Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Man Kunto Maula | Sufi Qawwali

Beauty of line and colour can go so far and no further; the joy of fragrance can go a little further; but music touches our innermost being and in that way produces new life, a life that gives exaltation to the whole being, raising it to that perfection in which lies the fulfillment of our life.

- Inayat Khan

If it were revealed a little of the heavenly music that is heard within,
even the dead will rise from their graves.

- Surat Shabd Yoga

"Man Kunto Maula", a part of a famous statement of the Seal of Prophet, upon him be holy benedictions, which is, "Man kunto maula, fa Ali-un Maula" - meaning 'Whoever accepts me as master, Ali is his master too'. This was made on returning back from the Last Pilgrimage of the Prophet (year 632, just months before his return to his Beloved Lord), he stopped at a place called Ghadir Khum and delivered a sermon. The statement therein for the sufis is the confirmation of spiritual transmission in the path (leaving aside later politicized history related to it and giving rise of party of Ali, known as shiite e Ali).

Just like Mary Magdalene and Thomas were the recipient of mystical esoteric knowledge of Christ, in Islam Imam Ali, may God ennoble his countenance and bless his soul, was one of the leading companion of the Prophet who received mystical esoteric knowledge from Prophet Muhammad. Thus a number of Sufi lineage goes back to the Prophet through Imam Ali in terms of transmission chain. The statement 'Man Kunto Maula' thus bear an archetypal significance in Islam spirituality where sufis view it as Prophet's public declaration of the transmission and declaring Ali as the bearer of the spiritual transmission. There are other famous saying which confirms high status of Imam Ali such as, "Ana Madinat al-'Ilm wa 'Aliyu Babuha", 'I am the city of gnosis (esoteric knowledge) and 'Ali is its gate'. Imam Ali is known to be a great gnostic who have perfected his realization. One of his gnostic utterances include, "I have seen my Lord with the eyes of my heart."

Thus its seen in history that Imam Ali after the passing of the Prophet was more involved in transmitting the knowledge of truth and silently took up the role of a holy teacher. Maula Ali is considered to have acquired the Prophet’s qualities and attributes when he was transmitted the spiritual baraka. Imam Ali's love, noble emulation and devotion for the Prophet was such that sufi orders like the Chishtiyya considers Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali as two expressions of one same mystical Reality.

This particular Qawwali, Man Kunto Maula is perhaps the most popular Qawwali (author is Amir Khusrau) and if you happen to attend any Qawwali gathering anywhere in Indian Subcontinent, its very likely that this one will be sung for sure among others (its called Manqabat and dedicated to Imam Ali's noble memory). The song praises Imam Ali's bravery on the face of injustice and falsehood - and also praises his high spiritual rank.

Below is its lyrics followed by approximate rendition in English:

Shah-E-Mardaan, Shair-E-Yazdaan,
La Fata illa Ali,
La Saif illa Zulfiqaar

King of the brave, the Lion of God
The Strength for The Lord,
There is none like Ali,
There is no sword like Zulfiqaar

Man Kunto Maula
Fa haza Ali-un Maula

Whoever I am master to,
Ali is his Master too.

(Abstract Sufi Chants follows)

Dara Dil E Dara Dil E Dar E Dani
Hum Tum Tanana Nana, Tana Nana Ray
Om Tum Tanana Nana, Tana Nana Ray
Yalali Yalali ala, Yala Ray
Tanana Tanana Tanana Tanana
Tum Tanana Nana, Tana Nana Ray...

Enter into the heart,
Enter into the heart,
Melt therein, You and me
Sing inside in sweet melody.

Maula Ali Maula
Maula Ali Maula

Master is Ali,
Master is he

Ali Shaah-e MardaaN, Imaam-ul-Kabiira
ke ba’d az Nabii shud Bashiir-un-Naziira

Ali is the king of men, the great spiritual leader,
Cause after the Prophet he became
the bearer of glad tidings and warner for mankind.*

yeh sochna hi abass hae
Kaha haha hae Ali?
Jaha jaha hae haqiqat, uha uha hae Ali
Idhar hae Zaat e Muhammad
Udhar hae Zaat e Khuda
Inhi lateef hijabon key dermayan hai Ali Maula,
Maula Ali Maula Maula Ali Maula, Maula Ali Maula

This shall suffice if you realize
at which station is Ali.
Wheresoever inner reality to be found,
there will be found Ali.
There is the mystery of Muhammad,
Here is the mystery of Lord,
and my master Ali is behind these sweet veils.

Her Qalb Ali, Jism Ali, Jaan Ali Hai
Mujh BeSar-O-Samaan Ka Samaan Ali Hai
Imaan keh matalashi yehi imaan keh doon
Iman To Yeh Hai Mera Imaan Ali Hai

Ali Maula, Maula Ali Maula
Maula Ali Maula, Maula Ali Maula

In every heart is Ali, face is Ali, my life is in Ali
for this poor one, my only possession is Ali.
this I shall tell to the seeker of faith, behold!
my faith is this, that I have my master Ali
Maula Ali Maula, Maula Ali Maula.

>. The Qawwali in mp3 audio format (sung by King of Qawwali Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) can be dowloaded from here. (Right click to save)

* Notes: Al-Bashiir ("Bearer of Glad Tidings") and an-Naziir ("the Warner" [for Mankind]) are titles given in the Quran to Prophet Muhammad in Surah Ahzaab (33rd Sura), verse 44: "O Prophet! We have sent you as a Witness, a Bearer of Glad Tidings and a Warner."

This Qawwali song is famously known for its effect on the heart and mind of its listeners, specially when its sung traditionally in the presence of the great saints at their shrines. Qawwali of this nature has a certain quality that often brings spiritual rupture. The psycho-spiritual effect these sufi qawwalis bring are unparalleled. This particular Qawwali often throws people into ecstasy and can be even witnessed in present days at any Qawwali gatherings. Sacred Songs blog shared two such experiences:

"I cannot describe in words the impact Nusrat's 'Man Kunto Maula' had on me when I first heard this more than 10 years ago ... how it twirled me like a spinning top, and put me on a path to transformation..."

"I heard 'Man Kunto Maula' first time before 4 years.. It was in the voice of Sabri Brothers, and since then, whenever I listen, I never get satisfied by listening just once.. once its on.. i have to repeat at least few times before i listen anything else.."

May the sacred vibrations of this timeless qawwali open the subtle spiritual centers (lataif, chakra) of yours. May you also partake in this holy intoxication amidst the circle of lovers. Madad ya Maula Ali!

Lyrics and Translation credit
. Man Kunto Maula via Nusrat Info
. With additional Lyrics

The Episode of Ghadir Khum
. Hadith of the Pond of Khumm
. Ghadir Khumm Event via Al-Islam Encyclopedia
. Ghadir e Khumm

. Poetry of Amir Khusro
. World of Tasawwuf

Man Kunto Maula | on Youtube
. Man Kunto Maula - Presentation by Legends
. Abida Parveen *
. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
. Farid Ayaz
. Sabri Brother
. Zila Khan

Experience with Qawwali
. Qawwali at Nizamuddin Dargah in Delhi
. High on Sufi Jazz Grooves | An Interview with Brooklyn Qawwali Party via Rock Om Pin It Now!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Short History of Sufism and Sufi Communities in America by Anisah Bagasra

In the latter days, the sun shall rise from the West.
- Holy Prophet Muhammad

The Light is neither of the East nor of the West. - The Quran

It is important to understand the history and development of Sufism in America in order to truly gain a sense of the role of this spiritual tradition within the diverse religious landscape found in the United States today.

Sufism has gone through many stages in its development as a permanent spiritual tradition within the United States, and is still very multifaceted in the manner in which it is practiced and the regions of the world which American Sufi communities originate from...

