The Path of Blame

Shaykh as-Sulami (d. 1021) followed the path of blame. His ties to the Malamatiyya were through his grandfather Ibn Nujayd and his many Malamatiyya mentors. In his Treatise of the People of Blame (Risala al-malamatiyya, which has received a complete translation into French) he places the people of blame at the top of the spiritual hierarchy: The shaykh shows in ascending order: • The exoterists or scholars of the Islamic law • The Sufis or the people of deep inward knowledge • The people of blame. Malama (blame) has LMW as root. This root appears several times in the Qur’an and ahadith. Lawwama (an adjective of intensity) means: One who is constantly blaming others or accusing oneself. It has an…

What kind of Pir do you want?

Nawab Khadim Hasan was once approached for initiation. He asked the visitor if he would like a murshid who was a leaf, a stone or a log? The visitor was quite surprised and could not give a reply. So to save him the consternation Nawab Khadim Hasan gave him an explanation: If a leaf floats down a river and a stone is dropped on it, it sinks a little, then tilts and the stone falls off, and thus soon the leave alone is floating down the river. If you drop a stone in a river, it sinks. In fact if you tie anything to it, they both sink. But if a log floats down a river, you can grab it…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 19

In manam yaa rabb ke andar nur-e-haqq faani shodam Matla’-ye-anwaar-e-faiz-e-zaat-sobhaani shodam O Lord! My self has been annihilated in the light of truth. It has become the place of rising of the lights of the glorious divine essence. Zarra zarra az wojud-am taaleb-e-didaar gasht Taa ke man mast az tajallihaa-ye-rabbaani shodam Each particle of my existence has been searching for the vision of You Until I have become drunk by the manifestation of the divine. Zang-e-ghairat raa ze meraat-e-del-am be-zedud ‘eshq Taa ba-kolli waaqef-asraar-e-penhaani shodam The rust of duality has been removed by love from the mirror of my heart, So that it has become completely aware of the hidden secrets. Man shonaan birun shodam az zolmat-e-hasti-ye-khish Taa ze nur-e-hasti-ye-u…

The Gifts of Inner Knowledge

(‘AWAARIF AL-MA’AARIF) ‘Umar as-Suhrawardi Chapter 57 The inner knowledge dealing with thoughts (impulses), their classification and their differences 1. Our shaykh Abu’n Najib as-Suhrawardi [he is the uncle of the author] has informed us: [the isnad connecting him with the prophet has been given, but it has been omitted by me] “The messenger of God said: ‘The devil has the habit of whispering [in the hearts of people and the angels do the same. The whisper of the devils points to evil purposes and declares the truth to be a lie, the whisper of the angel points to good purposes and declares the truth to be true. Whosoever experiences the last type should know that it comes from God and…

These dervishes are like apes

While it is good that murids in the beginning of their path emulate the behaviour of their murshid, it is important that in due course of time this doesn’t turn into a blind following (taqlid) of their spiritual guide and teacher. A Sufi shaykh visited some dervishes in Misr during his travels. When he was with them, he taught some apes to do a dance. They learned to do it very quickly. Dressed in golden robes and wearing impressive crowns, they went through the steps and, for a while, put on a very good show. This show took place in front of the dervishes the shaykh had visited. They responded with enthusiasm to the dance of the apes. Something unexpected…

Khwaja Gharib Nawaz

Khwaja Gharib Nawaz or ‘Patron of the Poor’ as Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti is known, was not only a great Sufi and an inspired person, but at the same time he was an erudite scholar and a poet. He would generally not allow more than one dervish to accompany him in travels. He would stay in desolate and deserted places. Sometimes he would stay in a graveyard. The moment he came to be known, he would stay no longer. He hated publicity. Khwaja Moinuddin Chshti says… Khwaja Gharib Nawaz says that the Day of Judgment is a certainty. On that day when the true lovers will be called and if at that time someone amongst the lovers cried out establishing his claim…

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”.”

Self-Reflection

You will know the saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) that, he who knows his self, knows his Lord. You can of course also read this “he” as “she” because self-reflection is useful to all. It requires some practice, because we have the inclination to cover our own acts and thoughts and feelings with a subjective veil and then we do not really look at such things. That is also why it is useful to have a spiritual guide who serves as a mirror to us. An intelligent enemy is also helpful. Hazrat Bulleh Shah has said: You read to become all-knowing, But you never read your self. I’ve today read an article dealing with self-reflection. I’m subscribed to…

The Mirror

The mirror had stood in the Shaykh’s room longer than anyone in the khaneqah could remember. It even pre-dated the memory of the oldest Sufi, and he was rumored to be at least 122 years of age. Over six feet tall the long oval mirror towered over the low couch, dwarfing the contents of the room. Its base was a marvel of intricately carved ebony depicting a lion chasing – and about to catch – a gazelle. The claws, hooves and eyes of the animals were set with Persian turquoise and moonstones, and a finely chased gold inlay picked out an inscription in Arabic that began: “He who chases the gazelle…,” the ending of which could not be seen as…

Advice to the disciple

Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti has said: “The spiritual disciple should, by earnestly following and obeying the spiritual guide, try to reach the place where the spiritual guide himself becomes the comb of his disciple. It should be taken to heart, that whatever the spiritual guide persuades his disciple to do and to practise is for the benefit of the disciple himself”