Invocation

PRAISE to the Holy Creator, who has placed his throne upon the waters, and who has made all terrestrial creatures. To the Heavens he has given dominion and to the Earth dependence; to the Heavens he has given movement, and to the Earth uniform repose.
He raised the firmament above the earth as a tent, without pillars to uphold it. In six days he created the seven planets and with two letters he created the nine cupolas of the Heavens.
In the beginning he gilded the stars, so that at night the heavens might play tric-trac. With diverse properties he endowed the net of the body, and he has put dust on the tail of the bird of the soul. He made the Ocean liquid as a sign of bondage, and the mountain tops are capped with ice for fear of him. He dried up the bed of the sea and from its stones brought forth rubies, and from its blood, musk. To the mountains he has given peaks for a dagger, and valleys for a belt; so that they lift up their heads in pride. Sometimes he makes clusters of roses spring from the face of the fire; Sometimes he throws bridges across the face of the waters. He caused a mosquito to sting Nimrod his enemy who thereby suffered for four hundred years. In his wisdom he caused the spider to spin his web to protect the highest of men. He squeezed the waist of the ant so that it resembled a hair, and he made it a companion of Solomon; He gave it the black robes of the Abbasides and a garment of unwoven brocade worthy of the peacock.
When he saw that the carpet of nature was defective he pieced it together fittingly. He stained the sword with the colour of the tulip; and from vapour made a bed of water-lilies. He drenched clods of earth with blood so that he might take from them cornelians and rubies. Sun and Moon — one* the day, the other the night, bow to the dust in adoration; and from their worship comes their movement. It is God who has spread out the day in whiteness, it is he who has folded up the night and blackened it.
To the parrot he gave a collar of gold; and the hoopoe he made a messenger of the way. The firmament is like a bird beating its wings along the way God has marked out for him, striking the Door with his head as with a hammer. God has made the firmament to revolve — night follows day and day the night. When he breathes on clay man is created; and from a little vapour he forms the world.
Sometimes he causes the dog to go before the traveller; sometimes he uses the cat to show the way. Sometimes he gives the power of Solomon to a staff; sometimes he accords eloquence to the ant. From a staff he produces a serpent; and by means of a staff he sends forth a torrent of water. He has placed in the firmament the orb of the proud, and binds it with iron when glowing red it wanes.
He brought forth a camel from a rock, and made the golden calf to bellow. In winter he scatters the silver snow; in autumn, the gold of yellow leaves. He lays a cover on the thorn and tinges it with the colour of blood.
To the jasmine he gives four petals and on the head of the tulip he puts a red bonnet. He places a golden crown on the brow of the narcissus; and drops pearls of dew into her shrine. At the idea of God the mind is baffled, reason fails; because of God the heavens turn, the earth reels. From the back of the fish to the moon every atom is a witness to his Being. The depths of earth and the heights of heaven render him each their particular homage. God produced the wind, the earth, the fire, and blood, and by these he announces his secret. He took clay and kneaded it with water, and after forty mornings placed therein the spirit which vivified the body. God gave it intelligence so that it might have discernment of things. When he saw that intelligence had discernment, he gave it knowledge, so that it might weigh and ponder. But when man came in possession of his faculties he confessed his impotence, and was overcome with amazement, while his body gave itself up to exterior acts.
Friends or enemies, all bow the head under the yoke which God, in his wisdom, imposes; and, a thing astonishing, he watches over us all. At the beginning of the centuries God used the mountains as nails to fix the Earth ; and washed Earth’s face with the water of Ocean. Then he placed Earth on the back of a bull, the bull on a fish, and the fish on the air. But on what rested the air? On nothing. But nothing is nothing — and all that is nothing. Admire then, the works of the Lord, though he himself considers them as nothing. And seeing that His Essence alone exists it is certain there is nothing but Him. His throne is on the waters and the world is in the air. But leave the waters and the air, for all is God: the throne and the world are only a talisman. God is all, and things have only a nominal value; the world visible and the world invisible are only Himself.
There is none but Him. But, alas, no one can see Him. The eyes are blind, even though the world be lighted by a brilliant sun. Should you catch even a glimpse of Him you would lose your wits, and if you should see Him completely you would lose your self.
All men who are aware of their ignorance tuck up the flap of their garment and say earnestly: ‘O thou who art not seen although thou makest us to know thee, everyone is thou and no other than thou is manifested. The soul is hidden in the body, and thou art hidden in the soul. O thou who art hidden in that which is hidden, thou art more than all. All see themselves in thee and they see thee in everything. Since thy dwelling is surrounded by guards and sentinels how can we come near to thy presence? Neither mind nor reason can have access to thy essence, and no one knows thy attributes. Because thou art eternal and perfect thou art always confounding the wise. What can we say more, since thou art not to be described!’
