Dertli Dolap: Reflections on ‘Endless Trouble is My Name’

Peace, one and all…

As part of its regular spiritual practice, the Threshold Society offers monthly themes for contemplation. In recent months, these themes have been particularly helpful for me, helping my heart open to new ways of looking at things. The October theme was especially profound:

‘Only when distress turns to remembrance and blame of others is erased, is pride extracted from our egos, humbleness settles in our hearts, and the door of grace opens’
(Imam Ali, freely paraphrased by Shaykh Kabir)

One of the things I’ve struggled most with, in recent years, is how to cope with difficulty and stress. Of course, no life is without problems, but this poor one has not found it easy to deal with his burdens. This feeling of struggle has been fed by many things. The times that we live in, and the political context of my life in 21st century Britain, are not conducive to stress-free living. The ‘ordinary’ struggle to make ends meet, and to raise our children well is another responsibility that weighs heavily upon my shoulders. More inwardly, I worry about my ability to discharge my responsibilities fully. At times, I have felt that the wheels were just about to come off. The question I ask my heart is this: how do I shoulder my burdens without allowing them to get me down? How can I carry them beautifully? How can I allow my heart to be transformed by God through these difficulties? How do I allow distress to be transformed into remembrance?

During early October, as I was sitting with these questions, I found myself listening to Turkish ilahis, as I often do. One in particular seemed to jump out at me. Entitled Dertli Dolap, this beautiful ilahi speaks of trouble, difficulty and sorrow. Although such a song might sound morbid, the more I listened to it, the lighter my heart began to feel. As with many such songs, there are numerous different versions in existence, each with slightly different lyrics. One particularly useful website, offered this very beautiful translation:

“Endless Trouble” is my name / Benim adım dertli dolap
Like rushing water my life flows away / Suyum akar yalap yalap
This is God’s command / Böyle emreylemiş Çalap (God)
I know trouble, my brothers! / Derdim vardır inilerim!

A tree of this mountain am I / Ben bu dağın ağacıyım
Neither sweet nor bitter am I / Ne tatlıyım ne acıyım
A petitioner of God am I / Ben mevlâya duacıyım
I know trouble, my brothers! / Derdim vardır inilerim!

On the mountain they felled my trunk / Dağda kestiler hezenim
All my schemes come to ‘naught / Bozuldu türlü düzenim
Without shame a troubador I / Ben usanmaz bir ozanım
I know trouble, my brothers! / Derdim vardır inilerim

Yunus laughs not at what comes of this / Yûnûs bunda gelen gülmez
His wish no one achieves! / Kişi muradına ermez!
In this fleeting existence no one remains! / Bu fânide kimse kalmaz
I know trouble, my brothers! / Derdim vardır inilerim

As I listened, that sense of helplessness that our burdens can sometimes engender began to dissolve, and I felt that unhelpful sense of bitterness also begin to drain away, as though some inward wound had been cleansed and a great deal of unhealthy infection had been removed. The words of God’s friends are a healing. I don’t pretend that this marks a moment of completion. Rather, it marks a moment of necessary healing so that the real work can begin anew.

What struck me as so beautifully important in this song was that, despite sorrow and trouble, Yunus Emre’s focus remains firmly on Allah, on Haqq, on affirming the beauty and meaning of life through difficulty. Struggle is not ignored, it is transcended! Suffering is neither meaningless nor random, it is a powerful means of return to Reality. Or, as Imam Ali (as) puts it: ‘Only when distress turns to remembrance and blame of others is erased, is pride extracted from our egos, humbleness settles in our hearts, and the door of grace opens’.

As I listened to a version performed by a group of Halveti-Jerrahi dervishes, under the direction of beloved Shaykh Muzaffer Ozak Effendi (qs), other facets began to come into view. There are two versions easily available on You Tube. The first begins in a slow fashion, and has an almost dirge-like quality. The second is faster and is a recording from a zikr gathering. What both have in common, however, is that they are the work of a community of lovers. Many hands play the bendir. Many voices sing in unison. Many hearts are joined in this communion. In other words, whilst there is much healing to be had within the silence of our own souls, we are only perfected together. God is there for us when we falter, and can use any means He chooses and yet, we are also meant to be a channel of grace for each otherWe are also meant to help each other through difficulties. Harmony within loving community is a mighty blessing, and one that can powerfully aid us on our way home.

The Threshold Society theme for November reinforced this point in an especially beautiful manner, being a saying of the Prophet (as):

‘The faithful in their mutual love, affection and compassion for one another are as one body’

Spiritual community, spiritual brotherhood and sisterhood, helps us in our troubles, helps us take them to God, helps us remember and thus to re-member ourselves.

And praise be to God who maketh it so!

Dolap niçin inilersin?
Dolap niçin inilersin?
Derdim vardır inilerim,
İllallah.

Ben Mevla”ya aşık oldum,
Ben Mevla”ya aşık oldum,
An”ın için inilerim,
İllallah.

Subhanallah, Sultanallah,
Subhanallah, Sultanallah,
Her dertlere derman Allah,
İllallah.

Ben bir dağın ağacıyam,
Ben bir dağın ağacıyam,
Ne tatlıyam, ne acıyam,
İllallah.

Ben Mevla”ya duacıyam,
Ben Mevla”ya duacıyam,
Derdim vardır inilerim,
İllallah.

Salatullah, selamullah,
Salatullah, selamullah,
Aleyke Ya Rasulallah,
İllallah.

Yunus burda gelen gülmez,
Yunus burda gelen gülmez,
Kişi muradına ermez,
İllallah.

Bu fanide kimse kalmaz,
Bu fanide kimse kalmaz,
Derdim vardır inilerim,
İllallah.

Subhanallah, Sultanallah,
Subhanallah, Sultanallah,
Her dertlere derman Allah,
İllallah.

Ask olsun! May love increase!

One thought on “Dertli Dolap: Reflections on ‘Endless Trouble is My Name’

  1. I love what is said of togetherness;
    witnessing the starling murmurations the last few evenings has inspired and taught me much, even the birds know the ecstasy of oneness!

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