Sunday, November 26, 2017

What is Sufism?

A seeker emailed and asked, "What is Sufism?"

And I was stunned into silence because how do you encapsulate an ocean into a drop. Sufism is fundamentally indefinable as Nicholson observed long ago, it can only be felt. 

It is our Prophet's long vigils in Hira for enlightenment; it is Majnun's pursuit for Laila; it is Hallaj's last bloody sacrifice on the cross.

I would let the sages define it for you, and you can absorb their words to understand what -essentially-cannot be understood.

What is a Sufi in Islam?

Here is the simplest definition:

“He is a Sufi whose religion is God.”

For the Ascetics, Sufism is: " the practice of adopting every higher quality and leaving every lower quality" in the words of Patriarch of Sufism and one of the most ascetic & devout Sufi Junaid Baghdadi.

BaYazid Bistami, the sublime Sheikh said:" Sufism consists in giving up repose, and accepting suffering."

For the Freethinkers: Abu’l-Hasan al-Nuri, a great early Sufi: Sufism is not rituals and forms and is not bodies of knowledge, not doctrines, not ideas, not theories. But it is impeccable manner, the manner of the lover in the presence of the Beloved.

Each of those answers differs. Each of those answers is a facet of the single reality that is the meaning of being a Sufi. 
Choose the one which most clicks with your inner reality.

For the mystical-minded---a definition from Sufi named Abu’l-Hasan Bushanji:

Sufism today is a name without a reality that was once a reality without a name.”
That was said back in the eighth or ninth century.
And this from Ibn al-Jalla:

Sufism is an essence, a truth. There is no form, no ritual, no custom in it. It is pure essence.” These two sayings go together. Sufism was a reality that has now become a form and has now become a name that is no longer a reality. It is a tradition which encompasses all the mystical traditions in it.
Who is sufi?

What is a Sufi mystic?
A Sufi mystic is in Ishan Kaiser's description"

" the actual temple of fire worshiper; the priest of Magian; the inner reality of cross-legged Brahman meditating; the brush and color of the artist.

The Sufis have always recognized the process whereby a hidden secret is institutionalized, commodified and known to the world as a form while the Sufis themselves, in secret, concealed its essence and carried on. This has happened over the generations. Time after time a transmission has been passed down from person to person from heart to heart without intermediary, always from heart to heart.

Who is a Sufi?

For the Bohemians ( and a personal favorite of mine) a definition from a very great early Sufi, Abu’l-Hasan al-Nuri.The Sufi is one who possesses nothing and is possessed by nothing.”

In the East, you will find fakirs who interpret this very literally. They possess nothing. They are wandering mendicants who own nothing.
What is Sufism?
And there are others who live in palaces in great opulence but are completely detached from the wealth, ready to release it at any moment. They are playing a role in the world. That is the essence of what is meant by not possessing and not being possessed. Possessing means grasping, being addicted, being unable to part with something.

And now another definition for the New Agists Abu Muhammad Murta’ish:

The Sufi is the one whose thought keeps pace with his footstep. The one who is where she stands. The one who is present here with feet firmly planted on the earth. The one in whom body and soul are united in presence, in awareness.

The Sufi is addicted, being unable to part with only one thing and that is the One Being who is ever-present and can never be lost or stolen. So one finds that the less one possesses, psychically possesses, the less one is possessed. Because of all the things of life, as one collects them, just weigh one down. Of course, there will come a time, whether in this life or in the next when everything, item by item, will have to be released. Sufi lives in the Now!
What is sufi mystic

And for the Eternal Lovers, beautiful words from Al-Shibli, who was a great mad friend of al-Hallaj. When al-Hallaj was sentenced to death and people were throwing stones at him, al-Shibli threw a rose. He used to frequent the asylums of his day and People weren't sure if he was totally mad or totally sane. He said:

A Sufi does not see in the two worlds, in this world and the hereafter, anything with God except God. Nothing in addition to God.
In every situation, in every place, at every time, in every relationship, the Sufi keeps coming back to the One and sees the innumerable masks as veils on the face of a single infinite personality, divine being.
Not for a single moment does the Sufi imagine that anything could be additional, recognizing immediately, intuitively, that everything is essentially singular in its essence. The Sufi recognizes that this whole manifestation is one phantasmagoria that is the refraction and reflection of a single Light.
And now finally, these words of Shaykh Abu Yazid Bistami: on of the greatest of all Sufi saints
The Sufis are like infants in the bosom of God.”
To be a Sufi is to be in that state of reliance, assurance, loving resonance, non-individuated consciousness, feeling oneself enclosed in a loving embrace that is eternal and infinite and irrevocable, knowing the essence of reality to be not ambivalent but in truth essentially compassionate, accepting, forgiving, nurturing. Infinite mercy. Eternal compassion. These are no longer theories or wishful thinking but one’s essential experience, incontrovertibly true because one resides in the embrace of the Divine Love. It is to be in a state of complete trust in Allah!
what is sufi tariqa

