The Prophet’s Ramadan Sermon (saw)

June 27, 2014

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

A Sermon on the Last Friday of Sha’ban on the Reception of the Month of Ramadan (reposted from last year).

“O People! Indeed ahead of you is the blessed month of Allah. A month of blessing, mercy and forgiveness. A month which with Allah is the best of months. Its days, the best of days, its nights, the best of nights, and its hours, the best of hours. It is the month which invites you to be the guests of Allah and invites you to be one of those near to Him. Each breath you take glorifies him; your sleep is worship, your deeds are accepted and your supplications are answered. So, ask Allah, your Lord; to give you a sound body and an enlightened heart so you may be able to fast and recite his book, for only he is unhappy who is devoid of Allah’s forgiveness during this great month. Remember the hunger and thirst of the day of Qiyamah (Judgement) with your hunger and thirst; give alms to the needy and poor, honour your old, show kindness to the young ones, maintain relations with your blood relations; guard your tongues, close your eyes to that which is not permissible for your sight, close your ears to that which is forbidden to hear, show compassion to the orphans of people, so compassion may be shown to your orphans. Repent to Allah for your sins and raise your hands in dua during these times, for they are the best of times and Allah looks towards his creatures with kindness, replying to them during the hours and granting their needs if he is asked …

“O People! Indeed your souls are dependant on your deeds, free it with Istighfar (repentance) lighten its loads by long prostrations; and know that Allah swears by his might: That there is no punishment for the one who prays and prostrates and he shall have no fear of the fire on the day when man stands before the Lord of the worlds.

“O People! One who gives Iftaar to a fasting person during this month will be like one who has freed someone and his past sins will be forgiven. Some of the people who were there then asked the Prophet (s): “Not all of us are able to invite those who are fasting?”

The Prophet replied: “Allah gives this reward even if the Iftaar (meal) is a drink of water.” “One who has good morals (Akhlaq) during this month will be able to pass the ‘Siraat’ … on the day that feet will slip … “One who covers the faults of others will benefit in that Allah will curb His anger on the day of Judgement … “As for one who honour an orphan; Allah will honour him on the day of judgement, “And for the one who spreads his kindness, Allah will spread His mercy over him on the day of Judgement. “As for the one who cuts the ties of relation; Allah will cut His mercy from him … “Who so ever performs a recommended prayer in this month Allah will keep the fire of Hell away from him … “Whoever performs an obligatory prayer Allah will reward him with seventy prayers [worth] in this month. “And who so ever prays a lot during this month will have his load lightened on the day of measure. “He who recites one verse of the Holy Quran will be given the rewards of reciting the whole Quran during other months.

“O People! Indeed during this month the doors of heaven are open, therefore ask Allah not to close them for you; The doors of hell are closed, so ask Allah to keep them closed for you. During this month Shaytan (Satan) is imprisoned so ask your Lord not to let him have power over you.”

Ya Haqq!


Master of the Jinn is now an Ebook on Smashwords!

May 20, 2014

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Master of the Jinn is now an Ebook on Smashwords.  Which means it is now available on Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes and Noble NOOK store, and can be read on your Sony Reader, Diesel, Kobo, Scribd subscription service, Oyster subscription service, Flipkart (India’s largest online bookseller) and Baker & Taylor’s Blio.com  It is also now available in participating libraries who carry Ebooks in their electronic collection.  To purchase a copy for only $3.99, click HERE. Master of the Jinn COVER


Interview on the Writing of Master of the Jinn

March 7, 2014

MOJcoverSalaam and Greetings of Peace:

Below is an interview with me on the writing of Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel.  It was conducted by Ambrose Musiyiwa and published in various online venues in 2006.  New readers of the novel have been asking about my backround and what led me to write it, so I post this as a good answer to many questions. It has been updated for accuracy. If you have other questions about the novel, ask them in the comments and I will try to answer them :)

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I have always been an avid reader, and began writing poetry in my early teens. From there it progressed to working for magazine publishing companies as an editor and writer, continuing to write poetry, and after a few awkward attempts at my own fiction, getting the idea for Master of the Jinn.

