Zikr, literally it means remembrance. And we are remembering our Lord. This is outside of the obligations that we have to do. We have to pray five times a day, we have to fast, we have to go to the Hajj, give zakat, but these are outside, these are what we call supererogatory worship. If you want to be better, you are not really satisfied just with the basic. Because you want to be better, you want to go deeper. So, not only you are going to do the things that you have to do and you are going to make sure that you do it well with the right intention.
The Remembrance. There are forty main Sufi orders, and every one of them has a different way of remembering. The chanting and the remembrance, there are forty main Sufi ways, spiritual ways that is out of this main body of Muslims call the Sunnis, meaning the people who imitate the way of the Prophet Muhammad, this constitute the majority, 80-90 percent throughout history. So out of this main body of Sunnis, there are some that they want a little bit more than just what has been revealed, the do’s and the don’ts. They want to understand why, and they want to experience a little bit of that reality here in this world. So forty spiritual, mytical orders that started from the time of the Prophet, that he gave to some of his companions, not to everyone, because certain knowledges, they are not for everyone, until they have learnt how to learn, until they have learnt how to understand, it is very easy then for certain things to be misunderstood. So for those who aspire more, who can understand more, this is for them.
So forty main Sufi orders, and every Sufi order has a different way of chanting, remembrance. Like what we say, the whirling dervishes, they whirl and they remember. There are some, one of the biggest, if not the biggest Sufi group called the Qadiris, following Sheykh Abdul Qadir Geylani (Qs), may Allah sanctify his secret, the name Qadir is also one of the name of Allah, that we mentioned in the zikr also, meaning, ‘the All Powerful.’ So their zikr too is very powerful. It’s very energetic. People get up and they move. And in the Naksibendi zikr, and we are one of the forty Sufi groups, and our way, there are two. One is the open or loud zikr. This is what we are doing, we are sitting and we are remembering with our voices, and there’s another way which is call the silent way, the secret way, in which we gather without saying a word. All that zikr is in our heart. So this is all coming from the verse from the Quran. Because there are so many who say, ‘where is the basis of this?’ When we talk about a new group that came out a hundred to a hundred and fifty years ago, that starts to question everything that was in Islam for fourteen hundred years, they say, ‘well where is this in the Book?’ Although it has been established tradition, Allah is saying in the Quran, ‘Remember Me and I will remember you.’ And there are so many other verses in the Quran that says to remember Him. So what we did just now is to pull ourselves away from this world, from our thinking, from our problems, from ourselves, and to try to be with our Lord.
They are saying in Islam, our Lord, Allah is closer to us than our jugular vein. But we are very far away from our Lord. So the zikr is a way to remember, to be with our Lord, to sit down and to say, ‘You are remembering me all the time, You never forget me for an instant. But I’m always forgetting You. I just want to be here to be with You.’ And in the Sufi tradition, in reality everything that we do, the five prayers, the giving of charity, going to the Hajj, fasting, everything that we do is in remembrance of our Lord. But the difference is, sometimes we can be doing all this actions, but in our heart we know we are not remembering Him. We know that we can be guilty of performing a prayer but our heart is busy not with our Lord, but busy with the world, planning, cooking, eating, whatever it is. We know that we can be guilty, when we give charity, but in that giving of charity, there is arrogance, there is claiming that this is my money and I give it to you. When in reality, nothing that we have belongs to us.
So in this Sufi order, it is to check again, check again, and check again, it is to judge ourselves. You just did it, why did you do it? What is the reason? Is it because that one was there and you are trying to say something? You just worship, why did you worship? For many, we are not saying it is wrong, for many they worship to get something back. So God becomes like Santa Clause. ‘I’ve been good, so I deserve this. That level of faith has not exceeded, has not pass superstition. ‘I do something good to you, you must do something good to me.’ That is the deal that we are making. I’m not saying it is wrong, because our Lord says, ‘ask from Me.’ But there are those who go deeper and they say, ‘You are my Lord, whether You give or You don’t give. You deserve to be remembered. You deserve to be worship.’ This is when Ashq, love and passion comes in. This is when love comes in that it doesn’t ask for anything in return. It is about giving. This is when love comes in and it says, ‘I don’t exist. You exist.’ When we say La ilaha ilallah, implicit in that is we are denying even our own existence which in reality we don’t exist. Only the Lord exist. So we are just practicing.
