The word ‘Der…Gah,’ Gah means a field, or an open place, like EidGah, where you celebrate, you pray the Eid Bayram prayers. ‘Der’ means threshold. Threshold means you are on the brink, you are almost somewhere else, you are in between places. You are not here, you are not there, you are in between. You’re almost going to the next step. ‘Der’ means, as in ‘Dervish.’ So the Dergah represents the next step from the dunya, before you venture into where? Your reality. Into the Divine Presence, to return back to Allah swt.
But the way to Allah swt, don’t think that the next step means just to take one physical, or the next thing that you are going to do, one step for the Prophets may take thousands of years for us. And this is the way of the Prophets and the Saints. So, there are so many levels and so many stages that we have to take before we go to that next step to be with the one that we love.
The Dergah, it is the station where you are preparing to meet yourfirst step to preparing to meet your Lord is to die. And to be in the dergah, it is to die before you die. That is the doorway to meeting Allah. To bury your ego, those ones who have high aspiration, their spirit is pulling, while they are in this world, to Allah. They are saying, ‘if my spirit is pulling, I should not be pulled by my ego.’ That’s the time they will cut off their ties to their ego, they will bury their ego. That time you will die, that time you will meet Allah, that time you will die before you die. If you are going to go with your ego, you can be in Dergah, you can be inside the Kaaba, you can be inside the Rouzah e-Sherif, it’s not going to help you.
Alhamdulillah, with Allah’s blessings, with the Holy Prophet’s (asws) blessings, with the blessing of Sultanul-Awliya and our Sheykh, Sahibul Saif, may Allah grant them higher stations, we have a Dergah, Syukur, to prepare us to meet our Lord. If you don’t have a Dergah, you’re not going to be in the Dergah, you’re not going to put your heart in the Dergah, then that time, a journey of maybe one year is going to take you a hundred years. Physically, it’s good, more than that, the heart has to be here. If your heart is in the Dergah, that time, physically, if your heart is connected physically, one way or another, but the wind will blow, and even if you are coming from as far as China, or India, or Malaysia, you’re going to find one day you are going to end up here.
Sheykh Nazim Osmanli Dergahi
The Osmanli Naks-i’bendi Hakkani Dergahi is an Islamic center for the worship of Allah. The Dergahi (pronounced der-ga-ha) was built and is maintained according to Islamic principles and practices. In 2003, the Dergah was blessed by the Name of Allah appearing in our pond, spelled out in snow.
We are Muslims. Our faith is Islam. Islam means submitting to God’s Will and accepting that there is no god but Allah (the One God) and that Muhammad is the Messenger of ALLAH, peace and blessings upon him, as are Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Noah and Adam, peace be upon them all. Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, is the Seal (last) of the Prophets. Like the majority of Muslims, we are Sunni Muslims. We are followers of the most distinguished Naks-I’bendi Hakkani Tarikat (sufi order), which traces its traditions directly back to the life-style and teachings of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Sufism (‘Tasawwuf’, in Arabic) is one of the Islamic sciences. Under the guidance of a Sheykh of the Tarikat, sufism is the way of purifying oneself from bad manners and characteristics in preparation for passing clean to the afterlife. Sufism is the spirituality in Islam. The chain of transmission (of the teachings) is documented through the 40 GrandSheykhs of the Tarikat back to Abu Bakr Siddik, the first companion to whom the Prophet passed the sufi knowledge of the heart.
A sufi center is also known as a Dergah, literally a place of the threshold. This threshold, or doorway, refers to the Infinite, to the Creator. The sufi center is a place where the followers (murids) try to live as sincere believers serving each other and the one who represents the Holy Prophet, the sheykh and ultimately to serve the Creator. It is a place where they worship, work, and rest together, imitating the lifestyle of the first sufis, the People of the Porch,(Ahli Suffa). They lived an extremely simple lifestyle and their sole aim was to be in association with and in proximity to the Holy Prophet. That tradition has continued for over 1,400 years. The center is open to all- “Come, come whoever you are…ours is a caravan of love” beckons Rumi. Interestingly, caravan in Rumi’s original poem is dergah, a sufi center. Our sheykh said, quoting the late wife of our grandsheykh, Hazret Hajja Ana, “Welcome to those who come, farewell to those who leave.” There is no compulsion to come, to stay, or to go.
Edeb, Ya Hu!– Have Manners!- is prominent everywhere, reminding all to have and display the best of manners. Good manners is the perfection of faith as it entails wisdom, patience, awareness, and humility. Manners here refer to the subtle but vital prophetic tradition of putting others before yourself and sharing what you have with others even if it is just a piece of bread. Simplicity in lifestyle marks the sufi center, a lifestyle close to nature with very few modern distractions. Followers tend to the usual responsibilites of a farm, besides cooking and cleaning for each other they also tend sheep, raise bees, feed the chickens, milk the cows, train the donkey, walk the dogs, clean after the cats, plant seeds, harvest vegetables, etc. etc. etc. Close contact with the natural mountainous surroundings, coupled with close contact with the animals help to balance the energies in our bodies, recalibrating our physical selves with nature and de-stressing our spirits. As it is a farm, work is constant but mostly light, everyone is expected to engage in physical labor especially during the day. It is a common sufic axiom that service to others is more sacred than personal worship.
