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A few months ago, one of my best friends Nausheen and her husband Vaseem were blessed with their second child, a beautiful baby girl whom they named Hafsa. The meaning of the name Hafsa in Arabic means “young lioness”, and she has been quite a fighter masha’Allah. Baby Hafsa was born with a unique heart condition and was kept in intensive care for the first month of her life. For any parent, having to witness your child in such a condition is an immense tribulation and a complete test of faith. Although my friend will not agree with this when I say it, but despite the magnitude of her trial, she has shown an incredible amount of forbearance. As a way of expressing her anguish, she penned a beautiful poem dedicated to her daughter.
After seeking her permission, I’m sharing her poem on here in the hope that it inspires and brings much solace, comfort and healing to all those other parents who may also be dealing with tribulation relating to children.
It’s true how real love, tribulation, the loss of someone dear, yearning for something or someone is the natural driver to poetry. You have to be inspired by something significant that has happened, or is happening to you in order to write deep, meaningful and heartfelt poems. Just as Mevlana Rumi wrote his poems after being separated from Shams, Imam al- Būsīrī wrote the Burdah in loving memory and longing for our Rasul sallaAllahu alayhi wasalam. Poetry is a powerful expression of the human experience.
Baby Hafsa has a operation in the next few months. Please keep her and the parents in your prayers.
Born on the edge, on a blade, on a thread.
Born with a time bomb, between life and death.
Born into love, born of passion and heat.
In the home that is built between two hearts that meet.
Born on a hope, based on trust and on faith.
Born with acceptance, yielding to fate.
Born into battle, born of pain and relief.
In the arms of two people who chose joy not grief.
From the depths of your eyes,
To the depths of our love,
To the boundless Mercy above.
From the fervour of prayers,
To the watchful eyes,
To the blood that makes these unbreakable ties.
It takes everything,
And takes nothing at all,
The sage and scientist,
To make your chest rise and fall.
Life fills your body,
My heart fills with pride,
A thousand whispered pleas fill the sky.
Wires fill your body,
We take it in stride,
These are your lifelines, we cannot cry.
The statistics aren’t wrong,
But your grip is so strong,
You want to stay with us,
Your fingers hold on.
I’m awestruck, there’s barely a sound,
Despite all their poking and prodding around.
I’m moved, the blessings abound,
Love of strangers and family through you we’ve found.
From holding on tight, we’ve learnt letting go.
From reading and reading ’til there’s nothing to know.
From keeping feet grounded we’ve learnt how to fly.
From trusting God’s wisdom we’ve learnt not to ask why.
He made you, He shaped you with the simple word Be.
He made you perfect, rare, unique,
I’m honoured, so honoured, He entrusted you to me.
2 of my favourite quotes from ‘The Forty Rules of the Religion of Love – Shams of Tabriz’, taken from the “The Forty Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak:
“Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighbourhood of despair. Even when all doors remained closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful! It is easy to be thankful when all is well. A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given but also for all that he has been denied. “
Seven Advice of Mevlana
1. In generosity and helping others be like a river
2. In compassion and grace be like the sun
3. In concealing others’ faults be like the night
4. In anger and fury be like the dead
5. In modesty and humility be like the earth
6. In tolerance be like a sea
7. Either exist as you are or be as you look
“It is God’s Kindness to terrify you in order to lead you to safety.” – Mawlana Rumi
(The below anecdote is taken from the lecture entitled ‘Reliance on Allah’ which is currently available for purchase on the Apple iTunes Store and on www.meccacentric.com. I was hoping to upload the short excerpt where Shaykh AHM narrates the story, but for some reason it doesn’t allow me to upload it here, therefore I’ve transcribed (to the best of my ability) what Shaykh AHM said. It’s more or less word to word, but I refrained from using speech marks in case I’ve missed a few words out! Jazaka’llahu khayran to the very kind soul who emailed me the lecture details!)