In the past five years that I have been a Sufi seeker, my understanding about Sufism has deepened every day and yet I still don't feel I understand enough. Sufism is like theory of relativity, its understanding constantly evolves as the seeker's perspective evolves but I hope these words can spell some misconceptions about Sufism and what it really means to be a Sufi!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Salafi War on Sufism

So the good Muslims of ISIS have martyred 300 ( and still counting ) Sufi Muslims in Sinai in their attempt to reach heaven riding on the blood of innocents. 

Many would read the global war on terror as a Samuel Huntingtonian self-fulfilling prophecy; THere is a civil war but it's not between civilizations rather it's a civil war in Islam. There are clearly many fault lines within Islam, some of which are deepening dramatically. One, there are attacks on Muslim intellectuals, attempts to suppress dissent. Two, there is polarisation between the Shias and Sunnis, primarily due to the Salafisation of Islam that has been continuing since the early 20th century.

In the last few years, I have visited several Sufi sites that fall roughly in the territories of the former Ottoman and Mughal empires. All over this vast terrain, there are signs of Sufis under siege. In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, Sufi sites have been targeted in various ways.

Sufism was the way whole populations expressed their Muslim identity — -in music and dance and poetry from Egypt till Turkey.

The big question, of course, is why the antipathy between Sufis and Salafis is becoming a civil war in Islam. 

Although most modern Muslims do not identify themselves as Salafis, their thinking has been greatly influenced by Salafism, especially the younger generation in diaspora. Much effort is expended in public displays of religiosity such as beards, prayer beads, prayer calluses and women's clothing, while the spiritual aspect of religion and the proper ego annihilation a Muslim should adhere to take a back seat.

What is the difference between Sufi and Salafi?

Primarily it's about who these two groups approach Islamic tradition and scripture ---Sufi's emphasize the Batin over the external shell of Sharia. They believe God must be at the forefront of one's thoughts at all times. The dhikr rituals, which include dancing and religious songs, are aimed at nothing more than the remembrance of God.

Salafism, on the other hand, puts enormous emphasis on external appearance rather than the inner spirit. They grow their beards just as the first Muslims did and trim their trousers so that the hems hang well above the ankles (or just wear a short jilbab) and their women usually wear the niqab. Wahabis has reduced Islam to a series of externalities completely ignoring its spiritual and esoteric teachings. 

‘God does not want meditations and austerities
Through love alone canst though reach the Abode of Bliss.
Thou mayst be lost like salt in water
Still it is difficult for thee to know God.

They believe that anything that deviates from their strictly literal interpretations of Islam is bida'a (innovation) and thus a gateway to hell---rather than the spirit of Islam; they become obsessed with the appearance of Muslims in sixth-century Arabia, ignoring the heart of the faith. Saudi funded Clerics have declared Sufi poetry, dance and veneration of saints to be Bidah. They rail against Sufi poetry and esoteric philosophy of Unity of beings. Sufi Masters such as Hallaj and Suherwardi were martyred because Takifiri Theologians lacked the required knowledge of philosophy and light of heart to understand their teachings so they passed fatwa's on what they could not understand much like today when they blow Sufi shrines up. 

To learn the scriptures is easy,

to live them, hard.
The search for the Real
is no simple matter.
Deep in my looking,
the last words vanished.
Joyous and silent,
the waking that met me there.

- Lalla Ded

ISIS was a later entrant. The fanatics blow up ancient relics, Sufi heritage, Sufi shrines and the Sufi way of life everywhere they can. They want to micromanage social, cultural and individual life. They condemn gatherings and ceremonies at Sufi saints’ graves, shaving beards, wearing charms, music, and painting as heresy.

Salafism is divorced of divinity, they relegate Allah to a mosque while a Sufi imagines Allah to be everywhere---a Sufi reality is infused with the divine essence. We dance and we whirl because we are imitating the atoms and the birds which He created. We celebrate life in all its beauty in all its glory.

A Sufi faith can never be weaponized to kill or self-destruct because Sufism teaches that life is precious and life is a celebration of His path. It teaches you to listen to your breath and listen to the pulse of the universe. 

