Prayers for the People of Egypt!

January 30, 2011

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“When honesty is lost, then wait for the Hour (of Judgment Day).” He was then asked: “How will honesty be lost?” The Prophet replied: “When authority is given to those who do not deserve it.”

– Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Hadith 503

Ya Haqq!

“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!

In Memorium – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 17, 2011

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Today in the United States is the National Holiday of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, (which falls every year on the first Monday after his birthday, January 15, 1929). I do not have the words to do justice to his life and work, and so I will quote only two paragraphs that may help explain why he is one of my heroes.

“The gospel at its best deals with the whole man, not only his soul but his body, not only his spiritual well-being, but his material well being. Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial. “Pilgrimage to Non-Violence, 1960

“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Stockholm, Sweden, December 11, 1964.

God bless his soul and memory, and may we as a nation learn from his example. Amen!

Ya Haqq!

The Wife of ibn Arabi and the Five Steps of the Sufi

January 13, 2011

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

It is written that the great Sufi mystic ibn Arabi was a studious and talented young man, already infused with mysticism through his father, and also through his uncles on both sides of his family.  It is also related in al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya, that he married a saintly woman named Maryam, the daughter of Muhammad b. Abdun, a man of great standing and influence.

Maryam also shared with ibn Arabi his aspiration to follow the Way (Sufi path). From the Futuhat:


“My saintly wife, Maryam bint Muhammad b. Abdun, said, ‘I have seen in my sleep someone whom I have never seen in the flesh, but who appears to me in my moments of (spiritual) ecstaty. He ask me whether I was aspiring to the Way, to which I replied that I was, but that I did not know by what means to arrive at it. He then told me that I would come to it through five things, trust, certainty, patience, resolution and varacity.’ Thus she offered her vision to me (for my consideration) and I told her that was indeed the method of the Folk (Sufis). I myself have never seen one with that degree of mystical experience.”

– From Sufi of Andalusia: The Ruh al-Quds and al-Durrat al-Fakhirah of ibn Arabi. Translated by R.W.J. Austin

Ya Haqq

Mr. Niktab and the Lights

January 6, 2011

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

This is a true story that happened many years ago. Mr. Niktab, the Shaykh of Shaykhs, was making his yearly trip to the US in order to visit the many khaniqahs,  initiate new darvishes, and bring through his person the love of the Master, Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order. At one khaniqah, he participated in the Sunday zekr (one of the twice weekly meetings during which the dervishes sit in a circle in a darkened room and meditate, sometimes silently, sometimes to music).

A few of the darvishes brought their children with them to meet and receive the blessings of the Shaykh, and they sat quietly in the next room with their sons and daughters. Upon this occasion, as the story is told, a three year-old boy was sitting with his mother behind the curtain that separates the tea room from the meeting room.  The boy peeked through the curtain, then suddenly got up and ran into the zekr,. Before his mother could get up to fetch him, he came running back beside her.

“Why did you do that?” the mother whispered. “You know you aren’t supposed to go in until the meeting is over.”

“The lights!”

“What lights? What are you talking about?”

“How come the people have little lights coming out of their heads, but Mr. Niktab’s light goes all the way to the ceiling?” the boy asked.

The mother looked at her son in astonishment and quickly glanced through the curtain. She did not see the lights, but she hugged her son and kissed his cheek.

“Alhamdulillah!” she whispered, and praised God for the unclouded eyes of children.

Ya Haqq!

Love and Charity to Begin 2011

January 2, 2011

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

“A giver of maintenance to the widows and the poor is like a giver in the way of God, an utterer of prayers all night, and fasting during the day.” – a saying of the Prophet (SAW), from Bukhari.

There is truly no better way to begin the New Year than with an act of love. And God blesses no act greater than the loving-kindness of charity to those in dire need, the sick, the widow, and the orphan.

I have written before about my friend Dr. Maithri Goonetilleke, and his work in Swaziland among HIV/AIDS patients. Swaziland is a country of widows, a land of orphans. Through the foundation he started, Possible Dreams International, his team helps many people not only receive drugs and treatment for AIDS and all manner of ailments, but also funds basic education, provides clean drinking water and builds houses for the sick and poor.

They are our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters.

Here is one of their works, from a post about Gogo (grandmother) on Maithri’s Soaring Impulse blog:

“Gogo Ida Gama turns seventy this year. Her house, made of mud, is falling down.
When it rains or the withering southern wind begins to blow, the wall above her bed, shifts and crumbles. She can barely walk. She has no food. She is always cold.

In her lifetime, Gogo has seen more than her share of suffering. All but one of her children have died before her, as a consequence of HIV/AIDS. Her only remaining daughter is also HIV positive and has just given birth to a newborn to go with her other little 3 year old piece of heaven named ‘Nothando’ – which means ‘Love.’”

Read the rest of her story here.  And then go to the Possible Dreams International website and click the Donate button.

PDI is urgently trying to raise money to buy a truck, so they can continue to visit the rural communities they visit 365 days a year.

Give what you can!  Any amount would provide the blessing of what we take for granted every day, the basic necessities of food and clean water.

With love and blessings for a wonderful New Year, from Maithri, and from me.

Ya Haqq!