Learning To See

Peace, one and all…

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Learning to ‘worship God as though we see Him’ also means learning to see others for what they are most essentially, as creations of a Single, Divine Source. If I see something I dislike in others, then He is teaching me something important about myself. If I see something I like, then it is because He is the Source of Beauty. If I see something I love, it is because He is the Loving One, the Source of Mercy.

Realising God’s absolute Oneness (or Tawhid in Arabic) is also about understanding, in a deep, experiential way, that the Source of All Being is Divine, and in striving to really see that in each new person, in each new moment.

Ask olsun!

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Until You Visit The Graveyards…

Peace, one and all…

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In the Quran, we read the following words:

‘Competition in [worldly] increase diverts you, until you visit the graveyards…’
(102:1-2)

These two verses open Surah al-Takathur, which begins with a powerful denunciation of materialism and concludes with a vision of Judgement Day, when every veil will fall from before our eyes. Ultimately, our drive to acquire material wealth, to gather and possess more things, ends only with our death, when we leave this world behind. And yet there is another way, as the Prophet (as) tells us: ‘Die before you die!’ By understanding that all things are transient, that everything is perishing except the Divine Reality, we can leave behind our unhelpful attachments to material wealth.

As I read these words this evening, I am also struck by another image. Graveyards are supposed to be a place of calm reflection, of stillness and truth, where we realise that our true destination lies beyond this physical realm. In other words, by visiting our own inner graveyard, our own mortality, we can lay aside that fierce and distracting urge to acquire. We can carry that sad and anxious part of our souls to love’s quiet graveyard, and bid it farewell; and once that part of ourselves has been laid to rest we can travel freely onwards, into new places and new times.

Ya Ghani! Ya Fattah!

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

Dinle Sözümü Sana Direm

Peace, one and all…

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A beautiful ilahi, written by Hz. Sultan Veled.

Version 1

Version 2

Şem’-i ruhuna cismimi pervâne düşürdüm
Evrâk-ı dili âteş-i sûzâne düşürdüm
Bir katre iken kendimi ummâne düşürdüm
Hayfâ yolumu vâdi-i hicrâne düşürdüm
Takrîr edemem derd-i derûnum elemim var
Mevlâ’yı seversen beni söyletme gamım var

Dinle sözümü sana direm: Özge edadır,
Derviş olana lazım olan aşk-ı Hüdadır,
Aşıkın nesi var ise maşuka fedadır.

Semâ sefa, cana şifa, ruha gıdadır.

Ey sofi bizim sohbetimiz cana şifadır,
Bir curamızı nuşede gör, derde devadır,
Hak ile ezel ettiğimiz ahde vefadır,

Semâ sefa, cana şifa, ruha gıdadır.

Aşk ile gelin eyleyelim zevk u safâyı,
Göklere değin er görelim hûy ile hâyı,
Mesiâne olup debreşelim çeng ile nâyı,.

Semâ safa, cana şifa, ruha gıdadır.

Aşk ile gelin talib-i cuyende olalım,
Zevk ile safalar sürelim zinde olalım,
Hazret-i Mevlana’ya gelin bende olalım.

Semâ sefa, cana şifa, ruha gıdadır.

A Garden Amidst The Flames

Peace, one and all…

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Here’s a beautiful rendition of a profound poem by Ibn Arabi, by Amina Alaoui.

O Marvel! a garden amidst the flames.
My heart has become capable of every form:
it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,
and a temple for idols and the pilgrim’s Kaa’ba,
and the tables of the Torah and the book of the Quran.
I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love’s camels take,
that is my religion and my faith.

The Drink Sent Down…

Peace,  one and all…

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In the Quran, we read the following words: ‘and their Lord gives them a purifying drink to drink’ (Quran 76:21).  (See Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq’s profound commentary on this verse). Sufi tradition has richly developed this metaphor.  In this post, I would like to share a beautiful song from Turkey, that speaks of this theme. Called Haktan gelen şerbeti içtik elhamdülillah, it is both beautiful and profound.  I also want to share an English language version/translation, called ‘The Drink Sent Down’.

