Sheikh Abdul Aziz periodically collates themes for contemplation, which come from a variety of sources including the writings of Hazreti Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi as well as other Sufi masters, the Hadith of the Prophet Mohammed and the Holy Qur’an. They are a focus for reflection and a source of inspiration and both spiritual and practical nourishment.
Current Mathnawi Contemplation Themes
The themes below are collated from gatherings of the Mathnawi Sufi Circle.
Sufi Circle 18 April 2017
Being in love is made manifest by soreness of heart: there is no sickness like heart-sickness.
The lover’s ailment is separate from all other ailments: love is the astrolabe of the mysteries of God.
Whether love be from this (earthly) side or from that (heavenly) side, in the end it leads us yonder.
Whatsoever I say in exposition and explanation of Love, when I come to Love itself I am ashamed of that (explanation).
Although the commentary of the tongue makes (all) clear, yet tongueless love is clearer.
Whilst the pen was making haste in writing, it split upon itself as soon as it came to Love.
In expounding Love, the intellect lay down helplessly, like an ass in the mire: it was Love (alone) that uttered the explanation of love and loverhood.
The proof of the sun is the sun (himself): the sun gives spiritual light every moment.
The shadow, like chat in the night-hours, brings sleep to you: when the sun rises the moon is cloven asunder.
There is nothing in the world so wondrous strange as the sun, but the Sun of the spirit is everlasting: it has no yesterday.
Although the external sun is unique, still it is possible to imagine one resembling it;
The spiritual Sun, which is beyond the aether, has no peer in the mind or externally.
Where is room in the imagination for His essence, that the like of Him should come into the imagination?
When news arrived of the face of Shamsuddin (the Sun of the Religion), the sun of the fourth heaven drew in its head (hid itself for shame).(i)
Mathnawi Book 1, vv.109-123
The Sufi is the son of the (present) moment, O comrade: it is not the rule of the Way to say ‘Tomorrow’. (ii)
Mathnawi Book 1, v. 133
One of the major themes of the Mathnawi is mystical Love or ishq. It is not possible to properly describe the experience or power of ishq but Hazreti Mevlana here indicates that the earthly experience of what we know as love is an indication for us of that greater spiritual Love. One of the key characterisitcs of earthly love, in its true feeling, is that the lover is selfless in his/her love for the beloved. This is also the characteristic of spiritual Love in that the ‘self’ has dissolved before it.
Ishq cannot be explained or described, “in expounding Love the intellect lays down helplessly, like an ass in the mud”. Love has to be experienced for it to be known, just like the sun is experienced. And in comparing the sun of our world, Hazreti Mevlana brings us to the spiritual Sun which has no equivalent in the mind or in the outer world.
This mention of the spiritual Sun then leads Mevlana to thoughts of Shamsuddin of Tabriz whose name means ‘The Sun of the Faith’. This great spiritual master, who was so pivotal to Mevlana’s own mystical journey, also, however, is beyond the comprehension of ordinary experience like ishq or the spiritual Sun.
(ii) “The Sufi is the son of the moment” is a well-known saying. It indicates more than just ‘living in the present’ although it does refer to this also. It indicates an acute awareness and attention in each moment. It connects with the Sufi practice of ‘dhikr Allah’ (remembrance of God) as a means of creating this acute awareness and attention, and it refers also to ‘presence’. This ‘presence’ is the energy of the aware and illuminated human, and is why we refer to illuminated Sufi masters as Hazret, as in Hazreti Mevlana, when referring to Rumi. Being a ‘son of the moment’ also indicates the completely spontaneous and intuitive response to each and every experience and interaction, at every moment, and is thus at odds with dogmatic or programmed responses such as displayed by literalists or fundamentalists. At its highest, it is the submission to the Divine Will in every moment. It is a gateway to experience beyond time and place.
In Nicholson’s Commentary he quotes from Attar’s Tadhkirat al-Auliya (Memorial of God’s Friends): the great Sufi mystic Shibli said,
“A thousand past years multiplied a thousand years to come are present to you in this ‘moment’ (waqt) in which you are. Try not to be deceived by appearances.”
