Maulana Sheikh NazimCome again and again, Whoever you are, From this Dergah of Splendour, None is ever turned away

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.


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