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…

Seek His Essence

What is aspiration? The aspirer and Aspired are one. In my path, the lover and the Beloved are one. They say to me: ‘Seek His Essence!’ How to seek? The seeker and the Sought are one! در مذهب ما محب و محبوب یکیست رغبت چه بود راغب و مرغوب یکیست گویند مرا که عین او را بطلب چه جای طلب طالب و مطلوب یکیست Shah Ne’matullah Wali [1331-1431] When Shah Ne’matullah Wali, the founder of the Ne’matullahi Sufi tariqa became about one hundred years old, he climbed out of the window of our world and travelled to the next world.  This king of the dervishes is also known as a writer. His literary activities continued until he had reached a…

The Test

It so happened that a seeker asked to become a student of a Sufi. “First you need to answer a certain question. If you are able to give a correct answer, you’ll be accepted as a murid after a period of one thousand and one days”. The seeker received the question and spared no effort until she found the solution. She conveyed the answer to the Sufi who said: “This is correct. You may go. Wait until one thousand and one days have passed and come back for instruction”. The seeker was overjoyed. She thanked the Sufi and asked him: “What would have happened in case I had not given the right response?” The Sufi answered: “Oh, in that case,…

The Key to open the Door

A key [miftâh] is an instrument for opening [fath]. Keys are able to open a locked door. An opening can be considered as an unveiling: “There’s a key, an opening, and something opened”, says shaykh Ibn al-‘Arâbî. “When the opened thing is opened, that which has been veiled by it becomes manifest. So the key is your preparedness [isti’dâd] for learning and receiving knowledge, the opening is the teaching, and the opened thing is the door at which you come to a halt”. “If you don’t halt and you travel on, you’ll see with every step what you had not been seeing, and you’ll come to know what you didn’t know, and God’s bounty to you is ever magnificent [Qur’ân…

A complete ghazal by Khwaja Hafez

To put this dervish coat in pledge for wine is better. And to drown this meaningless book into pure wine is better. Because I look back at my wasted life, To fall down drunk in the corner of the tavern is better. Because thinking about what is prudent is far from the dervish way, To have a breast full of fire and an eye full of tears is better. I shall not tell the people about the state of the heart of the ascetic, But if I should tell it, to tell this story with a harp and a violin is better. As long as the motions of the heavenly spheres have neither head nor tail, To desire for the…