Part One When people were amazed at Abraham for sacrificing a thousand rams, three hundred oxen and a hundred camels, he retorted: “There is nothing surprising about this. We are sacrificing our goods for our Lord, for whom we sacrifice our life. Life is more valuable than goods. Moreover, whose goods are we sacrificing to
Qārūn was very proud of his wealth and property; it was more than he could stomach when his cousin, the venerable Moses, began calling his people to Allāh. Jealousy and envy prevented him from believing in the Prophethood of Allāh’s Converser. He went to a prostitute and said: “Listen to me. Tomorrow, Moses will be
O Friend! we are near you in friendship,
Wherever you set foot, we prostrate ourselves like earth.
How is it permissible, in the religion of love,
That we should see your Creation and neglect to see You?
That Friend brought me up with great care and attention;
He sewed me a garment from skin and veins.
The body is like a cloak and my heart in it like a mystic,
The world is like a monastery and He is my Guide.
Seek knowledge which unravels mysteries
Before your life comes to close
Give up that non-existence which looks like existence,
Seek that Existence which looks like non-existence!
There is a world outside Islam and Disbelief,
We are enamoured of the atmosphere therein.
The mystic lays down his head when he reaches there.
There is neither Islam nor Disbelief in this place.
Whenever I prostrate my head He is the one to whom I bow;
In six directions or outside the six, he is the one I worship.
The garden, the rose, the nightingale, music and the beauteous maiden
Are a mere excuse and He alone is the real object.
From Divani Shams, Translation by Afzal Iqbal
In the first years of the Twenty-first Century the spiritual influence of Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi is being strongly felt by people of diverse beliefs throughout the Western world. He is being recognized here in the West, as he has been for seven centuries in the Middle East and Western Asia, as one of the greatest
There was a certain ascetic who was one of the great saints of Bestam. He had his own followers and admirers, and at the same time he was never absent from the circle of Bayazid al-Bastami . He listened to all his discourses, and sat with his companions.
One day he remarked to Abu Yazid, “Master, for thirty years I have been keeping a constant fast. By night too I pray, so that I never sleep at all. Yet I discover no trace of this knowledge of which you speak. For all that I believe in this knowledge, and I love this preaching.”
“If for three hundred years,” said Abu Yazid, “you fast by day and pray by night, you will never realize one atom of this discourse.”
“Why?” asked the disciple.
“Because you are veiled by your own self,” Abu Yazid replied.
“What is the remedy for this?” the man asked.
“You will never accept it,” answered Abu Yazid.
“I will so,” said the man. “Tell me, so that I may do as you prescribe.”
“Very well,” said Abu Yazid. “This very hour go and shave your beard and hair. Take off these clothes you are wearing, and tie a loincloth of goat’s wool about your waist. Hang a bag of nuts around your neck, then go to the marketplace. Collect all the children you can, and tell them, `I will give a nut to everyone who slaps me.’ Go round all the city in the same way; especially go everywhere people know you. That is your cure.”
“Glory be to God! There is no god but God,” cried the disciple on hearing these words.
“If a nonbeliever uttered that formula, he would become a believer,” remarked Abu Yazid. “By uttering the same formula you have become a polytheist.”
“How so?” demanded the disciple.
“Because you count yourself too grand to be able to do as I have said,” replied Abu Yazid. “So you have become a polytheist. You used this formula to express your own importance, not to glorify God.”
“This I cannot do,” the man protested. “Give me other directions.”
“The remedy is what I have said,” Abu Yazid declared.
“I cannot do it,” the man repeated.
“Did I not say you would not do it, that you would never obey me?” said Abu Yazid.
[From the “Memorial of the Saints” of Fariduddin Attar.]