Coming of the Magi

December 19, 2014

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

In the days before Christmas, I confess that one of my favorite parts of the story of the birth of Jesus, or Isa ibn Mariyam, is the coming of the Magi, and the legends that have grown up around them.

In Christian tradition, the Magi, also referred to as the Three Wise Men, Three Kings, or Kings from the East, are said to have visited the baby Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense.

The word Magi is a Latinization of the plural of the Greek word magos, itself from Old Persian maguŝ from the religious/priestly caste into which Zoroaster was born. As part of their religion, these priests paid particular attention to the stars, and gained an international reputation for astrology, which was at that time highly regarded as a science. Their religious practices and use of astrology caused derivatives of the term Magi to be applied to the occult in general and led to the English term magic.

The Gospel of Matthew (2:1-16), the only one of the four Gospels to mention the Magi, states that they came “from the east” to worship the Christ, “born King of the Jews”. Although the account does not tell how many they were, the three gifts led to a widespread assumption that they were three as well. Their identification as kings in later Christian writings is linked to Old Testament prophesies such as that in Isaiah 60:3, which describe the Messiah being worshipped by kings.

The Syrian King Seleucus II Callinicusis recorded to have offered gold, frankincense and myrrh to Apollo in his temple at Miletus in 243 BC, and this may have been the precedent for the mention of these three gifts in the Gospel of Matthew (2:11). It was these three gifts, it is thought, which were the chief cause for the number of the Magi becoming fixed eventually at three.

A model for the homage of the Magi might have been provided, it has been suggested, by the journey to Rome of King Tiridates I of Armenia, with his magi, to pay homage to the Emperor Nero, which took place in 66 AD, a few years before the date assigned to the composition of the Gospel of Matthew.

And finally, this account by Lewis Williams expands the story in a lovely spiritual way:

While oftentimes conflicting lore muddles the story of the Magi, those bearing gifts for the Christ child are most often named Caspar of Tarsus, Melchior of Persia and Balthasar of Sabia, which was the ancient name of Yemen/Ethiopia (as in the Queen of Sheba/Sabia). Weary from desert travel, the Magi humbly offer their gifts. Caspar is young, European, and offers gold. Gold finances the Holy Family’s coming flight to Egypt and also symbolizes Christ’s immortality and purity. For his generosity, Caspar receives the gifts of charity and spiritual wealth. Melchior is middle-aged, Persian and offers myrrh. Myrrh is a fragrant gum, which the ancient Israelites believed to strengthen children. This symbol of Christ’s mortality was blended with wine and offered to him on the cross, and also mixed with aloes to wrap his body for the tomb. Melchior receives the gifts of humility and truth. Balthasar is elderly, Ethiopian and offers frankincense. Frankincense is a resin used in incense for worship and also symbolizes prayer and sacrifice. Balthasar receives the gift of Faith. And Christ, humbling himself to become man, offers us the greatest gift of all, the light that forever burns in the darkness.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night :)

Ya Haqq!

Note: The above painting is Adoration of the Magi by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682).

1545943_383605645116982_126396998_n

 


Rumi’s Wedding Night – December 17th, 1273

December 16, 2014

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

On December 17th, 1273 AD, Mevlana Jalal al-din Rumi died at Konya. The 17th of December is thus called Sheb-i Arus, meaning ‘Bride’s Night” or ‘Nuptial Night’ or ‘Wedding Night,’ because of the union of Mevlana with God. As Rumi’s epitaph states:

‘When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth, but find it in the hearts of men.’

Rumi was a universally loved genius, one of the greatest servants of humanity, founder of the Mevlevi Sufi Brotherhood, his poetry and doctrine advocates unlimited tolerance, positive reasoning, goodness and charity, and awareness through love. Looking with the same eye on Muslim, Jew and Christian alike, his peaceful and tolerant teaching has reached men of all sects and creeds.

Love and imagination are magicians

Who create an image of the Beloved in your mind

With which you share your secret intimate moments.

This apparition is made of nothing at all,

But from its mouth comes the question,

“Am I not your Loved One?”

And from you the soft reply, “Yes. Yes. Yes.”

– Rumi

Inna lillahi wa-inna ilayi raji’un.
(We belong to God and to God are we returning)

Ya Haqq!


Rumi’s Thanksgiving Poem

November 24, 2014

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

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.

- Jalaluddin Rumi

Ya Haqq!


“Love ought to change you.”

November 18, 2014

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

“Love ought to change you. If love remains only lip-service you do not really love. If love does not change you from the inside, from your heart and soul, and if it does not fundamentally change your behavior, your words, and even in your non-verbal communication, than you have not even started to love; you would be just a talker.”
Shaykh Dr. Muhammad bin Yahya al-Husayni al-Ninowy

Ya Haqq!


“Those who don’t feel this love pulling them like a river…”

November 12, 2014

Those who don’t feel this Love
Pulling them like a river,
Those who don’t drink dawn
Like a cup of spring water,
Or take in sunset like supper,
Those who don’t want to change,
Let them sleep.

This Love is beyond the study of theology,
That old trickery and hypocrisy.
If you want to improve your mind that way,
Sleep on.

I’ve given up on my brain.
I’ve torn the cloth to shreds
And thrown it away.
If you’re not completely naked,
Wrap your beautiful robe of words
Around you,
And sleep…

- Rumi


Wisdom of Hazrat Inayat Khan – Creating Your Own Knowledge

November 4, 2014

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The teacher, however great,
can never give his knowledge to the pupil;
the pupil must create his own knowledge.

Truth by its very nature cannot be uttered,
cannot be given.
One cannot give
that which cannot be put into speech.

So the teacher gives a method
for finding the truth, for unfolding it,
for unlocking that which seems to be in one’s heart.

It is clearly impossible for anyone
to impart his knowledge to another person;
he can only show him
how to unfold his own knowledge to himself.

Everybody possesses a kingdom,
but he has to find it.

- Inayat Khan

Ya Haqq!


“What are the most excellent of actions?”

October 27, 2014

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The companions of the Prophet (saw) asked him:

“O Messenger of Allah, what are the most excellent of actions?”

The Prophet replied:

“To gladden the heart of human beings,
To feed the hungry,
To help the afflicted,
To lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and
To remove the sufferings of the injured.”

Ya Haqq!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 507 other followers