A Bed for a Sufi

August 18, 2014

master picSalaam and Greetings of Peace:

Many years ago, on one of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh’s annual visits to the US, he was staying at the New York khaniqah when one of the long time darvishes, who was also studying to become a Persian scholar, said that his parents wanted to meet the Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order, of whom they had heard so much about, and he was invited to visit their home in Westchester County, New York. and have dinner with them. The Master  gladly accepted the invitation, and since it was a journey that would require them to stay overnight, they drove up in the early afternoon, arriving just in time for dinner.

The darvish’s parents lived in a converted farmhouse, and were delighted to have such a reknown Sufi Master as their guest.  They prepared an excellent dinner, though the Master, as was his custom, ate sparingly, and, although he spoke some English, conversed through their son, who was fluent in Farsi.  As bedtime approached, the father said that the Master was to use the master bedroom so that he would be comforable.  And they showed him a large room with a king-sized bed and adjoining bathroom.

The Master shook his head. “This is not a bed for a Sufi,” he said.

“But it’s the only bed in the house. Our son is sleeping in the other bedroom, and we are going to stay with friends,” his father said.

The Master thought for moment.  “There is another bed here,” he insisted.

The darvish’s parents were bewildered. “No, really,” the mother said. “There is nothing else… well ,except for the mattress in the old Chicken Coop. The kids used it as a clubhouse when they were young.”

The Master asked to see it, and they led him around the back of the house to an old wooden Chicken Coop. They brought a lantern as there was no electricity in the coop, and showed him the plain interior.  It was empty now, though recently swept out, with an old single mattress on the floor.

“Yes,’ the Master said, smiling. “This is a bed for a Sufi.”

Ya Haqq!


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!


Special Promotion – Master of the Jinn Ebook for only 99 cents :)

June 11, 2014

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Announcing a special promotion!!!

The Master of the Jinn Ebook is now only $.99 on Smashwords.

That’s right – Only 99 cents :)

Coupon Code: GE62U   (Just enter the code at checkout for the special price)

Click HERE to order for only 99 cents!

Offer expires June 30, 2014, so buy your copy today :)

Ya Haqq!

MOJcover


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!


“Leave yourself and come.”

December 29, 2013

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

“I stood with the pious and I didn’t find any progress with them. I stood with the warriors in the cause and I didn’t find a single step of progress with them. I stood with those who pray excessively and those who fast excessively and I didn’t make a footstep of progress. Then I said, ‘O Allah, what is the way to You?’ and Allah said, ‘Leave yourself and come.’”

- Bayazid Bastami

Ya Haqq!


The Democracy of Love

December 2, 2013

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Whenever I do my one magic trick to entertain young children, making a coin disappear, they always look astonished and squeal with delight. When Quinn, my six year old granddaughter who loves the Harry Potter books and movies, insisted on knowing how I made the coin disappear, I made the mistake of showing her. A magician should never reveal his secrets, especially to children.

She said indignantly, “That’s a trick! It’s not magic!”

And I, like a pompous fool, said, “Sweetheart, there is no such thing as magic. The only real magic is love.” She turned on her heel and walked away angrily. I don’t blame her. To a six year old, the world is a magical place, and should be. And children always look for magic in their lives and stories, which to them is a source of power in a world in which they feel powerless.

But I also meant what I said, though she is too young to understand. All true magic, by which I mean the source of all mystery and miracles, is Love.

Here is another trick in two steps:

1. Take a glass and fill it with water, then empty half. You now have a glass half full, or half empty. Now empty the remaining half. You now have an empty glass.

2. Now hug your child, or mother, or wife, and tell them you love them with all your heart, and pour all your love into them. Are you empty now, like the glass? Or are you a vessel overflowing with love from an infinite Source that never ends?

Jesus (pbuh) 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. In the same way, three loaves and five fishes can feed a multitude out of that love made manifest.

That is how God loves us, without condition, without beginning, without end, overflowing our lives, if only our eyes and heart are open to it. Guilt, shame, despair, are all responses to not living this absolute truth.

It is the source of the Chi, the Ka, the Force, which are all names of the energy of the universe flowing around us, between us, and in us. Its source is Love.

This all-encompassing Love, which is the real name of God, is also the source of all love between one human being and another; between man and woman, parent and child, man and man, woman and woman. It makes no difference who loves who. It is all love, touching all human beings, all life on earth and in the universe.

Love is the only true democracy.

Ya Haqq!


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