I did not decide to be a writer; it was a gradual evolution and confluence of work opportunities and practice that led me to it.

Who would you say has influenced you the most?

The Sufi path of love has been my greatest influence, as you can tell by Master of the Jinn, but my love of good writing, and for certain genres, such as science-fiction, fantasy, and Persian and Arabic fiction and Sufi stories, all seemed to mesh together to influence me. And of course, the love and support of my beloved family, friends and darvishes, all fellow travelers on life’s journey.

What are darvishes?

A darvish is the same as a dervish, which is a disciple in a Sufi Order, or more accurately, a disciple of a Sufi Master. Darvish is the Persian way of spelling and pronouncing it.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

My only concern as a writer is to tell the truth as best I can, in the best way I am able. On the Sufi path this is a lifelong task. Also, to hone my writing skills, which to me is not only telling a story on paper, but adding some iota of understanding to the human experience.

How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?

The most influential personal experience was almost dying in 1986, and the out of body experience I had because of it. I was in the hospital for six weeks, and after I came out, by the grace of God, I had a new outlook and also many unanswered questions. I found the place to ask those questions on the Sufi path, and so that is what I write about — those eternal questions and way in which I am finding the answers to them, or finding how to ask better questions.

What would you say are the biggest challenges that you face?

As far as personal challenges, advancing on the path, as to professional challenges, finding publishers and agents that believe in my work. And always to find better and more specific ways to tell the truth.

How do you deal with these?

One day at a time. I can’t do anything about the relentless commercialism of modern publishing, especially since it is a Sufi novel, about Muslims, published after 9/11, that no one wanted to touch. So after a couple of years of sending it out to agents and publishers, I decided to publish it myself.

As for telling the truth, it is a matter of finding what truth there is within myself, and my knowledge of the path and the world, and telling a story in that framework. Since I personally am deficient in knowledge and the path, all that is good in the book was God-inspired; all the rest is my own doing.

What is Master of the Jinn about?

It is a mystical adventure tale on the Sufi path of Love, wherein a modern-day Sufi Master sends seven companions on a quest for the greatest treasure of the ancient world – King Solomon’s ring. The legendary seal ring is said to control the Jinn, those terrifying demons of living fire, and in seeking it the companions discover not only the truth of the Jinn, but also the path of Love and the infinite mercy of God. That’s from the Amazon description, and fits nicely.

How long did it take you to write the novel?

Master of the Jinn took five years to write, another few years of sending it out, having it rejected, re-editing it, sending it out again, etc, until technology caught up with my intention and I could publish it inexpensively. After 9/11 it was impossible to publish any novel that portrayed Muslims as kind, generous and noble, even Sufis.

Where and when was it published?

It was published in the English edition in Sept. 2004 by Bay Street Press through Booksurge, a print on demand publisher in the U.S.A. They are now called Createspace and are owned by Amazon. It is also in seven other languages.

Master of the Jinn has been translated and published in Indonesian (Sang Raja Jin), Turkish (Cinlerin Efendisi)Russian (Povelitel dzhinnov), German (Meister der Jinn), Croatian (Gospodar demona), Spanish (El Maestro de los Jinn), and Malayalam, the language of the Kerala state of India (Jinnukalude Nadhan).

The Russian-language edition was published in 2001 by Sophia Publishing of Moscow. The Indonesian edition (in Bahasa, the national language) will be out in 2007, published in Jakarta by Prenada Media, as will the 2007 Turkish edition, published in Turkey by Inlan Yayinlari Publishing.

The Indian edition is under contract, to be published in Kerala State, in Malayalam, the language there. It will be out in 2008. I am in negotiations for a Dutch edition, and one in Hebrew, Arabic, and Farsi, God willing.

Which aspects of the work that you put into the book did you find most difficult?

Of course, the most difficult part of writing the book was what comes next. And also being true to the Sufi path and myself, as well as the story.

Being a darvish of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order, I could not make up wise sayings, for instance. I am not wise. All that the Sufi Master in the book says as dialogue are actual words of Sufi masters of the past. And I wanted to start each chapter with a quote that fit the chapter. That was fun too.

