“Miracle” of the Angel

May 20, 2012

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Hagiographic literature is the biographical genre devoted to the lives and works of saints and holy men. Scholars of course object to this genre as an uncritical and exaggerated telling of the supposed wonders and miracles of the saints, usually written by the later disciples of their own Orders. I have always thought that the unvarnished lives of the saints did not need exaggeration, that their works of kindness and generosity and their words of insight, compassion and love were reason enough to cause us who follow after to emulate them as best we are able.

As much as the imagination wants to believe every word, I too had a problem with the supposed miracles portrayed in AttarHujwiriJami and the numerous biographies of saints.

And I have always considered myself a man of reason, as far as reason goes, so I do not know if I should even tell this tale, but since I had a part to play in what I can only call a miraculous event, I have asked for and received permission from the Master, Dr. Alireza Nurbakhsh, to relate it. He said that it may inspire those in search of the miraculous.

Of course, our late Master, Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order, also had no taste for the exaggerated or miraculous, or for pretense in general. Even in his own biography, Bestower of Light, there appears no mention of extraordinary powers, only the charisma and attraction of the advanced Sufi, which is a form of Divine energy working through a darvish, of which he or she is only the agent.

Perhaps the real problem is with the word “miracle” itself, which for the rational mind is either logically explainable or impossible. For those on a spiritual path, however, life itself is a miracle without compare.

In fact, in his discourse on Constancy, he quoted Abu Ali Jauzjani, who said, “Practice constancy; don’t go looking for miracles, for it is your nafs that want miracles, while God wants constancy from you.” This constancy or steadfastness means to step out of yourself and stand firm in way of God on the Path of Love.

In the hope that this true story will aid in that journey, I pray that God bears witness to the truth of what I relate, and guides us all on the straight path. Amin.

And so…

1995 – The Toronto khaniqah was purchased and a Deeg Joosh, a special Sufi gathering was announced to celebrate the new khaniqah. Darvishes from all over the US were invited. I was living in Chicago at the time, and made arrangements to fly to Toronto. Taking a taxi from the airport, I gave the address and off we went. I was not certain which house was the right address on Lawrence Avenue, and I thought we had already passed it. I had the driver turn around and stop in front of a church on the other side of the street, thinking to walk across the street and find the house. When the cab left I looked around at the neighborhood and was struck by the huge statue of what appeared to be the archangel Michael in front of the church. It was bronze, I think, at least it had the color of burnished bronze, with a large pedestal. I could just reach up and touch the large foot of the angel, who stood with great arms outstretched and massive wings half open.

How appropriate, I thought smiling, that the khaniqah is watched over by an angel. And the khaniqah itself was lovely; the first thing one noticed was that the foyer ceiling was vaulted, resembling the inside of a taj, the conical hat worn on special occasions by darvishes of service. And the Deeg Joosh was a wonderful affair. I met many new darvishes, and went home happy.

2003 - I had moved to New York in 2000, and in 2003 I took my first trip to Banbury England to take part in another Deeg Joosh, which is held there every year around the summer solstice. The Russian translation of Master of the Jinn had just been published, and I was full of my own self-importance. What happened there to deflate my ego has already been related in a story entitled Meeting the Master, which you can read HERE.

However, during the days leading up to the Deeg Joosh, I happened to be sitting in the open area besides the kitchen, talking to a young darvish I had just met who mentioned that he was from Toronto.

“Ah, Toronto, I was there for the Deeg Joosh in 1995, when it first opened,” I said. “I remember the big statue of the angel across the street in front of the church. What a great place to have a khaniqah.

“Ha, that is actually how we found the khaniqah,” he said, and proceeded to tell the story. “Once Master had decided to buy a khaniqah in Toronto, he sent a group of us out every day looking in every neighborhood for a suitable house. It had to meet a number of criteria, including being close to public transportation, in a good, but not expensive neighborhood, and it had to have an open floor plan to allow for meetings and a possible Deeg Joosh if called for. We had a terrible time finding one. Every day we would look in different neighborhoods, and every night Master would call and ask, “Did you find a house?” We would say, “Not yet,” and he would say, “Keep looking.” This went on every day for many weeks. Each night we had to say we didn’t find anything, and each night he would tell us to keep looking.

“Finally, after five or six weeks, we dejectedly told Master that we had looked in every neighborhood in Toronto and had found nothing that was suitable for a khaniqah. He just said, “Keep looking. It is under the angel’s wings.” That was all. We just looked at each other and shrugged, but the very next day we somehow took a wrong turn and came upon a house for sale,  and of course saw this big angel statue across the street in front of a church. We called the real estate agent listed on the For Sale sign and he quickly came over show it. The house was perfect, and we immediately put down a deposit. Alhamdulillah!”

