This is the first part of a series of photo blogs we will post for each week of Ramazan, showing life at the Dergah and how we spend these holy days and nights with our Sheykh Lokman Efendi Hz. Ramazan Mubarek Olsun to the entire Ummati Muhammad AS!
This is the first part of a series of photo blogs we will post for each week of Ramazan, showing life at the Dergah and how we spend these holy days and nights with our Sheykh Lokman Efendi Hz. Ramazan Mubarek Olsun to the entire Ummati Muhammad AS!
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
As a convert to Islam my journey has been filled with interesting twists and turns. I have been Muslim for over 20 years but for the first 15 of those I had no idea what Tasawwuf was. I had only been given warnings by various types of Muslims about “sufis”. In my entire pre-tarikat life I had only known one person who became a “sufi” and we were all very (hilariously, now looking back) concerned. How could one of us become a sufi? What was the attraction and what was it really about? I couldn’t have told you if I tried. I only could have parroted what I had been taught and heard over and over again: bidah, kufr, misguidance, and religious laxity that was inherent to sufis and their ways of being. I heard all of the arguments from the other side of the coin about Mevlid, dangerous extreme zikr, the use of music and drugs in “sufi rituals” (Astaghfirullah), and worst of all, grave worship. Eventually I learned the truth about all of these false aspersions cast by so-called Orthodox Sunni Muslims regarding Tasawwuf and tarikats, and it came not through reading lengthy article, fatwas, and histories, but by meeting our beloved Murshid Sheykh Lokman Efendi Hz.
When I met Sheykh Lokman Efendi all pretensions and questions melted away. I can only attribute this to his light and the gift of being guided by Allah SWT and the Evliyah to a path that my heart was already yearning for. I had been an active convert Muslim, attending conferences and lectures and trying to weave through books of ahadith that I had no business reading on my own in English translation. None of this prepared me for the fire of Ashk placed in my heart upon hearing our Sheykh’s words and being in his physical presence. I had a spiritual experience that was irreplaceable and made me realize very quickly that I had been given an edited version of Islam by those who claimed to be protectors of truth and Islamic purity. It was only after I had been taught what a salawat was, and their importance, by the sohbets and Osmanli Naksibendi practices that I knew what I had missed by not making them for the past 15 years. This is just one symbolic example of many spiritual riches they hid from us as new Muslims.
So today, when masjid Imams and so-called scholars make proclamations and fitna fatwas, I am reminded of the spiritual void I had in my life even though I attended the masjid programs regularly, prayed regularly and studied Islam very often, and even worked at an Islamic school full time that was housed inside a mosque. Those same figures and their agenda often make holy places into hollow places and their judgments speak volumes about the condition of their hearts and the condition of the Muslim Ummat today. Meeting my Sheykh disrupted my Islam and saved my Islam by the mercy of Allah SWT. I will forever be grateful to be in sohbet, in association, with people who judge themselves by the criteria of Tasawwuf, led by a blessed, righteous Murshid that keeps us in his heart even more than we keep him in ours. El-Fateha.
Seyh Lokman Efendi’s HZ sohbets have given me countless words of wisdom, hope, and strength. One of the most powerful reminders he often gives is that “hopelessness and despair are from shaytan”. I often repeat this to myself as someone who struggles with feeling despair and weakness. It can be very hard to remember when you have made a mistake and it feels too big to grapple with and you become lost in a conversation with your shaytan instead of consulting with your Murshid. Acknowledging and admitting our mistakes can be a way to avoid despair. In America we are taught by the conventional tarbiyah methods en vogue today, that we are trying to be perfect Muslims, or at least aiming for that “achievable goal”. Before I learned of tarikat this was a double edged sword for me: I knew that I could never be perfect and yet the arrogant and tough side of me expected perfection from myself and others in ways that were harmful and unrealistic. I knew I was not perfect and made excuses for myself (and others too) while simultaneously holding the delusional thought that I could reach the station of the Holy Prophet AS or the Sahabi ikram (hasha Estagfirullah). This misguided “reminder” is to stop us from “praising the Holy Prophet AS too much, because he was “just a man” while also trying to make us equally accountable to being perfect Muslims, because apparently any “regular man” can do it. (Estagfirullah)
This is, of course, all contrived nonsense which goes away from traditional teachings of Islam. The nature of the Holy Prophet AS as our intercessor inshaAllah is that he, AS, is essentially very different from us. We should aim to mimic the Holy Prophet AS and his Sahabi Ikram but with the understanding that we will never reach their stations: we should instead aim for the perfection of our own stations, as servants, with limitations and flaws. Similarly, our Seyh is acting as the representative of the Holy Prophet AS and we should also firmly know our place and station according to this sunnat and always behave with the proper edep. As murids we must feel blessed to know our station and the work that is given to us, according to the permission of our Seyh. A barn cat will never be a lion, but at least it can do its job well, and keep the mice at bay.
