Sufi Women

Shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi has invested a number of people with his khirqa. He provides 14 names in the beginning of his Diwan, whereof 13 are women. He has applauded all of these women – with the exception of Zumurrud, because of her abandoning the khirqa he had passed to her – as genuine aspirants on the Sufi path.

This is the poem he wrote for his murid Fatimah who received one of these khirqa’s:

You adorned Fatimah with the garment of piety and guidance,
I do not see anyone more deserving of the apparel of virtue.
You clothed her with the exalted and supreme mantle,
Casting all ills from her heart.

Between substance and accident she learned virtue from me,
Suffering, by God, in discipleship.
I asked God to give me a daughter
And he obliged me with her.

I beseech nothing for her, except Him,
So let her give thanks for the providence of the Compassionate.

This is the poem he wrote for his murid Dunya who received one of these khirqa’s:

I adorned my daughter Dunya
With the garment of faith and reverence.
Perchance I will see her grow by what God had compelled.
Surely this world of yours
Is an abode of trials and tribulation.

If you drink the water of life to quench your thirst.
Instead, if you merely breathe it in,
It will be more joyous and nourishing,
Truly slaking your thirst.

This is the poem he wrote for his murid Safiyya who received one of these khirqa’s:

Wearing this cloak of the mendicants
Safiyya adorns herself with the raiment of trust,
Surpassing all her peers in virtues acquired,
Discarding all vices.

Sanctified by the harmony of character and creation,
She embodied the epitome of the names.
‘Little sister of the Virgin’
Angels to her sanctuary announced.

Untouched by suspicion, chaste,
Honoured as the sister of the ‘red-cheeked one’.
Nightly tidings from angels descending,
Bequeathed the legacy of the prophets to her.

This is the poem he wrote to another of his female murids who received one of these khirqa’s:

A maiden was wrapped at our hand
In a khirqa with which she attained
The essence of perfection.
An exalted religious khirqa,
Elevating her to the station of men.

God wrapped her in a robe of glory, acceptance and beauty,
Illumination, radiance, temperance, splendour and majesty.
Whenever I see her, I perceive her beauty and charm,
So that it transports me away from myself.

May God help her in her pledge!
And it is incumbent on us to sustain her
Through the difficulties of the path.

This is the poem he wrote for his murid Siti al-‘Aysh who received one of these khirqa’s:

I wrapped Siti al-‘Aysh
In the same khirqa of God’s friends,
Which the people of piety and bounty
Had enveloped me within.

The one who wears the honourble khirqa
Of God’s friends
Is beyond reproach,
On condition that she wears it
In the manner of the virtuous ones.

Her station is one
That reaps felicity, success and prosperity
In all that she seeks.

This is the poem he wrote for his murid Zumurrud who received one of these khirqa’s:

Zumurrud requested to wear the khirqa
After I responded to her appeal, she wore it.
Then she went to Egypt with her daughter,
Desiring to satisfy her need.

After she was gratified, she deserted the khirqa,
Seeking the land of Jillaq [Damascus]
In a state of abasement.

On her return, her state
Was characterized by misconduct.
She thought herself too proud [to return],
Since she had indulged her whims.

This is the poem he wrote for his murid, the daughter of Zaki ad-din, who received one of these khirqa’s:

We invested our mantel
In the daughter of Zaki ad-din.
After a refining discipleship
Cultivated in divinity
She burnished her tributaries
And sanctified her essence
From all uncertainty.

Suffused with knowledge, you its quintessence
Derived from a sincere teacher and father
So let us bestow the daughter our mantle,
Spreading His will,
Having reached the divine names
And an exalted lineage
To all humans and jinns who in discipleship
Follow the teachings in my books.

This is the poem he wrote for his murid Jamilah who received one of these khirqa’s:

Jamilah is unparalleled:
Adorned by an exalted garment
I bestowed on her a momentuous khirqa.
When she turned to me as her trustee
Since accompanying us [on the Sufi path],
She has cultivated the good [qualities].
Now her actions are all beautiful.

