The works of shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi [part 2]

Shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi tells something very impressive when he was writing chapter 558 of The Openings Revealed in Makkah, dealing with the most beautiful names of Allah. He makes it clear that al–Momît, the One Who causes death, is necessary for you in order to avoid being among those who have killed their hearts by neglecting to do the remembrance (dhikr) of God. The shaykh tells this when writing about al-Momît: “I was busy writing this chapter […] when I heard someone reciting a poem, who was standing at the corner of the house wherein I was. Although I could hear his voice, I could not see him. I don’t know who was reciting these lines: Pass on your heritage,…

The works of shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi [part 1]

Shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi is often called Ibn ‘Arabi. This is done because of two reasons. The first one is to differentiate him from a contemporary Qadi with the name Ibn al-’Arabi. The second reason is the renown of the shaykh in Turkey, Iran and the subcontinent of Indo-Pakistan and Bangladesh, where it is more natural to leave the article al. But as his name is Ibn al-‘Arabi why not use his name? We’ve made several journeys in Europe with a Chishti pir from Ajmer. These were mystical, magical journeys, during the first of which we have been attracted by the birthplace of shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi, while during the second we actually arrived in Murcia, Spain. This is however not the…

Hazrat Nasiruddin Dehlvi

The Chishti Sufi Hazrat Nasiruddin Cheragh is the spiritual successor of Hazrat Nezamuddin Awliya. The conversations of the shaykh are recorded in the Khayr al-Majales [The Best of Assemblies]. This is how The Best of Assemblies came about: Shaykh Nasiruddin Cheragh-e-Delhi fasted almost regularly. Even in his old age he meticulously followed this routine. One day he tells his student Mawlana Hamid Qalandar [The Best of Assemblies; p. 71 of the Persian text; assembly 19]: ما پیر شده ایم، روزه می توانیم داشت، تو چرا نمی توانی؟ I have grown old, but I can fast; why can’t you fast? ‘Old’ is pir in the Persian language. The beginning of the above sentence can also be translated: “I have become your spiritual guide…

The Book of Wisdom

Sīdī Ibn ‘Atā’ Allāh’s gift to us is his Book of Wisdom. He opens it thus: مِْنعَلامَةِالاْعتِمادِعَلىالعَمَِلِنُْقصانُالَرّجاءِعِنْدَوُجودِالَزّلِ  One of the signs that you rely on your own workIs your loss of hope when you’re making a mistake. Commentary: Sīdī Ibn ‘Ajība [reading the Book of Wisdom changed his life] urges his students to ask for a vision of the Divine and to open themselves to grace through zeal and the practice of virtues. Your actions along the Sufi path like meditation, retreat, service, dhikr-Allāh, etc. have a value of their own. It is advisable, however, to rely on the Divine gifts and not to rely on your own actions. Don’t rely on your spiritual practices and your own strength, but…

The language of Adam

There sometimes appear obscure references to a mysterious language, one which only a few great masters know and teach to a chosen few. It is known as suryaniyya, leading to confusion between this and the historical Syriac language, both in old sources and contemporary studies. Esoteric suryaniyya is primordial (associated with Adam) and specifically linked to the language of the friends of God in Sufism. I’ve recently noticed shaykh Ibn al ‘Arabī refer to the language spoken by Adam. Later masters, such as ʿAbd al-Wahhab ash-Shaʿrani (d. 1565), and ʿAbd al-ʿAziz ad-Dabbagh (d. 1719) have done the same. Shaykh ad-Dabbagh is an interesting Sufi. He is an ‘ummi. He was not exactly illiterate, but he has not undergone any formal studies. It is also…

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…