Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Huuu.... Here is a clip on Youtube with one of Sherif Baba's zikirs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0my76YB7i1Q

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hu Erenler-- It's been quite some time since I have posted here, but I hope that insh'Allah you have all been well. I've been in a fairly introverted space for the last few months and have been keeping most of my online presence to a minimum, but elhamdullillah, it has been a time of learning and interesting transitions. More on that later, perhaps. Most importantly for now, Sherif Baba sent me these wonderful pictures from Konya to share with you, mash'Allah.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sherif Baba forwarded this a few days ago...

“ Allah, göklerin ve yerin gaybını bilir. O, kalplerin içinde ne varsa onu da hakkıyla bilendir. ”
(Fatır Suresi, 38.)

"Indeed Allah is All Knowing – of all the hidden things in the heavens and in the earth; indeed He knows what is within the hearts."

"Allah sizin dış görünüşünüze ve mallarınıza bakmaz. Ama o sizin kalplerinize ve işlerinize bakar "
Hz. Muhammed (sallallahü aleyhi vessellem)

“ Ey zengin! Sen Allâh’ın huzuruna yüz çuval altın götürsen, Cenâb-ı Hakk buyurur ki: “Ey getirdiği yükler altında iki büklüm olan kişi. Bana gönül getir, gönül." Eğer o gönül senden razı ise, ben de senden razıyım. Ama gönül senden yüz çevirmişse, ben de senden yüz çeviririm. Ben sana bakmam, gönüle bakarım. Ey can! Armağan olarak bana gönül getir.”
Hz. Mevlâna Celaleddin-i Rumî (k.s.)

Allah’ım, Hz. Muhammed (s.a.v.) ve âline salat eyle ve  kalbimizi sevgin için boşalt; zikrinle meşgul et; korkun ve haşyetinle ona hayat ver; özleminle ona güç ver; onu Sana itaat etmeye istekli kıl ya Erhamerrahimin. Allah’ım! Senden hidayet, takva, iffet ve gönül zenginliği istiyoruz. Ey Rabbimiz nefislerimizi ve nesillerimizi edepli ve hayâlı kullarından eyle. Âmin...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Baba asked that this one be posted also.

Ey iman edenler! Zannın çoğundan kaçının. Çünkü zannın bir kısmı günahtır. Birbirinizin kusurunu araştırmayın. Biriniz diğerinizi arkasından çekiştirmesin. Biriniz, ölmüş kardeşinin etini yemekten hoşlanır mı? İşte bundan tiksindiniz. O halde Allah’tan korkun. Şüphesiz Allah, tevbeyi çok kabul edendir, çok esirgeyicidir.

'O you who believe! Avoid most suspicion [about one another]. Indeed some suspicion is sin. And do not spy and do not backbite each other. Would one of you eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it. And be conscious of Allah and ward off evil [from within and without].  Allah is Accepting of Repentance and is Singularly Compassionate.

Qur'an 49/12.
Sura al-Hujurat 12
HUCURAT 12
(English translation by Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee)
__________________________________________

“Ey diliyle îmân edip de kalplerine îman tam olarak yerleşmeyen kimseler! müslümanların gıybetini yapmayınız, kusurlarını da araştırmayınız! kim müslümanların kusurlarını araştırırsa allah da onun kusurlarını araştırır. allah kimin kusurlarını araştırırsa, onu evinin ortasında bile olsa rezîl eder.” (Ebû Dâvûd, Edeb, 35; Tirmizî, Birr, 85)

HAZRETI MUHAMMED (s.a.v.)
____________________________

Ey gafil insan! Fil yavrusunu kebap edip yiyen kişiler gibi sen de Allah'ın kullarının gıybetini yaparak etini yiyorsun. Onların bulanmadıkları kötülüklerini söylüyor, günaha giriyorsun. Aklınızı başınıza alın; sizin ağzınızı koklayan Allah'tır. Temiz olanlandan başka o muayeneden kim  canını kurtarabilir? Yazıklar olsun o kişiye ki
Mezarda onun ağzını koklayacak olan ya Münker’dir veya Nekir! O büyük meleklerden ne ağız kokosunu, yani dünyada edilmiş gıybet kokusunu glizlemeye imkan vardir, ne de bir ilaç bulup ağzı hoş pis kokan ağzın kokusunu gidermeye zaman vardir.

