Answered Prayers

October 28, 2007

The knowledge of You
Comes swift as light
To sit within the circle
Of zekr and gratitude
A presence felt in darkness
The soul’s delight

The knowledge of You
My bones remember
My blood, nerves, sinews
And my eyes, this poet’s sight
That writes only You, who
Are pen and ink and paper

You are love and turmoil
Hope and answered prayers
Fathomless as oceans
Encompassing as night
My heart’s rest as winter comes
And all the leaves take flight.

- Irving Karchmar, © October 2007


Heaven and Hell

October 26, 2007

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

It is more important to find out the truth about one’s self than to find out the truth of Heaven and Hell. - Hazrat Inayat Khan

What are Heaven and Hell? They are the results of action, speech and thought — they are *results* and not self-dependent. Every Hell and Heaven may be different, and the same condition can be Hell to one and Heaven to another. Therefore we cannot understand them until we understand the self — and not just the nafs, but the innermost being.

Sufis willingly surrender Heaven and Hell to God, considering it a joy when Allah is present even in the midst of Hell, and a loss when Allah is absent even in the bosom of Paradise.

- Commentary by Hazrat Samuel L. Lewis (Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti). From the Sufi Family Yahoo Newsgroup.

Note: This idea is part of the Sufi tale, The Judgment of God, which you can read by clicking the Sufi Novel tab at top, from Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel.

Ya Haqq!


My Out of Body Experience – A True Story

October 21, 2007

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

This is a true story.

A few months after my 40th birthday, on January 14th 1986, I was rushed to the Emergency Room due to the devastating effects of a misdiagnosed illness. Had my sister not been visiting to see my condition and insist I go to the hospital immediately, the doctors said I would not have lived through the night.

In the emergency room my heart stopped, and the doctors had to revive it with those electric paddles you see in the movies. I remember it only vaguely, though I did have slight burn marks for a few days. Eventually they discovered that I had Cushing’s Disease, a benign tumor on the pituitary gland (which is in the middle of the forehead) that caused the hormones levels in my body to run wild. The natural steroid hormone ACTH, for instance, has a normal level of 200. Mine was 6000.

And since the pituitary gland controls other glands and body functions, I had also gotten high blood pressure and diabetes. It was the undiagnosed diabetes that was killing me. Eventually I learned that the diabetes had been untreated for so long and gotten so bad so quickly because of the tumor that I was fortunate to be alive. By that time my eyesight was blurry, my muscles so atrophied by dehydration that I could barely walk, and I found it difficult to think clearly. There were numerous other symptoms, but those were the major ones.

Alas, we are captives to this fragile shell of flesh. Fortunately, they had an experimental drug, aminoglutethymide,  that very slowly brought the hormone levels under control. Blood was drawn every hour to check the hormone levels, so both arms soon became black and blue from shoulder to wrist. Of course, being in a hospital has its own dangers, and I soon got a staph infection, endocarditis, which attacks the heart valves, and spent six weeks on Oxycilin therapy; another tube in my arm. I have a heart murmur to this day because of it.

I had so many tubes in my black and blue arms that it was almost comical. What wasn’t funny was the hormone-level induced paranoia. Like anyone on steroids, they affect both the body and the mind at those levels. I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say I was my poor nurses worst patient.

The hormones would spike at night, and in the first days I would often go into a kind of catatonic state, sometimes for days. I would come out of it and the nurses would be standing around me saying, “Are you awake? Are you ok?” I once asked how long I was out, and they said, “Three days.” I didn’t know where I had been or what I had been dreaming, if anything.

About two weeks after I was admitted, when the doctors were still not sure if I would live from one day to the next, I remember lying in bed, on my back because both arms had tubes in them, and feeling very weak and strange. I had learned to recognize the physical symptoms of the onset of one of the catatonic states, but this was different. I felt certain that I was going to die.

And I did.

Like a flash, my consciousness, or soul, or spirit, or ka, left my body. I was flying upward around the balloon-like curved right hand rim of the universe at an impossible speed, faster than thought. I still had a body, but it was ethereal, light as a feather. I could see the small oval shapes of thousands of galaxies on my left as I sped past. A heartbeat later I was there.

