Peace, one and all…
A beautiful reflection on some important verses from the Masnavi serif, by Kabir Dede.
When Jafar advanced against a certain fortress,
to his thirsty throat the fortress became a single gulp.
Riding alone, he charged up to the fortress,
so that they locked the fortress-gate in dread.
No one dared to meet him in battle:
Any more than a sailboat’s crew would attack a leviathan.
The king turned to his vizier, saying,
“What is to be done in this crisis, Counselor?”
He replied, “You should say goodbye to your pride and cunning,
and present to him your sword and shroud.”
“Why,” said the king, “isn’t he just a single man alone?”
He replied, “Don’t underestimate this man’s singleness.
Open your eye: look well at the fortress:
it is already trembling before him like quicksilver.
He sits in the saddle, his nerve unshaken,
as if all the East and West were at his side.
Several men rushed forward, like Fida’is,
and flung themselves into combat with him.
He struck each of them with just a blow of his mace
and they fell headlong at the feet of his steed.
God’s action had bestowed on him such collectedness
that he was confronting a whole people single-handedly.
When my eye beheld the face of that emperor,
quantity became nothing in my sight.”
The stars are many; though the sun is one,
When it appears, their foundation is demolished.
If a thousand mice put forth their heads,
the cat feels no fear or apprehension of danger.
How should a throng of mice advance
if they have no collectedness in their souls?
The collectedness in outward forms is a vain thing:
listen, beg from the Creator collectedness of spirit.
Collectedness is not the result of material quantity:
know that body, like reputation, is built on air.
If there were any collectedness in the heart of the mouse,
a number of mice would arise in indignation,
And, rushing up like assassins,
would without hesitation throw themselves upon the cat!
One would tear out her eyes,
while another would rip her ears with its teeth,
And another tear at her side:
there would be no escape from their unified alliance.
But the soul of the mouse has no collectedness:
at the cry of a cat its wits fly out of its soul.
The mice are paralyzed by the wily cat,
even if the mice are a hundred thousand.
Does the butcher care how big the flock is?
Can your daytime thoughts hold off slumber forever?
He is the Lord of the kingdom: He gives collectedness to the lion,
so that he springs on the herd of wild asses.
A hundred thousand savage and courageous wild asses
are as naught before the onset of the lion.
He is the Lord of the kingdom:
He gives to a Joseph the kingdom of Beauty,
so that he is like rainfall from white cumulus clouds.
He bestows upon one face the radiance of a star,
so that a king becomes the slave of a girl.
He bestows upon another face His own Light,
so that even in the darkest night
it can discern the good from the bad in everything.
Joseph and Moses brought the light of God
into their cheeks and countenances, and into their inmost centers.
A flashing beam shot forth from the face of Moses:
and he wore a veil to cover his face.
The radiance of his face would have overwhelmed all eyes
just as the emerald dazzles the eyes of the deaf python.
He asked God to make that veil
a covering for that powerful Light.
And God said, “Listen, make a veil of your felt cloak,
for the garment of gnosis can be trusted,
because that cloak has absorbed the Light:
the Light of the Spirit shines through its warp and woof.
Nothing will be a repository except a mantle like this:
nothing else can endure Our Light.
If Mt Qáf should arise as a barrier,
the Light would shatter it like Mt Sinai.”
Divine omnipotence has given the bodies of men
the ability to support the unconditioned Light.
His power makes a glass vessel the dwelling-place of that Light
of which Sinai cannot bear in the least.
A lamp-niche and a lamp-glass have become
the dwelling-place of the Light
by which Mt Qáf and Mt Sinai are blown to pieces.
Know that their bodies are the lamp-niche and their hearts the glass:
this lamp illumines the empyrean and the heavens.
Their light is dazzled by this Light
and vanishes like the stars in this radiance of morning.
Hence the Seal of the Prophets has related
the saying of the everlasting and eternal Lord—
“I am not contained in the heavens or in the void
or in the exalted intelligences and souls;
I am contained, as a guest, in a faithful heart,
without qualification or definition or description,
so that through the medium of that heart everything,
above and below, may win from Me sovereignties and fortune.
Without such a mirror neither Earth nor Time
could bear the vision of My beauty.
I caused the steed of mercy
to gallop over the two worlds:
I fashioned an expansive mirror.
In which fifty wedding-feasts appear in a flash:
face the mirror; don’t ask me to describe it.”
The gist is this: Moses made a veil of his cloak,
he knew the penetrating nature of that Moon.
Had the veil been of anything except his raiment,
it would have been torn to shreds,
even if it had been a solid mountain.
That Moon would penetrate iron:
how could the veil withstand the Light of God?
That veil was, itself, aglow:
it had covered a mystic in moments of bliss.
The fire is latent in the fuel
because the fuel was meant to burn.
Peace, one and all…
‘The pomegranate’s laugh delights the garden
and human company will make you human.
You may be stone, or you may be of marble,
but when you meet the heart-strong you’re a jewel.
