Seasons of Change



Elhemdullillah we completed the month of Ramazan with our Sheykh Lokman Efendi’s himmet. It was a very unusual month here in upstate New York. As Sheykh Efendi said, we experienced every season this Ramazan, winter, spring, summer and fall. The weather changed from one day to the next even as the days grew longer, and the sun migrated more northerly bit by bit. Now we are officially in the “mud season” of early spring as Shawaal enters with its own gifts and blessings. Mud is a good reminder of our dirtiness as fallible human beings. Our mistakes  might appear as fine as dust to us, easily shrugged off or cleaned up, but mud clings to everything. It isn’t easily scrubbed or blown away by a light wind. Just as some habits stick to us and with us, even past the merciful deluge of Ramazan. So what do we do, if we failed to become fully clean in Ramazan? The answer is clear as Sheykh Efendi always tells us: keep doing the work of taking account of ourselves, of cleaning the dirtiness through hizmet, through refining our character in the service of others, through fasting the six days of Shawaal and fasting from all the things we did manage to leave in Ramazan for the sake of Allah SWT. Fasting six days of Shawaal have a great reward as promised by Holy Prophet AS and the good news is, if you took a break from fasting right after Ramazan, you have the whole month to take part in gathering the blessings of the voluntary fast. Some of us are not able to fast for health reasons and this can be sad and disappointing when we hear about the great blessings but there is much we can continue to fast from, as we did in Ramazan. This world has no shortage of polluting activities that we can continue to avoid. The first one (and I say this to myself first) is the phone you are likely holding in your hand as you read this blog. The addiction of technology runs rampant through our lives and while we often use it to access Islamic content, along with the access comes a whole host of temptations and haram things. As Sheykh Efendi frequently says, social media often dominates far too much of our  attention during the day and creates feelings of disconnection to Allah SWT and entanglement in this dunya. The longer you can be without your phone, the healthier and happier you will likely feel. If it’s hard for you, as it is for me, this is pointing to the place we should begin to work on in these blessed days, seeking the pleasure of our Lord. May it be easy for us all to keep the spirit of Ramazan alive in this month and strive to enhance what we learned and protect what we gained for the sake of our Sheykh, Amin! 


Ramazan: Mercy and Togetherness


It’s hard to believe that Ramazan is already here and it’s so strange as a convert to be celebrating Ramazan in the month of March, in the springtime. All praises due to Allah SWT that we are following Guides who insist on keeping high the Islamic calendar and proceeding, according to its wisdom and blessings. Ramazan rotates throughout the year as do all Islamic holidays because we use the lunar calendar as the governance of our hours and days and months. This is a great blessing as our Sheykh Efendi HZ often reminds us: there is a different flavor a different taste, a different feeling that comes with fasting at the different times of the year. Of course fasting becomes easier when the days are shorter and cooler than the hard months of the summer for someone like me who has always struggled with fasting in one way or another. This is a blessing and helps me feel more confident in my fast and maintaining a patient and God conscious state all the way up to the time of the breaking of the fast. The winter time will host Ramazan in a few years, and the days will be even shorter. What is perhaps most amazing about that, is the reward of fasting is not reduced, even though the days will be quite short, and might even fly by if we’re not watching the clock and keeping ourselves busy with what is pleasing to Allah. There’s also great blessing in fasting the long days of summer, when sometimes your thirst might feel unbearable. These different tastes and flavors of Ramazan are indeed miraculous, and even when the fast days are short, it makes your nights longer for more worship and remembrance. May all of our Ramazan be accepted, and our good intentions be rewarded for the sake of our Sheykh Efendi Hz amin. 


