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(speaking privately, fervent prayer, inward conversation with God)

by Pir 'Abdullah Ansari

drunken ones

Throughout human history, great teachers, guides and friends have been sent to help us remember. They have set before us a beautiful and practical example of what a human being can be, thereby helping us to remember what we too can be.

Pir 'Abdullah Ansari was one of the great Persian Sufi teachers of the 11th century. In a little book called Munajat, Pir Ansari recorded a number of insightful prayers which show the way that he thought about prayer, and the way that we too can humble our little self unto the Greater Power.

As is the case with many Sufi teachings, these prayers have multiple levels of meaning. On the surface they show the need for humility, but when one looks deeper, the prayers give us hope and courage, because they remind us that God is the ultimate Teacher, Guide and Friend who desires to express love, harmony and beauty through our own lives.

On the surface, the prayers seem to be asking for something, but on a deeper level they are a celebration of the precious gifts which have already been granted to each of us, if only we have the wisdom to rise above our habitual self-centered viewpoint and embrace the great flow of wonder, peace and might which is being showered upon us in every moment by the beneficent and ever-merciful Divine Presence.

Here are a few of my favorite prayers from Munājāt:

In glory Thou art merciful, in perfection divine;
Neither need of space nor wish for time hast Thou;
No being is like Thee, nor art Thou like any.
Clearly Thou art within the soul,
and the soul lives by what Thou art...
Pir-i Ansari has drained a cup of the Wine of Love;
Like Majnun, he wanders drunken and bewildered over the world.

O God, by the mercy of the Name that Thou art,
And by the honor of those qualities which are Thine,
Come to my rescue, since Thou alone has the power.

O God let my eye see naught but how Thou dost nourish and sustain me,
And my heart choose naught but the way of Thy servitude.

O God, when I consider Thee, I am a king among kings,
   there is a crown upon my head,
But when I consider myself, I am one of the bereft,
   and upon my head is dust.

O God, I confess my weakness and my helplessness,
I am aware of Thy kindness and thy bounty.

O God, the pure must beseech Thy forgiveness;
What must the impure do?

O God, could I have forgiven sins from the beginning,
I would never have committed one.

O God, all fear Thee, but Thy Abdullah fears himself,
For from Thee comes all good and from him all evil.

O God, how can I avoid my fate?
And where shall I run from what shall be?

O God though my sins are inordinate,
Thy forgiveness is unlimited.

O God, with Thy favor there is no need for refuge at any threshold.
Ahead lies danger, and I have no way back.
Take my hand, for other than Thee I have no refuge.

O God, what virtue is this that accompanies Thy friends?
With what privilege hast thou brought them into the world,
That whosoever found Thee would know them,
And whosoever knew them would find Thee!

O God, whatever Thou hast offered I have bought;
From the two worlds I have chosen Thy friendship alone.

O God, beside Thy love all fires are cold;
Without Thy love all favor is pain.

O God, though the night of separation is dark,
  yet I am satisfied,
For the morning of union is near.

O God, though Satan misguided Adam,
Who gave him his daily bread?

O God, lift this veil from the Way
And abandon us not to ourselves.

O God, out of Mecca came Abu Jahl (an enemy of the religion),
And from a temple of idols Abraham,
It is a matter of grace, all else is pretext.

O God what Thou hast sewn I have worn,
And what Thou hast poured into my cup I have drunk;
Naught of this, for all my striving, was of me.

O God... my heart sings always of its longing for Thee,
The soul in my body breathes for Thee,
And if someday a plant grows upon my grave,
Each leaf will emanate the fragrance of Thee.

         Khwājah 'Abd Allāh Ansārī, Munājāt, The Intimate Prayers, trans Lawrence Morris and Rustam Sarfeh, New York, 1975



For bibliographical information about the life and times of Khwajah 'Abdullah Ansari, see: