Are you my Hussein?
I remember staring blankly ahead, as I passed the cars on the dual carriageway. The trip to Luton, from London, was not a long one, ninety minutes at most. The time was moderate. But spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, the journey seemed much longer.
My family was excited- for years my children had been brought up hearing the sweet words of our teacher, Sheykh Lokman Efendi Hz, on our wi-fi, tablet, phone and computer. Now for the first time they would see their parents’ teacher, face-to-face. Their mother kept asking them, throughout the journey.
“Are you looking forward to seeing Sheykh Efendi? What are you going to say when you first see Sheykh Efendi?”
I could both hear and feel the love and excitement in their voices. It was the first time, in years, that we as a family were travelling somewhere, outside London. The moment seemed perfect and my family was embracing the feeling- but not me.
Five years previously, I had taken beyat with Sheykh Lokman Efendi Hz. In all those years I could count the number of times I had called the Dergah on one hand. As I was clocking up the miles, the voice in my head kept repeating on a loop, ‘How can you show your face there- the disrespect?!’. I was nervous, scared and ashamed. The progress I had made, since my beyat, was nothing. In fact, I felt I had gone backwards. I remembered the broadcasts I had failed to watch, convincing myself I would catch up with them.
In the few conversations I had with my Sheykh, one instruction was clear- stay in touch. I had not even done that. I now found myself driving to meet the one I had disrespected. The thoughts were so relentless that my family had to keep reminding me that I was speeding.
When we finally got to Luton, I had the chance to meet the other murids from England. I could not enjoy any of the embracing or conversing, because the voice in my mind would not stop. As we walked to the location where Sheykh Efendi would be arriving, my mind felt like it was under water. I could hear voices and sounds but none of it was coherent. My heart was beating faster and I felt hot, but the voice…the voice was still constant…unwavering.
I remember seeing the SUV pull up, into the residential car park. As Sheykh Efendi stepped out, wearing his beautiful purple garment, the voice was close to breaking my mind.
As we all sat in the large white tent, looking up from the ground, our Sheykh looked over us, with warm eyes. He was speaking to those on my left, gradually making his way to me. Some of the mureeds Sheykh Lokman recognised, others gave their names.
Eventually, Sheykh Lokman looked at me, with a neutral expression and then smiled.
“Selam Aleykum, Sheykh,” I said nervously.
The voice was now a fire, I felt so ashamed to be there. Not only had I failed my Sheykh, but I had let my health deteriorate as well as fallen into stress with other worldly matters.
“Aleykum Selam…what is your name?” asked Sheykh Efendi, softly.
“Hussein,” Sheykh Efendi paused for a moment.
“Kashmiri?” asked Sheykh Efendi, to which one of the other brothers said I was Turkish and from London. At that moment Sheykh Efendi’s eyes widened and stared at me.
“Are you my Hussein?”
The voice in my head stopped dead. I could not speak, I simply nodded and smiled.
There is no fonder memory I have in my life, then this one. With one question, Sheykh took that fire out of my head. I wish I could write what else was shared, that day, but that would be too difficult for me, ish’Allah, maybe when I’m stronger.
From that moment, I felt a security and a love that I had not felt in a very long time. It’s a feeling that is overwhelming, one that I do not deserve, but Sheykh Efendi still showed me that love…to this day. I will never be able to repay a fraction of that.
Whenever I think of the word ‘love’, that is the memory that comes to mind.