Implant the pure one’s love within your soul,
and keep your heart for love of the sweet-hearted.
Do not go down the hopeless track – there’s hope.
Do not go to the darkness – there are suns.
The heart will lead you to the heart-strong way,
the body to the gaol of earth and water.
Go on and feed your heart from friendly hearts;
go find your fortune with the fortunate’
Peace, one and all…
‘Every moment you are being filled and emptied:
know then, that you are in the hand of His working’
With each new breath, we are emptied and poured out, as in that moment all that we are is returned to the Source. And then, with each in-breath, we are filled – with new breath, with new life, with new energies. These breaths of ours generate a charge, and so our lives are enlivened.
As I read these beautiful words of Mevlana, I’m reminded forcefully of zikr and its use of the breath, in that moment by moment process. It is said that zikr can reach a place where all falls away except the remembrance of the Beloved itself, so we might know that we are indeed ‘in the hand of His working’.
I am also reminded that behind this process stands the Source. Allah is the Source of All – of filling and emptying, of nearness and distance, of night and day, of me and you. Beyond all such dualities stands the One (al-Wahid), the Unique (al-Ahad). And whatever ‘I’ am, I am His, in both my outer and my inner, in both process and essence.
With God’s mercy, this constant turning will reveal that Oneness, so that:
‘On the day when the blindfold falls from the eye,
how madly will the work be enamoured of the Maker!’
Jazzgriot: Allah Only
Wa akhiru da`wana an il hamdu lillahi rabbil alameen.
Peace, one and all…
Praise be to God! The Cardiff Sufi group is now meeting regularly (we have our own Facebook page too) and we are beginning to engage in some valuable spiritual work. I want to use this blog to document our sohbets (loosely, ‘spiritual conversations’), in order to help me reflect on and connect the ideas that we are discussing together. Insha Allah, there will be some benefit in this.
To this end, I wanted to share the two short passages from Mevlana Rumi’s Masnavi that we discussed last night. God willing, in the next few days, I hope to offer some further reflections.
Yesterday’s theme was forbearance and patience. We explored the following texts:
‘How should Spring bring forth a garden on hard stone?
Become earth, that you may grow flowers of many colors.
For you have been a heart-breaking rock.
Once, for the sake of experiment, be earth!’
‘To practice patience is the soul of praise:
have patience, for that is true glorification.
No glorification is worth as much.
patience is the remedy for pain’
Feel free to comment and offer your own reactions to these thought-provoking words.
Peace, one and all…
Al hamdu lillahi ala kulli hal. Praise be to God in every condition and state.
I have been in London for the past three weeks, taking an intensive Arabic course with the Ibn Jabal Institute. Ma sha Allah! It has been as interesting and as challenging as I hoped it would be. I am looking forward to grounding what I have learnt in further study, insha Allah. As this is my last weekend in London before I return home, I took this opportunity to visit the Study Society in West London. It has a regular Mevlevi turning group and my intention was to attend one of their beginner’s classes. As God willed, on this occasion the class wasn’t meeting. Instead I was invited to a small Rumi study group. Praise be to God for His every blessing. It was a beautiful evening. We sang a number of my favourite Turkish ilahis and shared a number of profound poems of Hazret-i Mevlana (God sanctify his noble soul). Discussing these poems and the issues they raise in a supportive, sharing environment (in sohbet in other words) was wonderful, and doubly so for being unexpected.
During our sohbet we touched on the themes of love and death. Our older sister spoke of the death of her brother and then made a revealing and for me, important comment: ‘Now that he has passed on, he is always in my heart, where he is never in pain’. This struck me as significant. Our sister had clearly gone beyond my own recent realisations about love and death. I felt an instant connection with her words, and a brief expansion of perspective. Perhaps love is the only thing that survives us in this world. Perhaps the love we strive to manifest is the real reason for our actual embodiment.
May our love be ever sanctified. May all those we love live on in our hearts. And may we, in our turn, live on in the hearts of those we love.
Wa akhiru da’wana an il hamdu lillahi rabbil alamin.
Peace, one and all…
‘You should not neglect your time or use it haphazardly; on the contrary, you should bring yourself to account, structure your litanies and other practices during each day and night, and assign to each period a fixed and specific function. This is how to bring out the spiritual blessing (baraka) in each period. But, if you leave yourself adrift, aimlessly wandering as cattle do, not knowing how to occupy yourself at every moment, your time will be lost. It is nothing other than your life, and your life is the capital that you make use of to reach perpetual felicity in the proximity of God the Exalted. Each of your breaths is irreplaceable and, once gone, can never be retrieved. Do not be like the deceived fools who are joyous because each day their wealth increases while their life shortens. What good is an increase in wealth when life grows ever shorter? Therefore, be joyous only for an increase in knowledge or in good works, for they are your two companions who will accompany you in your grave when your family, wealth, children, and friends stay behind’
(Imam al-Ghazali, Bidayat al-Hidaya)