O my heart, if you wish to arrive at the beginning of understanding, walk carefully. To each atom there is a different door, and for each atom there is a different way which leads to the mysterious Being of whom I speak. To know oneself one must live a hundred lives. But you must know God by Himself and not by you; it is He who opens the way that leads to Him, not human wisdom. The knowledge of Him is not at the door of rhetoricians. Knowledge and ignorance are here the same, for they cannot explain nor can they describe. The opinions of men on this arise only in their imagination; and it is absurd to try to deduce anything from what they say: whether ill or well, they have said it from themselves. God is above knowledge and beyond evidence, and nothing can give an idea of his Holy Majesty.
O you who value the truth, do not look for an analogy; the existence of this Being without equal does not admit of one. Since neither the prophets nor the heavenly messengers have understood the least particle, they have bowed their foreheads on the dust, saying: ‘We have not known thee as thou must truly be.’ What am I then, to flatter myself that I know Him?
O ignorant son of the first man, the Khalif of God on earth, strive to participate in the spiritual knowledge of your father. All creatures that God draws out from nothingness for their existence prostrate themselves before him. When he wished to create Adam, he made him go out from behind a hundred veils, and he said to him, ‘O Adam, all creatures adore me; be adored in your turn.’ The only one who turned from this adoration was transformed from an angel into a demon. He was cursed and had no knowledge of the secret. His face became black and he said to God: ‘O thou who art in possession of absolute independence, do not abandon me.’
The Most High replied: ‘You who are cursed, know that Adam is both my steward and the king of nature. Today go before him, and tomorrow burn for him the ispand.’ When the soul was joined to the body it was part of the all: never has there been so marvellous a talisman. The soul had a share of that which is high, and the body a share of that which is low; it was formed of a mixture of heavy clay and pure spirit. By this mixing, man became the most astonishing of mysteries. We do not know nor do we understand so much as a little of our spirit. If you wish to say something about this, it would be better to keep silent. Many know the surface of this ocean, but they understand nothing of the depths; and the visible world is the talisman which protects it. But this talisman of bodily obstacles will be broken at last. You will find the treasure when the talisman disappears; the soul will manifest itself when the body is laid aside. But your soul is another talisman; it is, for this mystery, another substance. Walk then in the way I shall indicate, but do not ask for an explanation.
In this vast ocean the world is an atom and the atom a world. Who knows which is of more value here, the cornelian or the pebble? We have staked our life, our reason, our spirit, our religion, in order to understand the perfection of an atom. Sew up your lips and ask nothing of the empyrean or the throne of God. No one really knows the essence of the atom — ask whom you will. The Heavens are like a cupola upside down, without stability, at once moving and un-moving. One is lost in contemplation of such a mystery — it is veil upon veil; one is like a figure painted on a wall, and one can only bite the back of one’s hand.
Consider those who have entered in the way of the Spirit. Look what has happened to Adam; see how many years he spent in mourning. Contemplate the deluge of Noah and all that patriarch suffered at the hands of the wicked. Consider Abraham, who was full of love for God : he suffered tortures and was thrown into the fire. See the unfortunate Ishmael offered up in the way of divine love. Turn towards Jacob who became blind from weeping for his son. Look at Joseph, admirable in his power as in his slavery, in the pit and in prison. Remember the unhappy Job stretched on the earth a prey to worms and wolves. Think of Jonah who, having strayed from the Way, went from the moon to the belly of the fish. Follow Moses from his birth: a box served him for a cradle, and Pharaoh exalted him. Think of David, who made himself a breast-plate and whose sighs melted the iron like wax. Look at Solomon whose empire was mastered by the Jinn. Remember Zacharias, so ardent with the love of God that he kept silent when they killed him; and John the Baptist, despised before the people, whose head was put on a platter. Stand in wonder at Christ at the foot of the cross, v/hen he saved himself from the hands of the Jews. And finally, ponder over all that the Chief of the Prophets suffered from the insults and injuries of the wicked.
After this, do you think it will be easy to arrive at knowledge of spiritual things? It means no less than to die to everything. What shall I say further, since there is nothing more to say, and there remains not a rose on the bush ! O Wisdom! You are no more than a suckling child; and the reason of the old and experienced strays in this quest. How shall I, a fool, be able to arrive at this Essence; and if I should arrive, how shall I be able to enter in by the door? O Holy Creator! Vivify my spirit! Believers and unbelievers are equally plunged in blood, and my head turns as the heavens, I am not without hope but I am impatient.
My friends! We are neighbours of one another: I wish to repeat my discourse to you day and night, so that you should not cease for a moment to long to set out in quest of Truth.
Excerpt from: The Conference of the Birds (Manṭiq-uṭ-Ṭayr) by Hazrat Faridi-ul-Din Attar (r.a) Translation 1954 by C. S. Nott

