The Order of Hearts

Nizamuddin Awrangabadi came to Delhi hoping to find a spiritual guide. Hearing a great deal about shaykh Kalimullah he wanted to meet him. When he went to the shaykh, sama’ (audition of Sufi music) took place and the doors of the khanaqah were closed. It was their custom not to allow strangers to participate in the sama’. Nizamuddin knocked on the door and was permitted to enter. Everyone was greatly surprised, but shaykh Kalimullah said: ‘Know you all that this persoon is not a stranger!”. The reason was that the spiritual guide of shaykh Kalimullah had informed him that a persoon possessing such and such features and named Nizamuddin would come to him. Hazrat Nizamuddin Awrangabadi, who later on became…

Thirty-six

There are 36 attestations of tawhîd in the Qur’ân. This takes place by means of a dhikr, which is in this case the tahlîl. The basic shape is well known to you: “no god but God!” This is the recitation wherein God is declared one, by negating what is other than Him and by affirming Him. O Lord! Light the eternal fire in my heart! Turn every breath into a messenger of Your compassion! 1-36: The first attestation of tawhîd can be found in Q. 2:163. It is a tawhîd by means of the Divine name ar-Rahmân: Wa ‘ilâhukum ‘ilâhuñw-wâhidå: lââ ‘ilâha illâ huwa-r-rahmânu-r-rahîm And your God is one God, no god but He, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Shaykh Ibn…

The Heart

چو بشنوی سخن اهل دل مگو که خطاست سخن شناس نه ای جان من خطا این جاست When you hear the speech of the people of the heart, don’t say it is mistaken. You are not an expert in speech; that is why you are mistaken. Khwaja Hafez calls the Sufis ‘people of the heart’. These experts don’t consider the physical heart to be the real heart. Shah Ne’matollah Wali states: ‘The heart [qalb] is an incorporeal luminous substance [jawhar-e-nurani], intermediate between the spirit [ruh] and the self [nafs]’. Shaykh Ibn al-’Arabi says: ‘Were it not for the excess of your talking and the turmoil in your hearts, you would see what I see and hear what I hear’. Turmoil…

Hazrat Baba Farid

Eat your own bare, dry bread and drink plain, cold water. Don’t tempt you mind, Farid on seeing another’s buttered bread. ∞ Give up, Farid, the deeds which bring no credit, Lest you be put to shame in the court of the Lord. ∞ Don’t slander the dust, O Farid! There is nothing to equal it. While we’re alive, it lies beneath our feet. And when we’re dead, it covers us over. ∞ Serve the Lord, Farid, Casting off the doubts of your mind, For men of God are required to be Forbearing like the trees. ∞ God says: ‘If you ennoble yourself, O man, you’ll meet Me. And on meeting Me, You’ll have eternal bliss. If you ever remain…

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…

A meeting near Vienna

You may know that in the Middle Ages the Turkish armies have stood in front of the gates of Vienna. A sardar of one of these armies happened to meet a European merchant just after concluding a certain battle. For some reason or other he did not kill this merchant. To his surprise it was possible for them to communicate, as the merchant was able to speak fluent Turkish. It so happened that the merchant had spent some years in Smyrna as a friend of Hodja Hasan, who was a Sufi shaykh as well as a successful merchant. This Hodja Hasan had introduced the European merchant to a dervish, Baba Tahir, who had been so kind to accept the European…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 13

Man namiguyam ana’l haqq yaar miguyad begu Chun naguyam chun maraa deldaar miguyad begu. It is not me who said ‘I am the Truth’; the Friend forced me to say it. How can I not say it when the Beloved has asked me to say it? Har che migofti be-man har baar migofti magu Man namidaanam cheraa in baar miguyad begu You used to tell me never to disclose what You have revealed to me. I don’t understand why You ask me this time to disclose it openly. Aanche natawaan goftan andar sawma’a baa zaahedaan Bi tahaashi bar sar-e-bazaar miguyad begu Those mysteries which could not be spoken about to the inmates of the hermitage, I am now asked to…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 2

Here is a ghazal from the Diwaan-e-Mo’in (Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna): Chu man az hastiye-khod dur baasham Ba-khod ham naazer o manzur baasham As I am far from a selfish existence, I am myself both the observer and the observed. Chu jaam o baada o saaqi mohaiyast Rawaa baashad ke man makhmur baasham As the cup, the wine and the wine-poorer are available, It is only proper that I am drunk. Ze jaam-e-wahdatam yak jor’a bakhsh Ke dar daar-e fanaa’ mansur baasham Give me one draught from the cup of union, So that I am a Mansur on the gibbet of extinction. Az aan jaami ke chun serr-e anaa’l-haqq Bar aayad bar zabaan ma’zur baasham From that cup…

Self-mastery

The secret of the cook is not to lose your self when you search for yourself. Shaykh Yahya Suhrawardî wrote a quatrain about the right kind of orientation: Hân tâ sar rishta-yi-khud gum nakunîKud râ barâ-yi nîk wa bad gum nakunîRah-raw tuî wa râ tuî manzil tuHushdâr ki râh-i-khud be khud gum nakuni Take care not to lose sight of the origin of your self,Lest, for the sake of good and bad, you lose your self.The traveller, the road and the destination, you are yourself.Take care not to lose the road to your self!   There is another version of the first line, mentioning rishta-yi-khirad [instead of rishta-yi-khud], and this can be translated as ‘the thread of wisdom’ or ‘the thread of the intellect’. What causes us to lose self-mastery?…

The Mantle of Illumination

The Chishti pir we’ve met in Ajmer at times presented a khirqa to his murids. The khirqa could take the shape of a mantle, a cap, a handkerchief, etc. This often took place when he was alone with his disciple in order not to evoke the jealousy of other disciples who were not ready to receive a khirqa. The bestowing may take place in a formal (e.g. by means of a certain rite, going together with an official document) or in an informal way (e.g. by means of giving a cap as a last minute farewell-present at an airport). When this very Chishti pir was in Holland in August 1983 he delived a speech we have recorded. Part of it…