Version 1: Latif Bolat

Version 2: Ihsan Guvercin

Haktan gelen şerbeti
İçtik elhamdülillah
şol kudret denizini
Geçtik elhamdülillah

Kuru idik yaş olduk
Ayak idik baş olduk
Havalandık kuş olduk
Uçtuk elhamdülillah

Vardığımız illere
şol sefa gönüllere
Halka Taptuk manisin
Saçtık elhamdülillah

Balım Sultan ilinden
şeker damlar dilinden
Dost bağının yolundan
Geçtik elhamdülillah

Beri gel barışalım
Yad isen bilişelim
Atımız eyerlendi
Eştik elhamdülillah

İndik Rum’u kışladık
Çok hayrı şer işledik
Üç bahar geldi geçti
Göçtük elhamdülillah

Dirildik pınar olduk
İrkildik ırmak olduk
Aktık denize dolduk
Aktık elhamdülillah

Taptuk’un tapusunda
Kul olduk kapısında
Yunus miskin çiğ idik
Piştik elhamdülillah

The drink sent down by unseen hands.
We drank our share, alhamdulillah!
The table set to welcome the guest,
has fed us too, alhamdulillah!

Refrain:
La illaha il’Allah, Allah
La illaha il’Allah
La illaha il’Allah, Allah
La illaha il’Allah

We once held tight and then let go.
We found our wings and flew together.
We made our peace among ourselves.
We disappeared, alhamdulillah!

We proudly wore our borrowed clothes
before we saw our naked secret.
We once were raw, without much taste.
We’re getting cooked, alhamdulillah!

One small drop, became a spring,
and now that spring is overflowing.
A clear stream floats into the sea,
and there we drown, alhamdulillah!

Some Beautiful Symphony Of Mercy

Peace, one and all…

bism

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In Surah al-Nisa we read the following beautiful words of Allah:

‘And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself but then seeks forgiveness of God will find God Forgiving and Merciful’ (4:110)

The Quran contains many such passages.  I have always found them to be deeply consoling.  They often seem to just appear, out of nowhere, like a small, still voice whispering in my heart.  In the midst of this life, with all of its challenges and mistakes, we are reminded of the overwhelming forgiveness and mercy of God.

Forgiveness is beautiful.  Mercy is beautiful.  Small wonder then that this verse has been the inspiration behind numerous examples of Islamic calligraphy.  The example above is particularly beautiful.  It speaks to my heart.  In particular, the colour of the text stands out from the dark background so evocatively, like lightning amidst some dark night of the soul.  And in that darkness, the text’s vowel marks (tashkil) seem like musical notes in some beautiful symphony of mercy.  The calligrapher has also placed extra marks along the text, in what appears to be a kind of measuring tool for an unfinished piece. At any rate, as I gaze into it this evening, these extra points remind me of a fundamental point: God’s mercy exists at each point in our life, even in the depths of the blackest night.  God’s forgiveness is just within reach, where-soever we are and whatsoever we do.  All we have to do is turn towards the light: ‘… but then seeks forgiveness of God will find God Forgiving and Merciful’.

O Merciful One!  O Forgiving One!  Heal us with Your loving grace.

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

Ask olsun,
Abdur Rahman

Hamza Yusuf: The Life of Muhammad (as) – Part One

Peace, one and all…

Muhammad - White Circle

Islamic teaching considers the Prophet (as) to be the final messenger sent to humanity by God.  As such, in an effort to understand him and his context more fully, the Islamic tradition has placed great emphasis on studying the Prophet’s life (as).  Known as sirah (or ‘biography’), Muslims are encouraged to study his life regularly.

This series of lectures by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf offers an in-depth exploration of the Prophet’s life (as).  It is an exhaustive analysis and well worth looking at.  May it be of benefit.

Part One

Ask olsun!

And Peace Be Upon All The Messengers

Peace, one and all…

bism

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Calligraphy opens the eyes of the heart to an essential aspect of beauty, that all things are the manifestation of a single divine source.  Calligraphy allows us to see that, in essence, creation is part of an ever-unfolding story, that we are all letters, words, sentences and paragraphs in His wondrous tale.

