THE GARDEN OF MYSTIC LOVE

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”This well researched and scholarly book of the Sufi tradition points to a brilliant hope for world peace and a healing balance to the reputation of Islam in our day. Sufism goes to the heart of things and is the door to Islamic renewal in the new millennium. Gregory Blann, Muhammad Jamal, following Lex Hixon's lead, deserves great credit for bridging us into the heart of Jerrahi Sufism.”  
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, The Naropa University, author of Paradigm Shift

"Since the attack on the World Trade Center, there has been widespread interest in world religions, but particularly in Moslem beliefs. This book sheds a new light on the Moslem way of life, and particularly on Sufism, perhaps the best-known practice, in the western world, of the Moslem traditions. The author's intimate knowledge and experience, so beautifully and simply presented, gives us a deep appreciation for the rich history and spiritual practices that Sufism embodies." 
Hal Zina Bennett, author of Follow Your Bliss and many other books.

 “Muhammad Jamal's history of Sufism is a valuable tool for all Westerners who practice Sufism. ...Those of us who follow this path are obliged to examine our roots, and explore what is most viable and effective for those of us living in the West today.”
From the Preface by Robert Frager, Ph.D. (Sheikh Ragip al-Jerrahi), author of Heart, Self & Soul.
 



From the Introduction:

 
Sufism is the mystical tradition of divine love and unity. Whether in subtle or manifest form, it has existed in our world as long as conscious beings have inhabited it. Between the seventh and tenth centuries C.E., according to the Western calendar, the historical spiritual movement known to the world as Sufism developed under the aegis of Islam, in light of the deeply self-transcendent, unitive teachings revealed through the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Before his time, this same primordial wisdom was the spiritual life-blood and sustenance of the ancient prophets, realized sages, saints and hanifs of pre-Islamic times. Its central proclamation is that there exists but One Reality, which lovingly emanates and continually sustains this vast and intelligent universe, a realm of physical existence which is never separate from its Divine Creative Source.
   From Arabia, the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, the mystical tradition of Islam, known as tasawwuf or Sufism, spread to Iraq and its capital, Baghdad. There, the first major Sufi orders arose in the time of Junayd (d. 910 C.E.). From Baghdad and other centers, Sufism and Islam spread to Central Asia, North Africa, India, Anatolia and Spain. With the establishment of the Ottoman Empire in the fourteenth century, Constantinople (now Istanbul), the former Byzantine capital, inevitably assumed a central position in the world of Sufism....
   
   Besides entering into the colorful spiritual world of Turkish Sufism, this book offers a comprehensive history of Islamic mysticism, including biographies of its major saints, founding pirs, and the trends which have developed out of their teachings. As the field of Sufi studies is vast, we primarily confine ourselves to the masters in the Near East, focusing in later chapters on one of the most interesting and vital Turkish Sufi orders of the modern era, the Halveti-Jerrahi Order of Dervishes.
    The medieval founders of the Halveti (Khalwati) Order in Central Asia were reclusive sheikhs who emphasized the transformative power of spiritual retreat (halvet). Three centuries ago in Istanbul, a new branch of this distinguished tarikat was founded by Pir Nureddin al-Jerrahi, called the Halveti-Jerrahi Order. By divine permission, Pir Nureddin was guided to establish the order and bring together the rich mystic treasures of the great Sufi confraternaties under one spiritual banner. Many contemporary sheikhs offered Pir Nureddin spiritual gifts from their own orders, recognizing him as the last of the founding pirs. Thus, the Halveti-Jerrahi Order became a richly-woven tapestry of mystical practice and secrets at the culmination of the Ottoman era—a quintessential subject for Sufi studies.
     This humble work is an attempt to ... make available for the first time to English-speaking readers a general history of Turkish Sufism, the Halveti-Jerrahi Order and its noble lineage, from its Arabian beginnings until the modern era. Beyond the horizon of biography, this book seeks to unfold the path of mystic love as it passes through various phases in history, each stage timelessly representing a makam, or station, on the path of spiritual realization. By "mystic love" we mean to indicate non-dual love, in which the soul awakens from its sense of separation into its own Essential Source, becoming the Beloved which it loves. Thus, mystic love is not fixated on any material object of love, nor a remote deity, but is a subjectless, objectless expression of union within the One All-Pervading Reality. This love comes from God, is for God, transpires through God, and operates within the Oneness of God, or Allah—the Sole Reality.
     According to Sufi teachings, all the divine attributes, the stations of love, and the souls of human beings, which co-exist in this one many-splendored Reality, emerge from the celestial realms—from the Garden of Divine Essence. As the Turkish Sufi poet, Niyazi Misri, wrote (referring to the human soul):

