Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 20

Maa ba-har wesaal az del o jaan niz gozashtim Dar wasl na-khaahi to az aan niz gozashtim During the experience of union I also have renounced both my heart and soul. If You dislike something else during this union, I’ll renounce that as well. Dar bahr-e-fanaa’ gharq-e-rezaa-ye-to chonaanim Kaz juyi moraad-e-do jahaan niz gozashtim I am drowned in annihilation’s ocean to satisfy You in such a way That I also have renounced all desires for this world and the next. ‘Omri ze paa-ye naam o neshaan-e-to dawidim Maa dar talab az naam o neshaan niz gozashtim All my life I have been in a quest to know You and where to find You. I have stopped paying attention to who…

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

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 11

Gar pardahaaye aab o gel az jaan o del yaksu shawad  Az keswat-e-har zarra mehr-e-degar birun shawad If the veil of the body would be pushed aside from heart and soul, From the outer cover of each atom a different sun would then emerge. Har kas ke andar sayr-e-u haqq bud qasd-e-tayr-e-u Yaabad  wesaal-e-ghayr-e-u az zakhm-e-hejraan khun shawad Every traveller towards Him has the right to desire to make speedy progress towards Him, But if he’d find himself in the company of others, then blood will come out from the wound of separation from Him. Har taalebi kaan jaa ze jaan baa ‘aasheqaan shod ham ‘eyaan Aanjaa borad guy az miyaan bar molk-e-afridun shawad Every seeker who together with other…

The Doctrine of Futuwwat

The prophet Abrahamis famous for his hospitality. The Sufis have followed this trait of his character. Hospitality is a collective virtue. The term futuwwat means and implies that an individual should be of service to others. He should oblige the people. He should not hurt anyone. He should bear with a smile the harm and injury caused to him by the people. The strict adherence to this doctrine resulted in the establishment of a body known as fityan in Islamic society. It resembles to a marked degree many voluntary and social organisations of our present day. The famous traveller ibn Battuta (d. 1368) had the occasion of seeing this body from very close quarters. He writes thus: ‘There is none…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 21

Delaa chu mahram-e-aan delbar-e-yagaana to’i Qaza chu tir-e-balaa mi-zanad neshaana to’i O heart, fate has made you the target of the arrows of affliction, Because you’ve become a confidant of that unique Beloved: You! Degar foruzad kaanun-e-‘eshq aatesh-e-shawq Sharaara ke be-rizad az aan zabaana to’i A fire full of longing blazes forth from the fire-place of love. Spark are flying out because of that flame of You. Tan-am chu daa’era o noqta dar miyaana del-am Del-am chu daa’era o noqta dar miyaana to’i My body is like a circle and my heart is the core in its centre. My heart is like a circle and the core in its centre is You. Be-goftam az che bahaana to dar hejaabi goft…

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…

The greengrocer’s son and other Sufi tales

Here are a few stories about shaykh ‘Omar Ibn al-Farid. The greengrocer’s son The Egyptian shaykh ‘Omar Ibn al-Farid made a study of ahadith, the traditions of Islam, as well as of adab (belles lettres). By means of ascetic practices he tried to experience spiritual enlightenment, but he was not successful. One day he passed by a law school where he saw an old man, a greengrocer (‘attaar), doing ablutions in a wrong way. Somewhat proud of his knowledge, his piety and his ascetic temperament shaykh ‘Omar Ibn al-Farid criticized the behaviour of this greengrocer. The greengrocer then looked at him and addressed him to his surprise by name: “O, ‘Omar! You will not be enlightened in Egypt. You will…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 8

This is a translation of ghazal 69 to be found on p. 63 of the “Diwaan-e-Amir Khosraw“: Many a night I was with a moon; Where are all those nights gone? Now it is night again, but it is dark, Because of the smoke of my cries: ‘O Lord!’ Those were happy nights, the ones I’ve spent with her: Sometimes drunk and sometimes merry-headed. My world becomes dark, When I remember those nights. I used to tell the tale again and again Of her eyebrows and eyelashes, Like children reciting at school The chapter of the Qur’an starting with Nun and the Pen. What would happen If one night she would ask How a stranger below her wall Would pass…

Treasure of Sugar

Just suppose you are able to make an interview with shaykh Baba Fariduddin Mas’ud Ganj-e Shakar. What would you ask him? Perhaps some of your questions are similar to the ones as given below: Q: Can you tell us something about your youth? A: My grandfather Qazi Shuayb left Kabul and came to Qasur near Lahore. The qazi of Qasur informed the sultan of his arrival and recommended that suitable provision should be made for his maintenance. The sultan was greatly pleased to learn of my grandfather’s accomplishments and showed his willingness to help him in any possible way. To his offer my grandfather replied: “I don’t desire any worldly object, but for the simple reason that whatever is lost…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 16

Man che guyam ke maraa naateqa madhush aamad Bar delam zaabeta-ye-‘aql faraamush aamad How can I speak when my tongue has become intoxicated? My mind has become silent and powerless over my heart. Sail raa na’ra az aan ast ke az bahr jodaa-st Daan ke baa bahr dar aamikhta khamush aamad The river is boisterous because it is separated from the ocean: Know that after union with the ocean it is becalmed forever. Noktahaa dush delam goft o shanid az lab-e-yaar Ke na hargez ba-zabaan raft o na dar gush aamad My heart uttered secrets coming from the Friend’s lips last night, Which have never been spoken by any tongue or heard by any ear. Shaahed-e-ghaib koshaada ast neqaab az…