THE JERRAHI PATH
ISTANBUL TO NEW YORK
By Matt Hanson
One ordinary, overcast evening in New York City, from an unassuming apartment building in the southernmost Brooklyn neighborhood, Aylin hopped into the waiting maroon sedan. Malik, a soft-spoken middle-aged man had kindly offered to drive her to the maiden Jerrahi lodge in America. The lodge was located in the suburb of Chestnut Ridge where the borders of New Jersey and New York meet. Originally from Afghanistan, Malik had a calm, friendly demeanor, open to conversation and optimistic in his tone. Aylin introduced herself, adding that she grew up in Turkey with her extended family following the late Sufi master Ahmet Kayhan Dede (In Turkish, the honorific dede simply means grandfather). In his mild manner, Malik confessed that he never heard of him, but that his faith affirms the universality of the tariqat concept and the interconnectedness of all Muslim communities on the Sufi path.
Upon arrivel, Aylin exits from the low frame of the car, and into the lush environs that appear well beyond city limits, pulsing with ecological integrity. A roost of chickens prepare for the night ahead, strutting about the rustic wooden entrance. And cresting with a proud minaret over the roof of the lodge, a gentle rain starts to fall from above. Silent smiles communicate welcoming gratitude and providence to the new guests, as busy cooks take momentary breaks to say hearty greetings.
Multigenerational solidarity is at the heart of this oldest Jerrahi lodge in America, nestled deeply into the Mid-Atlantic countryside. A man in a white dervish cap is a common sight, next to a covered woman. Illumined under the front door lamp astride neatly hewn shrubs, children skip about the festive outdoor lighting. Leafy vines decorate the lodge sheltered in lush green trees all radiating the primary color of Islam. Inside, the decorative tiled walls are styled in the Iznik craft from the Aegean region of Turkey unmistakable in its floral viridescent patterns, commingling arboreal motifs with kernels of symbolic resonance. Calligraphic signatures, particularly of the letter waw to symbolize the sacred oath to Allah, are designed within intricate weavings of ultramarine hues reminiscent of the Turquoise Coast.
PHOTO MONTAGE © DELIM 60 / BIGSTOCK.COM, RUDI 1976 / BIGSTOCK.COM