786
Revelations of Guidance

It is not a customary practice amongst Sufis to speak of ones personal
religious or spiritual experience though it is not so uncommon amongst
followers of various forms of spirituality in the modern world. In Sufism one’s
own states and stations are something between oneself and the Beloved
and in general it is rightly regarded as an unseemly behaviour to share this
with others.

However it is a well established principle in Islam that ‘necessity makes an
unlawful thing, lawful’. In fact we do have records of some of the
experiences of the great saints – Khawaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishti for
example – it is known that he received certain messages of importance for
example when he was in Mecca and Medina in relation to his mission to go
to Ajmer. If you do not know the accounts of these you can find them in
some of the books of Dr Zahurul Hasan Sharib.

With such consideration and after having hesitated for some time I am
offering below two accounts related to the gaining of guidance.

The occasion giving rise to this current article was a telephone conversation
with a fellow disciple of Zahurmian. She reported some talk indicating that
some of our fellow disciples felt confused because, following the passing of
Zahurmian into the Mercy of Allah, I had made contact with a Sheykh in
Konya. There seemed to be an implication of disloyalty.

Now as a matter of fact people will think this, or they will think that, it is not a
matter of concern. There may however arise some confusion in the minds of
people that can be misleading to them – thus I hope the two accounts below
will be helpful in clarifying the need for loyalty to the spiritual guide and in
diverting people from the illusion that it is fine and acceptable to simply shop
around jumping from one guide to another. Or that seeking a guide is in
some respect like window shopping, or picking and mixing sweets. Mevlana
Rumi puts it thus:  ‘Do not seek another guide till you have got the pearl from
your present guide’.

Before I relay the actual account of what happened to me I will also put on
record how it was I came to ask for Zahurmian’s guidance in the first place.
This will complete the picture and I suppose ‘kill two birds with one stone’ as
the saying goes. Both accounts whilst accurate are in fact heavily censored
and much remains between me and Him.

I met Zahurmian when I was studying in India in 1972. Despite my antipathy
to professional  ‘gurus’ I was so impressed by the transformation that
appeared in a fellow student who had become a disciple, that I asked that
friend for Zahurmian’s address, as I felt curious as to who it was who could
have had such a beneficial effect on my friend. I subsequently visited
Zahurmian for a day or so, and then continued on my journey. I liked him but
felt no need for guidance myself (the vanity of youth!).

Three years later, back in the UK, my life was transformed by a series of
events which I will not detail here. For many months – or what seemed like a
lifetime at the time, I became much contracted (depressed in psychological
terms).

Towards the end of that time, without any single specific obvious external
cause, over a period of months, this transformed itself into a powerful sense
of happiness that continued to escalate to what might be termed by some as
bliss. The height of this came one night when staying in the house of same
friend referred to above.

I had bedding laid out on the floor of a spare room. The walls were partly
covered with silver foil paper and I allowed my imagination to see in the
various reflections the suggestions of shapes moving. As this little game
continued however I became more attentive as the various shapes formed
themselves into figures that seemed to take on a movement of their own,
unconnected to the process of imagination. Soon this became as clear as
the pictures on a colour television screen and the images of various sorts
appeared in whatever direction I turned my gaze. As God says in the Qur’an
‘whichever way you turn there is the Face of Allah’. They moved quite as
independently as the moving images in a film. The ‘show’ went on for the
entire night but the important bit for this account is one particular episode. In
this I saw what I immediately recognised as in some sense my own essence
or soul. Wearing a big grey coat it reached the foot of some steps which
lead up steeply to a great throne. The image of glory on that throne I will not
discuss. The figure at the foot of the steps in the coat threw it off and
revealed himself to be wearing a sparkling white uniform almost military in
appearance. The figure ascended the steps but as he reached higher and
higher – nearer to the throne, he became more and more puffed out in his
chest – about half or three quarters of the way up a message descended
from the throne – ‘too proud’. The figure descended again.

The elevated mood was too great for distress but I was left with a strong
sense of determination that I must seek a way to ascend fully to that throne:
in retrospect I would say for spiritual as distinct from outward humility. As I
sought for a solution in my mind the memory of Zahurmian entered in and I
formed a strong resolution that he was the person who could help me find
the spiritual humility required for such a purpose – indeed the whole
experience left me with firm conviction that indeed I did need guidance. This
was only a small part of the whole event but was quite central. It was several
months before I finally descended sufficiently from the natural ‘high’ or ‘hal’
as I now know it to be and managed to travel to India again.

For those concerned with the experience of conversion they might note that I
had no knowledge of Islam and had never received or knowingly practised
any Sufi techniques in any overt sense, nor did I indulge in any form of
drugs..

I duly took initiation with Zahurmian and that was followed by an entirely
spontaneous review and overhaul of what seemed to me then a pointless
life. For the sake of those who think that Sufism or Islamic conversion
involves some form of brainwashing I would add that this process came
about after only a day or so in Zahurmian’s company and when I had
returned to where I was living hundreds of miles away. I later came to
recognise this as the Sufi station of Repentance.

So much for the initial acceptance of guidance and ‘conversion’ – I began to
follow Islamic practises because it was the religion of the Guide rather than
for any merits I found in what I saw of the overt practise of Islam. The
awareness of the inner beauty of Islam crept over me slowly bit at a time
from within.

I will now turn to the main point of this article.

I passed as much time in Zahurmian’s company as I could for many years –
we almost never spoke of spiritual experiences or of religion but bit by bit
through the benign influence of his company my life slowly became more
ordered and various other states and stations emerged. There is no need to
go into these here.

One night at an Urs (death anniversary celebrations held for saints) in
Ajmer, a certain awareness reached me that made me quite desolate with
anxiety – the nature of that awareness need not concern you but it caused
me to flee inwardly in desperation to Khawaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishti.
Then there descended on me a clear picture in what you might call a dream
or a waking dream. It required me to seek out a certain man – a Sufi Sheykh.
His picture was clearly shown like a kind of short movie clip. I was led to
understand this person was from Turkey.

I shortly thereafter wrote a short poem. It is on the website but I will quote it
again here.

The Saving Light

When doubts beset me and life seemed grey,
When confusion appeared to reign and chaos seemed near,
When fear confounded me and it seemed vain to pray,
When inspiration failed me and oblivion's threat did appear,
Then this thought of thine, O Sharib, on the tablet of life I read;
‘Seek, seek, and ye shall find’; it ran!
Then, O Khawaja, to thy grace my thought fled,
And from thence descended an answering gift to this son of man,
‘You will find in the Sun of Tabriz the help you need’
This was its upshot and gist,
And in the call of the broken reed,
I found what I had missed.

Jamiluddin Morris Zahuri

For those unfamiliar with some of the allusions ‘the broken reed’ is an image
derived from Mevlana Rumi’s famous verses at the beginning of the
Masnevi. ‘The Sun of Tabriz’ refers to Shemsuddin of Tabriz. See the
website or other literature for a fuller explanation.’Khawaja  is of course
Khawaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishti. ‘Sharib’ refers to Dr Zahural Hasan
Sharib – Zahurmian.

It did not seriously occur to me to seek outwardly the fulfilment of this
revelation until a few years later when Zahurmian had laid down the burden
of his increasingly fragile body. Though in the intervening years I became
more and more aware inwardly of another guide assisting and supporting in
the way Sufi guides do.

I went for the first time to Konya some months after Zahurmian had passed
on. I found no conflict inwardly between the desire to follow this quest and
the continued or even increasing presence of Zahurmian within. Indeed it
was clear he was guiding me to this. Amongst the parts of revelation I have
left veiled there was ample internal evidence of Zahurmian’s enthusiastic
endorsement. I do not explain this further because it could cause confusion
to some unfamiliar with the interior nature of Sufi ‘tasting’.

On the first occasion of visiting Konya I felt the resplendent generosity of
Mevlana Rumi in every way, but my search for this guide bore no fruit – I
returned again and for a second time Mevlana showered so many inward
and outward blessings that can hardly be counted but he did not show me
the guide I was seeking. I began to wonder – had I in someway
misunderstood? I made up my mind I would try just once more.

Towards the end of the third visit, which lasted for about two weeks, a friend
I had made said casually one day – there is Sufi Dergah nearby why do you
not visit. I had nothing planned and with no expectation I went with a
companion I had met to visit this Dergah, which I was told had a nice
atmosphere. We entered a room full of people practising Zikr and playing
some Turkish music. The room was hot and coming from the cold outside
my glasses immediately misted up. When the mist finally cleared I saw that
round the edge of the room sat some obviously Turkish men. My attention
was drawn to one who was not visibly distinguishable from the others in
terms of dress or position but who I somehow knew was the Sheykh of the
order. I approached and made my salaams and he invited me and my
companion to sit on either side of him. Beyond the Salaam we barely
conversed as I recall – he spoke only Turkish and I had hardly two words in
that language. The conviction grew and grew in me that this was the man I
had seen that time in Ajmer. The Zikr and celebrations finished and my
conviction had grown to virtual certainty. As we took our leave the thought
came to mind, addressed to towards him, that ‘when I saw you in that vision
you wore a topi’ (muslim head dress). At the time he was bareheaded.
Almost instantly a follower came up from behind him and placed a topi on his
head. He looked at me and smiled. It was enough.

There will always be those who doubt things like this – some are so
enshrouded in doubt it is a waste of time to think of convincing them and no
need to do so either, it would not benefit them. However there are others
who being academically minded always seek for proof or evidence before
accepting what their hearts know to be true. For their sake I will add one or
two additional pieces of evidence that might help them overcome their
inevitable doubts.

I subsequently came to find out that the Sheykh concerned was named Nuri
Baba – Nuri as you know means light. When I reflected on the verse I had
written in Ajmer following the revelation I was surprised to find out that I had
named it ‘The Saving Light’. At the time I had wondered at this since the
poem does not in any way deal with ‘light’ in its content. I also note that I had
written ‘Seek, Seek, (twice) followed by ‘and you will find’. Of course it was
the third occasion of seeking that met with success.

I subsequently met a person in Konya who, though we had no common
language, often sought me out and introduced me to friends etc. I wondered
a little at this but made nothing of it. Then one day with the help of someone
interpreting, it was made clear that Nuri Baba had said openly to them,
before I had ever arrived in Konya, that a person would come named Cemil’
(the Turkish spelling of my name). It appeared that in all that time no one
else of that name had appeared in the Dergah.

I will add further that in the telephone call that prompted this article, the
fellow disciple said she herself had dreamt of Zahurmian supporting me in
relation to this. I do not need these supporting evidences but maybe these
will help those who struggle to believe such things.

The summary and essential point to make here is that loyalty to the spiritual
guide is an important principle of the Sufi way. To those fellow disciples to
whom my own apparent ‘defection’ was disconcerting in some way I have
made an answer – no further discussion is needed on that. I also need to
add, with some emphasis, that
visionary experience in itself is of little
significance
. I have known people with autistic conditions have genuine
visionary experiences – it is the content that gives it its significance.

I think it also demonstrates the depth of unity and inward brotherhood
amongst the real Sufis, at a level far beyond the superficial bickering and
competitiveness of followers. May God bless Zahurmian and Nuri Baba and
forgive and rectify any inadvertent errors in the account above – which,
allowing for what must remain unspoken, is as true and straightforward
account as I can give. Amin.

Jamiluddin Morris Zahuri
Southampton
January 08