Hermansen points out that there are a number of movements that are Sufi-oriented or influenced by Islamic mysticism but which do not follow the practice of Islamic law. She refers to these types of Sufi movements as perennial because they stress the unity of religions and do not usually require the formal practice of Islam by their members. Both perennial Sufi groups and more traditionalist Sufi groups continue to exist in the United States, and many of them maintain relationships with each other despite their differences in doctrine. Godlas refers to three main categories of Sufism in the United States; Islamic Sufi Orders, Quasi-Islamic Sufi organizations, and Non-Islamic Sufi organizations. This is an accurate description of Sufi groups in the United States over the past century, and demonstrates the difficulty of examining the practices of Sufi groups due to the differences in level of adherence to traditional doctrines.

The earliest introductions of Sufism to America took place in the early 1900’s through scholars, writers, and artists who often accessed information on Sufism through the Orientalist movement. Examples of Western figures who were influenced by Sufism include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rene Guenon, Reynold Nicholson, and Samuel Lewis. These individuals helped to introduce concepts of Sufism to larger audiences through their writings, discussions and other methods of influence. Emerson, for example, was influenced by Persian Sufi poetry such as that of the poet Saadi, and this influence was then reflected in Emerson’s own poetry and essays. Rene Guenon incorporated information about Sufism into his traditionalist philosophy, and Nicholson offered Western readers some of the great Sufi works for the first time in the English language, especially the Mathnawi of Jelaludin Rumi.

The first major Sufi figure in the United States was Hazrat Inayat Khan, a musician from India. He blended aspects of Sufism and Islam with other spiritual, musical and religious concepts and practices. He did not actually consider his group a Sufi group and preached a Universalist spiritual movement. Webb states: “Hazrat believed destiny had called him to speed the “universal Message of the time,” which maintained that Sufism was not essentially tied to historical Islam, but rather consisted of timeless, universal teaching related to peace, harmony, and the essential unity of all being (and beings)”. Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Sufi Order in America, called ‘The Sufi Order in the West’ was founded in 1910. The Order continued through his disciples Rabia Martin and Samuel Lewis. Eventually Lewis broke away from the original order and began to initiate his own disciples. Similar occurrences of break-away Sufi branches and groups involving Sufi-oriented individuals such as Frithjof Schoun and Rene Geunon, Irina Tweedie and others as well as the relatives of Hazrat Inayat Khan caused the growth in different Sufi orders and communities based on individual beliefs and the blending of various Eastern and Western traditions. Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, the eldest son of Inayat Khan, became head of the Sufi Order in the West in 1956, after having studied in Paris and England. Both he and his father were prolific writers in English and many of the early books dealing with Sufism available in the United States were the results of their publications. Pir Vilayat wrote about the practices of meditation and other Sufi practices, music and Sufi psychology. His father’s teachings were published in many volumes by disciples. They dealt with more generalized topics dealing with spirituality, rather than specifically Sufi beliefs or ideas.

The second major wave of interest in Sufism in the United States occurred in the 1960’s during the hippie/counter-culture movement. Webb points out that Americans sought out Eastern teachers to learn traditional wisdom but were not concerned with the historical foundations of the traditions that were associated with that wisdom. Figures such as Frithjof Schuon and Rene Guenon became teachers of traditional wisdom related to and sometimes directly dealing with Sufi teachings. Though these figures lived and began teaching in the earlier part of the century their teachings and writings played a larger role in the mid-twentieth century as they became available to a wider audience in the United States. Both were proponents of the traditionalist or perennial philosophy.

Schuon (1907-1998) was a Swiss national who spent much of his time in France and published all of his major works in French. Most of his writings have now been translated into English and contribute to the body of work written in the early twentieth century that demonstrate the philosophical and spiritual thinking that emerged when East met West. Schuon was also known as Shaykh `Isa Nur al-Din Ahmad al-Shadhili al Darquwi al-`Alawi al-Maryami. He is said to have been initiated into the Shadhiliyah Sufi Order and became a leader of his own branch of the Order in the United States, known as the Maryama Order. Like Schuon, Rene Guenon (1886-1951) also traveled extensively and encountered various religions, eventually becoming initiated into a Sufi Order. Guenon, though a practitioner of Sufism himself, continued to write and teach from a multi-religious point of view. He never lived in the United States but from the writings of other leaders of Sufism in the west it can be seen that Guenon had a major influence on the academic community in America.

Of the Sufi groups that developed in the 1960’s and 1970’s some aligned themselves with Islam and traditional Sufi doctrine and practices, while others were more loosely associated with traditional Sufism and incorporated what they wanted from Sufi belief and practice into their groups. An example of a group that Godlas considers a non-Islamic Sufi group is the Sufi Ruhaniat International founded by Samuel Lewis, who was originally a disciple of Hazrat Inayat Khan. The Order claims to have members who are formally initiated students but their method of initiation and doctrinal terminology are not based on traditional Sufi doctrine. Rather, they echo the universalist ideas first put forth by Inayat Khan in the early part of the century. It was during the 60’s that Lewis created Dances of Universal Peace that became known as "Sufi dancing."

Idries Shah (1924-1996) was one of the most important individuals in terms of popularizing Sufism in the United States, and perhaps still the most well known Sufi writer in the West. He began writing in the 1960’s and continued to produce popular books, though he contended that Sufism was not tied to Islam or any other religion. He produced dozens of books, many of them adapting traditional Sufi stories for Western readers.

Other groups, such as the Bawa Muhaiyadeen Fellowship in the Philadelphia area, started out with little formal association with Islam but slowly moved more towards traditional Sufism and mainstream Islam. Bawa Muhaiyadeen’s Sufi group is an example of a Sufi group that blended the earlier trends of Sufi practice that occurred during the 1960’s and the more traditional practices that have emerged in Sufi groups today. Bawa Muhaiyadeen arrived in Philadelphia in 1971 and membership to his group, known as “the Fellowship” grew quickly and numbered nearly a thousand during his life. He lived and led his community for 15 years until his death. The community built a mosque in 1983 where congregational prayers are practiced according to Islamic law. Today, those who gather at the mosque include original converts and a large number of immigrants and non-convert Muslim Americans who do not necessarily have any allegiance to Bawa or his teachings. The teachings of Bawa were faithfully recorded, translated and published by his followers, and his teachings continue to be disseminated and gather new adherents. At the same time, part of his community has become absorbed into the greater Muslim community and is not as distinguished as a “Sufi community.”

Present-day Sufi groups in the United States include groups established in the early waves of the 1920’s and 1960’s, and Sufi communities formed or facilitated by new immigrants to the United States who are affiliated with Sufi orders in their countries of origin. Webb asserts that some Muslim immigrants join Sufi communities in America to cultivate a deeper religiosity, or they see Sufism as an alternative to modernity. Today, many people become involved in Sufism as a contrast to the growing influence of more puritanical sects of Islam that are having growing influence on mainstream Islam.

The majority of Sufi communities in the United States are branches of Sufi orders that exist throughout the world and originate in traditional Muslim societies. The leaders of these orders typically do not live in the United States but appoint local Shaykhs or leaders to oversee the activities of the order in America. Today nearly every Sufi order is represented in the United States either in the form of single or multiple communities throughout the country or by visiting/traveling Shaykhs of an order. There are at least a dozen Sufi orders with larger communities established in the United States.

Examples of Sufi orders that have established communities in the United States are the Jerrahiyyah Order of dervishes, the Naqshbandi, the Mevlevi Order, the Nimatullahi Order, the Tijani Order and the Qadiriyyah Order. The Naqshbandi Order is represented by a very large community in the United States under the Naqshbandi-Haqqani group established by Shaykh Nazim. The Order is run by Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, a Middle Eastern man who has grown to be an international figure representing American Sufis in his travels throughout the world. He came to the United States in 1991 and has established thirteen Sufi centers throughout the United States and Canada. The Chishti Order is a major Sufi Order of South Asia that has also become established with several branches operating throughout the United States and Canada. The Nimatullahi Order is also well-established in the United States due to its leader, Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, who has published dozens of books in the English language on topics ranging from basic Sufi practices, Sufi symbolism, and Sufi psychology. The Order also publishes a magazine in both English and Persian called Sufi: A Journal of Sufism. Despite Rumi being one of the most important figures as far as exposing Sufi concepts to the West in the last several decades, his order is represented in the United States not in its traditional form, but rather as a Quasi-Islamic Sufi Organization as the term is described by Godlas.

