Thanks Giving 2009

November 20, 2009

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Thanksgiving is almost here in the US, and with Eid al-Adha the next day it will soon be a time of giving thanks, of gratitude to the Creator. Before every meal, Sufis say “Bismillah!” This is their way of saying Grace, of being grateful. Yet every human being who follows a spiritual path has their own way of being gracious, whose origin is Grace; the giving of thanks to God.

Thanksgiving is sweeter than bounty itself.

One who cherishes gratitude does not cling to the gift!

Thanksgiving is the true meat of God’s bounty;

The bounty is its shell,

For thanksgiving carries you to the hearth of the Beloved.

Abundance alone brings heedlessness,

Thanksgiving gives birth to alertness.

The bounty of thanksgiving will satisfy and elevate you,

And you will bestow a hundred bounties in return.

Eat your fill of God’s delicacies,

And you will be freed from hunger and begging.

- Rumi

“With mealtime prayer we offer thanksgiving to the Source of all sustenance. Prayer is a means by which the reins of hunger and the senses are taken by the spirit and intellect. The offering of a mealtime blessing elevates eating from a mechanical activity to conscious participation in the chain of being. It is an acknowledgment of the fact that in eating any organism, we are sharing in the sacrifice it has made to sustain us.”

Gratitude is an eagle, blessings a fine plump partridge
only gratitude wins the reward of blessing.
Give thanks to Him alone who buys
your words in the bazaar of Paradise.

- Nasir-i Khusraw

Excerpt from Serving the Guest – A Sufi Cookbook

Ya Haqq!

 

 


Who has God wants nothing.

April 13, 2009

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God only is changeless.
Patience gains all things.
Who has God wants nothing.
God alone suffices.

- Saint Teresa de Avila wrote these lines on a piece of paper and used it as a bookmark. May God grant that her words of wisdom find its way into the heart of all who read them. Amen. With gratitude to Sister Annie, poet extraordinaire, for pointing the way.

Ya Haqq!


Happy Easter!!!

April 11, 2009

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Everyone has eaten and fallen asleep. The house is empty. We walk out to the garden to let the apple meet the peach, to carry messages between rose and jasmine.

Spring is Christ,
Raising martyred plants from their shrouds.
Their mouths open in gratitude, wanting to be kissed.
The glow of the rose and the tulip means a lamp is inside.
A leaf trembles. I tremble in the wind-beauty like silk from Turkestan.
The censer fans into flame.

This wind is the Holy Spirit.
The trees are Mary.
Watch how husband and wife play subtle games with their hands.
Cloudy pearls from Aden are thrown across the lovers,
as is the marriage custom.

The scent of Joseph’s shirt comes to Jacob.
A red carnelian of Yemeni laughter is heard
by Muhammad in Mecca.

We talk about this and that. There’s no rest except on these branching moments.

- Jalaluddin Rumi (from The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks)

Ya Haqq!


The Experiment

May 14, 2008

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

This is a simple experiment. Go through one day of life without saying the word “I” or “my” or “mine.”

It is related that one of Junaid’s teachers, Al-Qalaneis, said: “I was accompanied by some people in Basra who were quite generous to me, but one morning when I said, ‘where is my robe’ I lost my favor in their eyes.”

To say “my” or “mine” in the presence of those who maintain the status of Suhbat (Companionship) is a breach of the Adab (etiquette) of the Sufis. The robe would surely have been brought to him without the need to ask for it, but it was the claim of possession of anything in this world which caused Al-Qalaneis to lose favor in the eyes of the Companions of the Way.

Alhamdulillah! All that we have of earthly possessions, or of attained knowledge, even our children and our very lives, is but a loan to us, and surely the Rightful Owner can take back the loan as He wills.

So, can you gather the intention and frame of mind go through a single day feeling that all things are ‘loaned’ to you, including your life, and there is no “I” or “mine” or “my?” That all things are prepared for your use and what you owe to Allah, the Rightful Owner, is praise and gratitude and…. well, you can decide what else you owe for yourselves.

The Prophet (pbuh) entered the Ka’ba and destroyed 360 idols. We have an idol in the Ka’ba of our hearts. Its name is “I.” – Dawoud Kringle.

- Source of Al-Qalaneis story: Brother Dara’s Untired with Loving website. The experiment was also his idea, on TheSufiNotes Yahoo group.

Ya Haqq!