Fasting is an opportunity to train our egos, and to keep control of our desires. When I first converted before I made the leap and became a Muslim, I tried fasting with some Muslim friends for the first time. I couldn’t believe that they went whole days without eating or drinking any water, which seemed far harder to me than the Orthodox Christian fasting. I had grown up with. But it’s also full of mercy and blessings, because fasting all together from food and drink, frees you from yourself, from daily routines, from the fascination with filling our stomachs and following our bodies every whim. The body is indeed a tyrant to us at times. It is a trust that we are given by Allah, but it is also something we cannot control in so many ways. Fasting from food, and drink is not only a powerful control for our body, but it strengthens our spirit and prioritizes our worship and remembrance of Allah. Ramazan is a time to be together in demaat, as our Sheykh always says not to be separate, and not to just be focused on our own families. This is not the tradition of Islam: to make a personal, exclusionary, and only “our family” oriented version of celebrating. It is incumbent upon us to live as Muslims had to fulfill the command of being in cemaat in Ramazan and extend that togetherness to other times throughout the year Ramazan affords us a greater opportunity to build community. Yes with our families, but more importantly, to connect our families together as a community, as a cemaat, and to strengthen the ties of neighbors and friends, brothers and sisters. When we’re fasting all together and worshiping all together, we are forming a bond between believers that InshAllah will remain until the day of judgment and beyond. Amin.

Our Children Are a Loan

The news of the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria has brought many miraculous stories of survival along with it. People rescued after 3, 4, even 7 days, waiting under the rubble, bring joy and hope to our hearts of recovery and healing. Many of these people spent their time under the rubble praying, reciting the Quran, and patiently waiting for a miracle from Allah. We know that Allah SWT never leaves his servants and he is always helping them and showing them His mercy. Of course not everyone can survive such widespread destruction. The most heartbreaking stories have involved the deaths of children, sometimes multiple children, from the same family. This is always very hard to take and requires faith and trust in the decree of Allah SWT. This brings to my mind something that our Sheykh Lokman Efendi HZ reminds us of. He always tells us that our children are not our creatures, and that they are creatures of Allah SWT and a separate creation belonging to Him. Usually we forget that our children are not in fact ours, they are merely a loan from Allah, and a responsibility that we have been given. It is hard to accept that sometimes that responsibility includes bearing their loss in this life.

 There is a lot of talk in the world today about women’s rights in Islam compared to their rights in the West. One of the most beautiful things I discovered when I became Muslim was the station and status of the mother. Along with that status comes great reward for enduring things such as childbirth or the loss of a child. In fact, any woman who dies during childbirth, becomes the level of a Shaheed in Paradise, and any woman who loses a child, especially before the age of maturity, will be welcomed by that child in Paradise. There are many hadith from Holy Prophet AS detailing the reward of the parent who is grieved at the loss of their child. Even unborn fetuses who pass away will be able to welcome their mother into the gates of Paradise.  When thinking about the earthquake in Türkiye, it is especially poignant in the light of these Hadith to realize that some women became Shaheed twice over in the same day.


One of the most widespread stories was of a woman who was pregnant when the earthquake happened, and she passed away under the rubble as Shahid Inshallah. She also gave birth spontaneously after she was crushed, and her baby was rescued alive. Therefore she died under the rubble and also died in childbirth. Inshallah may this be a double reward for her Amin. Her child was named Aya, which means sign from Allah. and indeed she was a sign for believers. 

There was another man who wrote a beautiful letter that he published for his six year old son, Ahmed. He wrote in this letter, what we have been told by our Sheykh: that Ahmed was a loan from Allah SWT and that He SWT called him home. The grief, love, and patience displayed by parents like these is an inspiration to us all when our children are testing us and pushing boundaries, and we have to remind ourselves, that they are not our creatures, May we show beautiful patience in the face of their challenges and remember that they are a beautiful loan from our Lord. May we always show gratitude for being tested in life rather than face the test of patience in the face of their deaths. Amin


Real Empathy and Running to Serve


In the past few weeks, we have witnessed the worst natural disaster in the last hundred years in Türkiye and Syria. Our love for the Ottomans extends our love to the countries that they ruled, primarily Türkiye, and the strong Ottoman heritage that it has maintained. It’s often difficult for human beings to truly empathize and understand the suffering of such a great magnitude when you are outside of it. But, as Muslims and as believers, it is incumbent upon us to keep our hearts open and soft as our Sheykhs in the Naksibendi way have taught us. 


