From the East

“Monday Musings” for Monday October 31, 2016
Volume VI. No 44/304

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Molana Jalal-Din Mohammad Balkhi Rumi ,   Khajeh Abdullah Ansari

Saint Augustine of Hippo and Sufism “MONAJAT”

Ghazal from Rumi for the lovers of Molana

By Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, ScD (Hon), DLFAPA

 

Saint Augustine of Hippo, whose biography and Book of Confessions were reviewed in these pages last year, was born in 354, exactly 266 years before the birth of Islam. Prophet Mohammad pbuh, the founder of Islam was born in 580 AD, and Islam was founded on the Prophet’s 40th birth in 620 AD. The influence of Augustine, a Christian convert, a towering intellect, who eventually became a Catholic bishop, was vast and lasting. The Sufi, a branch of Islam, wrote prayers and poetry which reflected the ideas of Augustine. Some of these Sufi poems and prayers not only convey Augustinian ideas and words; they even follow the cadence and rhythm of Augustine’s elevated literary style and composition. Of course, Augustine wrote in Latin, and the Sufi either in Arabic or Farsi. Here is a translation of the Sufi, Khajeh Abdullah Ansari’s (1006-1088) “Monajat” or “conversation with God.” It reads like Augustine’s City of God.

“Talking with You, Lord, is heightened awareness in all spheres: tenderness, oneness, fusion, spiritual elation, music and light…

All presided over and orchestrated by the ultimate Maestro, You the Lord of all…

You are the force of connectedness and love…

The fire of Your love in my heart is substantial, oak lit, and ember laden…

It is not a roaring brushfire condemned to death and termination…It is a fire with gentle warmth, permanence, immutability and depth…

The fire inside of me and the fire inside of You, oh Lord, connect us…

Outside, there is the moon…Not the coquettish, voyeuristic playful moon of the sophists…Not the moon of the Platonists, not the moon of Virgil, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle…Not the moon of Euripides and Sophocles…Not the moon of Moses and Mount Sinai…This is Your moon and my moon, thinly draped by a satin-textured film of cloud that gives it luminescence, gently eclipsing and enveloping the universe…Standing and looming..

For all this beauty and intimacy, O, Lord, I kiss the threshold of your throne… Amen.”

Our readers know Molana Jalal-Din Mohammad Balkhi Rumi, (September 30, 1207 to December 17, 1273) because we have spoken of him in the past. He is a “prince” in Sufism. We will observe Rumi’s mortal anniversary by devoting a December “Monday Musings” to his memory. And next year, 2017, we will celebrate his eight hundred and tenth birthday with a series culminating to September 30, the day of natal anniversary. As cited previously there are many charlatans who know no Farsi, yet pose an authority on Rumi, by commercializing Rumi’s holy name. Below is an authentic translation. Enjoy!

‘I Am Wind, You are Fire’. Rumi. Translation by Annemarie Schimmel.

Oh, if a tree could wander and move with foot and wings! It would not suffer the axe blows and not the pain of saws! For would the sun not wander away in every night ? How could at every morning the world be lighted up? And if the ocean’s water would not rise to the sky, How would the plants be quickened by streams and gentle rain? The drop that left its homeland, the sea, and then returned ? It found an oyster waiting and grew into a pearl. Did Yusof (Joseph) not leave his father, in grief and tears and despair? Did he not, by such a journey, gain kingdom and fortune wide? Did not the Prophet travel to far Medina, friend? And there he found a new kingdom and ruled a hundred lands. You lack a foot to travel? Then journey into yourself! And like a mine of rubies receive the sunbeams? print! Out of yourself ? such a journey will lead you to yourself, It leads to transformation of dust into pure gold!

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*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association; Life Member, American Medical Association; Life Member, Southern Medical Association; and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He is a Raleigh, North Carolina writer and dramaturge and the 2016 winner of NC Award in Fine Arts.

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