More to come, please come back again!
Recommended Book of the Month
- Khutba 2017 08 18 – Zikr of the Heart August 18, 2017
- Discostan’s Founder Followed Her Love of Sufi Spiritual Music All the Way to Pakistan August 17, 2017
- 15th August CE Assumption of Mary, Quds (Jerusalem) August 15, 2017
- Sufism provides platform for interaction between East, West August 13, 2017
- Sufi shrines in China August 11, 2017
As salaam alaykum, greetings of peace to you! I am happy to report that I have been working fairly steadily on the new blog/website. The domain has been changed over and most of the files have been moved over as well. Still to be done is to put up all my publications, finish the article about Salat and a few other odds and ends. I think it is pretty decent and still gives the information about various urs and events.
I also hope to be adding more news stories and articles as time allows. This really is a labor of love so please be patient if you don’t see something you want. Or, even better, write me a note telling me how much you love the new site and what else you would like to see there.
Lastly, the unfortunate thing about moving the site was that I could not import all the names and emails of people who were subscribed to the old site. This is to protect people’s privacy and to make sure that they would not get unwanted email solicitations. So, if you were subscribed to the old site you will have to renew your subscription to the new one, and if you were never subscribed then you can take this opportunity to do that now. Subscribing simply means that you will receive notices of new postings in your email. Don’t worry! You can control the frequency of when you get the emails or you can choose to not receive them at all. I estimate about 5 emails per month more or less. If you wish to subscribe you can go to the contact page. When you fill out the contact form be sure to check the box indicating you want to be added to the contact list. I will then send you an invitation so you can accept and be added.
Thanks to all for your support and interest throughout the years it is so appreciated!
Peace and Blessings to all!,
The text of the khutba is available as a PDF file. Please go to zikr of the heart to download the file.
Arshia Fatima Faq’s album of field recordings, “Ishq Ke Maare: Sufi Songs From Sindh and Punjab, Pakistan,” captures a style of music the Taliban is trying to wipe out.
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life is a defined dogma of the Catholic Church. The Feast of the Assumption, celebrated every year on August 15, is a very old feast of the Church, celebrated universally by the sixth century. It commemorates the death of Mary and her bodily assumption into Heaven, before her body could begin to decay–a foretaste of our own bodily resurrection at the end of time. Because it signifies the Blessed Virgin’s passing into eternal life, it is the most important of all Marian feasts and a holy day of obligation in the Catholic Church.
The feast was originally celebrated in the East, where it is known as the Feast of the Dormition, a word which means “the falling asleep.” The earliest printed reference to the belief that Mary’s body was assumed into Heaven dates from the fourth century. The document recounts, in the words of the Apostle John, to whom Christ on the Cross had entrusted the care of His mother, the death, laying in the tomb, and assumption of the Blessed Virgin. Tradition places Mary’s death at Jerusalem or at Ephesus, where John was living.
With Muslims being portrayed as terrorists in the West, giving rise to Islamophobia, drawing a corresponding response from the East, Sufism provides a platform for the two sides to interact.
This was stated by Marcia Hermensen, a professor at the Loyola University in Chicago while delivering a lecture on “Sufism and the West”. The lecture had been organized by the Muslim Institute.
Moreover, she said that Sufism was often characterized as culture-friendly so that Islamic thought could be introduced through subjects such as art and poetry and hence Islam could spread around the world by meeting people where they were in their cultural interest in an adaptive manner.
In the wake of globalization, migration from ‘East’ to ‘West’ increased along with the invention of different modes of transportation, allowing more and more western population to come into contact with Sufism and also led to the establishment of Sufism in the West as an academic field. “The isolation of individuals has lead people to search for inner peace in Sufi poetry which can thus create a peace-loving and friendly society. Sufism provides the western community with rationality and objectivity regarding contemporary issues,” Hermensen said.
“Multiculturalism has emerged as a reality and Sufism provides us with the platform of interaction between the East and the West.”
One peculiarity of Sufi teachings, she said, was that it addresses humanity above all linguistic, racial and ethnic differences.
“In the wake of prevailing extreme tendencies, Sufi teachings can lead us towards harmony and brotherhood,” she said, adding that focusing the commonalities and bridging the gap between people was the need of the hour.
With the portrayal of Muslims as extremists in the west giving rise to Islamophobia, drawing corresponding reactions in the East. there was a need for dialogue between Muslims and the West for the resolution of contemporary issues. “We are all connected to Sufism because of our spiritual aspect. Even scientists are looking for spiritual connections behind physical happenings,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2017.