I found myself at a loss for words regarding the earthquake and the widespread suffering, deaths, hunger, and displacement. However, I discovered quickly that I was still too concerned with my own comfort, my own problems, and silly concerns about my life and any challenges I’m facing. I feel shame that in the face of such tragedy, my ego can still dominate me and cut me off from true empathy and compassion. In our modern world where there is so much suffering and heartbreak, we become numb to the problems of others and we are overloaded by the news and social media with tragedies and struggles around the world. Sheykh Lokman Efendi HZ always tells us we cannot let our hearts become dead to the suffering of others, and it is imperative on every murid that we keep those who are struggling and under oppression in our hearts, and in our duas always. There’s no beast on this earth quite like the ego: even when the Muslim Ummat is suffering you may become a victim to your ego’s nafs and desires. It is very important when we find ourselves wrapped up in our problems, our daily chores, and irritations to do the very least we can, which is to keep our brothers and sisters who are suffering and displaying a great patience in the face of such tests, in our hearts and our duas. As our Sheykh has told us so many times in khutbas and sohbets, the Hadith of Holy Prophet AS about how the Muslim Ummah is like a body, and when one part of it suffers, we must all pay attention to that suffering and do our best to fix it, and provide relief in this world. 


All praise is to Allah that our Dergah has raised funds and also organized volunteers to do our Sheykh’s mission on the ground in Turkiye. We were able to provide stoves to keep almost 4000 people warm and cook food; this is an essential need that makes survival possible in these winter months, when hot food is scarce and shelter is almost impossible to come by amongst the destroyed buildings and homes. As a Dergah, we will continue to raise funds and provide support to our brothers and sisters in Türkiye, and always keep them in our hearts and our duas. We are praying for the beautiful Ottoman lands and all of the citizens therein. Our prayer is that along with their safety and health, and the recovery of the deceased, our hearts will also be alive and pleasing to Allah with good intentions to support our brothers and sisters and control the basest tendencies of our egos that make our hearts dead. With the himmet of our Sheykh Lokman Efendi HZ, Amin 


Bargaining Versus Investing

This coin ring features one 21 karat yellow gold coin that reads Arabic number on a 18 karat yellow gold mounting weighing 28.6 Grams. The coin measures 7/8 inches diameter.

Recently a murid asked Sheykh Lokman Egendi in sohbet about losing progress due to mistakes and sins that we keep repeating. One big difference I have learned about tarikat versus the contemporary “mainstream” Islam is the way reward or sawab, is spoken about in lectures and khutbas, versus sohbets in our way. I still fall into the trap of thinking of Allah SWT as a businessman (Astaghfirullah) even though our Sheykh reminds us over and over again not to treat our relationship with our Lord in this way. The notion that we “make deals” with Allah SWT by our good behavior or extra worship so we will get rewarded in return is prevalent. Yes Allah SWT promises us in the Quran Kerim and hadith a good reward for the obedient believers, elhemdullillah, but this is different from how we can fall into the trap of believing we are somehow owed by Allah SWT in a tit-for-tat fashion and accounting of each good deed. If you have ever said to yourself when faced with a trial or test, even in the silence of your heart and mind “why is this happening? I have been doing everything I’m supposed to” then you know how easily we can fall into the trap of accounting with our Lord, the most High, Creator of All. Yes I agree, reading that in print is a stark confrontation with our lower, childish selves, who are always wanting candy instead of the reality of true guidance and obedience. 

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In the same sohbet, Sheykh Lokman Efendi reminds the questioner that the focus should not be on the “savings account of sawab”, but in the connection to your Sheykh. Rabita must be a part of our practice and the quality of that rabita, should not just be the intensity of our emotional connection. Just as Allah SWT is not a businessman to make a deal with, neither is your Sheykh Santa Claus to give you presents and candy, gratifying your nefs and ego. It is difficult to be washed up and to keep the right understanding when we truly want to please and obey our Sheykh and through that please Allah SWT. But, growing up in tarikat is incredibly important: “candy” isn’t meant to be eaten all the time if one is going to be healthy and our childish desire to avoid change can make us spoiled and weak, avoiding wash ups and unable to cope with them when we do get them. As someone who has struggled with this, I can say I must constantly remind myself that the washups are almost always where the real growth can take place: the earth is sometimes scorched, yes, because ash makes the soil fertile. Changing the focus to growth instead of what our nefs and ego desire is key to being in rabita properly and renewing our intention in this way. Our sawab is important but we are looking at its richness in a new way: not as paper money we stack up in greed for the hereafter, but as an investment with our Sheykh who is guiding us to the pleasure of Allah SWT, for which there is no equal currency.  


