Generosity

Some travellers arrived at the grave of Hatim Tai, a man who was famous because of his generosity. Nothing happened and they became a little bored. One of them even fell asleep. When he woke up he told the others that he had seen Hatim Tai who told him to slaughter one of their own camels and eat it in his name. This they did, but they thought it to be a strange kind of generosity. In the morning, however, the son of Hatim Tai came and presented them with two camels. He had seen his father in a dream, who told him to present two camels to the travellers who stayed near his grave, as a compensation for the…

Return to simplicity

There has been a single event, which has pointed out to me my conscious beginning of my inner search. It was the death of my father. I come from a family with good education, they are religious without overdoing it and my life has been a very protected one. I was 25 years old and I wanted to start a job, but the death of my father was a big shock to me. That is why I started to search, I needed to look for a meaning, I wanted to know what was the meaning of my life. A little later I was no longer satisfied with my job as an engineer, with my life in Paris, with my friends……

The rules of behaviour of the shaykh

The Sufis of the Chishtiyya order, as well of many other orders, have also made a detailed study of the 52nd chapter of ‘Omar as-Sohrawardi’s handbook ‘Awaarif al-ma’arif dealing with The proper rules of behaviour of the shaykh and what he undertakes with his companions and disciples This they studied, if they could read Arabic or in case of knowledge of Persian they studied the book of al-Qashani (partially translated by Wilberforce Clark into English while using the ‘misleading’ title of the Arabic original). My translation is from German (Richard Gramlich; Franz Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden; pp. 359-364. Gramlich has translated the complete book, an excellent achievement not only because it has the size of a telephone directory, but also because…

Combs

There has been someone who manufactured combs and who had his workshop in the street wherein you could also find his guild. His name was ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (the slave of the Almighty) and he always could be seen in his jallaba, the long dress with the hood and wide sleeves, and a litham, a veil which covered his somewhat severe facial expressions. The material he used for his combs, he derived from the skull of oxes. He bought them from several butchers. He dried the skulls at a rented place, he removed the horns, opened them along their length and straightened them above a fire. The last act, of course, had to be done in a very careful way, as…

The Perfect Man

In the teachings of Ibn al-‘Arabi there is a central position to the perfect man (al-insan al-kamil). That is why Qutb ad-din bin Ibrahim Abd al-Karim al-Jili (d. 1403 according to Titus Burckhardt and ca. 1428 according to Richard Gramlich) has written a complete book dedicated to this subject. In this book of al-Jili the 60th chapter is the central one. In his own words: “This chapter is the real subject of all the chapters in this book, yes the whole book, from its beginning to its end, is an explanation of this chapter. Therefore understand the meaning of these words!” I hope to give some attention to this important chapter. Titus Burckhardt has given a partial translation to the…

Knowing his sufi classics

A man once asked Abe Lincoln what should be engraved on a honorary plaque for his office. He wanted Lincoln to furnish words of wisdom that would be helpful in all circumstances. Lincoln thought about it for a while, then said: “This too shall pass!” You know that these words are in fact the advice given by shaykh Fariduddin ‘Attar in Persian: In ham migozarad

The greengrocer’s son and other Sufi tales

Here are a few stories about shaykh ‘Omar Ibn al-Farid. The greengrocer’s son The Egyptian shaykh ‘Omar Ibn al-Farid made a study of ahadith, the traditions of Islam, as well as of adab (belles lettres). By means of ascetic practices he tried to experience spiritual enlightenment, but he was not successful. One day he passed by a law school where he saw an old man, a greengrocer (‘attaar), doing ablutions in a wrong way. Somewhat proud of his knowledge, his piety and his ascetic temperament shaykh ‘Omar Ibn al-Farid criticized the behaviour of this greengrocer. The greengrocer then looked at him and addressed him to his surprise by name: “O, ‘Omar! You will not be enlightened in Egypt. You will…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 22

Chashm be-koshaai ke didaar-e-khodaa-ye-jelwa namud Dida shaw yaksar o bar band dar-e-goft o shonud Open your eyes so that you may behold the divine splendour! Unify your vision and close the door to your speech and hearing. ‘Aks-e-rokhsaara-ye-saaqi be-namud az rokh-e-jaam Hush o aaraam ze mastaan-e-mai-ye-‘eshq rabud The reflection of the face of the cupbearer appeared at the surface of the cup. It has robbed the love-intoxicated ones of their sanity and peace of mind. Saaqi-ye-‘eshq maraa ruz-e-azal baada chashand Taa abad har nafas-am masti-ye-digar be-fozud Love’s cupbearer has made me taste some wine during the day of pre-eternity, So that with every breath of mine my intoxication will increase at post-eternity. Yaa rabb in masti-ye-man zaan mai-ye-bazm-e-azal ast Yaa…

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,…

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…