Every work done at the center has to begin with the holy name of our Creator and must be done with love and sincerity. Any work done with compulsion or anger is unacceptable.
The usual day begins with the dawn worship and while waiting for the sun to rise the followers share those few holy moments with the sheykh where he may give a discourse, questions may be asked to him, or he may listen and interpret dreams. Dreamwork is an important aspect of a follower’s journey. Some chose to rest after sunrise, to meditate, or to start working. The day continues with work around the farm punctuated with noon and afternoon prayers. All work ceases at sunset. The followers join the sheykh for the evening prayers, dinner is served and a silent remembrance ceremony is held. After that tea and sweets are served while the sheykh continues his discourses. Live classical Ottoman music is played on the oud, poetry often recited and some may choose to whirl. Humor is extremely important in the center and often the sheykh would joke and laugh with us or at us, to increase our self-awareness.
The year is filled with holy days and nights, festivals, and commemorations and they are observed at the center. Visitors from all over the world periodically make their visit here, while those who do not live in the center visit during the weekends. All desire to associate with the sheykh and other followers and to disassociate themselves from the world. The job and responsibilites of the sheykh cannot be enumerated or imagined- he heals those with spiritual, psycological, or emotional illnesses, trains others to help him and prepare us all for the coming events of these End of Times.
The first step in joining Dergah, meaning the first step if you want to take initiation to be part of the Dergah, it is to be sincere. It is to be sincere with what is it that you want. If you want to be a sincere servant of Allah swt, but to be a servant now, you have to learn how to be a servant. Because the ego wants to declare itself Lord. The ego is the only one that declares itself Lord against to our Lord, Allah swt. In front of Allah swt, it is saying, ‘You are You and I am me. You exist, I exist. You are Lord, I am a Lord. You are an Illah, I am an Illah.’ That ego is in each and every one of us.
So the first step of joining a Dergah, to be having an initiation, to be following a Sheykh, is to understand that we have this egoistic characteristics and we want to get rid of it. If we don’t get rid of it, no matter how many countless times you say La illaha ilallah, you are still declaring yourself Ilah. You understand? Because it is the nature of the ego to declare itself an Ilah. Nothing in creation is declaring itself and Ilah. Not Angels, not the taifas, not the animals, not anything in creation, seen and unseen, things that we know and things that we don’t know, that declares itself an Ilah, except for man. Except for the ego in the man, the nafs. So what is your intention?
So many are joining Tarikat because they say, ‘I’m a saint in the making you know. My potential has been realise to become a Saint, so I must meet someone to become a Saint.’ We are saying, ‘Not here.’ Maybe there are other associations where they will see you and they will praise you, they will boost you and they say, ‘You are a saint. You are a saint, just by doing a couple of things you are a saint. You have a achieve Divine Union if you just carry one small sunnat.’ Not SahibulSaif association according to Sultanul Awliya. That’s us. Others they can declare, that’s okay, we have no problem. If you want, please, join them too.
If you like to be with us, we like to be with you. You like to be with us, you are already with us, and we are with you. What else is there? So many people, they are with us but they don’t really like us too much. Or one day they are going to like and the next day they are going to feel fed up. The Dergah is where you are going to find out the value and the truth on whether your faith is authentic or not. You know authentic? Original. What do you have to do? You have to test it. Anything that anyone claims to have a high value, you cannot just say, ‘oh okay I believe.’ You have to test it. What is the highest in value? What is the highest value? What is it? Shahadat.
Shahadat, is the highest value. Now, you have to keep the Shahadat high. You are saying, ‘Allah, no other ilahs, not even my ego,’ because in reality the ego is the only thing that declares itself an ilah. And that ego is put in you and me. Do you hear any Angel declaring itself an Ilah? No. Or any one of those ones, sheytan, never declares he is. Animals? No. but the ego that Allah swt has put in mankind is declaring itself to be an Ilah.
La illaha ilallah, you witness, how are you going to witness there is no other Ilah? if you witness that you, your own ilah which is your ego, you have buried it. Are you going to bury it?
Submit. Then you are going to admit there is no other way to reach to Allah except to the Holy Prophet (asws), wa ash-hadu anna muhammadan abduhu wa Rasuluhu. Then that time you will test your Shahadat. You test your Shahadat, you test your faith whether it is authentic or not, by coming to the Dergah. Sitting, understanding, learning then you are going to get wash up, you are going to get knocked up wall to wall. You know, so many things you want to test you have to put something stronger than what it is to test it, correct? Same thing, with us. You want to test the Shahadat strongly there has to be some polishing of our Shahadat to remove the ego from it.
So, you want to join the Dergah, welcome. If you like us, welcome. What we are speaking is, is the teachings of our Sheykh, teachings of our GrandSheykh, teachings of the Holy Prophet (asws). So, welcome to you. If you want to come here and spend time with us and eat, and worship, and make zikr, and get wash up, you are welcome to come too. If you want to take bayat, you’re welcome. If you don’t want, you’re welcome. Doesn’t matter. Welcome to those who come, farewell to those who leave. We are not going to force people to come. We don’t kick them to leave.
Sheykh Lokman Efendi Hz, Khalifah of Shaykh Abdulkerim el Kibrisi (qs) OSMANLI DERGAHI New York