Mr. Niktab’s Journey

January 13, 2013

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

One day many year ago, when Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order still lived in Iran, he sent for Mr. Niktab, who had been made a Shaykh recently, and instructed him to go to a remote khaniqah in another province. It was a three day journey by bus, so Mr. Niktab set out to go at once, and walked to the door of the khaniqah.

“Wait, where is your suitcase?” the Master asked.

“I don’t need a suitcase. A darvish travels light and trusts in God” Mr. Niktab said.

“Take a change of clothes,” the Master said.

“Really, Master, I will be fine,” Mr. Niktab insisted.

The Master shook his head and walked away. “Nafs!” he said.

And so Mr. Niktab began his journey. It was mid-summer and a long and dusty journey in an old rickety bus without air-conditioning. Finally, after three days of travel, getting off the bus feeling very hot and sweaty, he began the five mile walk through the desert-like countryside to the khaniqah.

About a mile from the khaniqah, he came upon a grove of trees and large pond fed by a nearby stream. Since the area was deserted, he decided to take a swim and cool off before walking the rest of the way to the khaniqah. He took off all his clothes and waded into the water, uttering a sigh of relief at the coolness, and washed off the sweat from the long journey.

Just then he heard the voices of women coming up the road.  He swam to a nearby reedbed to hide himself, and heard the women stop and talk among themselves.

“Look, someone has left clothes by the water,” one said.  They looked around, and Mr. Niktab had to duck under the water so as not to be seen.

Eventually, the women, who were dervishes on their way to the khaniqah, could not find the owner, and decided to take the clothes with them in case they had dropped out of someone’s luggage.

As they walked off, Mr. Niktab came out of hiding and stood in the center of the pond, naked and alone.  “I’m sorry, Master! Forgive me, Master!” he cried.

He broke off a few branches with leaves to cover himself, and stood waiting behind a tree for a long time, until finally a young man came walking down the path. He recognized him as a darvish, and he called him over.

The young man was astonished to find Mr. Niktab, whom they were all expecting, naked and hiding behind a tree. “What happened?” he asked?

“Nafs!” was all Mr. Niktab would say. He told him to run to the khaniqah and bring back clothes for him to wear.

As the boy disappeared down the road, Mr. Niktab sighed, shaking his head at the lesson the Master had taught him.

When the Master tells you to do something, do it.

Ya Haqq!

NOTE:  It has been suggested by brother Ruslan in the comments that if Mr. Niktab had taken a suitcase, the women would also have taken it. I repeat  that I am certain that if Mr. Niktab had taken a suitcase, no women would have come by. The Master’s lessons are designed in the most succinct way, and always for what is necessary at that moment.

For example, read the post on the Miracle of the Angel, which is also a true story.

http://darvish.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/miracle-of-the-angel/

And Allah knows best :)


“Under the Angel’s Wings!”

January 21, 2011

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

It is related that many years ago, Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order, decided it was time to establish a khaniqah, a Sufi meeting house, in Koln, Germany. The dervishes had grown sufficiently in number, and had been holding their majlis, the twice weekly zekr, in the apartment of one of them. And so the Master directed the dervishes to begin the search for a suitable house that the Order could purchase.

They began the search the very next day. The house had to meet certain requirements of interior size and amenities; and was very difficult to find. The dervishes designated to conduct the search drove each day through the neighborhoods of Koln, and each day they looked at many house and found nothing suitable. And each night the Master would call them from England and ask, “Did you find the khaniqah?”  The dervishes would have to answer that they had not, and Dr. Nurbakhsh would say, “Keep looking!”

This went on for days, then weeks, and each night the Master would call, inquire of their progress, and tell them to keep looking.

Finally, one night when Dr. Nurbakhsh called, the darvishes were tired and disheartened after a long day of searching, and said, “Master, we have looked in every neighborhood, and can’t find anything.”

The Master said, “Keep looking! It is under the angel’s wings.”

They did not know what to make of that pronouncement, but the very next day as they were once again driving through neighborhoods, they saw a For Sale sign on a house in a good area, close to public transportation, and immediately called the broker listed on the sign. He came to meet them shortly thereafter and showed them the house. There were two large rooms on the first floor suitable for serving tea and holding the zekr, and large bedrooms on the second floor for living quarters. And there was an expansive yard that with work could be turned into a garden. It fit all the requirements of a khaniqah.

