Speech by Hazrat Pīr Moulānā Safī ‘Alīshāh II in
Delhi at the Dargāh of Hazrat Pīr-o-Murshid ‘Ināyat
Khān during the latter’s ‘Urs days in February 2009
In the name of God, of Beauty, the Creator of all creators and creations. Peace be upon all Prophets, the Messengers of Beauty and Harmony, from Hazrat Ādam to the Seal of Prophets, Hazrat Muhammad. And may Blessings be upon the Sanctified Spirits of all Spiritual Guides, Masters, Pīrs and Shaykhs, who have existed and will exist in all times to guide human beings to Consciousness through the Inner Journey. They are the Guides who have warned us and will keep warning us for our nafs – the ego – and its traps. And may Blessings be upon our dear guests, upon all who attend this gathering.
It is an honour to be here with you in this Holy Place during these Holy Days. You are all Sāliks (travellers on the Inner Path) and Sufis from all over the world and it is a precious gift to have the opportunity to share this delightful gathering with you.
On behalf of the Ne‘matollahi Safi ‘Alishahi Sufis I recognize and affirm the greatness of Hazrat Pīr-o-Murshid ‘Ināyat Khān, the greatness of this Holy Place and of these ‘Urs days. Furthermore I acknowledge that all Sufis and indeed all people are one. We all have but a single cause and a single task: to work hard to achieve Inner Perfection and Harmony within ourselves and with our surrounding. In order to reach Perfection and Harmony we need to search the source of Divine Beauty, and the Pīrs (Masters) of the Tarīqat (the Sufi Inner Path) act as our guides on this journey. How successful each Sālik and each one of us is in this, depends on each individual and her or his personal journey toward Enlightenment.
Today I will briefly address some aspects of this journey. They are:
- the prerequisites for a Sālik in relation to a Pīr
- the duties of a Sālik towards his or her Pīr
- the Stages of Enlightenment
- the attributes of the Pīr
The great Masters and Messengers of Tasáwwuf (Sufism) and ‘Irfān – mystical insight – mention seven stadia of Sulūk, the journey to Enlightenment. Hazrat Shaykh Farīduddīn ‘Attār’s description of these stages, as we can read in his “Conference of the Birds”, truly is one of the clearest examples we have. Hazrat Moulānā Jalāluddīn Rūmī-ye Balkhī commented on this work and praised it in the following verse:
‘Attār has already traversed the Seven Cities of Love,
While we are still in the first alley
The great Masters and Messengers of Divine Knowledge saw the number seven as a perfect sign. The heaven has seven layers; the week has seven days; there are seven significant stars for astrology. Hazrat Shaykh Farīduddīn ‘Attār described the seven stages of Sulūk as follows:
1. Longing, or Talab 2. Love, or ‘Ishq 3.Mystical Insight, or Ma‘rifat 4. Becoming free of material need, or Istighnā. 5. Unity, or Tawhīd 6. Bewilderment, or Hayrat, and 7. Dissolution into the Divine, or Fanā.
These are inner stages which have to become outwardly manifested and take a certain shape in the Sālik. For this, the Sālik needs guidance. In my view, and I have spoken on this subject in more detail at a conference in Germany, each stage has its own seven stages. For example: we can further divide the stage of “Longing” into “the Longing of Love of Longing”… up to “Dissolution into the Divine of Longing.”
The Pīr can recognize the stage the Sālik is in and he can teach the Sālik to see his or her own stage on this journey toward Enlightenment.
Much has been written about the theory of ‘Irfān and the stages of the journey toward Enlightenment. But the only way to attain Enlightenment is making the Journey yourself, i.e. through practice and experience. And that is exactly what you won’t find in books – the necessary experience, practice and knowledge about the obstacles, temptations and challenges the Sālik has to overcome on the Inner Path.
Many of the conflicts, wars and genocides in our present-day world are caused by differences based on religious beliefs. But if man became aware of the latent common Beauty and the latent Unity underlying all religions, these wars would come to an end forever. I try to make my point clearer by using the following diagram [regrettably we are unable to insert this diagram here, but it is easy to visualize by thinking of four concentric circles – the editors].
