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…

Generosity

Some travellers arrived at the grave of Hatim Tai, a man who was famous because of his generosity. Nothing happened and they became a little bored. One of them even fell asleep. When he woke up he told the others that he had seen Hatim Tai who told him to slaughter one of their own camels and eat it in his name. This they did, but they thought it to be a strange kind of generosity. In the morning, however, the son of Hatim Tai came and presented them with two camels. He had seen his father in a dream, who told him to present two camels to the travellers who stayed near his grave, as a compensation for the…

The Scholar and the Dervish

This is the recorded interchange of questions and answers of an‘alim (a scholar in Islam) and a dervish: – No one has ever seen you pray! – That is true! – You do not wear a patched cloak, like the other Sufis… – No, I don’t! – You do not use a rosary to remember God… – True! – You do not visit Sufi centres… – No, I don’t! – You do not discuss spirituality, you do not quote from the classical masters, and you do not have a beard! – True, true, true! – Can you tell me why? – Because it would interfere with my spiritual activities.

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 Months of the ‘Arefin (Gnostics)

1. Muharram: sanctification and coming-forward; station of beginning. 2. Safar: renunciation, aspiration and denudation; its earth relinquishes the plants of evil deeds 3. Rabi’ al-Awwal: customary practice; mutual social relations 4. Rabi’ ath-Thani: unveiling; mystical perceptions 5. Jumada al-Awwal: What do you think? 6. Jumada al-akhirah: ? 7. Rajab: the loftiest shrine 8. Sha’ban: the barrier 9. Ramadan: the everlasting 10. Shawwal: the source of quiddity+++- 11. Dhul-Qadah: the earthly expanse 12. Dhul-Hijjah: spiritual joy.

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 5

Here is a ghazal from the Diwaan-e-Mo’in (Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna): Maa talabgaar-e-to aim o to gorezani ze maa Maa basuyat moqbal o to ruye gardaani ze maa I’m seeking you out, but you’re running away from Me, I’m looking towards you, but you’re turning away your face from Me. Maa berun az shash jehat waz sad jehat juyaan to Chand khud raa har taraf mashghul gardaani ze maa I’m beyond the six directions, but you are seeking Me everywhere. How long will you keep yourself occupied thus by turning away from Me? Har kojaa khwaahi shodan baa maa to ham ai bikhabar Maa namimaanim az to gar to’i maani ze maa O, ignorant one, you are seeking…

Hikmat

HAQIQA AL-MUHAMMADIYYA Dr. Zahurul Hassan Sharib has briefly paid attention to an important Sufi doctrine in his The Culture of the Sufis (see pp. 100-1). It is the doctrine of haqiqa al-muhammadiyya (the logos of Muhammad). For some reason or other this doctrine has always fascinated me. For me it is a journey into new worlds, to be slowly explored, but to shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir from Algeria (1808-1883 C.E.) it is familiar ground. Sufis like him have received the blessing of an opening up of this subject. The Algerian shaykh received answers in a vision related to a teaching of the shaykh ‘Abd as-Salam ibn Mashish, a descendant of the Prophet who died in 1228 C.E. The Algerian shaykh comments on…

Early sufis in the Chishti order

Many people think that Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti is the founder of the Chishti order. This is not correct, so in the following article I intend to tell something about his spiritual ancestors and briefly something about their teachings. The Chishti order of the Sufis derives its name from Chisht (pronounce: Chesht, hence Cheshti). Chisht is a small town near Herat in Afghanistan. When travelling and arriving in Herat I intended also to visit Chisht, but it was said that the road was not safe, because of dacoits, so I abandoned the idea. The first one to call himself Chishti was Abu Ishaq Shami. As the name Shami implies he came from Syria or even from Damascus (ash-Sham). He met a…

The Test

It so happened that a seeker asked to become a student of a Sufi. “First you need to answer a certain question. If you are able to give a correct answer, you’ll be accepted as a murid after a period of one thousand and one days”. The seeker received the question and spared no effort until she found the solution. She conveyed the answer to the Sufi who said: “This is correct. You may go. Wait until one thousand and one days have passed and come back for instruction”. The seeker was overjoyed. She thanked the Sufi and asked him: “What would have happened in case I had not given the right response?” The Sufi answered: “Oh, in that case,…

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…