The following is the transcript of a tape recording made in August 1983 in Krimpen, Holland.
It is an unscripted speech by Dr Zahurul Hasan Sharib made for that occasion. The original
tape recording was made by disciples who were present there, and I am grateful to them for
giving me this copy which I have now made into a CD. I have transcribed the tape as closely
as I can but have added some words in square brackets where I felt some clarification may
be helpful, usually arising from the unscripted nature of the speech. The title is my own. JMZ.
The Loving Way of the Gudri Shahi Order of Sufis
by Dr Zahurul Hasan Sharib
To be in Holland in August is a great pleasure, and to be with Siraj and Gulnar at
their own house is itself a source of great spiritual joy. I am not using the word
'happiness' because happiness is a state, a transitory state which passes away
very soon, whereas joy and inner satisfaction are the two states which are a source
of reflection on the past. And every time [a person]...thinks over ....what has
happened in the past, [whatever it is ] which made him so happily enjoy [it] is itself
a source of joy.
My visit to Holland was overdue. I remember in 1981 Siraj had arranged it, [and] I
was equally anxious for it. But as is said, "man proposes, and God disposes" it did
not actually happen [at that time].
When I reached here I was so very happy to meet Siraj, Gulnar and their two lovely
children Minhaj, and Miraj, and Mrs Eschott, at the Hook of Holland. As soon as I
saw [them] I felt a great inward strength, but at the same time, when I reached
their home, I missed his father, the late lamented Mr Elschott who I was so keen
and eager to meet, and his [Siraj's] brother Hans, who [I] had met at Ajmer some
Anyhow in every joy there is some hidden sorrow and a man should adapt himself
to the circumstances.. which he has to face.
The old myth 'East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet' is
now exploded. It is no more true! Now East and West have come together. Now
there is no border and birth, no North and South, and the world has become so
interdependent that one has to learn from the other. When I was in London I
thought - what is it that the East has to learn from the West, and what is it the West
has to learn from the East? What I think is that the East has to learn from the West
the spirit of self help. There I found everybody helping himself ....[whilst in the East]
people still walk on crutches. They are actually playing with matchsticks because
they have not the spirit of self help. For ordinary things they depend upon others.
And moreover our international set up is such that we cannot afford to live in
isolation. The globe has now become very short [small] due to the means of
communication, scientific inventions, and whatever happens in one country has a
repercussion in another country. There are very many international organisations
like the UNO, the International Labour Office, UNICEF, UNESCO and so many
others. These international gatherings have brought us together. But in spite of that
we do not realise the oneness of man. Man is still divided emotionally, ideologically
and, at the same time, ideally [idealistically?] that there are different ideals guiding
and leading man into different directions and hence there is the conflict. Anyhow
that is quite a different matter. But this much is sure, that East and West have
come now very close, and [the] West has also learned from the East - and what is
it [that it has learned]? It is simplicity, and not laying much emphasis on the
so-called 'standard of living'. According to the West, the standard of living is judged
by material acquisitions.
According to the East it is judged by things other than material acquisitions. And
what are those things? They are beauty, grace and light. They determine the
standard of a man, not his outward appearance but his behaviour and his internal
life, and the life that he leads privately, and the dealings that he has in public.
My contact with Holland began in March 1950, I had not met any Dutch man before
that. It so happened that the late Baron von ......?, he visited India along with his
wife Baroness Saeeda Begum, and they were so very eager to meet my uncle and
Murshid, the late lamented Nawob Khadim Hasan Saheb. That day I wrote him a
letter,... at that time Nawob Saheb was in Moradabad - and I was living there too,
in Moradabad. From Delhi they reached Moradabad and after a short stay they left
the city. I still remember him [Baron von...?]- a tall figure with spectacles on,
wearing a navy blue suit, and at that time, during our conversation, I still remember,
that he wanted me to be in contact with the Institute of Social History Studies at the
Hague. Another thing was that he suggested that he would be too glad if I
undertook a translation of Jami's famous book Nafat ul Uns.
After that time my contact with Dutch people gradually began and it so happened in
1973 Siraj came to Ajmer, and this strengthened the bonds between me and the
Dutch - and Holland rather. His yearly visits always gave me joy and a source of
inward satisfaction, which it is difficult for me to describe or to explain. Afterwards it
so happened that Siraj and Gulnar were married in Ajmer, in the room of Nawob
Saheb. It was a simple, solemn, ceremony, but still, people in Ajmer, especially the
women, recall it with great joy. They say she looked so very beautiful and Siraj
looked so very innocent as an Indian bride and bridegroom do.
