Rumi’s Sermon

August 27, 2012

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Here is a real treat for readers of the Darvish blog, the text of one of Mevlana Rumi’s actual sermons, as recorded in the Majales-e sab’e (The Seven Sermons). We do not know if it dates from before or after his meeting with Shams al-Din of Tabriz. Rumi delivered the opening benediction and the Hadith in Arabic, the liturgical language, then switched to Persian. Only seven sermons are so far known to exist in manuscript form. We are indebted to Franklin D. Lewis and his brilliant, monumental scholarly study, Rumi, Past and Present, East and West: The Life, Teachings and Poetry of Jalal al-Din Rumi, for the translation.

Rumi’s Sermon

Praise be God, who is sacrosanct above compare and contrast, sanctified from all peer and likeness, exalted above death and decomposition; the Ancient of Days, who exists eternally, the transformer of hearts, the motive force behind fate and events, He who brings about revolutions in our circumstances, of whom it cannot be asked when or how long, for the imputation of such concepts to the Ancient of Days is impossible! He began the world without exemplar or precedent, created Adam and his progeny from clods of clay (Qur’an 55:14, etc.), some of them destined for bliss, some for hellfire, some for remoteness, some for reunion. Among them some are given to drink of defeat while others are clothed with the raiment of acceptance. Should any tongue object, it is dumbfounded by this saying of the Almighty: “He shall not be asked of his doing, but they will be questioned.” (Qur’an 21:23). Exalted is out Lord above contention and disputation! Where does creation derive the right to question and contend? It was non-existent, then came into being and will decompose once again, going as the mountains go: “You see the mountains and suppose them firm, but they will pass away as clouds do. Such is God’s handiwork, who brings all things to perfection” (Qur’an 27:88).”There is no God but Him” (Qur’an 2:163), “the Great, the Exalted” (Qur’an 13:9).

He raised up our Prophet, Mohammad (God’s peace and blessings upon him) when ignorance appeared and blasphemy and waywardness reigned, and he counseled his community through words and deeds, making clear to them which paths were forbidden and which were permissible. He exerted himself in the path of God under all conditions until the sea of negation evaporated like a mirage and the Truth was established straight and tall by his effort.

God’s peace and blessings upon him and his family – the best of families – and upon his companions: upon Abu Bakr, the righteous, who liberally supported him with his wealth; upon Omar, distinguisher of truth from error, whose obedience to him intensified even in terrifying floods of tribulation; upon Osman, possessor of the twin lights, who held fast to recitation of the Remembrance (i.e. the Qur’an) every morn and every eve; and upon Ali b. Abu Taleb, the smasher of idols and slayer of champions. So long as the gazelle cubs graze in the meadows and the darkness is lit up and wicks blaze, our fervent and humble supplications (for them) will not cease.

(Prayer in Persian)
O Lord, O God, O Sustainer! Wrap us in the light with which you envelop your chosen servants, that we may meet the Friend. Nurture us not in the pastures of lust where you nurture the enemies, where the cows and stable goats are nurtured for their meat and pelts. Nurture the birds of our senses with the grains of knowledge and wisdom that we may fly in the heavens, and not with the seeds of lust, that our throats may be slit.

The fickle firmament brings forth its little dramas, just as shadow players manipulate imaginary stars and planetary puppets from behind a screen. We crowd around awhile engrossed by this spectacle, whirling away our night of life. In the morning death will arrive and this throng from the firmaments shadow play will grow cold and the nights of our life will have blown by us.

O Lord, before the morn of death dawns, make our hearts cold to this play so that we might escape from the throng in time and not fall behind those who travel through the night. When the morning dawns, let it find us in the precincts of your approval.

O Lord! The ears of all souls have heard your call of life, all souls are set in motion through this long desert, thirsting for the water of life. This world loomed up and all flailed about in it, though the guides and those who divine water call out: “Though it resembles the water of life, it is not the water of life. The water of life lies ahead, pass on by this.”

The water of life is such a thing that whoever drinks from it will never die. Any tree branch turned green by it will never yellow and wither; any flower blossoming by virtue of that water of life will never wilt. But this is not the water of vitality, this is the water of mortality. He who drinks deepest from this mortal water of life will dies soonest. Do you not see how the princes and kings have a shorter span of life than their servants? The branch will soaks up this water most will yellow soonest. See this rose – the one most saturated with this water now blossoming most fully – it will of necessity wilt before all the other brides of the garden.

Rare is the body whose ear hears this cry and counsel, and rarer still the somebody who leaves this murky water to the nobodies. O God! O Monarch! Make us one of those somebodies and grant us deliverance from this black and brackish water, that we may not die like those others with swollen face and bloated belly at the fount of this spring and may not be held back from the quest for the water of life.

