Friday, June 13, 2008

on politeness | a sufi story

This true story is from my guide Sidi mentioned in his eloquent book, Music of the Soul. Sidi's full name is Muhammad Sa'id al-Jamal ar-Rifai as-Shadhuli. He is the Head of the Higher Sufi Council in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. He is also teacher at the Holy mosques at al-Aqsa in Jerusalem.

This story is from the time when he was with his own guide, Sidi ‘Abd ar-Rahman, may God be pleased with them both, in Damascus at zawiyya or sufi lodge.

There was a troublesome man there, everyday who would throw stones at the zawiyya. This was an old man and each time the incident of stone throwing happened, Sidi's guide would say, "Send him mercy. If he wants food, give him food. If he wants clothes, give him clothes. If he wants money, give him money. Give him what he wants."

When Sidi according to the advice of his guide provided him, he would gather his sons and would throw more stones at the zawiyya.

Sidi asked, "What is the wisdom?" Then he would further go to this old man and gave him some food and some money and some clothes from his guide, but at the same time Sidi felt something very strong about this person. His guide said to him, "There are many messages when this old man throws stones at the zawiyya."

Then one day the old man became sick and Sidi's guide sent Sidi to him. When he arrived at his house, he woke up and asked, "Who is there?". Sidi mentioned his name and the old man began to weep and he started to say Astaghfirullah (seeking forgiveness to Allah). And after some days, he came to live in the zawiyya. He became a holy student under the guide.

While Sidi wrote down this story, this man was already one hundred and five years old. Later when Sidi met him in Amman, Jordan, he said, "Sidi, excuse me for throwing stones at zawiyya. But if I had not hit the zawiyya, I would not have reached God. How could I have known the guide and the way, if I had not thrown stones?"

The guide saw the wisdom of his actions and know that this old man was one of his students.

Music of SoulThis story has a strong and holy picture, as Sidi mentions later. The picture is of the date tree. Be like this tree, advices Sidi. When any person throws something to hit the date tree, it gives him back sweets. This is the right way.

Sidi continues to advice: If anyone makes something bad for you or speaks in an unkind way, understand Who speaks and Who hits. After this you will know and you can take what you want. Be sweet and give to everyone who wants sweets because after the fire is the garden and after the darkness is light. It is necessary to see within everything, to see where it is coming from and to return it to God. Be polite! Everything is the Face of your God.

Know that the politeness is the greatest door through which you travel to reach your God. Without politeness you cannot reach.

Lo! those who believe and work righteousness, and humble themselves before their Lord: such will be companions of the Gardens of Bliss; they will abide therein.
- The Quran 11:23

And give good news to the polite ones ..
- The Quran 22:34

Once more the humble shall rejoice in the Lord ..
- Isaiah 29:19

Blessed are the polite ones* for they shall inherit the earth.
- Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 5:5

* Original Hebrew word is Anawim which is often translated as Meek in Bible. Anaw also mean humble, polite.

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