Saturday, October 29, 2005

A Talk

Shaykh Taner: There's a Chinese fable. One day an eagle was shot with an arrow, and then he looked at the arrow and saw the eagle feathers on the arrow and said, "What kills us is us."

Murid: 'Cause the arrow had eagle feathers and he was an eagle.

All Power Belongs to Allah

Shaykh: So miniseries were about people killing people, you know wars and this that, and that's why it was once an eagle. So what kills us is our ignorance, our greed, especially our greed, and selfishness, basically nafs, of course, we call him nafs. And not recognizing Allah, that there's a power over all of us and power belongs to nobody, and we think that a temporary power that God has granted to us, we think that it is stationary, we're going to have this forever. But, although everything is apparent and it is right in front of everybody's eyes, that power has never belonged to anybody. It always belongs to Allah.

Alexander the Great wanted to conquer the world, he wanted to be the most powerful, the Egyptian kings, they wanted to be the most powerful, but Allah sent one man, one man who cannot even talk well, Moses, you know, one man against the whole big power, superpower of his time, one man goes and beats the whole superpower, and everybody knows this. This is not a secret, this is there the whole time, even Charleton Heston knows that. He made the movie.

But the most amazing one is the one that Allah sent Abraham to Nimrod, and Nimrud said, "Tell your Allah to gather His army, I'll gather my army and we're going to solve this problem once and for all who's God and who's no. Come to this plains area and we're going to have a fight." He says, "All right." so they gather there and Allah sends him one lame mosquito for the whole army. One mosquito. The mosquito goes and gets into his nose. From his nose it goes to his brain and keeps singing, he doesn't do anything else, just sing. So he wants to get it out, and then it's not getting out. He hits harder, bang, bang, bang, to get it out. It keeps singing there. So he goes and gets this mallet, they start hitting his head with a mallet so the mosquito will come out, but it doesn't. So he dies of concussion, trying to get the mosquito out. One mosquito. Now, you said you are the most powerful man on earth and you claimed you are god. Then what happened? One, you can't even defeat a mosquito.

We all look powerful. but everybody has a weak point. This little tiny flu, germ, virus comes in and then, boom, you're on the ground. But still we want to be the most powerful. So that's what Islam is about, to accept the fact that we are not. Like, that's the difference between West and the East. In the West, they say, I think, therefore I am. In the East we say, I think, therefore I am not. So what? So what if you make bombs and bombs and go kill everybody, then what's going to happen? Are you going to live? You're also going, this is like a self-destruction mechanism. Our greed is killing us. Our greed is going to kill us if we don't stop our greed.

Cooperation and Helping one Another

It is so simple, a very simple thing. If you all want a house and a car and this that. And if you start fighting with each other, trying to get ten dollars in your pocket, I try to get theirs and they try to get mine, and everybody's trying to, and then we carry this for a while and then, have we made a car or a house yet? No, what have we been doing? We're trying to get that one, ten dollars from each other. But if we say, hey man, let's get together and let's make you a house first, and you , and you, and start all the houses together and then help each other build a house, then we can get someplace at a given time. But, and this is very simple. So if you cooperate, if you love one another, if you help one another, then my surrounding will also be good, where I can live happily.

Building a Decent Society

I know some countries where there, even if you have money, there is no place to spend it, you have car, there's no place to park, you have money, there's no decent place you can go without fear that you're going to be robbed. And so what kind of a life is that? What we are trying to do is, Allah is telling us how to live. And if we listen to that, obey that, and apply that, and practice that, then the society that Allah is mentioning, that I am mentioning here, can happen. first of all, some of the principles is that, there is no compulsion in the religion, there is no compulsion, everybody is free to believe what they want to believe. And you have to respect everybody. you have to correct everybody's actions with word, or hand, or with your heart, depending on the situation.


You have to help one another and try to love one another, and try to understand one another. Allah created us differently and gave different thoughts and different nations so that we can know one another. Because what we know in one another is what Allah is revealing, how Allah is living in that person. That's the Sufi way of looking, in the deeper sense is that
Allah is unique, Allah is great, everybody is unique. No two people are alike, even twins. They are so much closer, but still not the same. So, how can I expect you to be like me? There's only one and one like me, you cannot be like me, and I cannot be like you. So what must we do? Hate each other because you cannot be like me? Or accept the fact, and actually enjoy the fact, that you are not like me, thank God you are not like me.

Shaykh Ibrahim: That's the difference between heaven and hell.

Shaykh Taner: It would be very boring, it's like mass production, all of them are like me. Why would Allah create 5 billion people, just one is enough, we got the idea. Allah is not stupid. So this is the understanding we have to come, humanity has to come to this understanding before we have peace, that, yes, it is okay to be different, and it is okay to think different. Actually it is good that they think different. And our Prophet, pbuh, says, It is a blessing of Allah that my people have different thoughts, they think differently, it's a blessing. But he didn't say it's
because of this fight with one another, he said know one another. Get together, study, enjoy. We have to give joy to the world, peace to the world. That's, we have to do this.

The Enemy Within

But, why don't we do that? Because we haven't tackled the biggest enemy that is within. That's the biggest enemy. Is you, your nafs, your ego, id, you have to conquer that id. You have to get that under control. It's like a dog, you have to put a muzzle on the dog, you have to put that muzzle on the dog so that I can come and visit you. You have a dog. Do you have a dog? No, then I have no fear. Because of your dog I cannot come in. You say come and visit me, but you are not holding your dog, and I'm afraid of the dog. It might bite me, it might eat me, I don't know. So if I see that you have put the muzzle on the dog and tied the dog to a safe place that he can't get to me, then I will come and visit you. That's what Allah's situation is. When there is this dog within you barking, Allah is not going to show up there. It will be you. So get that dog tied up, then you can feel Allah's presence within you. Then you can feel Allah's presence within the others, then you can feel Allah's presence in the trees and in the flowers, then in the animals, then in the water, then in everything.

