Shamsi Tabriz

B i s m i l l a a h i r R a h m a a n i r R a h e e m

Location: Monroe, New Jersey, United States

The Words I Wish I Had written! " While I was a Sophomore in college, I wrote in my diary: ' I develop my views from the existing pool of knowledge and I will adopt my views when I learn more. The only permanenet view that I have is that there is a God. My views are based on the basic fundamental law of Nature and Physics that I am now aware of. As man learns more about his environment I will change my theory to accomodate new knowledge. Religion should be dynamic and change and always advance, not in a state of stagnation.( Temple Grandin) "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."(Margaret Mead) "Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day." (Jim Rohn) "Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones tend to take care of themselves. (Dale Carnegie)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Shamsi Tabriz: The Prophet of Islam

Shamsi Tabriz: The Prophet of Islam

Wednesday, January 26, 2011



Labels: ,

Hajib Shakarbar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hajib Shakarbar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Quote from Prof. Arnold Toynbee

"The universe is too great a mystery for there to be only one single approach to it.”

Prof. Arnold Toynbee was the author of 12 volumes "Study of History", an analysis of civilisations.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shams-i Tabrizi and Rumi

By Nasir Shamsi

Rumi’s first meeting with Shams-i Tabrizi turned him literally upside down, because of the mystical shock he experienced in their first encounter. The stranger from Tabriz was no ordinary person; he was a gifted mystic, also known as Kamil-i Tabrizi. He had attained extraordinary esoteric abilities on the path of ‘ Salook’ the journey towards God, to seek closeness to Him. Salook, a most cherished goal of all mystics is achieved through completely submitting one's ‘self” (nafs) to the Most High, to the point where it can mirror in its purified depth the reflection of the Reality and Power of the Most High. Rumi, in his late thirtees was a jurist of the first order with accomplishments in religious sciences, including Quran, tradition and fiqh and was leading a loyal Muslim community in Konya in Eastern Iran, then called Khorasan, now Turkey. His fame as a theophosopher, it appears had traveled beyond his area to Damascus and Allepo, two major centers of learning where Rumi had also traveled to fulfil the academic requirements of a Faqih or Jurist.

Rumi had, it appears, attained an honorable position among is peers. But there was a certain feeling of unfulfilment, disquiet, an emptiness, an appetite, a craving, a yearning, a desperate need to go beyond the worldly state, to the world unknown, the world beyond, the higher hemisphere, the domain of the Most High that even angels fear to tread. He knew he could not do it alone. He was in need of a spiritual Guide, a Mentor, skilled in the metaphysics of the intended ‘ space travel ‘, a consummate pilot who can help navigate this flight into the higher realms of existence.

Shams Tabriz, a man probably in his sixties, having accomplished himself in religious sciences had studied under different teachers in Tabriz. He had however epitomized his skills on the path of ‘ salook ‘ under the guidance and tutelage of an accomplished teacher and a great mystic of the time, known as Baba Kamal Jundi. He spent more nearly 12 years with this skillful teacher in Tabriz. They secluded themselves in ‘ chillas ‘ ( a mystic exercise, praying for 40 days in total seclusion, seeking His Grace). Once when Shams told his teacher that he had so much on his chest to share with others but he could not say it words. the great sage, Baba Kamal told him that he was going to meet with a person who was to become his ‘tongue', or alter-ego.

Led by a dream, Shams set out on a journey to Allepo and then to Konya where he finally discovered the pal he had been looking for. The legend goes that Rumi was sitting by the water ( a pond) with his students and a pile of books when Shams walked in as a wayfarer with dishevelled hair, After greetings, he asked Rumi pointing to the books (manuscripts) what was it. Rumi answered interrogatively ‘ what would you know ? ‘ The visitor reached for the the pile of books and threw them in the water. These were Rumi’s hand written manuscripts and he was greatly upset by the unexpected rage of the unknown man. Shams bent down to the water, restoring the pile of books with no sign of water on them. A bewildered Rumi managed to ask, “ what was it ? “ and Shams answered him back in Runi’s own words, “ What would you know ? “ and left. That was it. Rumi threw away his religious raimant and his hat chasing after Shams.

Rumi found him at the house of one Salahuddin Zarkob where he went in total seclusion in a room for six months. Only Salahuddin was allowed to go in. Rumi came out a totally changed person. He danced around reciting poetry in Persian. Another version regarding the first encounter of Shams and Rumi relates to the verbal exchange that happened, when an old darvish stopped Rumi on his the way to the mosque and abruptly asked him: “ tell me, who is greater Ba-Yazid Bastami or Mohammad(s)? “ Rumi answered, "Mohammad (s) is the best among God’s creation, how can you compare him to Ba-Yazid who was only a scholar ? Shams replied: The Prophet says” Ma arafnak-e haggah marefetek” i.e. I am incapable of knowing You(God) the way You deserve it, whereas Ba-Yazid declares “ Sobhani maa aazaama shaeni”? (Oh what I have achieved in knowing Him!). Rumi, who was essentiallay a man of Sharia at the time wondered and asked Shams to provide the answer. Shams added :The difference is on account of each person’s capacity. Mohammad (s) had an unlimited capacity to drink from the river of Ma’arefat (gnosis or knowing God), but Ba-Yazid had yet drank only a glass of that ‘ wine ‘. Shams-i Tabrizi’s answer to the question overwhelmed Rumi and leaving his disciples, he pursued the visitor to one Salahuddin’ house.They went in isolation for forty days; Mowlana Jalal uddin Rumi was transformed during this period.

This was in 1244 AD. Shams stayed with him for less than two years when upset by the hostility of Rumi’s disciples, spearheaded by Rumi’s own son, Alauddin , one day Shams left unannounced. Rumi was greatly upset by this separation. He danced around spontaneously uttering verses in ‘ firaq ‘ (separation) with his Master, his students recording the muse. This valuable wealth of mystic poetry, about 50,000 vreses, are preserved in the form of what is known as Divan-e Shams Tabriz. Rumi uses Shams as nom-de-plume in the poems, not mentioning his name anywhere, such was Rumi's dedication. His sense of total identification with his Mentor and Teacher thus reached a point of a total annihilation, for a full ‘ettesal’ (merger) with the Murshid (spiritual Master).

On learning that Shams had been seen in Damscus (Syria), Rumi sent out his son, Sultan Valed with a letter, begging him to return; he also expressed in the letter, deep regrets and repentance from his followers. Shams returned to Konya and was received there with great respect. The mystic meetings resumed, Shams-e Tabriz often sharing his profound thoughts and vision with Shams and his disciples. The jealousy and anger,however, resurfaced soon among Rumi’s disciples, the jurists (mullas) of the town also joining hands with them this time.

Shams left suddenly one day, without leaving a trace behind. That put Rumi in a mystic frenzy. He danced around in the street, the madresa and the gardens uttering spontaneous songs that led to his holding regular ‘Sama’ (dancing prayer) meetings with his disciples joining him ( now known as the dance of the whirling dervishes). In the beginning, Rumi always addresses Shams-i Tabriz but eventually in his spiritual quest for the lost companion, he annihilates himself and finds Shams in himself; in his later poetry, it is Shams who is talking (true to the prediction of Baba Kamal), thus Rumi becoming an extension of Shams, his alter-ego. A fascinating story of the two extra-ordinary human beings!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Sayings of Shamsi Tabriz

Special Position of Ali Bin Abi Talib on The Day of Judgement

He (Ali ) said to the Prophet: “0 Messenger of God, you send everybody to me, why not to other companions?” (Guft: Ya Rasulullah, hamah beh man havalah me kuni maslehat sahabah ra darin kar?) He said:" Yes, I do this because you are my trustee (amin)and your trustfulness is known to me. These people will be subjected to your authority on the Day of Judgment (Een mardaman ra ruz-i qiyamat dar gardan mi kunem taqlid-i shuma ra). This is known and has been observed. And you know (the mysteries) of the World Beyond and the Day of Judgment and you see them so clear­ly, while the other (companions) do not know about all this, even through acquired knowledge (hearing and reports). For you are not but a unique person-one who is unique in his time- and you should restrain from divulging the secrets (to others), and talk to them only in vague and ambiguous words, except to the person who wishes to be with you alone". The host has laid the table of knowledge. “He is a mercy for the people,” (Quran 21 :107), but he has re­served the most auspicious food for the most auspicious guest. He says to him: "Come back to your Lord....,” (Quran 89:28). You are not the one from whom we should hide this food!
(Maqalat-i Shams )

Authority of Ali bin Abi Talib on the Day of Judgement

He (Ali ) said to the Prophet: “0 Messenger of God, you send everybody to me, why not to other companions?” (Guft: Ya Rasulullah, hamah beh man havalah me kuni maslehat sahabah ra darin kar?) He said:" Yes, I do this because you are my trustee (amin)and your trustfulness is known to me. These people will be subjected to your authority on the Day of Judgment (Een mardaman ra ruz-i qiyamat dar gardan mi kunem taqlid-i shuma ra). This is known and has been observed. And you know (the mysteries) of the World Beyond and the Day of Judgment and you see them so clear­ly, while the other (companions) do not know about all this, even through acquired knowledge (hearing and reports). For you are not but a unique person-one who is unique in his time- and you should restrain from divulging the secrets (to others), and talk to them only in vague and ambiguous words, except to the person who wishes to be with you alone". The host has laid the table of knowledge. “He is a mercy for the people,” (Quran 21 :107), but he has re­served the most auspicious food for the most auspicious guest. He says to him: "Come back to your Lord....,” (Quran 89:28). You are not the one from whom we should hide this food!

(Maqalat-i Shams Tabriz)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Rumi and Shamsi Tabriz
- thread of a web-discussion between Nasir Shamsi and Prof. Nima Hazini

Subj: Re: [ruminations] Re: The essence of Rumi and translation issues
Date: 3/20/00 10:33:26 AM Pacific Standard Time
Reply-to: ruminations@onelist.comTo:

From: Nasir Shamsi,

Dear Nima, Salam

Many many thanks for such an exquisite and detailed response. It seems there

are two Ma'arafs: one by Maulana Rumi's father (one that you have) and

another by his son, Baha'uddin Muhammad (known as Sultan Valed). I have the

Ma'araf by Sultan valed,with introduction,notes and annotations by Najeeb

Ma'yel Hirvi, published in 1347 by Intesharat Mouli.(It is available from

Jahan books,Bethesda,MD).It is a fascinating book based on the day to day

lectures and discussions of Sultan Valed with his students on a variety of

topics ranging from exegesis of Quran, the Traditions of the Prophet to the

methods of the melvi order, Irfan and Sufism, the etiquettes of the Melvis,

discussions about the a'ulia's and their stations, the esoteric issues, the

Chilla'hs , relationship of body and soul, stations of human in 'salook',

fana and baq'a, Qeel-o Qa'al, reality of dreams, just to name a few topics. A

very intersting book indeed !