In front of me was a long luminous table, like a raised dais, and seated there were beings bathed in light, but human in form. They had heads and bodies, and were robed in white, but I could not make out their faces. Were they angels? Judges? I don’t know. I think there were ten of them. At least that is the number that is in my head. Then I began to spin like a top attached to a string, though my consciousness looked straight at them. I am spinning and looking straight ahead. How is that possible? And I began to weep. I must be dead, I thought, and began, without any prompting or question being asked, to recount the sins of my life, and they were many.

Lying, cheating, stealing, gluttony, sex, drugs; all the small and great sins of boy and man. How small or large they were makes no difference. They were as big as my life then, and, besides my children, all I thought I had to show for it. Through my tears, I begged for forgiveness.

The being in the middle spoke easily in a calm, male sounding voice that I heard in my mind. “You are forgiven. It is not your time yet.”

Instantly I was flying back around the rim of the universe. The galaxies were on my right as I flew past, with an uncanny sense of going downward. In a heartbeat I was back in my hospital room in my body sitting bolt upright in bed. I was never more awake in my life.

When I finally went to sleep that night, I had a dream that I wrote a book that changed the world and brought peace to mankind. Now that is a sinner really trying to make amends, lol!!!

I began to recover then. Perhaps the medication was finally taking effect. Some years later I had occasion to see my medical records. On top of one page was written: Recovery is astounding. And so it was.

I left the hospital on March 7th, 1986, walking with a cane because of my atrophied leg muscles. For nearly a year I had to climb the stairs of my house by literally crawling up them on my hands and knees because my legs would not hold me. Slowly the muscles got stronger with use. By the time I had the operation to remove my pituitary gland on December 23rd 1986, I was fully recovered. After it was removed, the diabetes went away. The blood pressure returned to normal.

In those nine months between my release from the hospital and the surgery I began to write poetry. The words just streamed out of me in gulps, like great gusts of breath. I was so happy to be alive that love poured out of me in poems and in tears.

My state in that in-between time was one of infinite gratitude for the gift of my life, and for God’s infinite love and mercy and forgiveness. Like the stories I have read about people who have had near death experiences, everything afterwards seemed illuminated with love and the peace of mind of a new understanding of life. I wept a great deal at the most mundane show of tenderness and emotion, and still do. My kids make fun of me for it, but I don’t care. I know how precious a gift is this short life we are given, and the chance in it to give love and experience love, and through love, God’s love for us.

This ‘change of heart’ gradually diminished, and the ego-centered nafs roared back as strong as ever, but something was activated that did not go away and sought an outlet to nourish it. It led me eventually to the Sufi path and to the door of the Beloved.

Five years after being hospitalized and my out of body experience, I stepped on the path of the heart and was initiated as a darvish in the Nimatullahi Sufi Order. Six months after initiation, an idea for a book came to me during zekr, and twelve years after that I finally published the Sufi novel, Master of the Jinn. I doubt if it will change the world, but if it gladdens one heart for one day, that is enough for me.

Every word of this post is true. What details I have left out are not important to the reason for telling it. You may think it was a dream, a vision, or a hormone induced hallucination, and for a long time afterward, so did I.

I had been a cynic and agnostic for as long as I can remember. I have never believed in hell, but always desired to know what, if anything, lies beyond this life, to know what is meant by God. Perhaps this is always at the edge of consciousness in everyone. Now, after fifteen years on the Sufi path, I am sharing this story so you will know that beyond everything you experience and believe, there is a truth that is unimaginable, and that one day you too will experience it. It is written about in Holy Books, and phrased in lovely language and parables and aphorisms, poetry and stories, and lived through the lives of Prophets and Saints.

It is love and mercy and compassion and forgiveness and love again, so complete and encompassing that we are born out of it, and return to it in the end. It is the bond of this Love that each of us shares, felt most strongly in the bond between mother and child, but felt nonetheless by each of us to the degree that we let it in. The Sufi path is nothing more than this, life is all of this, and that is all I know.

Ya Haqq!

Note:  To read excerpts from Master of the Jinn, click here. God willing, it will also gladden your heart :)


The Sun Does Not Rise, Neither Does It Set

October 18, 2007

The sun does not rise, neither does it set
Does the flame ever circle the moth?

The earth turns in beauty like a lover
Each dawn the sun bestows a kiss

At night the shy bride turns away
Beneath her star jeweled veil of rest

Each obedient to their course, and Lo!
“He makes the signs manifest.”

