The Doctrine of Futuwwat

The prophet Abrahamis famous for his hospitality. The Sufis have followed this trait of his character. Hospitality is a collective virtue. The term futuwwat means and implies that an individual should be of service to others. He should oblige the people. He should not hurt anyone. He should bear with a smile the harm and injury caused to him by the people. The strict adherence to this doctrine resulted in the establishment of a body known as fityan in Islamic society. It resembles to a marked degree many voluntary and social organisations of our present day. The famous traveller ibn Battuta (d. 1368) had the occasion of seeing this body from very close quarters. He writes thus: ‘There is none…

The tale of the three questions

A certain Sultan owned everything a man could wish for and still he did not know the purpose of life. The answer to three questions made his life difficult: 1. What should I do? 2. With which people should I do the things God asks me to do? 3. When should I do it? The Sultan asked the advice of all kinds of wise people, and then he was told that there was a Chishti dervish, who lived far away, and who might give him a satisfactory answer. The Sultan immediately left and after a journey of several weeks he met the dervish. The dervish was cultivating his own land. He was a simple man, but no simpleton, as he…

Initiation into the Chishti order

There are people who want to become Naqshbandi or Qadiri or Suhrawardi or… But just suppose you’d have the opportunity to be admitted into the Chishti tariqa, i.e. the order among all orders… The question then is: What should I do?” The answer is simple: Take your time to find a true teacher. Before finding this spiritual guide who may accept you into the Chishtiyya path, it is useful to prepare yourself somewhat. It is good to try to discipline your ego a little bit. Do not overdo it, because the Chishti way is a more advanced way, than only the path ascetics follow. So in case you talk too much, be more silent, in case you eat too many…

The Secret of the Path

Some people some time ago left a book at our place. It is the book of someone unknown to me, but after some time I found out that both the writer as well as his book are well known in Moroccan Sufism. It concerns shaykh ad-Dabbâgh and his book is called Golden words (Kitâb al Ibrîz). The Shaykh lived at the end of the 17 th century and in the beginning of the 18 th century. I hope to translate some parts thereof as it may also interest you. It starts now: The esoterical science The esotertical science can be compared To 99 lines written in letters of gold And the exoterical science To the hundredth line written in ink….

The inner school of the Sufis

A Chishti shaykh once pointed out to me how it can be observed that the inner school takes place. The dervishes then sit in the shape of a crescent opening up to the light of the ‘star’, their shaykh. And indeed afterwards it was easy to recognise. The subject that is discussed cannot always be judged at face value. I remember that once in my presence the shaykh discussed several things, but all of them dealing with worldly matters. I was feeling rather disappointed having made a long travel to attend. At that very moment the shaykh brought up a new subject, also having to do with outward things, but at the same time I did not only realise that…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 21

Delaa chu mahram-e-aan delbar-e-yagaana to’i Qaza chu tir-e-balaa mi-zanad neshaana to’i O heart, fate has made you the target of the arrows of affliction, Because you’ve become a confidant of that unique Beloved: You! Degar foruzad kaanun-e-‘eshq aatesh-e-shawq Sharaara ke be-rizad az aan zabaana to’i A fire full of longing blazes forth from the fire-place of love. Spark are flying out because of that flame of You. Tan-am chu daa’era o noqta dar miyaana del-am Del-am chu daa’era o noqta dar miyaana to’i My body is like a circle and my heart is the core in its centre. My heart is like a circle and the core in its centre is You. Be-goftam az che bahaana to dar hejaabi goft…

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…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 3

Here is a ghazal from the Diwaan-e-Mo’in (Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna): Aatesh-e-‘eshq-e to dar jaan-e-man oftaad konun Raft aaraam o qaraaram hama barbaad konun The fire of Your love has now set my heart in flames All inward peace and stability have left me and now I’m ruined. Aanke bar har rag-e-jaan zakhm-e-to khordam chun chang Che ‘ajab gar konam az dast-e-to faryaad konun Your hands have inflicted wounds on each of my arteries Is it strange if I now cry out for help because of Your hands? Gar che del kham-e-chaugan-e-balaa’ oftaad ast Joz tahammol che towaan kard chu oftaad konun Although my heart experiences the pain of the stick of affliction, What can I do, but…

The Mango

Shah Inayat was the head gardener of the Shalimar gardens of Lahore. These gardens are Mogul gardens. The shrine of Madho Lal Huseyn can be found there. Bullha Shah visited these gardens and as it was summer, he roamed in the mango-groves. Desirous of tasting the fruit he looked round for the guardian, but, not finding him there, he decided to help himself. To avoid the sin of stealing he looked at the ripe fruit and said: “Allah, al-Ghaneey!” (Allah, the Rich One). On the uttering of this invocation a mango fell in his hands. He repeated them several times and thus collected a few mangoes. Tying them in his scarf (a long piece of cloth wound round the shoulders…

The four dervishes

Have you read the book attributed to Amir Khusraw called ‘The four dervishes’? It has been translated into English by Amina Shah, the sister of Idries Shah. It is a book of tales with a structure like the one of the Arabian nights (‘the structure is the message’ is a sentence calling for comments!). The peculiar thing that can be said about the original is that it is said to have a healing quality. I have stayed for some time in a sufi khaneqah in India and there I have seen it being read aloud near the bed of someone who was ill. I am wondering about this healing quality. Why is it that this book is used for such…