They made plans with the real estate agent to come to his office the next day and begin the process of negotiating the contract. As they were doing a final walk-through, and congratulating themselves on finding a suitable house, one of them noticed that in one corner of the garden, set on a three foot plaster pillar, was the figure of a angel, a stone cherubim, with wings outspread. The dervishes looked at each other in disbelief.

“Alhamdulillah!” They shouted.  All praise belongs to God alone, who has given to their Master the foresight of His true friends. Ya Ali! Ya Pir!

Ya Haqq!


“Go to Los Angeles!”

October 8, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

It is related that many years ago, while Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order, was staying in the New York khaniqah, he came out of his room one morning and walked over to where Mr. Niktab, his closest disciple and the Shaykh of Shaykhs of the Order, was conversing with two young dervishes.

They were sitting cross-legged on the Persian rugs that covered the floor and were about to rise when they saw the Master approach, but he motioned for them to remain seated and said to Mr. Niktab:

“Go to Los Angeles!”

He then turned and walked away.

Mr. Niktab said nothing; the other two dervishes looked at each other questioningly. There was no khaniqah in Los Angeles and it was three thousand miles away. Mr. Niktab asked the two if they knew anyone there. “My cousin lives there,” one of them said. “I think you can stay with him.”

“He meant all of us,” Mr. Niktab said. “Get ready.”

They packed a few things quickly and hurried to the airport, took the next available flight, and arrived in Los Angeles just after 4pm.

When the Master says go, you go.

When they arrived at their destination, it was just past 5:00 pm, and the cousin was yet home from work. The young darvish who suggested it confessed that he could not reach his cousin, so the visit was going to be a surprise. Mr. Niktab didn’t seem concerned, and led them to the small, fenced backyard where they found lawn chairs to sit on.

Mr. Niktab meditated for a while, and then began singing one of Master’s poems in Persian, and the other two joined in, clapping out the rhythm.

Soon an elderly man next door heard the singing and glimpsed the three swarthy strangers over the fence that divided the property. He came to the fence and asked:  “Who are you people?”

Mr. Niktab smiled at the old man. He did not speak English, but told the young darvish to translate, and tell him they were waiting for his cousin to arrive, and apologized for disturbing him.  The old man just nodded and went back inside.

When the cousin finally arrived, he was delighted to find his unexpected visitors, and that Mr. Niktab himself had come. He begged them to make themselves comfortable while he made tea.

One of the young darvishes was a good cook, and made a delicious dinner for them all, after which they sang and recited Master’s poetry, having an impromptu zekr.  Mr. Niktab told the cousin to invite the gentleman next door, and the old man gladly agreed, having been listening to the music through the open windows.

He sat next to Mr. Niktab, who through an interpreter chatted with him amiably, and explained about the Sufi path and its dedication to love and service. The old man listened politely, drank the tea, ate one of the offered sweets, and went home sometime later.

The next afternoon, one of the dervishes asked Mr. Niktab what they were supposed to be doing.

“We are supposed to obey Master,” he said. “And be patient.”

The next night, many more Iranians appeared, the cousin telling his friends that a Sufi Shaykh was visiting his home. And this time Mr. Niktab politely invited the old man for dinner.  The food and music and poetry, even in a language he did not understand, seemed to please the old man and put him at ease.

Mr. Niktab also told him that the next might, Sunday, was their majlis, their twice weekly spiritual gathering, and that although he was welcome to attend, he would have to listen from the next room, as only darvishes, those already initiated, were admitted into the circle of the Friend.

“Then will you initiate me?” he asked without hesitation. Mr. Niktab smiled and said that he would be delighted to do so, and instructed one of the darvishes to help him obtain the items needed, and explain the details of initiation.

And so it was that on the third day, the old man was initiated as a darvish of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order; he was given his zekr, and formally gave his heart to God and his head to the Master. And he was happily welcomed into the circle of Lovers.

After the meeting was over and everyone had departed, Mr. Niktab spoke to the two dervishes who had traveled with him.

“Tomorrow we can go home,” he said.  “The old man was the reason the Master sent us to Los Angeles.”

Ya Haqq!

Note: This is a true story, and it was also said that the old man completed the entire Sufi path in one year, which is truly unheard of, except as God wills.

PS: Sunday, October 10th, is the second anniversary of the passing of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, (12/10/1926 – 10/10/2008) who was for fifty-five years the Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order.


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