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Introduction: Who am I?
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Quote hat2010 Replybullet Posted: 22 May 2007 at 2:07pm

Edited by Jamal Morelli - 30 October 2009 at 3:36pm
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Quote abuzuhri Replybullet Posted: 03 June 2007 at 2:14am

Part Two : Seeing Morocco Without Leaving My Teahut

Two prominent Chinese muslim scholars namely Imam Wang Daiyue and Shaykh Liu Chi completed this da’wah mission to the future Chinese generation by writing several Islamic books and comparative religion/sufic texts drawing heavily from Confucian, Buddhism and Tao principles. Here, a Chinese seeker take a relook at two chapter of Tao Te Ching with some sufic insights after several hundred years.


And Today 27 Mac 2007. to fill my precious time while traveling 40km away from Putrajaya (new Malaysian federal capital city)  on the ERL-KLIA Transit to Kuala Lumpur Sentral modern transportation hub,  I opened an old book titled Lectures on The Tao The Ching by Professor Cheng Man Jan. Published in 1981 North Atlantic Books, California. Out the window, I could see the beautiful fields, lakes and orchards of University Putra, Serdang in the morning sun. Here are the tit bits for your cup of tea :


Page 157, Chapter 47 of Lao Tzu Sayings


“Without leaving his door, one can understand the world.

Without glancing out the window

One can see the Tao of Heaven.

The further one travels the less one knows.


That is why the Sage (a Sufi or Wali in Islamic tradition)

Does not travel and yet understands,

Does not look and yet (can) names (things)

Does not act and yet completes (the affairs).


Page 159 ,Chapter 48


In pursuing knowledge, one accumulates daily.

In practicing Tao, one loses daily.

Lose, lose and lose, until one reaches Wu-wei(Non-action)

Non-action, yet there is nothing left undone.

To win the world one must not act for gain.

If one acts for gain, one will able to win the world.


( a little commentary : in constrast, practitioners of Tao

Desire to reduce desire,’ lose and lose and lose’, until

They reach the state of Non-action..those who act

Rebel against the Tao. Those rebels against Tao

Lack the means to win over the world.


Wu wei can also means complete surrender or submission

of the self before the Overpowering Reality.

Total annihilation or fana and

After this event, came illumination of the spirit and

Divine unveilings to the blessed seeker. The nafs, lower desire,

The rebel force, nafs ammara and nafs lawwama had crushed.

What emerge is the light and wisdom of the serene self.

The seeker in another sense was being honored and elevated

To the alam malakut where he sees wonders of Unseen. He leaves

His body, intellect, will, power, opinions etc and fly without wings ! )


abuzuhri shin
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Quote abuzuhri Replybullet Posted: 22 June 2007 at 10:04pm

Abu Zuhri Second Part Posting on Moroccan Adventures as promised to my desert city old Fez companion Sidi Jamal Morelli the part time traveller, film maker, agent provocauter, lover of sufis and awliya, music and qasidahs and freelance guide: Here it narrated by Daniel Moore my distance seeker who shared and treaded the great Darqawi Way:

.....My wife and I moved into an apartment in the annex building of the American Language Center, in a suburb filled with newly constructed and underconstruction villas, three-or-more story buildings, imagined, it seems, as a kind of Moroccan Art Deco. All the buildings, old or new, are of the same pinkish terra cotta color of every building in Marrakesh, thusly hued by law for whatever reason: simple tradition, to blend in, or perhaps to maintain the native adobe desert look, which is actually quite attractive. Each house had a small daring detail of color, cobalt tiles above the main entrance for example, or a bit of tiled frou-frou somewhere on the facade. Looking over the city from our balcony, there is a lovely uniformity and Arab-town honeycombedness, so typical of Muslim cities, though on the street the bedraggled, rundown look is, up close, more acute. Here and there, dusty palm trees prong up into the sky, roadways often running around them, out of deference to the trees’ ancient role as mothers and living beings. Occasional ones spotted lying on their sides look truly forlorn, like dead animals, their lifetime of service having come to an end.

