SUFI Poetry

In Sufism, it is love that guides and paves the seekers’ path to union with God.

Through the intoxication of love, Sufis learn to let go of their ego and open their heart to the truth that binds all creation. In reaching for the essential nature of this divine love, the Sufi poets evade fixed ideas, embrace paradox and turn to intricate metaphor and allegory that ring more truthful that the everyday reality that blinds us to the ineffable experience of love and the divine.

Sufi poetry is delivered in song, music, written and spoken form in cultures across the world. The Persian poets Rumi, Hafiz, Abu Sa’id Abu-l-Khair, Farid al-Dun Attar, Iraqi are still as relevant today as they were when they were originally penned, speaking directly to the heart of the seekers and lovers everywhere. Here we offer a selection from the Sufi poetry canon.

 


DECEMBER POEM  2017

Sama from Dr Javad Nurbakhsh

It’s the time of sama!
Clap your hands happily!
All who have escaped from self
will get drunk tonight!
It is God’s decree! Allah! Allah!

How long will you sit
and suffer in seclusion?
Rise on the feet of aspiration
and turn towards service instead.
It is God’s decree! Allah! Allah!

Rise and beat the frame drum!
Come, join the ranks!
Clap your hands drunkenly!
Now make a target of your self.
It is God’s decree! Allah! Allah!

Humbly and with love
you may escape
from the bonds of existence
and self-worship!
It is God’s decree! Allah! Allah!

Spend this moment in pure joy,
observe love and good faith.
Pledge your very existence,
annihilate your self in God!
It is God’s decree! Allah! Allah!

The lover is silent,
with no intellect or consciousness.
He has been bubbling within like a vat of wine.
It is time now to roar!
It is God’s decree! Allah! Allah!

If you are discerning,
then seize upon this moment,
for this transitory life
lasts only a short while.
It is God’s decree! Allah! Allah!

In the proximity of the Beloved,
do not bother with cures;
freely offer upyour distracted soul!
It is God’s decree! Allah! Allah!

We worship wine.
As long as we exist,
we are drunk and delivered
from our selves.
It is God’s decree! Allah! Allah!

We are light-headed,
drinkers of the dregs.
We have no distinct features;
we behave as Sufis.
It is God’s decree! Allah! Allah!

Where are You, O Beloved?
Have You no concern for us?
We are just beggars
looking for provisions.
It is God’s decree! Allah! Allah!

You are the soul’s nourishment;
You are the heart’s serenity.
You are both pain and cure;
You are both grace and what is given.
It is God’s decree! Allah! Allah!

 


NOVEMBER POEM  2017

The Circle of Unity from Dr Javad Nurbakhsh

 

As long as you are not bound to a Beloved
through loving-kindness
your soul will never experience the delight
of liberation.

Your notebook of knowledge
is but a toy of your imagination —
reading it in the beginning causes suffering,
in the end fatigue.

In truth, whatever you see other than love
is false.
You will never again hear Truth’s secret
this concisely.

Unconsciousness and humility,
lowliness and nothingness
are a few signs of the lover’s
pre-eminence.

In love’s battleground
the selfless rend
receives the rank of commander
from the Sultan of Beauty.

Cling to the circle of Divine Unity,
for this solid foundation
grants safety from faltering,
error and dispersion.

Aided by the heart, we climbed beyond
the limits of space and creation.
While seated here, we made many journeys
beyond the horizons.

We drank just a mouthful and
have remained drunk.
Since the day of the pre-eternal covenant,
our wine has been perpetually intoxicating.

O Nurbakhsh, I see you are undisturbed
by the flood of events;
though you may be a drop,
you are joined with the Ocean.

 


OCTOBER POEM  2017

A Sufi Poem by Iraqi

Oh, the comfort of my soul
I am wretched without you.

Come! Allow me to cast away my life at your feet.
Let me die in desire for your face.
As there is no reason to go on
If I don’t see that beautiful face.

Wake up Oh hidden fortune and behold my state!
Come back Oh long gone life and hear my constant wailing.

Oh Friend! Cast your glance upon me every now and then.
Remember that I am as weak as your drunken eye.

It is strange that you’re constantly with me.
Yet like a shadow I continue to chase you everywhere.

Oh Beloved! It is time for you to find out about my state.
Remember me! I am nothing without your remembrance.

At this moment Iraqi feels ill and dejected.
Bestow your mercy upon his heart
And transport him beyond his imagination.

 


SEPTEMBER POEM  2017

Photo © Elena Ray

A Sufi Poem from Rumi

Come

You’re my feet, You’re my hands,
You are the essence of my intoxication.
O’ drunken nightingale come to the garden.
You’re my ears, You’re my eyes,
You are the chosen one.
You’re the missing Joseph.
Come to the market place
You’re hidden from peoples eyes.
You’re the soul.
You’re the world.
Come back to me crazy and perform Your dance of Love.
You’re the brightness of the day.
You’re the joy that burns all sorrow.
You’re the moon that brightens the night.
You’re the cloud that carries rain.
O’ destitute heart come along.
O’ torn liver you come too.
If the path is closed, don’t stop,
climb your way over the wall.
O’ scattered night and unwanted sorrow, go away.
O’ slumbering intellect disappear,
let the awakening love, come through.
O’ the breath of Noah and the desire of every soul
Come.
O’ the cure of the unwell and the medicine of the sick
Come…

 


AUGUST POEM  2017

A Sufi Poem from Dr Javad Nurbakhsh

Transfixed by Idols

You have become a selfless
enraptured lover — I know,
You have become totally helpless
on my path — I know.

