Old Poem

Peace, one and all…

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Did Chuang Chou dream
He was the butterfly,
Or the butterfly
That it was Chuang Chou?

In one body’s
Metamorphoses,
All is present,
Infinite virtue!

You surely know
Fairyland’s oceans
Were made again
A limpid brooklet,

Down at Green Gate
The melon gardener
Once used to be
Marquis of Tung-ling.

Wealth and honour
Were always like this:
You strive and strive,
But what do you seek?

Li Po

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The Dust Beneath The Feet Of The Saints

Peace, one and all…

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Know that one must grind and then drink seven times daily the dust beneath the feet of the saints (erenler) whose hallowed mouths convey the tidings of spiritual understanding.  This is because a spiritual heart is the heart of a saint.  He is a magnificent treasury of the Real and a vantage point (nazargah).  Spiritual knowledge keeps those hearts alive and the heart’s eyes open.  Those whom the Real deems unbefitting are granted no spiritual understanding in their hearts and they comfort no one.

Hazret Haji Bektash Veli, Makalat, Chapter 7

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The Prophet (as) On Sacred Community

Peace, one and all…

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In a recent post we explored the importance of sacred community.  Both individually and collectively, we are the Temple of God on earth, and one of the most important purposes of religion is in enabling us to realise this ever more fully.  This is why we find a great many sayings of the Prophet (as) on developing sacred community.  In this post, therefore, I want to explore a few of these sayings.

In the first place, sacred community must be based on our living humanity, on those ties which unite us all.  That is, for community to be sacred it must be based on our most fundamental shared reality, our highest common denominator.  As such, the Messenger of God (as) said:

‘Love for humanity what you love for yourself’ Bukhari

There are many sayings which describe numerous ways in which to foster conscious Muslim community.  The more I read these, and reflect on them, the more convinced I become that this training is stepping stone to an ever more conscious humanity, of community building on a grand scale.  From this perspective, many sayings of the Prophet (as) take on a new, deeper significance.  As God wills, I hope to explore these sayings in the coming weeks and months.

‘God’s protective hand is with the congregation’ al-Tirmidhi

‘Prayer in congregation surpasses individual prayer by twenty seven degrees’ Bukhari and Muslim

‘Two should never converse privately excluding a third until others join them. The reason being is that it would dismay him’ Ibn Majah

‘The characteristics of a hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he lies; when he gives his word, he breaks it; and when he is given a trust, he is unfaithful’ Bukhari and Muslim

‘Do not belittle any act of kindness, even that of greeting your brother with a cheerful countenance’ (Muslim)

‘He who directs others to a good deed is as the one who did it; and, assuredly, God loves the act of aiding the distressed’ Ibn Abi al-Dunya

‘May God have mercy on a servant who spoke well and gained good, or kept silent and avoided harm’ Ibn al-Mubarak

‘Three practices will keep sincere your brother’s love for you: greeting him when you see him; making room for him in gatherings; and calling him by the most endearing of his names’ Bayhaqi

‘Every Muslim has five rights over every other Muslim: the right to a reply, should he greet him; an acceptance, should he invite him; a visit, should he fall ill; a prayer, should he sneeze; a presence at his funeral, should he die’ Ibn Majah

‘The servants God loves most are those most sincere with God’s servants’ Imam Ahmad

‘The most virtuous behaviour is to engage those who sever relations, to give to those who withhold from you, and to forgive those who wrong you’ al-Tabarani

‘If you happen to see a funeral procession, stand for it until it passes or the dead are laid to rest’ Bukhari and Muslim

‘Muslims are a fraternity; therefore, there is no superiority of one over another, except in scruples (taqwa)’ al-Tabarani

‘If a Muslim consoles his brother during some crisis, God will adorn him in garments of grace on the Day of Judgement’ Ibn Majah

‘A believer is not one who eats his fill while his next door neighbour goes hungry’ al-Bukhari

