Ma’rifa – Playing in The Gardens of Divine Intimacy
"To whatever extent the heart is cleansed and made to face the truth, to that extent will it reflect His reality.”
“My servant continues to draw near to me through free acts of devotion until I love him. When I love him, I am the eye with which he sees, the hearing with which he hears, the tongue with which he speaks, the hand with which he grasps.”
"The 'arif drinks, and increases in sobriety; he is absent, and increases in presence; his union does not veil him from his separation, nor does his separation veil him from his union; his extinction does not veil him from his permanence, nor does his permanence divert him from his extinction. He acts justly towards everyone and gives everyone his proper due."
ʿAṭā Allāh al-Iskandarī al-Shādhilī
In the middle of my guiding him on a personal retreat a mureed asked, “Is there anything practical about all this?” I am not sure what my response was then but now I would say, “There certainly is!” Imagine you are in the ocean and the waves are roiling, rising higher and higher. Would you prefer to be in a kayak, a canoe, an outboard engine boat, or the largest sea bearing ship, one with a very great ballast? Well, we traverse two such oceans from moment to moment. They reside in our immediate outer and inner worlds. And, I think it fair to say that the waves are getting bigger and more intense in both oceans for most of us these days. Mar’ifa, the knowing of God, is that sea bearing ship, the one with the greatest ballast.
Mar’ifa, a technical word of the Sufis, was first offered by the Egyptian Dh'ul-Nun al-Misiri (d. 245 A.H.) and by the Persian Sufi Yazid Tayfur al-Bistami (d. 261 A.H.). It is not the knowing of rational mentality, although the mind can recognize and seek to describe it, perhaps best through poetics or possibly šaiyyt, heart rending ecstatic utterances. Ma'rifa is a knowing that comes when the heart surrenders to the teaching presence of God, which leads to yaqin, certainty.
We shall study the teaching on Ma’rifa given by several notable Sufi masters who lived after Dh'ul-Nun and Bistami . These will be:
Hakîm Tirmidhî Persian forerunner of Ibn al-'Arabî on sainthood (d. 209 A.H.), Ibn Masarra, founder of Andalusi Sufism (d. 269 A.H.), Mohammad al-Niffari, author of “The Mawáqif: Standing Within the Nearness of God,”(d. 354 A.H.), Abu Talib al-Makki, author of "Qut al-qulub,” (The Sustenance of Hearts), a systematic exploration of Ma’rifa. (d. 386 A.H.), Ali al-Hujwiri, author of “Kashf-ul-Mahjub”, who held spiritual authority over the entire Indian subcontinent (d.461 A.H.), Ruzbihan al-Baqli, author of “The Unveiling of Secrets” (d. 606), andʿAṭā Allāh al-Iskandarī al-Shādhilī, ( d. 709 A.H), author of “Kitab al-Hikam” within which ma’rifa is the ‘inner thread’ that holds together the ‘jewels’ that are the separate aphorisms in the book. This book could have just as well been called "Kitab al-Ma'rifa".
Written lessons will be posted, along with pertinent practice (including an audio tape of the practice), every two weeks. This allows time to read, do the practices, ask questions or make comments - and enter into written dialogue with other class participants and Himayat. Seven lessons, each offering the teaching and application of Mar’ifa by one of these teachers, will be explored and applied in a manner that will further your personal process of spiritual growth. Participants can enter the class whenever it is convenient to do so. They can print out the lessons, practices, comments and questions, to review and reflect upon after each of the seven ends.
“Some years ago a tape by Himayat inspired me with a practice that helped me open my heart more. When I met him years later I thanked him and he gave me a more detailed explanation that expanded my heart even more. Because he was so immediately Present and willing to pass on his knowledge so efficiently I decided to take his online class. He has made a deep dive into the teachings of ancient Sufis both known and unknown and unraveled translations into clear English. He finds amazing music and poetry to enhance understanding as well as adds his own commentary to the teachings. The lessons offer the freedom to share with other students around the world by reading each other’s written experiences with the very useful and simple practices he is offering and meeting three times on vide-conference. Himayat has a manner of modesty and non-judgement that is true to the mystic ideal and is able to bring a person deeply committed to the work into mystic states.”