I loved this story of persistence and Master’s prescience. No one doubted Master had seen that the perfect house was waiting to be discovered. I have related another story of such ability in A Stop in the Desert, which can be read HERE. After years on the path it was rather taken for granted and not discussed among us that a spiritually advanced Sufi Master would have such a gift.

2007 - A few years later, on a visit back to Chicago, I told this story to a darvish in the Chicago khaniqah, and he looked at me in wide eyed wonder. “That is exactly what happened to me in Koln, Germany.” And he told a very similar tale, only the angel was a small stone cherub in the backyard. “We looked for weeks for a khaniqah, and after every week’s failure, Master would say ‘Keep looking.’ until finally, after many weeks, Master said, ‘Keep looking. It is under the angel’s wings.’ We found the house that is now the khaniqah the next day.”

I have related this story also, in Under the Angel’s Wings, which you can read HERE.

Both amazing stories that fill the heart with love for the Master, and even for such an esoteric concept as the grand design of the universe.

2010 - Now I happen to tell the story to Patricia, my beloved, who was initiated as a darvish a few years ago. She is very curious about the statue in Toronto, which to her as a Catholic seems out of place in front of a church.

“We can go there sometime and you can see it for yourself,” I said.

“Or, we can use Google Earth and see it right now in real time on the computer,” she says, and I love the idea. The statue’s size and magnificence has stayed with me, and I wanted to see it again.

She opened Google Earth and I gave her the address of the Toronto khaniqah, which we found after a few minutes. She panned the camera across the street and there was the church… but there was no statue. We looked all around the property, but found only a small statue of the Virgin Mary on the right side of the church.

“How weird is that!” I said. “There is no statue! Maybe they moved it.”

So I looked up the name of the church and called the listed office number. A woman answered, and I asked what happened to the big statue of the angel in front of the church.

“What statue?” she asked?

“The angel statue. It is of the Archangel Michael I think, about 20 feet high. You can’t miss it,” I chuckled. “Was it moved?”

“No, there has never been a statue like that in front of this church,” she said seriously.

“Hmm, well, I was there in 1995, so it was 15 years ago. Maybe it was before your time. How long have you worked there?”

“No sir, I have been a lay secretary here since the church opened in 1990. There has never been any statue like that in front of this church. Catholic churches never have statues of angels in front of them.”

She hung up, and I sat there with the phone in my hand and my mouth open, literally speechless. “This is crazy,” I said to Patricia. “I saw it myself. I touched it.. It was huge!

“Well, you were a darvish and you saw what you were supposed to see,” she said.

“But other people saw it too, the darvishes that found the khaniqah, the ones who visited it for the Deeg Joosh. We talked about it for years afterwards,” I said.

“The Master said the khaniqah was under the angel’s wings. So of course the angel appeared for the darvishes. Why is that so suprising?”

She was right. I felt the strangest tingling sensation creeping up my spine, and for the first time in my life knew the feeling of awe. And I have no explanation for it to this day, except to wonder if the literature of saints and holy men were really that exaggerated after all. I know only that our late Master was the soul of loving-kindness.

Perhaps love itself is the only miracle.

God knows the truth.

Ya Haqq!


Tale of the Jinn – Sequel to Master of the Jinn – Pages Two and Three

March 21, 2011

Belief brings me closer to You, but only to the door.
It is only by disappearing into Your mystery that I will come in.
– Hakim Sanai

In the late summer of the following year, Professor Freeman completed his translation. Tonight he is to come to the khaniqah and present his work. The Master is also to return this evening. He has been traveling abroad nearly the entire year, recently accompanied by Aaron and Rebecca. Their return has thrown us into a frenzy of preparation and joy.

Glad Tidings! My brother and sister darvishes are to be married later this month, and a feast has been ordered to celebrate the return of the Master and the confluence of all our labors.

As happy as I am that the Master will soon be here, and that all the companions will be together once more, I am most curious about the final translation of the Jinn i Nama, the Book of the Jinn, in which I have had some small part.

I have not yet seen Professor Freeman’s final draft, and from the beginning the difficulties of such a task thoroughly daunted us. The Jinn do not speak as humans do, but communicate directly to each others’ minds. They know the full meaning and context of each others’ thoughts as well as the full range of emotions behind them. It is as complete a philology as is possible of a language without words. They also cannot lie to one another, and thus have no concept of deception. And they are the second children of Allah; their thought encompasses past, present and future, though how far into the future they see is still a mystery.

Soon after we began the translation, Professor Freeman and I approached the Master with these concerns.

“How can I possibly do justice to such a work?” the Professor asked. “My mind is locked in the present.”

“Remember that this book was given as a gift,” the Master said. “And as such, since he knows your innate natures, he is also speaking to both of you through it.”

