MEVLANA RUMI'S UNCONDITIONAL INVITATION

    Today, as I was praying, an important point appeared in the mirror of my heart, a subject that
    needs to be addressed.  What is the position of every single person towards the rest of
    humanity and the rest of creation in general?  Each person, each being, is by nature self-
    centered, though constantly interacting with others in his surroundings.  Everybody divides his
    fellow beings into distinct categories: those having more in common with himself and others
    more in opposition – and the less in common the more critical the question becomes.  So as a
    follower of a certain religion, you must ask yourself, what your attitude towards members of
    other religions will be.  As a man, what kind of attitude do you have towards women, or as a
    woman towards men? As an elderly person towards the young, or as a youth, towards the
    elderly?  As a wealthy person towards the poor, or as a poor man towards the wealthy?  As a
    literate person towards the illiterate?  What is your attitude, as a human being, towards
    animals, plants, inanimate objects, everything in existence?

    The Holy Prophet, Muhammad, upon whom be peace, gave guidance to mankind in this
    matter when he said: “My Lord has taught me to show respect to all, to maintain a high level
    of good manners, and my Lord has perfected His teaching”.  Now we need to know what
    those best manners are, and how they help us to show respect to all creatures in accordance
    with their respective levels, for, while Allah Almighty has made all creatures worthy of
    respect, He has especially honored mankind.  We are invited to realize the full potential of that
    honor by perfecting our relations with all that surrounds us.

    This perfection calls for a balance in our relations, along with the perception of the differences
    between beings and an ability to adjust our behavior according to those distinctions.  This is
    because Allah’s creatures, most especially men, are not factory productions, mass produced
    and cut out of the same mould.  Each person has his own unique form, characteristics and
    capabilities – you can’t find two exactly identical people even identical twins may differ
    drastically in character.  Everyone carries something distinct, and we must observe these
    varying and distinguishing marks, that thereby we may receive Divine Wisdom, and marvel at
    the Power of our Lord, for who else could create such diversity?  Whether you look around
    you at your fellow men, or at the stars in the sky, you will know, by their infinite variations
    that only Allah could have created the universe.

    Human beings, the “Crown of Creation”, are candidates for the honourable rank of “Deputy of
    Allah on Earth”.   We are beings who have been endowed with the potential for uncovering a
    great secret within ourselves.  If in heedlessness we do not strive for it, it will remain deeply
    hidden within ourselves.  What is the great secret within man that he must discover to attain
    this rank?  It is to understand that you are a manifestation of one of our Lord’s endless Divine
    Attributes.  Each person manifests a distinct attribute, no matter how many billions of people
    appear and disappear from this Earth, each one manifests a unique aspect of the Divine
    Reality.  Each Divine Attribute is distinct, and, when fully unveiled, equally Divine.  Therefore,
    our Lord is oblivious to our outward forms but is always mindful of the states of our hearts,
    as the heart of each man is a throne from among the endless thrones of Allah Almighty.  That
    heart is not the organ in or chests, it is only represented by it as a figure of speech.  In your
    real heart, your “heart of hearts”, there is a throne and He Almighty appears on that throne
    through a distinct attribute that manifests in you, and nowhere else in creation.

    Therefore, you must respect everyone in existence, as, in reality, that respect is the respect
    for your Lord within him.  That is the way our Prophet treated people, the way taught by real
    Islam: a deviance from this “Way of best manners” is a dangerous innovation (bid’a) of high
    degree.  The respect that we must show towards our fellow human beings is such that,
    should a baby be born, take three breaths and die, we must name him, wash his body and pray
    over him the funeral prayer; and if there is no one else to perform those rites, even the Sultan
    himself is required to do so, and even if it be that baby is born to the lowest class of his
    subjects.

