Salaam and Greetings of Peace:
Thank you all for the prayers and good wishes on my journey. By the Grace of God, I have now returned. Alhamdulillah! While sitting in the Chicago Nimatullahi khaniqah after majlis (the twice-weekly meeting), I began reading Discourses on the Sufi Path, by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, our Master, and came across the following. It is posted here as a reminder of how far this unworthy darvish has yet to travel on the Path of Love.
A Bedouin was walking with his dog in the desert, carrying a leather skin of water on his shoulder, and crying pitifully as he went along. When asked why he was crying, he replied, “Because my dog is dying of thirst!”
“Why don’t you give him some of your water, then?” the person said.
“Because I might need it for myself.”
So it is with many who aspire to the Path of Love. They enjoy reading Rumi and Hafez and other Sufi books, and hearing Sufi music, and listening to Sufi Shaykhs give talks, and they like calling themselves Sufis or darvishes (or dervishes), but when it comes time to put it into practice, their nafs, their self-absorbed ego, has second thoughts.
The Sufi prayer (namaz) is only two rak’ats. In order to perform these two rak’ats, Sufis do their ablutions with the water of love, then face the qibla of “And wherever you turn, there is God’s countenance.” (11:15), and repeat Allahu akbar four times.
With the first Allahu akbar, they put the world and all of its inhabitants behind them.
With the second Allahu akbar, they forget the hereafter.
With the third Allahu akbar, they cast the very thought of anything other than God out of their heart.
With the fourth Allahu akbar, they forget even themselves.
Only then do they begin the prayer, performing the two rak’ats sincerely over the corpse of their nafs (egos).
The ablution alone for this namaz (prayer) takes most Sufis many years. If they manage to complete the ablution, they spend more years on the first Allahu akbar, and there are very few who get to the second and forget the two worlds.
Alhamdulillah! May Allah grant His mercy and compassion on all who love and struggle in His name.