For ever we came
For ever we come, for ever we go; 
For ever, day and night, we are on the move. 
Whence we come, thither we go, 
For ever in the round of birth and death, 
From nothingness to nothingness. 
But sure, a mystery here abides, 
A Something is there for us to know. 
(It cannot all be meaningless).

By: Lalla
From: Lalla vakhs No. 7

It tells you that you are apart of the fish in the ocean and the bird flying above you ---it teaches you that you are part of everything. They hate Sufi shrines because these shrines are a mosaic of dance, music, food, and women; they celebrate life. 

 I saw and found I am in everything
I saw God effulgent in everything.
After hearing and pausing see Siva
The House is His alone; Who am I, Lalla.

- Lalla Ded

And this is what ISIS and its ideological parent Wahabism hates; the universality and embrace that lies at the heart of Sufism. 

Salafi War on Sufism

The adherents of the black cult cannot tolerate the marriage of the sacred with the divine because they preach a colorless desert ideology without poetry or colors to elicit only obedience, not devotion. They kill all signs of life in their adherents till those children become suicidal drones, destroying concert halls filled with women and children.

Awliyas are Signs of Allah: They are the best transmitter and communicator of God's message, to pay them to visit and sending them salaams is a form of Ibadat and help remembering God.

In Memory of Those Who Melt the Soul Forever

by Muhyiddin ibn Arabi

Their spring meadows
are desolate now. Still, desire
for them lives always
in our heart, never dying.

     These are their ruins.
     These are the tears
     in memory of those
     who melt the soul forever.

I called out, following after

A fakir Dancing in Sachal Sarmast
You so full with beauty,
     I've nothing!

     I rubbed my face in the dust,
     laid low by the fever of love.
     By the privilege of the right of desire for you
     don't shatter the heart

Of a man drowned in his words,
burned alive
in sorrow.
Nothing can save him now.

     You want a fire?
     Take it easy. This passion
     is incandescent. Touch it.

     It will light your own.

Sufi traditions have been religiously inclusive: Wherever the orders flourish, popular Islamic religion focuses on the tombs of saints and sheiks, who believers venerate with song and ritual dance.  But the human yearning for the Divine, for beauty, for love and for loveliness is too deeply ingrained in the human spirit to be partitioned off or exiled.

Today, many Muslims world-wide are increasingly dissatisfied with what they see as dry as stale bread interpretations and practices of Islam, and want -- and demand -- something more spiritual and more beautiful.They know about the deep spiritual experience of the Prophet Muhammad, who came face to face with God, and they too yearn for their own spiritual experiences. And they visit sufi shrines to find that sacred heart. 

Let them jeer or cheer me;
Let anybody say what he likes;
Let good persons worship me with flowers;
What can any one of them gain I being pure?

If the world talks ill of me
My heart shall harbour no ill-will:
If am a true worshipper of God
Can ashes leave a stain on a mirror?

The al-Qaida zealots and Pakistani militants will never win against Sufism: They might destroy their tombs on earth but cannot steal away Sufism from the hearts of people in the East and the West. 

in Pakistan, I had visited the mausoleum of the great Sufi Abul Hassan Ali Hajvari, popularly called Daata Sahib (990-1077), now behind barbed wire after its bombing in 2010. Abul Hassan Ali Hajvari is the author of Kashf Al Mahjub or The Revelation of the Veiled, a text in Persian that the philosopher Ghazala Irfan teaches at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. I had also made another pilgrimage to Pakpattan where the mausoleum of Baba Farid, one of the great Chishti Sufis, had been similarly attacked. Baba Farid also visited Jerusalem. Around the site of his meditation an Indian hospice has come into being, beautifully memorialised in Navtej Sarna’s recent book, Indians at Herod’s Gate: A Jerusalem Tale.

ut without romanticising either Sufism — any ‘ism’ is problematic — or the “good Muslim”, we only have to peruse early Sufi medieval texts to see how Sufi philosophies provide major sources of resistance to Salafist and other exclusionary ideologies. They go back to a period when religion and philosophy were not yet divorced. These philosophies also suggest Islam’s civilisational dialogue with Greek and Hindu-Buddhist philosophies

What cannot be destroyed by arson or attacks, however, are the powerful ideas of some of these Sufi masters that contest annihilatory Salafist ideologies. In India, after a series of celebrated Sufis including Moinuddin Chishti, Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, Hamiduddin Nagori, Nizamuddin Auliya and Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlavi, the Chishti lineage was taken southwards to the Deccan by Khwaja Syed Shaik al Islam Syed Mohammed al Husaini, popularly known as Banda Nawaz Gesu Daraz (1321-1422).

