Dervish ‘Abdullah meditating in a hammock

Dervish ‘Abdullah lay lazily in a hammock under a flowery ceiling of beautiful white wisteria above him. Enjoying the sun, he marveled at the beauty of the flowers. He was grateful for their beauty. Then he realized that maybe the flowers weren’t there just to be looked at and admired by him. This thought came into him, because he became aware of subtle movements above him. He shook his head and broke free from the pleasant hypnosis of the flowery beauty. He looked deeper, more attentively at the many flowers. Suddenly he saw a bee emerge from one flower and fly to another flower. And another bee, and another bee. The dervish saw many bees flying, buzzing, among the flowers….

Dervish ‘Abdullah meditating near the river

Dervish ‘Abdullah is sitting in meditation by the banks of the Ganges river. He reads it like a book that tells him of the river’s nature, its hidden depths, its movements… He observes a log floating in the stream, lines and circles in the water, as well as a certain colour of the sun reflected in the Ganges. The dervish watches the leaves: some are floating placidly along and make no effort to resist the current. They are taken towards the Ocean. Other leaves are throwing themselves wildly in the turmoil and get ultimately thrown against the banks and remain there, rotting in the sun. Dervish ‘Abdullah says: “The people with inward peace don’t resist the nature of the river….

The Quest of Sidi Ibrahim

Sidi Ibrahim is the Sufi name of Titus Burckhardt [1908-1984]. ‘Sidi’ or ‘Sayyidi’ means literally ‘my master’ and, in fact, Sidi Ibrahim guided the students of Sidi ‘Isa, aka F. Schuon, in Basel. Sidi is actually used as an honorific title given to someone who has been initiated into the Sufi path. Sidi Ibrahim has described his quest to find a spiritual guide and teacher in some detail. Do you know shaykh Ibrahim ibn ‘Abdallah [1784-1817]? You can see a painting of this ancestor of Sidi Ibrahim dressed in Muslim clothes and can read more about his life at This ancestor made the pilgrimage to Mecca in 1815. He was the first European to describe the hajj in some…

The whole picture

Abu Talib visited the garden of the Baghban tariqa. The shaykh asked him to count the number of rose bushes. When viewing the garden from the gate, Abu Talib could see eleven rose bushes. When moving away from the gate he suddenly discovered a rose bush not seen before, but having moved Abu Talib lost sight of one other rose bush. No matter how he moved, he always could see only eleven out of the twelve rose bushes in the garden. He learned through moving that the whole picture could not be seen from any one of his viewpoints.  

Thread your way through my labyrinth of love and find me

A woman recently explained that there is a difference between a labyrinth and a maze. This is what she said: “When you enter a labyrinth, there is only one way that leads to its centre. When walking it you sometimes appear to get further away from the centre, but when you continue you get step by step nearer to the centre.” This woman entered a maze together with her children. After about 45 minutes she still was wandering from one dead-end to another, while her children had already found the exit. From their standing point, they not only could see their mother but also could give her directions and guided her out of the maze. “One day” {writes Alberto Manguel…

Persian translation of Grandfather’s Oven

تنور پدربزرگ خام بُدم، پخته شدم، سوختم من دیر به کاروانسرای قونیه رسیدم. به همین دلیل صبحِ فردا نزد منیر شاه رفتم. متوجه شدم که کتابی میخواند و کنجکاو بودم بدانم چه میخواند. چند ساعت بعد دوباره او را دیدم. روی نیمکتی رو به روی مسجدی که مقام حضرت شمس تبریزی در آن قرار داشت، نشسته بود. در حال خواندن همان کتاب با جلد قرمز رنگ بود. دیدار سوم در باغ مَرام قونیه اتفاق افتاد. من توصیف این باغ را از اِولیا چَلَبی خوانده بودم و به همین دلیل به آنجا رفته بودم. مردم قونیه برای لذت بردن از زیبایی باغ و آواز پرندگان به آنجا میرفتند. منیر شاه باز هم آن کتاب را میخواند. او متوجه من شد و…

Grandfather’s Oven

خام بدم پخته شدم سوختم I was raw, I was cooked, I was burned! I arrived rather late in a caravanserai in Konya. That’s why I saw Munir Shah the next morning. I noticed him reading a book and I wondered what book he was reading. A few hours I saw him again. He was sitting on a bench opposite the mosque with the maqam of Hazrat Shamsuddin Tabrizi. He was reading the same red coloured book. The third time happened to take place in the Meram gardens of Konya. I went there because I had read the description of these gardens by Evliya Çelebi. He writes that these gardens are situated on the eastern side of the Meram Mountain….

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…

The Message of the People of the Mystery

Dear companions, open the knot of the tress of the Friend;It is a pleasant night. Lengthen it by this means! It is an intimate retreat, the gathering of friends.Recite: And indeed would almost; and close the door! The rebeck and the harp are saying in a loud voice:‘Listen with understanding to the message of the people of the mystery!’ By the Friend’s soul, grief will not pull away your veil,If you rely on the favours of the Caretaker. There is a great difference between lover and Beloved:When the Beloved shows feigned disdain, you make supplication. The first advice of the pîr of the assembly is this:‘Avoid the company of wrong friends!’ For everyone who is not alive by love in…

The hidden treasure

You’ll remember the hadith qudsi that starts with: ‘I was a hidden treasure and wanted to be known.’ The following poem of shaykh Fariduddin ‘Attar [the Persian text is taken from ghazal 404 on p. 300 of the edition of the Diwan of Dr. Taqi Tafadduli] points to the mysterious contradiction that God is hidden from view while He is manifest in creation. Keep in mind, however, that He wants to be known! You’re within my soul, but my soul has no knowledge of You;You’ve filled the world, but the world has no knowledge of You. Discovering You makes my heart and soul immortal;You’re within my heart and soul, but they have no knowledge of You. Your Path makes the…