There is a story which Sayyidina Jalaluddin Rumi tells of an ant that’s creeping across the carpet in a mosque, and the ant complains to God saying: “what is this, these bumps, and strange colours, and patterns, this must have been created just as a meaningless obstacle course, what a futile thing to have made.” But of course the carpet maker, looking at it from above can see the patterns and the purpose of it, and can see that the whole thing is perfect and is good. And Allah is often like that. We often can’t make sense of the misfortunes because we are two dimensional, we are at ground level, we can’t see what it all means, but the khalifa of Allah subhanahu wa’tala knows even if he can’t always see that this is a manifestation of Allah’s will which is always good and always perfect and always beautiful. ~ Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad
I found this anecdote truly amazing. Life takes us through so many unexpected hurdles and obstacles, difficult and painful situations and experiences, all of which we often cannot decipher why these things are happening, or have happened to us. Just like the ant in the story, I guess, we are only tiny ‘beings’ in this big world where our vision and understanding is very limited. We do not have the full view like Allah does; He knows what has happened, what is happening and what is yet to come; He can see how everything fits together and what the ultimate result shall be. ONLY HE KNOWS!!
May He grant us true reliance and trust in Him alone, with whom no trust or reliance is lost. Allahumma amin!
All night, a man called “Allah”
Until his lips were bleeding.
Then the Devil said, “Hey! Mr Gullible!
How comes you’ve been calling all night
And never once heard Allah say, “Here, I am”?
You call out so earnestly and, in reply, what?
I’ll tell you what. Nothing!”
The man suddenly felt empty and abandoned.
Depressed, he threw himself on the ground
And fell into a deep sleep.
In a dream, he met Abraham, who asked,
“Why are you regretting praising Allah?”
The man said, “ I called and called
But Allah never replied, “Here I am.”
Abraham explained, “Allah has said,
“Your calling my name is My reply.
Your longing for Me is My message to you.
All your attempts to reach Me
Are in reality My attempts to reach you.
Your fear and love are a noose to catch Me.
In the silence surrounding every call of “Allah”
Waits a thousand replies of “Here I am.”
~ Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi
contains a hundred messages from God:
To every cry of “Oh God”
He answers a hundred times, “I am here.”
~ Mevlana Rumi
I had always wanted to visit Konya, just so I could visit the blessed tomb of Mevlana Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi, one of the greatest mystical poets of all times. I had been to Istanbul a couple of times before, but for one reason or another, I never got the chance to visit Konya; however this time, I was determined to make that extra journey and go spend a day in Konya. So, on the 28th December 2009, I got a flight from Istanbul to Konya. I had no knowledge of what Konya was like, nor did I bother to read up about the city, and to be very honest, I didn’t really care because my prime aim and purpose of the trip was just to visit the blessed tomb of Mevlana.
I arrived at Konya airport at 8am, and my tour guide was waiting outside for me. We headed straight to Mevlana’s Mausoleum first. Whilst driving up to the Mausoleum, I sensed a completely different atmosphere; the roads were empty and quiet, hardly could see people out and about, there were not that many mosques in sight, everything seemed a bit dull to me, it was totally different to Istanbul!
The weather that day was cold and cloudy, which didn’t exactly uplift my mood, but then my gaze fell upon the beautiful green done…..
“Come, Come, Whoever you Are
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.”
The courtyard of the Mausoleum, which leads to the resting place of Mevlana…..
This is the main entrance of the Mausoleum, inside here are the tombs of Rumi’s family and descendants. The headstones for the male graves have either a green or white turban; the green represents the fact that the person is from the family of Prophet Muhammad salla’Allahu ‘alayhi wasalam, and the white represents that the person is just a descendant of Mevlana. The female graves obviously have no turbans on them, so you could easily identify them. At the corner, right beneath the green dome, is the tomb of Mevlana Rumi. Unfortunately, they do not allow you to take pictures inside the Mausoleum, especially of the tombs, therefore I do not have any to share, but at that point, taking pictures was the last thing on my mind anyway because I was feeling a bit overwhelmed…..