His powerful philosophical text, Ma’arif al awarif, is a commentary upon a foundational text of the Suhrawardi Sufi order. It articulates, among other ideas, the ethical idea that one cannot love god and not love all the creatures he has created. Only the first volume of this text has been recently published by the Da’irat’ul-Ma’arif’il-Osmania, Hyderabad, edited by Mohammed Mustafa Shareef. This is similar to the Shadhili teaching that god is everywhere and one can see his face in all creation elaborated in the mystical teachings of Al-Shadhili

With its deep roots in south Asian soil, its gentle message and through the music that carries it, Sufism has become an antidote to Isis-style radicalism, and fundamentalisms of all sorts. One old fakir I talked to in the Sehwan shrine said of the Wahhabi mullahs: “Without love, they distort the true meaning of the teaching of the prophet.”

It's ironic that Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali seemed to warn against the rise of extremism in Kitab Al Fitan – a compilation of hadiths (Islamic tradition) relating to the end of times, put together by prominent scholar Nuyam bin Hammad in 229 AH.

In it Imam Ali recalled the Prophet saying:

“If you see the black flags, then hold your ground and do not move your hands or your feet. A people will come forth who are weak and have no capability, their hearts are like blocks of iron. They are the people of the State (literally the people of Al Dawla), they do not keep a promise or a treaty.

"They call to the truth but they are not its people. Their names are (nicknames like Abu Mohammed) and their last names (are the names of town and cities, like Al Halabi [and now al-Baghdadi]) and their hair is loose like women’s hair. (Leave them) until they fight among themselves, then Allah will bring the truth from whoever He wills.”

That is the spirit of hope in the face of trials that Islam talks about. As a Muslim, I believe that trials come from God. Wahhabism is one such trial but, in the end, I know we shall triumph over it.

We should dismantle Wahabi agenda religiously by truly understanding the real Islam but also politically by combating their divisive philosophy which would destroy the plurality of Muslim world and plunge it into eternal civil war! 

” I saw and found I am in everything
I saw God effulgent in everything.
After hearing and pausing see Siva
The House is His alone; Who am I, Lalla. “

- Lalla Ded

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

You wish to have proof of a world beyond this one? by Rumi

You wish to have proof of a world beyond this one?

See how the old leaves and makes room for the new

A new day, a new night, a new garden, even a new trap to fall into

A new thought in each breath. Newness is a wonder.

It surely is a treasure.

Did you ever wonder where the new comes from?

Where the old disappear to?

If beyond what the eyes see there are not endless universes.

The world is a flowing stream, it looks enclosed and unchanging

But the old flows away and the new arrives.

God knows where

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Wahabism ; A Free masonic Conspiracy

So a 32-year-old man with no leadership experience and toxic religious agenda is playing with the lives of millions of Muslims with the support of a NeoNazi President elected mainly on his hatred of Muslims and immigrants. Everything about the alliance of white supremacy and Wahabism is suspect.

Is Saudi Prince Muhammad Bin Salman white supremacy's ultimate plan to reign hell on Muslims of the world and hasten the creation of Temple? 

Yes, because if any other ruler of any other country say China or Russia had imprisoned the financial muscle and political elite of his country on trumped-up corruption charges --- you would have the US propaganda machine screeching about human rights? 

But now as the US war machine is going to sell arms worth billions of dollars to Saudi Shia genocide Warmachine to funnel into Syria, Yemen or Lybia or to kill more Muslims and decimate more Muslim societies with sectarian warfare ----- the establishment( even the Guardian) calls him a reformer; an architect of new Saudi Arabia---he will be an architect but of invasion of Iran and global warfare rather enabler of Jewish Neocon plans. He is consolidating power to so he can start sectarian wars in the MiddleEast and ---his international media handlers are defending because this grand plan was hatched 100 years ago ----they have just found a willing executioner of it now!

A civil war within Islam always been the raison d'ĂȘtre of creation Wahabism and yes Wahabism was created; it did not exist from 1400 years ago as its creators would like you to believe. 

Wahhabism: A Freemasonic Conspiracy Against Islam

There is a black cult of death which propels Daesh or ISIS; funded by petrodollars and nurtured by sectarian fault lines ---this cult is funding ISIS; bankrolling fundamentalism and genocide of Shias.  