    And what if the living or the dead be of another religion or without religion, do we show them
    less respect?  One day the Holy Prophet (sal) was sitting with his companions when a funeral
    procession passed by.  The Holy Prophet (sal) stood up in a sign of respect to that departed
    soul.  One of the companions said: “Oh Messenger of Allah, that is the body of one of the
    heathens.  Are you showing respect to such people?”  It was a sign of bad manners for that
    companion to say this, and he immediately regretted it.  Does the Prophet (sal) not know
    whether that dead person and those of the procession are Muslims or idol-worshippers?  If
    not, how can he be a Prophet?  But as the companions were at different levels of
    understanding and manners, building gradually towards perfection, the Prophet Muhammad
    (sal) was always patient with those who showed such a challenging attitude; he explained his
    actions to that companion according to the level of his understanding – which was the
    common level.

    How difficult for the common believer, whose human feelings are caught in the ebb and flow
    of daily events to understand how the Prophet gave this respect for people who were actively
    engaged in oppressing the Muslims – killing and boycotting them, and generally showing
    abominable qualities! How difficult for the common people to make a distinction between
    people’s bad actions and the Divine Realities hidden and veiled, yet present and untouched, in
    their heart of hearts, and in this way to understand why you must not hate your enemies!
    Such understanding makes a person eligible to receive Divine Secrets, and a category of
    knowledge the Holy Prophet (sal) was instructed to reveal only to initiates.

    Therefore, to guide that companion in the general direction of this reality while not revealing to
    him that which he could not comprehend, the Holy Prophet (sal) told him: “Yes, these are
    unbelievers, but you must know that each one has Angels accompanying him, recording his
    good and bad deeds, and the Angel of Death, Azrail, is accompanying the dead man as well: I
    am standing out of respect for those Angels”.  In this way the Holy Prophet instructed all
    Muslims to show respect to all people living and dead, no matter how terrible their actions
    might be.

    Mevlana Jalauddin Rumi, an Islamic Saint known throughout East and West (and the author of
    the epic Sufi poem, the Mathnawi) was once crossing a marketplace when a priest passed by
    and bowed his head in respect. Mevlana returned this gesture, bowing even lower, from the
    waist.  The people asked him: “How is it that you bowed in front of that priest (who
    represents a religion that failed to recognize the Holy Prophet of Islam)?”  In Islam, bowing is
    a gesture generally reserved for the worship of Allah, other signs of respect being used more
    commonly.

    Then Mevlana answered them, on a level that accorded with their understanding: “That priest
    was humbling himself in front of us.  He is Christian, we are Muslim; and Islam represents the
    completion of every goodness found in Christianity.  Therefore, if he is humble we must strive
    to be even more humble”.

    This explanation is true, but on a deeper level, this reciprocation may be understood as respect
    to the real personality, the Divine Personality of that priest – and it is only He Allah Almighty
    who dresses His servants in differing outward forms and predisposes them for different kinds
    of actions.  Mevlana recognized that it was his Lord who dressed him as a Sheikh and dressed
    that man as a priest; and if He wills, He can cause them to change roles, for each of their
    hearts to cling to the other’s religion in the blink of an eye; and who can say what Allah will
    do?  What is beneath all these clothes but the throne of Allah, in a unique personality
    manifestation?

    In the Holy Qur’an it is related that, when Allah Almighty created Adam, He ordered all the
    Angels to prostrate in front of him.  Do you think Allah Almighty was ordering them to
    worship other than Himself?  All of the Angels were able to perceive that Divine Manifestation
    in Adam, and bowed down to their Lord by prostration in front of Adam.  But also in
    attendance was Satan, who was veiled by envy, and said: “What is he that I should worship
    him: I worship God alone”.  But Satan could not see what was inside of Adam: all the Holy
    Names of Allah that were to be manifested by all of his descendants.  Were those veils of envy
    to be lifted, he would have been the first to obey.  Envy blinds us to this vision, and,
    unhappily, it prevented many of those who represented earlier revealed religions from
    recognizing the Prophet Muhammad (sal) when he came, the veritable brother of the Prophets
    they venerate.

    If we can remember that the presence of this Divine secret is in people’s hearts, and look past
    their outward forms and actions, we may learn from everything and everyone and increase in
    wisdom.  Only with this vision can we aspire to a magnanimity that will cause good actions to
    appear from people, for a ray of their Divine Essence to shine through and encourage the veils
    of ego to be lifted.  Respect of the Divine Nature in man leads to familiarity between people,
    and familiarity opens the way to love, and all love belongs to our Lord.