Seventy Thousand Veils

“Love is not to be learned from men: it is one of God’s gifts and comes of His grace.”

“None refrains from the lusts of this world save him in whose heart there is a light that keeps him always busied with the next world.”

“When the gnostic’s spiritual eye is opened, his bodily eye is shut: he sees nothing but God.”

“If gnosis were to take visible shape all who looked thereon would die at the sight of its beauty and loveliness and goodness and grace, and every brightness would become dark beside the splendor thereof.”

“For sight is the keenest of our bodily senses; though not by that is wisdom seen; her loveliness would have been transporting if there had been a visible image of her.”

“Gnosis is nearer to silence than to speech.”
“When the heart weeps because it has lost, the spirit laughs because it has found.”

“Nothing sees God and dies, even as nothing sees God and lives, because His life is everlasting: whoever sees it is thereby made everlasting.”

“O God, I never listen to the cry of animals or to the quivering of trees or to the murmuring of water or to the warbling of birds or to the rustling wind or to the crashing thunder without feeling them to be an evidence of Thy unity and a proof that there is nothing like unto Thee.”

“O my God, I invoke Thee in public as lords are invoked, but in private as loved ones are invoked. Publicly I say, ‘O my God!’ but privately I say, ‘O my Beloved!'”

“Seventy Thousand Veils separate Allah, the One Reality, from the world of matter and of sense. And every soul passes before his birth through these seventy thousand. The inner half of these are veils of light: the outer half, veils of darkness. For every one of the veils of light passed through, in this journey towards birth, the soul puts off a divine quality: and for every one of the dark veils, it puts on an earthly quality. Thus the child is born weeping, for the soul knows its separation from Allah, the One Reality. And when the child cries in its sleep, it is because the soul remembers something of what it has lost. Otherwise, the passage through the veils has brought with it forgetfulness (nisyan): and for this reason man is called insan. He is now, as it were, in prison in his body, separated by these thick curtains from Allah.

“But the whole purpose of Sufism, the Way of the dervish, is to give him an escape from this prison, an apocalypse of the Seventy Thousand Veils, a recovery of the original unity with The One, while still in this body. The body is not to be put off; it is to be refined and made spiritual–a help and not a hindrance to the spirit. It is like a metal that has to be refined by fire and transmuted. And the sheikh tells the aspirant that he has the secret of this transmutation. ‘We shall throw you into the fire of Spiritual Passion,’ he says, ‘and you will emerge refined.'” {“The Way” of a Mohammedan Mystic, by W. H. T. Gairdner (Leipzig, 1912), pp. 9 f.}

THE MYSTICS OF ISLAM
by Reynold A. Nicholson
Routledge, Kegan Paul, London
[1914]

Humility

_DSC5019

A sagacious youth of noble family landed at a seaport of Turkey, and, as he displayed piety and wisdom, his baggage was deposited in a mosque. One day the priest said to him: “Sweep away the dust and rubbish from the mosque.”Immediately, the young man went away and no one saw him there again. Thus, did the elder and his followers suppose he did not care to serve. The next day, a servant of the mosque met him on the road and said: ‘Thou didst act wrongly in thy perverse judgment. Knowest thou not, O conceited youth, that men are dignified by service?” Sorrowfully, the youth began to weep. “O soul-cherishing and heart-illuminating friend!” he answered; “I saw no dirt or rubbish in that holy place but mine own corrupt self. Therefore, I retraced my steps, for a mosque is better cleansed from such.”

