ties that bind

I know of a bond that connects soul to soul, in a way much deeper than familiarity or blood.

Forged by Divine decree. Duly registered as apportioned Rizq.

The Teacher and the Student meet somewhere before time, and they are eternally connected.

A teacher of religion opens whole worlds to his pupil: the secrets of this life, the spiritual realm, the Divine and the self. Perfection and imperfection.

He is visionary, he is powerful. He is the guide, and you are the lost traveler.

If he is true, he will lead you to Paradise, step by careful step.

‘Empty your cup.’

Come blank, empty, open, so that you can receive.

You must take humility as your cloak.

But what of ties that strangle?

You believe that if you submit to him and his Way, you are guided.

You will no longer be lost.

The path to Allah is clear.  It is at his feet.

He will take you by the hand to safe shores.

His love for you is overwhelming. So he will shape you, mind and soul, and purge you of your evils.

Soul, did you not think, when you laid your whole being in his gentle hands: What if he missteps?

Is he not formed by his experiences, by the ties that bind him?

This deen is wide. Why do you narrow it?

You must craft your cup from the firm clay of knowledge, and bake it to solidity in the heat of courage, deep thinking, and dependence on Allah alone.

And engrave on its side, in a delicate script, the following words:

Beauty lies in intelligent, mindful devotion.

Every love has an adab.

Even dervishes must have ijaaza before they spin.

I am no feather in the wind, nor an unmoulded being.

I am an empty cup, with a solid base and a structured rim,

Firm against passion. Shaped for sacred words.

I fill with good, whatever its source, and pour out wrong.

Sidi Ahmed Zarruq (of the 9th century Hijri) said: There are no more perfect teachers. We benefit from the good in people, and we leave the rest.

Published in: on July 11, 2007 at 9:31 pm  Comments (5)  

Al-Qahira (Cairo) in Pictures


Lamps at Masjid Sultan Hassan

The masjid is more than six hundred and fifty years old, and once housed a hospital and a school.

I love the low hanging lamps on loooooong cords… they draw your eyes heavenwards.



Sh. Ali Jumaa

The Grand Mufti of Egypt Sh. Ali Jumaa (or Gumaa, if you’re Egyptian :)) giving a talk on Tafseer at Masjid Sultan Hassan.



Sunlight through a Crafted Window

at the adjacent masjid, Masjid ar-Rifa’i.



A shop in the Khan al-Khalili Souq



Masjid in Ottoman design built by Muhammad Ali, a former ruler of Egypt.



Inside the masjid of Muhammad Ali.

A group of school-girls on a field trip listen to their teacher underneath the enormous chandelier.



Prayer in an ancient masjid.



Al-Azhar Park

A cute couple take a walk through the gorgeous park.

That’s Masjid Muhammad Ali in the distance.



The courtyard of the ancient Masjid al-Azhar.

There were hundreds of students sitting inside and reclining on its exterior walls, studying or memorizing Quran.



Outside the Maqam of Imam Shafa’ii, rahimahullah.

I love this picture because it shows a lot of the elements that make up the traditional lifestyle of cities like Cairo and Damascus: Fresh fruit sold on street corners, single-storey buildings and homes, cafes with tables and chairs right on the sidewalk, where old men drink coffee. The little girl in the blue jalabiyya is getting water from a type of fountain that’s common on many streets in ancient Muslim cities. For centuries it was a Muslim tradition for the wealthy to make awqaaf (endowments) of water fountains or spouts on the street, so that fresh, clean water could be made available for any thirsty passersby, as a type of continual charity.



The Pyramids.

A conversation I had in Cairo:

Me: You know Damascus is the oldest city in the world…

A Sis living in Cairo: Really? I think it has got to be Cairo… we have the Pyramids! The age of the Pharoahs!

Me: Well there’s a mountain in Damascus called Qasiyoun… and they say that on this mountain Cain killed Abel…

Sis: ………… Okay, you guys win.

hehe 🙂

Published in: on July 7, 2007 at 10:43 pm  Comments (14)