    Our main responsibility in life is this: to clean off the bad characteristics that cover our Divine
    Personalities, and once we have accomplished this to help others free themselves of that heavy
    burden.  We must always remember the sacrosanct nature of souls.  Look, Sayyidina Umar,
    who was to become the second Khalifa of Islam, came to the Holy Prophet (sal) with the
    intention of killing him, but left that meeting with a heart full of love and goodness.  He was
    the same man, the essence of his being never changed, only his attitude did.  So, we must
    always beware of saying: “So-and-so is a bad person”.  You can’t say that of his real essence,
    no.

    Although we regard the essences of people, we don’t accept their bad actions, but “fire upon”
    them the same way that a surgeon removes a tumor from a patient and leaves healthy tissue
    inside of him: He knows to distinguish healthy tissue from cancerous tissue and removes only
    what is dangerous..

    That is the method practiced by all the Prophets of all revealed religions from the beginning to
    the end.  To help people purify themselves of destructive characteristics was the mission of
    Moses, of Jesus and also of the Seal of Prophets Muhammed (sal), who was ordered by his
    Lord: “Purify them”.  They all worked to this end and never despaired of success, as they had
    certainty that a treasure remained buried in people’s hearts.  Look, if you have a precious
    diamond and then it falls into the toilet, are you going to flush it down with the dirties?  Would
    anyone suggest such a thing?  Perhaps some proud or weak-stomached people might call for a
    servant to do it, but no one in his right mind would flush it away.  Then, when you retrieve
    that diamond you are going to wash it with soap and water thoroughly, perhaps dip it in rose
    oil, and then return it to your finger.  No one is then thinking that diamond is dirty.  Diamonds
    do not absorb the qualities of what they fall into – souls are the same.

    In our time many people are searching for common ground upon which followers of all
    religions may stand, a school of thought which may trace its thread through all true
    inspiration.  This is that common ground: aspire to a deeper understanding through your
    religion, an understanding that will open your eyes to the presence of the One in all things that
    will reveal to you the respectability of all creatures, especially human beings, and enable you to
    desist from hating evildoers even while opposing their plots.  This view will distance us from
    such a strong identity with labels that evoke fervor or enmity, as: American, Russian, German,
    Turkish, Greek, Armenian, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc… and draw us closer to
    the realization that our Lord has honoured us all equally through the universal presence of His
    Divine Essence in our hearts.  From that vantage point we will see that our Lord has given us
    through that Essence wonderful and unique characteristics, and  made each and every one of
    us a manifestation of His Divine Attributes, of Himself.

    Then it will be clear to us as well, that the veils of ego that cover our essence are as varied
    and subtle as the differences in the manifestation of the Essence; every one has unique “ego
    traps” designed to catch his own unique soul – and to avoid or escape these traps is at the
    heart of the knowledge of the Way.  Only the one who approaches his Lord with sincere piety
    may discover that way, and that sincerity is what our Lord desires of us, what is of real value,
    as He says in His Holy Book: “The best (or most honourable) of you is the most sincerely
    pious and god-fearing”.  In other words, our Lord has honored us all, but reserves His highest
    honors for those who strive towards Him.

    The Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, was endowed with the widest understanding
    of the significance of the Holy Verse: “We have honoured all the Children of Adam”, the
    understanding of the presence of the One in the many.  Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi was given
    the distinction of declaring these realities most openly to all Nations, inviting all people
    unconditionally through an open door, saying:

    come, come, whoever you may be,

    Come again.

    And be you non believer,

    Magian or idolater,

    Come again.

    Ours is not a Dergah of despair!

    Though you may have broken

    Your repentance a hundred times

    Come again.

    As Allah Almighty opens His doors to all His servants, so do we accept our Lord’s servants.  
    We are not fanatics who spend their lives interrogating those who seek to quench their thirst
    at the fountain.  This is the way of our Grandsheikh, who declared: “I am an advocate for
    all the Children of Adam on the Last Day”.  When someone arrives at our doorstep, we
    know who sent him, so we can’t refuse.

           








          
Come again and again

Whoever you are

From this Dergah of Splendour

None is ever turned away
Sheikh Nazim