Question: You were saying that we are all born to die. Yes, I understand that. But what do you think our purpose is now, at this time, in here?
At this present time? Right now? Right now if you ask me, my purpose is to see you, to speak to you, to show you what I believe, what I hold to be the most valuable and to share it with you. And whoever that is in this room that wants to taste what I’m offering, this is my purpose now. This is it. It changes from moment to moment. But overall, like what I’ve said before, our purpose it is to know our Lord and to worship Him.
In order to know our Lord, it is necessary for us to know ourselves. To know ourselves, we need a community. Because everyone else is a reflection of us, and this eyes can see endless sight, but this eyes cannot see itself. So when we are in a community, everyone is a mirror of each other. So when I look at you, if I see that you are tasting what I’m offering and we find familiarity, then our souls touch a little bit. This becomes worship. Because we are not here to talk about how much money you have, how much money I have, what is the enjoyment that we get from this world. It’s nothing to do with anything worldly. Right now we are just speaking about how we can remember our Lord and how we can become fully human to each other. And this is beyond religion, this is beyond color, this is beyond nationality and agendas.
Our Creator, He has created us. He has also sent us a manual on how to live our life. Anything that we buy these days, if you get one phone, in order to know how to use it, teaching people how to use it and to use it properly, it comes with a manual. You can put the manual aside but you won’t know how to use this properly, hundred percent. So many features, every time they come out with new features how you can use it. Our Lord has created us and He send down a manual. That manual is a Holy Book, that is according to whichever tradition that you follow. In our tradition, He send 104 Books, 4 Kitab and 100 Suhuf. Adam was sent several pages of this ‘manual’ and how to live this life. Same as Noah, same as Moses who was given a Book, the Taurat e-Sharif, the Torah. Jesus was given the Bible, the Evangel, the good news. He is very close to us and he is very dear to us. Because what he brought was spirituality to the Israelite who had the law and he was bringing spirituality. And the Prophet Muhammad (asws) was given the Quran, the Ummul Kitab. And this Quran is a manual. But so many times, can you understand that manual? No. I know I can’t. So many times, no matter how much they explain, there are certain things, certain features in there that I don’t know what they are talking about, how to do this. Our Lord has not only send a manual, He has send someone with that manual to explain us that manual. And these are call Prophets. And when the Prophets passed, they have trained enough people to say, ‘when I passed, you are going to succeed.’ And these people who succeed him, they are not Prophets but they are the inheritors of the Prophet. They may be righteous people, Holy people, but they have been trained. But it’s pretty specific their training, and they continue to teach you how to use this manual and how to use this machine (Sheykh points to the body).
So our purpose in life, for the Muslims, for fourteen hundred years, the reason of our creation that I don’t know for how long people have been toying with the idea Philosophically. No one has come up with an answer what is the purpose of life, what is the meaning of life. For us Muslims, and for us Sufis, that has already been answered fourteen hundred years ago. When you have answered certain question, then you can look for other question to answer. You move on. You don’t get stuck. You move on. Now we know, we are all a brotherhood of mankind. Good. We can stop holding hands and singing now. Now is the time to build and when you build, then you start discovering yourself. Oh, yes I love him but he has this characteristic. Now, how do I negotiate that characteristic? Just like a family, ‘I love this one, this one, this….Okay everyone is a family but this one is very stubborn when it comes to that. I cannot fight him on that all the time. I never will gain anything. I have to find a way now to work that in.’
So what happens now? Like we say in Tasawwuf, in Sufism, when a murid lives in a Dergah, everyone is like a very rough diamond. But everyone else is there and they rub him and they chip him and they cut him. He may complain. But the end result is a beautiful piece of gem that you wear on your finger or you wear on top of your head. You will complain, ‘this hurts. Why are you doing this to me? I don’t understand. This is unfair, this is this. This is that.’ You get cut, you get rubbed, you get polished. But the end result is something that is beautiful and something that is valuable. This is what the teachers they do. They take you, they start polishing, they start cutting. So now our purpose has already been answered as far as we are concern: To know Allah and to worship Allah, the whole reason of our creation. And from that there are millions and billions and trillions of questions and answers that all must lead back to that. If whatever that we are doing, it is not connecting to the worship and the knowledge of our Lord, then it’s going to be disastrous. It’s going to hurt.
What is the opposite of that, serving your Lord? Because in Islam, the first article of our faith is to say, ‘La Ilaha Ilallah’ – there is no Ilah, there is no deity except for that One Deity, there is no Ilah, there is no God, except for God. Because now when we use the word ‘Allah’ too it is not one God among many. People are trying to confuse and say that, ‘oh Christian worship one god, Jews worship one god and Muslims worship one god.’ You see, for us, we say there is only One, everybody worships only One God. They may worship Him in different ways, according to different capacities but there is only One and He manifest Himself maybe differently to different people at different times. But there is only One. If we understand that there is One Lord, we understand that there is only one humanity, that time you become fully human. If you say, ‘my Lord is better than your Lord,’ then you say I’m human and you are not, and that’s the beginning of the worst evil that can happen. ‘I’m more human than you. You are animal. I have a soul. You have a soul of an animal.’ That is a beginning of evil. And we trace that evil back to sheytan.