Biogrpahy of Hazrati Selman-i Farisi: Part 2

Finding Holy Prophet AS


Salman Al Farisi Hazretleri worked as a slave for several years and was unable to continue his quest to find the Holy Prophet (AS) or even hear about him, as the life of a slave was very difficult and they could not get news or information as easily as free men. This was during the jahiliyaa (time of ignorance) before the spread of Islam in Arabia: slaves were treated no better than or sometimes worse than animals, or possessions that their owner could break or even destroy. The mission of the Holy Prophet AS to spread peace and establish the justice of Allah SWT on earth would change this in the future, but until then, slaves were not considered equal human beings. Allah SWT blessed Hazrati Salman in getting closer to the holy city of Medinah by changing his situation: he (HZ) was given to the nephew of his first master, who was from the tribe Banu Qurayzah, a group of Jews who lived in Yathrib (the old name of Medinah). Salman Al Farisi was pleased to discover that Yathrib, or Medinah, was a city of palm trees just as had been described to him by his former Christian teacher. After his new master took him there, one day he overheard his master saying he was angry at the Arabs in Medinah because they were gathering to meet a man that was said to be a Prophet of Allah SWT. Salman Al Farisi narrates what happened next: 


“I felt hot flushes as soon as I heard these words and I began to shiver so violently that I was afraid that I might fall on my master. I quickly got down from the tree and spoke to my master’s nephew. “What did you say? Repeat the news for me.”

My master was very angry and gave me a terrible blow. “What does this matter to you? Go back to what you were doing,” he shouted. 

That evening, I took some dates that I had gathered and went to the place where the Prophet (S.A.W.) had alighted. I went up to him and said:

“I have heard that you are a righteous man and that you have companions with you who are strangers and are in need. Here is something from me as Sadaqah (charity). I see that you are more deserving of it than others.”

The Prophet (S.A.W.) ordered his companions to eat but he himself did not eat of it.

I gathered some more dates and when the Prophet (S.A.W.) left Quba for Madinah, I went to him and said: “I noticed that you did not eat of the sadaqah I gave. This however is a gift for you.” Of this gift of dates, both he and his companions ate.” 


These miraculous signs confirmed what Salman Al Farisi HZ had been told by his Christian teacher about the final Prophet (AS) that would be coming. He only needed to see one more sign to confirm that Holy Prophet AS was in fact the man that his teacher spoke about: the birthmark, the seal of Prophethood.


“Then I came to Rasulullah ﷺ when he was in Baqi’ al-Gharqad, where he had attended the funeral of one of his companions and he was wearing two shawls and was sitting among his companions. I greeted him with salaam then I moved behind him, trying to look at his back to see the Seal that my companion had described to me. When Rasulullah ﷺ saw me going behind him, he realized that I was trying to find confirmation of something that had been described to me, so he let his rida’ (shawl) drop from his back, and I saw the Seal and recognized it. Then I embraced him, kissing (the Seal) and weeping, and Rasulullah ﷺ said to me: “Turn around.” So I turned around and I told him my story as I have told it to you, O Ibn ‘Abas.”

The date grove of Hazrati Salman Al Farsi RA

After telling his story to Holy Prophet ASA, Salman Al Farisi was still unfortunately in slavery. After he (HZ) was unable to participate in the battle of Badr because he was still owned by his master, Holy Prophet AS told him to ask his master how much it would cost to buy his freedom. Salman HZ did as he was ordered and the master replied: a large amount of gold and 300 date palm seedlings, that he said must survive to maturity (meaning that if any of the young palm trees died, Salman would not be granted his freedom). The Holy Prophet AS asked the other Sahabis to help their brother Salman, and each of them brought 10 or 20 or even 30 date palm seedlings to contribute to Salman’s (HZ) freedom. Holy Prophet AS told Salman to dig the 300 holes and then he (AS) came and planted every single one of the 300 seedlings himself with his own mubarak, holy hands, saying Bismillahirrahmanirrahim each time. There was still the matter of the gold which Salman worried about, but Holy Prophet AS gave him a gold piece the size of an egg that he had received from one of the battle victories against the enemies of Islam. Salman was concerned that it wouldn’t be enough, but Holy Prophet AS assured him it would be, and when he took it to to the market to sell it, he found it was worth twice the debt he owed: he was able to buy his freedom with the gold from Holy Prophet AS and every single palm tree survived and thrived, with the touch of the Holy Prophet AS. 


