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The colors, design and threads in the connections of the heart: Pakistani Shawl

This post is dedicated to all those who have, will have and sometimes are not even aware that they have connections of the heart that surpass all except the spiritual…..

“Its all about the heart” she says. ‘You carry the connection in your heart, no matter where you are” I felt my old skepticism rear its ugly head and yet deep inside me I felt it could be the truth, somewhere in my past it had happened as she said and yet the layers of dunya made it difficult to unveil the purity of my heart in immediately believing her.


Thank you Istanbul

As the roads wound out of Istanbul going to the outskirts almost every bridge said “Tesekurler Istanbul, one nation, one people all win” It was a thank you from Erdogan for his recent win in the elections, this time he had swept Istanbul compared to previous times. I guess actions speak louder than words, he had shown in his actions how he could make the life of his people easier, and he was thanking his people after his win and yet with humility.

As the road wound about the hilly areas outside Istanbul, greenery sprang up to welcome us and promised us the sweet life of simplicity.


Winding around Istanbul

Fast forward across the Atlantic and I am back in the US and at a medical meeting. I go down to the bazaar in the exhibition hall to virtually walk the streets of what could be a miniature Karachi. The hall is filled with vendors, their shops spilling with the most beautiful flowing garments in the world. The exquisite craftsmen ship of Pakistani artisans that can only come from the nimble fingers of generations of tailors and artisans, imprinted on the gentle delicate fabric of Pakistan is a joy and wonder to behold if one is not blind with the desire to acquire them.

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A shopper at one of the stores in the Pakistani bazaar

I pass a jewelry store and pause. The jewelry studded with semiprecious stones beckons. Wearing even one of these masterpieces of beautiful artistry would immediately place you in command of the world with beauty and power as your weapon. I pause……… what would I do with these? Had I not left those desires and penchant for external beauty far behind? It is amazing how easy it is to go back and walk the path of your past. Yet this time it was easy to keep going without buying  and though immensely beautiful, they could not untie the spiritual connections I had made and acknowledged on the path of love and happiness.

That path I had discovered was not studded with pearls and diamonds of jewelry but with the scintillating brilliance of inner light.

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One of the many Pakistani jewelry stores in the bazaar

I half turned as my name was called and simultaneously I was engulfed with a hug, heart to heart……….. suddenly all the years melted.


At the retreat in the Adirondack mountains

When I had first met her she was a young, beautiful, carefree,  enthusiastic resident in medical training. She was now a wife and mother battling disease on the outside and the inside. Life had thrown her some curve balls which she had handled with what she had learned as a young woman in the mountains of Adirondack when were in the retreats  for “purification of the heart ” with the Sheikh.

Here we were in the middle of the bazaar in a Dallas hotel, the exhibition hall was teeming with people. we stood in the middle of the aisle, people bypassed us as we hugged and then the hum of people receded and once again we were in the cabin, getting ready for our hike. It was raining, we looked at each other, and smiled, it was going to be an interesting hike.

On the hike as we walked we got to know each other and could commiserate with each other about the obstacles that American medicine placed in front of a Muslim doctor trying to practice what the Divine has ordained.  “ I don’t have time or a place to pray at the hospital” she confided and it was then that I passed on the pearl I had received from a doctor friend and mentor along with a diamond from me.

 The pearl, was: “to always be close to a place where you can pray when you are close to prayer time”

It was then I remembered that I had bought in Mecca  a green travelling silkish prayer rug, in a green cover, small enough to fit in a pocket. “Take this” I said “and keep it in your pocket at all times” I passed my diamond from Mecca to her, treasured and revered. There was a slight pang at parting with something from Mecca but I remembered what the Sheikh said :”detach! detach!detach!” and the feeling of deprivation evaporated.

The cool of the forest descended on us as we walked on the dark earth to whom the trees had given their life to bring life again.  The earth felt like soft velvet beneath our sneakers.


Aged trees above, to the left, to the right and below at the canal walk

For the trees as they grew old it was an act of love and sacrifice to  melt into the ground to give life and nourishment to the young. I had often looked at the trees after Tariq died why could I not be like them? Why could I not see and emulate their wordless sacrifice to bring more flowers and trees in the spring from their dead bark to the ones who are yet to come. After all Tariq was in the red earth of Georgia, green grass grew over his grave and the birds ate seed from the grass and picked at the earth for nourishment………the trees always fascinated me.

The hike was uphill, the drops of moisture dripped on us till we were tired though refreshed and came upon the clearing at the edge of the lake. Here we were to eat our sandwiches and pray on the earth so lovingly prepared for us by the trees with their aged bodies that had given themselves to it.

Years had past since that retreat and the hike. we were living at the two ends of the continent, and today we were both in Dallas at a medical meeting unplanned and unbeknownst to each other. The hug spanned the years apart, healed the hurts we had experienced, refreshed the words and actions the Sheikh had taught us and unknowing to us had tied our hearts together with a spiritual twine always looking towards the Divine in our search for Happiness.

I remembered my Turkish friend driving me to the outskirts of Istanbul…………..

”It is all about the heart, you carry the spiritual connections in your heart, always……………no matter where you are………………..”

Postscript: I returned home and opened my email……….

Before going to Dallas she had written a quote from her notes from the Sheikh:

“Oh my servant. You will and I will.
If you surrender to me in what I will
I will ease for you what you will.
If you resist me in what I will
I will tire you in what you will.
And there will be only what I will.”

It was hadith…………

After returning from Dallas she had written, and it touched me immensely, I am not worthy……..but I am deeply grateful and need your duas:

“My heart is still warm from seeing you today. It’s definitely true what the Sheikh says, a moment in the company of those close to Allah can be transformative. May Allah swt always keep you among His beloved. So so lovely seeing you today. Safe travels.”

Dua: May Allah make me as beautiful as she sees me and may Allah bless and strenthen all those with “the connections of the Heart” for His sake……….




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