Murshida Asha Greer, Sufi Ruhaniat International
“There are many reasons I keep signing up for Himayat’s online classes: the inspiring readings we contemplate and discuss, the exquisite accompanying meditations, the camaraderie of fellow travelers on the path from around the globe, the many “flashes” and “openings” along the way. Our “classroom” experiences together – spaces of nuance, subtlety, beauty, and new understandings – demonstrate the fresh revelations held in each moment as described by one of the greatest Sufis, Ibn al-Arabi. These studies exercise the mind and nourish the soul.”
Lakshmi Barta-Norton, Inayati Order, USA
“I have known Himayat for many years as a gifted teacher with unique insight into the Sufi way, and a wry sense of humor. I recently joined two of his online classes that explored many of the divine qualities from among the 99 names. The material for the classes included essential thematic texts that Himayat culled from some of the classic Sufi teachers. These classes are a virtual spiritual community with participants from all over the world, ranging from newer students to veteran Sufis on the path. I was particularly drawn to the practice of the divine names and the way Himayat had us working with them, which led to a deep experience of their inner flavor, tast, and atmosphere and took us beyond the level of mere verbal intonation or an intellectual explanation of their meaning. I highly recommend these classes for anyone who wants to delve deeper into the Sufi way and share with others on the path.”
Sheikh Mohammad Jamal Blann, Halveti-Jerrahi Order
"It is some years ago now, that I joined Himayat's online community, and I am deeply grateful for this connection. One thing which I really appreciate is the fact that he puts a lot of time, energy, and love to condense the teachings in a digestible form and offers written material, where I can go back to certain points again and again, reread important quotes and explanations, make notes etc., which would be impossible with only audio or video teachings. Plus, I love his practices, which have an amazing subtlety and variety and are drawn from the ancient Sufi tradition as well as our own lineage. And I feel greatly supported by the discussions with other participants and Himayat in the online forums. It helps to stay connected, to learn from other's experiences and insights, and also their struggles. And I appreciate Himayat's profound answers to our questions and his ability to address the question behind the obvious questions.
The Buddhists speak of three jewels on the path - the teacher, the teachings and the sangha (community of fellow seekers). All three are present in Himayat's courses."
Nurunnahar Dengg, Inyati Order, Vienna, Austria
“I have participated in several of Himayat’s on-line classes. I find these classes to be very enriching, adding to my growth, awakening and the repository of my spiritual heart. Himayat is an experienced and deep scholar of Sufi Mysticism with a brilliant yet practical mind. Through these classes, participants are guided into the depth of the wisdom of some of the ancient Sufis, many of whom I was unaware of. One thing I love is that Himayat pulls the diamond essence from among thousands of pages of writings of these great Sufis, giving to me teachings that I would never have the time to find or read on my own! The class format is elegant simplicity, first presenting pure teaching, then through commentary revealing secrets hidden in those teachings, and finally offering “motivational attunements” (i.e. practices) allowing us to dive into the depth of the teaching and have our own experience.
Himayat, provides audio instructions for each practice, periodic video Zoom calls to clarify or discuss the teachings and there is also room for participants to share their insights and comments or ask questions via a class ‘blog’. During the class I feel that Himayat holds each of its members in his heart and keeps us engaged through regular communication – he does not just post a class and then ‘checkout’, he is somehow aware and with us all the way through. The classes are easy to access from any device and allow me to work at my own pace. I very much enjoy them.
There is quote from our current class I’d like to share as relevant to what I feel we are doing together in these classes, it comes from Ahmad Sam’ani : ‘the experienced must sit next to the experienced, speaking about the grief and happiness of this talk, for both know the worth of the work.’
Pir Moinuddin Clarke, Fraternity of Light
To Register: Send $185.00 tuition check addressed to: Universal Awakening, PO Box 1958, Leicester, North Carolina 28748 or process credit card via PayPal (Merchant: firstname.lastname@example.org / Item: Spring–Summer 2020 Online Class).
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