came to Istanbul and went to the governing authority to ask permission to open a tekke or sufi lodge. The Sheikh was asked how many dervish members he has and the reply was only one dervish, and the master himself.

The authority found it odd, yet an old rundown building was available and given to them. The Sheikh with one dervish accepted it with open heart.

Very soon there was enormous light coming from within the building, sound of dhikr could be heard every night and crowds would attend.

The governing authorities wanted to know what this man was doing to draw so many people to him and what was this light that was reported coming from the old building. So the Sheikh was summoned.

The officials said, "We are the educated ones and we want to question you to make sure you are doing things correctly."

- "All right", was the humble answer.

"What is the meaning of la ilaha illa Allah?" they asked.

- "Do you want the meaning as you understand it, or do you want the meaning as I understand it?"

"We know how we understand it. Tell us how you understand it."

- "For this I need my one dervish, the one I brought with me first time I came to this building."

They agreed and sat down as he and his dervish begin to make the dhikr. When he said, "la ilaha", his dervish disappeared. When he said, "illa Allah", he appeared. When he said, "la ilaha" again, they both disappeared. With "illa Allah" they reappeared.

The last time he said, "la ilaha", the entire room disappeared. And when he said, "illa Allah", everyone appeared.

He turned to face the officials and said, "This is how I understand the dhikr."

- adapted from the book, When You Hear Hoofbeats Think of a Zebra by Shems Friedlander.

2.
La ilaha, there is no God, if there is no God, then we do not exist; illa Allah, but Allah. And if Allah exists, He has created us and we appear.

3.
Major sufi practice is the dhikr (also written as zikr) or remembrance of the Divine by repeating Divine Name / sacred mantra such as La ilaha illa Allah, there is no reality except the Real.

The reason underlying all reasons is to come to closeness or nearness of the Divine. And conscious remembrance is a path that brings to closeness. There are people of higher stations who while doing dhikr have been transported from the Namer to the Named. We have to become like the boat of Noah, so that anyone who comes near us, anyone who touches us, can be helped.

4.
Ba Hu,Ya Hu.

O Beloved
may we
become like
the boat of Noah,
so that
anyone who
come near
Us,
Thou and I

anyone who
touches
Us,
Thou and I

can be healed
and helped.

Ba Hu, Ya Hu *.


* Hu, the Divine Pronoun, used for invoking the Essence.
'Ba' means 'with'

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