(Hadith in Arabic)
It is related by Abu Dharr from the Prophet, peace upon him: I asked the Messenger of God, God’s peace and blessings be upon him, what is in the scroll of Moses? (He answered): “I am amazed by those who have certain knowledge of death, how can they be joyful? And I am amazed by those who have certain knowledge of the fire, how can they make light? And I am amazed by those that have certain knowledge of the Reckoning, how can they do wicked deeds? And I am amazed by those that have certain knowledge of decay of the world and the vicissitudes which afflict its denizens, how can they amass worldly things and rely upon them?”

Among the servants of his holiness the Messenger and those blessed at the threshold of Prophacy, was Abu Dharr, one of the true chamberlains to chivalry, and this is what he said:
One day the head of the army of the people of religion, the refuge and support of the people of the world, the compass point of the earth, the fruit of the tree of Adam, the royal insignia of “Soon will your Lord bestow upon you and you will be content” (Qur’an 93:5): He who is the trainer of the Boraq of “Praised be He who made his servant to ascend at night” (Qur’an 17:1), he who passes beyond the heights of “then he approached and came nearer” (Qur’an 53:8) he climbed above both this world and the next, alluding to the verse “He came within two bow lengths or closer” (Qur’an 53:9)
So Abu Dharr said: This great one (Mohammad) emerged one day from the Sacred Mosque and the place of prayer from which he called his Lord. He said, “Supplication after the obligatory are always answered.” He mounted the throne of “I am the chief of the sons of Adam but take no pride in this.” He spread the carpet of “Poverty is my pride,” and set out the cushions of “Adam and the other prophets are under my banner,” reclining upon the support of “the first thing God created was my light.” Those who accompanied him from Mecca and those who supported him in Medina and all those “who seek forgiveness at dawn” (Qur’an 3:17), those who in gratitude “stay up through the night and fast during the day,” drew around him a circle. There was the righteous Abu Bakr, who like a jeweler, set forth pearly words of divine mystery in fine array. There was the Discriminating Omar, divining the distinction between truth and falsehood. There was Osman of the Twin Lights, preparing light for the darkness of the tomb. There was Ali the Acquiescent, forging bonds of contentment. There was Belal, singing like a bulbul. “Rejoice us with the call to prayer), O Belal!” Sohayb was there, quaffing the chalice of the wine of faithfulness. Salman was there pacing in the path of peace.
And I, Abu Dharr, was there, reduced to a mote of dust before his majesty. I brazenly opened my mouth and asked our great leader (in Arabic), “What is in the scroll of Moses?” (Meaning in Persian) What is in the scroll of Moses, that consolation of the soul of lovers and the confidant of yearning hearts?
Our leader, at the command of the One Who lives and never dies, removed the seal of silence from the treasure chest of truth, and said: (Arabic) “I am amazed.” (meaning in Persian) I am amazed by the servant of God who has set foot in the field of faith, has believed in Hades and all the levels of hell, has heard the call of King and His aides; how can he, in this thicket of calamity and prison of catastrophe, laugh lightheartedly?

What else, our leader?

He said, “I am amazed by the servant who has lived his precious life to the end, believed in death but has not made provision for it, admits he will be questioned in the grave, but has prepared no reply. How can he be happy?”
A third time he said, “I am amazed by the servant who has believed that he will be called to account for each of his tiniest words and deeds – as it is said, ‘And whoso does a grain’s weight of good will see his reward’ (Qur’an 99:7) and the scales of justice are set out – how can he act so rashly?”
And the fourth, “I am amazed by that servant who sees how unfaithful the world is, who lays his dear ones to rest in the earth and hears the Qur’an reciters chanting ‘Every soul shall taste of death’ (Qur’an 3:185)! How can he amass worldly things with such eagerness, desire, covetousness, and anticipation and fix his heart on them? And he sees the grave and the winding sheet and the dead and tastes the sting of bereavement?! But he has not known even for one night the bitterness his departed friends have tasted, so how can he know the value of union? How can one who has felt no pain appreciate the balm?”

No, no, my brother! Try to escape from this prison, set foot on the path of repentance so that you may have both the here and hereafter in this world. But what good is this? Rather you should set your sights even higher and spur on the steed of religion even faster until you pass beyond all regard for the world and even close yours eyes to the next world. In this way you will see the beauty of the mysterium tremendum.

Sweep all away with the broom of “No!” Every king or prince has a herald for every ceremony. The herald which sweeps aside both worlds from before the face of the Courtiers and Kings of Holiness is the phrase: THERE IS NO GOD BUT GOD.