New York-based artist visits enduring symbols of collective memory and faith in desert environment in northwest China
Photographer Lisa Ross is interested in exploring the liminal spaces where faith, culture and abstraction meet. In her latest exhibition in Dubai, Living Shrines, she is presenting a series of photographs of Sufi shrines in the Taklamakan desert in China, built by Uighur Muslim pilgrims. Between 2002 and 2012, the New York-based artist made several trips to the remote Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Province in the far northwest of China to document these shrines that stand as poignant and enduring symbols of collective memory and faith in the harsh desert environment.
The shrines, known as mazars were built by the Uyghur people to commemorate Sufi saints, and many have been maintained continuously for several centuries. They are simple structures, comprising small crib-like wooden enclosures, or just a few sticks and stones arranged in the sand. But their importance in Uighur culture is indicated by the many offerings left behind by pilgrims, such as prayer flags, colourful silk fabrics, sacrificial animals, and dolls.
Ross’s ethereal photographs capture the beauty and tranquility of the desert landscape, and the simplicity and spirituality of the shrines. The tiny handmade structures appear so vulnerable, yet resilient; grounded yet otherworldly; ordinary yet extraordinarily beautiful.
There are no people in the pictures, but their presence is palpable in the fluttering flags, the carefully cut pieces of fabric, and other offerings they have left behind, and their footprints in the sand. The images convey Ross’s intimate knowledge of the culture, and her love for the land and people, but they also go beyond that to give viewers a sense of experiencing the pilgrimage, and the spiritual transcendence it signifies.
“I began this project at a time when I was really drawn to deserts. I had been working in the Sahara and Sinai deserts before a friend invited me to Beijing. I had never heard of the Uighurs or the Taklamakan desert, but when I read about the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Province in a travel guide in Beijing, I intuitively felt like going to this remote region. It involved a train journey of three and a half days, and then finding a rental car and a driver to take me deeper into the desert.
“When I saw these shrines for the first time, in the rugged, desolate desert I had no idea what they were. I was curious to learn more about them,” Ross says.
Over the next decade, she travelled to the area many times – on her own, as well as with people who know the region such as French historian Alexandre Papas and Uighur folklorist Rahile Dawut, who helped her to connect with the community and get a deeper understanding of the land and its history. In 2013, Ross published a book, Living Shrines of Uyghur China, which features her photographs of the mazars, and background texts by Papas and Dawut.
“When I travelled with Papas in 2004, we found a pilgrim’s guide book in the Uighur language giving information about the location and history of 86 mazars. Using this guide, we visited over 25 mazars, travelling by foot, donkey cart, bicycle, minivan, taxi, train and bus.
“The people we met were always friendly and helpful, and each journey was a unique pilgrimage. Later, I met Dawut, the author of that guide, at a conference on Uighur culture at the School of Oriental and African studies in London, and she was amazed that her book had been used by two foreigners. She invited me to travel across the region again with her, and in 2005, we travelled together in the area for six weeks. Being with her was like moving from the outside to the inside. Even though we visited remote mazars, she had family and friends everywhere, who welcomed us warmly. The entire experience created a greater desire to return and continue developing the project,” Ross says.
Her photographs become more significant in the context of the changes that are taking place in the region. With the development and modernisation policies of the Chinese government threatening to turn these living shrines into relics of the past, Ross’s images are an important record of a rich and vibrant culture on the threshold of change.
“While working on this project, I made a conscious decision to remain apolitical. Through my photographs I want to convey my personal experience of this region and culture, and also give viewers the same moving, emotional experience that I had when I saw the shrines,” Ross says.
Jyoti Kalsi is an arts enthusiast based in Dubai
Living Shrines will run at Gulf Photo Plus, Al Serkal Avenue, Al Quoz until September 2.
Source: Sufi shrines in China
In one of the battles that the Muslims waged against the Romans, the Muslims – under the commandment of Maslamah (rahimahullaah) – surrounded a city that had a tall and well-fortified wall. The siege went on for months.
Then one night, one of the Muslim soldiers came to General Maslamah and told him of a hole that he had accomplished to bore through the wall. “It is only large enough for a slim soldier.” He knelt closer. “Quickly, send with me someone who can squeeze through and fight the army on the inside until he has opened the gates for all of us to enter.”
Maslamah sent out the news, and that night someone volunteered. In a sweeping assault, the gate was opened and the Muslims were victorious.
Maslamah, overwhelmed with happiness, sent out the word that the soldier that entered the hole should come forward. No one showed. A day passed and the request was repeated. Another day, then another. No one arrived to take credit.
On the fourth day, a soldier approached Maslamah, his face wrapped in a scarf. He said to him, “I have news of the soldier that entered the hole.”