Some of the Sufi communities are loosely linked and meet sporadically. Others are very tightly formed communities that actively practice aspects of their daily lives in a community form. Some Sufi communities, such as the Bawa Muhayiadden Fellowship, maintain their own printing presses.

One cannot discuss Sufism in America without mentioning some of the major academic figures over the last half-century who have, through their writing or teaching, influenced American Sufism in many ways. Several individuals in university settings have played an important role in spreading information on Sufism to a large student population, popularizing Sufism amongst younger generations of Americans. Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Victor Danner are amongst an older generation of professors whose teachings in American University settings have helped to shape the American understanding of Sufism. Nasr, originally the minister of education in Iran before the Iranian revolution has taught in several institutional settings and is the author of dozens of books and articles in multiple languages dealing with Sufism and Sufi topics. His involvement in bringing hundreds of young students into the folds of Sufism cannot be underestimated. Victor Danner, who was born in Mexico in 1926 and earned his PhD from Harvard University after having served as a young man in World War II. He taught at Indiana University for more than two decades in the subjects of Sufism, Islam, mysticism, as well as the Arabic language. He authored a few books and many articles which have contributed to the available literature of Sufism, and his courses dealing with Sufism were extremely popular throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. Three other scholars who, though not American or teachers in American schools, who have had a strong impact on American Sufism, include Martin Lings, Titus Burckhardt, and Annemarie Schimmel. There is little biographical information available for either Lings or Burckhardt who lived fairly private lives and are best known for their writings in English dealing with Sufism. Burckhardt was a Swiss who followed the Traditionalist school, and his writings and essays touched on Sufism. Lings is the former Keeper of Oriental manuscripts in the British Museum and Library, and has authored several famous and acclaimed books dealing with Islamic Mysticism as well as a biography of the Prophet Muhammad. Annemarie Schimmel, a German scholar and linguist, authored more than fifty books dealing with Islam, Sufism and South Asian topics. She was an expert in Islamic mysticism and her books are extremely popular in the United States. All three scholars’ writings are of major importance for American and other Western students of Sufism, and continue to be authoritative texts for those interested in Sufism, Islam, and mysticism in general.

The younger generation of academics teaching about Sufism in American Universities includes William Chittick and his wife Sachiko Murata, both former students of Nasr, Bruce Lawrence and Carl Ernst in North Carolina, Alan Godlas in Georgia, and Laleh Bakhtiar in Illinois, as well as dozens of others spread throughout the country at numerous colleges, universities, and other intellectual and professional institutions. This younger generation of scholars and research are impacting American Sufis and Sufi communities through their ability to reach large audiences of non-Sufis in the academic environment and for their prolific work in translating Sufi works and publishing on topics of Sufism in the English language.

The differences in beliefs, doctrines and practices of the Sufi communities in the United States makes it very hard for those outside of these communities to define or group them in one way. The contentiousness the authenticity of Sufi groups in the United States by some Sufis also has made it hard for those not involved with particular communities to understand the role of Sufism in general in the United States, because there are many different types of Sufism being practiced in these communities. All of these types of communities, and the beliefs and practices which they have incorporated into their group are of importance to the history of Sufism in the United States and the continuing growth of the tradition in the West. Thus it is important to recognize all groups who claim to be Sufi and who incorporate the basic core beliefs and practices of Sufism as legitimate Sufi American groups.

- Published with permission from Author, Anisah Bagasra

>. To view in full and the references read the article "A Short History of Sufism and Sufi Communities in America" via ISRA

>. Sufi Teacher and Personalities mentioned in this articles
. Hazrat Inayat Khan
. Rene Guenon
. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen
. Murshid Samuel Lewis
. Idries Shah
. Frithjof Schuon

>. Sufis in America via Youtube
. Muslims' America - American Sufis 1.1 , 1.2, 1.3
2.1, 2.2, 2.3

. Sufism Meetup Groups

>. Books
. Lifting the Boundaries: Muzaffer Efendi and the Transmission of Sufism to the West
. Murshid: A Personal Memoir of Life with American Sufi Samuel L. Lewis
. Sufism in the West
. Sitting With Sufis: A Christian Experience of Learning Sufism Pin It Now!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Look for the Friends of God

sufi whirling, mystical oneness dervishesAnd the believers, men and women, are protecting friends of one another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong ..
- The Quran 9:71

.. and Allah was their Protecting Friend. In Allah let believers put their trust. - The Quran 3:122

"Allah says that I do not fit into the all eighteen thousand worlds but I dwell in the heart of my believing servant. So where should we go to meet Allah? Do we go to a university? Do we start reading a lot of books and commentaries? No! We go to the heart.

So there we need the guides of the heart and these are the awliya, the wali, the friend of God - for they have become intimate with Allah in their hearts. And this is where I would say the Islamic community should seek. So instead of being overcome by the idea of rules and the book of rules and then what happens is each want to start telling the other what to do and then you get a community of people who are just telling each other what to do and judging each other and seeing what everyone is doing wrong except for myself of course.

It always somehow based on a supposition that I know. Well, we call this arrogance or subtle pride. When I think I know and someone else does not know this is error, this is not faith anymore, this is not Islam.

So my recommendation is to look for the saints, look for the friends of God and I think everyone knows intuitively what a friend of God is.

A friend of God is someone who makes you feel happy when you come in their presence or may be awe. Islam is also awe - awe of Allah, but there is a sweetness in that awe. So its not fear in the normal way that we speak of fear. Its an awe that is sweet and that makes you want to come closer, makes you want to prostrate, makes you empty out, makes you humble. This is the way of Islam, the way of emptying the heart.

The way of reaching out to others, the way of covering over others and how do we do that? We do that in our own mind. By not seeing the false, by not judging, not even being the judge of one's self. We leave that to Allah. All we do is to turn to Allah’s mercy.

The friends are the ones who overlook, the ones forgiving, the ones make connections to Allah, not the ones who block the way by frightening people or block the way by judging them or being harsh. The friends are the ones who open the doors to Allah wide and invite everyone in. These are the friends.

So these are the people that we should look to in our Islamic community. Find these, they are everywhere. They might not have robes. In fact usually they don’t have robes and turbans. They are humble, they are true speakers, they tell the truth. Seek these ...

Everywhere is mercy. Everything that happens to us is mercy. Let’s follow that teaching, let’s follow love, follow beauty, follow generosity, follow nobility, follow justice, follow honoring each others rights, honoring the rights of all creatures of all beings, not telling each others what to do, not limiting the human capacity in each other.

Let’s stop being judges, let’s stop being lawyers. Let’s become lovers, let’s become friends, let’s become true followers of the mystic heart of the Prophet Mohammad, the mercy to all the worlds. Let’s trust in Allah’s mercy, let’s trust in Allah. Let’s turn to Allah, rely on Allah, and disappear in Allah. .."

- Shaykha Fariha al-Jerrahi, transcribed from a talk given to Pakistan Women's Conference in 2006

> Click here to download, listen this beautiful talk in full length (right-click / control-click to Save) you may need free Quick Time player to play.

Shaykha FariahAbout | Shaykha Fariha was born into a socially committed, eclectic Catholic family in Houston, Texas in 1947 and has lived at various times in Los Angeles, Mexico and New York, where she currently resides. At the age of 19 she began a conscious search for God. Ten years later she met her teacher, Shaykh Muzaffer Ozak of Istanbul. Through Shaykh Muzaffer she also met Lex Hixon, who became his disciple in the same year. At the passing of the Master, she became the disciple of Lex Hixon (Shaykh Nur al-Jerrahi).

When Shaykh Nur passed in 1995, Fariha took on the role of guiding the Nur Ashki Jerrahi Sufi Order. Through this lineage, she and her representatives offer the nectar of teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, which guide the seeker to self-knowledge and immersion in God. The sacred practices of zikr, prayer, charitable living, fasting and retreat are all embraced. Every week Fariha with her husband Ali and the dervishes invite all seekers into the circle of zikr at the Masjid al-Farah in New York City.

