Happy New Year 5768! Blessed Ramadan!

September 12, 2007

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

A letter from a friend in Cairo:

This evening at sunset marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year and the start of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. How lovely that both of these Abrahamic traditions are joined in celebration at the same time! There’s even three R’s to help us remember them.

Rosh Hashanah is filled with the symbols of the ram’s horn shofar and foods like honeyed apples to bring sweetness to fresh beginning of a new year. Then the preparations begin for Yom Kippur, where people seek forgiveness from those they have harmed, in hopes of divine forgiveness on the Day of Atonement ten days later (also commemorated by fasting).

amadan is a purifying process that celebrates the mercy of the Divine in revealing the Qu’ran. The day-time fasting is quite sober, and people are encouraged to give generously to the poor and relate to their hunger. Evenings, after the fast is broken, are joyously celebrated, in the company of friends and family, as well as in traditional prayers.

Remembrance is the third R that links these spiritual celebrations. Remembering the divine and remembering our fellow creatures with acts of contrition and of generosity remind us of our essential connectedness. Even if you’re not celebrating one of these holidays, take time for the remembrance of loved ones far and near, present and absent. And by all means Rejoice (another R) in the simple pleasure of being able to share food and friendship wherever you are!

L’shana tova! (Hebrew for Happy New Year.) Ramadan Karim! (Arabic for Generous Ramadan!)

Peace and love,


Note: Her forthcoming book – Towards the Heart of Islam: A Woman’s Path by Eva de Vitray-Meyerovitch, translated by Cathryn Goddard, Fons Vitae publisher

Tale of the Three Questions

September 1, 2007

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

A certain Sultan owned everything a man could wish for, and still he did not know the purpose of life. The answer to three questions made his life difficult:

1. What should I do?
2. With whom should I do the things God asks me to do?
3. When should I do it?

The Sultan asked the advice of all kinds of wise people, but without a satisfactory answer. Then he was told that there was a Chishti dervish who lived far away, and who might give him an answer. The Sultan immediately left to find him, and after a journey of several weeks he came upon the dervish, who was cultivating his own land. He was a simple man, but no simpleton, as he was reciting a Persian quatrain over and over again :

Kaarist waraai ‘elm raw aanraa baash
Dar bande gohar mabaash raw kaan raa baash
Del hast maqaame gaah begozaar o biaa
Jaan manzele aakherast raw jaan raa baash.

There is a work beyond knowledge, realise that, go!
Do not work to get jewels, be the mine, go!
The heart is a temporary abode, leave it and come!
The soul is the final abode, realise that, go!

The Sultan was not interested in Persian poems, however, and asked his three questions of the dervish. The dervish did not answer him, but continued with his work. The Sultan became angry and said: “Don’t you know who I am? I am the Sultan of Sultans!” But this did not make any impression on the dervish, who continued doing what he was doing.

Suddenly, a wounded man appeared from the forest, looking as if he were attacked by a wild animal. He dropped to the ground in front of the dervish. The dervish said to the Sultan: “Help me to carry this man to my place!”

“I’ll help you,” the Sultan said, “but will you answer my questions afterwards?”

“Later!” the dervish said, and so together they brought the wounded man to the hut of the dervish and took care of him.

“And now I’d like to receive the answers to my questions,” the Sultan said.

“You can return to your palace,” the dervish said, “because you have already received the answers to your questions. As to what to do, you should do what comes to you on your path. As to with whom you should do it, the answer is with those who are present. And as for the when to do it, you should do it the moment it takes place.”

Mohammed Siraj
Taken (and slightly edited) from the Sufi Healing Yahoo group.

Ya Haqq!


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