The Sufi Prayer

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.

Ya Haqq!


29 Responses to The Sufi Prayer

  1. MysticSaint says:

    Praise unto Allah. Saalam Alaikum.

    Thanks for the Sufi Namaz sharing.

    May with each declaration of the Glory of Allah (Allahuakbar) we leave all behind including our nafs.


    Good to have u back with us.

  2. Irving says:

    Salaam Brother:
    Bless you for your kind words, and amin to your prayer.

    Ya Haqq!

  3. saly says:

    Salaam and welcome back, Irving! We missed you.

    This is an insightful post (like always) but it is also a window into Sufism and what it really asks from a person – to forget oneself for Allah. There are times in life when I feel even mothers so not ‘forget’ themselves for their children, per se; for if we did, we wouldn’t crib about sleepless nights which an infant gives us. Indeed, forgetting the ‘nafs’ is the last step in the series because it is the most difficult step.

    Thank you for this post.

  4. pbsweeney says:

    I won’t flatter your wisdom and knowledge in posting this, however true. Instead I will recognize your sincerity of heart and your humiity before such an endeaver, and think that it is good to be reminded of all the ways I clutch the water bag, and of the simplicity of daily kindness and the immensity of it. The path stretches out a long way into the distance!

  5. sf says:

    Assalaam alaikum brother,

    Jazaak Allah Khair for enlightening us with the true form of Sufi Prayer……
    ………and welcome back!

  6. hakim baker says:

    Saly, you are right about parents and sleepless nights … I still complain about sleepless nights and my daughter’s five! Parenting, I decided, is a path of madness. You can’t help but keep loving the kid no matter what.

    Irving, this post is a good reminder.

    hakim baker
    moorish orthodox church

  7. Shiraz says:

    AOA Irving,

    Beautiful metaphor! I’m…I’m speechless.

    Still working on the first Allahu akbar over here, but I’ll get there someday!

  8. darvish says:

    Salaam and Greetings of Peace Dear Brothers and Sisters:
    Thank you all for the comments :) I will be a step-grandfather soon, so I expect some sleepless nights also (and I thought I was done years ago lol.) And unlike Shiraz, I am also still doing my ablutions and trying to find the qibla.

    May Allah guide us all on the straight path.

    Ya Haqq!

  9. Raza Rumi says:

    Haqq Maujood(ever-present )!

    what a beautiful parable…and thanks for reminding us that wherever we turn, God’s countenance can be seen. The battle with nafs alas is a life long struggle and only the blessed overcome it. Imagine a world where the collective nafs would be rejected and subdued – this is where the relevance of Sufi thought lies. thanks for spreading light…!
    May God be with you

  10. Mohammad says:

    Im happy about your important experience . The experience that isn’t happen for every one . So think about it more . you can also get more information about nimatoallahi sufis in this web site.
    I put your link in my blog , please do it too .

    Mohammad Rahimi
    Darvish of nimatoallahi soltanalishahi Gonabadi
    From Islamic Republic of Iran

  11. Thank you Irving for this post.

    I gotta say though – sufis sure cry a lot, kind of reminds me of goths.

    All kidding aside, now I need to find out more about sufi ways. Looking into the basics soon.

  12. Tasmiya says:

    MashaAllah, everytime I visit your blog I come away with a renewed outlook. This post could not have come at a better time for me.

    May Allah reward you.

    Oh and inshaAllah a new baby in the family! Alhamdulillah.

  13. Irving says:

    Salaam Dear Brother Mohammad:
    How happy I am to meet a brother from the Gonabadi Nimatullahi Sufis of Iran. I know they are being persecuted and pray for you all. Thank you for the website and may all benefit from it and your blog.

    And Blondie: I cried for a year after being initiated, I wept for all the wasted years of self-absorption and selfishness, I wept at the thought of all those I had hurt and wronged and all the petty lies and stupidity I had committed. At all my nafs. And I wept finally in gratitiude that God had led me to the path and to my Master, and another chance to be a human being. Alhamdulillah!

    May Allah guide us all on the right course.

