ANGELS

A traveller entered an aeroplane in order to make a short trip to Friedrichshafen in Germany. He took a seat next to a woman who was reading a book. There was nothing much to do during the flight. The woman next to him was not open to talking to the traveller as she was engrossed in her book. He wondered what she was reading, but couldn’t see the title. About a week later, the traveller left Friedrichshafen. To his surprise, the same woman was sitting next to him in the aeroplane. She was reading the same book. Shortly before arriving at his destination, the traveller was able to read the title of the book. The book was about angels. What…

It’s Time

مسکین معین در یک غزل بنمود اسرار ازل بشنو کلام لم یزل از کسوت گفتار او Mo’in, the dervish, has presented in a single poem the secrets of eternity. Listen to these words of eternity, clothed in the sound of his words. [Dîwân-i-Mo’în] The Sufis mention various concepts of time like, ân, dahr, zamân, waqt, qidam, abad, azal, hîn, mudda and imtidâd. G. Böwering in his Ideas of Time in Persian Sufism writes: “The philosophers had explained time; the mystics set out to conquer it.” [p. 217 of Classical Persian Sufism: from its Origins to Rumi]. Let’s start with the creative moment, ân [آن]. This moment is different from any before it. This moment is different: it’s now! If you…

I am the Sun

I’m the sun is a quatrain written by imam al-Ghazzali: If the heart doesn’t travel on the road of union with You, what to do? If the soul doesn’t seek the union with You eagerly, what to do? The moment the sun shines upon a mirror – If the mirror doesn’t say, ‘I’m the sun,’ what to do? دل گر رهء وصل تو نپوید چه کند جان وصل ترا بجان نجوید چه کند آن لحظه که بر آینه تابد خورشید آیینه اناالشمس نگوید چه کند The quatrain is in Persian, except for some words in Arabic in the final line, which are: اناالشمس. This ana’l-shams [I am the sun] has been modelled on the famous ecstatic utterance ana’l-haqq or ‘I…

She walks in beauty

You’ll know the poem of Lord Byron called She Walks in Beauty. I have accessed its recitation by Marianne Faithfull on the 21st of July 2021:   The Sufis say that the manifestation of the Divine is strongest in women. The dark-haired beauty – the raven tress – in Byron’s poem will remind you of Layla in Sufism, whose name implies the darkness of the night. Lord Byron’s love for beauty reminds me of a Persian Sufi concept called Jamâl-parastî – the worship of beauty. She Walks in Beauty could have been written by shaykh Rûzbihân Baqlî; just study this quatrain: ‌چشم از رخ خوبت آفتابی دارد حسن از قبل روی تو تابی دارد مسکین دل شوریده سر گشته من…

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 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 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…

Quotes of Sa’di

Lovers are prisoners at your door, come! They’ll not hold your fiery temper against you, come! Each of your cruel acts will be excused, But before they don’t excuse you anymore, come! عشاق بدرگهت اسیرند بیا بد خو ئى تو بر تو نگیرند بیا هر جور و جفا که کرده ای معذوری زان پیش که عذرت نپذیرند بیا If you are longing for the masters of heart, be aware That you aren’t heedless of service even for one moment; Give food to the parrot, the partridge and the pigeon, So that one day a phoenix may fall into your snare. الا گر طلبگار اهل دلی ز خدمت مکن یک زمان غافلی خورش ده به گنجشك و کبك و حمام که…

One Special Task

In jedem lebt ein Bild dessen, was er werden soll. Solange er dies nicht ist, ist nicht sein Friede voll. In each one lives an image of what he is to be. As long as he is not this, he ne’er at rest will be. [Friedrich Rückert] یکی گفت که اینجا چیزی فراموش کردهام Someone came and said: ‘I have forgotten something here.’ [Rumi: Fihi ma fihi; # 3; p. 14] Rumi answered: ‘There is one task in this world you should never forget. Even when you’d forget everything, except this one task, then it doesn’t matter. When you performed all tasks, remembered everything, and not forgot anything, but forgot that one task, then you have done nothing whatsoever’. ‘It…