You wrote:
of it. Notwithstanding these are nevertheless crypto-Shi'i traits.>>

Nima, You are right. Some of the earlier scholars were open to other schools

and often exchanged views among themselves. Even in countries like Pakistan

and India, there are branches of the Sunnite, like Barelvi and Chishtia who are ardent lovers of Hazrat Ali and the Ahlul Bait of the Prophet in sharp contrast to the

Deobandis,Wahabisand Ahlul Hadith who distance themselves from the family of

the Ahlul bait. The Barelvis show great respect for Abu Talib, Ali's father

and the Prophet's uncle who had brought him up and protected him against the

hostile Meccans. Abu Talib is held in great esteem by the Shia, while

ironically the Wahabis,the Ahle Hadith and Deobandis do not even consider him

a Muslim. On the other hand, a Sunni Barelvi, Allama Obaidullah Amratsari

wrote a remarkable book " Abu Talib, Momin-e Quresh ", eulogising Abu Talib

as favorite uncle of the Prophet and his protecter and supporter in conveying

the message of faith to the non-believers. He was his shield. No wonder after

Abu Talib's death, the Meccans made life so difficult for the Prophet that he

was forced to leave Mecca with the few believers. It is surprising how the

people allow themselves to be blinded by their narrow bias and prejudices and

still claim their adherence to the Quran and Sunnah. Most Sufi's have an

element of crypto Shi'ism in them; many of them consider Ali as the source of

' Irfan " and most of them display love for the Ahlul Bait, the family of the

Prophet. The Sufis have greatly served Islam by emphasing love of God which

includes love for all human beings,even animals. Their belief in Unity of God

implies unity of all humankind, in fact unity of all creation. It was the

Sufi message of love and serenity that is responsible for spread of Islam in

India and Central Asia. Islam in India did not spread because of the

conquests of Mahmud Ghazni, Ghouris and the Mughals, the light of Islam shined in India because of the bearers of that torch, the Sufi saints like Data

Ganj Bakhsh (Syed Ali Hajveri), Khawaja Mueenuddin Chishti, Nizamuddin Aulia (Hafeezullah just returned after visiting thir shrines and he should share

his celestial experience ), Baba Farid Shakr Ganj, Mian Mir, Sultan Bahu

,Shahbaz Qalander, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai and Shams Tabriz who, buried in

Multan, contrary to the conflicting reports of Maulana Rumi's biographers,

was alone responsible for converting thousands of Hindus in Kashmir, Skardu,

Baltistan and Punjab. I am told one of the reason why the Konians

disliked Shams Tabriz, inspite of his extra-ordinary stature as a mystic of

no ordinary attainment, was his Shiite belief which he had kept from them in

exercise of ' taqqiya ' , what Corban calls, Discipline of the arcane, or

dissimulation to escape persecution or threat to your life. By the way, the

taqiyya, originating from instinct for survival is best expressed by lines

from Maulana Rumi's beautiful poem: derakht agar moteharek budi: be-pa: o be-par nah ranj-e areh keshidi nah zakhmha-ye tabar {If a tree could run or fly, it would not suffer from the teeth of a saw or the blows of an axe.I am reminded of the Prophet's sudden departure for Madina to escape injury(ranje arah/zakhma-e tabar) }. Shams Tabriz escaped from Konia, " without

leaving a trace behind ", (according to Nicholson's account) , also for the

same reason, to avoid " ranj-e areh keshidi " and " zakhmha-ye tabar ". He

was neither be-pa nor be-par. In fact he was so mobile (moteharek) that he

was often called ' par-inda ' , according to Scimmell and other authors of

Rumi. So he flew to Tabriz to collect his family, then to Basra and Baghdad

and finally he surfaced in India via the most difficult mountainous terraines

of Skardu and Gilgit. The second couplet of the Ode 1042 ( I do not have its

Persian original ) applies so precisely and succinctly to Shams Tabriz again

If the Sun ( Shams) did not run across the sky
the world would not see
the colors of morning.

Yes , Shams did run across the horizon, true to Maulana's perception of

him.No matter where he went in the world, the east and the west, he brought

with him the color of morning, the light of faith. Maulana is amazingly prophetic about his Murshad (spiritual master) and Mentor.
I thank you for providing the first couplet (in Persian). Could you share with us the whole Persian text of the poem ?. I am tempted to reproduce the English translation provided by Muni Gilbert last night,which I very much appreciate.

If a tree could run or fly

it would not suffer from the teeth of a saw

or the blows of an axe.

If the Sun did not run across the sky

the world would not see

the colors of morning.

If water did not rise from the sea

plants would not be quickened

by rivers or rain.

It's only when a drop leaves the ocean - and returns

that it can find an oyster

and become a pearl.

When Joseph left his father

both were weeping

Didn't he gain a kingdom and a fortune

in the end?

Didn't the Prophet

gain the world and a hundred empires

by traveling to Medina?

But you have no need to go anywhere

journey within yourself.

Enter a mine of rubies

and bathe in the splendor of your own light.

O great one,

Journey from self to Self

and find the mine of gold.

Leave behind what is sour and bitter

move toward what is sweet.

Be like the thousand different fruits

that grow from briny soil.

This is the miracle

Every tree becomes beautiful

when touched by sunlight;

Every soul becomes gold ( I made a correction in this line )
when touched by the Sun of Tabriz (Shamsi Tabriz).
Ghazal 1042 ( translation by Scimmell )

I was particularly moved by your quotes from Najmuddin Kobra.

not external to you. You are they. So, too Heaven, Earth and the Divine

Throne are not located outside of you; nor are Paradise, Hell, Life or

Death. All of these exist within you, as you will realize once you have

accomplished the initiatic journey and become pure. (Fawa'ih, par.67:32,

trans. Waley). >>

Amazing insight into the marvels of the " inner space " which has a lot more

to explore than the outer space, with its own galaxies and orbits, the

esoteric boundaries of human existence. The 7th to 13th century AD produced

several " scientists " of the inner space, the mystics who could look into

the limitless potential of human soul. These bastions of spiritual wisdoms

and immaculate sources of knowledge,the explorer of the human soul had

discovered the inner beauty of the human soul that connects it directly and

inextricably with the Total Soul, the Haq, the Creator, the Hu, the Jehovah ,

Rabb-us samawaat-e sabe', Rabb-al Aalameen, the Master of Many Worlds. There

is so much hidden in the Persian and Arabic languages and there is so much to

share with the people in the West. Nimajan, people like you and Ibrahim and

Ghazaleh who have the bilingual gift should translate these marvelous works

in English for the greater benefit of the greatest number and in doing so

you'll bring the people of the East and the west closer to one another, forge

a spiritual bond between them , the bond of unity under ONe God. As a result

when you leave, you'll have left a better world behind , a world united in

Love for God, where people are not afraid of talking of God , a world whare

people can live in perfect peace and love for one another.

With love and peace,
Nasir Shamsi

Date: 3/20/00 2:19:18 AM

Eastern Standard Time

From: (Nima Hazini)

From: "Nima Hazini"

Dear Shamsi,

You asked:
<<. I have a copy of ' Ma'araf ' written by Maulana Rumi's son, Sultan > >Walad. You are also referring to a ' Ma'araf ' written by Rumi's >father,

>Baha'uddin Walad. Are there two Ma'arafs or is it a mix up ? >>

No, the _Ma'aref_ you are thinking of is a work by Rumi's father, Baha'uddin

Valad. The edition of this work was done by Badi:'ozzama:n Forouzanfar and

was initially published in Tehran in 1338 solar/1959. Is this the one you

own? The _Valad-Nameh_ and a _Diwan_ of poetry (mediocre by his father's

standards) are the works of Sultan Valad, Rumi's son. The _Valad-Nameh_ is a

history of the early Mevlevi order and chiefly the life of Rumi,

interspersed with mystical musings by the author, put in verse. In this

century it was first edited by Ustad Jala:l Homa:'i: and initially published

in Tehran in 1315 solar/1936. The Divan of Sultan Valad I do not own but

have perused a copy of it. On a scale of one to ten (ten being the sublime

quality of Rumi's poetry in the Divan), I would give it a generous five.

Incidentally, the _Valad-Nameh_ was the chief source for Afla:ki's largely

hagiographical survey of the early Mevlevi Order, the

_Mana:qib'ul-`A:rifi:n_. I also understand there is a collection of Sultan

Valad's poems in Turkish (I won't comment on this work, since I

unfortunately don't read Turkish).

>2.Could you tell us more about Najmuddin Kubra ? Who was he ?

> Was he a Fatimide ? What do you mean by Crypto-Shi'i ? Did Shams >Tabriz

>have any relations with the Crpto-Shi'ites ? It is reported >Rumi's father,

>Sultanul Ulama Baha'uddin was a Hanafi. If that is >true, how do you

>reconcile his being a " Khalifa of a >Crypto-shi'ite, Najmuddin Kubra ?

Well, easy. In the Islamicate world of pre-modernity, many a scholar or

mystic held multiple "intellectual" or "spiritual" affiliations

simultaneously, and there are countless examples one could furnish. One

could be, say, a Hanafite or Shafi'ite (or whatever) in one's doctrinal

approach to the Sharia', fiqh and other areas in the science of

jurisprudence, while maintaining a spiritual affiliation with Sufis and

mystics of all bents and shapes. One could also be a peripatetic philosopher

as well as a Sufi master (take the case of Ba:ba: Afda:l Ka:sha:ni). For

example, Ibn `Arabi was a Zahiri in his basic/foundational approach to fiqh

(which was among the most hyper- conservative and ultra-literalist of legal

schools) - albeit he modified his Zahirism in an interesting direction. But

to give a really noteworthy example, many of the Nizari Isma'ili

intellectuals who went underground after the Mongol onslaught and

destruction of the fortress-city of Alamut, a generation later showed up

either as Hanafite or Shafi'te `alims or just straight Sufis. Yet, the

Hanafite/Isma'ili connection apparently had already been in full swing among

certain Nizari Isma'ilis of Syria a full generation before the Mongols even

showed up in Iran (see the studies of Ivanow, Wilfred Madelung and Farhad

Daftary in this regard). No need to point out, that the Isma'ilis were

camouflaging themselves from outside hostility by practicing a form of

taqqiyyah/dissimulation (or what Corbin likes calling the "discipline of the


Furthermore, in the past there was also noticable crypto-Shi'i elements

fully present even among mainstream Sunni practice - most of which is even

around today in some places untouched by fundamentalists and wahabis.