HAZRETI MEVLANA
___________________

Allah’ım, Hz. Muhammed ve aline salat eyle. Allah’ım, bize, sana itaat etmek muvaffakiyetini, isyandan uzaklaşmayı, niyetin doğruluğunu ve ihtiramları korunması gereken kimseleri tanımayı ihsan et; bize hidayete erişmek ve ona sabit kalmakla ikramda bulun; dillerimizi doğruluk ve hikmetle güçlendir; kalplerimizi ilim ve marifetle doldur; karınlarımızı haramdan ve şüpheli şeylerden arIt; allerimizi zulUm ve tecavüzden alIkoy; gözlerimizi kötülüklerden ve hıyanettin koru; kulaklarımızı boş söz ve gıybete kapat. Amin.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sherif Baba asked me to post this...

“Her kim de benim zikrimden (Kur'an'dan) yüz çevirirse mutlaka ona dar bir geçim vardır. Bir de onu kıyamet gününde kör olarak haşrederiz.”
(Taha, 124)

“Allah'ı anmaksızın çok konuşmayın. Allah'ın zikri dışında çok söz söylemek, kalbi katılaştırır. Katı kalpli olanların ise, Allah'dan en uzak kimseler olduğu kesindir.”
Hz. Muhammed (s.a.v.)

“Hakk yolunda okuduğun virdi, çektiğin tesbihi, terk edince, zahmete sıkıntıya düşersin. Sana sebebi bilinmeyen bir iç sıkıntısı bir darlık gelir gönlüne düşer. Bu sebepsiz üzüntü, bu iç sıkıntısı, sana bir çeşit ihtardır. Bir çeşit seni terbiyedir. Devam ede geldiğin virdini bırakma, eski ahdini bozma, dikkat et demektir.”
Hz. Mevlâna Celaleddin-i Rumî (k.s.)

Allâh'ım, beni, Sana şükreden, Sana itaat eden ve Seni zikreden bir kul eyle. Rabbim, tevbemi kabul buyur, beni günahlarımdan arındır, duâmı kabul et, hüccetimi sağlam yap, kalbimi Sana yönelt, dilimi düzelt, gönlümü nûrunla aydınlat. Âmîn...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Hu Erenler--
I hope that everyone has had a lovely Mawlid-i Nabi/ Valentine's Day.  I love that they occurred on the same day this year.  There seem to be a lot of these kinds of coincidences these days, such as the timing of the Kurban Bayram and Thanksgiving recently.  It brings a tremendous joy to my heart seeing the coming together of Islamic and Western traditions-- celebrating similar themes. Elhamdullillah, Rab'il Alemin.  Some of you may also remember Valentine's Day 2001, when the mevlut  for Burhan Efendi was commemorated.  That was an incredibly powerful evening of zikir and singing-- really one of the most amazing nights I've ever experienced.
I've been trying to digitize some photographs I took over the years, mostly around 1999-2000 in Chapel Hill, so insh'Allah I'll be posting some more soon.  This is one of my very favorites:  I asked Baba if I could take a picture and he grabbed another camera, held it to his heart, and said "Yes, as long as you make sure to take a picture with your heart."
If anyone has any pictures or stories that you would like to share, please send me a message with your email and I can contact you.  I'd love to find more pictures of Sherif Baba, Burhan Efendi, the Rifa'i Marufi tekkes in Turkey, pictures from the Rumi Festival in Chapel Hill, etc.
Huuuu

Friday, January 28, 2011

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Every Land is Kerbela, Every Day is Ashura.