Abu Said Kharraz says: “Do not occupy your precious time except with the most precious of things, and the most precious of human things is the state of being occupied between the past and the future.” (from the Kashf Al-Mahjub (The Unveiling of the Veiled) by Al-Hujwiri)
Alhamdullilah wa shukrulillah
Praise be to God and thanks be to God.
Sufi Circle 4 April 2017
In their arrogance they did not say, “If God will”; therefore God showed them the weakness of Man.
I mean (a case in which) omission of the saving clause is (due to) a hardness of heart; not the mere saying of these words, for that is a superficial circumstance.
How many a one has not pronounced the saving clause, and yet his soul is in harmony with the soul of it!(i)
Mathnawi Book 1, vv.48-50
When from the depths of his soul, he raised a cry of supplication, the sea of Bounty began to surge. (ii)
Mathnawi Book 1, v. 61
Let us implore God to help us to self-control: one who lacks self-control is deprived of the grace of the Lord.
The undisciplined man does not maltreat himself alone, but he sets the whole world on fire.
A table of food was coming down from heaven without headache (trouble) and selling and buying,
When some of the people of Moses cried disrespectfully, “Where is garlic and lentils?”
Straightway the heavenly bread and dishes of food were cut off: there remained for all of them the toil of sowing and labouring with mattock and scythe.
Again, when Jesus made intercession, God sent food and bounty from heaven on trays,
But once more the insolent fellows omitted to show respect and, like beggars, snatched away the viands,
Although Jesus entreated them, saying, “This is lasting and will not fail from off the earth.”
To show suspicion and greed at the table of Majesty is ingratitude.
Because of those impudent wretches who were blinded by greed, that gate of mercy was closed upon them……..
…..Anyone behaving with irreverence in the path of the Friend is a brigand who robs men, and he is no man.
Through discipline this Heaven has been filled with light, and through discipline the angels become immaculate and holy.
By reason of irreverence the sun was eclipsed, and insolence caused Azazil to be turned back from the door.(iii)
Mathnawi Book 1, vv. 78-87; 90-92
‘Inshallah’ (“If God will”) is an oft-used phrase by Muslim believers, recognizing the powerlessness of Man to determine the future of any thing, and that God alone in his Might and Mercy holds our fate in His hands.
Hazreti Mevlana here shows the Sufi view that it is not the mere external saying of ‘inshallah’ at every pertinent moment that is the most important thing, rather it is the holding of this awareness in our hearts that is crucial. The externalists may judge whether the word ‘inshallah’ is spoken and may even say it by rote without feeling its meaning – a mere “superficial circumstance” – but the reality of it is when our “soul is in harmony with the soul of it”. To be aware that the All-Merciful holds us between His two fingers.
(ii) Hz. Mevlana makes reference to this elsewhere in the Mathnawi. When making our dua (supplication) there needs to be sincere, deep need felt in our hearts as we cry for help. We make impassioned cries of feeling, imploring God to hear our cry. And then, when this is done, we let go, we have “cast our bread upon the waters” (Ecclesiastes). By God’s grace, our impassioned plea from the depths of our soul is heard, and God’s Bounty (one of His named 99 attributes) is stirred.
(iii) ‘Self-control’ here is perhaps more accurate than ‘discipline’ as it appears later in the quote. How often do we get offered a blessing by the Divine and instead of reacting with openness and gratitude, and without considering in a centred way what is in fact being offered we turn away or complain? Our prayer is answered but then we still blindly reject the blessing offered to us in answer to our prayer. Instead we complain and say, like the people of Moses, “Where is garlic and lentils?” It is humorous to observe such absurd behaviour as Hz. Mevlana depicts it, but to experience it in our lives is devastating. We turn away from the blessing without any self-awareness or self-control and the offer of divine bounty is withdrawn, the moment passes, and we have missed the opportunity even though it is in answer to our prayers. The blindness of our nafs has overtaken us and our lack of self-control, our impulsive petulance, has denied us this blessing. Irreverence, insolence, lack of self-control, arrogance, and ingratitude – they can even be the cause of an angel’s fall from grace.
(Azazil is the name of the angel who became Iblis, the accursed one, after falling from grace, after he refused to bow down before Adam when commanded by God, saying “I am better than him!”)
Alhamdullilah wa shukrulillah
Praise be to God and thanks be to God.