Desiring madness you have relinquished
religion, heart and reason;
it is not for nothing
that you are disgraced — I know.

Since you left your self
in the tavern,
you have become free
from the shackles of desire — I know.

When you built an idol-temple
in the Kaaba of the heart,
you became transfixed
by idols — I know.

I have news from you
that you have no news of your self;
you have become free
from the need for news — I know.

“I” and “we”1 is the source
of all agitation and misfortune;
you have become free
from self — I know.

Nurbakhsh, this poem
is not based on erudite style.
Yes, you have become freed
from the chains of the intellect — I know.

 


JULY POEM  2017

A Sufi Poem from the Rumi’s Masnavi

If your sweetness comes from sugar, then it is only temporary.

But if you turn into sugar through your fidelity to the Friend,

then your sweetness is as permanent as the Beloved.

The lover acquires his sustenance from Love, but the intellect

is lost and bewildered at the lovers’ game. The petty intellect denies

the existence of Love, though it may pretend that it knows many secrets.

Though intellect is clever and knowledgeable, it hasn’t annihilated itself

in the Friend. Until the angel becomes nothing, it is no more than the devil.

Know that whoever is summoned by the Friend becomes free from the business

of this world. The one who receives his job and sustenance from the Friend,

he is allowed at the Friend’s throne, becoming free from worldly business.

Those whose only mode of understanding is their intellect walk on a wooden leg.

It is foolish to embark on a long journey if your legs are made of wood.

A blind man’s guide is his cane, it helps him to avoid hidden obstacles.

Your reasoning and argumentations are no more than a cane, but a cane

is never a true substitute for the light of sight.

O blind one, your very cane is the instrument of war and hatred.

Come to your senses, smash your cane of reasoning into pieces.

Do not aspire to join the circle of the blind.

Bring a seeing man amongst yourselves to show you the path.

Grab the garment of the one who has given you the cane.

Beware of what happened to Adam who relied only on his cane.


JUNE POEM  2017

A Sufi Poem from the Divan-i Nurbakhsh

The Basis of Creation

Without love, the world is a tribulation, altogether,
a place of affliction and disappointment, altogether.

Whoever is unacquainted with love
is a stranger to us, altogether.

Love is the basis of creation,
through which everything exists, altogether.

Without love, life is empty and meaningless,
a senseless farce, altogether.

A heart not burning from love’s sorrow
contains only lust and desire, altogether.

If you’re a person of heart, turn towards love;
a heart not burnt in love is a torment, altogether.

Nurbakhsh’s heart spent a lifetime with love,
away from other than the Beloved, altogether.


MAY POEM  2017

A Sufi Poem by Rumi from the Divan-i Shams

I Swear By You.

I am all in a frenzy again,
That way I swear by you.
I tear off the bounds you bind me with,
I swear by you.

I am crazy enough to tie up demons.
I speak to the birds, I am Solomon.
I swear by you.

I do not want this fleeting life.
You are my precious life.
I do not want a gloomy soul.
You are my soul.
I swear by you.

When you hide from me I am all darkness and unbelief.
When you reappear, I am a believer.
I swear by you.

Drinking water from the jug, I saw your image
And regretted every breath I took without you.
I swear by you.

On the highest heaven, without you
I am broody like a gloomy cloud.
In a rose garden without you, I am in a prison.
I swear by you.

Let me declare in love
That He is the lion and I am the deer.
But a deer that guards lions.
I swear by you.

The Sama to my ear is your name.
That, to my brain, is your cup.
Build me up, for I am in ruins.
I swear by you.

In church and mosque, you are my aim.
Wherever you turn, I turn.
I swear by you.

My Master, my guide, my pain and my cure.
I live in your love.
My Master.
My God.


APRIL POEM  2017

A Sufi Poem by Muhammad Shirin (Shams-i) Maghrebi from the Divan-e Meghrebi

Smash the jug;
you’re the water, not the jug.

Let go of yourself;
you are the ocean,
not the stream.

Take a journey beyond your self;
you will see Oneness.

Leave behind “I” and “you”;
you will see you are Him.

How long do you continue to travel around the world?
Start your journey from your self,
and travel within.

Though you have been a seeker for years,
you have never sought Him
in yourself.

Take a step beyond your self,
and you will find the crown of spiritual poverty
on your head.

How could you travel towards His District?
You are still a child chasing the bat and the ball.

Become polished like a mirror
to reflect the Friend;
don’t be a hypocrite with two sides,
like a piece of paper,

Oh Meghrebi, you will not gain the bounty of His union
until you let go of your self,
…completely.