Her Yer Kerbela, Her Gun Asura.


From time to time, I teach Islamic history at a university. 

People sometimes ask me to explain why, in places like Iraq, people are still in such intense conflict over events that took place so long ago.

I usually end up quoting William Faulkner-- 
"The past is never dead. It's not even past."



As a Muslim Southerner, how else would I explain the importance of Kerbela ?  ;)

Sometimes the issue is written off by Westerners as having to do with age-old grudges. Some Western academics try to understand the Shi'i perspective as having something to do with a collective guilt that more of the early umma did not come to the assistance of Imam Huseyin. Many Sunni Muslims write it off as some form of idolatry, or an obsessive interest in lineage. Most accounts by non-Shi'i, whether Sunni or non-Muslim --however understanding or sympathetic-- tend to explain the Shi'i position in terms of the family lineage from the 12 Imams back to the Prophet Muhammad.

But actually it's not really about that. Hz. Imam Ali himself states in the Nahjul Balagha that character and nobility are found in one's actions, not in their family line. All of the major Shi'i historical scholars maintained that the 12 Imams were who they were based on their character, and would have been the Imams whether they were from the family of Hz. Muhammad or not.

And the importance of the story of Kerbala is not only one of Sunni/Shi'i division over the politics of who should lead the community after the death of the Prophet. That's certainly a part of it, but that's not all. That's the part that people teaching the history of Islam in universities talk about, and it's the most accessible part of the question. That's what I talk about when I teach on this topic. But for many of the people for whom this issue is important, the question has much more to do with injustice.

The story, although significant in its own historical terms and in the context of understanding Islamic history, has taken on a life of its own-- a living, breathing story that is every day infused with new meaning. It functions as an archetype of the injustice and oppression that takes place on a daily basis throughout the world, and in particular, the suffering that takes place at the hands of tyrants who use religion to prop up their tyranny. And every day, and in every place, the events of Kerbala are reinterpreted to exemplify current struggles.

For many, particularly the Alevi of Turkey and the Ahl-e Haqq of Iran and Iraq, the story of Kerbala is a warning against the grave injustices that are committed by so-called "religious" states or other authorities that marginalize, deny the rights of, and sometimes outright kill members of religious minorities.

In Iran at exactly this time last year-- and that symbolism was not accidental-- Iranians took to the streets with the image of Kerbala in their minds, and the name of Hz. Imam Huseyin on their lips. In Iran today, apparently, Yezid can even take the form of Shi'i religious authorities.

So, it's always being reinterpreted for the current moment... where is Kerbala today? Who are the martyrs of today's Ashura?
And they still exist. Many, many, on a metaphorical level, and of all faiths. And, sadly, there are many this very week in who were literally killed in the actual city of Kerbala, Iraq for their religious beliefs as they went to pay their respects with their families at the shrine of Hz. Imam Huseyin.

And it's not only a question of Sunni or Shi'a. Many Sunni, particularly Sufis, commemorate these events every years, seeing in that story the example of courageousness and principle against forces of aggression who twisted religions to fit their own quest for personal power. This is a universal struggle, and the martyrs of today's ongoing Ashura live in Kerbalas throughout the world. Some are Sunni. Some are Shi'i. Some are Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan or Atheist-- but they are living the principle of Imam Huseyin and his companions. No matter what your faith, this tragic story can be an example-- as it was for Mohandas Ghandi.

Because it's not just a story of an Islamic succession crisis of the early Caliphate. It's the story of humanity.

This is Kerbela, and today is Ashura.

And the many attacks on Shi'i pilgrims in Iraq over the last week and the arson of the Harabati Tekke (an important Bektashi center in Macedonia) by fundamentalists a few days ago, as well as several arson attacks on Alevi Cemevis in Turkey over the last couple of months are ample evidence of this. The struggles of other religious minorities in the Middle East tell this story. The struggles of women in Afghanistan tell this story. The struggle of Tibetans to reclaim their culture and their homeland is also telling this story. Anyone who is struggling for their rights against entrenched power--especially a violent form of power that pretends to represent religious authority-- is living the story of Kerbela. It's everyone's story. And it could even be your story-- no matter what your religion or lack thereof or what part of the globe you may happen to live in. It's not about religion. It's not about culture. It's about the everyday struggles of humanity for the best of their principles against those who would deny them for personal gain.