Everything keeps you distant from your quest
whether words of blasphemy or of belief
everything holds you back from the Friend
whether images of beauty or of beast
You’ll clean no thorn and thistle from this path
unless the creedal NO serves as your herald
When NO casts you from fame into confusion
Then follow Godhead’s light through BUT to GOD

Look on nothing but God’s beauty, hear nothing but God’s word, that you may be among the closest confidants of the King.

I passed through a rosebed with my belle
My inadvertent gaze fell on a rose
My idol, seeing this, reproved: For shame!
Here is my cheek and you look there at the rose?

And God is the All-Knowing.

Ya Haqq!

“A Man of Paradise is Coming.”

August 21, 2012

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The Messenger of Allah was seated in a gathering with his close companions, when he looked towards the entrance and said, “A man of Paradise is coming.” At that instance someone who seemed to be very ordinary entered the mosque where they were seated. One of the companions was curious as to why the Prophet (saw) said this, so he followed the man to his house. This companion told the man that he was a traveler and was welcomed and stayed as a guest. For three days the companion saw nothing unusual, so he finally told the man what the Prophet (saw) had said and asked him what was so special. The man thought for a very long time and said, ‘There might be only one thing — before going to sleep every night I forgive everyone and sleep with a clean heart.’

Ya Haqq!

Hazrat Ali’s Sermon on Eid ul-Fitr

August 19, 2012

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The blessed month of Ramadan is over, and Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid ul-Fitr, so it is fitting to post this again:

On the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, Hazrat Ali (A.S.) delivered a sermon in which he said:

“O people! Verily this day of yours is the day when the righteous are awarded and the wretched are losers. It is a day which is similar to the one on which you shall be standing (before your Lord). Therefore, when you come out of your homes to go to places of your prayer, remind yourselves about the day when you (your souls) shall come out of your bodies to go to your Lord. When you stand on places of your prayer, remind yourselves of your standing in the presence of your Lord (on the day of Judgment). And when you return to your homes (after prayer), remind yourselves about your returning to your homes in Paradise. O Servants of Allah! Verily the minimum reward for those men and women who fasted (during Ramadan), is an Angel, who calls out to them on the last day of the month of Ramadan (saying): O SERVANTS OF ALLAH! REJOICE THE GLAD TIDING THAT ALL YOUR PREVIOUS SINS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN…”

– From the Nahjul-Balaghah.

Eid-ul-Fitr is a unique festival. It has no connection with any historical event nor is it related to the changes of seasons or cycles of agriculture. It is not a festival related in any way to worldly affairs. Its significance is purely spiritual. It is the day when Muslims thank God for having given them the will, the strength and the endurance to observe the fast and obey His commandments during the holy month of Ramadan.

Alhamdulillah! May Allah bless us all and grant that we use this Eid as a lens to focus the sunlight of good works, which have shone so brightly during Ramadan, to light the way through this coming year until the next Ramadan. Ameen! Ameen!

Eid Mubarak!

Ya Haqq!

Eid Mubarak :)

August 17, 2012

Salaam And Greetings of Peace, Dear Brothers and Sisters:

May Allah bless you all this Eid with generosity of heart, sincerity of speech, kindness in action, and love and joy in remembrance of Him, who is the Source of all Generosity, Sincerity, Kindness, Joy and Love.


“O Lord! Let not our hearts deviate now after You have guided us, but grant us mercy from Your own Presence; for You are the Grantor of bounties without measure.”    – Qur’an: 3:9

Ya Haqq!

Laylat al-Qadr, The Night of Power – 2012

August 13, 2012

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power:
And what will explain to thee what the night of power is?
The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.
Therein come down the angels and the Spirit (Jibril, or Gabriel) by Allah’s permission, on every errand: Peace!…This until the rise of morn.
   – Qur’an, 97:1-5

Laylat al-Qadr, (also known as Shab-e-Qadr), the Night of Destiny, Night of Power, Night of Value, the Night of Decree or Night of Measures, is the anniversary of the night the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.

The Night of Power will be, inshAllah, on August 15th this year for those countries that started fasting on July 20th, and August 14th for those countries that started Ramadan on July 19th.

Muslims believe that revelation of the Qur’an occurred in two phases, with the first phase being the revelation in its entirety on Laylat Al-Qadr by Allah to the Archangel Gabriel in the lowest heaven, and then the subsequent verse-by-verse revelation to Prophet (pbuh) by Gabriel (Jibril in Arabic). The revelation started in 610 CE at the Hira cave on Mount Nur in Mecca.

Because of the revealed importance of this night, Muslims strive harder in the last ten days of Ramadan since the Laylat al-Qadr could be one of the odd-numbered days in the last ten (the first, third, fifth, seventh or ninth)

The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever prays on Laylat al-Qadr out of faith and sincerity, shall have all their past sins forgiven.   –  Bukhari and Muslim, from Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with them).

if you stay awake
for an entire night
watch out for a treasure
trying to arrive

you can keep warm
by the secret sun of the night
keeping your eyes open
for the softness of dawn

try it for tonight
challenge your sleepy eyes
do not lay your head down
wait for heavenly alms

night is the bringer of gifts
Moses went on a ten-year journey
during a single night
invited by a tree
to watch the fire and light

Mohammed too made his passage
during that holy night
when he heard the glorious voice
when he ascended to the sky

day is to make a living
night is only for love
commoners sleep fast
lovers whisper to God all night

all night long
a voice calls upon you
to wake up
in the precious hours

if you miss your chance now
when your body is left behind
your soul will lament
death is a life of no return

Jalaluddin Rumi – translation by Nader Khalili from Rumi, Fountain of Fire.

Ya Haqq!

The Seal Ring of the Prophet (saw)

August 10, 2012

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

In the last ten day of Ramadan, I have been contemplating the seal ring of the blessed Prophet (saw). The inscription reads “Muhammad Rasul Allah,” meaning literally: “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”  This is the inscription on the original seal that was used by the Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, to sign the letters he sent to various rulers.

Here is a hadith about the seal:

Anas Ibn Malik said: “Rasulullah (pbuh) had a ring made of silver and its (inlaid) gem was also of silver. When the Prophet (pbuh) wanted to write to the leaders of foreign states, he ordered a seal-ring to be made. Rasullullah (saas) therefore had a ring made, the whiteness of which is still before my eyes. The inscription engraved on the ring of Rasulullah (pbuh) was ‘Muhammad Rasulullah,’ of which in the first line was engraved ‘Muhammad,’ in the second line ‘Rasul,’ and in the third line ‘Allah’.”

The Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was illiterate, so he had the ring made as his signature seal. And indeed, The Prophet (saw) had the ring cast in silver, but being so filled with love and reverence for Allah almighty, did not want to place his name above the name of Allah. Contrary to the normal way of reading from top to bottom, he had the inscription written upwards, “Muhammed Rasul Allah” as can be seen in the photo above.

The original ring, however, was lost down the well of Aris during the reign of hadhrat Uthmaan. The Seal that is in the Topkapi palace was made thereafter, and is not an exact replica of the orignal, which was never recovered, according to this hadith.

Narrated Anas:

that when Abu Bakr became the Caliph, he wrote a letter to him (and stamped it with the Prophet’s ring) and the engraving of the ring was in three lines: Muhammad in one line, ‘Apostle’ in another line, and ‘Allah’ in a third line. Anas added: ‘the ring of the Prophet was in his hand, and after him, in Abu Bakr’s hand, and then in ‘Umar’s hand after Abu Bakr. When Uthman was the Caliph, once he was sitting at the well of Aris. He removed the ring from his hand and while he was trifling with it, dropped into the well. We kept on going to the well with Uthman for three days looking for the ring, and finally the well was drained, but the ring was not found.    – Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 72, Number 767:

Nonetheless, may Allah hear our prayers and bless us these last days of Ramadan with the love and humility of the Prophet (saw).  Amin.

Ya Haqq!

Rumi’s Poem on Fasting during Ramadan

August 2, 2012

Celebrate! The month of fasting has come.
Pleasant journey to the one

Who is the company of the fasting.
I climbed the roof to see the Moon,

Because I really missed fasting
By heart and soul.

I lost my hat while looking at the Moon.
the Sultan of fasting made me drunk.

O Muslims, I have been drunk
since that day I lost my mind.

What a beautiful fortune fasting has.
What a wonderful glory.

There is another secret moon
Besides this one.

He is hiding in the tent of fasting
Like a Turk.

Anyone who comes
To the harvest of fasting in this month

Finds the way to this Moon.
Whoever makes his face

Resemble pale satin
Wears the silk clothes of fasting.

Prayers will be accepted in this month.
Sighs of the one fasting pierce the sky.

The person who sits patiently
At the bottom of fasting’s well

Owns the love of Egypt, like Joseph.
O the word which eats the Sahur* meal,

Be silent so that anyone
Who knows fasting will enjoy fasting.

Come, O Shams, the brave one of whom Tabriz is proud.
You are the commander of fasting’s soldiers.

– Jalaluddin Rumi, a ghazal from the Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi, translated by Nevit Ergin.

Note:  * Sahur:  Meal before dawn during Ramadan fast.