Following the dictates of Hegelian dialectic, the Globalists have created two antagonizing forces, the "Liberal-Democratic" West, against Terrorism, or "political Islam", to force us into the acceptance of their final alternative, a New World Order.

That a British spy by the name of Hempher was responsible for the shaping of the extreme tenets of Wahhabism was mentioned in a Turkish work, Mir'at al-Haramain, by Ayyub Sabri Pasha between 1933-1938. 

First Ibn Saud King AbdulAziz with British spies
British policy in its colonies often involved the creation of deviant sects, in order to Divide and Conquer, as was the case with the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam in India in the nineteenth century.The details of this conspiracy are outlined in a little-known document by the name of The Memoirs of Mr. Hempher published in series (episodes) in the German paper Spiegel, and later in a prominent French paper. A Lebanese doctor translated the document to the Arabic language and from there on it was translated to English and other languages.

The document is a first-hand account by Hempher of his mission for his government, which sent him to the Middle East to discover ways to undermine the Ottoman Empire. 
But most important was the strategy to "insert heresies into Muslims' creedal tenets and then criticize Islam for being a religion of terror." To this purpose, Hempher located a particularly corrupt individual by the name of Mohammed Ibn Adbul Wahhab.
To understand the brand of fanaticism that Wahhabism inculcated, it is first necessary to recognize that Islam called upon all Muslims, regardless of their race or nationality, to see themselves as brothers in faith. 

The killing of another Muslim was strictly forbidden.

However, as part of their strategy of Divide and Conquer, the British hoped to pit the Arab Muslims against their Turkish brothers. The only way to do so was to find a loophole in Islamic law whereby the Arabs could declare the Turks as apostates.Abdul Wahhab was the instrument by which the British were able to insinuate this vile idea into the Muslims of the Arabian Peninsula. 

Basically, Wahhab contrived the idea that, simply by the trivial act of offering prayers to saints, their Turkish brethren had forfeited their faith, and therefore, that it was permitted to kill all who refused to adhere to his reforms and to enslave their women and children( they use the same logic to bomb Sufi shrines today).

But that included the entire Muslim world, except for his small misguided band of followers.

But the Wahabbi movement was insignificant without the allegiance of the Saudi family, who, despite claims otherwise, were descended from Jewish merchants from Iraq. Orthodox jurists of the time branded the Wahhabis as heretics and condemned their fanaticism and intolerance. 

Nevertheless, the Wahhabis then demonstrated their contempt for their pretended faith by indiscriminately slaughtering Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The Wahhabis then set about destroying all the holy tombs and burial grounds. They stole the Prophet's treasure, which included holy books, works of art and innumerable priceless gifts sent to the city during the previous thousand years. The leather and gilt bindings of the Islamic holy books they had destroyed were used to make sandals for the Wahhabi criminals.

Wahabism aiding the Zionist Project

The Ottoman Sultan brought an end to the first Wahhabi rebellion in 1818, but the sect revived under the leadership of the Saudi Faysal I. The movement was then somewhat restored until once again destroyed at the end of the nineteenth century.

After WWI, the former regions of the Ottoman Empire were divided into varying puppets regimes. For aiding to undermine the Ottoman authority in the region, Ibn Saud was duly rewarded with the creation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. One year later, in 1933, the Saudis granted oil concessions to California Arabian Standard Oil Company (Casoc), an affiliate of Standard Oil of California (Socal, today's Chevron). 

Since that time, Saudi Arabia has been the most important ally of the West in the Middle East, not only providing ready access to its plentiful oil reserves but also in tempering Arab aggression against Israel. Even today, Saudi Arabia has no taken a single Syrian or Palestinian refugee or aided the Palestinian people in their cause in any way. 

Due to the evident hypocrisy of the regime, it has been necessary to suppress the ensuing dissent with brutality. Another important aspect has been preventing scholars from speaking of "politics", that is, to criticize the regime. It supports grotesque misogynistic practices as Islam t appease the mullahs while financing genocides of Muslims elsewhere.

In The Two Faces of Islam, Stephen Schwartz writes, "Their tastes led them to taverns, casinos, brothels ... They bought fleets of automobiles, private jets, and yachts the size of warships. They invested in the valuable Western art they did not understand or like and which often offended the sensitivities of Wahhabi clerics. They spent as they wished, becoming patrons of international sexual enslavement and the exploitation of children."

The result has been that, in order to nonetheless appear to be espousing Islam, the Saudi regime and its puppet scholars have evolved a version of Islam that emphasizes ceremonial details of the religion, at the expense of helping to understand broader political realities.
Their manner has encouraged a literal interpretation of Islamic law, permitting the likes of bin Laden to exploit the Koran to justify the killing of innocents.