If truth be told, it is not my teaching,
That is the catalist.
Since I am not in reality the responder [to her inner needs]:
Truly my Lord is the Caretaker.

This is the poem he wrote for his murid Safari who received one of these khirqa’s:

I bestowed on my daughter Safari
A khirqa possessed by the people of adab.
I clothed her in a robe of piety.
Comprising of every pleasing virtue.

‘O daughter!’ I said, ‘Follow my path and my madhhab [legal school].
My way is the Shari’ah of the Arab Hashemite Prophet’.
Thus the garment that I bestowed on her
Encompasses [the knowledge] of every noble teacher.
I say this and I am Muhammad Ibn al’-Arabi.

Bestowing ‘the most illumined of garments’ implies a great gift from the shaykh to his murids. Shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi has of course bestowed his khirqa to more than 14 people, and many of them have been men. My source for the translation of the above poems (less than 13) is Sa’diyya Shaikh in her “Sufi Narratives of Intimacy” which deals with shaykh Ibn al’Arabi, gender and sexuality.

And now the conclusion. Shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi has a final thing to say. The following poem is without the name of the woman who received a khirqa. By the way, the fact that the ‘you’ changes in ‘her’ is a common rhetorical technique in Arabic poetry known as ‘iltifat’:

When you, the ultimate point of my pain,
And you, the best of people in meaning and form,
Adopted my good qualities […]
And her qualities had already possessed my heart,
And if you wanted to verify that
In itself it would be a piece of news.
From the most illumined of garments
I wrapped her in the raiment of piety,
That raised her above gender.
She received from the very robes of al-Khidr
All beautiful qualities and character [adab]
As well as the morals embedded
In the verses and chapters of the Qur’an.
The pledge between us is that
She does not reveal [these gifts] to any other person.
This will allow her growth in sincerity and singular dedication
And protect her from harm.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. KgnReshma says:

    KGN-Bismillah,
    Many thanks Dervish for such a dear Post.
    Oh how blessed the Women Mureed of the Shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi except for lady Zumurrud! Vital for women Mureed to have a good character spiritual guide in this era, However the Mureed has to be ready for the Murshid as well. And when She becomes pure & ready for her Shaykh do you think she would recite the below?

    Beloved is so very beautiful!
    Chant His name, He is bountiful.
    The Spiritual Guide is so graceful,
    Lover needs to be extremely faithful.

    His song I hear day & night,
    Separation leads to Lover’s plight.
    In thy tavern Lover enrolls,
    Tears of Joy have no control.

    Door to door searched for Him,
    Now fill the Wine up to the brim.
    This wine tastes like never before,
    Lover feels intoxicated & craves for more.

    Lover, do not care what the world says,
    Beloved wraps the heart, in enchanting ways.
    Try & break this spell with mighty Power,
    Oh look, Skies reflect Blessings & Shower!

    Lover in every state, feels blessed,
    Beloved guides, from the land of West.
    Lady luck crowns the head of Lover,
    Assigns a task to the pretty flower.

    Perform the task with upmost care,
    Minus Greed & lust, be fair & square!
    “Unconditional Love” is Lover’s divine slogan,
    On wounded heart apply, thy sweet lotion.
    And Beloved is so very beautiful!
    Chant His name, He is bountiful……………..

    Alhamdulillah !

  2. KgnReshma says:

    KGN Bismillah,
    Thank you for this post Dervish. Truly this world being a man’s world & amidst this ocean of saints & dervishes, for women Sufis to skate on this path is not a cup of tea.

    Most of the times behind the veil, women Sufis do make their contribution & drink deep the Pierian wine. Presenting a tale of one such accomplished Sufi women of modern era whom we love for indeed
    “It’s a chain, this love………..”

    It’s a tale of “The Pomegranate Flower”,
    & may Allah grace Her with strength & power.
    Silently thee molded thy family,
    Engaged in services to dervish,
    Had time for thyself hardly.
    Yet Dervish’s success tells us thy story,
    “Services to mother adds to One’s glory”,
    This truth takes thee to a higher spiritual storey.

    In Red wedding gown thee looked beautiful,
    Years have skipped, yet thee seems graceful.
    Thee served thy lord in every possible way,
    Contribution to Dervish’s work,
    Opens the door to heavenly gateway.

    The necklace I wear of thy precious pearls,
    “Boabdil’s Alhambra gave us at least this line on stone,
    There is no conqueror than Allah alone”.
    “He is all” is now crystal clear to me,
    For Cosmos consist of divine entity.

    The Chishti Pir writes a letter to thee,
    Dervish is His Boswell, Pir reckons you see.
    The cover page of thy book is royal blue,
    Reminds me of the Dervish & also of you!

    Let this sinner serve at thy lotus feet,
    In thy esteemed lineage pray book my seat.
    Let Dervish not open His tavern door,
    Would thee love me little if not more?
    It’s a tale of “The Pomegranate Flower”,
    & may Allah grace Her with strength & power.
    “Boabdil’s Alhambra gave us at least this line on stone,
    There is no conqueror than Allah alone”……………….

    Alhamdulillah!

  3. KgnReshma says:

    Bismillah KGN.
    Thank you for this Post Dervish. I too know of a Sufi Mureed named ‘Fatima’ & Pls read her story……..

    Malang’s daughter Fatima

    A tale I tell you, O Cupbearer,
    Post praising the Lord, O my Master!
    A simple tale of a City,
    Involving Sufi Saint & a Beauty.

    God sent *Malang Baba from Madina,
    To suppress the cruel Nal Raja (King).
    Nal oppressed the subject & his people,
    Baba crushed his ego with mystic needle.

    Whence all strategies to defeat Baba failed,
    His pretty daughter King sent all veiled.
    Baba was lost in deep meditation,
    Princess reached Him with intentions of distraction.

    Upon opening His eyes, Baba envisaged,
    The Devilish intention, of the Princess.
    Summoned her with sincere Guinness,
    “Come here my daughter”, spoke politeness.

    With Tears in Her eyes,
    One Glance is enough for the Wise.
    “O my father” said she with a zeal,
    In His lap, daughter signed Islamic Seal.
    Baba named her ‘Fatima’,
    King defeated, on account of his Karma (bad-deed).

    Daughter Fatima’s Mazar is next to Baba’s,
    Such is the mythology & Malang’s Saga.
    His Miracles are amazing yet so many,
    Next time shall narrate to you in plenty.

    Now I take Cupbearer’s leave,
    Gatekeeper & His dear one be blessed with Peace.
    Who am I but a notorious Seeker?
    First learn to trust the Tavern-Keeper.

    *Abur Reheman Shah Baba Kalyan Maharashtra-Order Madariya.

  4. KgnReshma says:

    Bismillah KGN-Salaams.

    I met a Queen with skills,
    In Photography & no frills.
    Secretly & Silently working,
    In mystic world, functioning.

    ‘Your Alhambra gave us at least,
    This line on Stone:
    There is no conqueror,
    But God alone.’

    In the garden, lush green,
    Sat a Dervish, divine & lean.
    Aided by His partner & Queen,
    Who works from behind the scene.

    A butterfly, wings fluttering,
    Is heard by them, muttering.
    “Whence shall the Rose bloom?
    Pray tell, to sit with whom?

    Queen ponders & speaks,
    “When heart is pure, pride is weak,
    Rose blooms under Shaykh’s Cloak.”

    A Cuckoo sings from her nest,
    “Pray tell,which Shaykh is the best?”
    Dervish smiles from within the breast,
    “The One you love, leave the rest.”

    Tulip sways, wants to know,
    “Does the door open, after a row?”
    Queen sighs”Dear me ,O blow!
    For proudy soul, grace is slow.”

    The green grass pops up,
    Wishes to drink from His cup.
    “Queen please be my backup,
    Only Thee can patch this breakup”.

    Queen warns” I recommend Thee,
    Post a dip in the pure Sea.
    Shed thy pride, purity the key,
    Start afresh, I count one to three!”