As you can see there are four circles here. These are called the Circles of Life or the Circles of Creations. The first circle is the Dark Circle, the circle of unawareness, the lack of intellect which brings darkness into the world. The unaware are held captive in the dark prison of their nafs – their ego. Consequently they are void of knowledge and unaware of Light and Beauty. In Persian, this circle is called “mā dūn-e ‘aql”, which means: “below the intellect”.
The second circle is the green circle. It is the Circle of Reason. It is the Circle of Natural and Divine Law. It is the circle of the Prophets. The third circle is the red circle. It is the Circle of Love, the Circle of Tarīqat, submission and surrender to Divine Love. In the centre is the Circle of Light and Enlightenment: God, Ahura Mazda, Atman, Allah, the Supreme Energy.
To ‘Ārifs – mystics, gnostics – Light and Enlightenment are qualities and attributes of God. All objects in this world derive their visibility from Light. Even the mirror, the nature of which is to reflect, would lose its identity without Light.
The arrows in this diagram pointing in the direction of the centre represent the Prophets and the Mystic Messengers. All Prophets have articulated their Message in terms of Light, and not darkness, in Beauty and not ugliness, in Consciousness and not unconsciousness.
The third circle is the Circle of Love, and of Tarīqat (the Inner Path). This is the domain of the Sāliks, who are guided by the Pīr, the Shaykh (Master), on a Path beyond intellect.
In the Circle of Love there is complete surrender and submission to Divine Love. This surrender and submission are not based on fear, but are driven by Love. In reality, all religions speak of complete submission and surrender to God. And because of that, all religions have the latent capacity of making their believers find the way to the Third Circle. They all have the potential of recognizing and entering the Path of Divine Love. As Hazrat Moulānā Jalāluddīn Rūmī put it:
The Religion of Love is different
To the lover all is Divine and all human and worldly manifestation
In this Third Circle we see the longing lover and the Beloved, who is free of all longing. This is the stage which we cannot describe, we can only know and realize it through experience, i.e. by becoming a lover. Another quote from Hazrat Moulānā Rūmī:
When someone asks me what it is like to be a lover
I reply: “come and become one of us,
Then you will know”
Here I would like to conclude this part of my speech with the following words: if we enter the Circle of Love, we will all become one. We will all have One and the Same Beloved. All conflict and strife will come to an end. Peace and Harmony will replace them. And then, the journey to Fanā – the total dissolution of Sufis into the Divine – can begin.
Now I would like to tell you a story from Hazrat Shaykh ‘Attār’s “Conference of the Birds” and then continue this talk with a brief outline of seven of God’s attributes.
The Story of the Four Moths:
Four moths described the candle and its light, each in their own way. One described the shape and appearance of the candle and candle light.
The second was not satisfied with this and went closer in order to be able to feel the candle light. For an instant he felt its heat, and hurried back to the company of moths, and told them that the candle had burned him that night.
The third moth was neither an observer like the first one, nor an experimenter like the second moth. The third one was a lover at heart. When he saw the candle light, it reminded him of his own hidden fire. So he rushed forward, putting himself in the middle of the flame of the candle. He burned himself, and by doing so, the light of candle became even brighter.
Then there was the fourth moth. He said: those who truly understand the Light never return to bring any news, since they have become one with the Light.
Again, I would like to emphasize: those who don’t cultivate peace, friendship and forgiveness between nations, cultures, religions and peoples are just saying that they are men of God, but they don’t behave as such.
Those who truly reach the Circle of Love can belong to any religion. They all surrender to the same Beloved. They will be guided by Pīrs on their Way to Eternity; they will capture hearts and their hearts will open up to each and everyone. They are all one. Hazrat Moulānā Rūmī mentioned this many times in his Mathnawī . Black or white, belonging to this or that religion, rich or poor – all these concepts will lose their meaning in the Circle of Love. All wars will cease and give way to Peace. As Hāfez of Shīrāz said:
All nations are burning in these useless wars
Just because they prefer their own exclusive tales above the One Common Reality
Now I would like to say a few words about the seven stages of the Inner Path and the Seven Divine names or attributes linked to them. When God created man, He entrusted him with seven Zikrs, so that man would be able to learn to integrate these attributes fully into his life. These names are Hayy, Qādir, ‘Alīm, Murīd, Samī‘, Basīr and Mutakállim.