And that's here. And it's now.

Muharrem

The following is the text of Sherif Baba's comments about the holy month of Muharrem that appeared in the April 1998 edition of The Flashlight (Vol. 1. No. 3).
___________________________________________________________________________________

In the world of Islam, Muharrem is the month that begins the new year. As this month has many peculiarities, it has great value as a time of the start of transitions. It is for this reason that this month was chosen as the first month. Here I am going to tell you briefly some of its peculiarities. This knowledge has been given by Hazreti Muhammad through the Hadisi Sherif, teaching which open up verses of the Qur'an. 

According to chronological order, in this month Hz Adem (Adam) announced for the first time that he is the halife, representative, and prophet. Hazreti Nuh (Noah) was saved from the flood; he and his people disembarked from the boat onto land and made the sweet soup called ashure, said prayers and began a new life. Third, the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) was saved from Nimrud's fire. Fourth, the prophet Ismail (Ishmael) received the ram sent by Allah to be sacrificed in his stead. Fifth, the Prophet Eyyub (Job) found healing after his period of illness. Sixth, the Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) was taken out of the dungeons and made ruler of Egypt. Seventh, the Prophet Yunus (Jonah) was taken out of the stomach of the fish. Eighth, the Prophet Musa, Moses, achieved freedom from the Pharoah's oppression.  Ninth, the Prophet Isa (Jesus) stepped on the sirra kadem, the living and eternal endless state, and retired to the fourth level of the heavens. 

In the world of Islam, Hz. Muhammad's hijret, migration, from Mecca to Medina was also in this month.  The coming together of so many holy events caused Resulu Ekrem, the Prophet of Perfection, because of the value that he gave it, to count this month as the beginning of the new year. For this reason, Hz. Muhammad fasted in the month of Muharrem and did not shave or cut his hair. 

Also in the month of Muharrem, Jenabi Resulu Ekrem's grandson Hz. Imam Huseyin, at the place called Kerbela, from the first of Muharrem through the tenth, was under siege by the armies of the damned Yezid who did not even allow them water. On the tenth of Muharrem, after Imam Huseyin and his family and friends who were with him were tortured, they were martyred and their blessed heads were chopped off.  This is a day of mourning.  These events that are known to have happened in this way in the month of Muharrem are being told because those who are the friends of the Ehli Beyt, the family of the Prophet Muhammad, and those who follow the road of the Prophet need to know. 

As you know, those who follow this road, because they are working to save humanity from the darkness of oppression and bring them into Divine Nur, Light, take their share and caution from such events and reflect like a light from the living of Hak, of Truth, and the allowing of Hak to live as a system for humanity.  If warning can be taken and lived frmo the examples of history and past events, then mistakes and defiance won't bring on darkness.  Maybe there will be a warning for future days.  Because they are viewed from this perspective, these histories have been established and made known to people through the Divine Books.  
--Sherif Baba

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

a telling of the events of Kerbala...



This is a very good film in English about what happened to the family of the Prophet and their companions at Kerbala...
this is part one of seven. Click on the links to continue the film.
This is such an important story, not just for Shia to know about. Not even just for Muslims.
This is the universal story of human beings who bravely suffer against oppression and injustice.

Friday, December 10, 2010

                                               Sherif Baba

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hz. Idries Shah-- Dreamwalkers


Above is a beautiful Orientalist painting of Qadiri dervishes...


Below is the first of a series of 10 videos from the Idries Shah film Dreamwalkers.  If you follow the links, you will find the rest of the film. With connections to both Naqshbandi Sufism and also to Gurdjieff, Idries Shah was a fascinating and provocative figure.