I stood there in awe, unable to hold back my tears, and still couldn’t believe I was standing at the grave of this great person who has moved, transformed, cured and healed many hearts and minds through his poetry, and guiding people to Divine Love. I first came across Mevlana Rumi about 5 years ago, when I didn’t really have any interest in poetry, or even Sufism at that point in my life! But something about Mevlana’s words had an impact on me, and I started reading more of his poems and quotes. I’ve often found great solace, and many answers to my problems/issues in his poetry and advice, therefore for me to visit his blessed grave was something very special and personal. I stood there giving salams on behalf of all those who had asked me to, and then made du’a. I cannot fully describe the feeling I got whilst standing there, one really has to visit and experience it themselves in order to understand.
Beyond Rumi’s tomb, there was another room which was used for the Sema (whirling dance) ceremony once upon a time, but is now used to exhibit old manuscripts (Rumi’s own poetry collection like Mesnavi, Divan etc), various types of Qu’rans, some were small as the palm of a normal person’s hand! They were extraordinary to see, especially since they had been handwritten! Also, to view were instruments such as the Ney, clothes, tasbihs etc. There was also a display with a small box which had the blessed hair of the beloved Prophet Muhammad salla’Allahu ‘alayhi wasalam.
‘Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
“The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”
“Sometimes, in order to help, He makes us miserable; but heartache for His sake brings happiness. Laughter will come after tears. Whoever foresees this is a servant blessed by God. Wherever water flows, life flourishes: wherever tears fall, Divine mercy is shown.”
My tour guide then took me around Konya. Here are some pictures I took:
Alaeddin Camii (Mosque)
The Alaeddin Mosque is the largest and oldest mosque in Konya, in fact, it was the first mosque made in Konya.
We then went to the top of the highest building in Konya (sorry folks, forgot the name!), just to get a birds-eye view of Konya:
Next on the sightseeing list was Shems Tebrizi Cami (Mosque)
All that sightseeing, made us a little hungry so we stopped at a restaurant to eat “Etliekmek”, the traditional dish of Konya. It’s basically a very long piece of bread with meat.
I was reluctant to try this because it didn’t look too appetizing, plus I’m not a huge fan of meat, especially not mince meat! However, I wanted to experience the complete culture and tradition of Konya, therefore felt I had to try it. I was actually surprised at how good it tasted, it’s quite similar to Lahmacun (Turkish equivalent of pizza), but slightly better in my opinion.
We then visited Mevlana Cultural Centre, where the Sema (whirling dance) takes place every Saturday evening:
In the winter, the Sema takes place in this hall which is inside the actual Mevlana Cultural Centre……..
And in the summer, the Sema takes place outside……
As the day went on, the grey clouds disappeared, the sun came out, and the sky looked brighter than it had when I first arrived in Konya. We then visited a few more mosques, and here are some of the photographs I took:
We then went to the outskirts of Konya, and here are a couple of pictures of some of the ruins we saw as we drove past…….
By 3pm, I had pretty much seen most of Konya, well most of the touristy places for sure. My flight back to Istanbul wasn’t until 8pm, and there was nothing else I really wanted to do or see, so I asked my tour guide to take me back to Mevlana Rumi’s Mausoleum because that is where I really wanted to be. The security man at the Mausoleum said that I could sit near the grave until the Mausoleum closed at 5pm. I had 1 hour 45 mins approx, so I found a corner where I sat and read Mevlana’s poems, and just contemplated. The Ney was being played in the background, I felt really relaxed and peaceful. Then the Magrib adhan was called out by the muezzin, it was so clear and beautiful that I wanted the muezzin to continue doing the adhan over and over again. By this time the Mausoleum was empty, I was the only one there. The security man came and said he’ll let me have a few more minutes just to say goodbye to Mevlana, so I tried to make the most of my last moments there….
