Song of the Dervish

Have you ever heard a dervish sing? If not, use your imagination. Open your window and what do you hear? Imagine that you are hearing approaching footsteps, while someone is singing. It has to be a dervish, because his song is telling a Sufi tale, complaining of love’s separation. Do you like to listen to a song of a dervish in real life? Why don’t you visit the shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi? It is the habit to go to the nearby shrine of his closest disciple first, i.e. Hazrat Amir Khusro. Music was prayer for Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, while Hazrat Amir Khusro created qawwali, devotional music, for his master. His poetry resounds in the songs of the…

Generosity

Hatim at-Tayy was known for his extreme largesse, which was so great that whenever a man of his circle found himself in dire straits, he would refer to Hatim at-Tayy as the proverbial solver of all problems. Once a man who lived rather at a great distance of Hatim’s dwelling place was sorely pressed from want of funds. For days he fretted and worried about this, while his situation steadily worsened, until one day his wife said to him: ‘Whatever we try to do to pull ourselves out of this trouble, it just gets worse. How long is this to go on? Why don’t you go now and speak to Hatim at-Tayy and ask him to help you for once?’…

Gift to the Ganges

Just suppose you are able to make an interview with shaykh Ghawth ‘Ali Shah (1804-1880). What would you ask him? Perhaps some of your questions are similar to the ones as given below: Q: Why are you called a gift to the Ganges? A: My mother was not well after giving me birth, so a wet nurse was found, who called me ‘Ganga Bishan’. Q: You are a sayyed, as you belong to the family of the Prophet. Is it not strange that you as a Muslim have attended a Hindu festival in Hardwar? Is it not true that God is present in Islam and everywhere? A: I have taken a sacred bath in the Ganges on behalf of and…

The wake-up call by a forerunner

A young man in Tirmiz desired to expand his horizon. Together with some friends he decided to go on a journey in pursuit of knowledge. When he and his friends were about to leave, his mother appealed him to stay as he was the only one who could give her the care she needed. His friends left and leave this story, but the story of the young man now really takes a start. You can imagine that he felt miserable. He decided to help his mother, but at the same time, he was very sorry to see his friends leave. That’s why he felt it necessary to increase his melancholic state by regularly visiting the cemetery of Tirmiz. One Sunday…

My visit to mysterious tribes

In a book of the founder of the Theosophical movement, Madame Blavadski called ‘Mysterious Tribes’ (in fact it is a book in German) I read about two curious tribes the Kurumbula’s and the Toda’s. They live, according to the book, in the Nilgiri’s in the South of India. The region is taboo for visitors. Of course, when the British still ruled India, an adventurous Englishman did not care about the taboo and even was all too eager to organise an expedition to this area. The people who carried his luggage became very afraid when they came near this forbidden region. It was said that you had to pay with your life when you entered it. There were tales of gods…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 8

This is a translation of ghazal 69 to be found on p. 63 of the “Diwaan-e-Amir Khosraw“: Many a night I was with a moon; Where are all those nights gone? Now it is night again, but it is dark, Because of the smoke of my cries: ‘O Lord!’ Those were happy nights, the ones I’ve spent with her: Sometimes drunk and sometimes merry-headed. My world becomes dark, When I remember those nights. I used to tell the tale again and again Of her eyebrows and eyelashes, Like children reciting at school The chapter of the Qur’an starting with Nun and the Pen. What would happen If one night she would ask How a stranger below her wall Would pass…

The stone and the tree

There was once a dervish in Abadan, whose cell was always surrounded by disciples, people who had come from far and near to hear his wisdom and try to achieve knowledge and spiritual fulfilment. Sometimes he spoke to them, sometimes he did not. Sometimes he read from books, and sometimes he made them perform various tasks. The disciples tried, for decades, to understand the purport of his words, to fathom the depth of his signs and symbols, and in every way possible to get closer to his wisdom. Those who understood what he taught, were the ones who did not spend time trying to puzzle out things. They cultivated patience and attention, and refrained from looking for verbal associations from…

Sufi concept: Thursday – Prophet Moses

Shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi tells us, that for every day there is a prophet from among the prophets, from whom descends a secret upon the heart of the verifying witness, a secret in which you takes delight during your day and by which you know something of that which requires to be known. This only happens to those who possess a heart. Day 5: Thursday If your day is Thursday, then Moses is your companion: for the covering is quite lifted away and you are addressed in the manner of an unveiling, not by any man or fire; and indeed the angel rejoiced while the devil withdrew. On Thursday it is Moses who addresses you with a secret by which you…

Light upon Light

You’ll find some Sufi teachings about light here: Flash 1 The well-known Chishti Sufi Amir Khusraw has seen the light: What a glow everywhere I see, Oh mother, what a brilliance! I’ve found the Beloved, yes I found him, In my courtyard. I have found my pir Nizamuddin Awliya. I roamed around the entire world, Looking for an ideal Beloved; And finally this presence has awakened my spirit. Flash 2 Hazrat Nizamuddin Awliya says that the sama’ (audition of Sufi music) confers three blessings, namely: 1. Anwar : lights 2. Ahwal : states 3. Asar : symptoms. These blessings appear from three ‘worlds’: 1. Nasut : the world in which we live. 2. Jabarut : the world or the sphere…

The meaning of the number four

In all kinds of cultures the number four is closely connected to the order of the world. Think of the 4 phases of the moon, the four heavenly directions, the four winds, etc In Maya cosmology the 4 is very important. The Maya settlements were ordered according to the divine plan: four ways who lead from the holy tree to the 4 directions with guardians at the 4 ends of the village. Examples of the Chinese, the Celts, the Etruscian civilisation, the Byzantines (think of the four-cornered structure of the old Byzantine church), the Hindus and so many others can be given and all of them stress the importance of the number four. And we have not yet spoken about…