“But how am I able to help with the translation?” I asked. “I do not know Canaanitish. Why could not the Jinni have used a language we both could understand?”

“You have listened, but you have not heard,” the Master said. “You will know Canaanitish before the end. Did I not say that the tale would also translate you? It is the faqir who wrote the book, not Ornias the Jinni, and he meant it for both of you: One to decipher the words, the other to help bring forth the subtler meaning. Consider, O darvishes, that when he aided you by allowing your minds to see through his, he also read your minds and hearts, their distinctiveness and their similarities, but he already knew both of you. Do you still not understand? Time is not a veil to his kindred. The book was written before you both were born, but he wrote the book for you!

“Oh my God!” the Professor said.

So there is no need to fear, Shlomo! As you continue on the path, even the meaning of the words you thought you knew will reveal their hidden depth, and the tale will become the clearer still.”

The tale will also translate you!

The thought emboldened us. Did we not survive fire and deep water, storm and demons? We resolved to begin without delay. Here, after all, was the real treasure of our journey. Within its pages we hoped to glimpse a measure of living history, witnessed by a being that lived it, unaltered by time and memory.

“Guide us then, Master!” the Professor implored. “How shall we begin?”

“Begin as a darvish would when undertaking any new task,” the Master said. “Ask God’s blessing, and commit your affairs to Him. Then clear your hearts of all motives related to yourselves, for no blessing arises from anything in which selfish interest has a part.”

The Master departed on his travels the next day, and we were left without his further guidance. No doubt he meant for us to decipher the ancient tongue and its meaning by ourselves, but it was soon apparent that Ornias had written not only a history, but a cosmology.

Jinn-i-Nama I

And God, the One, made first the Angels, the Holy Ones, and they were born of His light, the first children of his thought, and they served the Lord and dwelt in the house of His mercy.

And the second offspring of His design were the Jinn, and they were created out of the fire of His will, and they dwelt in the Subtle Realm, near to Him, though farther than the Angels who served Him only. And the Jinn were given free will, both a blessing and a curse.

In the green beginnings of the earth we made our home, on a vast mountainous island in the midst of the sea. And the mountains burned.

Great fires spewed forth, and rivers of molten earth ran into the waters, so that the land was utterly surrounded by vast walls of steam. Here we thrived and grew strong, for God was ever with us, and we rejoiced in Him. Our fiery spirit was well suited to the land, and we dwelt in the great cave cities of the high mountains.

Yea, the memory of the Jinn spans the ages, and the Jinn do not forget!


Ya Haqq!

Note: These pages are from the sequel to Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel, which will be forthcoming, inshAllah (God-willing), by the end of the year. To read excerpts, reviews and comments from Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel, click Here!


Mr. Niktab and the Lights

January 6, 2011

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

This is a true story that happened many years ago. Mr. Niktab, the Shaykh of Shaykhs, was making his yearly trip to the US in order to visit the many khaniqahs,  initiate new darvishes, and bring through his person the love of the Master, Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order. At one khaniqah, he participated in the Sunday zekr (one of the twice weekly meetings during which the dervishes sit in a circle in a darkened room and meditate, sometimes silently, sometimes to music).

A few of the darvishes brought their children with them to meet and receive the blessings of the Shaykh, and they sat quietly in the next room with their sons and daughters. Upon this occasion, as the story is told, a three year-old boy was sitting with his mother behind the curtain that separates the tea room from the meeting room.  The boy peeked through the curtain, then suddenly got up and ran into the zekr,. Before his mother could get up to fetch him, he came running back beside her.

“Why did you do that?” the mother whispered. “You know you aren’t supposed to go in until the meeting is over.”

“The lights!”

“What lights? What are you talking about?”

“How come the people have little lights coming out of their heads, but Mr. Niktab’s light goes all the way to the ceiling?” the boy asked.

The mother looked at her son in astonishment and quickly glanced through the curtain. She did not see the lights, but she hugged her son and kissed his cheek.

“Alhamdulillah!” she whispered, and praised God for the unclouded eyes of children.

Ya Haqq!


Gladdening Hearts

December 13, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace

It is related that in the late 1970s, there was a young man from Southern California who was seeking spiritual knowledge. He had lived in communes and sought, as the young in every generation do, the answers to life in ancient wisdom and eternal truths. Perhaps partly because of this, he was also estranged from his wealthy and conservative father.

The young man decided to go to India to seek enlightenment and find a teacher, and while traveling a roundabout way through Iran, found himself in Tehran.  By fortune or fate, which is another way of saying by God’s will, one of the various people he met there was a darvish, who, upon learning of his desire for spiritual attainment, took him to the Nimatullahi Sufi khaniqh and introduced him to the Master, Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh.