Serving Holy Prophet AS and Allah SWT

After the Holy Prophet AS freed Salman Al Farisi HZ, he proved to be one of the most unique and intelligent Sahabis. He was an Ajam, or non-Arab, and therefore he brought a new way of looking at things and new skills that the Arabs had not seen before. One of the greatest battles in Islam, Khandaq, was won because Allah SWT blessed Salaman Al Farisi with an idea for a strategy to defeat the Quraish and defend the city of Medinah against the enemies of the Holy Prophet AS. Because he was a Persian, he had seen strategies for fighting used in the Persian Empire and unknown to anyone in Arabia. He told the Holy Prophet AS to dig a trench (khandaq) around the city in order to create a defense against the invaders.


 “The course of the trench or Khandaq was carefully planned with Salman Al Farisi RA advising on the width and depth. Rasulullah ﷺ made each section of the community responsible for a part of the trench. It was a massive undertaking. The work was strenuous and everyone, including Rasulullah ﷺ, dug and shifted the earth and boulders while chanting to keep their morale and spirits high. Salman Al Farisi RA being fit and strong and used to such hard labor is said to have done the work of ten men. While each section of the Muslims sought to claim Salman Al Farisi RA as its own, Rasulullah ﷺ was moved to say, “Salman is one of us, the people of (my) household.” 

The Mesjid of Salman Al Farsi RA in Khandaq

Not only did Holy Prophet AS claim Salman Al Farisi, an ajam, as part of his household- the Ahlul Bayt, but the khandaq strategy was a success and the enemies retreated, exhausted from trying to break the defenses of the Muslims. Along with being a fierce warrior and military strategist, Salman HZ was also widely known for his intelligence and reputation as a scholar: he had been living close to Holy Prophet AS for years and years and had taken every opportunity to soak up knowledge and spirituality from the sunnahs of Holy Prophet AS:


“As a scholar, Salman Al Farisi RA was noted for his vast knowledge and wisdom. Saidina Ali RA said of him that he was like Luqman the Wise. And Ka’b al-Akbar said, “Salman is stuffed with knowledge and wisdom – an ocean that does not dry up.”

Salman Al Farisi RA had knowledge of both the Christian scriptures and the Qur’an in addition to his earlier knowledge of the Zoroastrian religion. Salman Al Farisi RA in fact translated parts of the Qur’an into Persian during the lifetime of Rasulullah ﷺ. Salman Al Farisi RA was thus the first person to translate the Qur’an into a foreign language.”


During the life and after the veiling of Holy Prophet AS, Salam Al Farisi HZ served Holy Prophet AS by carrying the message of Islam even to those that he was forced to fight with in battle, taking several days to offer them the message of Islam and protection under the Khalifa of Rasullullah if they declined to become Muslims. Only when they continued to show aggression after his merciful gesture did he order their fortress to be conquered. Through acts like these and many other good deeds and service that he performed for Holy Prophet AS he also became known as “Salman the Good”.  Eventually he (HZ) was chosen to be a governor in an area called Al Madain, near Baghdad, Iraq. He (HZ) lived amongst his people as a “servant leader”, giving his salary as governor to the poor and feeding himself only with money he earned with his own hands, harvesting dates or making palm leaf baskets. He (HZ) preferred to live a simple life and even refused to sleep inside a house or any kind of shelter until someone insisted that they build him a very modest house that wasn’t even tall enough for him to stand up in. He endured the hardships of the dunya because of his love for akhirah and desire to please Allah SWT. He was veiled in the 35th year after hijri and buried near Baghdad Iraq, where he served loyally and righteously as governor, for the khilafat of Hazrati Umar RA. 


As Osmanli Naksibendis we are very honored to be under the feet of our Seyhs, who are connected to these great Sahabis like Hazrati Salman Al Farisi and Hazrati Abu Bakr AsSiddiq. May we always strive to please them and Holy Prophet AS and follow their example in doing hizmet for the sake and pleasure of Allah SWT.