Siraj and Gulnar belong to the same spiritual order, to which I belong. I belong to
the Gudri Shahi Order of the Sufis. This order is known after the name of Saeenji
Gudri Shah Baba who wore a Gudri. Now Gudri has got an implication, it is a
patched clothes, very ordinary dress, it has different patches of different colour, of
different dimensions. And it is a symbolic dress, which people do not realise. To
unite different patches of different colours together means to unite humanity of
different colours, different caste, different communities, different nationalities,
different ideologies, different schools of thought, and at the same time of different
set up. This means he was wearing a dress which symbolised the unity of mankind.
That is one thing. By his own behaviour, and by his own treatment, and by his own
spirit of self abnegation people were very much attracted towards him. But, as is
usual with a Sufi saint, he does not feel to be drawn to the people. He neither cares
for censure nor praise, nor admiration, nor criticism nor blame. He is above all
these things as a leaf floating in the river does not admit any water in it but floats,
so is a Sufi saint. He doesn't care for these trifles and emotional upsurges ... inner
upsurges, which may be either in one way or another. Blaming or criticising,
praising or admiring, exalting or degrading, these are all passing phases. To him it
is no value. Saeenji emphasised another thing, another characteristic of the Gudri
Shahi order is this - he said here is no need for reading or writing. It doesn' t mean
that he was condemning knowledge, it doesnt mean that. It means something very
vital and very important.
Knowledge is of various kinds. To take a degree from a university or to read a book
is an ordinary thing - people do it - let them do it. But Sufi saints rely more on a
different source of knowledge, which is given to a very few. Which comes as a gift
of God. That source is intuition and inspiration, and they rely upon it. For example
the holy Prophet Muhammed was not literate, but he gave us so much, he gave us
so much, he gave us the Hadiths - a monument of learning. Ali - nobody knows as
to which college and school did he go - but he is known as the Gate of Knowledge.
Why? What was the source of knowledge? It was the same knowledge,
inspiration, intuition, communion with God, receiving messages, giving messages,
and upon this they relied. This means that a man should adapt himself in a different
mental set up in order to receive the message. When your radio is on then you can
have news from some city. Though there is news every time but if your radio set is
closed and the switch is not on you can not hear it. As soon as it is on you can hear
some news, some music, some message. So is the heart of man. If it is calm and
tranquil you can get message, you can hear the voice, and you can be guided by
the light. But if there is inner disturbance, confusion, chaos, turmoil, then all those
outlets which receive the message, they are closed.
In the Gudri Shahi Order what is more important is not so much the rituals, the
outward exercises, the ascetic practises, or renunciation, or what you may call
abnegation, or self effacement, but it is to love. There is another fundamental plank
in the Gudri Shahi Order.
Love gives all those things which are acquired by another means. For example
meditation gives concentration. In love, if the love is true, and real, and genuine
there will be automatically concentration. The man who claims to love - I mean the
lover, will be ever absorbed in the thought of the Beloved. Then love gives justice,
mercy, kindness, benevolence, charity, all these things. And the Sufis say once a
man has acquired the gift of love he will automatically get other things without his
asking. This is another thing.
This order is rather a scion of the Chishti Order and the Qadri order, and Nawob
Saheb traced his descent from the Suhrewardy Order, and the Naqshbandi Order
too. His father belonged to the Naqshbandi Order, he was a murid of Maulana
Fazlur Rehman who is a very outstanding saint of the Naqshbandi Order. And he
traced his descent from another saint, Maqdum Samauddin who was the last great
saint of the Suhrewardy order in India. After that the Suhrewardy Order underwent
After Gudri Shah Baba came Qazi Saheb, Qazi Gudri Shah Baba - he was just
assiduously following in the footsteps of his preceptor. Then came Nawob Saheb.
He made the order - he gave the order wider dimensions. At first he was not
meeting people, in the sunshine [of society] - but in the last years he was always
available, to everybody, irrespective of what he was.
When I come to Holland I am so very glad to be in Krimpen where Gulnar and Siraj
live. It is I think the fulfilment of my long cherished desire, and I am happy to see
that they are living in a beautiful house, well furnished, having all the facilities, having
all the amenities - but I dont think I am correct, it is not a house it is a home. It is
true it is built of brick but it is also cemented by love. A house is built of brick from
lime or wood, and it is built by a mason. But a home is built by the joint efforts of
the inmates of the house. If you want to judge a house you see the inmates of the
house. As they are so will be the house. This is the criterion set up.
Home is a [ receptacle?] of blessedness, peace, joy and gives birth to high ideals,
noble ambitions, and great deeds. Whereas a house may be just a fish market
where there is quarrelling, mischief mongering, distrust, mistrust, and suspicion. But
here the things are that the house is beautiful and the inmates of the beautiful
[home] are equally beautiful inwardly, morally, and culturally. Siraj by nature is a
scholar, but by choice he is a Sufi. Gulnar by nature is a housewife but by choice
she is also Sufi. She is so very inquisitive, about knowing about Sufism. This means
she is in search. Where there is search - knock and it should be opened. Where
there is search one is sure to find something. I think that in days to come people
will come close to each other and understand all the hardships of the present man.