The young man had heard of Sufism, but of course had never met a Sufi Master, especially one of such a loving nature and humor and strength of personality.  He spoke at length with the Master on several occasions, and after some consideration, became initiated. He afterwards spent some time in Tehran with Dr. Nurbakhsh, and happily considered that his spiritual quest for a teacher had been fulfilled. Eventually, he expressed his wish to go back to California, and the Master gave him permission, but also commanded that he reconcile with his father.

The young man, now on the Path of Love, knew that this was the right thing to do, and wanted to bring back a present for his parents. He decided on a Persian red and blue rug from city of Kerman (Kirman), because he had heard that their rugs were famous for their rich, blue color.  It was said that the blue of the sky in Kerman was the truest, most beautiful cerulean blue, because of the quality of the light there. Dr. Nurbakhsh, who was himself born there, was delighted to hear of it, and personally contacted Nimatullahi dervishes in Kerman who dealt in rugs, and arranged for the young man to purchase a high quality Kermani rug at a fair price.

Some time passed, and the young man, once again living in his parents house, received word that Dr. Nurbakhsh was arriving in Los Angeles to visit the just purchased khaniqah there. The young man was very happy to hear it, and his parents, to thank the Master for bringing back their prodigal son, invited Dr. Nurbakhsh and the dervishes traveling with him to tea on their arrival.

The Master was jet-lagged and very tired, but he accepted the invitation, and they made the long drive to the parent’s large and palatial home.

The father answered the door in shorts and a Polo shirt, and shook hands with the Master. “Hi! Glad to meet you!” he said, looking somewhat suspiciously at the foreign-looking gentleman and his entourage. The Master shook his hand warmly, and through an interpreter, expressed his thanks for the kind invitation. The dervishes, however, were nonplussed that this American man treated their Master so casually, instead of with the awe and respect they were used to, but the Master thought nothing of it, and just smiled and put them all at ease.

As tea was being served, out of the picture window overlooking the back deck, they watched the sun setting over the Pacific ocean. The slanted light was particularly lovely on the blue of the Kermani rug at their feet. The young man sat with the dervishes, smiling at his parents, who wholeheartedly thanked the Master for all he had done to bring them back together.

Finally, as they said their goodbyes, and the Master got into the car for the long ride back to the new khaniqah, he looked very tired after the long day, having used the last reserves of his energy for the ride to pay his respects to the young man’s parents. Some of the dervishes could not help but wonder why he went through so much trouble.

As if in answer, he suddenly said, “Alhamdulillah! We have gladdened one heart today. That is all that we do. We gladden hearts.”

And so it is.

 

Ya Haqq!


A Stop in the Desert

May 24, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

It is related that early one morning many years ago, while still living in Iran, Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order, awoke and told his dervishes that he would be traveling to another khaniqah across the country, and that all who wanted to accompany him should be ready to depart in an hour.

Urgent calls were made and every car that was available from any source was soon filled with darvishes. They formed a long caravan on the highway, driving through the morning. The Master sat in the passenger’s seat of the first car, and after a few hours, they were traveling through the desert part of Iran.

Suddenly the Master commanded the car to pull over.  The driver stopped by the side of the road, and all the cars behind them pulled over also. The Master got out and motioned for everyone else to stay by their cars. After an hour, he looked in the distance across the sands, but nothing could be seen. Master shaded his eyes with his hand, and after a while there appeared a figure in the distance, walking slowly towards the highway.  When the figure came closer, it could be seen that it was a boy, perhaps twelve years old, and Master called him over.

“Your father is sick,” the Master said.

“Yes!” the startled boy replied. “I am going to find a doctor. How did you know? Who are you?”

“I am a doctor. Here, take this to the pharmacy in the nearby town,” the Master said, and he wrote a prescription on a pad he took out of his pocket.  The young boy thanked the Master profusely and hurried on his way.

The dervishes were astounded. The younger ones whispered questions to each other. The older ones knew better and remained silent.

Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh was a practicing psychiatrist, having both a medical degree and a PhD in psychology.  He joined the Beloved in October of 2008, after having been Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order for fifty-five years.

Ya Haqq!


Cleaning Your Room

May 30, 2009

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

It is related that one day a few years ago, a new darvish was sitting in one of the Nimatullahi Sufi khaniqahs when the Master, Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, walked through the room, saying in passing to one of the older dervishes, “Go clean your room. I’ll look at it later.”

The older darvish then moved to a quiet corner to meditate and repeat his zekr, while the new darvish went out to work in the garden. Much later, the new darvish came back into the room and found the older man still sitting in the corner. He went up to him with a worried expression and said, “What are you doing? Aren’t you going to clean your room?”

The older darvish looked up at him and smiled. “The Master meant my heart.”

Ya Haqq!


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