The following is a set of Questions and Answers with Hz. Idries Shah.

Peter Kingsley

I've been finding this fellow's work quite interesting.  Peter Kingsley, as some of you know, has written several very interesting books about ancient Greek spirituality and its meaning in today's world, particularly in the West.  Selma and I have been visiting his gatherings in Asheville and have found his work very helpful. His most recent book, A Story Waiting to Pierce You, concentrates particularly on the links between Central Asian shamanist traditions and the dawn of Western civilization.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Interview with Hz. Idries Shah

The grave of brilliant and unconventional Sufi teacher Idries Shah.  I've loved his work for many years, and I'll post film of him in the next few days, insh'Allah.
Please click on the following interview-- you won't regret it.

http://www.katinkahesselink.net/sufi/sufi-shah.html

I'd like to add more on this site of words, ideas, stories, etc. So if anyone has found interesting links related to Sufism or has personal stories about Sherif Baba, Burhan Efendi, or anything else to suggest, I would love to post them.
Ashk ve Selam....
Hu






I absolutely love this wonderful song by Tolga Sag, Erenler Cemine.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hu Erenler...

I just wanted to wish everyone well during this holy season, of Eid, Thankgiving,  Hannukah, Seb-i Arus,  Muharram and Christmas. I'll put up some more posts later this week, insh'Allah.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Burhan Efendi of Izmir

Hu Erenler--
I hope that everyone has had a beautiful Eid.  I'm sorry it's been a little while since I've posted, but I was waiting until I found something wonderful today. Elhamdullillah. I haven't seen this picture in years. I never had the opportunity to meet him in person, but I've felt his presence.


Burhan Efendi of Izmir, Sherif Baba's murshid.

Thursday, June 17, 2010





I think what is happening in the next one is a Balkan Qadiri-Rifa'i ordained as a shaykh:



More Balkan Qadiri-Rifa'i... but this one is just pure cuteness. Cok sirin, mash'Allah!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Alem Yüzüne Saldi Ziya Ali Muhammed

Hu Erenler--

Sherif Baba asked to to post this beautiful illahi from one of the Bektasi Nefesleri albums--

http://neveser-nefes-alem-y-z-ne-saldi-ziya-ali-mp3-download.kohit.net/_/291915/mp3player.php?single=1&tellafriend=http://Neveser-nefes-Alem-y-z-ne-saldi-ziya-Ali-mp3-download.kohit.net/_/291915&id=291915

a video of another version of this illahi is also on Youtube:

 

If you do not have access to Youtube, you can also see it here:
http://www.ussaki.org/video/287/Alem-Yuzune-Saldi-ziya-Ali-Muhammed-Guzel-Asik

Latif Bolat also have a very nice version of this one on his album Infinite Beginning

Tuesday, March 30, 2010



Hu Erenler---
Elhamdullillah, it was wonderful to join many of you for Sherif Baba's Oovoo sohbet yesterday. 

I thought I would share a couple of things from Sh. Kabir Helminski's website that originally appeared in Gnosis magazine. 

In Sufism, great importance is given to the complete human being, the one who is considered activated. It is through the guidance of such a human being that the inner process unfolds. Any particular beliefs in dogmas dissolve as the complete one assists the seeker to fall fully into his or her relationship with God and to recognize the importance of that essential experience. --Metin Bobaroglu

The following link is to an interview with Refik Algan in the same issue of Gnosis.

http://www.sufism.org/society/articles/refikint.html

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Some sites I've really been enjoying lately:

One I've had a link to since the beginning:
http://www.thewesternmuslim.com/index.php/articles/index/

and a great collection of podcasts, mash'Allah:
http://www.altmuslim.com/a/a/pi

and a favorite recent discovery:
zindiq.org
(and the site is as surprising and provocative as its title)


Haydar Ali, Sultan Ali...