When our Lord had created the first man, Adam, He had created his physical form before He blew his spirit in him. Sheytan, now in our tradition he is not an angel, he is a jinn. Because Angels have been created from light, and they obey without even asking and they will never rebel, they don’t have a nafs, they are completely obedient. It’s a different class of creatures and they are close to Allah swt, the Angels. Now, Azazil, sheytan is from a race and they are called the Jinns and they are made from smokeless fire. They are a step below, in terms of the value of their creations, than the angels are. They live amongst us but there is a veil that is between us, their world and our world, although we live together. So many people enter into spirituality to actually get mysticism to pierce the veil and to see. So many people have no business doing that. When they have no business doing that, they get into a lot of trouble. Because now, you start dealing with sorcery and magic and different kinds of supernatural forces that you don’t understand and you definitely cannot control. So sheytan, he was from that race but he was a believer. They are very close like us. Some are believers and some are not believers, they are very close. And he served his Lord. He served his Lord so much that in our traditions we say that there is not a space on this earth that he did not put his forehead down to worship to his Lord. He was worshiping. He was a believer. He worshiped so much he started to be elevated and he worshiped at every level of Paradise. But understand this, this is a lesson for us. When Allah said, ‘I’m going to create a creature, that is going to be My representative, that is going to occupy this position that is called ‘Maqam al-Mahmud,’ the most highly praised station, that is going to represent Me’ Sheytan said, ‘it must be me. I want that position.’ So he start praying more. So his prayer now is not for the sake and for the love of his Lord, it is for himself. How many of us are doing that? We are praying not because He deserves to be worship but we are praying because we want something from Him.
This is what separates people who believe and people who have a higher level of believe that they become Mukmin, they become believers. There’s one Saint in the Islamic traditions, in the Sufi tradition, called Rabiatul Adawiya, she was a Saint. And she came out of her house, because she’s been known to be very eccentric, she was carrying a bundle of wood with fire and a bucket of water. And when they asked her, ‘where are you going Ya Rabia?’
She said, ‘with this fire I’m going to burn down Paradise and Heaven.’ And with the water she said, ‘I’m going to turn off the fire of Hell.’
And they asked her, ‘why are you doing that?’ because to say such a thing is blasphemy. They asked her, ‘why are you doing that ya Rabia?’ Knowing that she’s a Holy person. And when Holy people they speak especially controversial things, common people will misunderstand definitely but those who have some faith and some intelligence they are going to see behind the words and they get the wisdom.
She says, ‘because people only worship to our Lord to enter into Paradise. Because they worship so that they can escape from Hellfire. But nobody worships Him because He deserves to be worshiped.’
Now this is what separates those who just believe and those who love their Lord. And everyone has tasted love, and you know what love is, you don’t ask for anything in return. In fact the measure of your love is how much you give and how much you disappear. And the object, the person that you love is all that matters. This is what she means. Our relationship to our Lord now.
So sheytan he worshipped. But he said, ‘I want that highest station.’ So when Allah created the physical form of Adam, he entered, he looked around everywhere, he came out and he said, ‘this is just an empty shell. He’s just made from clay.’ But deep down he knew that this new creature, new creature that was introduced but it’s very old and ancient, the first creature to have been created by Allah, because man is also a hidden treasure. He doesn’t even know himself and his worth. But he (sheytan) knows deep down inside, this new creature Allah has created to occupy that highest station to represent Him. Nothing else represents Him.Only mankind. Because man, if they achieve to the station that our Lord has created, we are higher than Angels. But, if we rely on our animal self, we are going to be lower than the animals. That is given to us.
So sheytan he knew, but he became very stubborn. And when Allah swt created Adam and He made all the angels to prostrate, to bow down to Adam, sheytan refused. And his excuse? ‘I bow down only to You O my Lord. Not to this one who is made of clay.’ So arrogance, stubbornness, anger, and jealousy, these are the four main characteristics that in all Sufi orders, we are looking at, we are aiming to get rid of. Hundreds of thousands of tricks and traps of this four different things that we inherit from sheytan, that we are learning how to get rid of in order to expose what? Our spirit. Because now our spirit is being held captive by these things. Sheytan says, ‘I’m not going to bow down to him. I’m higher than him. He is made of clay. I am made from smokeless fire.’ So when that happened, Allah swt says, ‘if you bow down to Me, you must bow down to My words.’ Because in effect, sheytan is saying, ‘You made a mistake.’ In front of Divine Presence, he challenged Divine Presence to say, ‘you made a mistake. If anything, that one should be bowing down to me because I’m higher.’ So sheytan became sheytan. And this characteristic, I’m saying this is a lesson for us. This is real. It happened, but we all have this characteristic inside of us. That’s why the sufi they say, ‘you must know that your nafs, your ego, it is worse than sheytan, it is worse than Firaun, it is worse than Namrud, it is worse than Abu Jahil.’
