Towards the Inner Vision of the Truth


"And as for those whose faces have been whitened, in the mercy of Allah they dwell for ever." — Holy Qur'an 3:107


Candle Posts :: Motivational Gems for Higher Spiritual Enlightenment

:: Candle Post #83 :: Yearning for Light-of-Lights ::

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

Ya Ali Madad. On the occasion of the visit of Noor Mowlana Hazar Imam to participate in the foundation ceremony to mark the beginning of the development of the second high profile Ismaili Centre in Canada, the first-ever Aga Khan Museum for Islamic Art and Culture, and a newly landscaped park on Wynford Drive in Toronto, please accept our heartfelt felicitations. These projects are an immense barakat for the global Ismaili Community, the Muslim Ummah, the Canadian Society and humanity. Let us offer salwat and utmost thanks to our beloved Noor Mowlana Hazar Imam for his vision, time, knowledge and resources to build these epic institutions in Canada. Al-hamdulillah!

This candle post is entitled 'Yearning for the Light-of-Lights'. For this post, I have used knowledge of Shihab al-Din Yahya ibn Amirak ibn Abu'l-Futuh Suhrawardi, the Persian philosopher of the 6th/12th century. He was the founder of the school of illumination (ishraq) and an advocate of he called ancient wisdom (Hikmat al-atiq) (Aminrazavi, 1999). He understood the necessity to show the truth that lies at the heart of all divinely revealed religions. I will now present a section from 'Treatise on the Birds' (Risala al-tayr) originally written by Avicenna and translated and restated by Suhrawardi into Persian. The work depicts the spiritual journey of man from his original abode into the world of form and how the attachments of the material world obstruct his desire to reunite with his spiritual origin (Aminrazavi, 1999).

"In this treatise Suhrawardi describes the spiritual journey of man by recounting the tale of a number of birds who were 'flying freely' but fell in the trap of the hunters. 'Flying freely' here symbolizes the condition in which man lived in the eternal state prior to creation, and falling into the trap denotes coming into the domain of material existence. Having becoming the prisoner of the material world (often identified in Persian literature as the 'prison of the body'), those who are conscious of this imprisonment can begin their journey toward their origin.

The bird who finds himself a prisoner symbolizes the worldly man, who, because of the forgetfulness of human nature, becomes used to the attachments of the material world. This adaptation and the acceptance of the condition of imprisonment is the greatest danger on one's spiritual journey according to Suhrawardi. In the language of birds, Suhrawardi tells us:

"We focused our attention on how we can free ourselves. We were in that condition for a while until our first principle (freedom) was forgotten and we adapted to these chains, giving into the constriction of the cage."

Suhrawardi's description of the spiritual journey in the "language of birds" continues with the flight of birds as they free themselves from the bondages and yet are not able to free themselves entirely. To translate this into theosophical language, it can be said that men who have fallen into the world of forms can partly free themselves through their own willpower. However, to remove all the chains of attachments requires the guidance of a master. While the potential of man to become 'illumined' (i.e., enlightened) exists, this process will not take place without the inner yearning and will to make the journey. This point becomes clear when the main character of the story begs the other birds to show him how they freed themselves.

Having pursued the path of asceticism and hardship, the birds arrive at different states and stations of the path where they think it is time to rest. Suhrawardi warns us against the desire to rest in one place, although the beauties of the path — which he describes as the "attractions that remove the mind (aql) from the body" — are extremely tempting. Finally, their desire to stay is overcome by divine grace, which is manifested by a voice calling upon them to continue. Suhrawardi then describes their encounter with God, whose presence he describes as a blinding Light. The Light-of-Lights tells the birds that he who has placed the chains must remove them as well. God then sends a messenger to oversee the removal of these chains.

The following principles can be inferred from the Risala al-tayr:

  1. The earthly human state is a prison for the human soul.
  2. The soul by necessity has a yearning to journey towards the Light-of-Lights.
  3. The grace attained through such an experience helps the spiritual wayfarer (salik) to remove the final attachments to this world.
  4. The experience of the Light-of-Lights can be realized if one is able to free oneself from the prison of the corporeal (material) world."

Source: Aminrazavi, M. 1999. The Significance of Suhrawardi's Persian Sufi Writings in the Philosophy of Illumination. Pages 259-283 In: The Heritage of Sufism — Volume I. Classical Persian Sufism from its Origins to Rumi (700 -1300), edited by Leonard Lewisohn, Oneworld, Oxford. (ISBN 1-85168-188-4)

According to our belief system, Noor Mowlana Shah Karim Al-Hussaini Hazar Imam (a.s.) is the true, living Imam of the time. The Holy Imam's guidance lights the murid's path of enlightenment and vision. Therefore, in our Tariqah, the Holy Imam is the Light-of-Lights for us.

May Noor Mowlana Shah Karim Al-Hussaini Hazar Imam (a.s.) grant all members of the global Jamat the inner vision of the truth through ism-i azam. Ameen.

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Ardent Supplications:

Ya Ali, Ya NOOR Mowlana Shah Karim Al-Hussaini Hazar Imam, create Sunshine in our hearts, light in our foreheads, and bless us all with the inner vision of the Truth!

Ya Ali, Ya NOOR Mowlana Shah Karim Al-Hussaini Hazar Imam, grant the global Jamat luminous (noorani) and spiritual (ruhani) tayid (help) to advance materially, spiritually and intellectually. Ameen.

Haizinda — Qayampaya
(Our Present Imam is Living and His NOOR is Eternal)

Rakh Mowla je Noor te Yaqeen (Certainly, we trust in Mowla's Light only),
Noorallah Juma
Thursday, May 27, 2010

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