Veneration of the household of the Prophet (Ahl'ul-Bayt), particularly of

`Ali, Husayn, Zayn'ul-Abidin and Jafar as-Sadiq, celebration of Ashura

during Muharram, etc, were observed as belonging part and parcel of the

popular religiosity without the distinctly Shi'i label being placed upon any

of it. Notwithstanding these are nevertheless crypto-Shi'i traits. So, in

answer to your question, it was not all that contradictory for

Sultan'ul-`Ulama Baha'uddin Valad to have been a Hanafi jurist but a Kubravi

Sufi at the same time.

On Najmuddin Kobra, below are two short posts I sent to another list.




Shaykh Najmoddin Kobra (d.618/1221), founder of the Kobraviyyeh Sufi Order,

died at Urgench, near Khwarazm, when the city was overrun by the Mongol

army, and presumably he is still buried there. His major

work, _Fawa'ih al-Jamal wa Fawatih al-Jalal_, was critically edited by the

German Islamicist Fritz Meier (Weisbaden: 1957) and can be found in any good

university research library with a decent Islamics/Middle

East studies collection. Meir's introduction discusses many details about

the life, thought and oeuvre of the Shaykh, but also look at Richard

Gramlich's _Die schiitischen Derwishorden Persiens_ 3 volumes

(Wiesbaden: 1965) which provides additional details about Kobra's genealogy.

Also, look at the works of Henri Corbin, especially his _The Man of Light in

Iranian Sufism_ (Boulder: 1978) and _En islam iranienne_ 4 volumes (Paris:


Other secondary works which discuss Shaykh Najmuddin Kobra, his order

and spiritual descendents, are `Abdurrahman Jami's _Nafahat'ul-Uns min

Hadarat'ul-Quds_, ed. M. Tawhidi-Pur (Tehran: Kitabfurushi-ye Sa`di,

1336/1957), _Mukatabat-e `Abd al-Rahman Isfarayini ba `Ala al-Dawla

Simnani_, ed. Herman Landolt (Tehran/Paris: 1972), Hamid Algar's article in

The Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd ed., and Muhammad Isa Waley's essay entitled

"Najm al-Din Kubra and the Central Asian School of Sufism" in _Islamic

Spirituality II_ (ed.) Seyyed Hossein Nasr (New York: 1991), pp. 80-104. You

might also want to check the appropriate Encyclopedia Iranica entry.


Najmoddin Kobra was a unique Sufi master and thinker, in that after

Ayn'ul-Quzat Hamadhani, Suhravardi and before Ibn `Arabi he systematized an

analytical Sufi metaphysical spiritual psychology based entirely on the

visionary apperception of photisms of light. Like Indian Kundalini Yoga,

this spiritual psychology (or more correctly, "pneumatology," i.e. science

of the soul) posits seven subtle centers (the lata'if) surrounding the body

which are progressively triggered and deepened as a spiritual novice

advances on the Path. According to Ala'Dowleh Simnani, a successor of Kobra,

these subtle centers also represent and correspond to seven archetypal

prophets of the soul (i.e. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Solomon, David, Jesus and


The Kobravi Sufism of Najmuddin Kobra is also interesting from an

important angle in that it exhibited a very pronounced crypto-Shi'ism. As

such two overtly Twelver Shi'i Sufi orders, the Nurbakhshiyyah (now

based in Pakistan) and the Zahabiyyah (now exlusively based in Shiraz),

branched from it. Corbin has pointed out that the Kobravi method of

scriptural interpretation, unlike some other contemporary Sufi masters of

the time, demonstrated a method highly reminiscent of the style and approach

of Isma'ili spiritual/scriptual exegisis (tawil) much like that of Nasir-e

Khosrow or Abu Yaqub Sijistani. Of course, the philosophical/gnostic tawil

approach was also utilized extensively by Twelver (ithna `ashari) authors

such as Allama al-Hilli and others. However, not to the same extent and

philosophical depth as the Isma'ilis, and only with the impact of the school

of Kobra and Ibn `Arabi upon Twelver Shi'ism with such authors as Seyyed

Haydar Amuli, Ibn Abi Jumhur al-Ahsai and Rajab Bursi did it gain the sort

of wide

intellectual currency High Gnostic Twelver Shi'ism is now known for. The

only works currently available of Kobra's oeuvre still remains Meir's

edition of the _Fawa'ih al-Jamal wa Fawatih al-Jalal_ and M. Mole's edition

of several shorter treatises in _Traites mineurs de Nagm al-Din Kubra_

Annales islamologiques no.4 (Cairo: 1963). The first work I own, Mole's

text/edition I've read, especially the treatise entitled _Risalah

ila'l-ha'im al-kha'if min lawmat al-la'im_ (Treatise to the Dozing [Seeker]

Fearful of the Blamer's Blame). I

also own Najmuddin Razi Daya's _Mirsad'ul-`ibad_ (ed.) Muhammad Amin Riyahi

(Tehran: Bungah-e Tarjumeh va Nashr-e Kitab, 1352/1973) which is a summary

by one of Kobra's important student's and a contemporary of Rumi's of some

of the key doctrines of the Shaykh (incidentally Rumi's father, Bahau'ddin

Valad, was a disciple as well as a khalifa of Najmuddin Kobra ). Since it is

difficult to summarize a profound

spiritual figure such as Kobra in a few short paragraphs, I will let him

speak for himself with four short translations from his _Fawa'ih_ done by

Muhammad Isa Waley:

Know that the lower soul, the Devil, and the Angel are realities that are

not external to you. You are they. So, too Heaven, Earth and the Divine

Throne are not located outside of you; nor are Paradise, Hell, Life or

Death. All of these exist within you, as you will realize once you have

accomplished the initiatic journey and become pure. (Fawa'ih, par.67:32,

trans. Waley).

You can only see or witness an object by means of some part of that same

object. As we said, it is only the mine whence it came which a precious

stone sees, desires, and yearns for. So when you have a vision of a sky, an

earth, a sun, stars, or a moon, you should know that the particle in you

which has its origin in that same mine has become pure. The more pure you

become, the purer and more radiant will be the sky that appears to you,

until in the last stages of the journey you travel within the Divine Purity.

But Divine Purity is

limitless, so never think that there is not something more exalted still

ahead. (Fawa'ih, par.60:28-29, ibid.).

When you see before you a vast expanse opening out toward the distance,

there is clear air above you and you see on the far horizon colors such as

green, yellow, and blue, know that you are going to pass through that air to

where those colors are. The colors appertain to spiritual states. Green is

the sign of the life of the heart [this being the highest state]. The color

of pure fire indicates the life of "spiritual concentration" (himmah), which

denotes power [of actualization]. If this fire be dark, that betokens the

fire of exertion and shows the seeker to be weary and afflicted after the

battle with the lower ego and the Devil. Blue is the color

of the life of the ego. Yellow is the color of lassitude. All these are

suprasensory realities that speak with him who experiences them in the two

languages of inner tasting (dhawq) and visionary apperception. These are two

reliable, mutually corroboratory witnesses: what you behold with inner

vision you also experience within yourself, and what you experience inwardly

you also behold with inner vision. (Fawa'ih, par.13:6, ibid)

This Face is in reality your own face and this sun is the Sun of the Spirit

which oscillates in your body. Then your entire body is immersed in purity,

and at that moment you see before you a person made of light, who generates

lights. The spiritual traveller, too, then experiences his entire body as

generating lights. It may be that the veil will fall from all individuality, so that you see totality through the totality of your body. The faculty ofinner vision is opened first in the eyes, then the face, then the breast, then the whole body. This person of light in front of you is called by the People [Sufis] "the Suprasensory Guide," and is also known as "the
Suprasensory [Personal] Master" or the "Suprasensory Scales [of Judgement]" (Fawa'ih, par.66:31-32, ibid ). Shams, with his profound understanding of religion, based on his masterly grasp of Quran and Tradition, as is evident from a careful study of Maqalat-i Shams Tabrizi ( his conversations with Rumi, as recorded by Rumi's son, Sultan vald ) was able to liberate Rumi from the narrow confines of the dogmatic teachings that even today serve to divide rather than unite people That explains the message of love that so beautifuly and in such abundance permeates the whole body fabric of Rumi's poetry in Mathnavi as well as Divan-i Shams-i Tabriz.
Nasir Shamsi>

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

On a visit to the Shrine of Shamsi Tabriz in Multan from UK wrote on 25 December 2008:

I visited the shrine of Shah Shams-i Tabriz a few months ago in Multan, Pakistan. It was a moving experience for me. I am a journalist and have been working in Pakistan for a few months. I loved all the material on your site well researched and presented.
Please keep up the good work


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Towards understanding Islam
by Nasir Shamsi

Islam is simple

Islam is a way of life. It is neither a state nor statecraft. Islam is
simple-- very simple. People came to Madina to accept Islam. They stayed in the city of the Prophet for half a day or a full day, perhaps for a night at
best. During this short stay, they learnt to say the Kalimah (there is no god except, Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet). The Prophet told them: he was Allah's Prophet like there were Prophets before him. He had come with a Book, called Quran, just as some Prophets before him had come with Scriptures. He asked them to do good, avoid the bad, pray to God and God alone, fast, give charity, be good to your parents, wives and children; there will be reward for good deeds and punishment for the bad deeds, on the Day of Judgement.

During this short stay, the travelers prayed with the Prophet once or twice
and left Madina, many of them never to return. Yet these were the first emissaries of Islam who carried new faith to the distant lands. Unless Islam was simple, how could it be possible for these one time time visitors to go and impart the message of Islam to thousands others ?