‘A Muslim never gives a fellow Muslim a better gift than wisdom through which God increases him in guidance or turns him away from harmful behaviour’ al-Bayhaqi

‘Whoever walks with a tyrant in support of him, while aware of his tyranny, has abandoned Islam’ al-Tabarani

‘On the Day of Judgement, God will humiliate and forsake anyone who betrays a believer to a tyrant’ al-Bayhaqi

‘Whoever defrauds us is not one of us; deception and guile are hellish’ Abu Dawud & al-Tabarani

‘It is not lawful for a man to desert his brother Muslim for more than three nights. (It is unlawful for them that) when they meet, one of them turns his face away from the other, and the other turns his face from the former, and the better of the two will be the one who greets the other first’.

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A Lover Is Needed

Peace, one and all…

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The mature ones are a sea.
A lover is needed to take the plunge,
a diver to bring up a pearl.

When you have brought
the pearl to the surface,
a jeweller is needed to know its worth.

Stay on the road until you arrive.
Be speechless. Don’t become a salesman.
Find an Ali to follow.

Muhammad knew Truth in himself.
Truth is present everywhere.
You only need eyes to see it.

Ask your daily sustenance from Truth
the only Apportioner. Find someone
who is master of his ego.

The lovers asked me to sing.
Someone without greed is needed
to complete what is started.

Sufi, who are you kidding?
Can anyone but Truth
satisfy a human need?

Truth’s place is in the heart.
There’s a verse in the Quran – In the soul
love has a tower higher than the throne of Creation.

I’ve gone crazy on this Way.
I can’t tell day from night.
The arrow of Love has pierced my heart.

Come, poor Yunus, come,
hold the hands of the mature.
In their humility is a cure.

Yunus Emre

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Sacred Community

Peace, one and all…

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In Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians we read the following beautiful words:

‘Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple’.
(1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

I really love this passage.  It speaks very deeply to me.  In this passing moment, this is what these words say to me…

Our living humanity is sacred, a dwelling place for the Spirit of God. Each and every human being contains within themselves a sacred centre, an inner temple where the Source within lives.  This is why our individual humanness is sacred in itself, and why we are called to defend it in this day and age.

But more than that, from our very beginnings we are a community, a human family.  This is why our communions with take place in their deepest sense within sacred community.  It is also why virtually all of the world’s spiritual traditions place such emphasis upon the development of conscious community.  Individually and collectively, we are all God’s temple.

We can also see this notion at work in the opening chapter of the Quran, Surah al-Fatihah.  This prayer has been compared to the Christian Paternoster, and is often recited by Muslims, on all sorts of occasions.  This prayer asks God for mercy, guidance and divine companionship, and does so only within the context of a living community.  ‘You alone do we worship, and from You alone do we seek aid’ (1:5); and ‘Guide us to the straight path’ (1:6).  Here it is in full:

‘In the name of God, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
All praise is due to God, Lord of the worlds
The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful,
Sovereign of the Day of Recompense.
It is You we worship and You we ask for help.
Guide us to the straight path –
The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor,
not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray’.
(Surah al-Fatihah 1:1-7)

Beloved Dost, Friend of All, help us to open ourselves to you, in both our unique individuality and our shared humanity.

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Ask olsun,
Abdur Rahman

We Have Experienced Kindness

Peace, one and all…

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‘The whole Path, all of the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, leads towards the understanding of our situation in the world, by which I mean understanding how we relate to others.

Especially knowing we have a great connection with each other, that in previous lives we have been very close to each other. We have experienced kindness from all other living beings, in so many ways – when others have been our parents, our husbands and wives, our teachers. They have looked after us so much. Each individual is merely part of the great universal family of sentient beings – living beings with minds.