Hu Erenler...

These are Balkan Qadiri-Rifa'i videos

The first is a dhikr--  as I mentioned in my last post, this is a group of Balkan Qadiris who also have substantial Shi'i/Alevi leanings, yet the foundation of their worship at the tekke is dhikr, rather than semah.  Their dhikr is also very much on the ecstatic Qalendar side of things, rather than the more subdued side exemplified by most of the more mainline tariqas.  Speaking of which, you might want to be a little careful clicking around on the related videos column... this particular tekke does some rather exuberant knife and skewer play in some of the other videos on the same channel.  But I promise you...  no dervishes were harmed in the making of these 3 videos. ;)

I should mention that though such things are quite common in those branches of the Rifa'i and Qadiri with the most intense devotion to the family of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) there is absolutely no  history of any use of swords, knifes, etc in the Bektashi or Alevi traditions whatsoever (contrary to the writings of some published authors).  I have seen various explanations of the source of that ritual, but none are fully convincing.  And, of course, I must also emphasize that the great majority of Rifa'i and Qadiri do not do that either.  As Cem told me once, "Many Rifa'is used to swallow hot coals, eat fire, play with it and roll around in it. Some still do.  And we still 'play with fire' but what we're interested in here is the metaphorical fire.  The fire of Ashk."

Speaking of which, here it is...



Another video of this same Qadiri-Rifa'i group-- actually you can see the singer from the last video in the middle of the dhikr circle.



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Zikr videos-- mostly of Halvetis in the Balkans

 




This one is intense-- magnificent crashing cymbals, etc.  These fellows are hardcore.


This one is a Halveti music video:


As with the Rifa'i and Qadiri tariqas, there is a significant range within the tradition.  Some branches are rather conservative and tend to emphasize the external aspects of Islamic tradition more than others.  I've put the emphasis here on those branches of the Halveti that are a bit more ecstatic and reflect more of the Qalendar tradition (which I am personally much more drawn to).  Here is a good example:





This next one is from the Saadiyya tariqa (who I believe trace their lineage to both the Rifa'i and the Halveti).  It is a dhikr for Sultani Nevruz-- the Persian and Kurdish new year.  The day is also believed to be the birthday of Hz. Imam Ali, and is also celebrated by the Alevi (though not like this).  Nevertheless, through the gradual influence of the Alevi on various Ottoman Sufi orders, the holiday came to be a widely celebrated holiday in the tariqas of the Balkans.  That's especially true for the orders that have a particularly strong Ahl-ul Bayt orientation, such as the Saadi branch.



Muzaffer Efendi



A beautiful interview with Shaykh Muzaffer Ozak el-Jerrahi.  I am always amazed to find out how so many of the shaykhs I truly respect  had close connections to this man--  Sherif Baba, Jelaluddin Loras, and Shaykh Rashid (shown in the video below) all spent significant time with him. Elhamdullillah, such a trememdous legacy was given by the this saint.

Cut and paste the link below into your browser for a sohbet with Shaykh Fariha, one of the successors of Muzaffer Efendi.

http://www.nurashkijerrahi.org/media/pakistan_talk.mov
or
http://www.nurashkijerrahi.org/events.htm
for many sohbets from Shaykh Fariha.

video of Shaykh Ahmed Abdur-Rashid



This is a sohbet of Shaykh Ahmed Abdur-Rashid (Naqshbandi-Mujeddidi) of the World Community in Bedford. VA.  Mash'Allah, I think this shaykh has very many interesting things to say.  If you check on the Youtube sidebar or click on the CircleGroup2 Channel, you can find some of his other sohbets, as well as some from Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee (Shadhili).  Inshallah, they may be as helpful to you as they have to me.