Humility is the only ritual for a devotee. If thou desire greatness, be humble; no other ladder is there by which to climb.

The Bustan of Sadi, tr. by A. Hart Edwards,

Beneath a Canopy of Stars

Navigators Reverie: Beneath a Canopy of Stars: This is work in progress a new series of images which incorporates some fresh photography juxtapositioned with images of vintage celestial maps.

 Let us be like
two falling stars in the day sky.
Let no one know of our sublime beauty
as we hold hands with God
and burn
Into a sacred existence that defies –
That surpasses
Every description of ecstasy
And love.

Hazrat Hāfez-e Shīrāzī r.a

Flowers every night

Blossom in the sky;

Peace in the Infinite;

At peace am I.

Sighs a hundredfold

From my heart arise;
My heart, dark and cold,
Flames with my sighs.

Hazrat Maulana Jalal-ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (r.a)

 

The hidden banner is planted in the temple of the sky; 
there the blue canopy decked with the moon 
and set with bright jewels is spread.
There the light of the sun and the moon is shining: 
still your mind to silence before that splendour. 
Kabîr says: “He who has drunk of this nectar, 
wanders like one who is mad.”

 The Songs of Kabir, tr. by Rabindranath Tagore

20 September, 2014 08:57

The hidden banner is planted in the temple of the sky; there the blue canopy decked with the moon and set with bright jewels is spread.There the light of the sun and the moon is shining: still your mind to silence before that splendour.

Kabîr says: “He who has drunk of this nectar, wanders like one who is mad.”

~The Songs of Kabir, tr. by Rabindranath Tagore

Farah Mahbub iPhone Message

Sufi Poets

Sufi Poets A wonderful collection of powerful words and thoughts

Hazrat Rabia al Basri r.a (717–801) is one of the first female Sufi Poets who helped to leave a rich teaching of Divine love through her mystical poetry.

Not much is known about Rabia al Basri, except that she lived in Basra in Iraq, in the second half of the 8th century AD.  She was born into poverty. But many spiritual stories are associated with her and what we can glean about her is reality merged with legend. These traditions come from Farid ud din Attar a later Sufi saint and poet, who used earlier sources. Rabia herself though has not left any written works. However, her oral poems were later written down, they frequently express themes of intense Divine Love.

Without You — my Life, my Love –
I would never have wandered across these endless countries.
You have poured out so much grace for me,
Done me so many favors, given me so many gifts –
I look everywhere for Your love –
Then suddenly I am filled with it.

– Rabia al Basri, (excerpt from, My Joy)

After her father’s death, there was a famine in Basra, and during that she was parted from her family. It is not clear how she was traveling in a caravan that was set upon by robbers. She was taken by the robbers and sold into slavery.

Her master worked her very hard, but at night after finishing her chores Rabia would turn to meditation and prayers and praising the Lord. Foregoing rest and sleep she spent her nights in prayers and she often fasted during the day.

There is a story that once, while in the market, she was pursued by a vagabond and in running to save herself she fell and broke her arm. She prayed to the Lord .

“I am a poor orphan and a slave,  Now my hand too is broken.  But I do not mind these things if Thou be pleased with me. “

and felt a voice reply:

“Never mind all these sufferings. On the Day of Judgement you shall  be accorded a status that shall be the envy of the angels even”

(follow link to read more)

 

You are the Perfect Man

The earth and sky kiss your doorstep; You are the Glow!
Covet of the angels, the Light of Allah; You are the Perfect Man!

The two worlds are illuminated by your [blessed] face
The sun and moon reflect your [blessed] countenance

O Light of Allah Almighty! You are the Luster!
Your eyebrows [reflect the beauty of] the verses of the Quran

Your hair [reflects the vigor of] the exegesis of the Quran
Your [blessed] soul is our Quran; You are [the foundation] of belief!

O Chosen One! O Elected One! Have mercy on us!
Our hands find nothing to cling to; You are the [covering] safe haven!

I am a sinner, I am weak, I am helpless — this is my condition
O Intercessor of the Day of Recompense! You are the savior!

Jami (ra) with his own eyes saw the likeness of the unveiling of God’s [vast] ocean
My body and soul are sacrificed for you; You are the essence!