. Nur Ashki Jerrahi
. Audios of Sohbets and Talks via Nur Ashki Sufi Group
. Contacts of Nur Ashki Jerrahi Circles
. Shaykha Fariha with her dervishes in Boulder, Colorado

. Friendship with God
. Simple Sainthood
. We are a door that’s never locked Pin It Now!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Only YOU I Choose

Only You
I choose among the entire world.
Is it fair of You
letting me be unhappy?

My heart is a pen in Your hand.
It is all up to You
to write me happy or sad.

I see only what You reveal
and live as You say.
All my feelings have the color
You desire to paint.

From the beginning to the end,
no one but You.

Please make my future
better than the past.*

When You hide, I change
to a Godless person,
and when You appear,
I find my faith.

Don't expect to find
any more in me
than what You give.

Don't search for
hidden pockets,
I've shown You that.

All I have is all You gave.

~ Rumi ~
Translation by Nader Khalili

* And surely what comes after is better for you than that which has gone before. And soon your Guardian-Lord will give you that so you will be well pleased. - The Quran 93:4,5

And put your trust in the Ever-living One Who dies not, and celebrate His praise; and Sufficient is He as the Knower of His servant's shortcomings. - The Quran 25:58

[>] download this prayerful poem of Rumi in mp3 audio format
. image credit: Sadiq Salim Pin It Now!

Monday, July 20, 2009

ascent of spiritual state | miraajul maqam

"The hearts of the children of Adam are as if between the two fingers of the Infinitely Compassionate One. He turns each however He wishes.

O God, O Turner of hearts, turn our hearts toward obedience to You."
- The Holy Prophet

"God made the heart the locus of this longing to bring actualization of this reality near to the human being, since there is fluctuation in the heart. If this longing were in the rational faculty, the person might seem to be in a constant state. But since it is in the heart, fluctuation comes upon him always. For the heart is between the two fingers of Rahman (the Most Compassionate One), so its situation is not to remain in a single state. And so it is within this fluctuation, witnessing the way the fingers cause it to fluctuate." - Ibn Arabi

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

For the sufis, heart is often used as a major symbol to let us have a better insight into the reality of our existence. "Our heart is between the two fingers of Beloved, He turns it as He wills" as symbolically spoken by Muhammad Mustafa. The metaphysical turning of the heart causes the changing states of the inner heart, in our innate psycho-spiritual makeup. The heart's going between two states, in sufi term, are called qabd, the state of contraction and bast, the state of expansion.

At the state of contraction (qabd), one feels constricted, feels unhappy, an indescribable melancholy suddenly appear, we suddenly feel a strange sadness without any explainable reason. Extreme fear and confusion out of that fear, the feeling of serious uncertainty is perhaps describe closely the state of qabd or contraction of our psycho-spiritual state.

At the state of expansion (bast), one feels elated, happy - specially the kind of happiness which some gives the name, "happy for no reason", even the most stupid thing fill your heart with laughter - be it stupidity of your own. To better understand how does the heart feels when its in state of expansion, try to think how you felt when you 'fall (for the lack of a better word) in love' with someone for the first time. The new lovers have the purest form of heart expansion experience when the love between the two is unrestrained.

In the presence of the King at His Court, every affair has its own etiquette. For the people of reality thus every state has its etiquette to follow as for them the only reality is the Presence of the Real and this passing existence is but a play under the shadow of His Royal Court. The state of contraction and the state of expansion both have their etiquette. When one is in contraction, one is recommended to ask for forgiveness, to seek penance (the sufis repeat the term astaghfirullah). In the state of expansion, one is recommended to give thanks (shukr). "Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, and be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me". - The Quran 2:152. In both states repeating the name or names of God is also practiced by Sufis.

Now in bast or expansion when one give thanks and repeats the name of God from the place of sincerity (ikhlas), one's state (haal) is stabilized and heart expands. When the state stabilizes, with that the soul of the person ascends in the realm of divine reality. This ascension is triggered in a perfect moment inside prayer when one feels the divine presence inside his or her heart's communion so intimately that as if there is such nearness which is described symbolically in Quran (53:9) as 'at a distance of but two bow-lengths or nearer'. That moment is so precious that one can exchange the whole life's prayer for that moment. That is called the ascension of the devotee - according to Prophet Muhammad when he said, "As-salatu miraj ul Mumin" "The Salah (Prayer) is the Ascension of the Believer."

As this ascension of maqam (station) happens during the mystic communion of the heart of lover and that of Beloved, this raises the maqam or station and stabilizes, if so God wills, even when one leaves that state of sweetness inside the prayer. Is there a suitable time for such divine communion? The deep heart of the night when inside its silence womb one is gifted an undisturbed space. "And pray part of the night: (it would be) an additional prayer (of spiritual profit) for you: soon will you Lord raise you to a praised spiritual Station! (Maqam an mahmooda) (Q 17:79). The prayer of deep night (tahajjud) in reality is a practice in quest of that special night of miraajul maqam.

And if you happen to encounter such night when your heart's expanding state become like an expanding cosmos to accommodate none but The King of kings alone, then you shall know that you have found miraaj of your soul. Such nights when the raising of maqam (spiritual station of spirit) happens as well as when the heart is flooded with pure inspirations - revelations, are better than thousand nights as confirmed by the Quran (In surah Qadr). So powerful such nights are in spiritual implication that its called 'The Night of Power' and it is better than a thousand months or more. The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees - affirms the Quran.

In many parts of the world (in the eastern hemisphere) tonight (Sun down on July 20, varies according to lunar calendar) will be celebrated as the Special Night of Holy Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be sweet benediction of all the angels and saints from the beginning of time.

Here are 3 previous posts on Miraaj for a better background and inspirations:

> . Miraj | holy ascension to the Ultimate Divine Presence
> . Esoteric Symbolism of Miraj
> . Secret of the Spiritual Ascension (Miraj) of Prophet

This year Miraaj night (Lailatul Miraaj its called in many places) is happening at a moonless night and a friend of mine who lives in the far east commented how there is a power in tonight's atmosphere (and in one or two days we have the last solar eclipse in a century, to add on to that). By the way, the night of ascension or Miraj in the life of Prophet occurs just five days after the transfiguration of Jesus in Orthodox Christianity, upon both of them be peace. In the episode of transfiguration as recorded in the New Testament, Christ stood atop a mountain where he spoke with God (divine communion in Intimate Presence, same theme as the Miraaj).

Wish you all a very blessed Miraaj Night and may us all find our own Miraaj in perfect prayer of our heart, whenever that Night may be in our life. May God bless us by raising our maqams. On such night (be it tonight, or any other night) may your time alone with the Alone be filled with grace and become better than thousand nights.

O Allah, The Glorious. You Who took Your servant on a sacred night of ascension from the sacred place of worship to farthest distance, in order to show him some of Your majestic Signs; surely You are the Hearing of our prayers, the Seeing of our states and stations - may You bless our heart inside our prayers for the ascent to Your intimacy as You did to Your beloved one. O Allah: Your aid is available for those who seek it. O You Who come nearer to whom You Will - please remove the veils from our heart and present us the sweet fragrance of Your divine Presence as You did on this blessed night to Your Chosen one.

Pahunche Miraj me, Arsh Tak Mustafa

Jab Na Mabud O Bande me Parda Raha.

In the Night Ascension Mustafa* arrives at the Intimate Divine Presence, When there was no veil between the Master and servant.

Tab Malaik Ne, Hazrat Se Chup Kar Kaha
Sari Makhluq me, Haq Numa Tu hi Tu.
Allah Hu, Allah Hu, Allah Hu

Then angels whispered secretly to Prophet,
Cosmic totality holds this truth alone: Only You, Only You!
Allah Hu, Allah Hu, Allah Hu

- From Qawwali Allah Hu by Nusrat Fateh Ali

* Mustafa means the chosen one, a title of Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace

Pin It Now!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Only one guiding reality | Surrendering to Divine Love


One need not fall in love,
one must rise through love.
- Inayat Khan
The Smiling Forehead

Every day, every hour, every moment the light of Love illuminates and expands the way our heart sees, feels, and connects with the Presence of the Divine within all hearts, within all life, guiding and revealing the way we are seen and known by a creative Presence that is so beyond our comprehension, every description we ever form will dissolve and change as we share the words.

