Lover and Beloved: Layla and Majnun

Love was glowing in Majnun. When it burst into flames it also took hold of his tongue, the words streaming unbidden from his lips, verses strung together like pearls in a necklace. Carelessly, he cast them away … Was he not rich? Was he not free? Had he not severed the rope which keeps men tied together? (Nizami, 1966:126)

Conversation with a Hedgehog


Hedgehog

Originally uploaded by tristrambrelstaff

Conversation with a Hedgehog

Last night after midnight, as every night, I went outside to look at the sky. I like to gaze at the vastness of space and to see the stars and the moon before I sleep. It always brings a feeling of expansion that is very welcome after sitting and writing for so many hours at the laptop. When I lived in Andalucia every night was clear and there was little light pollution except for a faint glow above Granada in the distance, behind the Sierra Nevada. If there were clouds then they would often have extraordinary shapes, or be large and dramatic, but usually they left enough free patches of sky to see the stars shining brightly between them. English weather is very different. Blessed with plenty of rain that keeps this island green, flourishing, and very damp, the sky is often completely overcast with total cloud coverage. Although it is now mid-July the weather is more autumnal than summery and last night and when I looked into the sky last night there was nothing to be seen but cloud glowing faintly red from the city lights. So I looked down instead. At the grass beneath my feet, soft and covered in clover. I wandered to the middle of the garden and suddenly heard a noise over by the hedge. As quietly as possible I tiptoed over to its source. It was very dark but I could just about discern the shape of a hedgehog under the deep shadows of the apple tree. It was snorting and sniffling and appeared to be quite content. It had just finished a good meal put out for it every night by the owner of the house where I am lodging while doing my MA. I didn’t take a photo as the flash would probably frighten the hedgehog but I stood quietly reflecting on the spikiness of hedgehogs and what there is to learn from Allah swt, in this little creature who, like all of creation, is one of His signs. When I was back in my room and in front of my laptop I decided to do a Google search using the keywords SUFI * SYMBOL * ANIMALS. I found nothing about hedgehogs but some very interesting things did come up. The most interesting was a paper entitled, “The Sufi Trobar Clus and Spanish Mysticism: A Shared Symbolism” by Luce López-Baralt. This is all about the influence of Sufi symbolism on St. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila through the continuing influence of Islamic mysticism in Al-Andalus (Spain). It is an excellent essay and well worth reading. The incredible thing was, Alhamdulillah, that this is exactly the research I need when I begin my doctoral thesis in September! I then had a moment of sudden realization concerning the hedgehog who had set me off on this search that brought such good and unexpected results, its prickles are potent pointers that led me to exactly the articles I need to read and Allah, swt, guides us in so many ways if we learn to listen.

The Laughter of the Universe

Love is complete surrender. It is when the corpse feeds the  worm, the worm ploughs the soil, the soil nourishes the seed, and the seed grows into nourishment for the guests. The guests do zikr and die before they die, finding union with the One. They return and serve others until one day it is time to discard their bodies. The corpse feeds the worm …

Love is complete surrender. It is when the Spirit feeds the Heart, the Heart feeds the Intellect, the Intellect speaks to the body to keep doing zikr, the zikr quietens all the debris of the Intellect, polishes all the rust from the Heart, expands the inner being and steps forth in the feet of the One to prepare the meal for the coming guests …

Love is complete surrender. It is the laughter of the universe. Come to the meal, all are invited. See the moon smiling, and look, the stars are dancing in celebration. Be thankful for separation for how else could we run laughing into the arms of union? How else could we share in the laughter of the universe?

Strange Weather for July

At last I have a camera. It’s only part of my cell phone but it should take a few decent pictures. I’ve been wanting something like this for a while so that I can put some of my own photos up here to use as the basis of reflections. To me photography is all about a way of seeing – chasing the light – as my Shaykh would say, capturing something special that might otherwise go unnoticed. Not that I’ve done much photography in my life but it is definitely something I feel drawn towards and with today’s digital magic it shouldn’t be too difficult to find the time between hours of sitting and studying and writing essay assignments.

The latest thing I’ve started is The Sufi Books and Music Blog this links to the Sufi Book Store but also has posts about the books on sale and various aspects of Sufism. Pop over and see if there is anything you like and feel free to give me any feedback or suggestions.

Back to the photography, it is very strange weather in the south west of England at the moment. Grey skies, cold wind, and wet. More like October than July. I’m looking out for the sun though so I can rush out and photo some roses before the next cloud passes by. That reminds me of the wonderful Sufi metaphor of the nightingale in love with the rose. I begin to feel the stirrings of a poem.