Reflection on August’s theme: The more the mind and heart become still, the more we can trust in God.
The state of my mind has always been quite frenetic. Over the years I have struggled with presence and meditation. It always seems that the quieter I try to become, the more active my mind becomes. During my very first 3-day chile (private retreat), which I undertook to try to develop these qualities of mindfulness in a contained, structured environment, I was overwhelmed with dozens of ideas and projects that came to mind. Over time, I have managed moments of stillness which feel so precious to me that hanging onto the memory gives me strength to continue forward on the path and not feel completely dejected that I’m just not ‘getting it’.
Although I resisted the notion at the start of my journey, experience and honest reflection made me realise that my frenzied mind was a reaction to not trusting in the Divine Plan. If I could just plan everything in minute detail and consider every possible outcome then I was in control of life and everything would be better because of me. What arrogance! And at the other extreme, when things didn’t work out exactly as I wanted, the self-recrimination was so intense that, with no awareness of the Divine Compassion, life for everyone seemed dark, dismal and my entire fault. Again, what arrogance!
Being with the community and our teachers offers catalytic moments when we can slip into presence and the common vibration much more readily. As our receptive qualities deepen with time, the easier this connection becomes. The realisation that God is an active force in my life and not just a transcendent omnipotent being judging my failures has opened the door to understanding trust – trust in God, trust in others, and trust in myself. Trust in myself has come through connecting to my heart. By learning to become an objective, compassionate witness, and staying with the moments of overwhelming emotion in my heart, I can experience the stillness and discernment that comes after them. This helps connect me to the truth of a given situation. It feels like the experience of muraqaba is removing veils and containing my frantic patterns of behaviour.
Recently I had an experience of sitting in a place of miraculous beauty and being completely still in mind, body and heart. I couldn’t put it into words until later and what came was a feeling of being childlike – completely free and utterly at peace in the moment. Trust and surrender in the Divine.
Al-Wakil is graciously working through my life. I have so much further to go but I am full of gratitude for the veils that have been lifted and for the beauty of those moments of stillness.
~ Saimma Dyer, Kendal
September’s theme is: The false self (nafs) will never be satisfied; so strive with God to be near to Him.
We welcome your reflections on this theme. Please email email@example.com.
A selection of Mevlevi Memes from Shaikh Kabir shared at the recent UK annual retreat:
You will have your feelings hurt, but don’t hurt others’ feelings.
You will be disappointed and offended, but don’t disappoint or offend.
The Prophet Muhammad said “My religion is morals, morals, morals. But what is the meaning of this? Even if a person has little education, if he tries to do good in society, this person has morals and is of me. But if a person is highly educated, and contributes to divisiveness, quarreling, and confusion, he has no morals, and isn’t of me.”
Sayyid Burhaneddin said, “Whoever is at peace with his nafs is at war with God.”
An extract from Shaikha Camille’s message read at the annual retreat:
As it is expressed in the hadith recorded in Saheeh Al-Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim is: “The best women of humankind are four: Maryam, daughter of ‘Imran, Asiyah, the wife of Pharaoh, Khadijah, daughter of Khuwaylid, and Fatimah, the daughter of the Messenger of God.”
How extraordinary and mysterious. The four holiest women of Islam are not four members of the Prophet Muhammad’s own family or restricted to the budding “Islamic” community; the list does not include his own mother, though she was undoubtedly a sensitive and saintly being, though it does include his beloved and devoted wife Khadijah, and his youngest daughter, Fatimah, that purest radiance of souls, both of whom supported him so faithfully in the unfolding of his mission. The Prophet opened the expanse of his heart to include Mary, the mother of Jesus, who so trusted in her Lord, so pure, so gentle, so receptive and so strong, and Asiyah, the wife of Pharaoh, who denied Pharoah’s demands to kill all the male children of the Israelites in captivity there and instead followed the inspiration of her heart to convince him to adopt Moses as a son, and as he grew in his Prophethood, stood by that adopted son in recognition of the Truth he conveyed, even though it meant her own death.
Within the Islamic tradition, we remember with great love Khadija, the beloved and devoted wife of the Prophet Muhammad, who was a business woman and yet was able to recognize his depth of spirit and was the first to acknowledge his prophethood, and their dear daughter Fatima, the resplendent one of such stalwart heart through whom all the generations of the Prophet’s descendents have come.
With this amazing statement, the Prophet Muhammad was once again affirming the unity of the faith in the Din al Hanifa of Abraham. He was acknowledging that faith is a matter of heart and inspiration, not the upholding of the status quo, and especially not of oppressive authority. He reached out to include those who stood up for Truth despite the prevailing norms, spanning vast eras and cultures. He included women who on the surface of things one might see as opposites: Mary, dedicated to God and immersed in remembrance since birth, and the wife of a pharaoh, a well to-do aristocrat used to great luxury, who nevertheless could turn the tide of forgetfulness and nurture and support a prophet not of her own blood nor of her original faith, nor even of her own people. Asiyah, an adoptive mother, recognized the consanguinity of Spirit fluid in all beings.
Eid Mubarak for the 22nd of September. May we all feel our connection to Prophet Abraham and his family, God’s peace and blessings be upon them all.
The edifice of the prophets was raised without greed;
that’s why the splendors of its renown increased without pause.
The grandeur that accrued to the Ka’ba
was derived from Abraham’s acts of pure devotion.
The excellence of what the prophets build
is not from earth and stone,
it is from the absence of hostility or self-interest
in the one who is building.