I really love this piece.  In the centre of the image we find the name of Muhammad (as). Above this, we find the Name of God, Allah, the Source of All.  The alif of Allah is written in the very centre of the word, suggesting to me that the humanity and power of each of these beloved ones is a divine gift, that what makes each of them beloved is God’s own love.

Surrounding the name of Muhammad (as), we find the names of the other great axial messengers of Islamic tradition (as).  In the top right hand corner we find the first human being, Adam (as), the one formed by God’s own hands.  In the top left hand corner stands the name of Noah (or Nuh in Arabic, as), God’s appointed messenger in ancient times.  In the bottom right hand corner, we find the name of Ibrahim (Abraham, as), the first chevalier (fata). In the bottom left hand corner we read the name of Moses (Musa, as), the one to whom God spoke directly.  At the bottom of the image we find the name of beloved Jesus (Isa, as), God’s word and a spirit from Him.

We can read these names theologically, as a profound statement of Islam’s understanding of unfolding revelation.  We can also read them sociologically, so to speak, as an assertion of the Islamic tradition’s understanding of the union of prophetic teaching.  That is, all that these prophets taught (as) exists as part of a greater whole, of an over-arching oneness. I also see it as an expression of a profound idea: at a deep level, Islam includes the entirety of the Divine’s relationship with humanity, in all its manifest diversity.  Nor do I see this as some self-aggrandising act of conquest, of spiritual appropriation.  Rather, I see this as stating a profound truth.  God alone is the ultimate source of the world’s many faiths and traditions, and the whole of humanity is united in that profound, living oneness.

We can also read these names more inwardly.  That is, Islamic esoteric tradition holds that the prophets (as) live within the heart of each human being, and represent particular spiritual qualities and energies.  As such, each particular quality can be accessed, and can be used in providing deep, inner healing.  In light of this notion, I see this piece as reminding us that in order to reach completion, to be truly transformed, all of these diverse energies must be brought into balanced harmony.  This can only truly be done once we realise fully that it is God, alone, who provides this transformational ability.  More deeply, it is only God that truly acts.

Subhana Rabbika,
Rabb al-`Izzati amma yas’ifuun
wa salamun ala al-mursalin,
wa al-hamdu lillahi rabb al-`alamin.

Ask olsun!

God’s Hidden Friends

Peace, one and all…

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God’s friends are hidden. Some are hidden within the heart of the invisible, like secret pearls and jewels. Some are even hidden from themselves. Some are hidden in plain sight, and because we ‘see’ them in our everyday lives, we fail to recognise them for the transformative gemstones they truly are.

Merciful God! Thank You for these hidden ones, these Close Ones of Yours. The more I open to Your Friends in gratitude, the more in awe I am of Your overwhelming, all-inclusive, ever-flowing grace.

May love increase!

Ask olsun!

Kabenin Yollari

Peace, one and all…

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Kabe’nin yolları bölük bölüktür.
Benim yüreciğim delik deliktir
Dünya dedikleri bir gölgeliktir.

Canım Kabe’m varsam sana
Yüzüm gözüm sürsem sana

Eşim dostum yüklesinler yükümü
Komşularım helal etsin hakkını
Görmez oldum ırak ile yakını

Canım Kabe’m varsam sana
Yüzüm gözüm sürsem sana

As I Look Back

Peace, one and all…

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Beloved, as I look back
along my path through
this strange life,
I see both hills and valleys,
successes and failures.

At times I have run towards You
and at others, I have run from You,
but there You are,
the Always-Hidden,
Ever-Manifest Sun.

Beloved, I don’t know where this path leads,
or how I will meet the dawn.
All I know is that You are my Ground,
my Air and my Living Sun.
Let me lay my self down at Your door.

54huvelgani

Mawlid al-Nabi

Peace, one and all…

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For many Muslims, today marks the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (alaihi al-salatu wa al-salam).  I wanted to celebrate this occasion with some beautiful music from throughout the Muslim world.  Enjoy!

Allahumma salli ala Muhammad, wa ala ali Muhammad.

Mevlevi Na’t-i Serif

From the Arab world

From India/Pakistan

From Turkey

From Djibouti

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Ask olsun!
Abdur Rahman

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