Touching Faith

April 23, 2008

you have your doubt
because doubt
is the bars of a cage
you believe in.
you see only
a blurred world of illusion.
still gently as the breath prays
the soul dreams its way
out of every prison people create,
including the fear
that leads to lack of belief.
Lover, it’s your heart we seek
inside our own. you have felt
the breath of Him on your skin
until you named it wind.
how can we know
we dress things in our own
sense of limitation?

if i placed a star in the palm of your hand,
you would feel the way
the earth feels when it becomes
a mother to a forest of seeds.
behold the star now.
if you believe it
is what you view from earth,
balance it in the palm of your hand.
if you can’t, you have touched Truth,
allowing your heart the faith
of the entire universe.

- This beautiful spiritual poem is from Sister Annie’s Kneeling Before the Rose poetry blog, and posted with her permission and my gratitude.

Ya Haqq!


Submission Before the Will of Allah

April 6, 2008

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

“If you are destined for good fortune you will be blessed; if afflictions have been ordained, no matter where you hide they will seek you out.  Submit therefore before the will of Allah; be grateful in well-being and endure adversity with fortitude, that His light may radiate within your being.”

-Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (R.A)

Ya Haqq!


The Eight Gates of Paradise

January 3, 2008

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

“There are eight gates for Paradise and seven gates for the Fire.” said the Prophet (pbuh).

The saying of praise for Allah, “Al-Hamdu Lil-lahi,” has eight alphabets*; the number of the gates of Paradise is also eight, therefore he who recites these eight alphabets out of purity of heart does deserve (the opening of) the eight gates of Paradise.

Know that indeed there are eight gates for Paradise, and in the rank that you reach after reciting, “I take refuge in Allah from Shaytan the outcast…” one gate of the eight gates of Paradise opens for you; that is the gate of Ma’refa (Divine Gnosis).

A second gate is that of al-Dhikr (Remembrance) as you are reciting Bismil-lahir Rahmanir Rahim’.

The third gate is that of Shukr (Gratitude) after reciting Al-Hamdu Lil-Lahi Rabbil Alamin’.

The fourth gate is that of Hope when you recite Ar-Rahanir Rahimi’.

The fifth gate is that of Fear when you recite ‘Maliki Yaumid-Din’.

The sixth gate is that of Purity born out of the Ma’refa (Divine Gnosis) of ‘Ubudiat (Servitude) and Rububiat (Divinity) in your reciting ‘Iyyaka Na’budu Wa Iyyaka Nasta’inu’.

The seventh gate is that of Du’a (Invocation) in your reciting ‘Ihdinas Siratal Mustaqim’.

The eighth gate is that of ‘Iqtidā’ (emulation or following the example) of the good and pure souls, and of seeking guidance through their Nur (Divine Light) and that is in your reciting of ‘Siratal La-Dhina…’

Now you know the secrets of the Eight Gates of Paradise and what is referred to in 38:50. ‘The Gardens of Eden with opened gates for them’. For the Gardens of Divine Gnosis have been opened by these spiritual keys, and this does point to what happens during the Prayer of Spiritual Ascension, like that of the Prophet (pbuh) to the Heavens.

- From the Tasfir al-Kabir (The Great Commentary), al-Fatiha, verse 7, by Fahkr al-Din al-Razi (his exegesis on the Quran), also named the Mafatih al-Ghayb (The Keys to the Unknown).

Taken, with thanks to Brother Dara, from the Untiredwithloving website.

*Note: The eight alphabets: Al: Alif+Lam (Lam is the ‘l’ sound)
Hamd: Ha+Mim+Dal (o sound of Al-Hamdo is not an alphabet), Ha is ‘h’ sound, Mim ‘m’ and Dal ‘d’ sound
Lil: Lam
La: Lam
Hi: Ha

Ya Haqq!


Invoking God in Word and Deed

December 2, 2007

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The Path to Happiness:

There is neither strength nor power save in God Almighty. It is God we implore – and whose answer we await – to watch over you in this world and the next, to shower you with His graces, outwardly and inwardly, and to make you among those who, when blessed, give thanks; when tried, persevere; and when sinful, seek forgiveness. For these three conditions are tokens of the servant’s happiness [sa'adat al-abd], and the signs of his success in this world and the next. No servant is without them, but is always shifting from one to the other.