Researching the story of King Solomon and early Hebrew life and culture, as well as the Taureg culture of the Sahara, was also a learning experience. All of what is written about it is factual, though woven into a fictional story.

Sometimes I would wait for six months between inspirations, until I read enough or learned enough, or something happened in my life and meditation that led me to the next sentence. It was a process of learning and becoming, of growing with the book.

Which did you enjoy most?

Honestly, the entire experience was the best time in my life. Writing a book you love with characters you love, or just writing and then reading a sentence or paragraph that works, that conveys what you have in your heart, of love and hope and God’s mercy, is one of the joys of being a writer. I could have kept working on it forever, and sometimes wish I was still working on it.

What sets the book apart from the other things you have written?

This is nothing like I have ever written, since it is my first book, but looking back over my poems and stories, I see a pattern emerging of a romantic nature to my writings. Perhaps the book is just an extension of that, with the influence of the Sufi path leading the way. The Sufi also consider God the Beloved.

What will your next book be about?

I am writing a sequel entitled Tale of Jinn. It will pick up where Master of the Jinn left off, and be a cosmology and a history as well as extend the tale into the future. It may turn out to be three or four books, I don’t know. The tale has taken on a life of its own. I am also working on a non-fiction book compiling my writings and poetry from the Darvish blog.  The tentative title is Lessons in Love.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

I don’t know that I have achieved anything significant as a writer. I loved writing the book, and many readers seem to love it also, rereading it multiple times. One reader told me she can’t wait to have children so she can read the book to them. That may be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to a writer, as least to this writer.

How did you get there?

With the love and teaching of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, the late Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order, and now Dr. Alireza Nurbakhsh, the present Master, and by the grace and mercy of God. There is no other way to get anywhere.

Ya Haqq!


Song Lyric – I Love Cocaine

February 25, 2014

Salaama and Greetings of Peace:

Here is another song lyric written in the 1980s to a Disco beat :)  If there is ever a musical about Studio 54, the famous New York City nightclub of that era, this would be a perfect song for it.  So all you Broadway producers, take note :)

I Love Cocaine ( a duet with chorus)

She sings:

Been up three days
Doin’ the drug
Chorus: I love cocaine
Can’t find the handle
Can’t find the plug

We’re deep in snow
And we don’t ski
Just an addictive
Personality
Chorus: I love cocaine
God, it brings out
The best in me

So pull down the shades
And draw the curtain
Don’t let the sunshine in
Only one thing that’s for certain
I LOVE COCAINE

Let me explain
When you’re in the fast lane
It alleviates the pain
I love cocaine

Never mind the cost
Never mind the loss
Of cells in the brain
Or mucus membrane

Chorus: I love cocaine

Steal for it, lie for it
Sleep with ugly men for it

I just love cocaine

Duet:

A demon in white
Has us beguiled
In the grip of the powder
Sweet mother and child
There’s no wind
But we’re blowing wild,
Blowing wild, blowing wild
The point is moot
Long as there’s toot
We’ll be blowing wild
We love cocaine!

He sings:

Been up three days
Been up three night
Shades are drawn
Against the light

We’re deep in snow
And we don’t ski
But let me be
Don’t set me free
Can’t you see
I LIKE IT, I LIKE IT, I LIKE IT!!!!!

So come and get it, come and get it
Come and get it, come and get it
I’m not going to ask you twice
I’m not going to be this nice
AGAIN! AGAIN! AGAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN!

Duet:

A demon in white
Has us beguiled
In the grip of the powder
Sweet mother and child
There’s no wind
But we’re blowing wild,

Blowing wild
The point is moot
Long as there’s toot
We’ll be blowing wild
We love cocaine!

So don’t put cocoa in the butter
Or in the chocolate for me
Roll it in a cigarette
And light it up for me
We don’t tan and we don’t eat
We INHALE, INHALE,
For our daily treat!

We LOVE Cocaine!


El Maestro de los Jinn is Now a Paperback :)

October 28, 2013

Master-of-the-Jinn-Cover-Spanish-WebSalaam and Greetings of Peace:

The Spanish translation of Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel, El Maestro de los Jinn, is now a paperback on Amazon.com :) And it would make a nice gift for your Spanish speaking friends for the Holidays :)

Ya Haqq!


