A Talk by Shaykha Fariha al-Jerrahi
The Nur Ashki Jerrahis. Who are we? Do they have an identity? Only Allah knows who the Nur Ashki Jerrahis are. Part of our identity is being without identity, is being faceless and selfless and timeless and spaceless, beyond all borders and beyond all limits of an identity. We might travel from identity to identity but we never identify with an identity. We always go beyond and we are always embracing, serving. We love to serve. We love to bow down and we love to prostrate. Allah has spread the earth for us as a beautiful carpet on which to prostrate. In prostration we come nearer than near and we go nearer than that. When we rise up, ready to serve, we carry the experience of prostration within us. Then we see the face of the Beloved everywhere.
The Nur Ashki Jerrahis are those who love to burst out into song, spontaneously. They love to create and they do create. By giving away our limited self we receive the Divine creativity.
The Nur Ashki Jerrahis are also those who are vigilant and careful and humble and awake to the needs of each other and to every human being.
This is what it is to be awake and conscious—to know where Allah is calling us, to know what to do, to know how to respond. This can only come when we are free of ourselves. If we are filled with ourselves, if we are filled with our own reflections and concerns and problems, then we can’t even see another person. So we become empty—empty cup, empty vessel. The empty vessel is the vessel that is always filled with fresh-flowing water, with fresh-flowing nectar and with fruit and flesh that is tender and delicious to eat. There was a shaykh who would answer his disciples when they would quote something from Sufi texts, “I don’t want that. That is old. That is something you have just taken out of a book. Bring me the flesh that is fresh and tender from the ocean of your hearts.” The Nur Ashki Jerrahis are the ones who trust and open their hearts, who know that everything is within the human heart and all knowledge has come forth from the human heart through Divine inspiration, through the Divine Pen writing on the mystic tablet of the heart. We seek knowledge here in the breast. We seek it through tasbih, we seek it through concentration, meditation, through prayer, and salat.
The Nur Ashki Jerrahis are those who love the salat, because the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, loved the salat. He loved the salat because Allah loves the salat. Allah loves the salat for humanity because it is an ascension to Him. It is a great blessing for us. It is offered in complete freedom and as an act of love, not as a duty, because as soon as we start seeing it as a duty, as a necessity, as a “you have to,” then it loses its reality.
The Nur Ashki Jerrahis are those who do everything for love and in love, knowing that all is love and that all is created for love by Love itself. Allah is Love. Love is an infinite rainbow of expressions and we desire to see them all.
The Nur Ashki Jerrahis are those who wait, who are patient, the patient ones. For, we know that Allah knows what is in our hearts and that Allah is with us. We do not feel that we are missing something. Wherever we are we are with Allah, so what could we miss? We are always with the Beloved. And we are also waiting for the Beloved to manifest anew. We are those who wait. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, says he is waiting. We wait with the Prophet.
The Nur Ashki Jerrahi is the other. One of Shaykh Nur’s definitions of a dervish is, “the other.” We find our joy as others find joy. We do not seek our own happiness because that leads to unhappiness. When we seek the happiness of others then we receive true happiness. The Nur Ashki Jerrahis are those who pray for all humanity and for all beings. They bring blessing to the earth, stepping lightly and joyfully on it. Wherever a dervish steps, wherever a lover of Allah steps, the earth responds and the earth is joyful and brings forth more fruit and more beauty.
Wherever a dervish reaches out a hand, Allah is joyful, for Allah is there waiting in the person we are reaching towards. Allah says, “I am with the one who is sick and when you visit those who are sick you visit Me. I am with the one who is thirsty and when you offer drink to the thirsty you offer it to Me.” Alhamdulillah. Allah Who is above all the worlds, Who is the Transcendent beyond all need is also the One Who is in those who are thirsty and hungry.
The Nur Ashki Jerrahi is pure beauty, radiant beauty. The Nur Ashki Jerrahi is pure light, light within light. The Nur Ashki Jerrahi is the servant of the Servant, is the beloved of the Beloved, is the one who is under the cloak of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who is in that mystic darkness, the beautiful blackness, the radiant blackness...
The Nur Ashki Jerrahi is the one who is eating the fruits from the Garden of Paradise, before Paradise... the one who is dying before dying and resurrecting before the resurrection. The Nur Ashki Jerrahi dervish is the one who waits to enter through the gates of Paradise, until all human beings have entered.