Now, when we are busy with ourselves, and we are busy cleaning ourselves up, that’s the time we’ll be ready to make that transition to the afterworld, to the afterlife. If we start doing this and we start being busy and cleaning ourselves, what’s going to happen now? we start discovering that the people that are going to be around you, the people who loves you, the people who are going to support you, are the people who shares the same values. You are not going to push anyone away. In fact you want to be with as many people as possible, but your world, your circle gets smaller and smaller. It gets more refine. You don’t seclude yourself, you don’t think, ‘I’m better.’ You don’t think you’re elitist, nothing but you start to develop a taste. People who develop a taste, they say, ‘this is the best. I only want this.’ Maybe thousands of different varieties but I like this one. So you start developing a taste and your life will have a taste because everything you do now is going to be connected to your Lord and you know why you are doing it. It is not something that is senseless or something that is just motivated by your desire or motivated by habit, or what other people tell you. That time you have a close connection to your Lord. Because what you are doing with this is you are destroying the seventy thousand veils between you and your Lord. You are coming closer.
Yes, our Lord is close to us. In Islamic tradition we say our Lord is closer to us than our jugular vein. But we are very far away from Him. And Tasawwuf, Sufism and spirituality is to make ourselves to come close to Him. It is not going up and down that is going to make Him close. It is not just to fast. It is not just to give zakat. It is not just to go to the Hajj. These things are the foundation of Islamic religion, these are the rituals that we have to do, but if there is no real intention and sincerity in those actions, it means nothing. We can go up and down. We are supposed to be in Divine Presence. When we say, ‘Allahu Akhbar,’ Prophet (asws) is saying, ‘Namaz, salat, for my nation is the mikraj.’ It is mikraj, it is ascension. How many of us have ascended when we say ‘Allahu Akhbar’? Must be real.
So now, when we concentrate and focus on the things that corrupts our actions, and we want to refine it, that time those actions, even if it’s very small, it becomes very pure. Because our Lord is not looking at huge theatric, dramatic, big things that you can do. He’s looking at something small and sincere and consistent. So easy once in a while to make a big show about something, but it is not so easy now to be consistent and to be sincere.
We finish the month of Ramazan. We fasted, Alhamdulillah, it is good but the sincere believer he is never going to say, ‘very good (Sheykh give a pat on his shoulder) I fasted, good for me. mashaAllah, I’m very good, I fasted.’ No. The believer is always going to say, ‘there must have been something that I have done that is not acceptable. I should be doing things to make it better.’ So he’s always in the state of what? Purification. He’s always in a state of purification. He is going to look at his action and say, ‘this can be more pure. This can be much cleaner. What can I do?’
Tassawuf, Sufism is all about purification. Yes, it is easy to go through the motion of not eating and drinking and doing other things in the month of Ramazan but that is just fasting of the animal self. A dog if you tie it up for eighteen hours without food or drink, is also fasting. But our fasting has to be different. Which is why the Evliya, the Saints and the Scholars, in our traditions says, ‘Fast, but fast also from your eyes. Fast also from your tongue. Fast from your ears.’ What does that mean now? that means, not only are you going to stay away from food and drink but you are going to watch what you look at. You are going to look at things that give you more faith. You are not going to look at things that take away faith from you, that pulls your desire, that takes you away from your remembrance of your Lord. Fast with your tongue, that means now you are going to watch what you say to people, how it’s affecting people. You are going to start purifying. Fast from your ears, what you hear, how you walk. Now fast from all the senses. Now that is a fast. Because so many of us, we fast for eighteen hours, but when the sun sets, I’m speaking openly now, it becomes a feast. It defeats the purpose. For eighteen hours you’ve been holding back, now suddenly you let the gates open and you rush headlong to just eat and drink until sunrise? It doesn’t make sense now. So purification, this is what we are trying to do. Then it goes on from our prayers to our zakat to our pilgrimage. Purification.
Right now, my purpose right now, like I said is to share something with you and you can take it or you can leave it. But I don’t think I’m risking by saying that I don’t think I have said anything here to offend anyone sensibility, and I don’t think you need to be a Muslims or a Sufi to understand that it makes sense. This is what is common to everyone. But then again that’s what I think. So everyone is free to think what they think. This is what I’ve been trained by my Sheykh to speak, to reach out to people and to share. And welcome to those who come, farewell to those who leaves. This is what we say. SelamAleykum warahmatullahi wabarakatu.
Sheykh Lokman Efendi Hz,
Khalifah of SahibulSaif Shaykh Abdulkerim el Kibrisi (qs),
OSMANLI DERGAHI- New York
16 Shawwal 1437
July 21, 2016.