No looking back…, a photo by Saad Sarfraz Sheikh [Nikon D100 + 35f2 AF-D]
At Shah Sham’s Tabraiz’s shrine in Multan. Early 2010
Shams-i Tabriz was undoubtedly an extraordinary person. He had studied Quran and jurisprudence with his father and uncle, both accomplished jurists, very early in life. He was sent to Tabriz to seek further knowledge, where he studied various sciences with Abubakar Sanjasi Tabrizi, a reknown mystic teacher of Najmuddin Kubra order.
He was asked to go to a master teacher, Kamal Jundi, when he demonstrated his interest in learning the esoteric and the metaphysical. He accomplished himself as a master, as he had an innate and inborn gift for the metaphysical. He was cautioned that he would stay away from the odinary and the mundane and that one day he will meet someone who will act as his mouthpiece and speak to the world on his behalf. That eternal voice was essentially Mevlana Jallaluddin Rumi, one of Sufism’s greatest poets, who still has the amazing ability to touch the soul and heart, even after 800 years.
Shah Shams was however told that he had to wait until his future student was ready to receive from him the promised gift. He was also advised by his master to stay away from the sufis as well as the faqihs (religious scholars) which he did.
Shams-e-Parinda, as he was known, was always traveling from one place to another. He would show up at times at the seminaries and madrasas without revealing his credentials.
Nasir Shamsi writes,
He disliked the mystics because they had given up the Shari’a (practice). He detested faqihs (scholars) because they indulged in useless polemics and diatribes. He avoided staying at the seminaries and khankahs. Instead he stayed at the Traders inns, showing himself as a traveling salesman. He ate very little. An occasional meal (bread and soup) would be enough for days. He virtually starved his body, as if saying no to his self. In return, he received the uncanny gift of knowing the other person’s mind, predicting the events, even transferring himself from one place to another (ta’y ardh ). He was capable of doing things that seemed extra-ordinary, uncanny or supernatural to an undiscerning eye. He kept it however from the ordinary people. Rumi saw it when Shams threw his hand-written manuscripts in the water, then taking them out, dry and intact, with no sign of water on the pages. This was no magic or illusion; this was a God-given gift.
In the Holy Quran, Allah says ” Kun Fa ya Koon “.(We say, Be and it is). It is said that He lends His power or phenomenon of immediate Being to his chosen people, such as Prophets or Saints. Some people are born with these gifts, in varying degrees ( they may not even be aware of their hidden potential) while others can get there through personal struggle to get close to God ( taqarrub or salook). It is the human journey from fana to baqa. You give up your ‘ self ‘ to be one with the Ultimate.
Shams-I Tabriz was born with the gift and he perfected it through suffering himself. He recognized it early on in his childhod, according to his own admission in the Maqalat ( an authentic record of his conversation with Rumi, recoded in Sultan Walid’s (Rumi’s son) hand. He did not lose any time to perfect the gift of the esoteric in him. Finally, as predicted by his teacher Kamal Jundi, the flowering of Sham’s gift took place and manifested itself in his counterpart, Jalaluddin Rumi.
Shams was able to transfer, his knowledge and wisdom onto Rumi in a rather mysterious manner. Rumi has repeatedly said in his Masnavi and Divan that it was not him but Shams talking through him. That is why he did not use his name in any of the verses out of more than 50,000 verses that he left behind. Rumi ends most of his poems with the name of Shams of Tabriz. Such a phenomenon of the transfer of souls has never been witnessed before. It happens again in the annals of history, when 400 years later, Punjabi Mystic Poet Baba Bulleh Shah and his master Inayat Shah encounter each other in a spiritual match, which has no victor, nor any loser.
(Stay posted for more on Bulleh Shah and Inayat Shah)
I leave you with a ghazal (Ode) 331, translated by Coleman Barks, “Say I Am You” Maypop, 1994
I’m the Light Within His Light
I circled awhile with each of the intelligences,
the nine fathers that control the levels of spirit-growth.
I revolved for years with the stars through each astrological sign.
I disappeared into the kingdom of nearness.
I saw what I have seen,
receiving nourishment as a child lives in the womb.
Personalities are born once,
a mystic many times.
Wearing the body-robe,
I’ve been busy in the market,
weighing and arguing prices.
Sometimes I have torn the robe off
with my own hands and thrown it away.
I’ve spent long nights in monasteries,
and I have slept with those who claim to believe nothing
on the porches of pagodas,
just traveling through.
When someone feels jealous,
I am inside the hurt and the need to possess.
When anyone is sick,
I feel feverish and dizzy.
I am cloud and rain being released,
and then the meadow as it soaks it in.
I wash the rains of mortality from the cloth around a dervish.
I am the rose of eternity,
not made of water or fire or the wandering wind,
or even earth.
I pay with those.
I am not Shams of Tabriz,
but a light within his light.
If you see me, be careful.
Tell no one what you’ve seen
Hazrat Jallaluddin Rumi