The Scholar and the Dervish

This is the recorded interchange of questions and answers of an‘alim (a scholar in Islam) and a dervish: – No one has ever seen you pray! – That is true! – You do not wear a patched cloak, like the other Sufis… – No, I don’t! – You do not use a rosary to remember God… – True! – You do not visit Sufi centres… – No, I don’t! – You do not discuss spirituality, you do not quote from the classical masters, and you do not have a beard! – True, true, true! – Can you tell me why? – Because it would interfere with my spiritual activities.

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…

Ornaments of the Abdal

In regard to ascetic practices here are some observations of Ibn al-‘Arabi. These remarks are to be found in his ‘Ornaments of the Abdal’, which has been translated into French by Michel Valsan. Ibn al-‘Arabi sees silence, solitude, hunger and wakefulness as the four cornerstones of the way. Each of them has not only a physical aspect but also (and this is of interest!!!) a spiritual reality. The physical aspects: 1. Silence of the tongue (little speaking) 2. Solitude from other people (little meeting with the people) 3. Fasting (little food) 4. Little sleep The spiritual realities: 1. Silence of the heart 2. Solitude of the heart 3. Hunger of the heart 4. Vigilance of the heart. These last 4…

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…

A Friend of the Friends of God

Just suppose you are able to make an interview with Annemarie Schimmel (d. 2003). What would you ask her? Perhaps some of your questions are similar to the ones as given below: Q: How did your love for Islam and Sufism start? A: Since I was seven years old I wanted to study Islam. It started with a story called ‘Padmanaba and Hassan’, which I read in a book of fairytales, which I had inherited from my grandfather – the book is from the year 1870. In this tale, which is similar to a tale of ‘The Arabian Nights’, a young man from Damascus finds a spiritual guide in India, who initiates him and takes him to a magic world….

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…

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…

Sufi commentaries on the Qur’an

The Sufis have commented on the Qur’an in different ways. Let’s explore some of these esoteric commentaries. 1. CORRESPONDENCE Shaykh al-Qashani is according to me one of the most interesting Sufi commentators on the Qur’an. It so happened that I’ve seen his commentary in a second-hand bookshop and I almost bought it, although I cannot read Arabic. This commentary is wrongly being attributed to shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi. Shaykh al-Qashani however belonged to the school of shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi. Shaykh al-Qashani makes use of the method of tatbiq. His method of interpretation of the Qur’an consists of making correspondences. These correspondences connect the macrocosm with the microcosm. The shaykh explains the Qur’anic verses in terms of spiritual psychology and stages of…

Chishti stages of love – Part 2

The stage of exclusive attachment to the Beloved also has five phases. 1. The first phase of exclusive attachment to the Beloved is called mu’aanadat (enmity). What happens that when the lover moves in company, she or he feels ill at ease with strangers and is afraid of being laughed at. People become her or his enemies and are prone to ridicule this lover. To explain this the author of Resaala-e-‘eshqia (The Epistle of Love) has quoted the following verse of Qur’an 22:52 We have not sent a messenger or prophet before you but when he recited the devil would intrude into his recitation Yet Allah annuls what the devil has cast. Then Allah establishes his revelations. Allah is All-knowing,…

The Mantle of Illumination

The Chishti pir we’ve met in Ajmer at times presented a khirqa to his murids. The khirqa could take the shape of a mantle, a cap, a handkerchief, etc. This often took place when he was alone with his disciple in order not to evoke the jealousy of other disciples who were not ready to receive a khirqa. The bestowing may take place in a formal (e.g. by means of a certain rite, going together with an official document) or in an informal way (e.g. by means of giving a cap as a last minute farewell-present at an airport). When this very Chishti pir was in Holland in August 1983 he delived a speech we have recorded. Part of it…