Friday, July 29, 2005

longing for the day

We fight with day for passing quick as day,

A flood through the ravine, wind through valley.

At night, we sit under the shadowed moon,

And bang the drum until the dawn of day.

#228: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search words: fight

The conflict with the bureaucrats is escalating and I'm rearing for a fight so I've sought Rumi's thoughts on fight. Here he speaks of fighting the day, of resisting the fast flow of time. At night, we can but long for the dawn, making lots of noise to dispel the stillness of night. There is a glorious foolishness in all this and one that I can certainly relate to today.

This verse makes me think of the whirling dervish rituals that Rumi was involved in starting. I have read somewhere that it was his son who devised the ritual but with his father's encouragement and advice. The dervishes whirl to a repetitive but mesmerising drum beat and repeat to themselves the word "Allah" like a mantram. It is a sustained dance of longing for deity and enlightenment.

The first selam (salutation) introduces the dance: the dervish obtains his permission to whirl by kissing the hand of the sheikh. The master of the dance directs him to his position: As the musicians play and the chorus chants, the sheikh stands at the "post" and the dervishes unfold and turn repeating their inaudible "Allah, Allah, Allah. . ." This part of the ceremony lasts approximately ten minutes and is repeated four times. At the fourth selam the sheikh joins the whirling. He represents the centre (the sun); the dervishes represent the orbiting planets turning around him and around themselves in the solar system of Rumi.

The Ceremony is concluded by the recitation of the Fatiha, the opening chapter of the Qur'an, followed by a prayer to Mowlana and Shamsuddin of Tabriz. All dervishes then join in chanting the "Hu" which is the all-embracing Name of God, the One.

source: Life of Rumi

whirling dervish

whirling dervish @ Islamic Heresies

That very longing is a mystery to us. Despite this or that pseudo-scientific explanation, no one really knows why we so long for deity.

The prayer that was answered

A certain man one night was crying 'Allah!' till his lips were becoming sweet with the mention of his name.

'Why now, chatterbox,' said the Devil, 'where is the answer "Here am I" to all this "Allah" of yours? Not one answer is coming from the Throne: how long will your grimly go on crying "Allah"?'

The man became broken-hearted, and laid down his head to sleep. He saw in a dream mystic Khazir all in a green garden.

'Look now,' Khazir called, 'why have you desisted from the mention of God? How is it you repent of having called upon Him?'

'No answering "Here am I" is coming to me,' the man replied, 'and I therefore fear that I may be refused from His door.'

Khazir answered, 'Your cry of "Allah" (God says) is itself My "Here am I"; your pleading and agony and fervour is My messenger. All your twistings and turnings to come to Me were My drawing you that set free your feet. Your fear and love are the lasso to catch My grace. Under each "Allah" of yours whispers many a "Here am I".'

note: Khazir was a mysterious guide who first appears in Koran XVIII 64 (not named, but identified by the commentators as 'one of Our servants unto whom We had given mercy from Us, and We had taught him knowledge proceeding from Us') as accompanying Moses and doing strange things. The Sufis took him as the exempler of the Shaikh who requires absolute and unquestioning obedience of the disciple.

source: Tales from Masnavi


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