A Code of Conduct

Islam lays down a code of conduct. Its purpose is to guide humans on the right path, the path that leads to God. The Prophet was once asked why he had been sent as Prophet, replied, " to perfect your conduct " (le-otummi-ma makarim al akhlaq). God is Merciful and He loves His creation. To guide us all, He sent His Prophets, His Chosen People, with a defined code of conduct. Some of them had written Scriptures. Each Prophet was thus given a set of rules, a code of conduct, according to the circumstances of the time and the place. As the human consciousness developed over time, God sent new Scriptures to redefine their way of life. That explains an abiding relationship and a continuous and uninterrupted chain of Divine guidanace in the names and form of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, the last Prophet. They all represented ONE AND ONLY ONE GOD...only with a Scripture to conform to the changing world. The Last of them came to reconfirm the previous Scriptures and to

redirect and guide the people who had drifted. Anybody therefore who believes
in One God and ALL Prophets is a Muslim, regardless what he calls himself.

Tauheed (Unity of God)

The key to complete surrender (Islam) to God is the belief in His ONENESS ( Tauheed) and the belief in all Prophets, including the Last and the Final Prophet and the Last book, Quran. As a Muslim, we enjoy a special relationship with people of the Book, the Jews and the Christians and a human tie with all other human beings, characterized by human love and compassion. We cannot hate even an animal because it too shares with us this space on earth. Just as God is One, we all are One under Him, the One and Only One God. To me, Islam is as simple as that. Anybody who is willing to follow these simple rules is Muslim. Syed Saeed Akhtar, a renowned Scholar of East Africa was once invited to address the UCLA students in California, in the 70's. He defined Islam in most simple terms. During the Q&A session, a student asked him, " Mr. Syed, it sounds pretty simple. I am a Christian. If I say there is only One God and agree that Muhammad too is His Prophet, besides Jesus, will that mean I am a Muslim ?" The learned scholar replied, " Yes, Sir, by all means ".

Tradition: Yes Traditionalism: No

The problem with the religious zealots--- who tarnish the image of religion
through its misinterpretations-- is that they confuse traditionalism with tradition. Tradition, simply speaking is the way of living of a people, their folkways and mores; sociologically speaking, it is the ' culture ' of a certain people living on the planet earth in a certain era. The tradition is therefore a living phenomenon, a flowing river-- ever moving and changing its course when it goes up and down the valleys, the plains and the mountains.
Traditionalism, on the other hand, is an abiding obsession with the past,
characterized by a pathetic indifference to the living realities, a kind of
back-ward phenomenon. It is what the minister Chuck Windall called the ' dead faith ' of the living, like person's fixation with the past. Tradition is
healthy and leads to prosperity. Traditionalism is sick and breeds
adversity. Tradition embraces change; traditionalism abhors change. One is
forward moving, with eyes on front, the other is static, with eyes on the
back.. One embraces change and moves with the time; the other resists change and defies the changing times. Tradition is like a flowing river with fresh waters, a sign of living faith, while the traditionalism resembles a stagnant pond, ' the dead faith of the living '. Now we know what is the problem?

While you reflect on this, you can better appreciate, while living in this
free country, the wisdom of the Fathers of the American Constitution, who
guaranteed the basic human rights in the Bill of Rights under the United
States Constitution, which is guided by the most well known guarantee---
ensuring every citizen the right to preservation of Life, Liberty and Pursuit
of Happiness. They were guided, I am sure, by the wisdom inherent in the
premordial nature of man, the " fitra ", which is by itself Islam.

Nasir Shamsi

Ali bin Abi-Talib (a)
-- Model of Islam

by Nasir Shamsi

The name of Ali bin Abi Talib (a) is synonymous with Islam. No episode of early Islam can be mentioned without his presence or participation in one way or another. He was brought up by the Prophet himself and was fully immersed in all moral and spiritual aspects of his teachings. It is quite apparent that Allah had a plan in providing a gift to His last Apostle on earth, in the magnificent form of Ali. The unique qualities of head and heart and physique enabled Ali to lend support in implementing the Prophet's Divine Mission. It is note worthy that the first Revelation did not come and the Prophet did not receive the Divine order to proclaim himself as Allah's Messenger until Ali had matured and was physically able to support the great Mission. Ali followed the Prophet like a shadow and protected him from the mischief of the Meccans. The brave son of Abu Talib inspired fear among the Meccans and they dared not raise an eye before the Prophet when Ali was around. On the night of ' hijra ', he happily slept in the Prophet's bed, to let him quietly slip out of Mecca in order to escape the enemy attack.
Ali was the standard-bearer of Islam and history bears eloquent testimony to his valorous contribution to the success in almost all encounters that took place between the Muslims and their opponents. Allah's Messenger himself gave Ali the rare title of 'Asadullah ' (the Lion of God). According to the French Orientalist, Oelsner, "Ali was the beau ideal of chivalry and the personification of gallantry, bravery, and generosity. Pure, gentle, and learned without fear and reproach, he set the world the noblest example of chivalrous grandeur of character. His spirit was a pure reflection of Muhammad's; it pervaded the Islamic world and formed the animating genius of succeeding ages."

Nobody understood, better than Ali, the purpose and intent of the Prophet's message, the spirit and content of each Revelation. He was often a witness to the 'wahee'. He had the distinct honor of posting the Proclamation of the Sura al- Tawbah' ( Repentence ) on the wall of the Ka'aba, which forbade the pagans from entering the sacred precincts of the Ka'aba. This was a major event that at once declared the Supremacy of the Laws of Allah. Abu Bakr was sent to Mecca with the freshly revealed Sura. He was already on his way, however, when the Prophet received special instructions through the Angel Gabriel to replace him with Ali.
In compliance with the Divine Order, the Prophet immediately dispatched Ali to retrieve the Proclamation from Abu Bakr and post it and announce himself in Mecca. The Divine Document contained references to the idol-worship and admonition to repent. It was clearly Allah's design that only a man of impeccable character and faith, who had never worshipped idols, and who was immaculately-pure and free from sins could deliver the Divine Commandment to the idol-worshippers. The pious and beautiful hand of Ali which delivered the important Divine Decree to sanctify the Bait Allah, was rightfully called by the noble Messenger the yad Allah, i.e., Allah's hand. This event alone was enough for an unbiased Muslim to perceive who could act in place of the Prophet and who was to lead the nascent Ummah after he was recalled to his eternal abode by his Lord.
The minds of the early Muslims, however, had not yet overcome the habits of the days of jahiliya. Their hearts bore envy and grudge, even vengeance, against Ali since his sword had cut down many of their next of kin. Emotion clouded their vision and they looked the other way. Ali was not even consulted in the matter of the caliphate on the Prophet's death. The ummah deprived itself of the immeasurable benefit that Ali's leadership would have provided. This hasty action changed the character as well as the direction of the Muslim ummah. The caliphate was soon to degenerate into monarchy under the Umayyads.
The Muslims had been charged with the function to redeem humanity from oppression and injustice. If the Message had been allowed to continue under the able and worthy guidance of Ali, who on numerous occasions was clearly pointed out as the standard bearer and leader of the ummah, Allah's Deen would have flourished. The rightful selection of Ali would have ensured an uninterrupted continuation of the Prophetic Mission, leading to establishment of Allah's Rule on earth. After 25 years of seclusion, when the Medinites asked Ali to take the reigns of government, the spirit inculcated by the Prophet among the people had largely dissipated. The short five years of Ali's rule were marred by the unfortunate battles with the Muslim rebels. Muawiya, the patriarch of the future Umayyad dynasty, had been appointed governor of Syria in the Year 18 A.H. by the Second Caliph. Muawiya had almost two decades to fortify his position as a ruler in Roman style. His position was further strengthened by appointments of several Umayyads as governors by the Third Caliph. Muawiya arrogantly declined to accept the Caliphate of Ali and asserted his parallel government. This conflict led to the fierce battle of Siffin, which further divided the Muslims. The remaining years were also filled by armed struggles with the rebels, which culminated in Ali's assassination in 40 A.H.
It is a tragedy that the Muslims did not make use of the great genius of Ali, whose knowledge of Deen and science and other branches of knowledge was so vast that it defied time and space. What he had said then is true today and illumines the minds of many seekers of knowledge. For lack of space, we most humbly attempt to share with the readers a few glimpses into the most extraordinary personality of Ali bin Abi Talib. Ali's position with regard to the Message was like the axle of a mill because only he, beside the Prophet, fully understood the purpose and intent of the Divine Mission.

The following are quotes from Ali on Islam, Justice, and Governance:
ISLAM: "Have you fully realized what Islam is?", asks Ali. He then answers his own question:
"It is indeed a religion founded on truth. It is a fountain-head of learning from which many streams of wisdom and knowledge flow. It is a lamp from which many lamps will be lit. It is a lofty beacon of light that illumines the Path of Allah. It is a set of principles and beliefs that will fully satisfy every seeker of truth and reality. May all know all that Allah has made Islam the most sublime path for the attainment of His Supreme Pleasure and the highest standard of His worship and obedience. He has blessed it with noble precepts, exalted principles, doubtless arguments, unchallengeable supremacy, and undeniable wisdom. It is up to you to maintain the eminence and dignity granted to it by the Lord, to follow it sincerely, to do justice to its articles of faith and belief, to obey implicitly its tenets and orders, and to give it the proper place in your lives."
JUSTICE: He advised Malik Ushtar regarding the selection of judges:

"Select the wisest person in the land for the administration of justice among the people. He should be a person for whom this task is easy so that litigating parties are not able to prevail against his decisions."

