One Special Task

In jedem lebt ein Bild dessen, was er werden soll. Solange er dies nicht ist, ist nicht sein Friede voll. In each one lives an image of what he is to be. As long as he is not this, he ne’er at rest will be. [Friedrich Rückert] یکی گفت که اینجا چیزی فراموش کردهام Someone came and said: ‘I have forgotten something here.’ [Rumi: Fihi ma fihi; # 3; p. 14] Rumi answered: ‘There is one task in this world you should never forget. Even when you’d forget everything, except this one task, then it doesn’t matter. When you performed all tasks, remembered everything, and not forgot anything, but forgot that one task, then you have done nothing whatsoever’. ‘It…

Hikmat

HAQIQA AL-MUHAMMADIYYA Dr. Zahurul Hassan Sharib has briefly paid attention to an important Sufi doctrine in his The Culture of the Sufis (see pp. 100-1). It is the doctrine of haqiqa al-muhammadiyya (the logos of Muhammad). For some reason or other this doctrine has always fascinated me. For me it is a journey into new worlds, to be slowly explored, but to shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir from Algeria (1808-1883 C.E.) it is familiar ground. Sufis like him have received the blessing of an opening up of this subject. The Algerian shaykh received answers in a vision related to a teaching of the shaykh ‘Abd as-Salam ibn Mashish, a descendant of the Prophet who died in 1228 C.E. The Algerian shaykh comments on…

Early sufis in the Chishti order

Many people think that Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti is the founder of the Chishti order. This is not correct, so in the following article I intend to tell something about his spiritual ancestors and briefly something about their teachings. The Chishti order of the Sufis derives its name from Chisht (pronounce: Chesht, hence Cheshti). Chisht is a small town near Herat in Afghanistan. When travelling and arriving in Herat I intended also to visit Chisht, but it was said that the road was not safe, because of dacoits, so I abandoned the idea. The first one to call himself Chishti was Abu Ishaq Shami. As the name Shami implies he came from Syria or even from Damascus (ash-Sham). He met a…

The Lamp of Delhi

Story 1 The well-known Suhrawardi poet and Sufi Jamali thus pays tribute to shaykh Nasiruddin Mahmud, the “Lamp of Delhi”: Tanash aadaab zaaher raa aadibi Delash amraaz baaten raa tabibi Cheraaghiye masjed eqsaa’i maqsud Nasiruddin-e-mellat shaykh mahmud His body demonstrated the external rules of good manners. His heart healed the hidden diseases. He was a lamp of the mosque showing the way to the goal: Nasiruddin of the religion, shaykh Mahmud. Story 2 It was a little before noon on a hot summer day in Delhi in the early years of Sultan ‘Alauddin Khalji’s reign, that Hazrat Nizamuddin Awliya left his comfortless room on the upper storey, which was burning like an oven, negotiated the clumsy and dangerous staircase, and…

The tale of the three questions

A certain Sultan owned everything a man could wish for and still he did not know the purpose of life. The answer to three questions made his life difficult: 1. What should I do? 2. With which people should I do the things God asks me to do? 3. When should I do it? The Sultan asked the advice of all kinds of wise people, and then he was told that there was a Chishti dervish, who lived far away, and who might give him a satisfactory answer. The Sultan immediately left and after a journey of several weeks he met the dervish. The dervish was cultivating his own land. He was a simple man, but no simpleton, as he…

The sufi and his cat

René Guénon, aka shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahid Yahya, died in 1951. There has been an European Sufi shaykh, Mustafa ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, who has been the first in modern times to introduce the teachings of shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi in depth to the west. His French name is Michel Valsan. Shaykh Mustafa ‘Abd al-‘Aziz has written a letter about the death of shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahid Yahya: Paris 18th June 1951. I think you have already received the sad information about the death of René Guénon by means of newspapers and radio. It took place on the night of the 7th to the 8th of January. I have received your letter on the 8th of January at the same time as news of his…

Eight Chishti stages

The Chishti shaykh Hamidoddin Naagawri (d. 1276) spoke about these eight stages of the path: 1. KNOWLEDGE: Without it you cannot go straight. 2. WORK: Without it you cannot produce intention. 3. CORRECT INTENTION: Without it work becomes worthless. 4. SINCERITY: Without it love does not become manifest. 5. LOVE: Without it meditation does not become correct. 6. MEDITATION: Without it progress on the path is deficient. 7. PROGRESS: Without it you cannot open the door of the divine abode. 8. THE OPENING OF THE DOOR: Without it the goal of the traveller will not appear. The goal is that you every day recite: Everything upon it is perishing, But the face of your Lord. Next to this you should…

‘Urs Celebrations in Ajmer, India

My wife, and I have travelled to Ajmer to be present at the ‘urs (death anniversary) of our shaykh who expired in 1996. The ‘urs celebration took place on two days, the 26th and 27th of February. The dates are different each year as they are based on the Islamic calendar. Most of the activities took place at the chillah, a hill with the cave wherein Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti performed his retreats. After the qul, the closing ceremony, there was a function which started at about 22.00 P.M. at the dargah of Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti. About 40 people then walked two times round the shrine of Gharib Nawaz (The Patron of the Poor) as he is also known. Then we…

The Shaykh’s Cat

During the morning meditation, the cat of a certain khanegah often caused quite some disturbance. So shaykh Ahmad, the resident Sufi Pir, ordered that the cat always had to be tied up when that practice got performed..  After the death of shaykh Ahmad, the cat still got tied up during the morning meditation. When the cat died, another cat was bought in order to “properly” tie it up during the meditation. Several elaborate Sufi handbooks were written in later ages by scholarly followers of shaykh Ahmad about the symbolical meaning of tying up a cat. 

The Sun

Mawlana Rumi points to his ‘sun’ when saying: Shams al-haqq Tabrizi ay mashreq-e-to jaanhaa Az taabesh-to baayad in shams haraarat raa O, sun of the truth from Tabriz: souls come from your orient. Our sun gets its warmth from your illumination! Queen Alexandra has chosen the following motto for the sundial at Sandringham Let others tell of storms and showers, I’ll only count your sunny hours Some people may object to this motto, because they say that it is also important to pay attention to darkness and the shadow side of your personality. There are others who however claim that light drives away darkness. There is a sundial, which has as its motto: Begone, time flies, walk in Light. A…