Allah's Love

Then you can be with Allah at all times, and you can love Allah at all times and Allah loves you back, through you, through him, through them, her. When you show love, you get love. But for love to appear, the soil has to be right. This temperature, this climate, it has to be clean of other plants. So when the place is right for love, love will appear there. When you pollute it, it will go away. Just like these TV shows, you know. To begin with, they give you a capital.

Allah's Gift, Our Capital

Okay, let's see. Our capital is our life. Allah, we are born with nothing, we are weak. You can't even feed yourself, you can't even clean yourself, and Allah takes care of you, Allah feeds you, Allah gave you a mother, Allah gave you a father, or protector, whatever, when he fed you. This is your capital, Allah is giving you this. Now you can do something. You got into the position where you have some strength now, you can move your hand, you can walk, you can do this. Now is the time to show what you can do for Allah. So you can increase this capital, or protect it, or waste it, whichever way you're going to go. And if you waste this capital, maybe Allah will give you one more chance, or two more chances, but don't count on many. So you have to be wise, you have to be awake and aware, and appreciate and know what makes this capital grow, and what makes this capital not grow. Degrees. So this is all in the book, called Quran you read. In the science, research in the science, there are laws of nature, laws of the universe. Quran is this. It gives you a general idea of how to live without your researching it on your own.

Right and Wrong

What is right and what's wrong means what is good for you and what is not good for you. What is dangerous and what is not dangerous. When you, because of certain greedy people who have polluted the religion, when you talk about religion, everybody runs away. Why? They are right, because that's how it has been presented for ages. This is not something to run away. That is why I don't mention religion. What is right to do, and what is not right to do. You have to know. And this is the, this has to be universal right and wrong, a criteria of universal right and wrong. Not California made laws of right and wrong, or Ireland right and wrong. This has to be universal. So these are all given to you in the book called Quran. Middle path, we are taught to follow the middle path. Outer and inner has to go hand in hand. Avoid the extremes. Be clean, be good. Be good means help others, don't hurt others. You can protect yourself, but you shouldn't attack others, don't take others' things away from them, respect your elders, don't commit adultery, don't steal, you know, ten commandments and so forth.

Living Universe

All these are things that, for you to live happily. because when you do the right thing... the whole universe is alive. Don't think that everything is dead. Like scientists are looking: are we the only life in the universe? Yes, we are the only life, the whole universe is there for nothing, just us. If you believe that, then I have the London Bridge to sell you. Yes, we are the only people in the universe, and nothing, nobody, there is no more life anywhere else. Excuse me, the whole universe is alive. And everything you do, and everything you say can be used in the court of law against you, in the universal court. And you are already, everything is related to each other. So whatever you're doing, you're affecting the universe.

Humans Destroying the Universe

Well, we were dummies, we got this aerosol sprays, example, when we were dummies we got this aerosol spray, we sprayed everywhere, sell more, more. Then how can this little can, hey man, don't do this, why not? Because it may affect the atmosphere. Are you kidding, man this little can is going to open up a hole in the atmosphere? What are you talking about? And guess what? There's a big hole. Why? Because we were ignorant, why, because we were greedy. Now, here you go, how are you going to close that hole? So everything, even little, big, you do is affecting you. Let's make all this plastic, make, make, and then throw it. Well, what's going to happen. Disposable, let's make everything disposable, disposable this, disposable diaper, disposable dress, disposable toothbrush, disposable everything, you know, and then there's a whole pile of plastic that is not degradable. And then, now you cannot eat fish from the Bay Area, you cannot eat fish here, you cannot eat there, salmon is going down, oysters going down, so many species are being extinct every day, and we think we are smart. Do you think we are smart? We killed the Indians thinking that they are barbaric people, they are, what, savages, you know they are naked and red, and they didn't do anything with the land, we know what to do with the land. We destroyed the land, so they'll see. So that's what we did. Now in Turkey there isn't even a lizard crawling because of the pesticides, insecticides, all these "cides"
put on the ground, kill all, everything. And then there was a white fly. They couldn't kill it, because there's nothing to kill the fly. All the enemies of the fly are dead. Natural enemies. So they, finally they, I don't know what happened, they died of old age. I used to teach in this English university, next door was the agricultural department. And the white flies are all flying over there, and they are just watching them. I said, well how come you can't find anything? Get to work, go to the laboratory, do something about this fly. Why am I talking like this? I don't know.

Real Human Beings

But we go back to the same thing. Why do we kill each other? Because we are ignorant, because we are greedy, because we are not in the level of real human beings yet, that's why. Once we get to the real level of humanity, when we see each other as human beings rather than, ah, what can I sell you? What do you have that I can take advantage of you? What can I get from you? When we stop seeing each other like this, then that's why Muslims cover their hair, everywhere, so you can see the face. And draw the attention only to the face. I wear this hat, you know. To the person, is important, personality is important. We are first human beings, then we are Germans, Turks, this that, then we are women and children or man or whatever. But first, we are all human beings.

