Thanks Giving

September 17, 2006

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

With Ramadan almost here, it will soon be a time not only of fasting, but of breaking the fast with thanksgiving. Before every meal, Sufis say, “Bismillah!” This is their way of saying Grace, for indeed they try to fast every day from what is other than God. Yet every human being who follows a spiritual path has their own way of being gracious, whose origin is Grace; the giving of thanks to God. 

Thanksgiving is sweeter than bounty itself.

One who cherishes gratitude does not cling to the gift!

Thanksgiving is the true meat of God’s bounty;

The bounty is its shell,

For thanksgiving carries you to the hearth of the Beloved.

Abundance alone brings heedlessness,

Thanksgiving gives birth to alertness.

The bounty of thanksgiving will satisfy and elevate you,

And you will bestow a hundred bounties in return.

Eat your fill of God’s delicacies,

And you will be freed from hunger and begging.


– Rumi

“With mealtime prayer we offer thanksgiving to the source of all sustenance. Prayer is a means by which the reins of hunger and the senses are taken by the spirit and intellect. The offering of a mealtime blessing elevates eating from a mechanical activity to conscious participation in the chain of being. It is an acknowledgment of the fact that in eating any organism, we are sharing in the sacrifice it has made to sustain us.”

Gratitude is an eagle, blessings a fine plump partridge
only gratitude wins the reward of blessing.
Give thanks to Him alone who buys
your words in the bazaar of Paradise.

– Nasir-i Khusraw

Excerpt from Serving the Guest – A Sufi Cookbook

Ya Haqq!

Supplication of the One God

September 16, 2006

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The Messenger of God (pbuh) once heard a man supplicating: ‘O God, I supplicate You bearing witness that You are indeed God, that there is no deity but You, the One, the Self-Sustaining; who does not beget nor was begotten; who has no equal.’

Upon which, the Prophet (pbuh) said, ‘ By the One in whose hand is my soul, he has supplicated God by His supreme name. When God is called upon by it, He answers; When asked for something through it, He gives.’

– A Hadith taken from Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s book – The Invocation Of God.

Originally posted on the most excellent and worthy Bismillah blog. Used with permission.

Ya Haqq!

Book Drive for Iraqi Kurdistan

September 13, 2006


Salaam and Greetings of Peace:


Our dear Sufi Sister Miriam, of the Pearls of Irag blog, is starting a book drive to bring English language books to Iraqi Kurdistan. It is a truly worthy cause, and if anyone can provide some books, it will be a blessing.  Here are her words:


“As far as Iraq, my region, I am working with Kurdistan Save the Children and encouraging support to this successful organization. I am sponsoring a sweet little girl who lost her father to a landmine and having a book drive for English books for the Youth Centers in Kurdistan and for the street children in 2 special homes in Baghdad. I am also looking into working with an American Muslim organization who are helping in the south of Iraq…The other book drive is for the University of Sulaimaniya, again for English books (text books and American fiction classics, any books for research) at the university level. An American University student group is helping me with this and I am open to additional partners. After Thanksgiving I hope to ship many books, inshallah, dependent on a helping partner over there. Otherwise, money will need to be raised for cargo and accompanying courier, but Allah will provide either way”


Below are guidelines for the book drive and an email address to contact her if you can donate to it: 


Guidelines for Kurdistan Save the Children and

University Book Drive


When selecting your donation of books for Iraq Kurdistan, a moderate but still a traditional society, think as a family valued parent, especially for the children’s and youth books. Comparative religious books and those dealing with interfaith dialogue are acceptable, but as a mostly Muslim region, sensitivity and respect to the Islamic faith and orthodox Christianity (the Assyrian and Chaldeans) is requested. Religious peacebuilding and dialogue books are welcome.


Children’s Books (age appropriate 8 years ++)


Fictional and non-fictional (non religious)

New books for children from birth to age 5 are always needed. Board books for babies and toddlers (the ones with the sturdy cardboard pages)

Picture books are great for the sponsored children

Arts and Crafts books, coloring books are valued also


Youth books (age appropriate 14++)


American classics especially

Youth oriented fiction

Nonfiction (appropriate for age level up to 18 years old)

Art and Music books, computer books, multi media including film/documentary production

Vocational Learning books, especially website design


University books (age appropriate 18++ years)


Text Books

Fictional Books especially American English Literature (specifically requested)

Research books and material

Vocational Learning books, especially website design

Agricultural and business development

Sufi, moderate comparative religious and cross-cultural books

Conflict reconciliation, dialogue and peacebuilding (specifically requested)


First Shipment Date (tentative): October 25, 2006

Second Shipment Date (tentative): December 6, 2006


Contact Information:


Miriam Sabirah Ashki


May Allah bless her for her courage and good works on behalf of us all.


Ya Haqq!


September 11, 2006

There once lived a merchant who had a very pious wife. He did not mind her being spiritual, except that she had the habit of saying “Bismillah” (In the Name of God) with every action she took. When she woke up, she said, Bismillah. When she opened a drawer, she said, Bismillah; when she prepared food, she said Bismillah with every step of the preparation, when she did anything she said Bismillah, and when she went to bed she said Bismillah.

Now her husband was getting annoyed at her constant uttering of Bismillah, so he decided to teach her a lesson. He brought her a bag of gold and told her to hide it for him. She said, Bismillah while taking it, and Bismillah while opening a drawer in the kitchen and hiding it behind some other goods, and Bismillah when she closed the drawer.

A few days later, when his wife went to pray, the merchant took the bag of gold from the hiding place and threw it down a well. Then when she returned from prayers, he asked for the bag of gold. She said Bismillah when she opened the drawer, and Bismillah when she reached in, and Bismillah again as she handed her husband a sopping wet bag of gold.

Her husband looked at the wet bag in his hand and cried, “Bismillah!”

Ya Haqq!

PS  On a related theme, please take a look at Mystic Saint’s excellent blog post on Sri Ramakrishna and the Secret of Male and Female. It goes well with the previous post on this blog titled, Of Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, Wives, which you can read here.

Subhan – The Praised One

September 8, 2006

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

One day Abu Sa’id Abi’l Khayr was recounting an anecdote about Nuri, a disciple of Junayd. Nuri was talking about the different names or attributes of God, and how people invoke a name in order to get what they want. The Sufis call Him by the name Al-Haqq, the Truth, whereas others call Him by such names as Ar-Rahman, the All Merciful, or Ar-Rahim, the All Compassionate.

Those who want their daily food to be available to them call Him by the name Rahman, and those who want to go to heaven after they die appeal to Him by the name Rahim. Those desiring social status and power refer to Him as Al-Malik, the King. Whoever desires something calls upon God with the aspect related to that thing.

Then Abu Sa’id said: “God is praised beyond description, whether verbally or mentally. He has ninety-nine names, and the highest of them all is Subhan, the Praised One. This name is like the knot at the base of the beads of a rosary. If one uses this name, it is like using all the names, while if one uses all the other names without this one, it is as if they had used no name at all; as in a rosary without an end-knot, the beads will fall off and scatter.

“One must work hard to praise God. Every being on earth praises Him; yet one does not hear. The birds that sing a thousand songs praise Him, and yet one does not hear.”

Excerpt taken from Under the Sufi’s Cloak, by Ali Jamnia and Mojdeh Bayat, which is available on

Also see the previous post on Gratitiude.

Alhamdulillah!  And none can praise God enough, except in gratitude for every moment of time and in every movement through space. This is the life we are given.

Ya Haqq!

The Sufi Prayer

September 6, 2006

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!