- Hayy is life, being in life and always being alive.
- Qādir is the Endless Power and Potential.
- ‘Alīm is Insight, inwardly and outwardly.
- Murīd is the talent of learning from a Pīr, to be a student, to open up to those Divine Guides and Messengers, whose knowledge surpasses the intellect.
- Samī‘ implies the ability to hear the resonance of God in all sounds.
- Basīr is the gift and ability to see the inner and the outer world.
- And finally, Mutakállim means the hidden power of speech or articulation, an articulation that can open the gate of your own heart as well as the gates of the hearts of others.
By fully realizing these talents and potentials and making them fully manifest, man can become the Perfect Man, the Man of Light.
It is in “Yaghzéh” that the Sālik finds the energy and stimulation to embark on his or her mystical Journey. In ‘Irfān, Yaghzéh is the name of a specific state of mind and condition of heart. It is a sudden awakening. A sudden insight that something is missing. A deep realization of the Divine mission of human existence. It is in this state of the individual that a Pīr or Shaykh recognizes his or her future Sālik. The Pīr or Shaykh will then attract him or her and make him or her aware of the dangers and challenges of the nafs (the lower, untrue self).
The mystical journey of Sulūk is a harsh and rough Path. And there are many who are easily satisfied with what they have achieved. Consequently their ego separates them from their Pīr, and makes them believe that they themselves are capable of guiding others. Just by having long hair and wearing exotic cloths, they claim to be the Bāyazīds and Junayds – the Masters – of our time. But it is better not to waste our time talking about these false Prophets.
What is important to know, is that the sacred words and Divine names that are repeated during the practice of Zikr are in fact Divine attributes and qualities that we wish to awaken in ourselves. They are goals that we wish to achieve. If repeating and practising Zikr doesn’t bring any progress, then it is useless. In all Sufi literature you can find a huge amount of Zikrs. These books are like a pharmacy full of medicine. But who can give you the right medicine? Who can write the proper prescription for you? Is any randomly chosen medicine useful to you? Does any random person have the insight to find the right medicine for your specific pain? Be careful, and be selective as to whom you entrust your pain and passion. And be aware of the power and the potency of Zikrs and the immense diversity between them.
I would like to end my speech with a Mathnawī – a Persian poem consisting of rhyming couplets – that I wrote, inspired by our dear Hazrat Moulānā Rūmī-ye Balkhī:
If Zikr doesn’t reach you
You fall into separation from the Divine
Your nafs will say: “I am not far from Haqq”
Yet Love would whisper: “you are far from God”
Contrast and duality can come to an end
Like all conflicts one day will end
The Poet, the Pīr, composes this Mathnawī
To increase your awareness
If praying and fasting become a duty,
A chore, a routine
Then you are deeply encaged within your ego
And need to escape
You need a Pīr
A perfect Pīr
To free you
From decadence and mere duty
Anyone who becomes a darvīsh because of his ego
Will become sick and hopeless on this Path
Anyone who becomes a darvīsh out of longing and feeling lost
Will become Haqq on this Path
Listen to this secret, o true Sālik
The Love in my heart broke the seal on my lips
“Shaykh” [Spiritual Master and Teacher] carries three secrets in itself:
[the letters] Shīn, Yé, Khé
Shīn is “Sharāb” (Persian for “Wine”)
He will make you drunk with his Divine Wine
Yé is “Yār” (Persian for “Beloved”)
He makes you fall desperately in love with him
Khé is “Kharābāt” (Persian for “Ruins”)
He destroys your selfish life to bring you to Divinity
“Shaykh” has these and many other tools
And finding the Shaykh is a quest in itself
Thus he will find you
If you dare to search
That’s why the Moulānā of Rūm poured from his heart into his Mathnawī:
Iblīshas many faces
So be aware and be selective
And don’t put your hand in the hands of just any passer-by on this Path.