Knowing ourselves and being honest about our limitations, flaws and mistakes is actually part of building a strong faith. One of the many jewels that being in tarikat reveals is the idea that you will fail, you will make mistakes, you will be washed up, and yes it is painful and regrettable, BUT it is entirely necessary for your progress as a murid. Seyh Lokman Efendi Hazretleri often reminds us that we shouldn’t be afraid to act for fear of being washed up; that paralysis and inaction is worse than making a mistake and having to start again, or face scrutiny from our Seyh. Being washed up should not be more frightening to us than being stagnant and stale. As Seyh Efendi so often quotes our beloved master, Mevlana Jelalluddin Rumi Hazretleri: “When someone beats a rug with a stick, he is not beating the rug – his aim is to get rid of the dust. Your inward is full of dust from the veil of ‘I’-ness, and that dust will not leave all at once.” The rug must be cleaned regularly if we are to make progress in cleaning our hearts. This genius analogy becomes even more rich when you realize that a rug only has to do its job to accumulate dust: in living its humble life, dust settles upon it, just like humans who may be fooled into thinking they don’t have egos because they had simple lives. Still, the flat lying rug, collects dust, simply living and serving its purpose; so does man collect mistakes and flaws in going through his life, regardless of his own judgment of his actions, or inaction. Fortunately, however dusty we are when we start on this way, or however dusty we become rolling in the barnyard of our nefs and egos, know that it is a part of the journey and do not despair. The rug’s owner can remove the dust and find the weak strands of the rug, strengthening the worn seams and stitches. Just like an efficient barn cat, playing his role, the humble rug fulfills its purpose in submission to its owner and the threads show its true colors. In the right owner’s hands, a filthy rug may become a flying carpet: cleaned of dust and stains and with the knowledge that falling is simply training for flying.
Biography of Hazrati Selman-i Farisi
Our Jemaat follows the Naksibendi Tarikat, or Way. The Naksibendi Tarikat has a Golden Chain of 40 Grandseyhs. The first Pir, or head, of the Naksibendi Tarikat, was the great Sahabi beloved to the Holy Prophet AS, Hz. Abu Bakr Siddiq RA. Before Hz. Abu Bakr RA was veiled, he passed his spiritual knowledge to another great Sahabi, also very beloved to the Holy Prophet AS, and the second of the great 40 Grandseyhs, Hz. Selman-i Farisi. Hz. Selman-i Farisi was from Persia.
Hz. Selman-i Farisi was one of the few of the early Sahabis who were not Arabs. He was originally from Persia, in an area which today is known as the country of Iran.
He was from a region called Isfahan and his village was called Jayaan. His father was the leader of the village and they were a very wealthy and important family, so Hz. Selman-i Farisi was considered to be like a prince. They owned a lot of land and crops and helped to support the village they governed. From a young age, Hz. Selman-i Farisi felt a strong connection to Allah SWT; his family belonged to a religion which believed in One Creator, but they wrongly worshiped fire. Allah SWT mentions the Magians, (known as Majoos in Arabic), in the Quran Kerim which says, “Indeed, those who have believed and those who were Jews and the Sabeans and the Christians and the Magians and those who associated with Allah – Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed Allah is, over all things, Witness”.
