A Beard Made of Love

April 2, 2009

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

It is related that two religious fundamentalists once came to visit our late Master, Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh (may Allah bless his exalted soul and raise his rank to those of His nearest beloveds.) They had bristly whiskers and Master invited them to stay for lunch. One of them sought to provoke the Master by asking how he could become a Sufi

Dr. Nurbakhsh said, “Cut off your beard.”

“But,” protested the man, “what about him?” pointing to Mr. Niktab, the Sheikh of Sheikhs, who had a long white beard.

“Ah!” The Master said, “But his is not a beard of religion. His is a beard of love.”

Grow a beard made of love, O darvish

and claim the name of lover,

or do not pretend to the circle of the Friend.

Ya Haqq!

Note: With gratitude and special thanks to Terry Graham for the original telling of this true story on the Nimatullahi Sufi Order website.


The Purple Zebra and the Tired Mule

December 15, 2007

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The purple zebra dances to the song of the long Moon.
Staring into the clear darkness, the beaten mule continues on its arduous journey.

Rejected by the donkey and the horse, the mule is never accepted for what it truly is.

The purple zebra is surrounded by the townspeople, captivating those foolish ones.
All the while, the mule continues up and down the mountain valleys bringing all of the town’s supplies, so that the people may survive.

Having spent many years in the desert wastes, being burned by the fires of Love…The purple zebra is free from the mistakes of the townspeople,
it is a true lover of the long Moon. It is deaf and blind to their praise and presence.

It is only natural for these people, who are lost in the clear darkness to become attracted to this beautiful flame when it arrives.

The mule was forgotten long before the purple zebra arrived… never having a place of recognition to begin with.

All the townspeople surround the purple zebra like bees around the Queen’s hive, dancing in joy and forgetfulness…

Though it may seem the mule is the forgotten, it is really those occupied people who are forgotten… and limited.

Unwavering in its efforts, the worn old mule continues to serve the people, beaten and exhausted… it never forgets to give thanks to the
One who remembers him. The One who has made him His…and His alone.

- by Atabek, dedicated to Sheikh Abul Abbas al-Mursi (rahmatullaalaih). May God sanctify his soul.

Note: This story/poem was sent by a young friend online, and is a good reminder of the two kinds of true seekers, the silent ones in the backround who do the work, and the visible ones who attract attention. Both serve a purpose. It is good to remember that for every Sufi saint that has been written about, there are many others whose names no one knows but God.
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.


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