Ultimately, the profusion of  petro-dollars in the coffers of the Saudi family has made it possible for them to propagandize their bastardized version of Islam to other parts of the world, most notably to America, where they purportedly subsidize up to 80 percent of the mosques in the country, a version of Islam that substitutes political awareness for dogmatic insistence on ritualistic fanaticism.

Spreading Hate around the World!

The Saudi-based Muslim World League opened offices in every region inhabited by Muslims, and the Saudi ministry of religion printed and distributed Wahhabi translations of the Quran, Wahhabi doctrinal texts and the writings of modern thinkers whom the Saudis found congenial, such as Sayyids Abul-A’la Maududi and Qutb, to Muslim communities throughout the Middle East, Africa, Indonesia, the United States and Europe and worst on newly liberated central asian republics. Saudi money funded creation of madrassas in Dagestan and Uzbekistan and indoctrinated younf minds with severed links to their muslim heritage.

In all these places, they funded the building of Saudi-style mosques with Wahhabi preachers and established madrasas that provided free education for the poor, with, of course, a Wahhabi curriculum. 

Wahhabism made inroads into Pakistan in the early 80s, when I was a child. I remember when it became mandatory for female newscasters to cover their heads. Mullahs began appearing on television insisting women should confine themselves to their homes.

Dance was banned. Cinemas closed down. Someone scrawled a sign on a wall near my house declaring Shias (a minority Muslim sect) to be kafirs (unbelievers). Now the signs go further: they incite believers to kill Shias. And indeed, over the past 20 years, thousands have been killed. 
 Abaya became commonplace. 

The Saudis demanded religious conformity in return for their munificence, so Wahhabi rejection of all other forms of Islam as well as other faiths would reach as deeply into Bradford, England, and Buffalo, New York, as into Pakistan, Jordan or Syria: everywhere gravely undermining Islam’s traditional pluralism.

Throughout the Islamic world, from Egypt, Iran, Algeria and Chechnya, to south Asia, the anti-Sufi movement is growing in strength. Sufism is under ideological and physical threat from more puritanical breeds of faith. Sufi’s are routinely condemned and branded as heretic

Because let's be clear; This is the fight for the soul of Islam. This is the fight which would determine what version of Islam survives.

This is an ideological civil war within Islam. It reminds the world and especially complacent Muslims, that the Islamist extremists' war is a civil war within Islam — and not just a "holy war" against other religions and the United States.

It's ironic that Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali seemed to warn against the rise of extremism in Kitab Al Fitan – a compilation of hadiths (Islamic tradition) relating to the end of times, put together by prominent scholar Nuyam bin Hammad in 229 AH.

In it Imam Ali recalled the Prophet saying:

“If you see the black flags, then hold your ground and do not move your hands or your feet. A people will come forth who are weak and have no capability, their hearts are like blocks of iron. They are the people of the State (literally the people of Al Dawla), they do not keep a promise or a treaty.

"They call to the truth but they are not its people. Their names are (nicknames like Abu Mohammed) and their last names (are the names of town and cities, like Al Halabi [and now al-Baghdadi]) and their hair is loose like women’s hair. (Leave them) until they fight among themselves, then Allah will bring the truth from whoever He wills.”

That is the spirit of hope in the face of trials that Islam talks about. As a Muslim, I believe that trials come from God. Wahhabism is one such trial but, in the end, I know we shall triumph over it.

We should dismantle Wahabi agenda religiously by truly understanding the real Islam but also politically by combating their divisive philosophy which would destroy the plurality of Muslim world and plunge it into eternal civil war! 

This is the true Jihad of modern times.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Imam Hussain in Sufism

I grew up in a household infused with Shi'ism.I still remember the first Persian poem I heard  my Grandfather reciting during Muharram, it was Qaani's elegy:

What is raining?

The eyes.
Day and night.
From grief.
Grief for whom?
Grief for the king of Kar

For Sufi's Imam Hussein is the symbol of a process of spiritual development of man and the long periods of suffering which are required for the growth of everything that aspires to perfection.

As Anne Marie Schimmel writes  “Husayn b. 'Ali,  is a model for the Sufi; he is the suffering lover,  enamoured by God, sacrificing himself on the Path of divine love as an  ideal lovers of God whom the pious should strive to emulate.

