IMG_0343Inspired by the spiritual session with Sheikh Mokhtar and the Hikams of Ataillah Iskendari, Uskudar


Do not give up invocation of Allah
because you are not present with Allah in it.
  It is worse to forget to invoke Him
than to be inattentive while invoking Him.

He might raise you up from invocation with heedlessness
to invocation with wakeful attention,
 and from invocation with wakeful attention
to invocation with presence,
 and from invocation with presence
to invocation with withdrawal from all that is other than the Invoked.
    That is not difficult for Allah.

It is raining gently this morning as I step out into the street to head for class. It is the kind of rain, which makes the cats fur wet but not soaked. The street water is rushing down the drain; the new blooms on the sour cherry tree want an umbrella for its young buds.

This morning is special it is Thursday and the day of Dhikr and reflection.

We are introduced to the key to moving to a higher level of spiritual functioning, Ibn Ataallah likens the process to moving towards the fields, which are filled with the landmines of Nufoos, greed, aggrandizement, reya, arrogance, ostentation, envy………and you name it. All hurdles to be jumped over or go around to be able to find, observe and absorb the Attributes of Allah Subhanawataala on this earth and where we live.

The attributes of Jamal are stamped on the stone steps that lead up to the Cammii from the street; the attributes of mercy and compassion are absorbed into the men who carry on the 500-year tradition of tending to the cats of the mosque and their babies.

Students arriving this year from foreign countries are concerned about the kittens as they are un familiar with the practice of caring for stray cats by the mosque caretaker and the intensity of their concern makes them dictate to the caretakers how to take care of the cats and their kittens, Yet they do not understand nor are they familiar with the unique tradition of kindness to animals and humans alike that has been carried down for five centuries in this mosque and is alive and well in Istanbul.

The wet umbrella sheds its droplets from its slick surface like the washing of sins between two salahs, The shoes enter the shoe rack with the equanimity of familiarity and security and as I open the door of the musallah I enter the magical kingdom of peace, truly a house of Salaam.

Ibn Atallah Iskendari wrote his wisdom in the hikams of today just for us.

Here is one that was loaded in so many ways:

Translation: Were it not for the fields of the selves there would be no reality to the travelling of those who travel or to the trotting or walking of those who walk.

Explanation by Sheikh Mokhtar:

Those who seek the Divine, they want to arrive, they are trotting moving walking to arrive, these are the loftiest of people as this is their objective.

To walk, to strive towards the Divine is not about crossing distances; it is crossing the hurdles in the field of the Nafoos. (Greed, ostentation, unnecessary attachment, arrogance etc.)

A true seeker has to overcome the resistance of the Nafoos to reach the Divine.

This is the Hikmah of the Divine.

If I surrender by choice and by conviction…I have arrived.

Studying in the mosque/musallah has a strange effect on the state of mind, it focuses me on the subject like nothing and nowhere else/ Perhaps it is that the wisdom and prayers of five centuries has purified the precincts of all distractions.

All the questions crowding the mind and heart that we as students have discussed with each other such as: the fear of life slipping away and loss of contact/attachment with all those that we love and want to cling to, the professional status and positions that have defined us all these years dissolving in the rain on the streets of Uskudar, the fear of being forgotten by our friends and family continue to plague some of us as we try to live within the envelop of Tazkiyah tun Nafs and be satisfied and happy with wherever Allah puts us shedding the baggage of attachments that pull us back from Him Subhanawataala.


Ibn Atalllah reads my thoughts when he says:
If you want to learn your value with Him
 look where He has put you.

On the Bosphorus and over the weekend on the Sea of Marmara the birds following the ferry and then flying away at will invite us to the universal right to freedom and happiness but though we know the methodology theoretically we don’t know how to do it.

Today those questions are answered in simple two liners, loaded with tons of wisdom and advice that can be honed down to each student’s individual needs.

Attachments……….Nafoos, all the neon signs that blind us and prevent the observation of the gentle beauty of the Attributes of Allah thus precluding us from absorbing them.

I want to start my walk towards the Divine and now the landmines of the Nafoos are clearly visible, I hesitate to step forth as they are waiting to explode in my face and blind me to the beauty of my Lord.

Yet at some moment I will have to go forth because it is said that remaining in your comfort zone is as dangerous as the landmines of the Nafoos and the chains of attachment.

It is Thursday and it is the hour of Dhikr………… I sit by the window, outside which the hazy light dispersed by the mist laden with moisture, creates a magical timelessness. The gutters shooting water down the stones make a rushing sound of a mountain stream, the dim light in the interior of the mosque, the clean smell of the freshly shampooed carpet of the musallah and the soothing voice of the Sheikh instructing us into the pre Dhikr Meditation are soporific to the point of oblivion of the surroundings which one by one fade as the beads of the tasbeeh fall with the salawaat, the names of Allah and the shahada…………….

With eyes half closed, I am no longer present here nor am I asleep but suspended somewhere beautiful in between. I am keenly aware despite my mental haze blurring my physical surroundings that my Lord is watching over me with affection and Merciful Love………and for this moment I am deeply happy, and at peace with no past and no future nudging me into reality.



Don’t be overjoyed at obedience because it has issued from you.
            Rejoice in it because it has come from Allah to you.

            “Say: ‘let them rejoice in the bounty of Allah and His mercy.
            That is better than what they amass.'” (Quran)





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