    Many Thanks!

  5. KgnReshma says:

    KGN-Namaste,
    Celebrating some of the verses of The Mystic Women as ‘Women’s day draws closer-8th March’……….

    Meera’s Beloved ‘Giridharan’ (Krishna)

    Drink, drink again & again that immortal name,
    And get intoxicated.

    Abandon unhealthy friendships,
    Recognize the worth of good company.

    Stay with the people of noble disposition,
    Listen attentively to his name.

    Wash away from your consciousness all bondages/:lust, anger, pride, jealousy,
    Meera’s Lord is Giridharan.

    He is the image of love,
    Dip yourself in his color.

    Source:-Brides of God by E.M.H; Akam Books.

    Thank You!

  6. KgnReshma says:

    Bismillaha KGN-Salaams,
    1. Continuing the celebrations of the essence of Women, this Women’s day (8th March) week let’s discuss about The Mystic Sufi ‘Rabia’.’Rabia’ is one such Mystic I admire the most among Women Sufis.
    2. Rabia’s unflinching faith & love for Her Beloved is something which every Seeker must imbibe. In fact Attar has constantly praised Rabia & raised her to an exalted state.
    3. Here goes a tale of this Mystic from IRAQ…………

    Once, two young girls came to Rabia’s house to help her. They started cooking food for her. One of them said:”Rabia, there is no onion here. Isn’t your Lover capable of giving some onions?”
    Rabia kept silent. Every now & then the girls kept looking at Rabia & carried on with their cooking.

    Suddenly one of the girls exclaimed:
    “Rabia, see here a bird has brought onions in a basket. A miracle! How did this happen? Is it sent by your Beloved?”

    Rabia called the young woman to her side & spoke to her in a raised voice:
    “In this house there is nothing, not even onions. But do not make Him into a grocery shopkeeper who only can astonish you with a basket of onions. Do not restrict Him to anything. He is beyond everything.”

    Source:-Brides of God by E.M.H; Akam Books.
    Many Thanks!

  7. KgnReshma says:

    Bismillah KGN-Salaams,
    Looking forward to Women’s Day celebrations?(8th March) Cherish the spirit of Women Mystics too.

    What is love?” someone asked Rabia.
    “Love is a journey from eternity to eternity.
    If there are 70,000 worlds & in them one person is able to savor a drop of true love,he knows God & he knows love as well.”

    Mother Teresa of Avila clarifies that all the pain, holiness & heartaches of love are the natural consequences of deep closeness with the Lord.She says thus :-
    “You can’t exaggerate or describe the way in which God wounds the soul & the extreme pain this wound produces,
    for this wound causes the soul to forget itself .
    Yet this pain is so delightful that there is no other pleasure in life that gives greater happiness.The soul would always want to die in this sickness.”

    Concluding with Meera Bai’s poetry…

    Ho….I am loosing my mind,
    No one knows my anguish.
    My bed is below the gallows,
    & my lover is in heavenly court.
    How can I sleep?
    How can I attain to him?
    Only those who are wounded,
    Know this pain.
    Only those who are burnt,
    Know the pain of burning.
    Only a Goldsmith can recognize,
    The expertise of another Goldsmith.
    Bearing the pain of persecution,
    I am moving from one forest to another.
    No doctor can remove this pain from me.
    If Krishna appears,all my pains,
    Will vanish into thin air.

    Love comes forward to assist from Brides of God by E.M.H, Akam Books.

    Millions Thanks!

  8. KgnReshma says:

    KGN-Salaams / Namaste,

    As Women’s Day draws closer let’s see what Meera says to her beloved Krishna.

    Meera saw Krishna in all:
    In trees,stones,flowers,thunder & lightning,in man & in everything living & non living.

    “O Krishna, Great Lord,
    King of kings, accept me.
    I am only a frail woman.
    Who has no one to lean on: helpless.
    You are my ornament,my strength.”

    Meera, who laments thus sometimes,
    Sings in the passion of love,
    As if to her lover.