The Nur Ashki Jerrahi is the one who makes a feast out of whatever is on hand, a feast of bread, a glass of water, and who makes a palace out of a simple hut and who makes Paradise within every human heart. That is the Nur Ashki Jerrahi dervish. Alhamdulillah. We join with all beautiful lineages, we join with all beautiful paths of return, we recognize the Beloved wherever we turn and we recognize the truth whenever we hear the truth. We are everything and nothing. A dervish of Shaykh Nur, Shaykh Muzaffer Efendi, Hazreti Pir—and on all the way through the great silsila, the great river going to the heart of the Prophet Muhammad, salallahu alayhi wa salam, going into the infinite heart of Bismillahi-r-rahmani-r-rahim and from there going into the Mystic Essence.
This is our silsila. We are always rooted in the unknown. We never assume we know. We know that Allah knows. By our very unknowing, we know, and Allah allows us to know something. Allah has said, “Something you know.” Alhamdulillah. We always begin again. We always feel that we are at the beginning of the path. As long as we have been a dervish, as hard as we have struggled, as many mystic dreams and revelations we have received—yet we always feel at the beginning of the path. The path is infinite, and it becomes a pathless path. The path of tariqa is a delimited path, it has certain steps, certain forms. Then when the tariqa reaches the ocean of haqiqa, the infinite light of Haqq, from then on the path becomes the pathless path and from then on it is purely companionship with Allah. It is an endless journey. We are travelers from eternity to eternity. We travel with companions and that is a great blessing. No one wants to be alone. We were not created to be alone. We were created to be together in beautiful mystic couples, in dervish companionship with sisters and brothers, and in companionship with the entire human family. Insha’allah, we will witness that.
A dhikr is that, a gathering is that, going on Umra is that. For those of us who have experienced Hajj, we have the taste of the great rising up of all humanity, of all souls rising up together and praising the Source as one. It is an amazing, amazing experience. Each being is both complete and part of the whole. When we feel apart, we can feel separation and longing, and then through longing Allah brings us to union. Longing is really the path to union. Longing and loving is how we come to union.
Then in union we disappear again and lose any sense of separation and become whole. Then we go back into a state of an individual. It is a constant merging and separation. Allah has promised that in Paradise there is no fear and no grief. These are the two burdens in the human heart. Fear and grief—fear of separation, grief over separation or parting or something we have missed. What do we grieve about? We grieve when we feel separation from the Beloved. And fear—fear from being parted, fear from being alone, fear of failing. Paradise is pure union at all moments. There is not the slightest taste or touch of separation. Whatever we experience we experience in union.
As dervishes here in this world, which is called the realm of work, we strive. As long as we are alive in this body we are striving. That is the greatest thing here—to be striving and working. We don’t even long to be lost in bliss. The masters say that would be losing the precious time that we have to go further into Reality, through the body and soul being together in this realm. This is the realm of work and striving and serving and bearing and submitting. Submission—the most beautiful, to open oneself entirely and submit everything to Allah, to become completely transparent to Allah.
Although we carry Paradise in the heart, we are never fully in that state until Allah transports us into the next world. And we don’t even hold on to that. When Hazreti Rabia al-Adawiyya, was asked if she was destined for Paradise, she answered honestly, “I don’t know.” She was with her Lord in every moment, she did not project. May we be those. May we be those who go beyond Paradise, who taste Paradise in this world and go beyond it. She brought the water to put out the fires of hell and she brought the fire to burn Paradise. She wanted to live only as a lover. That is the Paradise that we come to as lovers. That Paradise is simply being together with the Beloved. Wherever the Beloved takes us, wherever the Beloved desires us to be, that is our Paradise, simply that consciousness, and the consciousness of servanthood.
There is a beautiful story of a dervish who was a very good dervish, but his shaykh received a message from Allah which said, “Tell this servant of mine that he is destined for the fire.” This was a dervish who would pray and offer everything he could to the poor, and be always open to the traveler. The shaykh was very disturbed but he went and told this dervish, “Allah gave me the message to tell you, his servant, that you are destined for the fire.” As soon as the dervish heard that, he leapt up and said, “Did He call me His servant?” And he bowed down in joy and made prostrations of gratitude to have been called Allah’s servant. Of course he wasn’t touched at all by the fire. That was a just a holy test to reveal his high station and the nature of his passionate love.
Most of what we fear is only a test. The best way to get through a test is to say Alhamdulillah. As soon as we are tested, and we can recognize it when it comes, Alhamdulillah. Thank You, Allah. Alhamdulillah. You will see how swiftly the difficulty will pass, if you turn immediately and thank Allah. Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah.