The lover of the ABC

Just suppose you are able to make an interview with Fazlallah Astarabadi (1340-1394). 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 yourself? A: My father was a judge. He died while I was still a child. I inherited my father’s office. In my youth, while I was incapable of actually doing the job of a judge, I was put on a horse every day and taken to the courthouse to act as a figurehead. My father’s formerly assistants took care of the work. Because of sitting in the judge’s seat I became unusually serious even as a child, but it was also true…

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…

My visit to mysterious tribes

In a book of the founder of the Theosophical movement, Madame Blavadski called ‘Mysterious Tribes’ (in fact it is a book in German) I read about two curious tribes the Kurumbula’s and the Toda’s. They live, according to the book, in the Nilgiri’s in the South of India. The region is taboo for visitors. Of course, when the British still ruled India, an adventurous Englishman did not care about the taboo and even was all too eager to organise an expedition to this area. The people who carried his luggage became very afraid when they came near this forbidden region. It was said that you had to pay with your life when you entered it. There were tales of gods…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 28

This a complete ghazal attributed to Khwâja Mu’înuddîn Chishtî: Ba-khudâ ghayr-i-khudâ dar du jahân nîst kase Sad dalîl-ast wale wâqif az ân nîst kase By God, no one exists in the two worlds but God! Countless proofs are there that He exists, but no one really knows Him. Nukta-i-sirr-i-mahabbat chu nihân az man u tu-st Lâ jaram dar sudad-i-sharh u bayân nîst kase Since the subtleties of love’s secret are hidden from you and me, No one can of course offer a clear explanation thereof. Masnad-i-‘izzat u khalwat-gah-i-wahdat khâlîst Az azal tâ ba abad dar khûr ân nîst kase The seat of honour and the solitary place of unity remain empty: From pre-eternity till post-eternity, no one is worthy to…

Generosity

Hatim at-Tayy was known for his extreme largesse, which was so great that whenever a man of his circle found himself in dire straits, he would refer to Hatim at-Tayy as the proverbial solver of all problems. Once a man who lived rather at a great distance of Hatim’s dwelling place was sorely pressed from want of funds. For days he fretted and worried about this, while his situation steadily worsened, until one day his wife said to him: ‘Whatever we try to do to pull ourselves out of this trouble, it just gets worse. How long is this to go on? Why don’t you go now and speak to Hatim at-Tayy and ask him to help you for once?’…

The Heart

چو بشنوی سخن اهل دل مگو که خطاست سخن شناس نه ای جان من خطا این جاست When you hear the speech of the people of the heart, don’t say it is mistaken. You are not an expert in speech; that is why you are mistaken. Khwaja Hafez calls the Sufis ‘people of the heart’. These experts don’t consider the physical heart to be the real heart. Shah Ne’matollah Wali states: ‘The heart [qalb] is an incorporeal luminous substance [jawhar-e-nurani], intermediate between the spirit [ruh] and the self [nafs]’. Shaykh Ibn al-’Arabi says: ‘Were it not for the excess of your talking and the turmoil in your hearts, you would see what I see and hear what I hear’. Turmoil…

The branch and the tree

Caliph Harun ar-Rashid held a vast festival in Baghdad where thousands of beautiful objects, from artefacts to jewelry to precious stones, were on display. The royal invitation was such that anyone could take anything they wished. So people took what they desired, whatever attracted their mind and eyes and heart. The caliph had a slave-girl in his harem. She did not pick up anything. She remained quiet. Harun ar-Rashid turned to her and asked: “Why don’t you also pick up something?” The slave-girl said, “Is it true that, whatever one touches in this bazaar of beautiful things, one owns it for life and that thing owns the owner?” The caliph said, “That is so.” Then the slave-girl placed her hand…

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…

The tale of the Water of Life

Once, not so long ago and not so far away, Yahya and both his brothers were wandering about looking for water. After a lot of walking they saw a tree standing alone, far away from any other. They were very thirsty and tired, so they sat down under the tree. Presently, when they felt better, the two elder brothers said to each other: ‘Let us go on further and leave Yahya here, as he will only be troublesome to us, for he cannot walk as fast as we can. And, if we do find water, why should we have to have one third each instead of half?’ So, when the younger brother slept, they both ran off and left him….

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 31

This is a complete ghazal attributed to Khwâja Mu’înuddîn Chishtî: Az matla’-yi-dil zad ‘alam yak lam’a az rukhsâr-i-û Shud zarra zarra hastîyam dar parda-yi-anwâr-i-û A flash of light from His face appeared in my heart: My existence became a particle of the luminous veil of Huuu. Bâ ânke zarrât tan-am har yak hazârân dîda shud Yak zarra ham dîda na-shud az partaw-i-rukhsâr-i-û Although each particle of my body manifested itself in thousands of ways, Not one particle was illuminated, before this ray of light of the face of Huuu. Husn-ash chû âyad jilwa-gar tâqat na-yârad chashm-i-sar Az dîda-yi-dil kun nazar tâ bi-nigarî dîdâr-i-û My outward eyes were incapable to see when His beauty powerfully manifested itself, Then the eyes of…