Any claim to stand apart from this creation process is laughable and impossible, for we are created, sustained by, and contained within this indefinable unlimitedness that dissolves theories as fast as the greatest minds can invent them. There is no power, no evil, no darkness that could stand against what cannot ever be imagined or contained or fixed, as everything created changes as we behold even a microscopic particle manifested by such beingness.

The ever unfolding miracle is how pure love flows and appears in this confusion as a gentle breathing and compassionate nearness emanating from the heart waves of our longing for love, which creates a being out of our own wholeness manifesting a spiritual likeness as an answer to our prayerful longing.

What can be created once can be multiplied to infinity, and a desire to live many lives can be granted in the blink of an eye. To be mercifully contained within a closed loop, where we sustain the illusion that everything stays the same is an equally possible and numbing choice.

Random thoughts throw us into changing realities without pattern or goal and leave us spinning in unknown dimensions of a randomly created existence, and like Alice in Wonderland, we wander aimlessly in the moving clouds of an errant dream.

Mind alone says God is a network of membranes, imagining we live in elongated bubbles that separate and create worlds beyond where our miniature minds can go. Is God playing with us as He unravels everything we ever believed or made?

Only one reality guides us into the arms of a Beloved that becomes our home beyond the morphing mania of our minds. It is surrendering to divine Love to grant our heart's deepest desire.

All else is vanity and delusion luring us away from the destiny for which we were created, to love and be loved in a blissful stream of unfolding wonder, holding the hand of a Beloved Friend that reveals the unending, ever changing miracle of life evolving in the light of love.

- Naomi

"You will not enter the Garden of Divine Presence until you have faith and you will not have faith until you love one another." - Sacred Tradition of Islam (Muslim)

"When a man asked the prophet, may God's peace and blessings be upon him, "O Messenger of God, when will the Day of Judgment be?", the Prophet asked him back, "What have you prepared for it?" he said, "I have not prepared for it a great deal of prayer, fasting nor charity, but I love God and His Messenger intensely," the Prophet said, "You will be with the ones whom you love." - Narrated by Bukhari

"Where are those who love each other for the sake of My glory? Today I will shelter them with My shade, as there is no shade today except My shade" - God Almighty speaks on the Day of Final Awakening (narrated by Muslim)
Pin It Now!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Beshr the Barefoot Saint | from Tazkirat al-Auliya

St. Peter Was Caught Dabbling With Gnosticism

Abu Nasr Beshr (767-841) was born in Merv and settled at Baghdad. The beginning of his opening happened as follows:

He had lived a life of dissipation, and one day as he was staggering along the road drunk he found a piece of paper on which was written, Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim, "In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate." He bought some attar of roses and perfumed the paper with it, and deposited it reverently in his house.

That night a certain holy man had a dream in which he was bidden to tell Beshr:

"Thou hast perfumed my Name, so I have perfumed thee.
Thou hast exalted my Name, so I have exalted thee.
Thou hast purified my Name, so I have purified thee.
By My Majesty, I will surely perfume thy name in
this world and the world to come."

"He is a dissolute fellow," thought the saint. "Perhaps I am seeing erroneously."

So he made ablution, prayed and returned to sleep. He saw the selfsame dream a second and a third time. In the morning he arose and went in search of Beshr. "He is at a wine-party," he was told. He went to the house where Beshr was. "Was Beshr here?" he enquired. "He was," they said. "But he is drunk and incapable."

"Tell him I have a message for him," said the saint.

"A message from whom?" demanded Beshr when he was told.

"A message from God," replied the saint.

"Alas!" cried Beshr, bursting into tears. "Is it a message of chiding or of chastisement? Wait, till I tell my friends. Friends," he addressed his drinking-companions, "I have had a call. I am going. I bid you farewell. You will never see me again at this business." And from that day onward he lived so saintly, that none heard his name mentioned without heavenly peace invaded his heart. He took to the way of self-denial, and so overwhelmed was he by the vision of God that he never put shoes on his feet. For that reason he was called Beshr the Barefoot. "Why do you not wear shoes?" he was asked.

"I was barefooted the day when I made my peace with God," he said, "and ever since I am ashamed to wear shoes. Moreover God Almighty says, ‘I have made the earth a carpet for you.’ It is not seemly to tread with shoes on the carpet of kings."

Great Imam of his age, Ahmad-e Hanbal visited Beshr frequently, having a complete faith in him to such a point that his pupils protested. "Today you are without rival as a scholar of Traditions, the law, theology and every manner of science, yet every moment you go after a dissolute fellow. Is that seemly?"

"Indeed, in all the sciences you have enumerated I have better knowledge than he," Ahmad-e Hanbal replied. "But he knows God better than I." So he would often pursue Beshr, asking him to speak about Divine Gnosis.

Beshr related: Once I saw the Prophet, upon him be holy benediction, in a dream. He said to me, "Beshr, do you not know why God has chosen you from amongst your contemporaries and has raised you up to high rank?"

"No, Messenger of God," I replied.

"It is because you have followed my Sunna (sacred tradition), and reverenced the righteous, and given good counsel to your brethren, and loved me and the people of my household," the Prophet told me.

"For this reason God has advanced you to the station of the pious."

- from Muslim Saints and Mystics | Episodes from the Tadhkirat al-Auliya' (Memorial of the Saints) by Farid al-Din Attar Translated by A. J. Arberry

. Tazkirat al-Auliya is very famous text containing biographies of a number of Muslim Saints, may God be well pleased with them all | The full text of Tadhkirat al-Auliya can be downloaded and read from Omphaloskepsis as PDF

Pin It Now!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Looking for Your Face

Hu Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee
From the beginning of my life
I have been looking for Your Face
but today I have seen it

Today I have seen
the charm, the beauty,
the unfathomable grace
of the Face
that I was looking for

Today I have found You
and those who laughed
and scorned me yesterday
are sorry that they were not looking
as I did

I am bewildered by the magnificence
of Your beauty
and wish to see You
with a hundred eyes

My heart has burned with passion
and has searched forever
for this wondrous beauty
that I now behold

I am ashamed
to call this love humane
and afraid of God
to call it divine

Your fragrant breath
like the morning breeze
has come to the stillness of the garden
You have breathed new life into me
I have become Your sunshine
and also Your shadow

My soul is screaming in ecstasy
Every fiber of my being
is in love with You

Your effulgence
has lit a fire in my heart
And You have made radiant for me
the earth and sky

My arrow of love
has arrived at the target
I am in the house of mercy
and my heart
is a place of prayer

~ The Love Poems of RUMI
Edited by Deepak Chopra
Translations by Farsi scholar Fereydoun Kia

Wujoohun yawma-ithin nadiratun
Ila Rabbiha nathiratun

Some faces, that Day,
will be resplendent -
To their Lord, gazing upon.

~ The Holy Quran
75:22,23 ~

Faaynama tuwallu
fathamma Wajhu Allahi!

Wheresoever you turn,
there is the Face of God

~ The Quran 2:115

[>] Watch a magnificently done video on Youtube of this poem. Audio clip is from the album A GIFT OF LOVE: Deepak and Friends Present Music Inspired by the Love Poems of Rumi, featuring the voice of Jared Harris, using video clips from the film Koyaanisqatsi.
[>] download the audio in mp3

Image: HU by Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee
Pin It Now!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gazing At The Beloved

May your heart communion (salaat) be such that as if you are gazing upon your Lord, for even if you do not see Him, (behold well this consciousness that) He sees you.

