Mar 13, 2006

The Path Is a Refuge and Shelter for Whoever Seeks the Truth

  • Synopsis from Master Ali Rafae' Speeches given in Ramadan 1423 H (November, 2002)
  • Translated by: Magda el Seba'i
  • Prepared for publishing by: Aisha Rafea
What we say today is the result of numerous years through which our path and our gathering have passed. It is an accumulation of experiences we lived through or were informed of. The beginning of this path was recourse to Sufism and to those who enriched our Spiritual Heritage through their knowledge and contributions. When we talk about Sufism, we point here to those who previously contributed to this path such as Ibn Al Arabi and Ibn Ataa' Allah and others. However, we don't mean those whose various expressions and manifestations have changed into mere appearances and forms.
The word "beginning" may not be completely accurate to describe the real start of this path because the path is continuous and has actually started since the beginning of creation and will continue until God inherits the earth and its inhabitants. There has always been a continuity of the servants of God and His worshipers who meditate on the words of the Holy Book and contemplate the words of *Truth which were conveyed by His Messengers and Prophets and which were expounded by the pious and believers. However, we are referring here to a specific time limit of our earthly life during which we have learned that the principle of this path is the everlasting message of Islam, which aims at seeking the Truth and understanding all God's messages to men in their various manifestations. There is no one way which prescribes behavior, but there are many, and there are various methods, schools and creeds--all depending on man's desire and the main purpose for his existence on earth and the goal he seeks to achieve in his life.
In Sufi tradition, as we know, there is a guide, a sheikh, a spiritual teacher (guru) who teaches his disciples the meanings and the truthful values of the path and trains them in appreciating the Sufi approaches and spiritual knowledge. This can mark the real beginning for being launched upon the path: when a human being seeks a sheikh to learn from him and finds him. It is, thus, an association and a stage characterized by the principles of Sufi Orders which are based on asceticism and spiritual struggle in various ways. Such principles are found in Islam. But rather than paying lip service to these principles or performing them as mechanical rituals, our approach aims at a deepened understanding of them and a practice that is accompanied by a profound realization of their concepts. Our approach also aims at carrying out these principles in a spirit of love and in the hope that it may help benighted man to live in a state of enlightenment instead of in one of darkness . This stage started in the forties and extended until the beginning of the fifties.
Spiritual Communication was one of the stages of this path and it has accompanied our desire to search for the Truth. There was unseen guidance expounding the meanings of life and its extension beyond death. There re many verses in the Holy Qura'an that convey the same meaning. Moreover, there were many people in the East and in the West who went through this experience and felt its truthfulness and they believed that it was not mere nonsense or hocus-pocus. It is well known that a sheikh such as Tantawy Johari who was a religious scholar by profession and had his own interpretation of the Qura'an and who was also a philologist found what he was seeking all his life when he read the books available on spiritual contact. He found in these books that God was addressing the West in a language it understood and he pondered how the meanings of the Qura'an were also conveyed to the West in its language through this spiritual contact with all its eloquent meanings and truthful and spiritual values. He also perceived that this spiritual contact was a call for adopting noble values on earth and implementing the Divine Law of life. The spiritual guide, Master Silver Birch, has many books in the West which talk about the Divine Law of life that man's behavior on this earth has its effect on his spiritual that every moment a man lives on this earth is intimately related to his future that praying if not sincerely addressed to God or if not aiming at attaining spiritual or moral gains is without meaning or value. The meaning of service, i.e the service of man to a fellow human being and the meaning of behavior--all the meanings that have been conveyed by religion are found in these books. These books played a great role in reforming Western Society which didn't believe in the extension of life beyond death. With the availability of these books, man in the West, has started to understand the spiritual values as they are described in a simple language. At the same time, these books have also played an effective role in the Islamic Society as they reinforced the beliefs of the Moslems and those who seek spiritual values and meanings and a deep appreciation of the meaning of life’s extension beyond earth. Most of the time , we declare that we believe in the Day of Judgement, but such a verbal declaration on our part doesn't mean that we actually * "live" this belief. If every human being really "lived" this belief or let his actions be colored or motivated by it, life on earth would be completely different .Hence, the founder or the guide of this path didn't find any difficulties or experience any qualms in accepting the knowledge contained in these books nor did he reject such spiritual contact.
