The Queen of the Desert

Just suppose you are able to make an interview with Isabelle Eberhardt (1877-1904), one of the changed ones or abdal. What would you ask her? Perhaps some of your questions are similar to the ones as given below: Q: Can you give us some biographical details? A: My Russian mother was called Nathalie de Moerder-Eberhardt. Trophimovsky, my father, was a remarkable man. My father and mother did not marry one another. My father was a former priest of the Russian Orthodox Church. He was an anarchist and raised me as a boy. He taught me Latin, Greek, Russian, German, Turkish and Arabic. My father helped me to read parts of the Qur’an in the original. Its teachings gave me a…

Gift to the Ganges

Just suppose you are able to make an interview with shaykh Ghawth ‘Ali Shah (1804-1880). What would you ask him? Perhaps some of your questions are similar to the ones as given below: Q: Why are you called a gift to the Ganges? A: My mother was not well after giving me birth, so a wet nurse was found, who called me ‘Ganga Bishan’. Q: You are a sayyed, as you belong to the family of the Prophet. Is it not strange that you as a Muslim have attended a Hindu festival in Hardwar? Is it not true that God is present in Islam and everywhere? A: I have taken a sacred bath in the Ganges on behalf of and…

The Dark Night of the Heart

We all know the expression dark night of the soul. There is an experience at the level of the heart. With heart I mean the spiritual faculty and not the physical heart. The dark night of the heart implies an experience of contraction (qabd). We have already discussed the subject in some detail by means of the teachings of a Suhrawardi shaykh. Shaykh ‘Umar as-Suhrawardi has dedicated chapter 61 of his ‘Awârif al-Ma’ârif to the description of inward states of the Sufi path. To them (the states) belong contraction (qabd) and expansion (bast), two noble spiritual states. God spoke (Qur’an 2:245): And Allah gives contraction and expansion. As you can read contraction is a gift. A gift of God is…

Training of the heart

Shaykh Nasiruddin Chiragh of Delhi told his mureeds clearly and firmly that the entire structure of spiritual discipline was based on the proper training of the heart. The qibla (focus-point) of the heart is God. The heart is the amir (ruler) of the body. When it turns away from its focus-point, the body also moves away from its focus-point. The anwar (divine lights) first descend on the soul and then they are transmitted to the body, which is subordinate to the heart. When the heart is moved, the body is also moved. Hal (spiritual state) is the result of the purity of action. Hal is transitory and is not permanent. If it becomes so it becomes a maqam (station).

The World of Imagination

“This world of imagination is the world of eternity; it is the divine bosom into we shall all go after the death of the vegetated body. This world of imagination is infinite and eternal, whereas the world of generation, or vegetation, is finite and temporal. There exist in that eternal world the permanent realities of every thing we see reflected in this vegetable glass of nature.” – William Blake You may have seen the movie “What dreams may come”. It gives a depiction of what happens to a husband and his wife after death. When the two of them were still alive, then the place where they first met became a place of their happiest memories, a place they often…

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…

The inner knowledge dealing with thoughts (impulses), their classification and their differences

Our shaykh Abu’n Najib as-Suhrawardi [he is the uncle of the author] has informed us: [now the isnad connecting him with the prophet is given, but it is omitted by me] “The messenger of God said: ‘The devil has the habit of whispering [in the hearts of people and the angels do the same. The whisper of the devils points to evil purposes and declares the truth to be a lie, the whisper of the angel points to good purposes and declares the truth to be true. Whosoever experiences the last type should know that it comes from God and who experiences the first type should take his refuge in God for the devil’. Then he recited: ‘The devil threatens…

The Perfume Seller

Just suppose you are able to make an interview with shaykh Fariduddin ‘Attâr. What would you ask him? Perhaps some of your questions are similar to the ones as given below: Q: What has been your profession? A: I have written my poems in my “dâru-khâne” wherein I combined the selling of drugs and perfumes with the practice of medicine. Q: It is said that one day a dervish called at your dâru-khâne, your dispensary and asked for alms, but you were too busy with your patients to care for him and gave no reply. Hence you took no notice of him on his second polite demand, the dervish remarked: “You are so busy amassing wealth here. How will you…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 17

Man sharaab-e-‘eshq raa paymaana am ay ‘aasheqaan Aan pari raa didam o diwaana am ay ‘aasheqaan O, lovers! I am like a goblet fit for the wine of love. O, lovers! I’ve seen that fairy and now I am intoxicated. Zaan fosun kaan lab ba-gusham khaand dar ruz-e-azal Dar zabaanhaa taa abad aafsaana am ay ‘aasheqaan Because of the fascinating recitation in my ears during pre-eternity, My tale will be told in every language till post-eternity, O, lovers! Goftamash ba-namaai rukh goftaa ke didaar-e-maraa Dida baayad war na man penhaan na am ay ‘aasheqaan I asked Him to reveal His face; He replied: ‘In order to see Me You need vision, otherwise I am hidden and not there, O, lovers!’…

Sufi concept: Tuesday – Prophet Aaron

Shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi tells us, that for every day there is a prophet from among the prophets, from whom descends a secret upon the heart of the verifying witness, a secret in which you takes delight during your day and by which you know something of that which requires to be known. This only happens to those who possess a heart. Day 3: Tuesday If your day is Tuesday, then Aaron is your companion, so adhere to right guidance and John, the Baptist, will be your intimate, so cleave to purity and contentment. On Tuesday it is either Aaron or John who addresses you with a secret by which he comes to know what is beneficial or harmful about the…