- Sacred tradition of Islam

Just as archers fix their gaze upon a distant target before loosing the strings of their bows and sending their arrows flying, so do lovers of God fix their gaze on the face of God, each releasing the soul so it too can fly toward its target where it celebrates its homecoming. All spiritual paths teach us that if we want to find God, then we need to turn directly toward God, come face-to-face with the energies of the Divine, and then surrender to whatever begins to occur as a result of the impact that such an encounter creates in our lives. But where do we turn? And where exactly is it that we find the face of the Divine? Is it everywhere? Or in one particular location only? And can perhaps a particular location, a particular face, serve as the doorway to the face of God?

The practice (of gazing) can be found in the Greek Orthodox Church where icons of saints and personages from the Bible are the only companions that monks and nuns take with them into the isolation of their cells during long periods of retreat. (In shadhuli sufi path and other, there is a practice of gazing upon the pure name of God, Allah in Arabic used in khalwa or sufi retreats).

When one fixes his or her entire attention on these images over long hours and days, the images may come to life and enter into animated dialogue with the practitioner. Many devout Hindus create personal shrines in their homes and temples in which images of a god or goddess serve as the means for personal dialogue with the Divine. It is said that the eyes of these images are the most important of all the facial features, for by creating eye contact with the image a devotee achieves darshan, a sanskrit word meaning "seeing and being seen by God."

Most of our spiritual traditions tell us that, as humans, we are miniature reflections of God and that we have been created in God's image. If this is so, then it would follow that a more direct way to look upon the face of God would be to sit and gaze at an actual person, a real flesh-and-blood human. If he or she will sit and hold your gaze in return, something begins to transpire between the two of you. If you can truly see another and be seen by the other, you begin to see that he or she is an embodiment of the Divine, and you begin to feel that you are as well.

In India, darshan often occurs in formal settings between teachers and their students. Teachers may sit at the front of a room, perhaps on a slightly raised dais so that no one's view will be obstructed. They may sit silently, pouring out their gazing, inviting students to meet their eyes and to hold contact with their gaze. This contact allows the Divine to enter their students' awareness. In the words of Ramana Maharshi, one of the great Indian teachers of the twentieth century and one of the great givers of darshan, "When the eyes of the student meet the gaze of the teacher, words of instruction are no longer necessary." (Reminds us of the famous sermon of Buddha in which he silently held up a flower and gazed at it. After a while, one of the companions present, a monk called Mahakasyapa, began to smile, for his gaze also fell upon that of Buddha and what is upon Buddha's hand, that simple flower. Out of all hundreds of monk present, Mahakasyapa was the only one who had understood the sermon. That smile or realisation was handed down by successive masters which much later came to be know as the origin of Zen.)

Because the eyes are universally acknowledged to be the windows to the soul, when we hold the gaze of another, we hold and cradle his or her soul. This most intimate of acts is reserved as a privilege for people who love and trust one another. Newborn children are natural adepts at the practice and are often able to draw their parents into gazing at them for long periods of time. People newly in love may find that they automatically fall into gazing at each other as a natural expression of the love that they feel. In fact, this unintentional and spontaneous dissolving into the eyes of the other is often the signal that, at long last, they have finally found the beloved for whom they've been searching. When describing this new found love, people will often rejoice that, finally, they have met someone who truly sees them as they are.

When eye contact between two people is initiated and maintained, an invisible energetic circuit is established between the two participants, dissolving the barriers that ordinarily separate them from each other, drawing them ever closer into a shared awareness of union.

The most extraordinary account of the practice of eye gazing can be traced to the meeting that occurred in Konya, Turkey, in 1244 between the renowned poet, Sufi teacher, and originator of the dance of the whirling dervish, Jalaluddin Rumi, and a wandering seeker named Shams-i Tabriz. Out of the explosion that occurred through Rumi's encounter with Shams, Rumi began spontaneously writing some of the most splendorous poetry about the soul's return to God that has ever been composed, and his writings are voluminous.

Some mysteries are like puzzles or riddles that the discerning eye and mind can recognize, unravel, piece together, and then solve. Other mysteries (as the mystery of dying into love) are simply to be entered into, marveled over, and surrendered to with no hope whatsoever of ever conquering or solving them. In fact, the only way of truly understanding such a mystery is instead through letting ourselves be completely conquered and dissolved by it.

- from Gazing At The Beloved by Will Johnson

All that is on the planetary existence shall perish:
but will abide (forever) the Face of thy Lord, full of Majesty and Glory.
- The Quran 55:26-27

# Further.
. The Hadith of Gabriel
. Embodiment Training by Will Johnson
. The Ninefold Path of Embodiment
. The Name Allah | The Name Allah (animated gif)
. The Spiritual Practices of Rumi: Radical Techniques for Beholding the Divine | book review
. Gazing
. Gazing On The Beauty Of The Lord
Healing through Eye Gazing

# Previous Posts on MysticSaint
. Blessed Glance as Sacred Practice
. Al Baseer, the All Seeing One
. Look Who is Looking
. Manifestation of Divine Attributes | on seeing and realizing
. Divine is the All Seeing
. You are In Divine Eyes: Meditative Quranic verse
. Meditation on Divine Glance Pin It Now!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Grand Shaykh Ibrahim al-Battawi (1924 - 2009)

Shaykh Ibrahim al-Battawi

Indeed - the Friends (Awliya) of Allah, no fear is upon them, nor do they grieve. For them are glad tidings, in the life of the Present and in the Hereafter; no change can there be in the Words of Allah. This indeed is the supreme triumph. - The Quran 10:62, 64

My companions are stars. Whomsoever any one of them you follow, you will be rightly guided. - Sacred Tradition of Islam

On this past July 10th (14th Rajab 1430 in Hijri Calendar) the Grand Shaykh of Darqawi Shadhili tariqa has passed away into the Mercy and Pleasure of Allah Most High and His Loving Care, ... inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un! we are from Allah and to Him is the return. May Allah be well pleased with him.

Quoting from a Eulogy by Ibrahim Hakim al Shaghouri: "If a number of you have not heard of him, it is because he chose to live a life based on the principle of hiding and erasing yourself to instead show a reflection of Allah's Attributes, and indeed anyone who came into contact with the gentle tranquility and effacing humility of his being knew that he was one of those that Allah chose to guard under His veils of jealousy. His entire life - from when he was conscious of his surroundings until his passing away at an age exceeding 80 years - was truly spent entirely for Allah.

He loved orphans, and said many times that no one can build a sound connection with Allah while ignoring the orphans; like the Prophet alayhi salat wa salam, he was always looking out for new opportunities to make du'a for someone; he preferred that people know Allah more than knowing him, because "Allah is greater and more everlasting" as the Qur'an says, and because of this his whole being and demeanor was subtle and limpid. When he one time saw my large Moroccan style Tasbih, he showed me his tiny unnoticeable tasbih.

He never extended his feet, even when he sat alone, because he never felt himself absent from Allah's vision. He slept very little during the night, and regularly spent his nights reciting Qur'an and having intimate conversation with Allah, even into his old age.

He will be missed for all of the above, as well as for many other deeper spiritual aspects of his being, spiritual aspects which even many Muslims would find confusing and distant, being unfortunately so tied up with the material world while being unfamiliar with the matters of the soul. I ask Allah to rest his graceful soul firmly on the carpet of His Presence and Nearness, and I also ask each of you to recite a "Fatiha" on his behalf, and feed an orphan in his name."

Shaykh Ibrahim Muhammad al-Battawi Abu-Dhikri's ancestors, from the sadah of the Prophet Muhammad,‘alayhi salat wa salam, came to Egypt from the Maghreb in the time of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi. He was a contemporary of Shaykh Abdal-Halim Mahmoud, the great mujaddid of the 20th century in Egypt, and Shaykh al-Azhar. he taught the works of Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali for some 25 years in the Azhar, as Professor in the Department of Speculative Theology and Philosophy in the Azhar.