Keeping the night vigil the earth bows in prayer
Each degree of longitude a rak’at of prostration

To Him who holds the planets to their skies
The “Hidden Treasure” to the Sufi’s eyes

As Allah has ordained for all creation
Say the Prophets of every Book and nation.

Irving Karchmar, © October 2007


Master of the Jinn Ebook Update II

October 17, 2007

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Alhamdulillah! After sending One hundred and ten Master of the Jinn Ebooks as Eid Gifts to brothers and sisters who requested it, I have lowered the price on the Mobipocket Master of the Jinn Ebook to $4.99 through the Holiday season. It was such a joy and blessing to just give it away that I want to make it really affordable to all who want to read it.

Click HERE to order one, which you can read on your Windows PC, PDA, Smart phone, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, Palm OS, Symbian, PocketPC, Franklin eBookMan, Pepper-pad, the iLiad, and many other Ebook readers.

Also, if you live in a country where Sufi books are restricted, email me and I will send you a FREE copy of Master of the Jinn.

If you would prefer to read the paperback, click here to buy it on Amazon.com.

Ya Haqq!


Mullah Nasrudin, the Rich Man, and the Poor Man

October 15, 2007

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

A long time ago when I was still a Mullah, I lived in a small town, just big enough for a real mosque, with a beautiful mosaic wall. I remember one evening, we had finished our prayers. The stars were clear and bright, and seemed to fill the sky with lights. I stood at the window, gazing at the lights so far away, each one bigger than our world and so distant from us across vast reaches of space.

I thought of how we walk this earth, filled with our own importance, when we are just specks of dust. If you walk to the cliffs outside the town, a walk of half an hour at most, you look back and you can see the town, but the people are too small to see, even at that meager distance.

When I think of the immensity of the universe, I am filled with awe and reverence at a power so great. I was thinking such thoughts, looking out the window of the mosque, and I realized I had fallen to my knees.

“I am nothing, nothing!” I cried, amazed and awestruck.

There was a certain well-to-do man of the town, the kind of man who wished to be thought very devout. He cared more for what people thought of him than for what he actually was. He happened to walk in and he saw and heard what passed. I was a little shy at being caught in such a moment, but he rushed down, looking around in the obvious hope someone was there to see him. He knelt beside me and cried:

“I am nothing! I am nothing!”

At the same time, the man who sweeps the floor, a poor man from the edge of the village, entered the side door with his broom to begin his night’s work. He had seen us, and being a man of true faith and honest simplicity, his face showed that he entertained some of the same thoughts that had been laid on me by the hand of Allah (wonderful is He). He dropped his broom and fell to his knees and said softly:

“I am nothing…I am nothing!”

The well-to-do man nudged me with his elbow and said out of the side of his mouth:

“Look who thinks he’s nothing!”

Ya Haqq!


A Common Word – Muslim and Christian Peace and Understanding

October 15, 2007

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

A friend and darvish in Europe sent me the link to “A Common Word,”
the letter drafted and signed by many influential Muslim scholars addressed to the leaders of the Christian churches.

The website allows visitors to endorse this statement about the most basic common ground between the two religions. Unfortunately, fewer than 500 people have done so to date.

It is very important that as many people as possible – Muslims and
non-Muslims alike – signify their agreement to this statement and
encourage the scholars who drafted it to continue their efforts in
finding common ground with other religions and forming a common voice for the overwhelming majority of the Ummah.

From the A Common Word website:

Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.

The basis for this peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God, and love of the neighbour. These principles are found over and over again in the sacred texts of Islam and Christianity. The Unity of God, the necessity of love for Him, and the necessity of love of the neighbour is thus the common ground between Islam and Christianity. The following are only a few examples:

Of God’s Unity, God says in the Holy Qur’an: Say: He is God, the One! / God, the Self-Sufficient Besought of all! (Al-Ikhlas, 112:1-2). Of the necessity of love for God, God says in the Holy Qur’an: So invoke the Name of thy Lord and devote thyself to Him with a complete devotion (Al-Muzzammil, 73:8). Of the necessity of love for the neighbour, the Prophet Muhammad r said: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself.”

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ u said: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. / And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. / And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

Please go to http://www.acommonword.com, read the statement and, inshallah, add your endorsement. God willing, it will contribute to a deeper mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims, and a more tolerant world for all.

Spread the word, inshallah.

Ya Haqq!


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