"You must have love, respect, and kindness for your subjects. … Muslims and non-Muslims should be treated alike. Muslims are your brothers and non Muslims are your fellow human beings. ... Anger and vindictiveness should have no place in your administration. Do not let favoritism and nepotism come near you. They will make you violate your duties toward God and toward man and drive you toward oppression and tyranny. It is your sacred duty to look after the poor, the disabled, the orphaned, and the widowed. Do not allow anybody to humiliate, ill-treat, or oppress them. Make yourself easily accessible to them whenever they are in need of help.
"Select honest and kind persons for the job of governance. Do not select those who served under the former tyrants and were responsible for unjust acts and atrocities in the name of the State. Pay your officers well so that they can resist corruption and misappropriation. Take your subjects into your confidence; make them feel you are their well-wisher and friend. Protect the interests of your merchants and traders, but never allow them to practice hoarding, profiteering and black marketing. Encourage handicrafts; they reduce poverty and they raise the standard of living. Protect the interests of your farmers, because they are a valuable asset to the country."
We have quoted selectively only a few excerpts from a much larger and a most comprehensive treatise on administration, which Ali bin Abi Talib sent during his Caliphate to Malik Ushter, the Governor of Egypt. It should form an essential basis for good governance and efficient and honest administration in any country.
We conclude with a quotation from Masoodi, the venerable Muslim historian:
"If the glorious name of being the First Muslim, a comrade of the Prophet in exile, his faithful companion in the struggle for the faith, his intimate associate in life and member of his family reflect a true knowledge of the spirit of his teachings and of the Book and demonstrate self-abnegation and the practice of justice, and if honesty, purity, love of truth, and knowledge of law and science constitute a claim to preeminence, then all must regard Ali as the foremost Muslim. We shall search in vain to find, either among his predecessors (save the Holy Prophet) or among his successors, the level of those virtues with which God endowed him."
Note: Nasir Shamsi has written more than 100 articles on Islam. You can read some of his articles on the al-huda Foundation website at

The Story of Transformation of a Community
by Nasir Shamsi

Mehfle Shahe Khorasan the First Shia Center of the American Shias of Indo-Pakistan origin is 30 years old, this month of August 2005. As one of its first congregants, I am asked to pen down my thoughts about what is now endearingly called Mehfil. I do not know where I had read it. But I agree with the succinct message in this quote: “ The history is to a people what brain is to the individual “. The living communities do record their history. They keep an account of where they came from, what preceded them, what brought them together (and kept them) together -- their religious heritage, culture, aspirations, folkways and mores—their early struggles and any thing and everything that transformed them from a group into a community. For us in these critical times, the study of our early struggles and the role of a small center to help transform scattered groups into community has become all the more significant.
Since I am trying to recap memory of events scattered over three decades, please forgive me for any omissions or mistaken dates. I’ll try to avoid mentioning names of persons, as much as possible, because they are too many and won’t fit in the confines of this small paper.
The year was 1973. I had landed in New York in March of the same year. There was no place to observe Muharram. Men and women and small children of the only about 20 families from the Tri-state area assembled in the UN high School Hall on the East Riverside across from the 25th street in Manhattan, to commemorate the first Muharram, for most of us. The place was rented. The taped speeches were heard, a sister did Soz, followed by Matam and Noha Khawani. That was us - a small group of Shias hailing from India and Pakistan. Some funds were collected to purchase a place. A year passed.
In 1974, we met again for Muharram at the same place. A few new people attended and some more funds were collected this year. A sketch of the proposed building in New York was posted on the wall and a skeleton association was formed.
Later this year, Sultan Karamali and Yusaf Haroon bought a church in Englewood, New Jersey and named it “ Mehfle Shahe Khorasan “ to be managed by a trust of the same name. Shaikh Muhammad Sarwar, a young, erudite and pious scholar was called in from Karachi, as the resident Alam. He lived next door from the center and had an excellent library. The Mehfil opened for Majalis for some time. It came down one day due to fire caused by a short circuit in the basement. Soon however a brand new building replaced the old church structure. In 1975, this small but comfortable facility became the first Imam Bargah in the Tristate area.
I have fond memories of what now has generally come to be known as Mehfil. In 1977, we purchased our house in Montclair, not far from the Mehfil. We seldom missed any program. The families from New York also attended these programs. Because there was a physical place we could call our own, the loose group that we were before soon evolved into a community. A sense of friendship, brotherhood and camaraderie permeated the body politic of this newly born community. There was expression of enthusiasm and caring for one another among its members. This phenomenon was hardly accidental; it was the flowering of the right to assemble, which generates energy and joy, ecstasy and mutual love. People respected one another, committed to struggling together rather than against each other. This gave birth to extraordinary energy among the members of the community. The worries and anxiety were replaced by optimism and sanguineness.
It was a happy community. A couple of other associations had been formed by now. The good thing about association is that it unites into one channel the efforts of diverging minds, and drives them vigorously in the pursuit of the common goal. There is nothing that cannot be achieved through the combined power of individuals united into an association or organization.
The associating power helped develop an enthusiastic and vibrant community in the NY/NJ Metropolitan area. The congregants of Mehfil, touched and charged by the newly discovered identity and a sense of self-awakening, were able to launch in the following few years a membership organization-- the Muslim Foundation of New Jersey (1984). This was a natural development of the process of community-making, guided by the prudence and wisdom of a few selfless leaders and a compliant but vigilant congregation.
There were other compelling reasons for forming a membership based organization, giving representation to the families scattered over more than 100 miles radius around the First Shia Center in the Metropolitan area. Mehfil was acquired and managed by a closely held Trust. As the community took shape, there was a growing demand from people to participate in the management. The New Yorkers early on were also not very happy, because of long commuting and for making New Jersey the home for the first Shia Center. They had all along been trying to find a place some where in New York.
The founding of Muslim Foundation in a Bloomfield basement in 1984 was an act of great wisdom. I was present in that meeting attended by prominent leaders from different parts of New York and New Jersey. A truly representative body of some 20 people laid the foundation and agreed upon the goals of the Muslim Foundation. From now on known as MFI, it became the working body to manage and maximize the use of Mehfil as a Shia Center, reducing the role of the Khorasan Trust, the parent body to the minimum. Muslim Foundation accelerated the community building work.
Soon after the adoption of its bylaws the MFI, driven by enthusiasm and initiative of two boys in their early teens, launched the First Shia Sunday School in the basement of Mehfil. I was to be, to my great fortune, among its early parent-teachers along with Dr. Manzoor Rizvi, late Dr. Haider Shamsi, Srs. Nasim Gokal and Mumtaz Ladak. I cherish with great love the memories of those happy Sundays. I had the pleasure of teaching our young sons and daughters; they were brilliant kids-- our superstars of the 80’s. They have mashallah done well in their lives; most of them married, they are devoted to serving both religion and community.
This joint venture of the Mehfil and MFI acted as catalyst; it stepped up the community building work. The MFI sponsored the first religious Scholar. Maulana Tilmiz Hasnain Rizvi arrived in 1984. He was appointed Director of MFI’s newly created subsidiary, The Islamic Central Directorate with mandate to provide guidance in religious matters to the Shias of the Tri-State area. The then President of MFI, late Dr. Haider Shamsi purchased a house in Englewood, close to the Mehfil , only to house the ISD office and library.
In 1984, the late Syed Saeed Akhtar Rizvi (Bilal Mission, Africa) came to the US at the invitation of MFI. He gave instructions at a two weeks Summer Camp for the Shia youth at Alpine, New Jersey. His book, “ The Elementary Instructions about Islam”
And another book, “ The Guide Book of Quran “ became the first two publications of MFI. These publications were printed to fulfill the needs of the Mehfil school students. This however put MFI on the publication course; it continued publishing more books. It has 25 Publications to its credit- not a small feat by any standards. By now MFI had also launched a Quarterly Magazine, Payame Aman, the first Shia journal in the US. It was distributed free to 3000 Shias nationwide. The first copies of each issue were made available at the entrance of the Mehfil.
The influx of new migrants in the 70’s and 80’s greatly increased the numbers as well as the resources of the nascent community, which had already built three more Centers in New Jersey, Baitul Asr and Astana-i Zahra in Central Jersey and Baytul Qayem (est. 1985) in the South. New York also had now a big Center (the old Islamic Center at Queens Blvd) in Queens, New York, which was later replaced by the current Al-Khoi Center in Jamaica, New York. The congregants of Mehfil , some of them particularly, supported the other Centers through participation. Although these centers work independently of one another, yet there is a remarkable connectedness between them and their managements. Even though MFI moved to its own building in Franklin Township to pursue its great goal of building the First Shia Masjid, the relationship as well as interest of its founder members with the Mehfil remains undiminished.
Mehfil is a small facility. It’s the Garden State’s unsung hero ! Nobody has gauged its performance. The most remarkable thing about Mehfil is that although it started as a small center, but it has almost unknowingly, played a great role in transforming the early Shia groups into community and some of its congregants reached out nationally and participated, even inspired major Shia projects at other places. To name a few of these projects and programs: they were among the founders of JANA; they played a leading role along with their friends in New York, to help establish as well as manage the First Shia Center in New York—the Islamic Center on Queens Blvd, Queens for several years, until it moved to the building in Jamaica under new management and was renamed Al-Khoi Center.
They closely worked with Dr. Khalil Tabatabai for his project in Karachi, Imam Hussain University. They also helped start the first Howza Ilmiya and a Shia youth school with live-in facility at Medina, New York in 1987. The two congregants of Mehfil sent their
Sons to help start the first session of the new Shia institute at Medina. Maulana Tilmiz Hasnain Rizvi and Maulana Amir Mukhtar Faezi worked as Pricipals of this school.
The community building movement that started with establishment of Mehfil in 1984 had to go full circle and find its fruition. It was year 2002. As the Providence would have it, a Mehfil congregant met a Shia brother from New York in the Breakfast Room at the Hyatt Regency, Washington DC (they were both there to attend ISNA annual convention), he told him that his sons (also present at the time) were complaining that we (Shias) had not done much other than the centers, while they (ISNA) had done so well. He responded:
“ Don’t worry. Why don’t you call other community leaders when you go back home and let’s meet and form our own organization on a similar model ?”. The brother from New York took the suggestion to his heart. Two weeks later, they met with ½ dozen other community leaders in Maryland. There was a consensus to form a national Shia organization to address, among other things, the socio-economic and political issues facing the Shia community. UMAA (Universal Muslim Association of America) was formed and the American Shias have their national organization, in fulfillment of a mission that began in 1974. It is the final flowering of an effort that commenced with the first small center. This is the journey of a community from Mehfil to UMAA, the quintessence of the Shia heritage in America. The beginning of a New Era !

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Message for our young people!
by Nasir Shamsi

Never give up! Life is a continuous journey. There are many rewards on the way for the savvy traveler. The condition is that you have to be among the seekers. Keep your eyes on the horizon! Keep looking for the opportunities. They will appear every now and then-- like a shooting star. You ought to be there to catch them!

Build relationships! Don't hesitate to ask for clues, to move up another notch on the ladder. Always put your best into what you are doing. Do every thing that you are asked to do, as if you love it! Do it with passion. It has dual benefit; you will like what you do, making work look like fun. And it will make you stand out in the crowd, like a Star.