YĀ ‘ALĪ 
Translated and adapted from the original Persian by Shervin Nekuee and Wazir Dayers
In Sufism, Hū is the name that represents the Divine Essence.
“Hazrat” is a title that expresses great reverence. It is often rendered as “holy” or “His Holiness”, but its original and literal meaning is “Presence”.
Here, “Ādam” does not refer to the first created human being. In the Sufi tradition, Adam is the first human being who possessed Divine Knowledge. God appointed him to guide his fellow human beings to the Divine Goal, and that’s why Hazrat Ādam is regarded as the first Prophet.
When the name of a deceased Sufi Master is mentioned, it is customary to add a benediction formula, like qáddasa llāhu rūhahu, “May God sanctify his spirit” – hence the expression “Sanctified Spirits”.
Hazrat Shaykh Farīduddīn ‘Attār (ca. 1142-1220 CE) was a great Sufi mystic and poet; one of his major works is “The Conference of the Birds”, a metaphorical story about the mystical journey of the soul.
“Moulānā” (often also transliterared as “Mawlānā”) “Rūmī” refers to Rūm,
the the Seljuk Turkish Sultanate of Rūm in Anatolia, the Asian part of present-day Turkey. Hazrat Moulānā Rūmī lived there for the greatest part of his life, until his demise in 1273, in the city of Konya. “Balkhī” refers to Balkh – a province of Greater Khurāsān, which was situated in the North of present-day Afghanistan and the South of present-day Tajikistan. Hazrat Moulānā Rūmī was born in the province of Balkh in 1207.
Mathnawī is a didactic poetic genre in Persian poetry, consisting of rhyming couplets; Hazrat Moulānā Rūmī’s Mathnawī is the best known example of this genre. In the Eastern part of the Islamic world, Hazrat Moulāna Rūmī’s Mathnawī is considered the most important book after the Qur’ān and the books containing the Ahādīth (transmitted sayings of the Prophet Muhammad).
Hazrat Khwāja Shamsuddīn Muhammad Hāfez of Shīrāz (1326-1390 CE) is considered as the greatest of the Persian poets; he also was a highly accomplished mystic.
Zikr is the Sufi equivalent of the Hindu en Buddhist chants and invocations called Mantras. In a broader sense, Zikr means “Divine Remembrance”. As such, anything that brings about awareness of the Divine in man and makes him remember his True and Innermost Being, may be called “Zikr”.
A reference to Hazrat Junayd-e Baghdādī (died ca. 910 CE) and Hazrat Bāyazīd-e Bastāmī (died ca. 875 CE), two Sufi Masters who each laid the foundations for two great currents in Sufism, i.e. “the School of Sobriety” (Junayd-e Baghdādī), which originated in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), and “the School of Intoxication” (Bāyazīd-e Bastāmī), which mainly spread throughout the region of Khurāsān. Khurāsān now is a
province in the nort-eastern Iran, but during the Middle Ages, when it was known as “Greater Khurāsān it covered large parts of present-day Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Haqq = “Truth”, “Reality”, i.e. God. When Sufis speak of God, they often use the name Haqq.
Darvīsh or dervish: “one who is poor in God”; it is synonymous with faqīr. Hazrat Moulānā Safī ‘Alī Shāh II defines “darvīsh” as “someone who enters his or her inner being to search the Divine”. In the Persian Sufi tradition, the term darvīsh denotes any Sufi disciple. The term murīd on the other hand, is reserved for advanced Sufi students, since al-Murīd (“the All-Willing”) is a name of God.
Iblīs = the devil; in Sufism, the devil is a symbol for the unpurified nafs, the lower self.
This refers to the ritual of initiation in a Sufi Order, which involves putting your hands in the hands of a Master.
Hazrat ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib (ca. 598-661 CE) was the main mystical heir and successor to the Prophet Muhammad. In the Persian Sufi tradition, Hazrat ‘Alī is seen as the manifestation of Divine Love. When Sufis say “Yā ‘Alī” (“O ‘Alī”), they in fact invoke Divine Love. It is used as a greeting among dervishes of the Persian Sufi tradition. By saying “Yā ‘Alī”, they recognize and respectfully salute the Presence of Divine Love in the one they greet.