We slept after our journey, visited the country house of our host, being refurbished under the expert gaze of the director’s artist wife, Jamila, with great snowcapped mountains of the High Atlas in the distance, and generally sank into and acclimatized ourselves to the rhythms of Marrakesh. There’s always something amazing about living in a place where the adhan is called five times a day, although they begin a kind of courtesy adhan about an hour or more before the adhan for fajr prayer, which in a state of jetlag is a little unnerving.

In Marrakesh as well as everywhere in the Muslim world it seems, there manifests the same disease of modern Islam: the electrified minaret loudspeaker. What is lovely about the unaided human voice is its aching poignancy, and in cities like Marrakesh, Meknes or Fez muezzins go into almost every minaret to call the adhan, so there would be a natural overlap of their naked voices. Instead, every minaret is wired for sound, and the result is a harsh metallic adhan that almost hurts rather than reminds, like children in supermarkets screaming for attention. Where is the wafting adhan, the evocative adhan, the adhan based not on modern human technology but on the ancient human vocal chords and heart of the muezzin? Sheikh Hamza Yusuf also mentions in one of his talks somewhere that with an unamplified adhan you could guage how far away the mosque is and how quickly to walk to it in order to arrive at the prayer on time. With amplified adhans you might walk for miles thinking the mosque is just down the road, providing, of course, that you don’t already know the city like the back of your hand. Granted, a possible justification for amplification is that modern life has also gotten noisier. Still, I’m always grateful for the adhans, the muezzins in Morocco are the most sublime of singers, and I listened hopefully past the technology when at fajr and maghrib especially, you can hear the various adhans looping and blending their vocal banners across the city as the dawn comes up or the sun lowers itself down through the completed day’s radiant clouds.

In Marrakesh is the tomb of the author of the universally recited Dala’il al-Khayrat, Imam al-Jazuli (d.870 ah), sheikh of the Shadhiliya-Darqawi tariqa, who is one of the Seven Saints of Marrakesh, honored as the spiritual linchpins of the city’s reason for being. The other six are Sidi Qadi Ayaad, Sidi al-Abbas Sabti, Sidi Yussuf Ben Ali, Sidi Abdellaziz al-Tebbaa, Sidi Abd Allah al-Ghazwaani -- nicknamed Moul al-Ksour -- and Imam al-Suhayli (may Allah be pleased with all of them). During our visit there, though we had intended to visit all seven, both my wife and I were only able to visit the tomb and zawiyya of Sheikh Jazuli, Malika one night with other ladies, and myself with one of the language center’s teachers who would be our guide on the journey north, Sidi Hamza Weinman, who took me to the Jazuli zawiyya in his cuddly, banged-up rattletrap Renault I dubbed Zahara (to which he added: el-Miskeena, “the poor thing”), somewhere across town, not far from the Djemma el-Fna. (Note last week 26 Jun 2007, I bought a copy of Dalailul Khayrat at Pustaka Indonesia, infront of Masjid Indian at kuala lumpur city near the Gombak river bank, what a suprise find. Then, I manage to walk about 100 meter to pray 2 rakaat sunnat at the redbrick 3 storey mosque).

We walked down a winding alley and went into the very humble mosque, first going into the tomb to greet the sheikh. A lovely tomb, ornately decorated, which I obtained permission from one of the regulars, or the guardian, to photograph, only to have my digital camera jam as soon as I took the picture! I regretted the glitch, though, and wish I had been able to take a picture or two inside the zawiyya of the two lines of mostly old men in djallabas, reciting the Dala’il al-Khayrat, a collection of all the formulae of blessings upon the Prophet, God’s peace be upon him, starting with those mentioned in the sunnah, those composed by the Sahaba, by the Taabi’in, and by countless salihin, in that unmistakable Moroccan fashion, rhythmically fast and musically intense, page after page with very little variation in the phrases and invocatory formulae, page after page, most of the grizzled and very indigent looking men reciting it entirely by heart! The sweet joy of their faces! Their concentration and light! I was happy to see some young men among them as well, but most of them were well into their elder benignity, no less vigorous however, obviously mentally as sharp as sword-blades, and especially energized in reciting these glorious and lengthy invocations. But my camera was jammed, try as I might, and I had to give it up and let the recitation soak into me, following it where I could in the yellowed booklets of the text one of the men handed us. Afterwards, the leader and some of the others greeted us, and we left the zawiyya back into the darkened alleyway, back to Zahara, with the haunting sing song of the dhikr echoing in our hearts and brains.

