Dervish ‘Abdullah and the Philosopher’s Stone

Dervish ‘Abdullah took a short walk with a certain turning point in view. But despite the intended goal of his walk, he accidentally took another route. When realizing that, he thought of returning but then decided that he could reach the turning point by using the path taken. His revised walk took him through a relatively unknown part of his village. This is why he noticed that people had attached a case of books at eye height next to the gate of their garden, intending that books could be taken away freely by anyone interested in them. One of these books contained the title The Philosopher’s Stone. The Sufis call this ‘stone’ the Perplexing Jewel, so he considered taking the book. Dervish ‘Abdullah decided against it…

Seeking

Khwaja ‘Abdullah Ansari said in his intimate conversations with God: I’m drunk from You freeing me from wine and cup.I’m Your bird free from grain and being hunted.What I desire from the Ka’aba and idols is You!Otherwise, I seek nothing from these two. Talab [seeking] has as its root T-L-B and is connected to these meanings: seeking, researching, asking something from someone, pursuing, being far away, not being present, claiming, soliciting, desiring, having a liking for or sympathy for something [Maurice Gloton: Une Approche du Coran par la Grammaire et le Lexique; p. 523]. Serge de Laugier de Beaureceuil, the most important connaisseur of the life and teachings of Khwaja ‘Abdullah Ansari, states in his Chemin de Dieu, p. 249-250…

The Fruits of Heaven and Earth

Thratara, a young woman, approached the dervish ‘Abdullah and sought his interpretation of a dream that had intrigued her. This is what she recounted when ‘Abdullah kindly received her: “In my dream, I met an old woman seated beside a fruit tree. Astonishingly, she declared that her name bore a close resemblance to mine. Instead of telling her name, the old woman uttered, ‘Consult dervish ‘Abdullah to unravel the significance of this fruit-laden tree.’”  Dervish ‘Abdullah requested Thratara, “If you wouldn’t mind, then, please share more details about the tree. What was its hue?” Thratara responded to dervish ‘Abdullah’s question with much enthusiasm. “Its colour was distinct from monotonous shades of grey while lacking the stark duality of black and…

Sufi Healing

Before becoming a resident in a Sufi khanegah, dervish ‘Abdullah lived the life of a traveling dervish. He, for instance, worked for seven years in Rome as a provider of care to the elderly. This work was somewhat frustrating as it was difficult for him to adjust to the demands of the Italian culture. The elderly Mrs. Corrado was quite demanding. She didn’t like to be dependent on others. That’s why she insisted to be of service to her caretaker. She decided to teach Italian to dervish ‘Abdullah. Dervish ‘Abdullah, however, found it difficult to memorize the Italian words as taught by Mrs. Corrado. He talked about this situation with Maria Martinelli, who was the caretaker of Mrs. Elsas. Maria…

Healing

Creator,Bless my eyes that I may see with love,Bless my lips that I may speak with love,Bless my ears that I may listen with love,Bless my heart that I may give and receive with love,Bless my hands that all that I touch feels loved,Bless my feet that my walk may be a prayer upon Mother Earth.” This prayer is credited to the Mexican Grace Alvarez Sesma who is a ‘curandero’, a practitioner of a traditional Mexican indigenous form of healing. This healing prayer reminded me of this prayer of the Prophet: O Allah, place within my heart light, and upon my tongue light, and upon my tongue light, and within my ears light, and within my eyes light, and place behind me light, and in front…

The Letter R

Shaykh Fariduddin ‘Attar explains that the letter A [Alif] manifests itself in the other letters: Alif was the first one in origin,It then brought forward a number of connections:When it became crooked it was counted as the dāl.When it put another bend upon itself,It then became rā, O ignorant one!When the alif is bent like a reed,Its both ends then became crooked as the bā.When the alif became a horseshoe,It then became a nūn. Let’s continue with the letter rā. The teaching of shaykh al-Buni will be followed by what James Cowan, shortly before his death wrote about the letter r in the Western alphabet. Shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi connects this letter with the House of Joseph. Sh. al-Buni writes this about the…

Meeting the Dervish

I only long to meet a true friend of God.And wish to reach the presence of this friend.From grief, my heart won’t openWithout seeing the face of the friend. Many people wanted to meet dervish ‘Abdullah, because he was said to be one of the friends of God. Few people, however, took the trouble to actually go and meet him. Why? The dervish lived near the top of a steep mountain in a Sufi khanegah. Climbing this mountain was difficult. Salik was determined to meet dervish ‘Abdullah. After seven hours he reached the khanegah and knocked on its door. When the door was opened, Salik saw a small, nondescript man appear who asked him: “Yes?”“I have come to see dervish…

The works of shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi [part 12]

Eleven articles have appeared about the works of shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi. Here is a key: Part 1: Ruh al-Quds Part 2: The Divine Names Part 3: The Divine names Part 4: Ahadith Part 5: Shaykh Dhu’n-Nun Part 6: Spiritual chivalry Part 7: The Path of Blame Part 8: Shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi as a murshid Part 9: Women Part 10: Ascetic practices of the abdal Part 11: The Perfect Human Being Part 12: The key to all 11 articles

The works of shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi [part 11]

The doctrine of the Perfect Human Being (al–insan al–kamil), in its technical Sufi metaphysical sense, has roots in Sufi thought prior to shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi, e.g. in the earlier concept of ‘the Universal Servant’ (‘abd al-kullī) as formulated by Ibn Barrajan (d. 1141): A human being is identified as the Particular Servant (ʿabd al–juzʾi) in relation to the universal servant (ʿabd al–kulli).  All things unfold as a consequence of the reality of the Universal Servant. Thus al-ʿabd al-kullī was created in the best of forms and the noblest of measurings (taqdir); the form of God’s form (ṣurat al–ḥaqq). Man, on the other hand, was created upon the form of the form of God. That is, man was created upon the…

The works of shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi [part 10]

Here are some observations of shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi in regard to ascetic practices. These remarks are to be found in his Ornaments of the Abdal (Hilyat al–abdal), which has been translated into French by Michel Valsân, aka shaykh Mustafa ‘Abd-al-‘Aziz. Two of the closest murids of shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi had asked him to write something for them from which they could benefit concerning the path of the hereafter. Stephen Hirtenstein has presented us with an English translation, which he called The Four Pillars of Spiritual Transformation: The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed. Shaykh Ibn al- ‘Arabi wrote this short work in the space of an hour in January 1203 in Ta’if, while on a visit to the tomb of the…