Though his style is somewhat different, several things the shaykh says here remind me of things from Sherif Baba's sohbets over the years-- in particular the idea that the Mujeddid (the Renewer) may not be a specific individual but rather a role that all of us have a part in.  In fact, the shaykh says, even internet technologies and social media may play an important role in today's society as the voice of the Mujeddid in the modern age.  This reminds me of one of Baba's sohbet's in which he describes the Sahib-i zaman (Master of the Age-- a concept related to the Hidden Imam or Imam Mehdi) in very similar language.  Though Sherif Baba uses language to describe this that is much closer to the esoteric Shi'i or Alevi understandings, and Shaykh Rashid uses the more Naqshbandi language of the Mujeddid, they seem to be describing a very similar idea.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Amazing Documentary

Hu Dost---

I am thrilled to post some information here about an incredible documentary that I just viewed:
Asiklar: Those Who Are In Love by film maker David Grabias.  This is an absolute must-see for
anyone interested in traditional music and folksong, spirituality, Sufism, Turkey, and is a divine gift for anyone who loves the Alevi/Bektashi faith and the ashik tradition of Anatolian poets and singers. I could not be more pleased with such a beautiful film.

You can purchase the film from DER.org

http://www.der.org/films/asiklar.html

Here is a preview:
http://www.der.org/films/asiklar-preview.html



Here is a transcription of the documentary, but by all means try to watch it if possible.  The music and interviews are absolutely lovely, mash'Allah.