In the path of Shadhuli sufism Shaykh Ibrahim dedicated himself for most of his long life, in the service of his Lord. Shaykh Ibrahim was first a disciple of the great mujaddid of the Sufi ways in Egypt, Sidi Salama al-Radi - the shaykh of the Hamdiyyah-Shadhuliyyah tariqah. That noble shaykh was an inheritor of Imam Abu-l-Hasan al-Shadhuli. Most recognise the line as going through Sidi Abu-l-Abbas al-Mursi, who was Imam al-Shadhuli's sole successor, and then through Ibn Ata'illah al-Iskandari, the author of the famous ‘Hikam' - but they often neglect that while Sidi Ibn Ata'illah was the transmitter of the ‘written teachings' of the tariqah, there was another successor of Sidi Abu-l-Abbas. Sidi Yaqut al-Arsh was the transmitter of the ‘oral teachings', which have not been written down, and are passed only from shaykh to student by word of mouth.

Shaykh Ibrahim al-Battawi, MysticSaint, SadiqShaykh Ibrahim was a professor in what is well known to be the most difficult department at the Azhar. Shaykh Abdal Halim Mahmoud, the great Shaykh al-Azhar and a contemporary of Shaykh Ibrahim, had graduated himself from that department. Every year, he would identify a few students who appeared to be attracted to certain principles, and would teach them privately at the small zawiyah that was housed a few minutes down from the Azhar mosque in Old Cairo. Here, he would focus on transmitting the knowledge of classical books of the Islamic canon in the traditional manner, where the student would recite, and he would clarify the meanings of the words as time went on.

In that zawiyah, the hadrah might be held - although in recent years, that zawiyah became less common as a meeting place, as he focused on the second zawiyah in Heliopolis, which was also a mosque in one of the new suburbs of Cairo. There, he had also built a hostel for students, as well as a clinic for taking care of the sick; such was the model he followed when building mosques all around Cairo and further.

His students were literally from all around the world. They did not come to him out of a note of his fame, for he stuck very strictly to the doctrine of transparency of the Shadhuliyyah - what a great Shaykh of that way described as ‘More glow... and less show.' And certainly, Shaykh Ibrahim was glowing.

He lived incredibly simply, but he was wealthy inside - and indeed, much of his external lack of wealth was due to the amount of money he constantly gave to his poorer students and others. He often gave the khutbah in the mosque of Sidi Ibn Ata'illah, his ancestral teacher in one of the lines that he inherited the Shadhuli tariqah from. He often visited the cities of Makkah and Madinah, for a long time doing it on a yearly basis.

His way was simple. He called for attachment to the shari'ah, and abhorred any suggestion that success in tasawuf could be reached outside the realm of the shari'ah and the tradition of this religion of Islam. He reminded his students to pay attention to their dreams, which the Prophet himself, ‘alayhi salat wa salam, described as a part of prophecy. He turned their attention to the orisons of Imam Abu-l-Hasan al-Shadhuli, certain in the value of these collections of du'as and ayat from the Qur'an. He insisted they spend a portion of their day studying the disciplines of the shari'ah, and reading from the book of Allah.

And finally, clearly and without any doubt, he said that one of the conditions of his way was to guide people to the truth of Islam through love, and he emphasised ‘love' very strongly. He specifically warned against taking any price or profit in dunya for this work; this work is for Allah, and for Allah alone, with absolute sincerity.

Shaykh Ibrahim al-Battawi was taken from us in this world on the 14th of Rajab, 1430 hijri, surrounded by his family in Cairo. We may never see the likes of him again, but as he reminded one of his students, ‘in the realm of the spirit (ruh), distance means nothing.' Wa-l-hamdulillah.

- al-faqir as-shadhuli via Green Mountain School

. Green Mountain School
. Shaykh Abdullah Nooruddeen Durkee
. Al-Azhar University
. The Grand Imams of Al-Azhar | Shuyukhul Azhar
. Shadhili School of Sufism
. Fatawa of Shaykh 'Abd al-Halim Mahmud: On Sufism Pin It Now!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Paimona Bideh | Bring me the Chalice

Paimona bideh key khumar astam
Man ashiq e chasm e mast e yaar astam

Bring me the chalice, so I may lose my self,
for, I'm in love with my Beloved’s intoxicating Gaze.

Chashmat key bagh e khutan memanaat
Royat ba gulab haye chaman memanaat

Your Eyes light up my secret garden
Your Face makes luminous every rose therein.

Gul roo ba kuneed waraq waraq boyee kaanee
Ba lalazar e be watan me yaraat

Face like a flower, it give petals their sweet fragrance
The mystic land of my Beloved is placeless.

Man ashiq e chasm e mast e yaar astam
Bedeh bedeh kay khumar astam
Paimona bedah key khumar astam

I'm in love with my Beloved’s intoxicating Gaze,
Bring! bring! so I may annihilate my self.
Bring me the chalice, so I may lose my self.

Az O madanet ager khaber me dashtaam
Pesh e qadamat kocha ragul me kashtaam

If I hear the message of Your sacred arrival,
Under Your feet, I will spread a carpet of flowers.

Gul me kashtam gul e gulab me kashtam
Khak e qadamt padi dam e war dashtaam

Spread flowers, Spread rose flowers,
I will sacrifice myself at the dust of Your feet.

Paimona bideh key khumar astam
Man ashiq e chasm e mast e yaar astam

Bring me the chalice, so I may lose my self,
I'm in love with my Beloved’s intoxicating Gaze.

- Original poetry (in Pashto/Dari language) by Persian polymath, astronomer, poet and mystic Omar Khayyam (1048-1123) | The new translation is based on
earlier translation

[>] Click here to watch Zeb and Haniya performing “Paimona Bideh” in Coke Studio Session | [>] download the video | audio

. Symbology of Wine
and Beloved's Intoxicated Gaze

In Sufi poetry and music a much used symbol is Wine and Beloved's Gaze.

Christ with ChaliceThe Sufis define their relationship with God through Love and thus their favorite name for God is Beloved (no wonder some medieval european writers thought of Sufis as the lost and hidden Esoteric Christians in disguise since Christ's teaching and that of Sufi doctine of love are so strinkingly similar). Noteworthy of Christ's saying, "Although you may love me with all the love which men have, if you do not love God and do not love all your fellow men equally, you shall be numbered among the idolators."

Beloved's Intoxicating Gaze is an imagery used to mean the special grace that falls upon the heart of the devotee that give rise to God realization or recognition of God and brings bliss of the soul's loving self-surrender.

For some its a surprise that despite intoxication or strong drink is prohibited in the Scripture, yet the imagery of wine is found in the works of many sufis even though they themselves never touched wine as intoxicating drink. This puzzle can be solved through the Scripture, that is the Holy Quran itself.

In certain places the Quran speaks of strong drink to be prohibited because of its role in mindless violence, action of abomination and senseless action issuing from drunkenness. But then again in the description of the paradise special type of Wine, special kind of drink is mentioned. This is the kind of Wine which inspired many sufis to take up the symbology.

About this second type of drink worth mentioning few verses from the Quran:

You will recognize in their faces the beaming brightness of Bliss.
Their thirst will be quenched with Pure Wine sealed: they are given to drink of a pure wine, sealed, whose seal is musk - for this let (all) those strive who strive for bliss. With it will be a mixture of Tasnim: a holy fountain from which drink the Nearmost ones to God.
- The Quran 83:24-28

.. and their Lord will give to them to drink of a Wine Pure and Holy.
It shall be announced, "Verily this is a reward for you, and your endeavour is accepted and recognised." - The Quran, 76:21-22

Thus the very Quran that prohibit strong drinks of intoxication speaks of Pure Wine in the Kingdom. For this inspiration the mystic poets has found imagery such as:
. Tavern - Earth,
. Wine Giver (Saqi) - God. In some cases also points to God's Messenger, Muhammad, upon him be peace who is the bringer of grace
. Wine - Bliss of God Realization, Self Realization, Recognition of God, Holy Grace

Sufi Master Hazrat Inayat Khan writes: "What makes the soul of the poet dance? Music. What makes the painter paint beautiful pictures, the musician sing beautiful songs? It is the inspiration that beauty gives. Therefore the Sufi has called this beauty sāqī , the divine Giver who gives the wine of life to all.