The keynote of Sufism is the union, the identification of God and man.The highest good to which the Sufis can attain is the annihilation of the physical to keep the soul pure--to forget that they have a separate existence, and to lose themselves in the Divinity as a drop of water is lost in the ocean.In order to obtain this end, Imam Hussein achieved baqa by his martyrdom in the name of Allah. The use of ‘Karbala’ as a metaphor expands the horizons so much that it becomes almost impossible to limit the connotations.

In all the Sufi lands from Persian to Turkey to Subcontinent---Sufi interprets the fate of the Imam Husayn as a model of suffering love for Allah, and thus as a model of the mystical path.He is the symbol of ego annihilation for all those who want to pursue the path of Divine love

This is echoed in the Divan of 'Attar (nr. 376) in which he calls the novice on the path to proceed and go towards the goal, addressing him:

Be either a Husayn or a Mansur.

In one of the central poems of his Divan, Sufi poet Sanai describes his Hero Husain, as the foundation for the development of man and the long periods of suffering that are required by those aspiring spiritual perfection.

In some of the earliest popular Turkish Sufi songs, composed by poets like Yunus Emre in the late 13th or early 14th century, the Prophet's grandsons have found a pivotal and special place. They are described by Yunus in a lovely poem as the 'fountain head of the martyrs', the 'tears of the saints', and the 'lambs of mother Fatima'. Both of them, as the 'kings of the eight paradises', are seen as the helpers who stand at ‘Kausar’ and distribute water to the thirsting people, a beautiful inversion of Husain suffering in the waterless desert of Karbala'.) Yunus has also covered in his poetry the popular legend of Prophet witnessing angel Gabriel bringing a red and a green garment for his grandsons and then informing him that the color of garments pointed to their future deaths through the sword and poison.

Husayn b. ‘Ali is ‘the secret of God’, the ‘light of the eyes of Mustafa’ (thus Seher Abdal, 16th cent.), and his contemporary, Hayreti, calls him, in a beautiful marthiya, ‘the sacrifice of the festival of the greater jihad’. 

Has not his neck, which the Prophet used to kiss, become the place where the dagger fell?

The inhabitants of heaven and earth shed black tears today.
And have become confused like your hair, O Husayn.

Dawn sheds its blood out of sadness for Husayn, and the red tulips wallow in blood and carry the brandmarks of his grief on their hearts … (Ergun, Bektasi sairleri, p. 95).

In subcontinent poetry, From the broken threads of  Karbala's catastrophe, poets and writers have weaved narratives of hope and optimism, reaching out to people throughout the ages.One of the most recited and famous persian poetry in the Honour of Hz.Imam Hussain was written by the great Sufi master Hz.Khawaja Moinuddin Chishty (ra) :
Shah ast Hussain, badshah ast Hussain
Deen ast Hussain, deen panaah ast Hussain
Sar daad, na daad dast dar dast-e-yazeed
Haqu-e-binney la ilaahaa ast Hussain
King is Hussain ,King of Kings is Hussain
Faith is Hussian ,Protector of Faith is Hussain
He gave his Head ,but not his Hand in the hand of Yazid Verily ,truth is nothing but Hussain:

The truth, according to this thirteenth-century Sufi (Chisti), is that the very core of Islam, its essential creed of tawhid, or Divine Unity, ‘la ilaha illa lah Muhammadan rasul Allah,’ or ‘there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger,’ is Hussain. 

In the words of the great Indian Sufi of Iranian origin, Khwajah Mu'in-al-Din Chishti: 

He gave his life but wouldn't give his hand in the hand of Yazid (for allegiance, bay'ah) Verily Husayn is the foundation of la ilaha illallah
Since Hussain refused to pay allegiance to Yazid, in spite of having to make innumerable sacrifices, he is projected as an embodiment of Islam’s creed that refuses to acknowledge any power other than that of God; he is the symbol of Tawheed for a Sufi.

Your religion is [pure] like Hussain
And your desires like pigs and dogs
Yet you kill Hussain with thirst and feed these two
How can you keep cursing the evil Yazid and wicked Shimr?
You are Shmir and Yazid of your own Hussain.

– Rumi on Imam Hussain R.A.

Rumi is addressing the Muslims world enamored with Greed and materialism ---laments that man has sunk to such a lowly state that he thinks only of his selfish purposes and wishes and does everything to fondle the material aspects of his life, while his religion, the spiritual side of his life, is left without nourishment, withering away, just like Husayn and the martyrs of Karbala' were killed after nobody had cared to give them water in the desert.It echoes the indifference of that age and the choice Yazidi army made when they decided to extinguish the flame of prophet’s family---and the materialism and greed which still reigns the Islamic world.