        This nightingale, stranger to space and time,
        has come here from the Garden of Pure Essence.
        That abode is simply the Friend, all Divine Face, gazing, gazing.*


    The Garden of Mystic Love is a Sufi metaphor which describes this one vast spectrum of existence. From the eternal realms, Allah Most High brings forth the temporal life of the world, replete with conscious souls, who are spiritually nurtured and sustained by divine guidance and the realization of unity. These guiding sacred revelations to humanity are poured out abundantly over the centuries through the hearts and minds of authentic divine messengers and prophets. According to the Qur’an, at least one of them has been sent to every nation on earth.
    The Divine Oneness is proclaimed by the Prophet Abraham; the sacred law is revealed to Moses and other noble messengers, known and unknown; the way of divine love, forgiveness, and mystic union is revealed through the Messiah Jesus. Finally, the cycle of divine revelation is brought to its fullest fruition by the Seal of Prophets, Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. Through the Prophet Muhammad is revealed the quintessential teaching of unity, succinctly formulated in the Arabic words, La ilaha illallah, meaning approximately: "there is nothing except Divine Reality". The power of this illuminating principle, the radiant well-spring of the mystic tradition, was spiritually transmitted by the Prophet Muhammad to his son-in-law, Hazrat Ali, and indeed flows to all conscious humanity.
     After the passing of Muhammad, what can be called the Sufi tradition, in its historical Islamic setting, first assumed the form of rigorous ascetic practice and poverty, an austere attitude of God-fearing repentance and retreat from the ways of the world. This is exemplified in the lives of such early Sufis as Uways al-Qarani and Ibrahim Adham. With Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiyya, the heart of Sufism begins to further reveal itself as a path of pure love for Allah, divested of all secondary desires, such as the hope of paradise and avoidance of hell. The ecstatic states of union experienced by Bayazid Bistami and other "intoxicated" Sufis mark a further tendency toward divine Self-discovery in the consciousness of the Sufi mystics, a trend sealed by the martyrdom of Mansur al-Hallaj and Shams-i- Tabriz.
     In the Sufi understanding, it was not Mansur, but the Divine Source that ecstatically cried out through him: "I am the Absolute Truth!" Nor was it Rabia who offered supplications of unconditional love to her Lord; it was pure worship, without one who prays. This passionate pursuit of divine love, beyond all duality, was fervently celebrated by such mystic poets as Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi and Yunus Emre, and incorporated into the mystic orders in many ways, including the ecstatic ceremonies of Divine Remembrance (dhikr).
     For the followers of the Halveti-Jerrahi path, the consummate manifestation of divine love is Hazrati Pir Nureddin al-Jerrahi; his biography, toward the end of this book, confirms and exemplifies Sufism as the path of mystic love. This author, himself a Halveti-Jerrahi sheikh, has benefited immensely from the love and wisdom emanating from the modern guiding lights of this tradition, including Muzaffer Efendi, Safer Efendi, and my late American sheikh, Nur al-Jerrahi (Lex Hixon), a passionate lover of Truth in whatever tradition he found it.
     The path of mystic Self-realization and boundless love is the spiritual high road, the great promise of religion, the soul’s open door to union with Truth. Beyond all divisions and creeds, love is our innermost nature, our Divine Essence. As Hazrat Inayat Khan has most beautifully written: “You are love. You come from love; you are made by love; you cannot cease to love.”
     It was with the intoxication of love for the light that the moth, circling around the candle, sacrificed everything and threw itself into the flames. This same fire of love purifies and illuminates the human heart, cooking that which is raw and radically transforming it. We, too, are invited by the words of the Mevlud to draw near and feel its intoxicating power:

      Come close now, true dervishes of love, to the very fire of Divine Love, which burns in the Prophet’s noble heart as he ascends through the heavenly spheres to the most intimate Presence of Allah. This same fire of love will now burn within you, for such is the highest mystic teaching of Islam.*





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*As translated by Sheikh Nur Lex Hixon

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