| New Year’s Message for 2014
When I wrote the last New Year message for 2013 it appeared that 2014 was a long way off,
but now it is here. The mind makes us think things are far away – some people fall into the trap
of thinking God is far off, some distant entity. It is that thought itself which creates that sense of
distance. Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi writes of a man who fell asleep by a river. He was so close
to it even his unwound turban was in the water itself. In his dream he was seeking water and
seeing it as far off – chasing after it like a mirage. If he had only woken up he would have
realised it was here with him.
Our thoughts are very powerful in shaping our perception of things. Even in shaping our
actions. Therefore it is in correcting the thoughts that we start to change ourselves. This advice
is in the holy Qur’an and other holy books too, we should give it due weight.
Some people think that thoughts just happen and there is nothing we can do to alter it. That
thought itself prevents progress. We have to learn the art of recognising our thoughts as
objective things that we can choose to change; and, more importantly, then set about changing
those thoughts for better ones. If we see somebody keeping company with people who are
cheats, liars, crooks etc we advise that person to keep better company. In the same way we
should think about our thoughts as our companions. We should choose good company such as
thoughts of love, peace, patience, gratitude, justice, kindness and so on. Let us make those
thoughts our ‘drinking companions’ and share a glass of fine wine with them on green grass in
the shade of a great tree. To be drunk in the company of love is excellent. To be drunk with
greed, lust, anger, and the like is to be in a pitiable state.
To be drunk in the company of the elect saints of God is a privilege. Thus it was that enjoying
the wine of Mevlana Rumi at the annual festival in Konya in December was a great honour and
privilege. What does it mean to be drunk in this way – well it affects people differently, but if
you ask they will say it is like being on a different planet. They wonder – is it possible to live
in this way with so much joy in the heart and such beautiful thoughts in the mind; and they have
to answer, yes - we are doing it now!
Good music, the whirling, the zikr, the conferences, all play their part one can say, but the
reality is the presence of Mevlana’s soul spreading itself through the city - that is the sole cause
It was great also to enjoy, yet again, the patronage of Ali Baba in his Dergah – so rich in
memories of my beloved Nuri Baba and the company of familiar, warm, and welcoming faces -
too many to mention but not to many to come into the eye of my heart. To become re-acquainted
with Ibrahim Gammard, Essin Chelebi, Mr Farouk Chelebi and many others was also a
pleasure and privilege.
The Ziarat to the shrines of Bey Hekim Effendi, Hz Kazaruni, Sheykh Sadreuddin Konevi, Hz
Atashbazveli, Tavus Baba, Jamel Ali Dede and the shrine of the first lady muridin of Mevlana,
was to reconnect with the city of Konya and its warm hearted folk.
The city was organised – concerts arranged, people invited, decorations put up and so on – but
when Mevlana came, none of this mattered, only his heart-warming presence. This is the power
of love, and it awakens the souls from their slumber; but, and here is an important point, people
say to me – after such a time it is hard to come back down to the real world of everyday lives.
So tell me is it really necessary that after this short awakening it is somehow compulsory to go
back to the walking, talking, graves of so called everyday lives? Perhaps it is this thought itself
which is self-fulfilling. Mevlana said he wanted be kept alive by love and he surely was. Not
just on festival days. Let us change this thought in ourselves and begin to look to see how we
can remain alive for the whole year not just ten days.
A bud bloomed in our heart, love they call it,
To water and feed it is not beyond our wit,
Why into oblivion should we cast that bloom,
When we have a vase in our own sitting room.
But how? – I hear you say - and give the game away,
‘How’ is the veil: see - true beauty is hidden that way.
The answer to ‘how’ is – to be brushing ‘how’ aside,
To see the love and beauty that behind it does hide.
This year Mevlana brought about many more of those magical meetings that seem to be his
speciality. It is as if Shem Tabrizi and Mevlana are meeting again, and again, and again, in
We were able to meet with some murids such as Samaneh and Sephida and Ma’idah. We
welcomed another Maryam, this time from Shiraz, Iran, into the Zahuri fold, and made other
friends, who, even on brief meeting, we felt by God’s grace were far more than just casual
acquaintances. It was good to meet Olga and other Russian speaking friends. Anton from
Moscow sought me out and we spent good times together. Nor can I fail to mention Tania from
New York with whom we passed a blessed time waiting in the Mevlana shrine for the fatiha to
be read. There were other meetings too some very short but very sweet such as Yasmin from
Kirman. The love felt for Mevlana enhances our natural colouring – the red rose glows with
spiritual desire, the white with ever increasing purity, the yellow with happiness and so on.
