Reflection on September’s theme: The false self (nafs) will never be satisfied; so strive with God to be near to Him.
For most of our lives we live with our self (nafs) in charge, calling out to God whenever the nafs gets a bit shaken. It is when we fall and get broken that we see ourselves separate from our nafs and realise we cannot exist without God. Adam was content to be near God but his nafs removed him from that nearness. I try to ease the fears of a nine-year-old boy who is told about hellfire by a shaikh at the madrassa. I ask him, ‘How can God, who created us, burn us in fire? If you made a mistake, would your mother burn you?’ He laughs.
It’s just as ridiculous as God hurting us because we made mistakes and got duped by our nafs. Being away from God is actual hell, a separation which doesn’t get eased. The drop is only safe in the embrace of the ocean. Many years ago, migrating to another country, facing the darkness with no familiar sound or sights, by default I found the only Friend who doesn’t need a visa or a special country passport to be beside me. A fragrant bush of flowers, a loving breeze, comforted me as my mother, grandmothers or siblings could. Going through the maze of small cone-shaped caves in Cappadocia in Turkey, the presence of God in our everyday life being the most important was depicted in the beautiful little churches made by people who lived there years ago in hiding, who cultivated land, buried their dead and lived a life in secrecy, only needing God.
For me, trying different work in my life has been a great challenge. I never thought serving creation could be the most beautiful, filling the gap between the hand of Adam reaching out to God, bringing Him/Her as near as our breath. Visiting stone gods at Gobekli Tepe, Turkey, erected by people 13 thousand years ago on the mountain, made it clear we always needed to reach out to the One, with infinite mercy and compassion, feeling safe and content. Beautiful, radiant soul, Esin Çelebi, sharing about service, said serving others is like serving yourself: would you expect a thank-you for serving yourself? Our untamed nafs, like a spoilt child, feels unfulfilled no matter how we cajole it with our complete attention. Its need for attention is never satisfied. Our teacher and beloved guide, Shaikh Kabir, tells us the nafs can only be nurtured with love. Our nafs isolates us from our Beloved Friend. It makes us believe a drop could become an ocean by itself. We need to gently educate and enlighten it to the delight of true surrender and strive on with God.
~ Sania Sehbai, London
October’s theme is: Begin with contentment (Rida); then follow the Heart.
We welcome your reflections on this theme. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Begin with acceptance; then follow your heart.
Acceptance is a beginning, a point of departure, as well as the culmination of Heartfulness.
Imagine that you are a refugee fleeing your homeland with no more than what you can carry with you. What will give you the strength to carry on? There is nowhere else to begin than with acceptance of where we are right now. We begin by seeing ourselves and our circumstances accurately, seeing things as they actually are in the present. With conscious consent to what is at this moment we can know that this is the center of true beginning where infinite divine Mercy meets our finite self.
If we see that we have been running through a maze of distractions and desires and have not been content at all, then this is still where we begin. Contentment, acceptance, is possible from the moment we wake up from that maze of manufactured desires and distractions; in that moment we may find that contentment begins with consent to our own being in this moment. Because what we truly are is sourced in an Infinite Source, sustained and embraced by the Source of Life, we can sense at least the possibility of desirelessness, contentment, consent to the moment.
57: (20) KNOW that the life of this world is but a play and a passing delight, and a beautiful show, and[the cause of] your boastful vying with one another, and [of your] greed for more and more riches and children. Its parable is that of [life-giving] rain: the herbage which it causes to grow delights the tillers of the soil; but then it withers, and you can see it turn yellow; and in the end it crumbles into dust…
89: (27) [But unto the righteous God will say,] “O you human being that hast attained to inner peace! (28) Return unto your Sustainer, well-pleased [and] pleasing [to Him]: (29) enter, then, together with My servants – (30) yes, enter My paradise!”
We should ask ourselves, then: Have we given the world and its attractions undue importance? And if our desires lead us into injustice, corruption, dishonesty, and cruelty there will be an accounting. This ayat continues:
…But [the abiding truth of man’s condition will become fully apparent] in the life to come: a great chastisement, and God’s forgiveness, and His goodly acceptance: for the life of this world is nothing but an enjoyment of self-delusion.
And for those who give consent in this life and reach contentment:
98: (8) Their reward is with God: gardens of perpetual bliss, through which running waters flow, therein to abide beyond the count of time; well-pleased is God with them, and well-pleased are they with Him: all this awaits the one who stands in awe of his Sustainer!
This divine love is longing to be known, to be experienced, to be recognized. This is the whole purpose of life on earth, that the human being will rise to the purpose for which it was created, that the divine beauty and generosity will be apprehended, that we will recognize that we are being guided, nurtured, supported, and loved.
Whether amidst the harshest realities of this life, or amidst the surfeit of abundance that distracts us from our own being, rida, consent, opens us to the same state of heart-full presence.
~ Shaikh Kabir[Read Shaikh Kabir’s reflection on last month’s theme about Selfless Striving.]
Some pictures from last month’s family zhikr hosted by Sania, Amer, Sandalee and Shifa.
We remember those in our families, communities and world who are in difficulty and pray for love, light and healing to manifest wherever it is needed.
O God! I ask You for a humble heart that prays in awe, for a certain and continuous faith, for useful knowledge, and for wholesome deeds. I ask for true certainty, and I ask for unshakeable following of the way, and I ask for perseverance in the face of all trials, and I ask for complete well-being, and I ask that well-being may continue. I ask to be able to give thanks for well-being.[Mevlevi Wird, pg. 55]
Mevlevi Zhikr recording
Access the full Mevlevi zhikr recited by Shaikh Kabir and Shaikha Camille and support your daily practice. Listen online or download.
Oct 2nd: Threshold London Monthly Open Group, 7pm. Newcomers to the group are asked to seek a telephone introduction and briefing with the host/facilitator before attending. Please phone Sadat on 07710 511517, or e-mail email@example.com
Oct 31st: Family zhikr and meal in Harrow from 7pm hosted by Sania and Amer. For more details and address please contact Sania at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get in touch
We’d love to hear from you — a favourite piece from Mevlana, your own poetry, reflections on the path… please do contribute. We learn so much from each other, may this space be an opportunity for community, connection and companionship. Email: email@example.com
Above all devotional acts on the Way
choose the protective shadow of the servant of God.
Each takes refuge in some act of devotion
and so discovers for himself some means of freedom.
Go, take refuge in the shadow of the wise;
escape from the enemy that opposes you in secret.
Of all acts of devotion this is the best—
by this you will surpass every one
who may have outdistanced the rest.
But pay attention: when that wise one[Mathnawi I:2965-2969, The Rumi Daybook]
has accepted you, surrender your self—
go, like Moses, under the command of Khidr.