Monday, August 01, 2005

Behind Enemy Lines Again.

Bismi'llah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim...for the sake of Prophet Muhammad saws and Sheikh Nazim may Allah protect his secret.

I suppose that, in the end, what I'm writing over on Blog Ladder, is turning into a kind of dawa, as I am writing to a non-Muslim audience who constantly question the Sufi Muslim point of view I have, or reality I live.
Recently I was getting to the stage where I almost felt like giving up and was questioning what I was doing 'over there'. Then I came across this in the Koran the other morning;

016.125 YUSUFALI:
Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance. PICKTHAL: Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way. Lo! thy Lord is Best Aware of him who strayeth from His way, and He is Best Aware of those who go aright.
SHAKIR: Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and have disputations with them in the best manner; surely your Lord best knows those who go astray from His path, and He knows best those who follow the right way.

016.126 YUSUFALI: And if ye do catch them out, catch them out no worse than they catch you out: But if ye show patience, that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient.
PICKTHAL: If ye punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith ye were afflicted. But if ye endure patiently, verily it is better for the patient. SHAKIR: And if you take your turn, then retaliate with the like of that with which you were afflicted; but if you are patient, it will certainly be best for those who are patient.

016.127 YUSUFALI: And do thou be patient, for thy patience is but from Allah; nor grieve over them: and distress not thyself because of their plots. PICKTHAL: Endure thou patiently (O Muhammad). Thine endurance is only by (the help of) Allah. Grieve not for them, and be not in distress because of that which they devise.
SHAKIR: And be patient and your patience is not but by (the assistance of) Allah, and grieve not for them, and do not distress yourself at what they plan.

016.128 YUSUFALI: For Allah is with those who restrain themselves, and those who do good.
PICKTHAL: Lo! Allah is with those who keep their duty unto Him and those who are doers of good.
SHAKIR: Surely Allah is with those who guard (against evil) and those who do good (to others).

And I was encouraged to carry on.
In the last couple of days I have seen a little bit of "light at the end of the tunnel" in at least one case with some perspicacious comments from one young woman about her leanings towards and doubts about ,following someone on the spiritual path.

Here's what she said after reading my attempts to explain the Wahabi thing;

Annabana said;

thank you for indulging my curiosity!you're right, i am familiar with the spirit (if you will) of this weird sort of literal materialism you're speaking of. i've had a handful of conversations with fundamentalist and evangelical christians at my doorstep and been amazed/frustrated/amused/disturbed every time.and i find the distinction you're drawing between prophet(s) and The Origin (let's say), interesting. i've known many people who have followed various guru's in my life, and even while the various messages of the gurus have made sense to me, and even been beautiful, i've always had a hard time with the sort of reverence expressed towards the guru by his devotees.i've been told that this means i have a problem with my ego, or pride.but i don't think so.(i realise this is no proof that i don't, ha ha!)
i love the idea of service. of selflessness. of giving all you have to give to something's just that, while you would never shoot a messenger for bringing you bad news, why would you hop into bed with him for bringing you good news? be profoundly thankful and offer the messenger a special place in your heart for the gift of life-changing knowledge, by all means, but stop there. please. when it comes down to it, he's not the point. the knowledge is.but then, the funny thing about me is that i also believe jesus (and, i suppose, mohammed) was a buddha. and that we all are. that we all have this potential within us of realisation of the true nature of reality. so, in a sense, i do put them on the same level as me in that i see them as human, and no more the sons of god than i am a daughter of god, even if they had it all figured out while i'm blindly bumping into things and wandering in circles.
i may be clumsy and awkward. i may be lost and distracted, but the seed that grew into a beautiful connection in them, surely rests within me, as well. in this deceptively small, but vital way, we are the same. they and i, you and i, everyone. i want to cultivate the godliness in me. how do i find the seed? and how do i water it? i've been looking around a bit.
personally, i find it telling that few of the world's greatest spiritual leaders wrote any scripture themselves. (their devotees, in a totally understandable effort to preserve even the smallest taste of the wisdom and understanding of their teachers wrote them.) as soon as something is written, it becomes static, prone to dogma, not to mention prey to the misinterpretation of the ages as the superficialities of culture change.
in reality, there are many tendencies, and many mostly-truths, and so few absolutes. what is missing from writing is that living understanding. what's missing is what that Relationship looks like. how it smells. mimicking how a person would behave if they had that Relationship isn't the same. sometimes it can, but it doesn't necessarily, lead anywhere useful.
i do believe the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
so there. there are my top secret spiritual suspicions. you got me to reveal them. :D
as an aside, the most shocking part of your reply, in my opinion, was the part about the covers of the korans being ripped off -- how awful! how angering! people are idiots. i saw an exhibit a few years ago at the portland art gallery called, i think, Faces of Islam, or something, and it was mostly ancient illuminated korans. they were mind bogglingly ornate and beautiful. even the script was gorgeously graceful. what labours of love they seemed to be. my biological father can speak persian, and he says it's the most poetic and romantic of all the languages. the books just seemed like gracious works of art on all levels. by annabanana

I replied;

Nice reply Anna.Thank you.It will eventually prompt me into a little bit to answer some of those questions of yours if I can.For now,let's just say you are right about many things in there but they needn't stop you from finding a living link or transmission of what you (and all humanity,if they only realised it) are yearning for.The living link and not the written word is precisely the important thing, although the written word can often lead us there.However I do believe that I found my Sheikh as an answer to my prayers.It all depends how badly one wants it.
Ouspensky (Gurdjieff's disciple,you may have heard of them?) used to say that one reads books and they create a "magnetic centre" within one which then attracts a living representation of the teaching.The outer dogma is not really so important, it's that "endless longing" (as Sheikh calls it) which brings what we want and need.
It is said that all longing and desire is really for "The Origin" (The One, God it what you will) and what we see in a loved one or even a beloved object is really only a reflection of that One or The Divine ..I think recognising that .. some kind of belief that we all come from the same place and are all going back there .... the increased desire to return quickly to the true Beloved, is what it is all about.
In this sense the Prophet made the famous saying "Die before you die." which means to die to the ego and therefore be re-born in the spirit.That is what has happened to the master/guru/saint .. realised person .. so they become an embodiment of the teaching and one ends up loving them, respecting them and reverencing them..(not worshipping them) because of that.It is something one experiences in the heart .. it is a consuming love ... Then begins the pain of the work on the ever-present, demanding nafs or ego!

In this context, of going and talking with non Muslims and then coming back here with what developed, I am reminded that Sheikh Nazim once said that in the Big War I would be going behind enemy lines and bringing back news...
I wonder of the big war is really just this difficult life that we lead, where it is such a battle just to keep our religion?


Anonymous bahar said...

sohbets are very good
thank you

Sunday, April 30, 2006 7:17:00 PM  

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