ozakPublished by Threshold Books

Excerpts from
Love is the Wine
Tales of a Sufi Master in America


The essence of God is love and the Sufi path is a path of love. It is very difficult to describe love in words. It is like trying to describe honey to someone who has never tasted or even seen honey, who doesn’t know what honey is.

Love is to see what is good and beautiful in everything. It is to learn from everything, to see the gifts of God and the generosity of God in everything, to see the gifts of God and the generosity of God in everything. It is to be thankful for all God’s bounties.

This is the first step on the road to the love of God. This is just a seed of love. In time, the seed will grow and become a tree and bear fruit. Then, whoever tastes of that fruit will know what real love is. It will be difficult for those who have tasted to tell of it to those who did not.

Love is a special pleasurable pain. Whoever has this in their heart will know the secret. They will see that everything is Truth, and that everything leads to Truth. There is nothing but Truth. In the realization of that they will be overcome. They will sink into the sea of Truth.

Whatever you taste of love, in whatever manner, in whatever degree — it is a tiny part of Divine Love. Love between men and women is also a part of that Divine Love. But sometimes the beloved becomes a curtain between love and realization of true love. One day that curtain will lift and then the real Beloved, the real goal will appear in all Divine glory.

What is important is to have this feeling of love in your heart in whatever form and shape. It is also important that you be loved. It is easier to love than to be the beloved. If you have been in love you will certainly reach the Beloved one day.

The gifts of God often come to you from the hands of other human beings, through God’s servants. And so, Divine love also expresses itself between human beings.

The sheikhs are the pourers of the wine and the dervish is the glass. Love is the wine. By the hand of the wine pourer, the glass — the dervish — is filled. This is the short way. Love could be offered to one by other hands. This is the short way.


Sufism is not different from the mysticism of all religions. Mysticism comes from Adam (God’s peace be upon him), of monks, of hermits, and of Muhammad (God’s peace be upon him). A river passes through many countries and each claims it for its own. But there is only one river.

Truth does not change. People change. People try to possess truth and keep it for themselves, keep it from others. But you cannot own the truth.

The path of sufism is the elimination of any intermediaries between the individual and God. The goal is to act as an extension, not to be a barrier.

To be a dervish is to serve and to help others, not just to sit and pray. To be a real dervish is to lift up those who have fallen, to wipe the tears of the suffering, to caress the friendless and the orphaned.

Different people have different capacities. Some can help with their hands, others with their tongue, others with their prayers, and others with their wealth.

You can get there by yourself, but that is the hard way. Our personal goals all lead to the same end. There is only one truth. But why deny the thousands of years of experience found in religion? There is real wisdom available from so many years of seeking and trial and error.

A great mistake is to have only half a religion. That keeps you from real faith. It is a terrible mistake. Seeing someone who is only half a doctor is terribly dangerous. Someone who is half a ruler is a tyrant.

Many struggle in the maze of religion and religious differences. They are like dogs fighting over a bone, seeking their own selfish interests. The solution is to remember that there is only one Creator, who provides for all of us. The more we remember the One, the less the fighting….

God has said, “I, who cannot be contained in all the universes upon universes, fit into the heart of the believer.” Now God does not actually fit into human hearts. God cannot be limited to a place. God’s expressions fit into all people’s hearts. We are not “part” of God, because God is indivisible. Humanity is God’s creation. God’s expression in our hearts is that we are God’s regents, God’s representatives. We are the expression, the visible example of God. And so, God’s Mercy is expressed through the thoughts and actions of one person, God’s Compassion through another, God’s Generosity through another.

There is the essence of God and there are the attributes of God. The essence is impossible for us to understand. We can begin to understand the attributes. In fact, part of a Sufi education is to understand those attributes in yourself.

God has said, “My servants will find Me as they see Me.” This does not mean if you think of god as a tree or as a mountain that God will be that tree or mountain. If you think of God as merciful, or loving, or as angry or vengeful, that is how you will find God.

It is permissible in Sufism to talk about all of God’s attributes. Finally, the Sufi reaches the stage of submission, and then ceases to ask questions.

There is electricity everywhere, but if you have only three light bulbs, all you will see is those three bulbs. You have to be conscious of yourself. That is the beginning and the extent of it. Only by knowledge of yourself will you understand certain attributes. The connection to the attributes is through self-understanding. Outwardly you will find nothing.

All of creation is God’s manifestation. But, as some parts of the earth receive more light than others, some people receive more light. The prophets received the most Divine light. Besides quantity there is quality. There is the question of what attributes are being manifested. Some people are manifestations of different Divine attributes. The prophets manifest all of the Divine attributes. The moon reflects the light of the sun. The sun is Truth; the moon is each prophet.