    “O friend,how dear you are to me!
    How am I going to write a letter to you?
    Alas! I don’t know how to write.
    I can’t forget your charming face,
    Even for a minute.”

    Loves flows from ‘ Brides Of God’ by Sh E.M.H , Akam Books.

    Thank You !

  9. KgnReshma says:

    Bismillah KGN-Salaams,
    Wishes for the Women’s day to all the Women Seekers both present as well as absent in this Mystic Tavern.
    The heart of a Woman is forever full of love; love for her family, love for God at times love for the Spiritual Guide. This expression of love at times needs to be wrapped, covered & hidden.
    However ‘Brides of God’ (By E.M.H) are bold enough in their expression of love & read what the courageous Mystics have to say……..

    1] Teresa:-

    The pain of love is not bodily but Spiritual,
    Although body doesn’t fail to share,
    Some of it or even a great deal.
    The loving exchange that takes place,
    Between the soul & God is so sweet,
    That I beg Him in His goodness,
    To give a taste of this love,
    To anyone who thinks I am lying.

    2] Rabia’s tomb declares loud to the heavens:

    “God, from the day you brought,
    Me back to life, we became friends.
    Since then I could never sleep.
    Even if you cast me off,
    From your doorsteps, I promise,
    We will never separate.
    So real is your living presence,
    In my heart.”

    3] Meera Bhai:-

    “There is never any separation between you & me.
    & there is no relation with anyone else either.
    You are a tree,
    I am a bird on it.
    You are a lake,
    I am a fish within it.
    You are the moon,
    I am the parrot looking at you,
    You a Gem,
    I am the thread that forms the Chain.”

    Thank You!

  10. KgnReshma says:

    Bismillah-KGN Salaams,
    O Soul mate of the revered Cupbearer,
    Thy Tavern acts as a divine bubbler.
    It’s here we quench our thirst,
    Mustn’t we thank thee at first?

    In this moment, I write a Poem for Thee,
    Poetry depicts life in all its phases you see.
    Work to be judged by what you get from it,
    Thy support to Cupbearer, a magnificent gift.

    And what we have to learn from Thee?
    To focus on task & keep temptations at Sea.
    Serve One’s soul mate with vigor & valor,
    Work for a cause, not for worldly glamour.

    Have seen thy beauty in a book as photograph,
    Thy Fine features can’t be summed in paragraph.
    It’s the inner beauty probably that reflects,
    The glow must be due to spiritual effects.

    Physical aspect surely nay so important,
    Seeker no devotee, a poisonous serpent.
    Still I linger around thy mystic Tavern,
    In the company of good, take a Turn.

    The crown of Sikandar is on your head, [….]
    Is what he said. [….]
    And when he said:’ you wear this crown!’
    What did he mean by that?

    Crown of Sikandar to soul mate comes,
    To guide every devil so also dear ones.
    This crown comes with responsibility,
    To throw light on all is His prime duty.

    O Soul mate of the revered Cupbearer,
    Thy Tavern acts as a divine bubbler.
    It’s here we quench our thirst,
    Mustn’t we thank you at first?

    Indeed Dank je!

  11. KgnReshma says:

    KGN & Haji Malang Baba;
    Namaste & Salaams,

    Gosh the Sufi Saints have amazing Powers!

    And the Cupbearer of this Tavern seems to be a Divine entity with some mystic powers as well. Faith is the Key to lot many things, isn’t it?

    Siva chhuy thali thali rozan l
    mo zan batu to musalamana ll
    truk hay chhukh tu pan praznav
    svaya chaya sahiba suty zan ll

    Translation:-

    Lord Shiva abides in everything;
    Why to discriminate between ,
    A Hind(Batu) & a Muslim(Musalman)!
    If you are wise, know yourself.
    This is the true knowledge of the Lord.

    1)Lallesvari(1335-1387) popularly known as Lal Ded, Lala Moj was a poetess sage born in a Kashmiri hindu pandit family.

    2)She was married at an early age of 12 in a Bhatt family but renounced her home.