Do not stop learning. Brainstorm yourself with new things. Sharpen your skills. Never, never stop learning! Respect achievement and merit where ever you see it. Emulate (copy) the Achiever, befriend him and learn from him. Never be jealous of another person's achievement or fortune, because jealousy is a terrible thing. It eats away all virtue, making a person miserly, mean and self-centered. Beware! Be courteous and helpful to others, particularly the poor and the ordinary. Stay on that path, the path of those who are always willing to help and serve. Persist on that path, because that is the path of all good people. Compare your mind with soil. you get what you plant on it. Plant weeds, you'll have weeds. Plant flowers and you will have flowers. So why not plant flowers all the time ?
Now let us see what an old cherokee is to say!
Two Cherokee Wolves
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside us all.One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.The other is Good . It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

The Prophet of Islam

Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam
by Nasir Shamsi
What is Islam, asked a stranger. To obey Allah and to love His Creation, replied the Prophet.When another person asked him why he had been sent as Prophet, he answered: To perfect human conduct.Some orientalists had painted negative image of Islam in the past. The fear of the expanding Muslim Empire had haunted the west and it prevented the orientalists from being objective about the Muslim faith. They did not refrain from discrediting Islam as a blasphemous faith, and its Prophet as a pretender. After the tragic incident of 9/11, the western media has found further excuse to portray Islam as a violent and fanatical faith.

The information age has turned world into a global village. Quite naturally, the internet and other technology was expected to bring the people of the world closer together. However, the scourge of extremism, the terrorist attacks, rise of the neo-cons in America and their aggressive and hostile ideology, aided and abetted by the Rightist Christians and the Evangelist church and the anti-Islamic media in the west have served only to polarize the people of faith.
The only way to restore peace in these turbulent times is to provide just and equitable solution to the political issues of Palestine, Kashmir and Iraq (which have provided breeding ground for the extremism phenomenon). Several Muslim and non-Muslim organizations in the west have launched movements to promote and encourage inter-faith dialog and understanding, which must be supported. Caricaturing all Muslims as terrorists must stop and stereotyping of Islam must give way to a better understanding about the faith as well as its adherents.

Lately there is an upsurge of books on Islam and translations of Quran in English and Spanish are available in any good Book Store. Yet surprisingly there are not any significant biographies of the Prophet available to the general reader. In order to understand Islam, a person must first try to understand the spiritual aspect of the Prophet's life.Who was Muhammad ? Quran gives us a very clear description of his life before he had received his prophetic vision at age 40." Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter ?Did He not find you unable to see and guide you ?Did He not find you needy and suffice you ?(al-Zhuha 93:6-8)Born an orphan (his father Abdullah bin Abd al- Muttalib bin Hashim had died a few moths before his birth), in Makkah, he was only 6 years, when his mother, Aminah also passed away. He grand father, Abd-al-Muttalib took charge of him; he too passed away after two years. His most beloved uncle, Abu Talib now took him in his guardianship. He loved him more than his own children. He was only 10 when he accompanied his uncle, Abu Talib on a business trip to Syria. It was during this journey when a Christian Monk, Bahirah, looking at the young boy's face, exclaimed that he discerned signs of his future greatness. He cautioned Abu Talib to be more careful about him because he was to receive a Divine Call.The young Muhammad (s) earned good name in Mecca. He was called al-Amin due to his integrity and great trust he always inspired in others. At 25, he accepted a proposal to marry Khadijah, a virtuous and righteous business-woman who had engaged him to watch her business interests in travels to Syria where he accompanied her trading caravans to sell things to the local traders. Impressed by the accounts of his honest and square dealings and an excellent conduct during the long travels,Khadija offered to seek his companionship for life. The uncle, Abu Talib recited the nuptial sermon. Khadija remained his only wife until her death after 25 years of married life. She left behind the only daughter, Fatima (a), the apple of her father's eye. He loved her so much that every time she would enter the room, he used to stand up as a mark of respect, some thing unheard of in Mecca, a male-dominated society with little or no respect for women. She was wedded to Ali, the valiant son of Prophet's loving uncle, Abu Talib. As destiny would have it, the progeny of the Prophet, known as Sayyids were to spring from this noble union.The grief and sorrow of Muhammad was compounded by the fact that just three days before Khadija's death, his uncle who had been his great support along with his wife, had also died. The Prophet used to call that year, Am al Huzn, the year of grief because of the loss of his two great comforters and helpers." Read in the the name of thy Lord who creates--Creates man from a clot, Read and thy Lord is Most Generous, Who taught by the Pen, Taught man that he knew not "--it was ten years before the sad demise of Khadija and Abu Talib that Muhammad (s) had been revealed this most splendid message from God through archangel Gabriel during one of his solitary meditations in a cave on the Mount Hira in the precincts of Mecca. He had just turned 40. He had been asked to admonish the pagans of Mecca, the idol worshippers as well as his clan, the Ishmaelites, who had drifted from the Abrahamic faith, making it subservient to the rituals and superstitions.They believed in Il-ah, one God but their belief was shallow. Their practical life belied their claim. A hodge-podge and plethora of rituals and sinister superstitions, essentially stemming from their convoluted belief that God had delegated the control and administration of the universe to others in whom he had vested all powers, such as healing the sick, granting children and removing famine and epidemic. This was the central idea of their faith, like the decadent societies of the yore.They worshipped ordinary objects of stone and wood as holy. They would prostrate before them, and offer meals and sweets and sacrifices to them. There were also among them who compounded their jahiliyya (ignorance) by associating the evil and good with the stars and that their destiny and their fortune was controlled by the movements of the star. This was no small act for a man coming from such precarious circumstances as him that the Prophet Muhammad (s), may Allah's blessings be on him and his family, stripped not Mecca alone but the whole Arabia from such debasing idolatry and decrepit rituals immersed in superstition and ignorance, in just 23 years before he passed away at age 63 in Madinah.The Prophet of Islam had to face great difficulties after the passing away of Khadija and Abu Talib. The Makkans would chase him, yelling and ridiculing all the time. But it only strengthened the belief and conviction of the Prophet even more and he continued his efforts unabated to help reform the immoral, corrupt and iniquitous society around him. His anguished and sorrowful soul turned to another place, Taif hoping people there would listen to him. But the Taifians pelted stones at him and forced him, while injured and bleeding, to leave the town.In a state of utter helplessness, the Prophet turned to His Creator. As if to comfort His messenger in this moment of deep sorrow, an amazing thing happened. God called him as His own guest in the Celestial regions of the Heavens. This event is called Mera'jMera'j, the ascension of the Prophet Muhammad to the Celestial regions, the union of the Lover with the Beloved, is one of the most significant events of the last prophet's life. It has fascinated the minds and hearts of the believers, including mystics and poets, over the last fourteen hundred years. Notwithstanding a small minority of believers who look at the Meraj of the Prophet as a spiritual, not physical experience, most Muslims--all Shias and majority of Sunnis--believe it was Prophet's actual and physical experience. Mera' j also has a special meaning and significance in the life of a Sufi. To him it is a real experience, the highest ' Maqam ' a person could achieve in ' Salook ', a final meeting with the ' Mahbub ' , the Beloved; a Lover-Beloved union indeed ! Rumi, like other contemporary scholars believed in the actual physical transportation of the Prophet to the ' Sidratul Munta'h'aa ', the Highest Point." Glory be to Him who carried His servant by night from the sacred mosque (of Mecca) to the Distant Mosque, whose surroundingsWe have blessed, so that We show him some of our Signs. He alone hears all and observes all. " ( Quran 17:1 )The venerable poet-philosopher Iqbal , also a true ' Arif ' of Quran and a great admorer of Rumi , further confirms the generally held belief of most Muslims as well as Rumi, in this verse:Mila hey nukta yehy Meraj-e Mustafa se mujheyKeh alam-e bashriyat ki zad mein hai gardo'n( The ascention of Mustafa has revealed to methat the heavens are within man's reach )In another of his poems, Iqbal says,sitaron se a'age jahan aur bhi neinabhi ishq ke imtehan aur bhi hain( there are other universes beyond the Starsthere are other trials of ishq (Love) ahead ! )The traditions reveal that the Prophet narrated the accounts of his supernatural travel through the space onto the celestial regions unknown to man, as his personal experience, not as a vision or dream. This is quite evident from the shocking reaction of the Makkans, including some of his companions who, according to the Egyptian biographer of the Prophet, Mohammad Husain Haykal, turned apostate on hearing accounts of the Prophet's Celestial travel. Accustomed to the routine and the ordinary, they were unable to fathom the esoteric nature of the Divine grace. For a Sufi, it is not difficult to comprehend the mira' j because he knows that the norms are for the ordinary man. The love-journey is the journey to the extra-ordinary. Prophets are no ordinary men. They are breakers of norm-- the norm of the ordinary. Prophet Muhammad was no ordinary person. According to Quran , .he was the Seal of the Prophethood. Being the Last Prophet, his prophet-hood was not confined to a certain people, certain place or certain time. God called him the ' Rahmatul lil A'alimeen ' ---- the Blessing for the Universes; the jurisdiction of this' Rahma ' extends to the galaxies, the farthest parts of the universe. That explains Iqbal'sproverbial verse, " Sitaron se a'age jahan aur bhi hein ".So no wonder, Muhammad was made to ascend into the space with a lightning speed unknown to his contemporaries and a continuing challenge for the future man. Indeed an eternal Miracle of the Prophet of the Universe ( Rasulal Thaqlain) ! A miracle that will never be equaled or humbled. The Almighty made his servant (abd) ascend into the Space, beyond the earthly hemisphere, farther than the galactic clusters of the yet unknown stars, deep into the Seventh Heaven, closest to the Ultimate Love (ishq-e haqiqi), ' at a distance of two bows length or yet nearer still '." Hence he (Muhammad) took an overviewing position while he was in the highest horizon. Then he drew nearer, and became pending. Thus was he at a distance of two bows-length or yet nearer still. Then He revealed onto His servant......"The cosmic transcendency of the Prophet in timelessness puts him in a unique position in the universe; it also also points to the widening horizon of human knowledge of the universe. His bodily ascension to an infinitismaly distant destination (maqam) where " he was in the uppermost horizon (ufqul a'ala 53:7)., yet his return to his earthly home , all within a night , perhaps without any loss of time , points to possibilities, so far unfulfilled, of transcending time." For you (God) subjected all that is in the heavens and on the earth,all from Him. Behold ! in that are are the Signs for people who reflect. “( Quran 45:13 )I will like to conclude this humble tribute to the Prophet (s) with a quote from the opening chapter of Syed Ameer Ali's 'The Spirit of Islam', a book that I recommend to all readers, particularly the Muslim Youth growing up in the West:" At the dawn of the seventh century of the Christian era, in the streets of Mecca, might often be seen a quiet thoughtful man , past the meridian of life, his Arab mantle thrown across his shoulders, his tailasan (scarf) drawn low over his face; sometimes gently sauntering, sometimes hurrying along, heedless of the passer-by, heedless of the gay scenes around him, deeply absorbed in his own thoughts--yet withal never forgetful to return the salutation of the lowliest, or to speak kindly word to the children who loved to throng around him. This is al-Amin, the Trustee. " He has so honorably and industriously walked through life, that he has won for himself from his compatriots the noble designation of the true and trustee. But now, owing to his strange preaching, his fellow-townsmen are beginning to look suspiciously upon him as wild visionary; a crazed revolutionist, desirous of leveling the old hallmarks of society, of doing away with their ancient privileges, of making them abandon their old creeds and customs."

