Last night was the 15th night of Sha’ban. While there is debate amongst scholars regarding the appropriate ways to worship on this night, there are many recorded instances of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) extolling the value of performing extra tawba and other forms of worship on this night.
In this spirit, SSC hosts a khalwa each year on the 15th of Sha’ban and last night was no exception. Two of our murshids spoke eloquently about ways we can heal and move forward together as a tariqa. The recordings of both murshids is below, along with the text of Rida Marz’s talk. May Allah bless you.
Talks by Rida Marz & Wadude Laird
Rida Marz’s Opening Remarks
“This being one of the holiest nights of Islamic Calendar, we are gathered for forgiveness, atonement, praying for the light of justice, renewal, and the destiny of humanity as well as our community for the coming year.
“Let us focus on our hearts and feel the points of separation that need healing, and seek forgiveness not only for our collective transgressions but also our individual roots of mistrust.
“For me, teachers and teachings support me to live a free life of loving and giving as He intended and put in each since Adam. They are not meant to generate separation in the world of right and wrong and undercooked and unrealized beliefs.
“That is why our focus must shift to the application of teachings in our individual and communal lives. Our teachings are for our living, our tasting, and for our immediate relationships and connections we make with our presence.
“This life, this opportunity is not about negotiating with Allah to make things better for us; it is about accessing what He has already given and He ever continues to give.
“It is on that basis that I prepared this talk for you on this holy night.
“Love is not a response to a demand. Love is the attraction of an engaged heart, a loving heart looking to give. Not polluted by an agenda of what I may get, it is simply just an offering of a clean heart to beauty and the loved one’s needs.
“This love has a starting point but no ending, estaghforrollah, as it keeps growing and shedding light after light to its surroundings.
“We are children of unity born in a world of separation and conflict.
“Sidi taught us that love brings joy, and he gave us the guidance by which we can reach the freedom to access that joy and happiness through connecting, caring and loving.
“In a world of conflict, separation and oppression, we all have wounds within.
“When we access our own pain, we access our conscious or unconscious contributions to the world of separation around us.
“We cannot reach this clarity, without owning the beauty of our own and one another’s vulnerability in each other’s presence. Our spiritual life, our potential for freedom to love and access to eternal life, is dependent on this.
“We each need safe containers where we can talk about the conflicts we experience or feel, in the form of empathic inquiry, receptive hearing, and heart holding.
“Our father, Rahmatullahu Alik, the one who put the seed of love in our hearts, used to refer to ‘No Separation’ a good deal in his talks and writings. Warning us about separation from self; from reality; and from one another and those whom we are trying to love.
“In the first three stations of our walking we experience these separations including the separation from our blind spots and shadows within.
“Yet separation is an illusion. In the reality of one Universe how can there be separation? Therefore separation is a mentally concocted reality where we put distance between our hearts and that which we cannot face.
“Only that connection and our choice to turn away from separation exists. Sidi helped us feel this connection, with ourself, with him, and to some degree to the world around us. Since he left us, we are missing that taste of connection, unity and love that our hearts yearn for.
“So let us examine and see where this Vahm, illusion, of separation comes from. It is a by-product of conflict that does not exist in reality, the Reality as Sidi defined it. The Source of this conflict is within. It rules with blame, competition and oppression needing genuine healing.
“Our communal relationship and ability to connect with one another is based on each of us recognising the parts of our gifts that can serve the intended unity.
“At this same time we need trust and intimacy to be able to share our felt challenges, conflicts, and pains within a specially designed container where we build the trust and safety necessary to find healing.
“The container is devoid of hierarchy. It is where we sit naked to meet in our vulnerability and own the many layers that we built to defend ourselves.
“Only from the energetic, heartfelt connection of this place, and not before, can we build something fresh and new with all the gifts we carry to bring a candle of light to this darkness. This will contain the light of our prayers, our songs, our artistic creations, our acts of mercy and our shining united community that is on fire with Himma to give a loving response to all that our hearts endure.
“Here I would like to share some memories of our father Sidi, a glimpse of his day to day living, inviting you to contemplate on it. One day, walking along with Sidi on the Land, I asked him why he did not care about having teeth, feeling curious and keen to provide advice. He laughed with so much joy. Brushed off my question and started telling me about his various operations, pointing to the scars on his neck, all along laughing as if it was all a fantasy … We walk and arrive at his cabin. He wants to watch TV and news to be in touch with the reality that oppression and separation is manifesting at every moment around the planet. We began talking about politics, about cultures where wisdom and mercy is protected and maintained, about the joys that traditions bring…., flowing from one topic to another with a sense of thankfulness permeating between us…. Another time, at the Farm, he started to collect ripe tomatoes, allowing me to fill my shirt with all that he picked. We unloaded a set of harvests at the lower garden and he was quite excited and joyful and wanted to walk to the upper garden. I picked a basket and he kept picking and picking, with so much attention and appreciation, talking sometimes to me in praise of tomatoes, and sometimes with the plants bearing the tomatoes, and sometimes about recipes and their use. Joy, happiness, gratitude, appreciation, hope, faith … flowing and flowing, while sweating, filling the basket and carrying a few in the pockets.
“On this holy night, tending to our peace within and connecting with our heart’s prayer for peace and unity, in remembrance of Allah with a feeling of gratitude for Sidi, may our destiny for the coming year be graced by progress towards unity.