    3)Lala Moj hardly bothered about her dress & outer appearance.

    4)She roamed in semi- nude state.

    5)Lal Ded’s guide was Guru sidh Srikanth,an adept in Shaiva mysticism.

    6)Lal Ded was influenced by the Sufi philosophy through Shah Hamadan(R.A)

    7)Lal Ded is oft seen rejecting the separation of belief systems.

    8)She found basic truth permeating monotheism Islam & pantheism of Hindu- Buddhist sects.

    9)Lal Ded fused the principle of Kashmir Shaivism & the doctrine of Vahadat-e-Vojud or ” The Oneness of Existence” borrowed from Sufi mystics.

    10)Shah Ali Hamadan( Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadan(1314-1384 A.D.)) was a Persian mystic who came to Kashmir Valley.

    11)He was a Sufi of Kobravi Order.

    12)Legends claim that to cover her body before Shah Hamadani, Lal Ded plunged into a baker’s red hot oven & emerged thence dressed in silken green saree to have a dialogue with him.

    13) Shah e Hamdan Syed Ali Hamdani’s pedigree runs directly to Prophet Mohammad’s wife through his mother(17th generation).

    14)He breathed his last at the age of 72 & lies buried at Kolab in Khatlan Tajikistan.

    15)A shrine was erected at the place of his death which now lies in Mansera of Hazara district N.W frontier province, Pakistan.

    Indeed Lal Ded would inspire women to follow spiritual path despite odds while Shah e Hamdan (R.A) would be a source of inspiration for Promoters of ” Value of
    Peaceful Coexistence.”

    Source:-Journal of Indian Research Volume 6 No ISSN 2320-7000

    Thank You!

  12. KgnReshma says:

    KGN Haji Malang Baba,
    Salaams,
    Pomegranate Flower prettiest of all,
    Fairest, brightest, Master’s dearest.
    Today, wish all good things for thee,
    Happiness touch thee, to God my plea.

    Thy special day was such an adventure,
    Amidst thunder & storm wedding bells rapture.
    Imagine the bride dressed in Red,
    Dervish as spouse, so innocent in white.

    Never seen such a pretty bride,
    Sufi couple must have looked bright.
    As thy Master tied this heavenly knot,
    Love in thy lives never fall short.

    May this sufi couple live long,
    Pomegranate flower & Master sing this song.
    Song of Love, Harmony & Peace,
    With Sunny smile thy devotees greet.

    May thy nights have starry skies,
    In good health each morn thou rise.
    KGN bless you both today & forever,
    As love for Master & thee dies never.

    Pomegranate Flower prettiest of all,
    Fairest, brightest, Master’s dearest.
    Thy book ‘Sufi language’ wish to read,
    Someday in heaven, hope we meet!

    Thank You.

  13. KgnReshma says:

    kGN Haji Malang Baba, Nasiruddin Baba- Namaste;

    Pomegranate flower, dearest & precious,
    Fearless,enthusiastic with a smile so gracious.
    Wish to be as sweet as thee,
    Working silently for Beloved, we see.

    Patience the best physician,
    Pain & pleasure trick of magician?
    Profit & loss, Joy & sorrow,
    Momentary & short, live in every burrow.

    Language of Love is indeed silent,
    Reaching distant land, so vibrant.
    Love knows nay differences,
    In region, color or creed has no preferences.

    Wish to send thee a lovely ‘Eidy card ‘,
    A card with flowers holding their guard.
    With Adab & Love, I forward thee a flower🌺.
    For Love is hard to hide & cover.

    Behold the flower’s color & beauty,
    Isn’t this flower good & lovely?
    Ah, the flower implies this,
    Occupying thy thoughts, I kiss.

    Kiss thee,thy partner & the tiny Tulip🌷,
    I mean the delicate flower of thy garden unit.
    Many thanks for the ‘Sufi language’,
    Apart from Beloved, Vessel moves in anguish.
    Pomegranate flower wish to be as sweet as thee,
    Working silently, forever smiling, hope to meet thee.

    🙏 Thank You!

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