The parcel

Some time ago I ordered a book of Ibn al-‘Arabi by writing to the publisher. The book had to come from abroad so I calculated the time I had to wait. When the arrival time came near I really was on the lookout for the book, very eager for its arrival by post. Then, when coming home from work, I found a message telling me that the postman tried to deliver a parcel, but was not able to do so because of nobody being home. However the same evening the parcel would be offered again. In the evening the great moment came. A van stopped in front of my house and the postman with his parcel walked towards my door….

Initiation

The ceremony of the initiation can be different in each Sufi order. It may start with a short speech of the shaykh to his mureed-to-be wherein some of the qualities that he or she should emulate, are mentioned. Thereafter the newcomer has to say two cycles of prayer. Then he or she has to sit in front of the shaykh with his/her right hand in the hand of the shaykh and then recites some verses of the Qur’an like: – sura Fatiha (Qur’an 1:1-7) – sura Jonas (Qur’an 10:1-109) – The fist 10 verses of sura The Victory (Qur’an 48:1-10) – The 56th verse of sura The Confederates (Qur’an 33:56) – The final 3 verses of sura The Rangers (Qur’an…

Who are the just?

A man who cultivates his garden, as Voltaire wished. He who is grateful for the existence of music. He who takes pleasure in tracing a root of a word. Two servants playing, in a café in the South, a silent game of chess. The potter, contemplating a colour and a form. The typographer who sets this page well, although it may not please him. A woman and a man, who read the last tercets of a certain canto. He who strokes a sleeping animal. He who justifies, or wishes to, a wrong done him. He who is grateful for the existence of a Stevenson. He who prefers others to be right. These people, who don’t know one another, are saving…

The works of shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi [part 1]

Shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi is often called Ibn ‘Arabi. This is done because of two reasons. The first one is to differentiate him from a contemporary Qadi with the name Ibn al-’Arabi. The second reason is the renown of the shaykh in Turkey, Iran and the subcontinent of Indo-Pakistan and Bangladesh, where it is more natural to leave the article al. But as his name is Ibn al-‘Arabi why not use his name? We’ve made several journeys in Europe with a Chishti pir from Ajmer. These were mystical, magical journeys, during the first of which we have been attracted by the birthplace of shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi, while during the second we actually arrived in Murcia, Spain. This is however not the…

The ‘Urs of Kwaja Moinuddin Chishti

In October this year (according to the Islamic calendar the main activities will be from the 1st up to and including the 6th of Rajab; the most important day being the 6th of Rajab) the ‘urs of Mo’inuddin Chishti will be celebrated. I have attended it 3 times, the first time arrived on the day before the ‘urs when I could see a flag procession taking place. Depending on the visibility of the moon the date thereof can be established.. It is a rather colourful occasion, especially because of the qalandariyya dervishes who participate. At the dargah complex where Mo’inuddin Chishti is buried there is a sama’ khaneh (an auditorium for sufi music). This will start a day later than…

The Mango

Shah Inayat was the head gardener of the Shalimar gardens of Lahore. These gardens are Mogul gardens. The shrine of Madho Lal Huseyn can be found there. Bullha Shah visited these gardens and as it was summer, he roamed in the mango-groves. Desirous of tasting the fruit he looked round for the guardian, but, not finding him there, he decided to help himself. To avoid the sin of stealing he looked at the ripe fruit and said: “Allah, al-Ghaneey!” (Allah, the Rich One). On the uttering of this invocation a mango fell in his hands. He repeated them several times and thus collected a few mangoes. Tying them in his scarf (a long piece of cloth wound round the shoulders…

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?”

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…

The Governor of Iraq

There was once a governor of Iraq, who went out with his companions and then felt that he would like to be by himself for a time. He sent everyone away and sat thinking. Before long an old man of the ‘Ilj tribe came along and the governor asked him where he came from. “From that nearby village’, said the ancient. “And what of your rulers?” “God remove them from all good and also those who appointed them!” “Do you know who I am?” “No”. “I am the governor!” The old man said: “And do you know who I am?’ “No”, said the governor. “I am the well-known lunatic of the ‘Ilj, and do not know what I am saying…

‘Urs Celebrations in Ajmer, India

My wife, and I have travelled to Ajmer to be present at the ‘urs (death anniversary) of our shaykh who expired in 1996. The ‘urs celebration took place on two days, the 26th and 27th of February. The dates are different each year as they are based on the Islamic calendar. Most of the activities took place at the chillah, a hill with the cave wherein Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti performed his retreats. After the qul, the closing ceremony, there was a function which started at about 22.00 P.M. at the dargah of Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti. About 40 people then walked two times round the shrine of Gharib Nawaz (The Patron of the Poor) as he is also known. Then we…