I came across this beautifully profound yet simple story by Zinsight author George Ziniewicz. It resonated so deeply with me that I just had to make a Sufi Comic of it.
The concept of a terminal works well as we are merely the instruments of God’s will. Only if we would wake up and recognise it. If only we surrender our vanity and give ourselves up to God, we will receive the instructions, bandwidth and resources needed to create our best life ever; in the gentlest, easiest way possible.
We have done a couple of comics of Rabia Basri. One’s titled The Headache and the other is Walking on Water. Here’s yet another Sufi Comic dedicated to this spiritual lady. She is an inspiring personality in Islamic history. Here’s a brief excerpt from her life from the book Destiny Disrupted:
“In Basra, lived the poet Rabia Al Basri, whose life is now laced with legend. As a little girl, she had been traveling somewhere with her family when bandits hit the caravan. They killed her parents and sold Rabia into slavery. That’s how she ended up in Basra as a slave in some rich man’s household. Her master, the stories say, kept noticing a luminous spirituality about her that made him wonder…
One night, when she was lost in prayer, he observed a halo surrounding her body. It struck him suddenly that he had a saint living in his house, and awe took hold of him. he set Rabia free and pledged to arrange a good marriage for her. He would get her connected to one of the best families in the city, he vowed. She had only to name the man she wanted to marry, and he would upon up negotiations at once.
But Rabia said she could not marry any man, for she was already in love. “In love?” gasped her recent master. “With whom?” “With Allah!” And she began to pour forth poetry of such rapturous passion that her former owner became her first and lifelong disciple.”
As a boy, whenever I heard of a quote by Rumi, though I never understood it, instinctively I knew that there is more to the saying than what meets the ear. Rumi’s poems are not to be read with the eyes or even the mind.
They are matters of the heart.
And then one day…
As mine and Ali’s religious studies progressed and one day we were explained what it means to love God. What it means to be Lovers of God. Oh, Gosh, it’s as if another dimension of our soul had opened its eyes, blinked twice and gazed first time into the bright beautiful world.
The universe… it seemed so different.
Oh God, the universe, it’s alive. Breathing. Pulsating. Trying to reach out. To humanity, to mankind, to me.
It’s speaking, shouting, even screaming. Am I listening?
From then on, when I read or heard the poems of Rumi, Hafiz, Iqbal, Saadi, I got a glimpse of the beauty that they saw. A strand of the emotion that they experienced.
A moment of the ecstasy that they thrived in.
Since then on…
Ali and myself had always been fascinated with stories and poems by the Lovers of God. Specially the poems of the greatest of all lovers… Rumi.
I had even taken up learning farsi for a while so that I could envelop myself in the authentic verses of Maulana. Sadly, my learnings of the language were short lived, however, little did we realise that our love for the verses of maulana would manifest itself in another way.
We knew what our next book should be on. You see, since our last book, Wise Fool of Baghdad, we were always contemplating what should we work on next. Six months ago, on our way to Jummu’ah (Friday prayers), Ali mentioned hearing a lecture of the great Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr and that he spoke of Rumi. At that instant we both knew that our next book has to be a dedication to the great Maulana.
Returning from Jummu’ah that afternoon, we scanned our libraries and deshelved all the books on Rumiand Sufism that we had. We began shortlisting the poems that we would later have sketched to comics.
Over the past six months, God has been infinitely merciful to us. Alhumdulillah we have made amazing progress on our book.
I first heard this story in one of the lectures of Sheikh Arif. What a beautiful story. Since then I have quoted it often in conversations and speeches. It explains so well the Omnipresence of the Creator.
Truly if God is present everywhere, the questions “Where is God?” and “How is God?” are faulty questions. As Imam Ridha responded, “He determined the “Where” and fashioned the “How”. He was, when there was no “where” and no “how”. He is not known through sense perceptions. He has no body & no abode. He is the Hidden & the Manifest, the Distant & the Near. Eyes cannot see Him but He is visible…to our heart & mind.”