Still had a couple of hours left before my flight, so I went around some gift shops- the usual stuff tourists do!
Before I left the UK, I remember a friend telling me that Konya is very industrial, ugly, and the only amazing thing to see is Mevlana’s zawiyya. I didn’t take much notice of his words at the time, but having seen Konya myself, I can somewhat agree with my friend. I wouldn’t go to the extreme of calling Konya ‘ugly’, but I felt that it didn’t steal my heart like Istanbul has, apart from the beautiful Mausoleum of Mevlana which has secured a special place in my heart.
I would encourage everyone to take the opportunity to visit Konya, simply just to visit Mevlana Rumi’s tomb, you won’t regret it! Feel free to contact me if you need any tips.
“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”
“Patience is the key to joy.”
Friends are a tremendous blessing from Allah subhanahu wa’tala…..
……We may not always appreciate those people who Allah brings into our lives as friends/companions, and vice versa, they may not always appreciate us either….
…..But we must learn that each individual has their unique way of expressing themselves and how much they value us as individuals and the overall friendship…….. Allah subhanahu wa’tala has created everyone differently……
…..Regardless of who we currently have in our lives, who we lost, or who will come back into our lives tomorrow, we know that Allah is the most Generous, and has blessed this world with so many different, unique and beautiful people to help us through this world…….They might not necessary be like us, but will be brought to us in order to complement our characters and personalities….. Maybe to help us through a particular stage in our lives…. Or perhaps to stay with us throughout this life and the next….. We just don’t know…But it’s all part of His subhanahu wa’tala’s plan for us…..
A few of my favourite quotes:
“The likeness of a righteous friend and an evil friend, is the likeness of a (musk) perfume seller and a blacksmith. As for the perfume seller, he may either bestow something on you, or you may purchase something from him, or you may benefit from his sweet smell. And as for the blacksmith, he may either burn your clothes, or you may be exposed to his awful smell.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
“A friend cannot be considered a friend until he is tested in three occasions: in time of need, behind your back, and after your death.”[Ali ibn Abi Talib]
“No one is a friend of yours except the one who, while knowing your defects, is your companion.”
“We have to understand how to be friends. We wish to know Allah, but we don’t know ourselves. We must begin to see in a way that we can learn about ourselves. Learn about this blessing that Allah has given us. Because we are, each of us, a blessing. Allah has placed a part of His beauty in each of us. And what He has not given to one He’s given to another.” [Mevlana Rumi]
Hold a true friend with both your hands. ~ Nigerian Proverb
“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.” ~ Unknown
Who seeks a faultless friend remains friendless. ~ Turkish Proverb
Alhumdulilah we are blessed to be alive to experience another month of purification and healing. Our Lord has given us another opportunity to mend our relationship with Him subhanahu wa ta’ala.
O moon-faced Beloved,
the month of Ramadan has arrived
Cover the table
and open the path of praise.
O fickle busybody.
it’s time to change your ways.
Can you see the one who’s selling the halvah
how long will it be the halvah you desire?
Just a glimpse of the halvah-maker
has made you so sweet even honey says,
“I’ll out myself beneath your feet, like soil;
I’ll worship at your shrine.”
your chick frets within the egg
with all your eating and choking
Break out of your shell that your wings may grow.
Let yourself fly.
The lips of the Master are parched
from calling the Beloved.
The sound of your call resounds
through the horn of your empty belly.
Let nothing be inside of you.
Be empty: give your lips to the lips of the reed.
When like a reed you fill with His breath,
then you’ll taste sweetness.
Sweetness is hidden in the Breath
thats fills the reed.
Be like Mary – By that sweet breath
a child grew within her.
~ Mawlana Rumi
May we all experience a blessed and uplifting month, and may we exit the month in a much better state than we entered the month. Amin ya Rabb!