We are practicing. We are imitating the Holy ones. But they have reached and they are showing us, ‘If you like, this is the path.’ Sufism, Tarikat means path, a way. So in this order especially, we are concentrating on the ego. It is not practices, it is not fasting, it is not knowledge, it is the ego. It is understanding yourself. I don’t like to use the word ‘Islamic psychology,’ but it is learning yourself. Because Prophet says, the one who knows himself, he knows his Lord. This is the way that has been established for fourteen hundred years and we see it has produce results. And what we want is to remember our Lord. Because everything else is going to pass. Everything else is going to fade. Our looks, our youth, our children, our parents, our wealth, our thoughts, our knowledge, our ideologies, everything is going to pass. And the Sufis are taught, before you reach to that station of realizing that death is knocking at your door and suddenly you are in a panic, to prepare yourself for the heareafter. The Sufi is taught to practice to die before you die. What is important to us? Our family, are they helping you to come closer to that reality, to your Lord? They are source of support to you.
There are many amongst us here especially the young ones, they have jobs, they have work, they have responsibilities, they are married, they are not leaving this world and running up the mountain to become a shepherd. Some did, but not all. There are many who are here with us that their parents, although they are Sunnis, although they are some Sufi leanings, they say, ‘don’t do that. Don’t listen to a man here, sitting and speaking and telling you what your religion is. You have intelligence, read the book. Because he’s going to brainwash you.’ That, given with the hatred of traditional and Sufi Islam by their own Muslims, we are up against a huge tidal wave but we stand. If we are to borrow from the Bible, ‘the Lone Voice in wilderness,’ it’s okay, our Lord is with us. And we are following the traditions of all those ones who have been the lone voices in wilderness. This wilderness, it’s not real. It will pass. That Lone Voice, That ‘Lone Voice,’ That One is real.
So we taught, slowly, what are our desires, what are our attachment to this world, what is that evil side of ourselves, the demonic side of ourselves, and what is our own ego. These are the four enemies to man in the Naskibendi order: nafsu, sheytan, hawa dunya. Your ego, first, before sheytan. Hawa, your desires, and dunya, in this world. We take this, we try to look within, to be in a community, understanding that, in practice, now we try to judge ourselves before we are judged and we try to die before we die. Maybe we are not going to succeed. It doesn’t matter.
There is a story in the Quran, when Nimrod (Namrud) build a huge fire to throw Abraham and his friend into that fire, there was an ant with a broken leg who was carrying a drop, not even a drop of water in its mouth, and it was walking. And Allah said to an angel, ‘go down into this world and ask that ant, what is it trying to do?’
And that ant replied to the angel saying, ‘I am here to put out the fire of Namrud.’
The angel is saying, ‘O ant, what can you do? That fire is so huge, it can be seen all the way in Iraq.’
That ant with a broken leg says, ‘I don’t care. Abraham is the only one right now who is a friend of his Lord. I’m here to put out that fire.’
And because of that intention of that ant, our Lord says, ‘he is my beloved, and he will be with Me, next to Me, on the day of Judgement.’ An ant. What about mankind that Allah has created to represent Him? Like I said, we are not here wishing for perfection or wishing for success. Our purpose here is to try, sincerely. Because even in that trying, in reality, that effort for a believer, it’s not coming from him, it is coming from his Lord. And as much submission that he has, according to that, that much more power comes. And if we die before we can reach to the fire, it doesn’t matter. But we ask, may our efforts be accepted by our Lord, Insya’Allah. Anyone who likes, they are welcome. Anyone who doesn’t like, you are welcome too. Welcome to those who comes, farewell to those who leave. Our Sheykh is saying, if you find something in this words that is going to be useful to you, take it, if you don’t like it, leave it. I will take it. I need it. I need it. May Allah forgive me. Wa minallahu Taufiq. Al-Fatiha.
Sheykh Lokman Efendi Hz
Khalifah of SahibulSaif Shaykh Abdulkerim el Kibrisi (qs),
OSMANLI DERGAHI- New York
19 Shawwal 1438
July 13, 2017