|The New Year 2005 and the 'Urs of Dr Sharib.
Because of the differences between the lunar and solar calenders this
year the occasion of the solar New Year is a doubly joyful occasion for
those associated with the founder of this site - Dr Zahurul Hasan Sharib.
His death anniversary this year falls on New Years Day. Its seems like
yesterday that the long vigil in Ajmer and later in the hospital in Jaipur
came to an end and we watched as the shrouded body of our 'friend,
philosopher, and guide' was lowered into a deep hole in the earth
adjacent to the shrine of his own guide Nawob Saheb. I have described
the events in more detail elsewhere on the web site so let us rather
concentrate on his legacy or at least on one aspect of his legacy - that is
the awakening of the spirit. To awaken the spirit - which lies deeper than
the heart, intellect or bodily souls is the hallmark of a true Sufi Sheykh. It
is no easy task to bring the errant, willful disciple to such a state of grace.
It was his way and custom to deliver short 'lectures' for the society of
mystics, at the turn of the year - so as an expression of the gratitude and
love which eternally binds us I have tried to emulate this in my own way. I
dedicate this not to his memory but to his continued living presence not in
hope of the blessings that flow therefrom but of increased awareness of
The New Year looms large in front of us – and the old year begins to
fade. Some hopes and aspirations have been realised and some
disappointments have also occurred. There have been triumphs and
disasters but it is better to 'treat those two imposters just the same'. It is
the way of things. Hazrat Ali said he came to know God’s Will by the
things in which he did not succeed. Let us take heart from this and renew
our aspirations for a better world – in which justice and peace prevail, in
which the meek and humble are given the respect they deserve and the
help they need, in which hard hearts become softened by thoughts and
feelings of amity and goodwill to all irrespective of caste, colour, or
creed. In which the subtlety of good human relationships triumph over
brute force and ignorance.
This year, that is now passing, I was granted the gift to attend the death
anniversary of Khawaja Muinuddin Hasan Chishti in Ajmer and then later
that of Mevlana Rumi in Konya. These occasions lighten the load and
cause the heart to be revived anew – indeed cause it to dance with joy. In
the case of Mevlana Rumi I attended the joyful occasion following on from
attending a large Indian family wedding. Both were celebrations of
weddings. The first was a conventionally happy occasion the second
celebrated a union of a different kind - the union of the soul of the saint to
There is a famous verse of Khawaja Uthman Harooni translated by
Zahurmian – it runs thus:
I do not know why at last to have a longing look I dance,
But I feel proud of the fondness that before the Friend I dance.
Thou strike the musical instrument and lo every time I dance,
In whatever way Thou cause me to dance, O Friend, I dance.
Come, O Beloved! See the spectacle that in the crowd of the intrepid
With a hundred ignominies, in the heart of the market I dance.
Blessed is recklessness, that I trample underfoot the very many acts of
Hail to piety that with the robe and the turban I dance!
I am Uthman–i-Haruni and a friend of Sheikh Mansur,
They revile and rebuke and on the gallows I dance.
Both weddings provoked feelings of elation which were in some way
expressed through dance. But whilst the one was a conventional
celebration of happiness the other was due to the awakening of the spirit.
As Mevlana Rumi puts it – ‘the earthly body soared to the skies’.
The bride and groom are sincerely wished happiness and prosperity but if
it lasts for seventy years, still it will be a transient thing. The other has
about it the flavour of eternity.
It is the eternal joy of the saints in union with the Beloved that inspires in
us the recollection of God - that enlivens the heart and brings the
transient into alignment with the eternal. The spirits of Sheikh Mansur and
Khawaja Uthman Haruni may be said to dance in eternity to the divine
music of Life. It is an expression in a different mode of the simple
philosophy of Khawaja Uthman that we should not consider life as merely
breathing in the conventional sense but as being responsive to the spirit
I think very few people will be granted so full a sense of Life as such
saints, but still from their joyful union with the Divine comes inspiration for
us all in our everyday life. May it be granted to us all in the New Year to
find in our every day toil some flavour of that divine joy that we may catch
something of the hidden music of life and dance, inwardly at least, to the
subtle rhythms of existence.
Al-Latif is one of the beautiful names of God. It means subtlety. To detect
the subtle nuances of the Divine in the mundane is indeed a fine gift to
which we should aspire that our spirit may soar. That we may share with
Shelley in his ‘Ode to the Skylark’:
Hail to thee, blithe spirit,
Bird thou never wert,
That from heaven or near it,
Pourest thy full heart,
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
Words that inspire inevitably evoke a dual response; whilst they speak to
our spirit they also bring a reaction of our lower nature that says in effect
‘this is all very well but the realities of everyday life how they press upon
us – these sentiments may be very fine in their place but really they are
so much hot air and romantic nonsense compared with the struggle for
daily survival’. Let us acknowledge such a response, it is part of our
nature. It is the same response we may have to Lord Jesus when he
‘Observe the birds in the air they do not sow or reap or store away in
barns and yet your heavenly father feeds them.’
If we identify with the grumbling of our ‘human nature’ rather than our
humanity, which is the elevation of our nature to the divine; if we ignore
the call of the spirit; then we are destined to remain bound within the
temporal prison we call life; but which is really merely existing. If we listen
to the call of the spirit and respond – putting aside our worries and woes
– then we may hear the divine music and participate in the divine dance of
life and may realise the eternal in the temporal. At all events our
grumbling nature does not require reinforcement from our paying it
attention – it will continue to grumble on. Whilst our goal must remain to
make ‘the earthly body soar’ our attention must be on the potential of the
spirit within to soar for it is the awakening of this that so enlivens us within
that even the body responds.
The Whirling Dervishes of Konya first remove their black cloaks and then
having received the blessing of the Sheikh they begin to turn in their long
white dresses. Like spirits soaring they turn and turn in patterns of
breathtaking beauty – however the Sheikh remains quite still. It is only at
the last that he moves slowly forward and he himself turns – but very
slowly and with great dignity – not at all in the relatively rapid motions of
the dancers. It appears as if, finally the earthly body has become inspired
and moved. From this we take the lesson that by concentrating our
attention on the call of our spirit at last even our bodily nature participates
in the divine dance. They bring the occasion to a close with a beautiful
recital of a sura of the holy Qur'an and blessings on the holy Prophet.
In Ajmer at the 'Urs of Khawaja Muinuddin Hasan Chishti, the same
principle is seen. There the musicians reach great heights of inspirational
singing but the Sufis remain resolutely still in body allowing only the spirit
or heart (there is a difference) to soar with the musicians until at last
someone becomes so overwhelmed that the spirit grabs his body and
turns him, helplessly around until, as Mevlana Rumi puts it, ‘Moses fell in
a swoon’. Here too the exaltation is rounded out with Qur'an recitation.
The application of this to our daily lives may not at first seem too evident
but think it over. To dance around our office or work place ‘moved by the
spirit’ in the sense described would be a nonsense but to deny the spirit
within would be a kind of death. To sense even in apparently mundane
activity the breathing of the spirit is to Live. Let us aspire to it. But God
I wish you a Happy New Year. May it fulfil the best of your hopes and
aspirations. May the mercy of Allah be ever upon Hazrat Dr Zahurul
Hasan Sharib Gudri Shah Baba.
Jamiluddin Morris Zahuri