In the imagery of the Sufi poets, this tavern is the world, and the sāqī (wine giver) is God. In whatever form the wine-giver comes and gives a wine, it is God who comes. In this way, by recognizing the sāqī , the wine-giver, in all forms, the Sufi worships God. He recognizes God in friend and foe as the wine-giver."

About losing oneself, about becoming annihilated by the intoxicating divine wine, Rumi said it beautifully, "Dissolve like sugar in water before the Beloved."

Thy light which riseth in my heart,
in the hearts of my mureeds may shine.
The juice that hath made me so drunken,
O Sāqī, give my mureeds that wine.
Surround my mureeds with Thy beauty,
Create in their lives harmony divine.
Give them sympathy for one another
Raise them above life's mine and thine.

Thy light which rieseth in my heart,
may in the hearts of my mureeds shine.
The juice that intoxicated me so,
O Sāqī, give my mureeds that wine.
Surround my mureeds with Thy beauty,
Create in them Thy harmony divine,
Give them sympathy for one another
May they forget world's mine and thine.

- A prayerful poem
from Hazrat Inayat Khan's personal notebook (1922)

. Drink Further:
. Love (Mahab-bat) via Untired with Loving
. Who do you really love?
. Traveling the Path of Love
. Stages of Love

. Connecting:
. Zeb and Haniya on Facebook
. Coke Studio. Episode 1
. Paimona of Coke Studio via YouTube
. Behind the Scene | Paimona
. A slower version of Paimona Bideh with translation
. Girl band from Pakistan Pin It Now!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Attentiveness and Awareness of One's State of Mind and Heart

Shaykh NazimFollowing are are three Principles on Awareness out of the Eleven Principles of the Naqshbandi Sufi Path. These Principles are passed from Qutubs or Spiritual Axis of their time finally through the transmission of two great Naqshbandi (Pattern Maker) Sufi masters: 'Abd ul-Khaliq Ghujduwani (d. 1220) and Baha ad-din Naqshband (d. 1389), may God sanctify their soul and give us baraka (blessings) with what they carried within.

. Attentiveness ~ Nigah dasht

Struggle with all alien thoughts. Be always mindful of what you are thinking and doing, so that you may put the imprint of your immortality on every passing incident and instance of your daily life.

Be watchful. Be aware of what catches your attention. Learn to withdraw your attention from undesirable objects. This is also expressed as "be vigilant in thought and remember yourself."

Nigah means sight. It means that the seeker must watch his heart and safeguard it by preventing bad thoughts from entering. Bad inclinations keep the heart from joining with the Divine.

It is acknowledged in the Naqshbandiyya that for a seeker to safeguard his heart from bad inclinations for fifteen minutes is a great achievement. For this he would be considered a real Sufi. Sufism is the power to safeguard the heart from bad thoughts and protect it from low inclinations. Whoever accomplishes these two goals will know his heart, and whoever knows his heart will know his Lord. The Holy Prophet, praised is his station, has said, "Whoever knows himself knows His Lord."

Sa'd ud-Din Kashgari said: "The seeker must, for one hour or two or whatever he is capable of, hold onto his mind and prevent thoughts of other [than God] entering." Another description from the Munahej ul-Sair has it that: "[Nigah dasht is the] guarding of the special awareness and presence which have resulted from the noble dhikr, so that remembering of anything other than the Real does not find its way into the heart/mind."

Yet others have written that nigah dasht also applies to the time of the dhikr itself: "Nigah dasht is when the seeker at the time of the dhikr holds his heart/mind upon the meaning of LA ILAHA ILLA 'LLAH so that thoughts do not find entrance into his heart, because if thoughts are in the mind then the result of the dhikr, meaning presence of the heart/mind, will not manifest." It has also been said, "Nigah dasht is an expression meaning the prevention of the occurance of thought at the time one is occupied with [repeating] the fragrant sentence [of LA ILAHA ILLA 'LLAH]."

Abdul Majid Il Khani said that the meaning of preserving the heart/mind from incoming thoughts is that they lose their hold on the mind. In this connection Khwaja Ubaydullah Ahrar said: "The meaning of preserving the mind [from thoughts] is not that the seeker can avoid thoughts at the beginning [of his attempts], but rather that thoughts do not disturb the attendance and presence [required for the dhikr]. [Thoughts] can be likened to straw which has fallen onto moving water and yet the water is not prevented from its course. 'Abd ul-Khaliq Ghujduwani said: "It isn't so that thoughts never enter the heart/mind, but rather that at times they do and at times they do not." His statement seems to be supported by Khwaja 'Ala al-Din al-'Attar who reported: "Succeeding with thoughts is difficult or even impossible. I preserved my heart for twenty years from thoughts, after which they would still appear but they then found no hold there."

. Awareness of One's State of Mind / Time ~ Wuquf-i-Zamani

Baha ad-din Naqshband said that this consciousness is the maker and guide of the disciple. It means to be attentive to one's state of mind at any given moment and to know whether it is a cause for giving thanks or for repenting.

It means: To keep account of one's temporal states. To distinguish presence, huzur, from absence, ghaflat. Baha ad-din described this as "self-possession" or "mindfulness." He added that one should always be grateful when one returns to a state of presence.

In wuquf-i-zaman the seeker remains constantly aware of his changing states. Baha ad-din Naqshband explained: "Wuquf-i-zamani is the work of the traveler on the Way: to be attentive of his state, and to know whether it is a cause for giving thanks or for repenting, to give thanks while feeling spiritual elation, and to repent while in spiritual dryness or contraction."

He also stated: "The foundation of the work of the seeker has been established in the awareness of time [exercise] as seeing at each moment whether the perceiver of breaths is [breathing] with presence or with forgetfulness."

Maulana Yaqub Charkhi, in his Explanation of the Names of Allah, said: "Khwaja [Naqshband] instructed that in the state of qabz (contraction) one should seek God's forgiveness, whereas in the state of bast (expansion) one should offer thanks. Close observation of these two states constitutes wuquf-i-zamani." Wuquf-i-zamani of the Naqshbandi path is equivalent to the term "mohasseba" (keeping account of/close observation) used by other Sufis.

Jami, in the Resalah-i-nuria, said:"Wuquf-i-zamani is a term meaning the keeping account of the times one passes in [a state of] dispersal (tafriqah) or collectedness (jam'iyyat)."

. Awareness of the Heart ~ Wuquf-i-Qalbi

The heart becomes aware of God. This marks the awakening of divine love. The individual becomes aware that his existence is an obstacle to his final transformation and he no longer fears to sacrifice it because he sees for himself that he will gain infinitely more than he loses.

Wuquf-i-qalbi has been described as having two meanings. One is that the seeker's heart in the midst of the dhikr is conscious and aware of the Real. On this point Khwaja Ubaydullah Ahrar said: "Wuquf-i-qalbi is an expression meaning an awareness and presence of heart toward the Most High Real felt in such a manner that the heart feels no need of anything except the Real." This meaning is similar to that of yad dasht.

Heart consciousness means heart's resting with the Beloved, as if nothing and no one else existed.

The other meaning is that there is awareness of the heart itself. In other words, the seeker during the time of the dhikr is attentive to the cone-shaped heart which is the "seat of subtlety," and prevents it from becoming unaware during the saying of the dhikr.

Baha ad-din Naqshband, according to the Qodsîyyah, considered "the observance of wuquf-i-qalbi the most important and necessary because it is the summary and essence of the intention of the dhikr."

Like an expecting mother-bird,
sit watchfully on the egg of your heart,
Since from this egg will result
your drunkenness, self-abandoned,
uproarious laughter and your final union.

- Credit: The Eleven Principles of the Naqshbandi Path

Photo on top: Mawlana Sheikh Muhummed Nazim, may Allah be pleased with him, Guide of Naqshbandi-Haqqani sufi lineage who recently announced his eldest Son, Sheikh Sayyid Mehmet to be his chief Khalifa.
Pin It Now!