The first condition is the blessings which come to the servant from God (Most High), one after another. What secures them is gratitude [shukr], based on three supports: inward recognition of the blessing; outward mention and thanks for it; and its use in a way that pleases the One to whom it truly belongs and who truly bestows it. Acting thus, the servant shows his gratitude for the blessing-however brief.

The second is the trials from God (Most High) which test the Servant, whose duty therein is patience [sabr] and forbearance: to restrain himself from anger with what is decreed; to restrain his tongue from complaint; to restrain his limbs from offenses, such as striking one’s face in grief, rending one’s clothes, tearing one’s hair and like acts. Patience, then, rests on these three supports, and if the servant maintains them as he should, affliction will become benefaction, trial will change to bounty and what he disliked will become what he loves. For God (Exalted and Sublime) does not try the servant in order to destroy him. Rather, He tries him to put his patience and devotion (al-ubudiyay) to the test. For the servant owes devotion to God in affliction as in ease. He must have as much devotion in what he hates as in what he loves. And while most people offer devotion in what they love, it is important to do so in the things they hate. It is by this that servants’ ranks are distinguished and their stations determined.

Ablution with cold water in searing heat is devotion. Sexual relations with one’s beautiful and beloved spouse is devotion. Spending money for her, for one’s children and for oneself is devotion. It is devotion no less than ablution with cold water in the bitter cold; giving up vice to which one’s soul is driven without fear of people; and giving charity in hardship. But there is a great difference between the [two kinds] of devotion.

He who is God’s servant in both states, maintaining his duty in both comfort and adversity, is the one to whom His words refer, ‘Is not God sufficient for His servant?’ With complete devotion comes complete sufficiency, and with less comes what is less. Let him who discerns some good give praise to God, but let whoever finds something other than this blame no one but himself.

- Excerpt from Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya ‘s The Invocation of God.

- Originally posted in a longer version on (and with thanks to) the Mad Sufi blog.

Ya Haqq!


The Yellow Dog

November 15, 2007

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

A yellow dog came to visit today. He was friendly and young and full of energy, perhaps a year old, a Labrador retriever, his nose to the ground sniffing for a familiar scent. He circled the house and my wife saw him through a window out of the corner of her eye; a lean, hungry yellow dog by the look of him, his ribs plainly visible.

Fortunately, the previous tenant had left a couple of cans of dog food, and as my wife enticed him with a piece of bread, I opened both for him, along with a big bowl of water. He ran up onto the porch without any prompting, being obviously used to people, and ate it all happily and drank most of the water. He seemed so happy to see us, and to be treated like a welcome guest. He sniffed us both and circled the house again, and then was off, following whatever scent he had picked up. I thought he was lost, or got separated from his owners, and was making his way back to them. He looked as if he had been on the road many days. I have read that lost dogs sometimes travel hundreds of miles to their old home.

We were happy to help him on his journey. My wife grew up on a farm and has an affinity with all creatures great and small. And ever since his appearance, my heart has had such a feeling of love and gratitude that I can hardly describe it.

I think it came from the yellow dog.

Even though we didn’t do anything extraordinary, this chance encounter, if chance it was, was a blessing for us. We had in a small way helped one of God’s creatures on his journey home, inshallah. There is an old Persian saying: “A guest is God’s friend.”

It may have come from this old Sufi tale:

There was a darvish who one day sought a guest from God. “O Lord of the World,” he said in his heart, “may a guest come from You tomorrow, so that I may treat him as befits one of Your friends.” The following day he made preparations for his guest. The darvish cleaned his small home and prepared a meal fit for a Friend of God.

As he was keeping a lookout in all directions while waiting outside for the guest to arrive, a thin and hungry mongrel dog wandered by and, smelling the food, begged for a morsel. The darvish chased him away, not out of meanness, but in his anxiety that nothing should spoil this occasion. And so he waited and waited, but despite all his expectations, no one came. He finally fell asleep in a heartbroken and agitated state.

“O self-absorbed one,” said God in a dream, “I sent along a dog as one of My own, so that you might make him your guest, but you heedlessly sent him away.”

Alhamdulillah! That the friend of the Friend was made welcome here, and our hearts were gladdened by his visit.

Ya Haqq!

NOTE: The Sufi tale is originally from Fariduddin Attar’s Mosibat-Nama (Book of Adversity), and can be found in Dogs from a Sufi Point of View by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh. It is also told in a slightly different version, about Moses and the beggar, in the first chapter of Master of the Jinn, which you can read as an excerpt on the book’s website by clicking HERE.


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


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