There is a Hadiths from the Prophet (asws), a saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): ‘Die before you die.’ To die before you die. And this is a question that you are asking. What does that mean, to die before you die?
Everyone is going to die, correct? The nafs is also not something that we are going to kill. The nafs and the ego, the false self, the commanding self, is not to be killed. But what the ayat is saying is to make the nafsu amara into nafsu mutma’in, to make the nafs that is disobedient, that is rebellious into a nafs that is obedient. What does it mean? Prophet (asws) saying, ‘die before you die.’ Whether you are a believer or non believer, whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, if you don’t believe in God or you believe in God, everyone is going to die. Everyone will die. Alhamdulilah. So everybody knows that this world is temporary. And something which is temporary it is not real. Now, we came from somewhere and we are going to some place. This time that we are spending on this earth is only a pit stop. We existed before this existence in this world. How long we existed for? Is there any numbers that you can count? No. We existed for thousands, millions of years. Uncountable. Why is that? Why are we saying that we existed for such a long time before? Because our Lord Allah swt, His creation of mankind is separate and special from His creation of everything else.
Mankind has been created only for one reason, to be our Lord’s representative. What we call in Islamic term, ‘Khalifatullah.’ Mankind is not separating race or nationality or religion. Everyone has been created for that, and we have been created, as the ayat is saying, ‘to know Allah and to worship Allah.’ As we said about earlier, what is the highest knowledge? The highest knowledge is the knowledge of Allah, the knowledge of our Lord. There is nothing that is higher than that. And the reason of our creation is to know Him and to worship Him. You cannot worship something that you don’t know. You can go through the motion, but you don’t know. So you have to know in order to worship. But how are you going to know Allah? Like what we said, the Prophet (asws) has said this, this is, I don’t like to use the word ‘system’ or ‘science’ but this is a way. That’s why Tarikat, Sufism, is called a way. And this way, this understanding of the spirituality of religion, it is beyond dogma, it is beyond all religion, it is getting to the root of belief, which is why in the old days also in the gathering of the Sufi Sheykhs and the Saints you will always see people belonging to other religions. Because they hear something familiar, and they hear something deep and profound. Something that will explain to them their own religion, their own beliefs, their own self. Because here we are not saying, ‘you have to accept this, this and this dogma,’ in order to understand this.
So, our Lord had created us only for one reason: to know Him and to worship Him. But in order to know Him, the Prophet had already said, ‘the one who knows himself, he knows his Lord.’ So the whole aim of man, that we are in this pit stop of this world, that the Quran is describing as Asfala Safileen – the lowest of the low, we are sent here in the lowest of the low. This planet, what space are we holding in this house? It’s cramp in here but what space are we holding? One and a half foot? Two feet by two feet? What space are we holding in this whole continent of America? What space are we holding in this whole planet? And what space is this planet holding in this galaxy, in this solar system? Nothing. We are less than a dot. But that is our physical self. But we came from somewhere, not this physical self, this physical self came from here and it’s going to return to here. Everyone will return back to their orgin. Our origin is not from this world. Don’t say our origin is from outer space now. It is beyond that. Outer space is nothing. The eighteen thousand alams they are nothing. The hundreds and thousands of alams they are nothing. But we have been created, our Lord has said to us, ‘we have created you in Ahsani Taqweem,’ in the most perfect form. Did He say, ‘we have created you in the most perfect form,’ only to the white people and not to the black people? No. Only to Arabs and not to the Ajams, the non arabs? No. It is for all of mankind.
We began with this perfection. We began with original perfection. We did not begin with original sin. Yes, we are in this world, we are separated, as Maulana Rumi is saying in the opening of the Masnavi, ‘listen to the song of the Reed, how it calls. Because it longs to return back to where it came from.’
