By Moin Qazi, New Age Islam
08 April 2017
As millions of Bhaktas and devotees return back from Ajmer to their native lands after a spiritual sojourn at the annual Urs at the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (1142 - 1236), the Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (Benefactor of the Poor) of millions across South Asia they have a great challenge: to keep alive the spiritual heart green in an arid desert of strife and disharmony.
In the chaos that prevails around us there is a growing feeling of desolation and misery. The pace of modern life has driven man to a state where the rhythm of life is fast growing erratic and the music is slowly ebbing out .Living in a harsh world we have developed cynicism and hatred.
The Sufi king of Ajmer, also known in the sub continent as Sultan-ul-Hind, was born in Afghanistan in 1142 AD. He is believed to have studied at the great seminaries of Samarkand and Bukhara before choosing Ajmer as his home in 1192 AD. His most famous devotee was the Mughal emperor, Jalaluddin Akbar, who paid homage often for sons and conquests and on occasion came on foot from Agra.
Khwaja Gharib Nawaz was one of the early patrons of Sufism, the source from which the mystical world springs Khawaja’s school laid stress on seven principles, notably the renunciation of material goods, financial reliance on farming or alms, r, the sharing of wealth, and respect for religious difference and independence from economic patronage from the established political order.
His doctrine of “service of poor as highest form of worship” led to the saint gaining the uniqutious appellation of “Gharib Nawaz,” or emperor of the poor. Several of the most famous Sufi shrines in South Asia – notably that of Fariduddin Ganj-i Shakar at Pakpattan in Pakistan, and that of Nizamuddin Auliya in New Delhi – bear the stamp of his teachings.
He founded the Chishti Silsila (order) of Sufis in India. The other major Silsilas are Qadaria, Suhrawardy, Naqshbandi and Mawlawi. Sufism, especially its Chishti order, has enriched us after Gharib Nawaz died in 1236.
Jaffer records in The Book of Muinuddin Chishti:
“The Chishti Sufi order was originally founded in Central Asia and Moinuddin was the first one to introduce the Chishtiya way of life in India, where he lived for over four decades. His disciples, Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Baba Farid Ganj Shakar, Mubarak Hamiduddin Nagauri, Nizamuddin Auliya and Nasiruddin Chiragh-i-Delhi later fanned out into different parts of the Indian subcontinent and spent their lives trying to match their deeds to their words.”
The primary teaching of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz, as also of other Sufis, is love. Sufis believe that the heart is the most important centre governing our spiritual consciousness. With diligent practice, teachers of Sufism perfected techniques that activate the heart, cultivating profound intuition and realization. The polished heart becomes a mirror that catches the light of truth and reflects it in one’s consciousness.
Sufis consider the spirit and body to be one whole. They believe in integration, not dichotomies. What we do in our physical lives affects us spiritually, and vice versa. We cannot look at our lives in a vacuum. Our lives are integrated with our environment, ethics, and family. A well known Sheikh Muzaffar says, “Keep your hands busy with your duties in this world, and your heart busy with God.” Our faith has to be practiced daily within our everyday lives. As Sahi, an eminent Sufi mystic exhorts: “A man should be in the marketplace while still working with true reality.”
Dr. H.J. Witteveen the former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and himself an accomplished Sufi says that we all have a divine spark in us and we can experience glimpses of the divine when we forget our limitations in the beauty of nature, or art, or in deep love. Pursuing such experiences, and letting them grow deeper, he says, can lead us into the cosmic realm and enable us to celebrate celestial love.
Several Sufis feel that the time was approaching when their esoteric knowledge, their maps of the unconscious, accumulated over centuries, would spread to the west, which was now a spiritual desert While the West has been developing its technological prowess, the mystics have developed a sophisticated type of inner technology in the form of their practices – a way of moving towards self-realization .One of the most popular strand of mysticism is Sufism.
The Sufi ideal is to combine the inner and outer life to be active in the world, for example, as an economist or a politician, and at the same time to be inspired by attuning to the divine ideal. The important thing is the balance between these two aspects of like so that the inner light can motivate and shine through worldly activities. Sufism is the message of digging out that water-like life which has been buried by the impressions of this material life. There is an English phrase: a lost soul. But the soul is not lost; it is only buried. When it is dug out divine life bursts forth like a spring.
The purity of the Sufi is due to his constant remembrance of God. The more he remembers God, the more he comes to know Him; and the more he comes to know Him, the more he comes to love Him. This is why the act of polishing the mirror of the heart is the key to entering into a love-relationship with God. The Sufi’s heart, in other words, is like white snow because of its purity, which it has attained through the remembrance of God.
The finest exponent of the modern eclectic philosophy of Sufism is Jalaluddin Rumi (which means daylight). Rumi sought freedom for his soul through a mystical connection with the divine and the expression of that relationship through art.
Because God can best be reached through the gateway of the heart, Rumi believed you do not necessarily need ritual to get to him, and that the Divine is as accessible to Christians, Hindus, Jews and other faiths as to Muslims: “Love’s creed is separate from all religions,” he wrote. “The creed and denomination of lovers is God.” All traditions are tolerated, because in the opinion of Rumi anyone is capable of expressing their love for God, and that transcends both religious associations and your place in the social order: “My religion,” he wrote, “is to live through love.”
For Rumi, to be a lover of God was not to make some inflated claim for oneself, but actually to admit one’s vulnerability and even helplessness before this Love. Love in some way transforms the lovers and makes them a blessing within creation. Love in its most basic expression is desire, or love of the loveable. . Rumi described the highest stage of love with these words: “There is no greater love than love with no object.” When a human being matures or evolves to this level of love he or she simply radiates love because he or she is love.
In one poem, Rumi says we should look for God in our hearts, rather than in a church, temple or mosque. Rumi considers a human heart like a mirror. When a mirror is stained with dirt, it cannot properly reflect the image that appears in it. The human heart is the index of the purity of the individual’s spiritual system. It is its hologram. Everything that we experience as a problem is within ourselves. Consequently the solution to the problem is also within us. We can heal. We can forgive. We can bless. We can create abundance. All of this is possible through the positive action of polishing, purifying, clearing, cleaning what is within us.
The heart likewise can be smudged by impressions of immoralities and by absence of God consciousness and therefore needs regular polishing . As Rumi famously put it:
“Do you not know why your mirror does not glitter?
Because the rust is not cleansed from its surface.”
How does one polish the mirror of the heart? .The polishing of the heart is the act of invoking or remembering God (Dhikr). In other words, the more one remembers God and burnishes the mirror of his substance, thereby cleansing it of the stain of forgetfulness that stubbornly clings to it, the more the heart becomes cleaner and clearer. Rumi explains it in this way:
“Through remembrance and meditation, the heart is polished
Until the mirror of the heart receives virginal images. “
In one important tale, Rumi seeks to illustrate this idea in a more concrete way. He tells the story of a naked man who jumps into a pool of water in order to escape from being stung by a swarm of bees that have been chasing him and will not relent in their efforts to attack him. But since he cannot remain submerged for very long, he resurfaces for air only to find the bees waiting for him so they can resume their assault. The story sheds light on an important point, namely that the bees represent our remembrance for things in this world, while the water represents the act of remembering God. Rumi explains that the heart that is pure not only heads towards the Ocean, but it also becomes a part of it.
It is only a clarified heart that can help us perceive the true beauty and harmony of the universe. Rumi very poignantly advises us:
“Know, son, that everything in the universe is a pitcher brimming with wisdom and beauty. The universe is a drop of the Tigris of His Beauty, this Beauty not contained by any skin. His Beauty was a Hidden Treasure so full it burst open and made the earth more radiant than the heavens.”
(Mathnavi I: 2,860-2,862)
Moin Qazi is the author of the bestselling book, Village Diary of a Heretic Banker .He has worked in the development finance sector for almost four decades.