Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Eye-Witness | Mystical Ode by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Al Habib

Oh you who desire the presence of clear witnessing, rise above the spirit and the forms.
Cling to the Original Void - and be as if you were not, oh annihilated one!

You will see true existence by a secret whose meanings have spread in every age.
Forms of action and being do not multiply the Actor in any way.
So whoever rises above every vanishing thing sees existence with­out, duality.

Oh the victory of one who has come to witness a Lord Who is Compassionate, Persevering and Near.
He accepts whoever comes as a poor one who has turned in recourse from his state of darkness.

So the turning away (from wrong action) of the slave designates him 
for the presence of love and drawing-near.

Remembrance of Allah while witnessing His bounty brings about luminous inspiration.
Whoever is safe from his own self is safe from creation.

So oppose the self in its desires and seek the company of a gnostic of Allah.
He will show you the hidden faults of the self, he will heal you with a spiritual remedy.
He acts gently towards you on the journey and has compassion 
for the people of trial and those who lose direction.

He will annihilate you through dhikr in the reality: and he reminds the heart with the Quran
He will refresh the spirit with instruction so that meanings are manifested in it. .

Oh Lord, bless the Prophet as long as the Suratul Mathani is recited.
And his Family and Companions as long as people profit by Iman.
I ask of the Real - bliss and contentment - for all whom my era encompasses.

- The Mystical Ode of Shaykh al-Habib, which inspired the third track from the album "If man but knew" by The Habibiyya, recorded in 1972 for Island records.  The music is centered around the singing of the mystical ode "The Eye Witness" by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Al Habib. The Habibiyya are the followers of the venerable Shakya al-Habib, may Allah sanctify his Sirr.

The Habibiyya’s sole album stands as one of the earliest and most beautiful pieces of world music ever recorded in Britain. The musicians involved (including three members of UK underground legends Mighty Baby) had been profoundly affected, both musically and spiritually, by visiting Morocco in 1971, and became adherents of the sufi faith. Upon their return to London they made If Man But Knew, featuring exotic instruments such as koto, shakuhachi and mandola alongside guitar, organ and drums, conjuring a hypnotic, other-worldly ambience in the process. 

The title of the tracks in the album is quite cute and very sufi:

1. Two Shakuhachis / 2. Koto Piece / 3. The Eye-Witness / 4. Mandola / 5. If Man But Knew / 6. Fana-Fillah  / 7. Procession of the God Intoxicated / 8. Peregrinations / 9. Peregrinations Continued / 10. Another Ode / 11. Bird in God's Garden

The story goes like this. In 1971 a group of young British psyche musicians went on holiday to Morocco, as so many people in search of mysticism and hash were doing back then. There in al-Maghrib they became enamoured of Sufism, with its trances, its poetry and music, its shrines and dervishes, its theories of purified psychospiritual universal holy unity. They converted to the religion and returned home. Back in the UK, inspired by their new faith, they put out this album. - via Standin' At the Cross Roads
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