The Mirror

The mirror had stood in the Shaykh’s room longer than anyone in the khaneqah could remember. It even pre-dated the memory of the oldest Sufi, and he was rumored to be at least 122 years of age. Over six feet tall the long oval mirror towered over the low couch, dwarfing the contents of the room. Its base was a marvel of intricately carved ebony depicting a lion chasing – and about to catch – a gazelle. The claws, hooves and eyes of the animals were set with Persian turquoise and moonstones, and a finely chased gold inlay picked out an inscription in Arabic that began: “He who chases the gazelle…,” the ending of which could not be seen as…

Light

Dara Shokuh, the prince who has been executed in 1659, and who was an initiate in the Qadiriyya order, is responsible for the “Majma ul-Bahrayn”. This meeting of seas did not only bring the esoterical and the exoterical dimensions together, but was also a junction of the world of Islam and the world of Hinduism. Dara Sokuh at first discerns three kinds of light in a part I’ve selected for translation. He then speaks about the senses in relation to light and continues by equating Islam and Hinduism regarding some aspects of light. He finishes by commenting on the Light verse of the Qur’an, which is one reason for presenting all of this. In the German translation by Richard Gramlich…

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…

Revelation and Inspiration

Poets write inspired poetry, but from where do they receive this inspiration? And how to become the recipient of inspiration? A disciple of the Iranian poet Sa’ib once composed the following absurd verse: Seek for the bottleless wine from the wineless bottle! Sa’ib immediately responded with the following: Haqq râ zi dil khâlî az andîsha talab kon Seek for the Truth in the heart, which is empty of thought. Hâfiz is considered to be one of the greatest among the Sufi poets. A Chishtî pîr made it clear that this famous poet was not always considered to be a good poet: “It so happened one day that Hâfiz was ridiculed to such an extent that he could not bear it….

The leader of the Group

Just suppose you are able to make an interview with shaykh Junayd (d. 910 C.E.) of Baghdad. What would you ask him? Perhaps some of your questions are similar to the ones as given below: Q: Can you tell us something about your youth? A: I was born and brought up in Baghdad, but my ancestors came from the Persian town of Nihawand. My father was a Qawariri, i.e. a glass merchant. My father died, while I was still a boy. My maternal uncle took me in his home and brought me up. Q: Is it true that you began your studies with Islamic jurisprudence and Islamic traditions on the advice of your uncle, shaykh Sari as-Saqati. A: Yes! I…

My visit to mysterious tribes

In a book of the founder of the Theosophical movement, Madame Blavadski called ‘Mysterious Tribes’ (in fact it is a book in German) I read about two curious tribes the Kurumbula’s and the Toda’s. They live, according to the book, in the Nilgiri’s in the South of India. The region is taboo for visitors. Of course, when the British still ruled India, an adventurous Englishman did not care about the taboo and even was all too eager to organise an expedition to this area. The people who carried his luggage became very afraid when they came near this forbidden region. It was said that you had to pay with your life when you entered it. There were tales of gods…

How He Won the Office of Grandvizier

A king wanted to appoint a grandvizier. Three candidates competed for the king’s nomination to this high office, but the king was unable to decide which one of them was the most intelligent, and the most suitable for the post. At last, he decided to subject them to a competition, the winner of which would be chosen as grandvizier. The king summoned the three candidates and told them that he had prepared five balls, three of which were white and two were black. He said he would place one ball on the turban of each of the three men. Each of them would be able to see the balls on the heads of the other two, but would have to…

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

Asking for money

An afflicted man presented himself before Alexander, the King of the Universe and asked for a dirhem. Alexander responded in a loud voice to this request: “You ask me, a king like me, so little?” “Well then”, answered the man. “Give me a town and a treasure! That will be enough to satisfy me.” “The emperor of China has received such a gift” – said the king. “Who are you to claim such things?”

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 12

Chashm be-koshaai ke aafaaq por az nur-e-khodaast Khaali az nur-e-khodaa dar hama aafaaq kojaast Open your eyes, because the whole world is full with the light of God. Which place in the whole world is without the light of God? Ma’ni kaz nazar-e-khalq nehaan bud modaam Nek benegar ke namudaar az in surat-e-maast That spiritual meaning which always was hidden from the eyes of creatures, You can now clearly behold in my outward appearance. Aan jamaali ke nazar niz daraan mahram nist Hamchu khurshid darin aayinaye-maa paydaast It is not forbidden to see that beauty therein, Just like the sun gets reflected in my mirror. Goftamash chand buwad hosn-e-to penhaan gofta Hosn paidaast wale dida-e-binanda keraast I asked Him: ‘How…