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

-according to Shams-i Tabriz

Generosity consists of four things: generosity regarding wealth belongs to ascetics (Zahedin), generosity regarding commitment belongs to those who strive to acquire religious knowledge (Mojtahedin), generosity regarding one's life belongs to those who invade infidel lands (Ghaziyan), and generosity regarding the heart belongs to the knowers of God (A'refin). The ascetics give away wealth and receive knowledge of God , ("Ma'refat") .Those who strive after religious knowledge commit themselves and receive spiritual guidance. And the fighters against the infidels give their lives and receive eternal life. The knowers of God give their heart and receive love.[excerpt from "Manaaqib al-Arefin" -- "The Feasts of The Knowers of God", by Ahmad Aflaki].

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Rumi's Teacher
-The life,conversations and thoughts of Shams Tabrizi
(includes English translation of Maqalat-i Shams)
-by Nasir Shamsi

A translation of Maqalat-i Shams, with biographical account of Mawlana's Teacher and Mentor, Shams Tabrizi, is in the works. The book being published by the Author House, USA in the near future is priced at $29 (plus 6.75 for shipping) . You can place order with Nasir Shamsi (mailto: or order online at

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Shams and Rumi
Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi
by Talha Jafri
July 27, 2003

“If you have lost heart in the Path of Love
Flee to me without delay
I am a fortress; invincible” - Rumi

The essence of all religions is to reach God or the Truth, or the Absolute Reality. The religions are like different rivers flowing into the same Sea. They may have different ways, but the destination is the same. Mevlana Rumi’s message is still relevant after seven hundred years. Rumi was a great thinker/philosopher, poet, or Sufi in present day Turkey. I read this about Mevlana Rumi written by a journalist some years ago “If one were to ask Mevlana Rumi what exactly he was he might say “nothing but a lover of God”.

His century was also a century of war and famine, where the Mongol hordes had wrecked havoc in Asia. Not much different from our own, where the majority of human race lives below the poverty line and is constantly at war. Mevlana Rumi had come from present day Afghanistan to Konya escaping the Mongol invasion. His family settled in present day Turkey. Mevlana Rumi soon became a very famous jurisprudent and preacher in Konya after his father’s death. At this point in his life he was already an accomplished Sufi master but restricted his spiritual teachings to a small selection of disciples but never exposed this publicly.

Mevlana Rumi around the age of 37 came in contact with a very spiritual figure known as Shams Tabriz meaning The Sun of Tabriz (Tabriz a place in Asia). People say he was a wandering dervish in search of a companion who could share his gnosis and be a mirror to him, but in truth no one but Mavlana Rumi knew his secret. After meeting with Shams, Mevlana took a retreat from his daily life. He stopped teaching at the institute where he was in the modern sense the Chair of the college. He would spend days and night with Shams mediating upon the Eternal Truth not meeting his family and spiritual disciples for many days at length. After Mevlana Rumi’s meeting with Shams, Mevlana said this about him “Today I have seen the God I have worshipped all my life in human form” and at another place he said that Shams was no ordinary vagabond he looked, he was an educated and well off Chemist who had left his profession in search of the divine truth.

Eventually, Shams disappeared. It is said that Mavlana Rumi’s jealous disciples murdered him. No one really knows what happened to Shams but his effect on Mevlana Rumi had been that of a catalyst, Rumi was transformed. This separation appeared to be a separation of two humans but in reality it was the separation of men and God. Just like man has never been happy since he left his place of origin, he finds satisfaction only in the remembrance of God, likewise Mevlana Rumi longed for reunion with God. Professor William C. Chittick writes this of their separation “Separation from Shams was but the appearance; separation from the Divine Beloved was the reality.”

Mevlana went into a state of ecstasy after this separation and would not meet anyone for many days’, singing and dancing day and night, remembering the Divine Beloved. Poetry poured from his lips, which eventually was collected into collections such as the Mathnavi, Divan-e-Shams-i Tabrizi and Rubaiyaat. In Mevlana Rumi’s own words “I was the country’s sober ascetic, I used to teach from the pulpit – but destiny made me one of Thy hand clapping Lovers:” from the Divan.

Professor Nasr interprets the meeting and separation of Mevlana Rumi as ” It seems that Shams was a divinely sent spiritual influence which in a sense “exteriorized” Rumi’s inner contemplative states in the form of poetry and set the ocean of his being into a motion which resulted in vast waves that transformed the history of Persian literature.”

Mevlana Rumi not only transformed the history of Persian literature but also fulfilled the prophecy of the great Sufi poet Fariduddin Attar (author of Conference of the Birds) who said to Mevlana Rumi’s father “soon this son of thine will set the spiritual aspirants of this world afire.

Even after his disappearance Shams remained alive in Mevlana’s heart. Mevlana Rumi probably never believed in Shams death and therefore went two times to Damascus in search of him. It is said that once a person came to Mevlana and told him that he had seen Shams. Mevlana gave away his cloak to him upon which his son said that this man is lying only to make you happy. At which Mevlana said, “I have given away my robe for a lie, I would give my life for the truth.”

Finally Mevlana came to the conclusion that Shams was within himself and
said,” Though in body I am far from him, without body and spirit we two are one light …
Since I am he and he is I, why do I seek? We are one, now I will sing of myself”

After Shams disappearance Mevlana Rumi left teaching at the university and only taught his spiritual disciples the path of Love/ Sufism. He continued his inspired poetry till his last breath. Mevlana Rumi’s name has now become very famous in the West. His poetry is widely read and in 1997 the Christian Science Monitor named his collection of poetry by Coleman Bark the best selling in the USA. Both people in the East and the West can associate with his message of Love, because it is a universal feeling for which mankind is thirsty.

“I am neither of the East nor of the West; no boundaries exist in my breast” - Rumi
“When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the night sky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,
Like this.

When someone quotes the old poetic image
About clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
Slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.

Say Like this.If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
Don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.
Like this. Like this.”

“I asked for a kiss you gave me six. Whose pupil were you to become such a master? Full of kindness, generosity... You are not of this world.”

“The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you,
not knowing
how blind that I was

Lovers don't finally meet somewhere
They're in each other all along.”

"Like the spear pierces the shield in a moment, I passed through nights and days. This is why all beliefs and religions are for me One and hundred thousand of years just a moment…"

"Come, come again, whoever you are, come!
Heathen, fire worshipper or idolatrous, come!
Come even if you broke your penitence a hundred times,
Ours is the portal of hope, come as you are."

“A nation of Love has a different religion, For them God alone is their nation and religion”

“By love, dead are made to live
By love, the sovereign is made a slave…
For Lovers the faith and religion is God”

And Mevlana’s final message would be

"Get united… I came here not to divide but to unify."

Inayat Khan an Indian Sufi master says “ The original words (in Persian) of Rumi are so deep, so perfect, so touching, that when one man repeats them hundreds and thousands of people are moved to tears. They cannot help penetrating the heart. This shows how much Rumi himself was moved to have been able to pour out such living words”.

Some of the themes in Mevlana Rumi’s Mathnavi are tolerance, love of the Divine and the remembrance of the Divine. The Mathnavi is a collection of stories of personalities such as Moses, Jesus and Muhammad and many Sufi’s. The East and West need to build bridges of understanding rather than talk about the “clash of civilizations”. We need to reach out to other civilizations and cultures. Mevlana Rumi’s life, works and teachings are a great source of inspiration for this purpose. On what basis can the dialog of civilizations take place? From Mavlana Rumi’s point of view people of faith from various religions and cultures can work for this understanding. As he said, “While beliefs vary from place to place, faith is essentially the same.”

God says to Moses in the Mathnavi of Rumi

“Ways of worship are not to be ranked as better or worse than on another
Its all Praise its all right
Its not me who is glorified in acts of worship
It’s the worshippers! …

Forget phraseology
I want burning, burning…”

And Rumi also says,

“There are many languages in the world,
in meaning all are the same.
If you break the cups, water will be unified and will flow together”

Truly the need of this age is to break the cups, remove the misunderstandings and flow together in harmony. It is said that Mevlana Rumi after the death of his wife married a woman of Christian origin. The remarkable thing about this marriage was that it took place at the time of the Crusades when the Christians saw Muslims as number one enemies and vice versa. Not only did Mevlana Rumi talk about love for humanity he himself proved many times in his life that he was a great lover of humanity.

“To love human beings is to love God” - Rumi.

On the 16th of December Mevlana Rumi passed away to his beloved. Men of five faiths followed his funeral bier. People that day mourning his loss said, “he was the David, the Moses and Jesus of our age”. This day came to be known as the Night of Union and is celebrated by his followers and a ceremony is held in his honor.

“When you see my funeral, don't say, "Parting and separation!"
for me, that is the time for union and meeting (God).”

