Yellow Teeth

A seeker of God, ‘Abd ar-Rahman, happened to attend a Sufi dhikr. One of the awrad seemed so strange to him that he seriously began to doubt his sanity. There could hardly be a mistake. The dervishes were all swaying and chanting: Yellow teeth! Yellow teeth! But how could yellow teeth inspire such passion among the dervishes? Later on he discovered that what he had misheard, was actually Ya Latif – which is, as you know, one of the 99 most beautiful names of God.

The sufi interpretation of the letter Alif

Hakim Tirmidhi calls the science of letters (‘ilm al-huruf) the science of the friends of God (‘ilm al-awliya). Shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi gives it lots of attention by writing about it in his second chapter of his masterpiece “The Meccan Openings”. The alif (the letter a) is isolated in writing. This means that it cannot be written connected to the letter following it. The alif thus symbolizes the transcendent, unqualified essence. The downward stroke of the alif symbolizes universal manifestation from the highest state of Being to the lowest one. Shaykh ad-Dabbagh has been a so-called ummi, an illiterate, just like the Prophet has been called ummi. The shaykh was not truly illeterate, but in his case ummi implies that he…

Other Sufi poets

The following string of pearls in the field of Persian Sufi poetry may be to your liking. Here are some lines of Maghrebi: Hich kasi be khishtan rah nabord be suye- u Balke be paye- u ravad har ke ravad be kuye- u No one by himself Can find the way to Him. You have to walk with His feet, Who goes to His street. The following quatrain of Sarmad is the one I like best among his poetry: Az manzab-e ‘eshq sar faraazam kardand Vaz mennat-e khalq bi niyaazam kardand Chun sham’ dar in bazm godaazam kardand Az sokhtagi mahram-e raaz kardand To the dignified station of love I was raised, And from the favours of the people I…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 11

Gar pardahaaye aab o gel az jaan o del yaksu shawad  Az keswat-e-har zarra mehr-e-degar birun shawad If the veil of the body would be pushed aside from heart and soul, From the outer cover of each atom a different sun would then emerge. Har kas ke andar sayr-e-u haqq bud qasd-e-tayr-e-u Yaabad  wesaal-e-ghayr-e-u az zakhm-e-hejraan khun shawad Every traveller towards Him has the right to desire to make speedy progress towards Him, But if he’d find himself in the company of others, then blood will come out from the wound of separation from Him. Har taalebi kaan jaa ze jaan baa ‘aasheqaan shod ham ‘eyaan Aanjaa borad guy az miyaan bar molk-e-afridun shawad Every seeker who together with other…

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…

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…

A dervish in Baghdad

There was a dervish in Baghdad who daily would serve 1,200 bowls of food and he would personally supervise their preparation and cooking. One day he called a meeting of his servants and asked: ‘Did you not overlook someone while you were serving food?’ ‘No, we remembered everyone,’ they rejoined, ‘we have forgotten no one. At the time of serving we provide it to everyone who comes to be fed’. But again the shaykh remarked: ‘Something has gone awry in this procedure’. ‘O shaykh,’ implored the servants, ‘what is the intent of your line of questioning?’ ‘For the past three days,’ explained the shaykh, ‘you have given me no food. Every time you have forgotten me’.”

Jashn-e-Khusrau: The Festival of Khusrau

The first dargah I’ve visited, has been the dargah of Hazrat Amir Khusrau. From that time on my interest in this Chishti Sufi has started. That is why I recently have ordered “Jashn-e-Khusrau: A Collection”. Jashn-e-Khusrau is a very beautifully produced book dealing with the genius of Hazrat Amir Khusrau, but that is not all. It also contains 3 CD’s with the truly excellent qawwali with the poetry attributed to Hazrat Amir Khusrau. It is the type of qawwali you can hear at Sufi dargahs and Chishti khanaqahs. One of these days I was on my way home from work. I was somewhat tired. Suddenly I hoped that “Jashn-e-Khusrau” had arrived and this thought gave me new energy. Entering our…

Hafez

This is the first rubâ’i, quatrain, of the Divân of Hâfez and in Persian it sounds thus Joz naqsh-e-to dar nazar nayâmad mâra. Joz kuy-e-to rahgozar nayâmad mâra. Khvâb âr che khosh âmad hameh ra dar ‘uhdat Haqqâ ke be chesham dar nayâmad mâra. Nothing comes in our eyes except Your face. Except Your lane we have no other path to trace. If it is so that as a duty sleep comes joyfully to everyone, But, in truth, our eyes it does not grace. ~ Here are some of his other quatrains. The transcription of the Persian text has been followed by its English translation. Bar gir sharaab tarab angiz o biyaa Penhaan ze raqib-e sefle be-sitez o biyaa Ma-shnav…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 9

Man yaar toraa daaram o aghyaar namikhaaham Ghair az to ke del bordi deldaar namikhaaham You are my Friend and I don’t want any other. You are my Beloved and I don’t want any other to capture my heart. Khaari ke ze dard-e-to khastast maraa dar del Man khasta-e-aan khaaram golzaar namikhaaham A thorn of pain coming from You has wounded my heart, But I don’t want to replace this wound by any flower. Gar jelwa dehi bar del naqd-e-do jahaan guyam Man ‘aasheq-e-didaaram dinaar namikhaaham If You polish my heart, I’ll pay all the cash of both worlds for it. I love to see You and it is money I don’t want. Serri ke maraa baa tost baa ghair…