What Love Demands – Eid al-Adha Mubarak :)

October 14, 2013

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Eid Mubarak!

May Allah bless you all this Eid al-Adha, dear Brothers and Sisters, with generosity of hand, sincerity of speech, kindness in action, and love and joy in remembrance of HU, the Source of all Generosity, Sincerity, Kindness, Joy, and Love.  Ameen!

“O Lord! Let not our hearts deviate now after You have guided us, but grant us mercy from Your own Presence; for You are the Grantor of bounties without measure.” (Quran: 3:9)

This is the time of Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, which celebrates the faith of Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice even his beloved son as God had commanded.

Now what are we willing to sacrifice in order that our prayers may be accepted?

That is the question I ask myself every year. Jesus (as) kissed the leper, the whore, and the thief, out of love and forgiveness and healing. Because of the great expansiveness of his heart, miracles were possible. What have we done, what can we still do, to be worthy of the love and forgiveness and healing we ask of God? The answer that comes to my heart is always the same:

Do what love demands.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. -1 Corinthians 13:4-8

According to a hadith, the Prophet (peace be unto him) once said, “A true believer is one with whom others feel secure. One who returns love for hatred.”

Alhamdulillah! Indeed, Love is the greatest miracle of God. There have been Spiritual Masters who would not let an aspirant be initiated until they had gone to everyone whom they had wronged in their life, and begged forgiveness, making amends in any way that was required. And until they had gone to everyone that had wronged them in their lives, and granted them forgiveness without asking, and with a whole heart. Only then could such a one be initiated on the mystic path.

And so we come to the great task of our lives, brought into focus on this day of Eid al-Adha: To sacrifice our fear and hatred, our envy and greed and all the other works of the fearful and self-absorbed nafs, in the certain knowledge that anyone who forgives a debt will be repaid tenfold by God, and anyone who forgives a wrong will be forgiven by God a hundredfold, and anyone who returns love for hatred will make of this life a paradise. That is what love demands.

Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.
- Rumi

Ya Haqq!


SANG RAJA JIN, the Indonesian translation of Master of the Jinn, is now a Google Ebook for only $2.51

October 8, 2013

cover SANG RAJA JIN curve-frontSalaam and Greetings of Peace:

Sang Raja Jin, the Indonesian translation of Master of the Jinn, in now a Google Ebook for only $2.51 which is 28,905 rupiah, I think. Click HERE to order.

Please tell your Indonesian friends on Twitter, and share the news on your Facebook status and on your blog if you have one :)

Ya Haqq!

Note: Buy the paperback wherever books are sold, or order from the publisher HERE.


Google Ebook of Master of the Jinn now in Thirty-Three Countries and Four Languages!

September 25, 2013

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The Google EBook of Master of the Jinn is being sold in English, as well as translations in Russian and Croatian for only $3.82. It is also sold in Indonesian for only $2.51

Click HERE to order.

What’s more, it is now available in THIRTY-THREE countries – the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany,  Greece, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan.

Ya Haqq!

MOJcover


Conversation with God

August 12, 2013

Each day of your life is a conversation with God.
What intimacies have you shared today?
What good deeds have you done?
What love have you given freely to family and friends?

If all you have to say is of arrogance and envy,
vanity and pettiness, then better to keep silent.
God already knows. He is waiting like a hopeful parent
for the good news of your life, eager to share in your joy

And always hoping that you follow in His footsteps,
embrace the way of enduring Love.
Dive into this ocean that is your birthright.
Swim in the sea without a shore.

- Irving Karchmar, 2013


I have given up religion

May 21, 2013
I have given up religion
and follow only Love

Mullahs, Priests and Rabbis
Imams, Buddhists, Zoroastrians,
All laugh at my naivete
But my ears hear only You

Beards and robes and cassocks
outward signs of piety

Mean nothing, are worthless
without a heart of love

Heaven and hell are empty
tales to frighten children

Only to You do we return
home at last, home at last

Good and evil counterbalance
men and women, all that live 

drops falling into the Ocean
Home at last, home at last

- Irving Karchmar, 2013

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