'He breathes not the fragrance of divine mysteries whose
head is warmed by his heart.'
My interest in Sufism made me very friendly with the
dervishes. I learned to love the sweetness of their nature
and the innate perfume of their manner of using music as
the food of the soul.
I began at first to imitate their habits and methods,
and spent a few hours in silence every day. Once in a dream
I saw a great gathering of prophets, saints, and sages,
all clad in their Sufi garments, rejoicing in the Sama
or music of the dervishes. I was absorbed into their blissful
state of ecstasy, and when I was aroused I still felt the
exultation my vision had brought to me. After this I heard
continually, waking or sleeping, an unknown voice which
cried to me, 'Allahu Akbar!' – God is great!
I also had visions of a most haunting and spiritual face,
radiant with light, during my concentration in the silence,
which heightened my interest in mysticism still more, especially
as I could not divine its meaning. I feared to ask for its
significance lest others might laugh at my fancy and ridicule
it. At last, when I could no longer control my impatience,
I described my golden vision to a friend who was also a
lover of the mystical, and begged him for an interpretation.
He answered that the dream was a symbol of my initiation
into the Sufi Order of Chishtiyya Khandan, and the words
I heard were the crying of Haqq or truth, while the vision
was the image of my spiritual guide and protector. He also
advised me to undergo the initiation of Sufism, although
I had always considered myself undeserving of initiation
in that Brotherhood of Purity. But I had a little courage,
hoping I might at least be used as a waste-paper basket
is employed for torn scraps of wisdom, which would quite
suffice me. I visited several Murshids with this purpose,
but they made no response, although I had the privilege
of studying their various views and methods of teaching.
Thus I learned to know four true kinds of masters and
four false ones. Among the true I saw first the one who
would never answer the appeal of a seeker until he was fully
prepared. The second kind would not initiate anyone until
a long and trying period of probation had been undergone
by the disciple. The third, in order to keep away undesirable
adherents, would make himself appear so utterly disagreeable
that everyone would run away at the sight of him. And the
fourth would so disguise himself to escape the praise and
publicity of the world that none would believe for a moment
that he was truly a Murshid.
Among the false teachers I first met the hypocrite, who
increases the number of his adherents by telling most wonderful
stories and showing them tricks of phenomena. The second
apostate was pious, disguising his infirmities and failings
under the cloak of morality and always busy with worship
and prayer. The third was the money-taking master, who eagerly
seized upon every opportunity of emptying the pockets of
his pupils. The fourth was he who was greedy for the adoration,
worship and servility of his followers.
This experience of different Murshids prepared me for
the ideal master, and after six months of continual searching
I chanced to visit an old and revered acquaintance, Maulana
Khairulmubin, to whom I confided my desire to embrace Sufism.
While reflecting on the matter he suddenly received a
telepathic message that his friend, a great Murshid, was
about to come to him. He at once arranged a seat of honor,
placing cushions upon it, and walked towards the gate in
order to bid him welcome.
After a period of suspense the Pir-o-Murshid entered,
bringing with him a very great sense of light. As all those
present greeted him, bowing down in their humility, it seemed
to me all at once that I had seen him before, but where
I could not recall. At last, after gazing at him earnestly,
I remembered that his was the face, which so persistently
haunted me during my silence. The proof of this was manifested
as soon as his eyes fell on me. He turned to his host, saying,
'O Maulana, tell me who this young man may be? He appeals
intensely to my spirit.'
Maulana Khairulmubin answered, 'Your holiness, this young
man is a genius in music, and he desires greatly to submit
himself to your inspiring guidance.'
Then the Master smiled and granted the request, initiating
me into Sufism there and then.
"The day is short, the work abundant, the laborers
inactive, the reward great, and the master of the house
- Hebrew saying
Muhammad Abu Hassim Madani belonged to a distinguished
family of Medina, and was a direct descendant of the Holy
Prophet. My joy in him was so great that it found its expression
in poetry and music. I had at last found my pearl among
men, my guide, my treasure, and beacon of hope. I composed
a song and sang it to him, and this I feel certain has brought
me all my success and will aid me in my future life.
And this was my song:
Thou art my salvation and freedom is mine,
I am not; I melt as a pearl in sweet wine!
My heart, soul, and self, yea, all these are thine;
O Lord I have no more to offer!
I drink of the nectar of truth the divine,
As Moses thy word, as Yusuf they shine
who walk in thy ways; and Christ is thy sign:
Thou raisest to life everlasting!
Thou art as Muhammad to them that repine,
My spirit is purged as the gold from a mine!
I only know that my heart beats with thine,
And joys in boundless freedom!
My Murshid greatly appreciated this outburst of love
on my part and exclaimed in deep emotion, 'Be thou blessed
with divine light and illuminate the beloved ones of Allah!'
this time a spiritual attachment between myself and my Murshid
was firmly established. As it grew more and more it opened
up in me the ways of light through my attachment to that
inner radiance, which can never be gained through discussion
or argument, reading, writing, nor mystical exercises.
I visited him at the expense of all my affairs whenever
I felt his call, receiving rays of his ecstasy with bent
head, and listening to all he said without doubt or fear.
Thus the firm faith and confidence I brought to bear upon
my meditations prepared me to absorb the Light of the World
I studied the Quran, Hadith, and the literature of the
Persian mystics. I cultivated my inner senses, and underwent
periods of clairvoyance, clairaudience, intuition, inspiration,
impressions, dreams, and visions. I also made experiments
in communicating with the living and the dead. I delved
into the occult and psychic sides of mysticism, as well
as realizing the benefits of piety, morality, and Bhakti
or devotion. The more I progressed in their pursuit, the
more unlearned I seemed, as there was always more and more
to understand and acquire. Of all that I comprehended and
experienced I valued most that divine wisdom which alone
is the essence of all that is best and attainable, and which
leads us on from the finite world unto infinitudes of bliss.
After receiving instruction in the five different grades
of Sufism, the physical, intellectual, mental, moral, and
spiritual, I went through a course of training in the four
schools: the Chishti, Naqshibandi, Qadiri, and Suhrawardi.
I still recall this period, under the guidance of so great
and merciful a Murshid, as the most beautiful time of my
life. In him I saw every rare quality, while his unassuming
nature and his fine modesty could hardly be equaled even
among the highest mystics of the world. He combined within
himself the intense spell of ecstasy and constant flow of
inspiration with the very soul of spiritual independence.
Although I had found most wonderful attributes among the
mystics I had met, some in greater and some in lesser degrees,
I had never until then beheld the balance of all that was
good and desirable in one man.
His death was as saintly as his mortal life had been.
Six months before his end he predicted its coming and wound
up all his worldly affairs in order to be freed for his
future journey. 'Death is a link which unites friend with
Friend unto the Beyond', is a saying of Muhammad.
He apologized not only to his relatives, friends, and
mureeds, but even to his servants, lest there might be anything
that he had done to their displeasure and hurt. Before the
soul departed from his body he bade farewell to all his
people with loving words. And then, sitting upright and
unwavering, he continued zikr; and lost in his contemplation
of Allah, he, by his own accord, freed his soul from the
imprisonment of this mortal frame forever.
I can never forget the words he spoke while he placed
his hands upon my head in blessing, 'Fare forth into the
world, my child, and harmonize the East and the West with
the harmony of thy music. Spread the wisdom of Sufism abroad,
for to this end art thou gifted by Allah, the most merciful