Maslamah sat up sharp, “Tell me who it is?”
“First, however,” said the soldier, “he has three conditions before exposing himself. Do you agree to this?”
“Of course,” Maslamah said.
“The first is that you do not try to compensate him for what he did. The second is that you do not tell anyone who he is. And the third is that you shall not ask for his presence ever again. Do you agree to these conditions?”
“It is agreed,” Maslamah said.
The soldier, uncovering his scarf, said, “It is I. I went through that hole only for the sake of Allah.” Then, turning, he walked away.
After that day, Maslamah was often heard praying to Allah, “O Allah, (on the Day of Resurrection) grant me companionship with the soldier of the hole.”
Sometimes at any Islamic school, there are children who pray at the back, but the actions are better described as ‘playing’ Then when the head master or whoever they consider to have authority above them approaches, they all stand erect in complete devotion.
They are children and Allah will not take them to account. However, there are many adults that do this exact thing but on a more serious scale. The ingredient that we all need to work on throughout our lives as Muslims is Ikhlas (sincerity) and, insha’allah, that shall be our topic for today.
Sincerity in all we do is a commandment of Allah:
[Say, “Indeed my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first (among you) of the Muslims.”] Surah Al-An’aam 6/162,163
[And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give Zakah. That is the correct Deen.] Surah Bayyinah 98/5
In defining Ikhlas, Al-Jurjaani (ra) said that it is to not seek any audience for your deeds other than Allah.
When one looks over the text of the Qur’aan and Sunnah, they will come to the realization that Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw) speak about sincerity in different aspects: Sincerity in Tawheed of Allah and sincerity in our intentions. Sincerity in our worship, such as in Salah, Sujood, Fasting, standing in Ramadan, standing in the night of Qadr, sincere love for the Masjid, Zakah, Sadaqah, Hajj, Jihaad, repentance, supplications, recitation of the Qur’aan, and so much more.
The Qur’an and Sunnah speak about sincerity in all our verbal statements, sincerity in our refined and upright Akhlaq (character), sincerity in our Tawakkul (placing of our trust) in Allah (swt), and sincerity in all actions.
Commenting on the verse:
[He who created death and life to test you (as to) which of you is best in deed] Surah Al-Mulk 67/2,
Al-Fudayl ibn ‘Iyaadh (ra) said, “It is those deeds which are most correct and most sincere.” The students asked, “O Abu Ali, what are deeds that are correct and sincere?” He said, “If a deed is done sincerely, yet is not done correctly, it will not be accepted. And if a deed is done correctly, but not sincerely for Allah, it will not be accepted. It must be done sincerely and correctly. Sincerely, as in for Allah alone; Correctly, as in accordance to the Sunnah.”
He then recited the verse of Allah:
[So whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord – let him do righteous work and not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone.] Surah al-Kahf 18/110. (See Madaarij As-Saalikeen 3/93)
With Ikhlaas we can be saved from misguidance as Prophet Yusuf (as) was saved. Hear Allah’s words:
[And thus (it was) that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our Mukhlaseen servants.] 12/24
With Ikhlaas the books can be turned in our favor in the last minutes of our lives just as what happened to the man that murdered 99 men. Allah (swt) saved him in the end because of his sincerity in repentance.
With Ikhlaas one will be saved from Hellfire and granted a lofty position in Jannah.
Dear brothers and sisters, we must understand that there are certain things that contradict our Ikhlaas to Allah. Of these things are three, Reyaa’, Sum’ah and ‘Ujb.
Reyaa’ is to perform an act of worship with the intention of showing it off to people, seeking their praise or some other vanity. Thus this person is seeking to be glorified or praised or hoped for or feared through this action. An example of this would be such as donating a large sum of money in order that people may think the contributor is generous.
Sum’ah is those verbal statements that a person does for the sake of people. Such as someone making ballooned threats just so others would think he is courageous.
Ibn Al-Mubaarak (ra) said, “Perhaps a great deed is belittled by an intention. And perhaps a small deed, by a sincere intention, is made great.”
‘Ujb is the cousin of Reyaa’. It is when a person becomes impressed with himself for the ‘great’ deeds that he has done.
This and all the other types are viruses that can kill our actions and turn them against us on the day of Resurrection.
Ya’qoob al-Makfoof (ra) used to say, “The sincere one is he who hides his good deeds in the same way that he would hide his bad.”