    Ya Haqq!

  14. Irving says:

    Salaam Dear Sister Tasmiya:
    Alhamdulillah on the new baby that is arriving soon, inshallah. May Allah grant it love and joy and peace, and knowledge of the right, and wisdom of the heart.

    Ya Haqq!

  15. I remember reading about how you came to be initiated. It is a beautiful, moving story Irving. Perhaps your story shows that enlightenment is not so much of a choice as much as it is a gift upon us – at least it seems that it is a gift to some, while others search endlessly for it.

  16. musicalchef says:

    Are you part of the Nimatullahi order? Where can i read more about it? I would like to find a Shaykh that both me and my husband are comfortable with (so far, we have each found some we like, but they are not the same ones).

  17. musicalchef says:

    Never mind on the “where can i read more about it,” i just saw the link on your site. Thanks!

  18. Irving says:

    Salaam Dear Musical Chef:
    The closest Nimatullahi Khaniqah to Georgia is in Washington DC, where the Shaykh, Mr, Koshani, is really wonderful. I hope you can get there. Also, in Georgia, you should contact Dr. Alan Godlas at the UofG in Athens. He is of a different Order, but also a very wise and learned man, and can guide you in the right direction within the state.

    Ya Haqq!

  19. Danya says:

    Assalamu alaikum,
    I just wanted to ask where this Sufi prayer comes from? I’ve never heard of it before…

  20. darvish says:

    Salaam Alaikum Dear Danya:
    Thank you for your comment and question. The Sufi Prayer is a normal prayer, but not in the usual sense, it is what a prayer is like for the advanced Sufi, and was written by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order, to show how far one must travel on the path of Love.
    May Allah guide us all on His path.

    Ya Haqq,

  21. comic says:

    hello brothers and sisters.

    i’m was a shiite muslim. But with the deaths of so many of my brothers by sunni and vice versa.

    i dont see how brothers who all bow to allah can kill other brothers.
    so i now consider myself to be a sufi muslim. i am learning as much as i can as fast as i can. could anyone please tell me if sufi namaz (salah or prayer) is done in the same way? i know sufi respect all faiths (which is why i love these brothers and sisters and why i wanted to become a sufi) so i’m sure my namaz the way i’ve always done it the good old shiite way would be fine….but im wondering if its any different for a sufi?

    if someone could email me the answer….

    peace ,

    (I have emailed our brother already… Irving)

  22. shahram says:

    i will touch with a morshed

  23. Ayub says:

    Masha allah May Allah always keep all of us on this striving path of Sufis and keep them our Lampposts so that we always try to revert to the right path seeing them….

  24. yusuf says:

    salaam and may Allah bless you…I dont speak english very well but I have a question. make sufi 5 prayer per day, like most muslims….

  25. Afghaan says:

    Assalamun aleikum brother. How true is what you said about Sufi namaz? I noticed you say Sufi Namaz is only 2 rakats? How come is it only 2 rakats? And what makes you think so?
    Please be so kind as to explain your point of view to me if possible. Thanks. Assalamun aleikum.

  26. Irving says:

    Alaikum Salaam, Brother Afghaan:
    Saying that the Sufi namaz is only two rakats is a metaphor for the length of the Sufi path of love, which may take many years to complete though it is only two steps long.

    One, step out of yourself, and two, cast aside heaven and hell and step into God.

    Ya Haqq!

  27. Afghaan says:

    Assalamualaikum Good People,

    Can anybody in here tell me how to perform 3 & 4 rakats of namaz in sufi way? I approximately know how to perform 2 rakats of Naqshbandi way I downloaded a PDF file about it but it only describes 2 rakats so I hereby don’t know how 3 & 4 rakats of sufi way namaz should be accomplished! Does anybody in here read the comments or just read and neglect? I’m asking a serious question but get no answer to it! Please somebody explain to me in detail for ALLAH’S SAKE.


  28. yasir ali naich says:

    i love sufis b’coz the way they follow islam practically one can……..they do what they say…..they are hospitable and creation lover

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