Chishti stages of love – Part 1

The pen faces difficulties or even fails when trying to describe love. As you know steps can be seen leading up to the ocean, but what happens then? The well-known Chishti Sufi Khwaja Nasiruddin Cheragh (the “lamp”) of Delhi, who was the successor of Nizamuddin Awliya has described the indescribable. He not only described ten stages and fifty phases of love, but he also experienced them. I’m grateful to the work of Mir Valiuddin in this respect. I’ve at places added some relevant anecdotes. Scholars say that the description of the Chishti stages of love has not been written by the aforesaid Sufi. It does not really matter, as the only thing of importance is the experience of love. The…

The Greatest Providence (Al-‘Enaayat Al-Kobraa)

Ibn al-‘Arabi writes: “Know, o true listener, that the people of God, when the Real One draws them towards Himself…, He places in their hearts something calling them to seek their happiness. So they seek after that and inquire about it until they find in their hearts a certain tenderness and humility and striving for peace and release from the state of ordinary people with their mutual envy, greed, hostility and opposition. Then when they have completed the perfection of their moral qualities or have nearly done so, they find in their nafs something calling them to solitary retreat and withdrawal from ordinary people. So some take to wandering and frequenting the mountains and plains, while others do their wandering…

The Cherisher of the Poor

Just suppose you are able to make an interview with Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti, who is also known as Gharib Nawaz, the Cherisher of the Poor. What would you ask him? Perhaps some of your questions are similar to the ones as given below: Q: Can you tell us how you started on the spiritual path? A: After the death of my father – I was hardly 15 years old – I inherited a grinding stone and a garden. These formed my source of livelihood. From a very early age I liked the company of dervishes and I always offered them great respect. My meeting with Hazrat Ibrahim Qanduzi was a turning point in my life. It so happened that one…

Thirty-six

There are 36 attestations of tawhîd in the Qur’ân. This takes place by means of a dhikr, which is in this case the tahlîl. The basic shape is well known to you: “no god but God!” This is the recitation wherein God is declared one, by negating what is other than Him and by affirming Him. O Lord! Light the eternal fire in my heart! Turn every breath into a messenger of Your compassion! 1-36: The first attestation of tawhîd can be found in Q. 2:163. It is a tawhîd by means of the Divine name ar-Rahmân: Wa ‘ilâhukum ‘ilâhuñw-wâhidå: lââ ‘ilâha illâ huwa-r-rahmânu-r-rahîm And your God is one God, no god but He, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Shaykh Ibn…

Paul’s awakening

It is unusual when a father writes the biography of his son. It happened in the case of the Dutch mystic Frederik van Eeden who wrote the biography of his son Paul after his son’s death. Paul clearly was not someone with special qualities, he was unremarkable, he was quite a normal person and he even had small character mistakes. When he became ill, then he changed. The change took place slowly, but continuously. An inner purification took place, clearly visible to all. At the final moment, the moment of his death, he did not fall ‘asleep’, but there was an ‘awakening’. After his expiry Fredrik van Eeden tells something about one of his gardeners. You should know that Frederik…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 25

Biyaa dar bazm-e-u adnaa yake harf ze man be-shnaw Wa zaan asraar-e-maa wahi yake tarz-e-sokhan be-shnaw Come closer to His assembly and listen to my words! Listen to my secrets and be inspired by my manner of speaking! Agar asraar-e-wahdat raa ze man baawar nami-daari To gush-e-hosh-e-khud be-koshaai o bikaam o dahan be-shnaw If you don’t believe in my words about the mysteries of existence, Open your ears and listen in complete silence to your innermost consciousness! Bar afgan nur o zolmat raa ze rah bardaar kasrat raa Pas aangah serr-e-wahdat raa to ham az khishtan be-shnaw Remove from your path all diversity and duality between darkness and light, And then also listen to what your higher self tells you…

Listening and Understanding

In the early 9th century, when the Muslim mystics organised their Sufi brotherhoods or orders, they adopted music as a support for meditation, as a means of access to the state of grace or ecstasy, or quite simple as ‘soulfood’, in other words, something that would give new vigour to a body and soul tired by the rigours of the ascetic life. In Sufism the sama’ (meaning literally ‘listening’) denotes the tradition of listening in spiritual fashion to music, chanting and songs of various forms, all ritualised to a greater or lesser degree. The very meaning of the word sama’ suggests that it is the act of listening that is spiritual, without the music or poetry being necessarily religious in…

Sufis about Death

Prepare yourself for death, oh my brother, For it will descend. Do not draw out your hopes In case your heart treats you harshly. Persevere in reflection Which will make you aware And move you to do good works, For life will depart. Shaykh Ibn al-Habib is the one who has given the above counsel on death. Death can be seen as the physical death, but when the Sufis say that when they are forgetful of God, then they also see this as death. The remembrance of the divine Beloved thus implies life. Imam al-Ghazzali has said that there are three aspects to the remembrance of death: • The remembrance of a heedless person, who is involved with the world….

The Mantle of Illumination

The Chishti pir we’ve met in Ajmer at times presented a khirqa to his murids. The khirqa could take the shape of a mantle, a cap, a handkerchief, etc. This often took place when he was alone with his disciple in order not to evoke the jealousy of other disciples who were not ready to receive a khirqa. The bestowing may take place in a formal (e.g. by means of a certain rite, going together with an official document) or in an informal way (e.g. by means of giving a cap as a last minute farewell-present at an airport). When this very Chishti pir was in Holland in August 1983 he delived a speech we have recorded. Part of it…

A sufi tale without a name

There was once a Sufi who was approached by a youth, who said to him: ‘Why do the wise not give good advice to all so that we could all act in accordance with it, and prosper? If there are so many illuminated ones who can he al the sick, why do they not do it for everyone, so that we might banish disease from the earth?’ The Sufi said: ‘Come with me on a journey, and I will show you how matters really stand, for they are otherwise than you think.’ So the two set off on their travels. They arrived at a village where a man was trying to milk a miserable goat, but could hardly get any…