By Musa Askari (penned 1991)
There were a group of travellers who strived to understand the nature of their “Self” by taking a path leading them to the innermost repose of their “Being”. Having attained the knowledge of seeing with “transparency” they were victorious over the fictitious presence, that “Alien” identity as Plotinus refers, which had sought to entrance them. Having arrived at this state of rest they were aware of being not only human, but also Soul-Beings. They had already forsaken the outter for the inner mode of gnosis and now eager to cross the threshold of the inner too.
For some of the group a “word” was enough to ascend to this bliss. For others the “Fatiha*” would suffice. For most the recital of the Remembrance of their Lord was a beginning. Such was the nature of the fellowship.
Whenever they gathered for meditation their Master would choose one to recite the Fatiha before entry in to Zikr* (remembrance). There was a novice among them. A frail old man on the verge of leaving this world. He had been with them many years. In all his years of service and devotion he had never been chosen to recite. In the beginning he did not expect to be asked and bowed his head when the moment arose. However, as the months and years passed this became increasingly the sole source of his concern and wonderment. Strangely, as a mark of his greater inner calm as opposed to his outter curiosity, he never once questioned or raised the matter with his Master. He waited patiently for understanding.
The night before his departure the old devotee was presented, by his Master, a ring with a cracked and chipped stone. That night he dreamt and it was revealed to him, through sign and symbol, how the stone came to be chipped (that itself a journey all its own). During the dream he passed away peacefully. The next morning his body was discovered and on his right hand was the Master’s Ring perfectly returned to its original form.
*Fatiha. The short opening chapter of the Quran, beginning, In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, Praise be to God, the Lord of the Worlds. An indispensable part of daily worship (salat).
*Zikr. Quranic in origin, meaning remembrance of God, along with fikr which is intellectual contemplation of the signs of God. In Sufi usage, it means a particular mode of remembrance, the recital of a Divine Name imparted to the novice for guidance and enlightenment.
*Soul-Beings. Term coined by Hasan Askari