Keeping the company of like minded people is very important in the mystic path. Modern
communication has made it easier to keep in touch – relatively little effort is required. When
two hearts speak silently together, beneath the daily chatter, the energy grows – the rose blooms
afresh. Mevlana said, ‘There is a way between heart and heart’.
There is a famous and beautiful tradition – called hadith Kisa in which the close relatives of the
holy Prophet Muhammed, one by one join him under a Yemeni cloak. They are even joined by
Archangel Gabriel. It is the model for the Sufis who come under the cloak of their guide. You
will find many full versions on line.
This last year I was also happy to have had the chance to pay my respects again at the tomb of
Khawaja Muinuddin Hasan Chishti along with my dear wife Farhana. He is another great
advocate of love whose tomb in Ajmer attracts devotees by the millions. How inspiring to sit
again where Zahur Mian used to sit and look towards the tomb before the sun set.
How inspiring, also, to see the flourishing school built by Inaam Gudri Shah Baba’s prodigious
labour to put into practice the precepts of Khawaja Saheb. Such things are the practical
evidence of the power of love to transform. Love takes us away from self. When we look with
horror on the state of the world:- rebellions, civil wars, wholesale death and destruction,
cruelty and greed, intimidation and so on, some people say how is it God allows such things –
but they are actually the product of the self. The individual self may seem small but in fact it is
the universal self-hood that produces such results. The way of love takes us from our self and
thus subtracts from such evils. So love is not just a personal spiritual quest – it is to make the
suffering and abuse of our fellow man less.
As well as Ajmer, I was fortunate to visit many saints tombs in Delhi - such as Khawaja
Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Khawaja Nizamuddin Aulia and Hz Amir Khusrao, Shah Wali
Ullah, Hazrat Huree Buri Saheb, Hazrat Sarmad, Hazrat Khalil Ullah and for the first time Hz
Baqi Billa. I was also honoured by being able to attend the ‘Urs of Maqdoom Samauddin
Suhrewardy in Delhi.
This last year, for me personally, saw the flowering of an interest in mystical poetry – a sudden
and unexpected gift for which I must express my deep sense of gratitude. I began work on some
of Hafiz wonderful poetry as well as developing verses that flowed into me.
The Zikr group has continued throughout the year by God’s grace – held in Zahuri Manzil in
Southampton. Zikr is a form of service but zikr is not limited to verbal recitation of the name
Allah. It is the remembrance of the Living and close Reality of the Divinity. There are two
basic forms. One is when by various means we bring the remembrance of Allah to our mind.
The deeper zikr is when Allah begins to remember us. The first is only a vehicle to the second.
In addition to the zikr several Urs were celebrated in Southampton, for Khawaja Saheb, for
Zahurmian, for Saeenji Saheb of Ajmer, Qazi Saheb of Ajmer, and Mohammed Khadim Hasan
Gudri Shah Baba. For the first time we also celebrated the ‘Urs of Hazrat Nuri Baba
Kuchukiplikji of Konya. In respect of these the labours of my wife Farhana and her friends
were of great value.
I wrote a song which is called, ‘Love Just Keeps Coming Back’, - well it does (though in truth
it never really goes away, but is just hidden for a while).
May love keep coming back into your lives in the New Year and in every subsequent year. To
love is to live. So, as Khawaja Uthman Harooni put is it so succinctly – LIVE! And if I may be
allowed to qualify such a complete summation of the spiritual path, - Live every day.
Khawaja Hafiz Shirazi writes somewhere: “This morning I gave my heart away – so what
have you been doing today?’
Here is a poem specially written, in the form of a Rubai, for this New Year occasion:
If this century was the new moon – it would be full this year,
When it is full, myriad stars in the heavens seem to disappear;
If you look at it, just see your own inner beauty shining there,
Let that beauty illuminate everything you do this coming year.
Finally a poem written a few days ago in remembrance of the patron of this site, Dr Zahurul
Sunlight on frost-frozen bare branches,
Yes, winter has its beauty too;
As, peering from beneath silver eyebrows,
Your pearl piercing eyes used to do;
Eighteen thousand worlds shone and revolved,
In the non-space between us two;
In the spring-sun we buried your winter,
But we never buried you.
God bless your New Year the whole year through.
Jamiluddin Morris Zahuri
Dec 31st 2013