Modern man .... in spite of all, what he has achieved is devoid of inner peace. And
for this inner peace people have longed to achieve it, in whatever direction [it can
be found]. Taking this in view I think Sufism has a bright prospect. In this century, I
mean the 20th century - the 20th Century is marked as an age of strife. Here the
law is get out or get on. This means those who cannot get on - they should leave
the world and retire somewhere or commit suicide. But Sufism teaches that those
who cannot get on should enabled to get on, and they should not be asked to get
out. This means there is a spirit of accommodation, there is a spirit of reconciliation,
there is a spirit of help, and there is a spirit of mutual help. By these virtues inherent
in Sufism people are being drawn towards it, and it is spreading in the West, as it
was spreading in the East in the last century. This means spiritually the East and
West, both are coming together. They are coming quite close to each other. And
they have come to realise that they have to learn a great deal.
I have not travelled much - I admit. Whereas some people have travelled a lot, and
I remember what Sheykh Saadi has said - a Sufi does not become a Sufi unless he
drinks from the goblet, and an imperfect man does not become perfect unless he
travels a lot. This means according to Sheykh Saadi, the measuring rod of
perfection is that one must travel a lot. He has himself travelled a lot. Like Maqdum
Jahangir Jahanghost - he has also travelled. He was a globe-trotter. And he has
said this because in those days travelling was a great hardship. And travelling is
also a source to learn many things. You learn manners, you learn customs, you
learn norms. You learn standards, you learn ideology, you see their way of living [of
the people and places you visit]. This means, when you study these things you will
come again very close. And above all travelling is a source to see the glory of God
spread throughout the world. People make invidious distinctions of caste, creed,
colour, region, religion, and so many other cultural [distinctions]. They say this man
is literate, this man is illiterate, this man is high, this man is low, but nobody knows
that the intrinsic value of man is to be a man. And to be a man is a very difficult
process which we have still to learn. We are still on the road to perfection. But how
man will attain perfection? That is another question. I think he can learn perfection
only when he becomes ... a little generous like the ocean or river, a little hospitable
like the sun, a little humble like the earth and when he imbibes [in order] to cultivate,
and to exercise, and to practise, the quality of patience as given to prophet Jacob,
the spirit of dependence as given to prophet Adam. The spirit of liberty as given to
prophet Moses, the spirit of crucifixion as given to Prophet Jesus Christ, and the
spirit of forbearance as given to Prophet Muhammed. If these qualities are
inculcated and acquired in the modern man then he can live under the sun.
Otherwise we are facing a crisis. They [mankind] are sitting on a volcano, it may
erupt, and our civilisation and our culture may come to nought.
But before that there is another cautious [similee?], and that being fear God and
love humanity. If you love humanity then this means you love God and if you love
God .. it means you love humanity. This means that to love God and to love
humanity are identical terms if you love one you love the other. And if you love the
other you love the one. But love should be all absorbing, all absorbing. Love
demands its price - love. All the people fear disappointments, people are dismayed,
people lose hope, and people undergo some suffering, and all of a sudden they
forget their ideal. They must know that life's disappointments are nothing as to the
[sightless ? unseen ?].....appointments they are far better, and if we have that
appointment then we will have no disappoinment.
I think what we lack most is that we rely more upon ourselves and we do not rely
on our Maker. Man is losing faith and the loss of faith is one of the main problems
which the modern man feels unconsciously. As soon as anxiety begins, as soon as
there is some worry, as soon as a man begins to complain of some suffering, some
inconvenience, some loss this means there is a loss of faith. And the end of anxiety,
end of worry is the beginning of faith.
When I was travelling from New Delhi to Amsterdam I used to hear ... they used to
give directions ...fasten your [seat] belts. In Amsterdam aerodrome where I was to
pass a few hours I was thinking that for a few hours, say eight hours, we were
asked to fasten [our seat] belt in order that we may be sure, secure and I was
thinking that the belts were used - we were asked to tighten belts, for our own
safety and security. That was only eight hours in a journey covering eight hours.
What to say of the journey of life? Which may last months or may last years, what
belt we may fasten - that there is a belt which we may fasten and that belt may be
faith, may be hope, may be belief, may be carelessness [carefree i.e. reliant on
God] , and if you have such a belt then of course you may easily cover the journey
of life with safety, security, and safely.
If I say that I thank Gulnar and Siraj it will be too much conventional. Thanking by
words is a very ordinary way of expressing some gratitude. But to be silent, and to
wish well and to invoke that God may repay on your behalf that is a better way of
repaying the kindness shown to a man. So I hope, and I trust and I believe that
God in His infinite Mercy [keep] [Gulnar] and Siraj and their two lovely sons Minhaj
and Miraj in His Safety and give them what they aspire to, and make them happy
tranquil peaceful and ever smiling.
Published by The Zahuri Sufi Web Site November 17th 2002