Our Relationship with Allah

All human beings are equal in the eyes of Allah and they are equal relationship. The most important thing for you is your relationship with Allah and nothing else is more important than this. Nothing else. Because all of life is one minute, boom, you are gone. What stays? At the end this is the valid question: Is Allah happy with you? That's important because He is the boss, He designs all this rights and wrongs and all this thing is His doing. If He loves you then He will share more of His knowledge and presence and life and knowing and everything else with you. If He doesn't love you, why would He give you more? What did you do with what He has given you already? Destroyed, abused, that's why Allah is not going to give you any more. You have to be thankful, so Allah will increase, you have to be good, so Allah can give you. Allah's not going to give His powers to you when you are still under the influence of your nafs. You don't give a gun to a kid, which they do here and then they kill each other, you know, that's what happens. So what do we do here? We learn to be human beings. This is the place, this is the arena, this is the laboratory where we try to turn earth to human beings, to gold. Any questions? Go ahead. Ask me. Ask Allah, I don't know.


Murid: There were all these people around like Moses, Abraham, Jesus, all these prophets, and Abraham's doing all these things, miracle things, and today there seems to be there's no people like that anymore, at least I don't read about them, I don't find them, and I was wondering why is it like that? You see, I feel it's so much easier, you know to believe in Allah or in a God if you meet somebody like that and see what they were doing or what they were able to do, then today there is not such people who can give such an example of His power.

Shaykh: One, how do you know there are no people like him, like them? Number two is, they are not going to come up and tell you, hey, I am like Abraham, let me show you a miracle. Number three is, that was that time. Now miracles are changing. Miracles are given by Allah to these people, or shown through these people, still by Allah, is the one doing it. But in each area, in each age they're different. What Moses did Abraham didn't. What Moses did Jesus didn't, what Jesus did Moses didn't do. For each Allah has, because of the people, what they need, that's what's given. Now, I'm glad you asked this question. during the time of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, they were good in poetry. Arabs would converse with each other in poetry. And this poetry is not just rhymes, there are measures, meters, rhymes. There are molds that you...(fit the words into.) fa-ilatten, fa-ilatten, fa-ilun. Fa-ilatten, fa-ilatten, fa-ilun. You know, there are at least thirty, forty different things, which means that long syllable and then short syllable, two long syllables, one short syllable, two long syllables, one short syllable, like that, you know. They all rhymed, when you talked like that, so that's where Shakespeare got his inspiration from the Sufis when he was in Cypress he started talking like that, in English like that. Now, so when Allah sent Muhammad, pbuh, his miracle is Quran. It is a literary masterpiece in Arabic. They used to have, what do you call, competitions, and the best poems were put on the Kaaba wall, you know, Mecca, on the Ka'aba wall. And when Quran started coming only Quran was always the top winner at all times, and still Allah is saying all the jinn and all the human beings can come together and they cannot bring a verse like this. So all that book is that miracle.

What is the other miracle, which you don't realize what the miracle is happening is, the miracle is people are believing without the miracle. what is the fastest growing religion in the world? Islam. What is the biggest religion in the world? Islam. What is the fastest growing religion in the United States? Islam. How about in Africa? Islam. How about in the West? Islam. What miracle are we showing? None. What are we promising? None. What did I promise you? Nothing.

Murid: In the early days they had no radio, they had no television, they had no satellites, and still this communication was there for all these miracles, that Moses supposedly opened the sea up and they were escaping through the sea, and the pharaoh, and then the sea closes and they all drowned, whatever, you know. They were saying what happened, I don't know if that happened. But today, if there would be people out there who could do things like that or, would be able to do things, the communications are so much better and so much faster, I think people would know.

Shaykh: Well, a lot of things are happening, but, you know...

Murid: I don't get it, though.

Shaykh: You don't get it. Now science is such that, science can also separate the sea, that's how they built the bridges and this that. Forget the sea, they separate the continents. That's how the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal, Africa and Asia separated.

Murid: But that is man-made. Nobody can go and open the sea just like that.

Shaykh: Here is a story, Sufi story, okay? During the early times, shaykhs could do this. Abdul-Qadir Geylani did this. All shaykhs are able to do these things. Walis, you know. So here is Junaid al Baghdadi, this flying carpet? It is real. He is on his carpet and flying. he could do this, right? And then, on the other hand, Rabia adhul-adwiyya, she could walk on the water. A woman saint, wali, shaykha, whatever. In the Euphrates. So when Junaid al-Baghdadi is showing off to her how he can fly on the carpet, she told him, look man, this is nothing. What you and I are doing the fish and the flies can do, too.. I mean the flies are also flying, just little flies, this is nothing. The important thing is, whether you fly, show or not, is Allah happy with you? That is the final thing. Otherwise, what happened all these...Moses showed 9 or 11 miracles, he did. Did Pharaoh believe? Did the Egyptians convert into Judaism right away? Oh, we saw this now, we are going to believe you. What did they say? They said, oh, he's a magician, this is all magic, his magic is bigger than ours, that's all.

The biggest miracle is the one, the guy who can open the hearts, that's the miracle, that's our Prophet, pbuh, when he talks, he opens the hearts, that's the miracle. The miracle is love. Can you give love? Can you take love? The other things happen. You should know this, but I don't know how you don't know. Any given shaykh, true shaykh, can monitor his students on the other side of the world. When you go there, he will know. Monitor his students from long distance, yes, they can help them when they're in need. And these are all true and apparent, ask them, ask all of them here. Ask you, check yourself: Did I need help and did it come to me or not. While my shaykh is in Napa and I am in the boat, did anytime his help come to you or not, ask yourself. Ask them, ask him. Tell him one story.