From the Seerah, as Sa’d ibn Waqqaas narrates: … as for Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl, (after the conquest of Makkah) while escaping by sea, a terrible storm befell them. The owners of the boat shouted, “At this moment pray to only God and pray sincerely, for your gods cannot avail us in any way through salvation from this storm.” ‘Ikrimah said, “By Allah, if Ikhlas can only save me on the sea, then on land nothing but it can save me.” (He then raised his hands and pronounced), “O Allah if you save me, you have upon me an oath that I shall not rest until I arrive at Muhammad (saw) and place my hand in his.”
He then came to Rasul Allah (saw) became Muslim, and was later martyred in Jihad.
Sincerity is a topic that is not only key to Islam, but it is also a subject that the Kuffaar and philosophers have pondered for centuries. The English have a saying that goes to the effect of: To hunt with the lantern of Diogenes.
Diogenes was a Cynic Greek philosopher who lived about 320 years before Prophet Eesa – alayhis salam. He believed there was no sincerity – no Ikhlaas – in any human being. To vividly prove his point, he was said to have gone about the streets of Corinth in broad daylight with a lighted lantern looking for a sincere man. From here the English coined the term To hunt with the lantern of Diogenes when speaking of a group of people whose sincerity is extremely absent.
Indeed insincerity in our actions is something very dangerous and can lead a person to ruin. Ibn Masood (raa) would advise his students, “If your intention is one of these three, do not seek knowledge: To shame the ignorant, or to argue with the Fuquha’, or to cause people to turn their faces in your direction. Intend with your actions and words that which is with Allah, for indeed that which is with Allah shall remain and everything else shall perish.”
In conclusion, Ibn Al-Qayyim (ra) said, “Deeds without sincerity are like a traveler who carries in his water-jug dirt. The carrying of it burdens him and it brings no benefit.”
May Allah ta’ala make us all from those whose deeds are done in accordance with the Sunnah, deeds that are done sincerely for the sake of Allah.
And Allah (swt) knows best.
(The following text and photo can be found at http://sufi-mystic.net/text2.htm#5)
“I am not concerned in the least with what you are, what you have, what you believe, how you live; how you act, how much faith you may have, how much belief you may have, or how much hope you may have; but I am concerned with what you would like to become.”
These are the words of Hazrat Dr. Zahurul Hassan Sharib, Gudri Shah Baba IV. He lived his entire life for others. And for the love of The Almighty. These are the words that describe his love for the love of the Almighty.
Hazrat Dr. Zahurul Hassan Sharib (affectionately known as Zahur Mian) was born in Moradabad, a district in Uttar Pradesh, India. He received a doctorate in Political Science and thereafter pursued a legal career.
However, a deep interest in spiritual life steered him towards Sufism (Islamic mysticism). He moved to Ajmer, the city of the renowned Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishti, where he spent many years in the love and service of his Pir-o-murshid (spiritual guide) Hazrat Nawab Khadim Hasan Shah Sahib, Gudri Shah Baba III. In 1970, upon the demise of his spiritual guide, Dr. Sharib succeeded as the Head of the Gudri Shahi Order of Sufis. Under his inspiring guidance, the Order gained momentum both in the East and the West.
Dr. Sharib was fluent in many languages, including some modern European languages. He has to his credit, a large number of publications in Urdu, English, Dutch and Italian. Apart from writing books on mysticism, he has translated classical Persian poetry into other languages. He has also authored several books on rural sociology.
Hazrat Sharib Gudri Shah Baba IV firmly believed in the ideal of plain living and high thinking. He was always an ocean of love, understanding, comfort and guidance for anyone who came in touch with him. Once asked by some members (of the Society of Mystics) as to how he should be remembered after his death, Zahurmian said:
“It is enough, if you remember me as one who loved you well, and loved you wisely too, giving you a sense of direction, proportion and perspective, a goal and a definite purpose.”
His teachings were based on the teachings of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishti, and in 1958 he founded The Society of Mystics, at the behest of his spiritual guide, Hazrat Nawab Gudri Shah Baba, after he was asked by Hazrat Khwaja Moniuddin Hasan Chishti to do so in a dream.
Upon becoming the Head of the Gudri Shahi Order, from 1972 onwards, Sharib Gudri Shah Baba IV wrote a series of periodical lectures for almost 25 years which are now compiled and presented in a book Inward Peace. The lectures hold a universal appeal for people belonging to different countries, cultures, religions and age groups and present his teachings in a simple manner.
Dr. Sharib passed away into the mercy of the Almighty on April 8, 1996. His tomb at the Usmani Chilla at Ajmer, India attracts scores of people throughout the year. His urs (death ceremony) is celebrated according to the lunar calendar on Zeeqad (Dhu’l Qa’ada) 19 and 20 at his tomb.
Kalaburagi is also known as Gulbargah and is near Hyderabad, India.