The puppet play went well, in the Center’s courtyard, though most of the children really couldn’t follow the words. As it turns out, I had written it about five or six years above their heads. They sat in their chairs, row after row, with perfect attentiveness, many never having seen anything like a puppet play live. The two appearances I made, in masks and costumes exactly like two of the small puppets, created a kind of cathartic shiver up their young spines. The poetry reading two days later, however, was, for me at least, amazingly gratifying, with the audience commenting and questioning some of the poems and their meanings, which I welcome and always find fascinating, discovering how some people perceive them. The sea of excited and interested Moroccan faces as I read these poems (written usually at the side of my bed in the middle of an American night) was overwhelming to me. They caught the meanings, and their love of poetry was palpable.

The students and staff of the school had been studying one of the poems earlier, The Piece of Coal, but I was really surprised when, after just one recitation of the poem, many in the audience in unison were able to supply the final words of each stanza when I repeated them:

Piece of Coal

The piece of coal that wanted to be diamond
said to the earth: Press me.
The succulent grape that wanted to be wine
said to the feet: Crush me.
The cloud that wanted to be thunder and rain
said to a facing cloud: Collide with me.
The mountain that wanted to be level valley
said to the elements: Erode me.
The oyster that wanted to produce a pearl
said to a sand-grain: Irritate me.
The heart that wanted to be filled with light
said to the world: Break me.

The famous square in the old city of Marrakesh, crossroads of camel-drivers and charlatans, snake-charmers and magicians, the wilder Gnaowa “Sufis” of the deeper south, dancers and singers and musicians deep into the night, Djemaa el-Fna, famous everywhere. Before visiting the place, I wrote a short poem imagining the mesmerizing atmosphere that might prevail there.


When the fire-eater put the firebrand in his mouth
the whole night sky I swear burst into flame

And when he took it out of his mouth extinguished
the night sky blackened and pulled itself tight
around us again

Except for this fantasy, I came very close to not visiting the square at all, but after the poetry reading given at the Language Center I pre-vailed on Hamza to just “pop over and have a look around.” We got into Zahara and she galumphed her way to the nearest side street, around 10 p.m., and we wandered into Djemaa el-Fna. It was dark except for glowing points of light shimmering up from huddled groups of people dotted here and there, and the night sounds of drumming and singing from the various circles.

We first passed a very obsequious man in djellaba and turban holding a kind of large banjo (a guinbri) sitting in the glow of a Coleman lantern, on a large cloth, surrounded by chickens pecking at grain on the ground. He was chatting to some onlookers. Next to him was a brightly painted naif portrait of himself playing the guinbri we saw him with. We wandered away to other groups, a very thin bare-chested man pacing back and forth and shouting in a guttural derajah to the great amusement of the men in the circles -- there were no women here at this hour -- and I suggested to Hamza who, in spite of his passable derajah, couldn’t really follow what he was saying, that he might be a kind of Marrakeshi standup (or pacing) comedian, his monologue probably full of subtle asides and lurid references. We then went to another group where some serious oud playing and drumming was taking place, and lingered for a little while, my hands on my wallet pocket, my camera held close to my body, until the allure wore off. The allure for the Djemaa el-Fna actually wore off rather quickly (I told Hamza that a little of the Djemaa el-Fna goes a long way), and after visually visiting some of the food stalls, where amazing pyramids of fruit and food, including goats’ heads sitting on their necks, were piled up, we tumbled back into Zahara and made our way home.