Shaykh Ibrahim: There are so many stories. My shaykh knew I was in a bad way and he was in Wisconsin. He was, it was after his accident, he called me when I was doing zikr and I was in a bad place, and he knew about it. But the other thing that I wanted to say was, somebody that we know said, where are the miracles? I want to know that Allah is there, and I want to see Him for sure, And I don't want any, any doubt about it. I want to know that Allah is there and that there are miracles. And he got his answer.

Shaykh Taner: He got hit. Psshhooo!

Shaykh Ib: He got hit by lightening. In a parking lot, nobody else was there, The bolt just went right down, it fried the change in his pocket.

Shaykh Taner: They don't publicize this. They are in the past, that's why it is publicized now. A lot of miraculous things are happening, there are protectors of the earth, it is happening all the time. But they don't come out and say, hey, man, I protected you from this, there was an earthquake going to happen, I stopped it. They don't say that. Then it would be showoff. If I show off, then Allah won't give me anymore, will He? Everything happens with Allah's will, and at the time, and with His decree, Allah does everything.

Shaykh Ib: It's what is the purpose? What is the purpose of the miracle? Every time in the Quran that a prophet comes and says, you guys should surrender to Allah, they say, well, you know, show us something, show us a miracle, or show us some angels, or something.

Shaykh Taner: Okay, let me tell you this. Will it be a miracle if I put a sword in your tummy and get it from the other way, and no blood and you live? Or I shoot bang, bang, bang, bang, and nothing happens?

Murid: That would be a miracle, but...

Shaykh Taner: What do you want? What kind of miracle are you looking for? What kind of a miracle are you looking for?

Murid: I am not looking for a miracle. But I don't understand, it looks like thousands of years ago, or two thousand years or whenever else, there were these far-out people, prophets or whatever you call them, they were doing what you call still today miracles, and you know, I just don't, now you say they just don't show it, but why did they show it then if it would be they tried to hide it. They did not hide it then, we know about it.

Shaykh: It was a necessity, he was trying to convince this Pharaoh who doesn't want to let go his people. He said, oh Pharaoh, dude, let my people go. Just kidding. And he wouldn't do it. So he had to show...

Murid: I don't see, like the Dalai Lama, he's enlightened or whatever else, I don't see that he does miracles that the Chinese come out of Tibet, or you know, the people who are in China are completely suppressed, you know, by the government or whatever.

Shaykh: Well, I know a person who destroyed Russia, and now all these people are freed. I know a person who stopped Communism and saw that all the people are freed, let go, liberated, in Russia. Isn't that a miracle? There's no Communism now in Russia? Anyway, he's looking for, like James Bond, saving the whole world. Just kidding.

Murid: No, I mean wouldn't we need miracles now, today more than ever? And if, like 2,000 years ago when Jesus was around...

Shaykh: If we needed that, Allah would give it to us. We don't need miracles, they told me, like I said, my Shaykh can cut your head off and put it back together. But I cannot do that, it is not given to me. I am not supposed to do this because this... So that's the miracle...Let me tell you my Shaykh's story, this is with the Germans, now you should relate to this. During the 1st world war, Germans and Turks were allies and German officers are in Istanbul, and my Shaykh is there. and then they come and see Sufism, you know, that my Shaykh can put the sword and whatever, cutting instrument, like a butcher shop, you know. He has all these things. And then do it and nothing happens, and he can get into fire and he doesn't burn, Rifais don't burn. They told him, ah, why don' we take you to Germany and let the people see? And he said, well, just like a circus, you know, here's a guy who doesn't burn, isn't that good? So he said, okay, let's go to Germany. You bring the hottest oven you got, you burn it and I get in there and I get out. If I get out, I have one condition: everybody is going to believe and become Muslims. What did the German soldier say? No, I don't know about this. They like the show, but they don't want to change themselves, don't you understand?

Changing yourself is the key. they don't want to change, no matter how much miracles you show. Only the miracle that you don't see, subtle miracle is the look of the miracle giver that changes the hearts. Then they can change themselves. That is the subtle miracle, that's Allah's look. You see all these, because the doubt is still there, in the head. You see, I mean watch these magic shows, the guy is going through these glasses and doing all these things, and cutting the girl into two, and one hand is over there, and all kind of things, but still nobody believes they are, they know there's a trick to that. So your mind will always say, ah, there's a trick to this. Actually this is not happening. so one of them came and checked the knife of my Shaykh, see if it is really real knife, or is it just something, spring, you know, you just put it, it looks like it is going and actually it is not going in. So he grabs his knife, hits the knife and the blood goes gushing, gushes like this to show it is real blood, and he goes like this: (licks finger and places it on wound) Bismillah, come and look, there's nothing. Did he believe? I've seen these things many times, and this is nothing. Nail, hammer, head. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. They x-rayed it to see if the nail is going in the head or not. Nothing happened.

There is a Qadiri in Pakistan, I didn't see this one, I heard this from my, he takes his eye out, gives it into your hand. Eye is in your hand. And then puts it back in his eye, and it's there. I'm sorry I had to mention these things, please forgive me because the last time I was at your house we had a group like this, and when I mentioned these miracles, the next time I didn't see those people again. None of them are back again, they're going, oh, this is what's going, oh this must be a satanic cult, they're going to sacrifice, they're going to sacrifice me or kill me or, this is a dangerous place, man. I swear, I'll build the fire, I'll jump in it and I'll come out, but I'm afraid that if I do these things there will be nobody left here. If I bring the knife and the sword here, how many people do you think are going to be here? When I say, "Ya, Allah, who's next? Come here! Artemis!" Boom! What's going to happen? Police, hurry up, come, they're killing somebody here, they're sacrificing, and I'll be going....

So that is why my Shaykh doesn't let me show miracles like that, okay? He says this is the time of the science and logic, so that's what I'm using, science and logic. Whatever I've said, I can back it up with physics, chemistry, math, geometry, and logic, whatever I say. And so far I have, Alhamdulillah, I have talked to a group of doctors, there are 150 doctors over there sitting, and I'm talking about medicine, which I know nothing about. They are doctors and I am talking to them. If they are engineers, I am talking their language. So they ask, I answer, they ask, I answer, even Buddhists there. She is asking questions about her path that she didn't get any answers, so I'm answering that, and this and that, I'm answering 150 people over there. They're all top doctors you know, surgeons and all PHD's. What am I? Nothing. I'm answering all these questions, and she is there, right there. And then what did they say then? We rest our case, we give up, they said, we surrender. So that's the miracle.

I'll show you a miracle. In LA, I go, fundamentalists there, they have guns, knives, everything else. Anyway, forget that part, then I go there and from there I'm going to go to another house and from there to another house. But in the meantime electricity has been cut off, but wherever I go there is electricity, and wherever I leave the electricity is cut off. So I go there, there's electricity, and I leave from there to the other house, there's electricity, we never were in the darkness, Alhamdulillah, we were all in the light. But they said, oh, the electricity was off half an hour, an hour, but we never saw it. Bang, bang, bang. And I lived through those fundamentalists which we was. All by myself. He's supposed to protect me, but I don't know. He's a Silat guy, I don't know about his Silat. But these guys, I know they're, so I put my pouch here, and my wife keeps putting it somewhere else, "Put this pouch here!" I had my backup there, you know. Equalizer, you know. So that's how I lived those things. When you come with me sometimes, we go around? Then you'll see all the miracles you want, inshallah. Any other questions, ah, I talked too much. Yes, honey?

Murid: Well, I was thinking about this book, last week about the prophets, pbut, what their role was and would you mind mentioning a little bit about our Prophet in particular, and his role in particular, and the people around him?

Shaykh: Allah says in Quran-i-Kerim, I created you in the best state and then I lowered you to the lowest of the low. I reduced you, lowered you to the lowest of the low. Now, by this it can mean many things, But one of them is, and Allah also says in Quran, I created your souls and I asked you, Am I not your Lord?, and you said, Yes. So we are actually spiritual, our first body is spiritual body. Then we got into this animal body. Now the first of the creation is our Prophet Muhammad, pbuh. He was Allah's, and everything else is created form the prophet Muhammad, pbuh. So Muhammad is our motherland, or fatherland, whichever way you look at it. So we are all part of Muhammad. So if his light is increased, your light is increased. So, in other words, my understanding is that Allah took his certain parts, like mercy, love, forgiveness, all this, He loved that side of Him much, and He separated Him and He said, this is the praised one, that's Muhammad. There's Muhammad as a person, there's Muhammad, ruhu Muhammad is a spirit, you know. So He gave all these attributes of Him as a dominant figure to our Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, and He said, I am sending you as a mercy to the worlds, not only this world, worlds. Meaning 4 worlds: divine, Jabbarut, which is archangelic, angelic, and Mulk, and other worlds. So this is as a mercy, he's sent as a mercy. And all prophets are form him. And all believers are from the light of his face, all believers are from him.

The Prophet (pbuh), as an Example

So although we make no distinction among the prophets, all prophets belong to Allah and they are all equally valuable. So our Prophet is the seal of the prophets, that's what Allah says. And he is the sample for humanity, the ahlak, good manners is completed with him. He's the one who never missed his focus from Allah, and he's the one who always obeyed Allah at all times. He's the only one. He made only a few mistakes, and he's the one who said, when people threw rocks at him he said, o Allah, forgive them because they know not. So this is the state of the human being is that, even if somebody, Allah says in Quran-i-Kerim, right? If somebody wrongs you, does something to you bad, you have the right to do the same to him or her. but, if you forgive, it is better for you. But this is not granted to everybody. So this is his maqam, that he can do this. Although people are trying to kill hi, . he's saying, O Allah, forgive them. Mahatma Ghandi also said that. The guy who killed him, he said, I bless you, I forgive you. Only a few people can do this. And I hope we are all among these. We'd would like to be. So that's why we have to take him as an example. Because Allah loves him, his character, his manners, and his actions. And He says, be like him. So he is the sample for us to follow. so that's why we also have to say, O Allah, forgive, whatever, because they know not, they don't know. Because if we punish them what do we get? But if we say, if somebody is being bad to you, if you say, O Allah, please lead him to the straight path, please correct him, make him a better person, rather than, O Allah, punish him, if he becomes a better person, you gain somebody. If you punish him, he's going to do it again, and he's going to be bad.

Turn Negative into Positive

Listen, our Prophet, pbuh, what did he do? I've been saying this, he's the one who can turn negative energy to the positive energy. I gave this example: you get up, you have a fight with your wife or your husband, and then you carry it to work, and then because you are in the bad mood, somebody brings you coffee and you say, hey, what kind of coffee is this? And then she gets this bad energy, she goes to somebody else. And then this goes on. But if somebody, you are working, somebody comes and yells at me and I say, okay, I don't carry this to somewhere else, and in return I be good to the person, then what have I done? I have turned this negative energy into positive energy, then this positive energy is going to keep on going around, making it's rounds, and so if everybody did this we'd be all positive and there would be no fight. There would be always peace and happiness because I won't bother you, you won't bother me, so like this we will be together and not hurt each other, not gossiping, not backbiting, and we are not talking about money, and we are not talking about each others' dirty clothes and this and that. We are talking about Allah and be happy.

