The Quest of the Dervish

A dervish being questioned by a King as to what revelation, in his quest for knowledge, had seemed to him the one most pregnant with meaning, answered thus: I’ll tell you about the second birth of my soul. My body, like a horse, has carried my soul away in the journey towards God, over the land of bodies and the ocean of spirits. When growth here below had attained its perfection, and my ‘horse’ had lived a long time, my soul left it behind and experienced a second birth. My reborn soul entered into the Eighth Climate, closer to its principles and its goal. Thus did it gradually progressed in perfection of the self, in the construction of its inner…

Asking for money

An afflicted man presented himself before Alexander, the King of the Universe and asked for a dirhem. Alexander responded in a loud voice to this request: “You ask me, a king like me, so little?” “Well then”, answered the man. “Give me a town and a treasure! That will be enough to satisfy me.” “The emperor of China has received such a gift” – said the king. “Who are you to claim such things?”

These dervishes are like apes

While it is good that murids in the beginning of their path emulate the behaviour of their murshid, it is important that in due course of time this doesn’t turn into a blind following (taqlid) of their spiritual guide and teacher. A Sufi shaykh visited some dervishes in Misr during his travels. When he was with them, he taught some apes to do a dance. They learned to do it very quickly. Dressed in golden robes and wearing impressive crowns, they went through the steps and, for a while, put on a very good show. This show took place in front of the dervishes the shaykh had visited. They responded with enthusiasm to the dance of the apes. Something unexpected…

The sound of music

A quarrel broke out between two men. Among the bystanders was a Chishti dervish. Just as one of the fighters was about to strike the other man with a stick, the dervish picked up his sitar and plucked a single, clear note. Upon hearing this sound, the angry man lay down his stick and walked away.

The Crown of Alexander

And they ask you questions about Dhu’l-Qarnain. Say: ‘I’ll recite to you a remembrance of him’. Sikandar Rumi often was lonely, but not alone. Friendship was very valuable to him, but, as it is with everyone, he had few friends. Once he received a letter wherein he was told that one of his best friends, his personal physician was poisoning him. He received this letter at the same time that this very friend offered him something to drink. He showed the letter to his friend, while immediately drinking from the cup offered by his friend. Was not this to express a resolution, that if his friends had a mind to send him out of the world, he was willing to…

Becoming a murid

Najmuddin Kubra at a certain stage in his life was in search of a Sufi shaykh. He was one who had had a thorough education in Islam and he was very much aware thereof, so when he met Sufi teachers he was critical of them as he knew more about Islam than they did. During one of his journeys he came to a new town wherein he was a complete stranger. No one showed any hospitality to him. Moreover he was in difficulties as he needed rest because of an unpleasant illness. Because of this illness he approached one of the people on the street and made it clear that he needed some place to rest. He was referred to…

Knowing his sufi classics

A man once asked Abe Lincoln what should be engraved on a honorary plaque for his office. He wanted Lincoln to furnish words of wisdom that would be helpful in all circumstances. Lincoln thought about it for a while, then said: “This too shall pass!” You know that these words are in fact the advice given by shaykh Fariduddin ‘Attar in Persian: In ham migozarad

The sufi and his cat

René Guénon, aka shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahid Yahya, died in 1951. There has been an European Sufi shaykh, Mustafa ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, who has been the first in modern times to introduce the teachings of shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi in depth to the west. His French name is Michel Valsan. Shaykh Mustafa ‘Abd al-‘Aziz has written a letter about the death of shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahid Yahya: Paris 18th June 1951. I think you have already received the sad information about the death of René Guénon by means of newspapers and radio. It took place on the night of the 7th to the 8th of January. I have received your letter on the 8th of January at the same time as news of his…

Yellow Teeth

A seeker of God, ‘Abd ar-Rahman, happened to attend a Sufi dhikr. One of the awrad seemed so strange to him that he seriously began to doubt his sanity. There could hardly be a mistake. The dervishes were all swaying and chanting: Yellow teeth! Yellow teeth! But how could yellow teeth inspire such passion among the dervishes? Later on he discovered that what he had misheard, was actually Ya Latif – which is, as you know, one of the 99 most beautiful names of God.

Meeting Khidr

Meeting Khwaja Khidr is the theme in the eight Sufi tales below: STORY 1 Shaykh Khusraw, who was one of the most important companions of shaykh Bahauddin Naqshband has said: “One day I went for a visit to the shaykh and I found him standing at the edge of a basin, while he was speaking to an unknown person. When I greeted him, the stranger walked away and went to another part of the garden. The shaykh told me: “That man is Khidr!” He said it twice. I, however, did not reply and remained silent and with the assistance of God it so happened that I experienced neither any outward attachment nor any inward inclination in my soul to Khidr….