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Volume XII - The Divinity of the Human Soul

Part II: Confessions

Chapter 5

'He breathes not the fragrance of divine mysteries whose head is not warmed by his heart.'
   - Wali

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 urges on."
   - 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!'

From 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 Unseen.

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 and compassionate.'

checked 18-Oct-2005

rev 23-Sep-2021