With the wooden collapsible stage wrapped in canvas and lashed to the roof, and the hired van and driver setting off early in the morning, with a vanful of fuqara who traveled north with us to attend the great Meknes Moussem -- who would be returning to Marrakesh by bus, as the driver, Sidi Hamza, my wife and I, and the suitcase of puppets, continued north -- we took to the open road. The countryside, even rainswept and cloudy, is everywhere majestic and rich, as we drove past sheepherders with small and huge herds, a little shack angling to the earth in the middle of a field, great cascades and gorges appearing around a bend, and glorious green fields with swathes of stunning bright red poppies seemingly strewn across them, or shockingly electric yellow mustard flowers in great wavy bands of color.


Meknes is the city of my soul, perhaps, in the way that Oakland, California is the city of my body. It’s a hilly city, the old city within a great wall around it built by the ruthless Moulay Ismail, who’s buried in a giant, fully tiled and chilly tomb at one of the gates. There’s a secret here too, though. If you go into the vast and echoes hall and ask the muqaddem for the tomb of Abdur Rahman al-Madjdoub, perhaps he’ll take you to a far wall and open a low door with his set of keys. You’ll go into a dark and small chamber, low-ceilinged, somewhat dusty and cobwebby, and in the middle is the simple tomb of one of the great saintly shuyukh of Morocco, a wali poet, whose lines of poetry and aphorisms are often used to impart immediate folk wisdom, and I’m told, to diffuse disputes. On this journey to Meknes, though we weren’t able to visit his tomb, sadly, I was told that he has two collections, or diwans, of poetry, both written in the Moroccan dialect: one more “streetwise” and pungent, the other more seriously Gnostic and sublime. As there never seems to have been a translation of these works into English, I can only guess at their possible magnificence.

I spent many months in Meknes in the 70s, at gatherings of dhikr during and after the lifetime of our sheikh, and passing through once on my way to the town of Rissani, in the Tafilalt. I can’t even remember clearly how long I stayed or exactly when, but the zawiyya, tucked away in an alleyway labyrinth just up from the long wild gardens that run along the old city’s lower wall and the new city, is a place of such deep nostalgia, I can’t explain. Coming into the city by bus from Tangier my heart would always leap with expectation of seeing our sheikh, or being in the company of his disciples. The city itself would be welcoming, it seemed, with its amazing bustle, its great gates, the smells of cedar wood from the marketplace, the stillness and coolness of its mosques, the Jama Zaytuna mosque, just around the corner from our zawiyya. Even this visit, where we stayed in a luxurious hotel in the modern city, and could look out across the bridge to the old city and see the minaret from the Jama Zaytuna rising out of the rooftops, we felt an exhilaration at just being in Meknes. But of course the Path continues very strongly here, with the old zawiyya and tomb with its barebones simplicity and huge and palpable blessing, and one of our sheikh’s strongest followers, Moulay Hashim ( a faqir of SMH) , and the exalted nights of dhikr at his house which is also a zawiyya, inside a nondescript door not far from one of the main fortress gates of Meknes.

The mornings of Fajr in the old zawiyya thirty years ago, when the men would come together in their woolen djallabas and turbans after the prayer and sit in a circle as the light slowly filtered in through the high small window as the sun rose, reciting the Qur’an and the Wird of our Sheikh, then sometimes going back to sleep with their hoods pulled over their heads along the sides on the thin cushions until breakfast time. Then a low round wooden table would be brought in, and perhaps last night’s couscous would have been reheated and served, with milky coffee. The fuqara might eat in silence, except for some grunted jokes and kidding that might ensue between them, incomprehensible to me in their words but obvious in their intimate affection for each other. I often thought this must have been how the Companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, behaved, courteously but familiarly as well, knowing each other’s inner states enough to respect their hearts but prodding their nafs with a little gentle taunting to get a reaction. A breakfast among human beings. The last grainy gulps of coffee, cahua hlib, as the mosque room flooded with morning light.