Another Persian poet Hayreti, calls him, in a beautiful marthiya, 'the sacrifice of the festival of the greater jihad'. And asks Has not his neck, which the Prophet used to kiss, become the place where the dagger fell?

The inhabitants of heaven and earth shed black tears today.
And have become confused like your hair, O Husayn.

GhalibGod has kept the ecstatic lovers like Husayn and Mansur in the place of gallows and rope, and cast the fighters for the faith, like Husayn and 'Ali, in the place of swords and spears: in being martyrs they find eternal life and happiness and become witnesses to God's mysterious power.

Muhammad Muhsin, who lived in the old, glorious capital of lower Sind, Thatta, with whose name the Persian marthiya in Sind is connected. During his short life (1709-1750), he composed a great number of tarji'band and particularly salam, in which beautiful, strong imagery can be perceived:

The boat of Mustafa's family has been drowned in blood;
The black cloud of infidelity has waylaid the sun;

The candle of the Prophet was extinguished by the breeze of the Kufans.

In a beautiful manqabat (Sufi devotional poem) written by Pakistani poet Hafeez Jalandhari and sung by the late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Imam Hussain’s defiance is expressed in vivid detail:
Libaas hai phata hua, ghubaar mein ata hua
Tamaam jism-e-nazneen, chida hua, kata hua
Yeh kon ziwiqaar hai, bala ka shahsawaar hai
Ke hai hazaar qaatilon ke samne data hua
Yeh bilyaqeen Hussain hai
Nabi ka noor-e-ain hai
(Translated from Urdu)
His dress is torn, with mud it is worn
His splendid, delicate body is cut, slashed, and torn
Who is this dignified, master horseman?
Who is standing his ground in front of an army of thousands?
Indeed it is Hussain, it is Hussain
The Light of the Prophet’s eyes, it is Hussain

But in the modern poets, no one understood Hussain’s sacrifice better than IQBAL. 
It is from Husayn, says Iqbal, that we have learned the mysteries of the Qur'an, and when the glory of Syria and Baghdad and the marvels of Granada may be forgotten, yet, the strings of the instrument of the Muslims still resound with Husayn's melody, and faith remains fresh thanks to his call to prayer.IN Rumuz-i bekhudi  Iqbal praised  Husayn as the imam of the lovers, the son of the virgin, the cypresso of freedom in the Prophet's garden. While his father, Hazrat 'Ali, was, in mystical interpretation, the b of the bismi'llah, the son became identified with the 'mighty slaughtering', a beautiful mixture of the mystical and Qur'anic interpretations.
As he passionately articulates in Persian:
Ramz-e-Qur’an az Hussain amukhtim
za-atish-e-ou shola ha andukhtim
I learned the lesson of the Qur’an from Hussain
In his fire, like a flame, I burn

Husayn  embodies all the ideas which a true Sufi should possess, as Iqbal draws his picture: bravery and manliness, and, more than anything else, the dedication to the acknowledgement of God's absolute Unity; not in the sense of becoming united with Him in fana as the Sufi poets had sung, but, rather, as the herald who by his shahada, by his martyrdom, is not only a shahid, a martyr, but at the same time a witness, a shahid, for the unity of God, and thus the model for all generations of Muslims.

For Iqbal, the position of Husayn in the Muslim community is as central as the position of the surat al-ikhlas in the Holy Book.It is true, as Iqbal states, that the strings of the Muslims' instruments still resound with his name, and I am going to end this blog with the  last verse of the chapter devoted to Hussain in the Rumuz-i bekhudi:
O zephir, O messenger of those who are far away
Bring our tears to his pure dust.
Ronay wala hoon Shaheed-e-Kerbala key gham men main,
Kya durey maqsad na dengey Saqiye Kausar mujhey
I am one who weeps at the plight of the Martyr of Kerbala
Won’t the reward be given to me by the Keeper of Kauser

Some people worship God to gain His gifts; this is the worship of the merchants.  Some worship Him to avoid His punishment; this is the worship of the slaves.  Some worship Him solely to show gratitude towards Him; this is the worship of the free!

He gave a speech to people the day before his departure and said:

"... Death is a certainty for mankind, just like the trace of necklace on the neck of young girls. And I am enamored of my ancestors like eagerness of Jacob to Joseph"

Quran welcomes souls like him into heaven and says:

O The satisfied peaceful Soul return to your Lord pleased with His Goodwill. So enter among My (beloved) servants and  My paradise.
 (Surahe Fajr: 27, 28, 29)