We have been separated from our original home. Our spirit. And we are sent here into this world and we have a very long journey. And our Lord, He did not leave us alone, to just send us to this world. He sent us 124 000 Prophets to every race, and every nationality He has sent that, and they all say the same thing. What is that that they are saying? ‘There is only One creator. I am the one that He has appointed to bring you to remember and to go back to Him. That this world is temporary.’ And He has sent not only 124 000 Prophets, what we call Prophets, Nabi, and included in that of course is Rasul, there’s 313, 25 is mentioned in the Quran, but He has sent Holy Books to us. Everything is to make us to remember, to remember that day, that time before we are sent here. And if He did not sent Prophet and Holy Books and Holy People, the descendant of the Prophets or friends of Allah, Evliyaullah, Saints, what He has given us here (Sheykh points to the heart), what He has given us in our heart, it is enough to bring us back to Him. And this, your heart, will never lie. Same heart that white, black, yellow, brown, person has. Same as the color of your blood is red, same that your heart is. And the Prophet has said 1400 years ago, there is an organ in your body, and he held his hand like that, of course now we understand that it’s because it fits this. Your heart is. He says, if it is strong and good, your whole body will be strong and good and healthy. And if it is corrupt, your whole body is going to be corrupt. And that is the qalb, that is the heart.
So now, we are all going to die. And if you have a belief and if you have responsibility and maturity, you know that there is always a time of accounting, a time of reckoning. Where if you think you can escape in this world, you cannot. Because a mature understanding person, a wise person, he will never be responsible, he is going to be very responsible from what he says to what he eats to how he talks, to the people that are around him, to what he possesses. He is going to be very responsible because he has to answer for it. So everybody knows there is a day of accounting. So what does it mean to die before you die?
The zikr polishes the heart. The zikr, what we just did, the chanting that we did, and that is just one way of zikr, there are so many ways of zikr, there’s loud zikr, there’s silent zikr, there’s hadra and there is whirling. And there’s a zikr where you don’t hold a tasbih. There’s a zikr. Because in reality our heart is never forgetting Allah, it’s always beating, it’s always saying, ‘Hu, Hu, Hu, Hu.’ Everything in creation is making a zikr of Allah. From the smallest atoms to the biggest galaxy, they are all turning, like Maulana Rumi’s mevlavi, they are turning. And they are turning and they are remembering Allah swt. And from that remembrance, the energy comes. Now, to die before you die. Before you are judged, judge yourself. Before you are ask, ask yourself. Before they demand an answer from you for what you have done in your life, you ask yourself. I’m putting in a very very simple term.
What do you do when you die? What do you do? What happens when you die? You have to give up from everything, correct? You give up from your family, you give up from your possessions, everything that you love, everything that you know and in Islamic tradition you don’t even bring anything into the grave. Nothing. You cannot say, ‘I like my cat, so I’m going to make my cat to become little mummy cat and bring it with me.’ Don’t laugh, there are people who do that. There are people who bring their whole house into their grave. They say, ‘I cannot. I don’t want to leave it.’ And there’s a suffering there. A suffering there. So you give up from everything. You leave everything. So the Prophet (asws) is saying, this is what Sufis are doing and they are believing, we don’t even bring anything, what we bring is only this (Sheykh points to the turban cloth), we are wearing this on top of our head to remind us of death. Because man is sleeping. When he dies, he wakes up. What is this? This is a shroud that when we pass, we wrap ourselves up and we are putting it. The original green burial. Today it’s very fashionable to have green burial. Because as you can see, funeral industry has become such an industry, so many people they can’t afford to die. It should not be. So you are going to leave everything.
Now, the ahle Sufi, the believer, he is going to now, before he dies, he is going to practice how to give things up. That is the reality. No matter how much you love your family, you cannot bring them to the grave. As much as how much you love your family, when he dies, how long are you going to stay with that one? Two days, three days, Ten days? He is going to start smelling. You say, ‘I cannot, I love, I love…’ you bury him, life goes on. This is the reality. So now, to die before we die, to learn how to travel, how to transit from this world to the next. because death is the beginning, it is not the end. It is the beginning to the real life, to the eternal life. And we came from that eternal life and we are going back to it. The one who is intelligent, the one who is an intelligent traveler, he is going to travel very lightly. He is not going to care so much about how he travels because it’s the destination that matters. You are travelling from here to New York city, insya’Allah one day you will, you see very rich people, they don’t even carry anything with them, only their credit card. Is it intelligent now to be bringing all your whole luggage and your living room and your kitchen sink on your back just to travel? And now when you are travelling and you make a pit stop somewhere when you are travelling, how long are you going to stay there? Do you want to stay there long? Do you want to set up camp? Because you are moving, you are traveling.