Prophet as Amin

So he has many, many attributes, our Prophet, pbuh. He was, even before he became prophet he was known as the amin, which means secure, he was secure. You could trust him with something and you would get it back. Because in the old times there was no bank, there was no safe deposit box or anything. If you are going someplace, you have things, money, whatever, what do you do? You go to your father, mother, neighbor, brother and say, please keep these for me until I come back. And you come back, he says, no you didn't give itto me. Gone.

So shortly, this is our thing. And then there are songs about him. Beloved is our life, and his body is our body, in short. So if there is a believer in you, that's Muhammad. If there is a lover in you, that's Muhammad. So Muhammad loves Allah, Allah loves Muhammad, so the love manifests like this. And we inherit all this. Okay?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Sufis and Airplanes

Traveling with Shaykh Taner pretty much guarantees that you will have the worst seats on the plane. I have been flying with him for several years and this seems consistently true. If there is a mother with a crying baby (or better yet twins) or a 300 pound guy with a bladder problem you know that they will be sitting next to you.

I did not understand why this was until a couple of years ago, flying back from Boston where Shaykh had been lecturing at a conference being held at Harvard.

We had boarded the plane and it was only two thirds full. The middle seat in each row was empty!!! I was looking forward to several hours of being able to spread out and be a little more comfortable than usual.

Just before the plane was to take off, one last passenger got on. The woman headed right to where we were sitting. Sure enough, she had the seat between us.

She was looking very embarrassed, I think she knew just how valuable an open middle seat is on a long flight. But Shaykh Taner welcomed her with a smile and a few kind words. When she has sat, he introduced us, asked after her, and generally made her feel comfortable.

An hour or so into the flight, the woman got up to use the rest room, Shaykh leaned over and said "Do you know why Allah put that woman in this seat?" "No Shaykh I do not" I replied.

I expected Shaykh Taner to tell me that she was in some sort of need, perhaps ill, and she had been put there so that he could help her. That has happened often enough.

But Shaykh said, "Allah put her between us because of all the people on the plane, we are the two who will welcome her rather than resenting her. If she had sat elsewhere she might have had to suffer through several hours of anger and resentment from someone's nafs. But it is a Sufi's job to welcome, so Allah put her here.

So the woman arrived at her destination feeling perhaps a little better than she would have otherwise, and no one had to spend a whole flight in a state of anger and resentment.

It occurred to me how powerful this one little action on Shaykh's part was.

Shaytan would have so loved to see all that anger, resentment and hurt being created over someone taking an empty seat, but because Shaykh Taner did not let his "I" think it was so important that it "deserved" more room, all that potential negativity never happened.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Miracles are an interesting subject when it comes to Shaykhs. All of them will tell you that they never do anything miraculous, but if you spend any time at all around a real Shaykh you begin to notice that very odd things happen.

Now I am not talking about just Shaykh Taner, you will find this with any real Shaykh.

For a case in point, many years ago I was asked to drive a Mevlevi Shaykh from the town where he was staying to a lecture he had to give at a university about a hundred miles away. As we hit the freeway we ran right into the mother of all traffic jams. A diesel semi had jack knifed, closing all lanes. By the time the road was open again we had an hour to travel the hundred miles rather than two and a half hours.

I told the Shaykh that we were going to be late and he said "Allah knows best. Just put your heart in the place we are going, do the speed limit (which was 55 mph at the time) and ignore the clock."

So I did just that, and for some odd reason, even though I never went over 55 mph we arrived at our destination with ten minutes to spare.

Don't ask me how, I don't know. But it did happen, and it was a very nice lecture.

Most of the miracles of Shaykh Taner seem to take the form of "meaningful coincidence", that is to say, interesting things just sort of happen around him with unusual frequency. I have lost count of the times I have been upset or struggling with something and have gotten a call from him, usually his first words are "What's wrong" or What are you so angry about?"

When I first moved to Africa I came down with the worst flu I have ever had. I suspect that it was "Asian Bird Flu" as that was going around at the time and Tanzania has a lot of contact with China. A lot of people got it around that time and several people died from it.

So here am I, all sick and miserable, when the phone rings. Someone answers it and I hear Shaykh Taner's voice coming out of the handset from across the room "What is wrong with Mushtaq Ali??!!" I talk with him and he says something to the effect "you have too much to do to let yourself be sick, you will feel better tomorrow", and sure enough I did. Everyone else was stuck with the flu for over a week.

During the times when I have had to travel this usually happens. About five to ten minutes after I arrive. I get a call, and it is someone from the office at the main dergah saying "Shaykh said you had just arrived and you need to do 'this or that' now that you are there".

This sort of thing happens so much that t I hardly notice it anymore. I suspect that there is some sort of "God field" that forms around a Shaykh because of his constant remembrance, something that lets him know how the universe is balanced at any given moment. Through it he can produce interesting coincidences at a frequency far greater than chance.

But sometimes things get a bit odder than that.

A few months ago Shaykh Taner's son Metin started having trouble walking, it was very painful for him to put any weight on his feet. A trip to the doctor, and we discover that he has developed Multiple cysts in both feet and they will have to be addressed by surgery.

Now Metin is an athlete and the prospect of not being able to walk or run for several weeks or months was not something he wanted to think about, and the surgery was not without some risk of permanent damage to muscle and nerves.

When Shaykh Taner returns that evening Metin tell him what the doctor found. Shaykh says "no, you will not have to have your feet cut" he sits down and makes a prayer over Metin's feet.

