The inner dimensions of the fast

Shah Wali Allah writes in his masterpiece ‘The Conclusive Argument from God’: “When a person tries to subjugate the lower soul and eliminate its bad qualities, his act will take on a sanctified form in the world of images. Among the purest of gnostics is the one who concentrates on this form, for he is furnished with knowledge from the unseen world and achieves union with the divine essence because of transcendence and sanctification. This is the meaning of his saying, may the blessings and peace of God be upon him: “Fasting is done for My sake and I reward it”.”

Ibn Arabi: Love

Ibn al-‘Arabi has dedicated a complete chapter of his Futuhat al-Makkiya to love, which has been translated by Maurice Gloton as ‘Traité de L’Amour’ (ISBN 2-226-02715-7). He describes 3 types of love (pp. 67-127): 1. Divine love 2. Spiritual love 3. Natural love. For those not knowing Arabic or French Stephen Hirtenstein has described these 3 types of love in his ‘The Unlimited Mercifier’ (ISBN 1-883991-29-3). See pp. 191-203. A condensed description with all the major features of the exposition of the shaykh is given on pp. 194-195: “Know that Love is according to three degrees. (Firstly) there is natural love, which is the love of ordinary people, whose aim is unification in the animal spirit… It ends in the…

10 Sufi tales of Hazrat Nizamuddin Awliya

A Chishti pir has sent these lines written in Persian calligraphy: Gar nayaabi sohbat-e-ahl-e-safaa Bas toraa kaafist zekr-e-aasfaa If you are unable to be in the company of the pure, Then sufficient for you is the remembrance of the pure. Here are some tales as recounted by Hazrat Nizamuddin Awliya: Sufi Tale 1 A pir who was acquainted with the pros and cons of the sufi way had a son who just had finished his studies in several worldly sciences. This son, with the name Muhammad, approached him and made him clear that he wished to follow the sufi path. Muhammad then received the advice to undergo a retreat of forty days. After having completed the retreat he informed his…

A Chishti Tale

A parrot, called Tuti, was asked by Khojasta, its mistress: “I like to hear a Sufi tale. Why don’t you tell me one?” Tuti answered, “Oh mistress, no evil will come to one who avoids these four things: first, anger; second, temper; third, indolence; fourth, haste. Although love and patience are not compatible, still one should not act in haste. If an unfortunate incident should arise, you should be able to extricate yourself just as the woman who saved herself from the leopard.” Khojasta inquired: “How did that happen?” Tuti replied: “It is reported that there lived a man in a city who had a wife who was extremely bad-tempered, quarrelsome, sharp-tongued, gossipy and peevish. O Nakhshabi, if a woman…

The Quest of the Dervish

A dervish being questioned by a King as to what revelation, in his quest for knowledge, had seemed to him the one most pregnant with meaning, answered thus: I’ll tell you about the second birth of my soul. My body, like a horse, has carried my soul away in the journey towards God, over the land of bodies and the ocean of spirits. When growth here below had attained its perfection, and my ‘horse’ had lived a long time, my soul left it behind and experienced a second birth. My reborn soul entered into the Eighth Climate, closer to its principles and its goal. Thus did it gradually progressed in perfection of the self, in the construction of its inner…

Jamali

The Indian Sufi Jamali was very fond of travelling and embarked on long journeys. He was a famed poet who was even known in Herat. (my wordprocessor is changing Herat into heart…!). After visiting Mecca and Medina Jamali visited the Maghrib, the Yemen, Palestine, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran and even Sri Lanka to see the footprint of Adam. It is said that he travelled in the same manner as a qalandar, and with the dust of his travels on him he arrived in Herat and visited the famous Jami. He sat down next to him. Jami was rather annoyed and asked him what was the difference between him and an ass. Jamali then answered by pointing out the distance between…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 29

This is a complete ghazal attributed to Khwâja Mu’înuddîn Chishtî: Ay ki andar ‘ain paidâ’î nihâni kîstî Har chi dar fahm u gumân âyad na ânî kîstî Who are You, Who are both clearly manifest and hidden? You, Whose existence is beyond intellect and imagination? Jumla-yi-ashyâ zi hadd-i-wasf shud ma’lûm-i-khalq Ay ki bîrûn az hadd-i-wasf-i-bayânî kîstî All things are distinguished in creation by the extent of their definitions. Who are You, Whose description is beyond any limitation? Ay ki dar har mazhar-i-naw’î zuhûrî karda’i Dar libâs-i-hajla ‘ayân ‘iyânî kîstî Who are, Who manifest Yourself in each kind of place, Whose eyes are manifest behind the curtain of the bridal chamber? Nai badan az tu khabar dârad na jân az tu…

The Shaykh’s Cat

During the morning meditation, the cat of a certain khanegah often caused quite some disturbance. So shaykh Ahmad, the resident Sufi Pir, ordered that the cat always had to be tied up when that practice got performed..  After the death of shaykh Ahmad, the cat still got tied up during the morning meditation. When the cat died, another cat was bought in order to “properly” tie it up during the meditation. Several elaborate Sufi handbooks were written in later ages by scholarly followers of shaykh Ahmad about the symbolical meaning of tying up a cat. 

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 10

Toraa mikhaaham ay delbar ke binam To’i maqsud-e-man dar har ke binam O Beloved! It is You I wish to see. I desire only You in all that I see. Maraa chasm az baraaye didan-e-tost To rokh na-nomaayaim pas-e-dar ke binam My eyes are only there in order to see You. If You don’t show Your face to me, what else can I see? Jamaal-e-saaqi-ye-man minomaayad Be-meraat-e-mai o saaghar ke binam The beauty of my cupbearer appears everywhere: In the mirror of the wine, in the goblet and in all that I see. Chonaanat dida am az dida-ye-del Ke na-shenaasam be-chasm-e-sar ke binam That manifestation of You which I’ve seen with the eyes of my heart, Cannot be understood by…

Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi

To make a start there is this charming quatrain of Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi (# 1218 in my edition of the Divan): Dar bagh shodam sabuh o gol michiam Vaz didan-e baaghbaan hami tarsidam Shirin sokhani ze baaghbaan be shenidam Gol raa cheh mahall keh baagh raa baghshidam I was in the garden in the morning and I was gathering roses And all the time I was afraid that the gardener would see me. The gardener, however, only spoke these kind words: ‘A few roses are nothing as I give you the complete garden’. Mawlana Rumi writes (# 84 in the edition of Foruzaanfar): Chun gol hamaye tan khandam na az raahe dehaan tanhaa Ziraa keh manam bi man baa shaah-e…