In reality we are all travelers. Yet people are accusing ahle Tassawuf and Sufis, they say because of this kind of ideas, you become backward, you become anti modern, anti-civilization. But we have 1400 years of history to show that with this kind of thinking and idea then you can balance, you will taste then what this world has to offer without using the benefits of this world only to destroy and to benefit yourself. You start having respect. Because you say, ‘I have to answer to everything and nothing in reality belongs to me.’ ‘This all, everything belongs to me.’ You are going to die, you are going to leave everything. It doesn’t belong to you. ‘My wife belongs to me. My sons belong to me.’ You are going to leave them. They are going to leave you. This is not something that is going to make us to become morbid and sad and negative. No, this is going to balance the over attachment that we have to things that are in reality, and this are for believers, this are for people looking for high spirituality. I’m not talking about people who don’t believe about spirituality. If you don’t believe about spirituality, do whatever you want. But to know, everyone is also going to die, whether you believe or you don’t believe.
So we are going to leave everything. So training ourselves to transit to that next life is what the ahle Tassawuf, the Sufis, the people in Tarikat that they are doing. Yes, we remember, one of the ways is to remember Allah, to make zikr. We just make the zikr. But it is not just to say, ‘Allah, Allah, Allah,’ and your heart is somewhere else. It’s not just to pull a tasbih with this but your heart is busy with this world, with your desire, with this dunya. No. It is to keep our hearts to be awake and connected at all times. And that, for you to learn how to do that, as Maulana Rumi is saying, ‘Everyone needs a master,’ this is something that most people they will fail. They say, ‘we accept everything except this part. Why, I have to take a master? A teacher? I don’t want to take a teacher.’
Breh, even the disciples of Jesus, they call him teacher. You think you are better than the disciples? You think we are better than the companions of the Prophets? No. that’s why Maulana Rumi said, ‘even the sweeper needs a teacher. To tell him where to sweep.’ We have no problem, when in this world, in this dunya that whatever job that we want, whatever career that we want, if we find a teacher, someone who can train us, someone who can show us the way, we have no problem accepting that. In fact this is better if we are apprentice to someone. But when it comes to spirituality, do we think that it is lower and it is cheaper and it has less value? In fact, the way of the spirit it is more perilous, it is more dangerous. As the Prophet said (asws), you take one step in the way of Allah, there’s going to be seventy sheytan waiting for you to pull you away, to distract you, to deviate you.
We came from Allah, and to Him is our return. This is what we are trying to do. And if we don’t have this intention, and this, we call this the filling, the content, then the form that we have or religion, the do’s and the don’ts the shariat and the law. People are saying we want to ban shariat. How are you going to ban shariat? Then you are going to ban Islam. Because to not eat pork, it is part of shariat. To not drink liquor, that is shariat. Because people think, ‘oh shariat, shariat means chop off hands, you are going to stone people, you are going this and you are going to do that.’ And we are saying, if you have hatred in your heart, you are going to see hatred in everyone. If you have wisdom in your heart, you are going to find wisdom in everything. So your heart is important. And the Prophet is teaching us, get rid of all attachments from your heart other than Allah, get rid of everything. That is what this zikr is for. Slowly, insya’Allah, with a teacher, I’m not a teacher. My teacher is my Sheykh. And his teacher is his Sheykh and his teacher is his Sheykh that comes from an unbroken line stretching all the way from 1400 years ago.
Allah is saying, ‘hold on together to the rope of Allah and do not separate.’ We are not separating. We are weak creatures. We cannot do too much but we hope that Allah accept our service and our intentions, insya’Allah. Wa minAllahu Taufiq, al-Fatiha.
Sheykh Lokman Efendi Hz,
Khalifah of SahibulSaif Shaykh Abdulkerim el Kibrisi (qs),
OSMANLI DERGAHI- New York
16 Shawwal 1437
July 21, 2016.