As we always say, spiritual contact is an ongoing message because every man can go through this experience in different ways .There is a reference to this in the Islamic Heritage which accepts the validity of spiritual contacts when embodied in a true vision, as Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said,
"Whoever has seen me, he has seen me truly for the devil cannot impersonate me"*
For no known reason, any man can without pre-knowledge or pre-thought be inspired with a new idea or thought .He can also develop a sudden feeling without being able to account for such a feeling. A reasonable explanation for all these things which have no clear concrete justification is that there is a spiritual relationship between them and the unknown. The purpose of what has been said so far is to keep a completely open mind towards all sources of knowledge and in its search for the Truth. We believe that any knowledge, new or already available on this earth, can be of use to us. This doesn't diminish the value of Islamic Heritage, whether it be contained in the Holy Book or in the Prophetic Hadiths but, on the contrary, it enhances their glory by testifying to the fact that they contain all these meanings. A human being can deepen his understanding of the Qura'an and the Hadiths if he contemplates whatever exists on this earth..
When spiritual contact is mentioned, some people recite the Holy verse:
"When they ask you about the soul (ruh), tell them the soul (ruh) is God's concern and what you know about it is only very little." (Soura Al Isra'a: verse 85).
We would like to state here that spiritual contact was never a search for the essence of the soul or an attempt to dissect the soul or describe what it is. This is indeed beyond human beings' knowledge, capacity and understanding. We always say and repeat that we cannot encompass what is beyond this life. Our vision is limited to specific vibrations and waves and is confined within the wavelength of infra-red and the wavelength of ultra-violet. We can only hear within a specific wavelength because we have our own limitations on this earth. However, there is a spiritual phenomenon that really does happen and it has its impacts and significance. The issue is not that every contact or that every supernatural phenomenon experienced by some individual has to be true. There is no doubt that there are many charlatans and liars, but we should always observe the principle that says, "speak and you will be known", you are judged by "what you say" and not by "who you are". Therefore, when the spiritual guide was asked, "who are you?", he answered:
" what does it matter who I am...I am a worshiper of God or a soul emanating from God or a light coming from God. listen to what I say to you . If what I say to you is of any use to you and you can benefit from it, do so, otherwise disregard it." *
The issue for us is to search for the Truth as much as our capabilities will allow us, and the knowledge revealed by God will help us . This is an ongoing issue and spiritual contact is not sought out for its own sake. For example, the meaning of direct spiritual contact is not the same now as it was twenty years ago. This doesn't concern us at all because it is God's Will. Spiritual knowledge can be obtained in one way or in another. Spiritual knowledge can be obtained through our gathering and our talks and dialogues. This is the source of the spiritual knowledge that is available now and this is what is required at this stage. At this stage, we say we follow a path which teaches us that we are all brothers before God, our Creator. We say here that we don't consider the traditional form attached to the Sheik (spiritual teacher)-disciple relationship as the only example to be followed by the group. We believe that we are all brothers before God seeking the path to Him and the secret of the path is the rallying of hearts and the rallying of hearts gives strength and gives the required impetus that marks an individual who speaks for the group actuated by the strength and the love of the group and unity of its members. He, thus becomes their spokesman, expressing their love and spreading spiritual values. We are all liable to make mistakes or obtain insights into the Truth. When we make mistakes, we ask God for forgiveness .Every human being is liable to err and those who err and repent are the dearest to God. We ask God that we be among those who listen to what is said, but follow only what is spiritually and morally right. We pray to God to give us the strength not to be too proud, to admit our errors and rejoin the straight and narrow way of the Truth. As it is well known "to admit one's error is a virtue". We pray to God to be humble, modest, and honest and to drive arrogance from our hearts. We pray that we obey God in all our behavior and actions. God be praised and thanked and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah.