It’s always a pleasure when Shaykh Salah Al-Sawy comes to town. I try to make sure that I have no plans, and if I do have plans they get canceled! In this day and age being able to sit with a real deal, scholar, not student of knowledge, but actual scholar is a rarity indeed.
One of the reasons that I enjoy being in Shaykh Salah’s company is his being a trove of poetry. You never know when some incredible jewels will leave his lips, while sitting in the car, while walking or while eating even. This time one of the prized pieces was during a lecture on Saturday night. The shaykh was speaking about the importance of having a positive perspective and that in reality everyone will read into things, the same event even, with the perspective that they carry. They will see it through the shade of the spectacles that they wear. He then told a story that made the crowd roar…
Hundreds of years ago, there was a prince who built what we would call now a cinema. It was very rudimentary with some ghost like figures that would be dragged onto a stage hanging off of a rope. There was a man off stage that was the mover of the figures by a pulley. He would speed them at times as they traversed across the stage, and at times he would slow them down. The prince summoned a ‘Abid, a known worshiper, to come and receive a private screening of his contraption. Upon the end of the show, the prince asked the worshiper what he thought. The worshiper then replied saying,
رأيت خيال الظلّ أكبر عبرة *** يلوح بها معنى الكلام لأحداقي
وفي كل موجودٍ على الحقّ آية *** لمن هو في علم الحقيقة راقي
شخوص وأشباحٌ تمرّ وتنقضي *** وليس لها ممّـا قضى من واق ِ
لها حركاتٌ ثمّ يبدو سكونها *** وتفنى جميعاً والمحرّك باقي
I saw the ghosts as the greatest lesson,
Summoning through them meanings before my eyes,
And in every present thing is a sign to the truth,
To those who regarding its reality are wise,
People and ghosts who pass through and then disappear
With no protection from where their destiny lies,
They have motions and then appear to be still,
Except for the mover, everyone dies.
As the saying goes, you can take the worshiper out of his worship, but you can’t take the worship out of the worshiper!