Thubten Gyatso, Transforming Problems Into The Path, 1

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And To Men I Will Give A New Gift

Peace, one and all…

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‘For it is said that after the departure of the Valar there was silence, and for an age Iluvatar sat alone in thought. Then he spoke and said: ‘Behold I love the Earth, which shall be a mansion for the Quendi and the Atani! But the Quendi shall be the fairest of all earthly creatures, and they shall have and shall conceive and bring forth more beauty than all my Children; and they shall have the greater bliss in this world. But to the Atani I will give a new gift.’ Therefore he willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein; but they should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world,  beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else…

It is one with this gift of freedom that the children of Men dwell only a short space in the world alive, and are not bound to it, and depart soon whither the Elves know not…

But the sons of Men die indeed, and leave the world; wherefore they are called the Guests, or the Strangers. Death is their fate, the gift of Iluvatar, which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy’.

(J R R Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Of The Beginning Of Days)

In this beautiful passage, Tolkien explores the nature of human death in his legendary world.  Here, death is a gift to humanity from the Divine, as a means of release from bondage and limitation.  It is neither a punishment, nor a cause for fear, but simply the freely chosen return of this gift of life.

The Quran says: ‘Every soul shall taste death’ (3:185), and yet, this ‘tasting’ needn’t occur in fear.  Rather, it is possible to meet death freely, to taste its freedom, as well as its sorrow.  It is significant that the Quran says ‘taste death’ and not ‘end’.  That is, we will taste death and then, we are promised, new life.  We will be passed a new cup that raises us from our graves.

And our last prayer is in praise of God, Lord of all the Worlds.

Flat-Ocean

Ask olsun!
Abdur Rahman

And Yet People Think Them Tears

Peace, one and all…

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I make an eye-balm from the earth of sorrow;
Both oceans of my eyes are filled with pearls.

The tears that people shed on His behalf
Are pearls, and yet the people think them tears.

Masnavi 1.1789-1790

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So In The Same Way Does The Scripture

Peace, one and all…

origen

One must therefore portray the meaning of the sacred writings in a threefold way upon one’s own soul, so that the simple man may be edified by what we may call the flesh of the scripture, this name being given to the obvious interpretation; while the man who has made some progress may be edified by it souls, as it were; and the man who is perfect and like those mentioned by the apostle: ‘We speak wisdom among the perfect; yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, which are coming to nought; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory’ – this man may be edified by the spiritual law, which has ‘a shadow of the good things to come.’ For just as man consists of a body, soul, and spirit, so in the same way does the scripture.

Origen, On First Principles 4.2

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The Messenger of God Kissed His Grandson Hasan

Peace, one and all…

Hattat Mehmed Hafiz Kirmani

In a recent post, we explored a beautiful tradition of the Prophet (as), in which he powerfully connected mercy with familial affection. Looking at this small event once again reveals another important aspect.  For ease of reference, here is the hadith in question:

‘The Messenger of God kissed his grandson Hasan, the son of Ali, while Aqra` bin Habis al-Tamimi was sitting nearby.  Aqra` said: ‘I have ten children and have not kissed any of them’.  The Messenger of God looked at him and said: ‘He who does not show mercy shall not be shown mercy’.’

(Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Adab, no. 6063)

Our hadith opens by naming the Prophet’s relationship to Hasan (as): he kisses his grandson, the son of Ali.  That is, his connection to his daughter’s child takes pride of place; it is the first thing mentioned in this tradition.  He kisses his grandson in public because of his love for Hasan, and his pride in him.  I find this deeply significant.  We are being taught here to love our children and grandchildren because they come through us, and not because we own them. We are to glory in our children because they are both uniquely from us and other than us.

Aqra, by contrast, neither names any of his children, nor does he speak of his relationship to them: he merely describes them as though they were possessions (‘I have ten children…’).  They appear in this hadith as mere appendages, rather than as fully fledged human beings in their own right.

So, what can we take from this?  The way of Muhammad (as) is a way of mercy, tenderness and loving-kindness. Moreover, as the Quran makes clear, the only means to deepen in surrender to the divine (the root meaning of Islam) is to follow this way ourselves, in all our frail humanity:

‘Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah , then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.’ (3:31)

Mercy is given to all things generally.  It is also given to all things individually, in their specific uniqueness.

And praise be to God, who maketh it so

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Ask olsun,
Abdur Rahman

Severim Ben Seni Candan İçerü

Peace, one and all…

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Version 1: Latif Bolat

Version 2: Tumata

Severim ben seni candan içerü
Yolum vardır bu erkandan içerü

Şeriat, tarikat yoludur varana
Hakikat meyvası andan içerü

Beni bende demen, bende değilim
Bir ben vardır bende, benden içerü

Süleyman kuş dilin bilür dediler
Süleyman var Süleyman’dan içerü

Tecelliden nasib erdi kimine
Kiminin maksudu bundan içerü

Senin aşkın beni benden aluptur
Ne şirin derd bu dermandan içerü

Miskin Yunus gözü tuş oldu sana
Kapunda bir kuldur senden içerü

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Yunus Disappeared Into This Unity

Peace, one and all…

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O Beloved, what is this illness
That has no remedy?
What sort of wound is this
That no bruise appears?

My destitute heart
Is always falling in love
And not coming home.

Once in a while he returns to give advice,
But the heart in love never complains.
The one who thinks of himself
Is no lover.

In the marketplace of love,
We are what is sold.
I put myself up for sale each day But never have a buyer!

The lover pays no attention to worldly rewards,
Free of concern for earth or heaven.
The minaret announces that a lover has died –
Dying belongs to beasts, not to lovers.

O my friend, if you are wise, pursue this path.
Here everything begins and ends.
The door of the mystics
Is the door of generosity.

Those who come with sincerity
Do not leave with empty hands.
Yunus disappeared into this unity
And there’s no way
He can even think
Of coming back.

Yunus Emre

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Come To The House Of The Pir

Peace, one and all…

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A tent is erected
where lovers are slowly cooked –
This stopping place for love addicts
is really a rose garden if you look.

Come to the house of the Pir,
where your inner being is made tender.
It is Love’s own fires lighting his burner.

The All-Knowing One lent His own brilliance
to the lover’s torch in generosity –
so that even on Judgement Day
that torch would shine and shine.

Hey wine-bearer,
now bring us some of that love-wine.

We will kiss the feet of those drunk with love.

But keep this secret:
what we really worship
is the Beloved’s beauty –
Even the ground has ears and can give us away.

Enter the heart of the believer
and bow down there in all directions –
Within one breast, how can you tell
which direction is east or west?

O Hilmi, let the dervish in you be poor and humble.
The Friend is a constant guest
in the houses of the poor.

Hilmi Dede Baba

Be Poor Unto God With Firm Resolution

Peace, one and all…

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In the Quran, we read the following words:

‘And be upright as you have been commanded…’ (11:112)

In commenting on this passage, Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq (as) said:

‘Be poor unto God with firm resolution’ (Spiritual Gems).

To know God more fully, we must strive to empty ourselves, of our thoughts, our attachments and our desires.  Until we can achieve this we remain tied to this fleeting, sensory world.  We cannot truly know fullness until we are empty in Him.  As the Imam (as) says, this takes firm resolution and commitment.  This is not an easy thing to do, nor is it an easy state to maintain.  It takes many years of hard work to arrive at such a realisation.  To reach this beautiful valley, we need to search our way through many dead-ends.  As I reflect on this verse I begin to see that true poverty necessitates an emptying of all thought of ownership.  Not only must I relinquish all thoughts of owning property, I must also relinquish ownership of my acts.  I must let go of the notion that I do anything.  As the Quran tells us, He is the only one who truly acts:

‘And Allah has created you and what you do…’ (37:96)

O Merciful One! Empty me of all thought of me! Grant me the ability to follow You in all the days of my life.

And my last prayer is in praise of God, Lord of all the worlds.

Ask olsun!
Abdur Rahman

 

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