This visit thirty years later began with a giant mawlid at our beloved Moulay Hashim’s house, with men coming from all over Morocco and perhaps farther, to celebrate the Prophet Muhammad, peace of Allah be upon him, and the shuyukh, the tariqas, the Path, and to thank God for every breath we take. The air itself was shaking with ecstasy, and the singing had a way of keeping the atmosphere aloft for hours on end, one coil of singing rounding into the beginning of another, spiraling up, really, to the stars. There’s something so vital, earthy, human and true about this form of worship, the recitation of Qur’an in unison, the songs of the teaching guides, and the many circles of standing dhikr that took place, the hadras, invoking the Presence of the Divine. What a pleasant relief from the stern fundamentalist view, the pure expression of joy of being Muslim, this vigorous, sweet gratitude to Allah! I often think that without this joy I would hardly have been attracted to Islam! Rather than the dour Puritanism alone, the strict observances of dos and don’ts alone, there’s this full flowering of the human heart’s wish to connect with the Creator in an energetic and blissful way.

The fundamentalist radicals who label this form of dhikr haram have in many ways effectively removed the humanity and reality of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, from Islam, forgetting his mercy, his lightness of being, as well as the depth of his love for Allah and all His creatures, human and otherwise, to say nothing of large swathes of Qur’an, hadith and hadith qudsi that praise dhikr of Allah in many forms, “standing, sitting and on our sides.” They have even pried away many of the attributes of Beauty and Forbearance of Allah ta’ala, as if God were only a Wrathful, Magnificent, All-Powerful and punishing God, rather than the Kind and Subtle, the Inwardly Hidden and Outwardly Manifest Merciful Lord. If more Muslims understood the spirituality of Islam in this way, perhaps we would not only have less damaging encroachment from so-called “outside” forces, cultural and materialist invasions from alien sources, but also a more balanced Umma that roots out murderous terrorism from within, and resists injustice from both inside and out. I saw in the faces and behavior of these men in these circles of celebration only ecstatic awe and hope in Allah’s Presence and Grace. The hadra is the natural rising to one’s feet in sudden inspiration and yearning, either leading up to or resulting from that state. My wife, who sat above us that night at one of the windows overlooking the courtyard, was afraid her copious tears of recognition would dampen the men’s djallaba collars below. The Mawlid continued far into the night, and its echoes continued in our hearts throughout our journey north and back again, even to Philadelphia, and alhamdulillah, even to this very moment.

The morning after the Mawlid my wife and I visited the tomb of Sheikh ibn al-Habib, may Allah be pleased with him, in the corner of his zawiyya. It is a place of peace and light just up from the gardens running along the bottom of the old city, the Habibiyya zawiyya with its haunting echoes of voices down the alleyway leading to it, the call the prayer here in its mosque from the human throat, and the circle of dhikr after the adhan of the shahada sung three times at highest intensity followed by the greeting all the men offer to each other who sang it by kissing their hands in the circle. I was grateful to be able to revisit these earliest days of my Islam, those first years so poignant for those of us not born Muslim who are later blessed with its embrace.

There was also a marvelously happy encounter there, on my Journey to Qalbiyya, that somehow completed the journey’s circle. I encountered a man in front of the tomb of Sayyidina Sheikh with a group of fuqara from Laghouat, Algeria. This is the very town six of us traveled to in the late 70s, where we met the extraordinary blind wali who had been a French professor and faqir of our sheikh, and who gave me the name Ameen. When I mentioned Hajj ‘Issa of Laghouat to him and asked if he knew him, he said, “Yes; that was my father!” And when I told him I have a photograph of all of us standing with him in his garden, he said, “Yes, I took that picture.” Then I recognized him as the wali’s grown-up son after thirty years, who was still a teenager when I saw him last. Amazed, we fell into each other’s arms.....

Next posting Part 3 will be :

Visit To MOULAY IDRISS TOMB...insya Allah

abuzuhri shin
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Quote hat2010 Replybullet Posted: 12 September 2009 at 7:22am

Edited by Jamal Morelli - 30 October 2009 at 3:36pm
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