Hz. Selman-i Farisi’s desire to serve Allah SWT and be connected to Him led him to become dedicated to serving at the temple of the Magians (also known as Zoroastrians in today’s modern language). He (HZ) mentions this in his own autobiography: “I became devoted to the Magian religion so much so that I attained the position of custodian of the fire which we worshiped. My duty was to see that the flames of the fire remained burning and that it did not go out for a single hour, day or night.”
Still, even with his high position at the Magian temple, he did not feel satisfaction in his heart, and he was always longing for Allah SWT. `
Search for Truth
Hazrati Salman continued living his life and performing the daily work given to him by his father which included going into the fields and harvesting crops. One day as he was on his way to the fields, he passed by a Christian church and heard the singing and prayers of the people inside. He was attracted to this new religion and felt it to be more close to Haqq than the Magian fire worship that he was raised with. After the church service finished he returned home and was confronted by his father. In his own words, Hazrati Salman Al Farisi describes what happened next:
“My father met me and asked what I had done. I told him about my meeting with the Christians and how I was impressed by their religion. He was dismayed and said:
“My son, there is nothing good in that religion. Your religion and the religion of your forefathers is better.”
“No, their religion is better than ours,” I insisted.
My father became upset and afraid that I would leave our religion. So he kept me locked up in the house and put a chain on my feet. I managed however to send a message to the Christians asking them to inform me of any caravan going to Syria. Before long they got in touch with me and told me that a caravan was headed for Syria. I managed to unfetter myself and in disguise accompanied the caravan to Syria. There, I asked who was the leading person in the Christian religion and was directed to the bishop of the church. I went up to him and said:
“I want to become a Christian and would like to attach myself to your service, learn from you and pray with you.”
Salman spent the next year of his life learning from the Chrisitan Bishop about Christianity and watching his behavior. Salman found him to be a corrupt man who stole charity donations from the people and kept it for himself. After the Bishop’s death, Salman revealed his corruption to the other followers there who were shocked by the bishop’s crimes. Fortunately, the man who replaced the dead Bishop was an “ascetic” or a person who does not desire the dunya and the riches of the world but rather the hereafter, so he was truthful in how he dealt with the charity donations of the people and how he wanted to please God almighty. Salman was happy with this new teacher and continued serving him until he also died. After that, he traveled to far away lands, each time going to a new Christian teacher who would guide him in seeking the pleasure of Allah SWT and whom Salman Hazretleri would serve. The last Christian teacher he served told him a secret of a new Prophet that would be coming soon to the land of the Arabs, to a city of palm trees and who would be known as a truthful and just Prophet (this man was telling him about the coming of Holy Prophet AS). This Prophet would not accept charity for himself, and he would have a “seal of Prophethood”, like a birthmark, between his shoulder blades. Salman, who always wanted to come closer and closer to Allah SWT, decided after the death of this last teacher that he needed to seek out this new Prophet and serve and learn from him. He made an agreement with some traders to ride with them to the land of the Arabs; at first they agreed, but then they broke their contract before reaching Arabia and sold him into slavery to a Jewish man. Salman Al Farisi who had once been a prince and held a high station in his town, was now an ordinary slave, owned by cruel men, in a place far away from his homeland.
To be continued inshAllah…
Destur Medat Sheykh Lokman Efendi HZ
As I am writing this, snow is falling outside my window in large cotton wool clumps, slowly covering the streets and the cars, and weighing down pine tree branches with layer upon layer of pure white. Upstate New York still feels like a foreign place for me, a transplanted Californian, who now calls the Dergah and this way home, more than any specific state or country. I’ve been here a little over a year and a half and been through one winter, which was long, but relatively painless except for one freak snowstorm in May that left us without power or heat for a couple of days. Sheykh Lokman Efendi HZ said it was good practice for hard times that may come when we least expect it, and I echoed that to myself, as I worried about when the house would be warm again. With our Sheykh’s himmet, it wasn’t long before the wires were all repaired and summer finally showed up fashionably late, yet beautiful.
Where I come from, it doesn’t snow, except very lightly in some eastern mountains, about an hour outside of the city. In fact, the region is (like all of Southern California) a desert, though the people who settled and developed it would have you believe otherwise. They transformed it into a “Mediterranean” paradise on earth; a place that has come to signify wealth, beauty, gratuity, and desire. They did the landscaping to match all that: palm trees, luxurious flowering plants, exotic tropicals, and lots of green grass, all impostors sucking up the scarce imported water to maintain an elaborate mirage. As a person who has worked with plants for years and always loved them, this constructed “Eden” had its benefits, however like all fake and contrived things, the image cracks up close. It turns out that all those exotic species need even more water to thrive in a desert environment and this particular desert is prone to catching fire on a regular basis. This forces the inhabitants to rebuild the mirage, which they do vigorously, while also never learning their lesson: that you can’t make a lasting paradise on earth to suit your whims, there’s larger divine laws ruling over mankind’s eager construction. Perhaps one of the most poignant realizations I had living there was that some plants actually need to freeze, to thrive. The fake desert paradise couldn’t even live up to its own hype, some things just simply wouldn’t grow there despite all their claims to the contrary. Yes friends, the cold is like a secret key to some of the most beautiful trees and bountiful crops that cover our tables in the height of summer; no buds set to make flowers and then form fruit without a biting cold that puts all warmth in its grave.
Sheyhk Efendi always reminds us that the cold and snow bring their own gifts to the believer. Just as we revel in the spring and summer and the visible, dramatic color changes of fall, the winter is something we must come to value as an opportunity to make teffekur. He tells us it is a mercy that humans are compelled to cover themselves in the cold. It’s a simple and natural way to run away from sin: from showing too much and seeing too much in these times when the entire world seems to want to flaunt all of their secrets. Everyone happily wears a burka when it’s 10 below zero. It’s a time to stay inside and not be busy with the outside world and the traps of dunya more than what is absolutely necessary. The cold has a way of ordering your priorities and reminding you of your smallness and weakness, two things which are essential to the perspective of a believer. The warmth of anger, of ego and nafs are not enough to survive a snowstorm and the freezing wind laughs at your stubbornness. The cold demands you break your addiction to control and false power; that you admit your own vulnerability and dependence upon Allah SWT for every facet of your existence and comfort.
Sheykh Efendi also tells how Sahib el- Seyf (KS) used to say the snow is the shroud that covers the earth: an icy keffin reminding us to reflect on death, to slow down, to contemplate by the wood stove, or the tea kettle, the impermanence of our mortal lives and the certainty of their end. How beyond this great sign is Allah SWT’s power to raise everything from that stiff cold into a burst of rapturous spring. That with this great power, Allah SWT will raise ALL things again. The very absence of green life becomes a reminder of it, of Allah’s promise to raise everyone and everything again on judgment day, so that we might complete the seasons of our journey back to Him SWT. May our graves be gardens upon our deaths and a restful place until that day when there is no shade. May we all be the thinking believers that reflect on such great signs given by our Sheykhs and may their stations be raised higher and higher, amin.
With the blessings and permission of our Sheyhh we end with the dua of the Holy Prophet AS:
اللَّهُمَّ اغْسِلْ خَطَايَاىَ بِمَاءِ الثَّلْجِ وَالْبَرَدِ، وَنَقِّ قَلْبِي مِنَ الْخَطَايَا، كَمَا يُنَقَّى الثَّوْبُ الأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الدَّنَسِ، وَبَاعِدْ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ خَطَايَاىَ كَمَا بَاعَدْتَ بَيْنَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ
“O Allah! Wash away my sins with the water of snow and hail, and cleanse my heart from the sins as a white garment is cleansed of filth, and let there be a far away distance between me and my sins as You have set far away the East and the West from each other.”
Amin Allahuma Amin, Fatiha