– Talha Jafri
July 27, 2003

Friday, January 05, 2007

Seek Refuge in the Locks of Shamsi Tabriz!
by Rumi

Oh heart, place no honey in the mouth of the ill!
Speak not of entrancing eyes in the assembly of the blind!
Although God is nearer to His servant than his
jugular vein (Koran L 16),
he is far from those who are far from Him.
Occupy yourself with your own inward self!
Then like moons the concealed maidens will
come out in theophany from behind their veils!
Although in this work you will be lost to
yourself and the world,
outside of yourself and the world you
will be famous.
If you are the moon of union, give a sign of
your union!
Tell of the arms, the silver breasts, and the faces
of the houris!
And if you are yellow gold from separation's
where is separation's burning brand?
Only the coins of the wretched are so dull and tarnished.
Since you have no love, at least perform the
duties of servanthood,
for God will never neglect the wages of the wage earners.
Know that love for god is Solomon's seal
how should Solomon's income be related to the wages of ants?
Throw away the garments of thought and
cogitation, for the sun only shines upon the naked!
Seek refuge in the locks of Shams-i Tabrizi, for
they rain down musk and will protect you from tyrants.
- Ghazal, Divani Shamsi Tabriz, (Ode 2073)
Translation by William C. Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love"
SUNY Press, Albany, 1983

I'm Light Within His Light

I circled awhile
with each of the intelligences,
the nine fathers
that control the levels
of spirit-growth.
I revolved for years with the stars
through each astrological sign.
I disappeared into
the kingdom of nearness.
I saw what I have seen,
receiving nourishment
as a child lives in the womb.
Personalities are born once,
a mystic many times.
Wearing the body-robe,
I've been busy in the market,
weighing and arguing prices.
Sometimes I have torn the robe off
with my own hands and thrown it away.
I've spent long nights in monasteries,
and I have slept with those
who claim to believe nothing
on the porches of pagodas,
just traveling through.
When someone feels jealous,
I am inside the hurt
and the need to possess.
When anyone is sick,
I feel feverish and dizzy.
I am cloud and rain being released,
and then the meadow as it soaks it in.
I wash the rains of mortality
from the cloth around a dervish.
I am the rose of eternity,
not made of water or fire
or the wandering wind,
or even earth.
I pay with those.
I am not Shams of Tabriz,
but a light within his light.
If you see me, be careful.
Tell no one what you've seen.

-- Ghazal (Ode) 331
Version by Coleman Barks
"Say I Am You" Maypop, 1994

Though And I

"Happy the moment when we are seated in the palace, thou and I,
With two forms and with two figures but with one soul, thou and I.

The colors of the grove and the voice of the birds will bestow immortality
At the time when we come into the garden, thou and I.
The stars of heaven will come to gaze upon us;
We shall show them the moon itself, thou and I.

Thou and I, individuals no more, shall be mingled in ecstasy,
Joyful and secure from foolish babble, thou and I.

All the bright-plumed birds of heaven will devour their hearts with envy
In the place where we shall laugh in such a fashion, thou and I.

This is the greatest wonder, that thou and I, sitting here in the same nook,
Are at this moment both in Iraq and Khorasan, thou and I.

-Divan-e Shams-i Tabriz

"If you have newly become a lover"
Out of jealousy, Love makes the lover appearlike everyone's enemy. Once it has made people reject him, heturns to It.He who is worthy of the creatures is not worthyfor Love -- only the whore's soul marries a hundred husbands.Since the lover is not suited for "others," letthem all reject him -- then the King of Love will make him Hissitting companion.When the creatures drive him from themselves,he cuts himself off from their company; he accustoms hisoutward and inward to sweet-natured Love.But when the creatures accept him, his minddrags him in their direction and his heart turns furtively thisway and that toward anyone's love.When Love sees this It says, "My tresses havethrown a shadow, so the lover smells there the fragrance ofmusk and ambergris.I will make these two scents the enemy of hismind and brain -- he will have to abandon both.Though the lover has sniffed the musk inremembrance of Me, only a beginner on the Path wanders likea child saying, 'Where? Where?'Once he has left childhood, he will open theeye of knowledge -- why should he run to and fro on the riverbank looking for water?"If you have newly become a lover, take thebitter medicine and drink it, so that Shirin may make yousweeter than Khusraw's honey.*Perhaps Shams-I Tabrizi will intoxicate youfrom beyond the two worlds and remove you fromyourself!-- Ghazal (Ode) 742Translation by William C. Chittick"The Sufi Path of Love"SUNY Press, Albany, 1983* King Khusraw and Shirin are a pair of lovers oftencelebrated in Persian verse. Khusraw I or "royal" honeywas a famous kind of exquisite honey. Shirin, whosename literally means "sweet," of course represents theBeloved.

"Don’t set your heart on bones"
Little by little God takes away human beauty:little by little the sapling withers.Go, recite "To whomever We give a length of days,We also cause them to decline."*Seek the spirit;don't set your heart on bones.~~~~~~~~~~~Andak-e andak mi setânad ân jamâlandak-e andak khoshk mi gardad nehâlRaw "nu`ammiruhu nunakkis'hu" be-khvândel talab kon del ma-neh bar estekhvân-- Mathnawi, II:714-715Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski"Rumi: Daylight"Threshold Books, 1994, Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyل Monastra
* Quran 36:68

"Without you my heart is shattered"
~^ ^ ^ ^ ^I am a sculptorI carve new shapes and forms each daybut when I see you they all melt.I am a painterI create images and bring them to lifebut when I see you they all vanish.Who are you my Friendthe promised lover or the deceitful enemy?You ruin everything I build.My soul has sprung from yours andit carries the scent of your perfume.But without you my heart is shattered,please, come back or let me leavethis lonely world.
-- Ghazal (Ode) 1462"Rumi: Hidden Music"Translated by Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam MafiHarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2001

"Hundreds of thousands of trials"
~^ ^ ^ ^ ^There are hundreds of thousands of trials for anyone who claims,"I am the commander of the gate."If the vulgar don't put him to the test,the adepts of the way will demand the token of his sincerity.When a roughneck pretends to be a tailor,the king will throw down a piece of satin in front of him.~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~Sad hazârân emtehânast ay pedarhar keg guyad "Man shodam sarhang-e dar"Gar na-dânad `âmmeh u-râ ze emtehânpokhtegân-e râh juyandesh neshânChon konad da`vâ khayyâti khasiafgand dar pish-e u shah atlasi-- Mathnawi III: 682-684Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"Threshold Books, 1996(Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyل Monastra)The

"Out of my own control"
Today, Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 1688, from the Divan-e Shams, in the version which Coleman Barks derived from the Arberry translation, and in translation by A.J. Arberry:^ ^ ^ ^ ^"I Am Not This"I am not this. Your beauty closesmy eyes, and I am falling intothat. You cut the umbilical withthis love that's been with me sincebirth. My mother saw your mountainreflected in my face, you that liftcoverings, you that bring death. Weagreed on this before creation. I'vebeen so hidden. Ask my body who Iam. It says "solid ground." Ask mysoul. "Dizzy as the wind." Neither,I stand here facing Shams of Tabriz.-- Version by Coleman Barks, with Nevit Ergin "The Glance"Viking-Penguin, 1999~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ ~~~I have got out of my own control, I have fallen into uncon-sciousness; in my utter unconsciousness how joyful I am withmyself! The darling sewed up my eyes so that I might not see otherthan him, so that suddenly I opened my eyes on his face.My soul fought with me saying, "Do not pain me"; I said,"Take your divorce." She said, "Grant it"; I granted it.When my mother saw on my cheek the brand of your love shecut my umbilical cord on that, the moment I was born.*If I travel to heaven and read the Tablet of the Unseen, O youwho are my soul's salvation, without you how I am ruined!*When you cast aside the veil the dead became alive; the lightof your face reminded me of the Covenant of Alast.* When I became lost, O soul, through love of the king of theperis, hidden from self and creatures, I am as if peri-born myself.I said to the Tabriz of Shams-e Din, "O body, what are you?"Body said, "Earth"; Soul said, "I am distraught like the wind."-- Translation by A. J. Arberry"Mystical Poems of Rumi 2" The University of Chicago Press, 1991* "the moment I was born" -- To experience divine love is a spiritual regeneration or birth for a Sufi. This is why the soul in the world is compared to the embryo in the womb, and when it becomes a babejust born into a new world. Cf. Math. notes, 1: 19, 3180. Rumi says that such a love was inborn in him and from the beginning he embarked on his Sufi mission. "On that" refers to that love. It was a common superstition that if, while cutting the umbilical cord, one made a wish, the child would attain it.* "Lawh-e gayb" (the Unseen Tablet) seems to be the same as "lawh-e mahfuz (the Preserved tablet, Quran 85:22) which refers to the Quran. It is said to have been in heaven before its revelation. The Sufis interpret it as the First Intelligence (aql-e avval) or Logos or the Active Intellect (aql-e fa'al). See Sajjadi, "Farshang-erfani", 405, and Nicholson's note on Math. 1:296.* Covenant of Alast: "Alastu bi rabbikum?", "Am I not your Lord?" (Quran 7:171). Thus God addressed the future generations of men (according to the Sufis their souls). They answered "Yes", and acknowledged God's right to judge their actions and to punish their sins.

The Red Rose

The red rose, which tears its cloak to shreds -- Ifor one know its motive.The willow has let down its branches in straightrows to make up for all the ritual prayers it has missed.The lily with its sword and the jasmine with itsshield are preparing themselves for the holy war.The poor nightingale--how he suffers! He sighsat the rose's display.
Each of the lovely brides in the garden says,"The rose is glancing at me."The nightingale replies, "The rose makes thoseamorous gestures for my sake, headless and footless me!"The plane-tree has lifted up its hands inlamentation--shall I tell you what supplications he makes?Who put the hat on the bud's head? Who bentthe violet over double?Although autumn was very cruel, behold thefaithfulness of spring!Whatever autumn took in pillage, spring hascome and replaced.I speak of roses, nightingales and the beauties ofthe garden as a pretext -- why do I do it?For the sake of Love's Jealousy -- at any rate, Iam describing God's graces.The pride of Tabriz and the world, Shams al-Din, has again shown me favor.-- Ghazal (Ode) 1000Translation by William C. Chittick"The Sufi Path of Love"SUNY Press, Albany, 1983The media:

Importance of Guide and Teacher

If anybody goes traveling without a guide,every two day's journeybecomes a journey of a hundred years.The one who takes up a professionwithout having had a teacherbecomes a laughing-stock,no matter where he lives.Except perhaps for a single occurrence,in all the world, is a descendant of Adamever born without parents?The one who earns gains wealth;it's a rare event to find a buried treasure.

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Har keh dar râh bi qelâvozi ravadhar do ruzi râh-e sad sâleh shavadHar keh girad pisheh-ye bi ustârish-khandi shod be-shahr o rustâJoz keh nâder bâshad andar khâfeqaynâdami sar bar zanad bi vâledayn?Mâl u yâbad keh kasi mi konadnâderi bâshad keh ganji bar zanad

-- Mathnawi III: 588; 590-592 Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"Threshold Books, 1996
courtesy: Sunlight e-group