Thousands of devotees cutting across religious lines thronged the streets of historic city to participate in the famous sandal procession to mark the beginning of the four-day 613th Urs-e-Sharief of the 14th century Sufi saint Hazrath Khwaja Bande Nawaz Gesudiraz on Tuesday.
Prior to the ceremonial procession from the Mehboob Gulshan Public Garden, devout Muslims participated in a special namaz presided over by the Sajjada Nasheen of the Dargah Sharief, Syed Shah Khusro Hussaini.
Devotees from all over the country and abroad participated in the special prayers and the procession.
The sandal procession was preceded by special prayers since morning, including Khidmat-e-Farrashi and Band Sama at the Dargah Sharief, followed by an address by the Sajjada Nasheen and the special prayers Namaaz-e-Juma.
The procession carrying the sandal paste stopped at the Mehdus Masjid in the Super Market area to offer Namaz-e-Maghrib before reaching the Dargah Sharief, where the sandal procession was received at the Gyarah Sidi (Eleven steps) leading to the Dargah Sharief.
Sufi Music enthralled a large number of people who gathered for Independence Day celebrations under auspices of Rawalpindi Arts Council. The main performers of the Sufi Musical Night were Qurban Niazi (TI), Ghulam Abbas Farasat, Maria Kanwal and Aqdas Hashmi while Masud Khawaja amused the participants as anchor person.
Ghulam Abbas Farasat from Lahore opened the night with mili song with his own poetry and composition. Maria Kanwal a blind singer impressed the audience with her singing and received thunder appreciation. Aqdas Hashmi presented traditional qawwali with his own style. The main sufi and folk singer was Qurban Niazi (Tamgha-e-Imtiaz). With traditional dress and folk musical instruments enchanted the atmosphere. The singer through his singing delivered valuable message of sufi saints and mystics. The folk vocalist lent his melodies to add exciting colors to sufi musical night.
MPA Raja Hanif Advocate, MPA Lubna Rehan Pizada, Naheed Manzoor and Resident Director RAC Waqar Ahmed appreciated the performance of the vocalists while Tariq Mehmood Tariq Additional Commissioner, Aqeel Ahmed Additional Commissioner (Revenue), Ehsan Ozurik Country Head IHH attended the event.
Syed Muhammad Hussaini commonly renowned as Hazrat Khwaja Banda Nawaz Gesu Daraz was a famous Sufi saint from India of Chishti Order, who advocated understanding, tolerance and harmony among various religious groups.
Gesu Daraz was a murid (disciple) of the noted Sufi saint of Delhi, Hazrat Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlavi, who in turn was a disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya, the spiritual master of Delhi. After the death of his master, Chiragh Dehlavi, Gesu Daraz took on the mantle of the successor (khalifa). Thus later on when he moved to Daulatabad around 1398, owing to the attack of Timur on Delhi, he took the Chishti Order to South India. He finally settled down in Gulbarga, at the invitation of Bahamani King, ‘Taj ud-Din Firuz Shah’ (r. 1397-1422).
He was born Syed Mohammed Hussaini in Delhi in 1321. At the age of four, his family shifted to Daulatabad in Deccan (Now in Maharashtra). In 1397, he went to Gulbarga, Deccan (Presently in Karnataka) at the invitation of Sultan Taj ud-Din Firuz Shah of the Bahmani Sultanate. Bande Nawaz authored about 195 books in Arabic, Persian and Urdu languages.
At the age of fifteen, he returned to Delhi for his education and training by the famous Sufi saint Hazrat Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlavi, who bestowed him with his Khilafath and succession after about fifteen years. He was also a very enthusiastic student of Hazrat Kethli, Hazrat Tajuddin Bahadur and Qazi Abdul Muqtadir. After teaching at various places such as Delhi, Mewath, Gwalior, Chander, Aircha, Chatra, Chanderi, Miandhar, Baroda, Khambayat and Gulbarga in 1397 and died in Gulbarga in the year November 1422.
His name as well as patronymic was Abul-Fatah and Gesu Daraaz his title. Among the scholars and theologians he was Sheikh Abul-Fatah Sadr Uddin Muhammad Dehlavi but people called him Khawaja Banda Nawaz Gesu-Daraaz.
People from various walks of life, irrespective of caste and creed, assemble even today to celebrate the urs – death anniversary – (which takes place on the 15, 16 and 17 day of Zul-Qa`dah of Muslim calendar at the famous Bande Nawaz Dargah in Gulbarga every year. His descendents still live in Gulbarga. Almost all family members along with several hundred thousand devotees from near and far irrespective of religion and beliefs gather to seek blessings.