Sometimes there are days when the soul is parched for The Divine. Some misread that thirst as a material loneliness and drown it in an inebriant (alcohol or drugs) and others turn to loud music or warm bodies……..
The soul can only be quenched with the love of the Divine and in no other way……
It was one of those days when walking home from class through the crowds of people selling and buying goods in Uskudar dried up the last bit of spirituality in me. On reaching my apartment I tried gazing at the blue of the Bosphorus, listening to taped recordings of the Quran in an attempt at trying to quench the thirst of my soul but it was not enough. An immersion into the Dhikr of Allah was calling my soul.
I found myself in a taxi heading up towards the hills of Istanbul to a place where I knew the latticed women’s musallah will resound with the Dhikr this evening. The time of Maghrib was rapidly approaching and as the taxi ascended the steep hill the sun dipped into the Bosphorus catching the pin points of the bridge with the last rays of this day.
I paid the taxi driver and entered through the door which said “make an intention of itikaaf” . I found myself removing my shoes as I entered the sacred precincts, and in my stockinged feet silently ascending the wooden steps up to the women’s long and narrow musallah. It was edged with the lattice of old oak polished to a fine gold.
In a daze I prayed the Maghrib Salah in congregation with the women. As the Imam recited the surahs …….. my soul waited in anticipation; this was not enough, it needed more……
Soon after the last rakah, the men began the litany of Dhikr and as their voices echoed off the walls of the small Musallah the lights were lowered and out of the shadows rose a man dressed in a white robe. With the surreal gossamer mistiness of his robe melding into the shadows and occasionally being lighted up with the flickering candlelight.
Like a faceless wraith he began to whirl below us. He whirled with his one hand stretched up to the Divine to receive and the other hand lowered to give. I watched him through the lattice, mesmerized as he moved with the grace of a pilgrim who has found his focus and is at the door of the Divine.
The words of the Dhikr resounded in the musallah and were absorbed into the wall, while the man in white gracefully whirled oblivious to the world and the audience. While the others downstairs in a trance recited the names of the Divine and repeated the litany of the Dhikr, their voices pleading. The words rang true and were infused with love, reverence and a tinge of want.
With the cadence of the Dhikr, the figure in white moved in complete immersion in his reverential movements, round and round he went in the center of the room.
His movements, and the Dhikr was timeless and uninterrupted. The men sitting in a circle in the downstairs musallah appeared to be oblivious of him and deeply immersed in the Dhikr. The words of the Dhikr floating all around us like the drops from the Fountain of life. The women slipped into a reverie of Dhikr where no one was with them but their Creator.
My soul had found the fountain of life and was taking long sips………… The Divine was smiling upon us; I was immersed in it: lock stock and barrel as a participant. With the Dhikr on my lips my soul reached out and sipped from the nectar of the words of Allah. I was no longer a spectator and my soul was whirling like the white wraith downstairs though my body sat motionless in the women’s musallah guarded by the oak lattice, where I could see but not be seen.
Sometimes the soul if given the freedom will find the path to Dhikr that quenches its thirst for the Love of the Divine for the time being ……. Till the next time when the world slowly sucks out the lifegiving fluid out the soul and we have to search again and find the fountain of Dhikr where ever it might be……….
Thank you, Allah, for Turkey, for Istanbul, and for all the fountains of Dhikr in Beylerbeyi and Uskudar that I was honored to be invited to.