The next day Metin is walking without pain. The day after, Metin goes back for more ultrasound and such so that the surgeon can decide how to do the operation, and guess what, that's right there were no cysts to be found. The doctor was very upset and insisted that this was impossible.

Another example is more personal.

A couple years ago I was in the office one evening working on our computer. For some reason my hand slipped as I was doing something and I cut myself very badly on the sharp edge of the metal case. When I say badly I mean to the bone on my right index finger.

I put pressure on the cut and went into the main house. As I am washing it off to access the damage Shaykh Taner wanders in and asks what's up. I tell him that I need to go to the clinic and get a few stitches put in the cut.

He says "let me see", examines it for a second and says "no problem". He then takes a honey jar and pours some over the cut, makes a prayer and blows on the wound. He wraps it with a bandage and tells me to leave it on for two days.

Now you have to understand, I have a medical background, and my rational mind was telling me that this was a great way to get a massive infection. But I figured I should walk my talk and put my trust in Allah and my Shaykh's so I follow his instructions.

Two days later when I took the bandage off there was no cut.

If I looked carefully I could see a thin line of white scar tissue where the cut should have been, but that was it.

Now anyone who knows anything about wounds will tell you that this is wrong. A cut like that can not heal that fast. But it did.

When I ask Shaykh Taner about these things he tells me that he does nothing. That things happen by the will of Allah, who has all power to do and not by the will of Shaykh Taner who has no power at all.

I have asked Shaykh why he does not let people know that he can do these things.

His reply is always "I can't do anything. If Allah wishes for something to happen, then it does. If I think that I can do anything else it is my Nafs talking, and if I say I can do this or do that, then I am saying that "I" have power, which is not true. Only Allah has power, only Allah can"Do". To think anything else is saying that Allah has a partner."

Perhaps this is the biggest miracle of all.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Service, Traveling With The Shaykh

All the great Shaykhs seem to agree that the path of the Darvish lies in service. As a matter of fact, we hear this so much that there may be some tendency to take this idea for granted.

This is unfortunate, as we can assume from the stress put on the idea of
service in the "classical" period of Sufism, that this practice was considered of paramount importance.

We are reminded that the great sage of Bukhara, Bahauddin Naqshband, during
the course of his training by his teacher, was given tasks such as tending animals, working in the fields, and even cleaning filth from the city streets. So at least in those days service was seen as practical action.

Some time ago I spent a week traveling with Taner Baba to Oklahoma to teach an
extended workshop on Pencak Silat, including its relationship to Sufism. Being as it was just the two of us who went, I had a wonderful opportunity to deepen my understanding of service, and especially service to my Shaykh.

Now I must say, the first thing I learned was that Shaykh Taner is an
extremely difficult person to serve well. This in not, as one might imagine, because he is demanding, quite the opposite, he is entirely self sufficient, and really does not need anything from anyone. I had to be very alert, otherwise Baba would start cleaning or some such thing that I should be doing for him.

At first it occurred to me that this might be a teaching ploy to help me
sharpen my awareness, but the more I observed Baba I came to realize that his actions were motivated by a true humbleness. There was just nothing in him that even thought about being served.

The more I watched the Shaykh, the more I was reminded of the stories of the
old Masters such as the great Turkish Shaykh, Ahmed Yasavi, who lived in a hut he built with his own hands, earned his daily sustenance by carving wooden spoons, and would never accept even the smallest gift from anyone. This is rather remarkable given the high regard in which Khwaja Ahmad was held by everyone around him. Had he wanted to, he could have lived in a palace and have had servants waiting on him hand and foot.

Not only was Taner Baba taking care of himself (unless I could anticipate
his needs and get to them first), but I noticed that he was also, without a thought to his own position, taking care of me and everyone else who was around. He would address people's needs in ways that spanned the spectrum from the mundane to the profound. Often helping in ways that people did not even know that they needed.

Over the years I have learned that I can discover a great deal by observing
Taner Baba's actions, so I applied myself to this on the subject of service, both by watching him in the moment and reflecting on past experience with this topic in mind.

One of the more important conclusions that I came to was that accepting the
service of his murids was in fact mostly a burden on Taner Baba. For himself, he didn't need it, or even want it. He accepted it only as a duty to his students. I came to realize that on a personal level, service was a burden that he accepted for the sake of our development, and if it were not for that, he would never put up with it.

With this in mind I set myself to finding the answer to the question "what
benefit to our development is found in service?"

Again I set myself to observing Taner Baba. What I began to notice was that
when he spoke or acted he always pointed toward Allah, never himself. Even when he spoke about himself it was only to redirect peoples attention back to Allah. I came to understand that his "self" was effaced in his remembrance of, and service to Allah. This state was a product of the service that he had performed for his Shaykh, work he had done until he had reached a state of true and complete humility, no longer thinking of himself at all, but having his awareness turned only to Allah.

Toward the end of our trip we had a quiet moment where I was able to breach
the subject of service with Baba. While I was going over my observations with him I had a sudden understanding of one of the most important transformations that the practice of true service makes in us and its purpose for those of us who follow the path of Sufism.

Service to ones Shaykh produces a struggle between the desires of the nafs
and ones obligations to Allah. As one confronts ones selfish motivations and (insh'allah) overcomes them by constantly returning to service, a state of true and profound humility is created within the murid.

Without this quality of profound humility and effacement of the nafs, as the
murid is given authority and responsibility in the functioning of the Tariqa he or she would become a tyrant. The selfish desires of the commanding ego would color every choice and action of the student.

This made clear to me some of the Shaykh's actions that I had observed in
the past. Sometimes he would give a person authority for a time, and then remove it. This would often produce all manner of interesting reactions. If the person wanted the authority, or had become attached to it, the removal would make this readily apparent. If the person had the strength and will to look at their reactions for what they were, profound growth would occur. If not them the person would usually go away and cease to bother Taner Baba, most often going out to find someplace where they could regain the illusion of authority.

This made it clear finally, the reason that the true Masters of Sufism,
though they posses remarkable power, never abuse it. The long apprenticeship of service to ones Shaykh is the furnace which burns away the negative qualities of the nafs which would cause such abuses.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A Lesson

I had an instructive experience and lesson from my Shaykh some time ago that may be interesting.

I have just spent the last five days away from the home Dergah on business for my Shaykh, and having concluded it drove to Shaykh Taner's Pizza Parlor to spend some time with him.

I arrived arrived at Taner Baba's pizzeria, and after greetings and a little time catching up on news I found myself deep in conversation with Baba about all manner of interesting things, when this fellow came through the door to talk with Shaykh. He insisted that Taner Baba come sit with him at another table and talk.

Within a couple of minutes this fellow had disrupted what was going on and made himself the center of attention. He was bordering on rudeness toward Baba and after listening to him talk for a few sentences I realized that he had come not to ask questions and learn, but to prove to us and receive some sort of confirmation that he already knew everything and had attained a Really high state.

The conversation went on in this vein for quite some time. I expected Taner Baba to rake this person across the coals for his bad manners and lack of adab (and if you have ever experienced Shaykh explaining why he is unhappy with your behavior you know what I mean by "rake"), but the more obnoxious the guy became, the milder Taner Baba responded.

Now I have to admit that by this time I was becoming more than a little irritated with this fellow's loutish behavior. The other folks at the pizzeria were giving me that look that says "don't do anything that will break more furniture than you can afford to pay for dewd", and I was starting to think about how much fun I could have playing show and tell with this guy's vital organs.

But I knew that Shaykh Taner would not approve and I did not want say anything without my Shaykh's permission, so I bit my tongue, sat on my hands and listened. In listening to the conversation, I noticed that the more this person said "I, Me, My", Shaykh said Allah, Allah, Allah, and didn't draw attention to himself at all, so I decided to pay attention to what was being said rather than indulging my Nafs by dribbling the fellow out the door for his bad manners.

The discussion went on for another 20 minutes or so until the fellow found himself offering the point of view that he was arguing against. Shaykh then said "Good! That ends this conversation as we are in agreement." The fellow, looking more than a little confused got up and left.

I thought a good deal about what I had just seen but could come up with no good explanation of why Shaykh had put up with this fellow.

As we were driving back to Shaykh's house I suddenly remembered a story that Baba had recently related about his Shaykh having put up with some bad behavior on someone's part because he didn't want to hurt the person's feelings and break his heart. In a sort of sudden flash I saw the events in a new light. I turned to Baba and said, " I think I've got it! You treated that guy so nice even though he was a complete jerk because if he saw the truth about himself he would not have been able to bear it.

Shaykh Taner said that this was indeed the case. The fellow was actually extremely fragile and would have been crushed if he had seen himself for what he actually was. Baba went on to tell me that though this person was mostly lost in his ego, that he had some good traits that could, over time, be brought more to the surface. Baba explained that he had taken on an obligation to the man's father to help his son in a way that the father could not and so Shaykh was content to make one small change at a time. Perhaps only one a year for the moment, knowing that these changes will be cumulative.

Ya Sabur!

When we arrived at Baba's home I opened a book of poetry by Yunus Emre
and found this verse.

If you've broken a single heart,
The prayers you make aren't accepted.

The seventy-two peoples of the world
Could not wash your hands and face.

So many masters have come and gone.
They migrated. Only their ancient lands remain.

They opened their wings and flew to Al Haqq,
Not as geese but as eagles.

A Way is true if it is straight.
An eye is that which can see the Real.

And doing good even once is no small thing.
It can return a thousandfold.

Yunus combines words
As if mixing honey into butter.

He's in business among people,
With goods of the highest worth.

What my Shaykh is like

Today someone asked me what my Shaykh is like, this is what I told them.

Outside the gates of Nafsistan there is a small, overgrown trail that leads deep into the forest. Sometimes one of the inhabitants of the city will find it and follow it. If they do not get lost on the way, eventually the will find themselves at a still, quiet pool of water in the deepest part of the forest.

Being thirsty, they bend over to drink, but when they do they see them Selves reflected perfectly in the pool. When this happens they become frightened or repulsed by what they see and go away thirsty. Sometimes you can find them wandering in the forest, muttering to themselves about how impure and unpleasant the water looked, and hoping that they can find a pool to drink from that will not show them what they are afraid to see.

Sometimes though, a traveler will learn to close their eyes, so that they are not distracted by the reflection, then they drink.

The water is so cold that it hurts the teeth and throat to drink. It is so chill and pure that the chest constricts and the heart thinks that it will stop beating.

I don't know if you have ever drank anything really cold on a very hot day, but if you have you know that is like your eyes snap into a whole new level of focus.

This is exact what happens to the travelers when they drink. They are so shocked by the taste of the water that they open their eyes as they drink. Because their focus has changed they see beyond their own reflection to the bottom of the pool, where there is an arrow pointing the way out of the forest. If the travelers follow the arrow they will eventually find themselves in the Land of the Living.

"My Shaykh is like that pool." I told my friend.
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