NARRATOR I'm on a long narrow road traveling day and night, unaware of my situation traveling day and night. The moment that I arrived in the world, I started to walk inside in the end with two doors traveling day and night. I walked even while asleep trying to find a reason to stay. I see those who are leaving traveling day and night. For 49 years on these roads on plains, in mountains, and desserts in foreign lands I found myself traveling day and night. If carefully considered the distant appears near when looked at. The path is as long as a minute traveling day and night. The poet is puzzled by this case sometimes crying, sometimes laughing in order to reach the resting place traveling day and night.
[sil.]
[non-English song]
A?IKLAR THOSE WHO ARE IN LOVE
A FILM BY DAVID GRABIAS
[sil.]
NARRATOR For the thousands of villagers scattered amidst the mountains and rolling step of Anatolia in Turkey , the spiritual and cultural identity of this land has been embodied in the Ashik . Throughout centuries Ashiks have been playing with saz and singing, telling tales of hero's past, loves unrequited, the earth's wonder and humanities beauty. Ashiks are consumed by Ashiq(ph) an irrepressible in a passion that compels them to express themselves in song. Ashiks of old to forsake their home to wander alone from village to village keeping their listeners connected to a communal past, while releasing them momentarily from the sufferings of the present. It is in search of the remnants of this culture that I set out, wandering from village to village, telling stories of bards of old.
[sil.]
Bahattin Kader
Bahattin Kader Ever since 1943 , I've had a saz in my hand. The moment I was born and given a name, I began to play. Since then, up to 1990 , I played and sang. And this is a gift earned from the Great God.
Mizrap Jihangir
Mizrap Jihangir I take both of them; I play one, leaving one aside, then play the other, depending on the place or what's requested. In some places, young people ask me to play for them, and I take my saz and play a folk song.
Bahattin Kader Being an ashik means to love, to be loved, to be kind to everything. Love the one that loves you and the one that is poor, but not the one that is a traitor to you in this world.
[sil.]
Mizrap Jihangir From within me came such a passion. It was then that I made myself this saz and sang with it.
[sil.]
He started to play scales on the saz 25 times. He began by going up and then gliding to the end, started afresh and went up and down again. "My God," I said, "Hasn't he learned this already?" And so I dedicated a rooster as a sacrifice.
Bahattin Kader When one speaks of "love," the most important thing that people need is love. As every person is in need of water, in need of bread, everyone is in need of love. So much, so much in need of love. "My heart is troubled if it looks at you," for example. My heart is heavy with its love for you. In this way, the ashik is in us from the very beginning.
Mizrap's Wife
We couldn't sleep at night. He began to play and play until morning. The children got upset. One of the kids said, "Father, forget this song, play it tomorrow." "I don't like it either," he said. But from then on, the children never slept.
[sil.]
Bahattin Kader You need patience to be a good ashik . Patience, first patience. After that, you have to beg God to help you be a good ashik .
Mizrap Jihangir She sacrificed a rooster it began with that. At last, I, by myself, decided to play the saz. It was an offering. I started something myself. I, myself, played and sang. And the master of the house didn't say a word. She also sings well. We were even able to sing together. My God be content, she is the mother of my children. This ashik tradition, this love of playing the saz, has been around for a long time, from the time of the Ottomans , from our descendents and ancestors. We liked it a lot, and we still have a lot of fun with it.
A lot of songs came from my father. I taught him some of the old songs I had known and learned from my father.
[sil.]
Bahattin Kader We sing for what we drink, we sing for the flying bird, we sing for people and for friends. We sing everywhere; whether it's good, whether it's bad, we try to sing well. And thus I have enslaved myself to it. I cannot live without the saz. It stays beside me. Sometimes, when I'm bored, I just fool around with it. This is basically how my days pass.
Mizrap Jihangir This holy saz has a sound that caresses my insides. And because of that, I enjoy myself; I'm relaxed. Now when I begin to play, I leave this world entirely. I am happy.
[non-English narration]
Bahattin Kader In the old days, an ashik would come to a cafe and write a poem on the wall. He would play the saz and write poems on the wall. Some other ashiks would then come to the cafe, read the poems on the wall, and would add some lines to the poem, would continue it. This is what I have seen. But it was long ago, even more than fifty years ago.
Mizrap Jihangir Playing the saz has given me a smooth, healthy life. After exulting the Lord, I'm inspired and start to play. I never sat around miserably. Once I took the saz in my hands, I relaxed and my depression was gone.
[non-English narration]
Bahattin Kader The saz is not played for money. Once an ashik has been bought for money, he has no value. Neither the saz nor I have any value. It's finished. Money doesn't work what is money; is money love? It is love, humanity's love, that should be inside you. Love for God, for people, for friends, for brothers. That's it.
[sil.]
NARRATOR I've thrown myself on so many considering them friends, my faithful lover is the dark earth. I wandered in vain, I've gotten tired for nothing, my faithful lover is the dark earth. I've attached my myself to so many beauties, I haven't seen loyalty in them nor I've found the use for them. I've gotten whatever I want from the dark earth, my faithful lover is the dark earth. It has given sheep, lamb and milk. It has given food, bread and meat. It has given less if not beaten with the pickaxe, my faithful lover is the dark earth. It brought my kind from Adam to today, it offered me all kinds of fruits, each day it carried me on its hills, my faithful lover is the dark earth. I have split its belly with pickaxe and blade, I have torn its face with nails and fingers, still it has met me with roses, my faithful lover is the dark earth. It laughed as I tortured it. There is no lie, everyone has seen it, from one seed it gave me four gardens, my faithful lover is the dark earth. The earth hides all our faults, it dresses my wounds, with arms open it looks forward to having me, my faithful lover is the dark earth.
[sil.]
NARRATOR From the 11th century onward a steady stream of Turkic tribes moved west from central Asia to Anatolia in search of new grazing for their livestock.
[sil.]
NARRATOR Continuing with many of their original shamanistic traditions even after having been converted to Islam, their approach to religion was further influenced by the Buddhist, mystical, and Christian sects they encountered en route.
[non-English song]
NARRATOR Many of these tribes drawing from all of these dispersed influences created their own belief system, ostensibly Islamic but entirely unique, known as Alevis , they saw the world as physical manifestation of Allah, God. And in this way each objects and being was to be treated with the respect, tolerance and love offered to Allah himself.
[sil.]
NARRATOR Repressed for centuries by the Ottoman Empire as a hieratical and politically dangerous minority Alevis have always worshiped in semi-secrecy with no real texts and no set rules or liturgy. In the jam(ph) the Alevi religious service all prayers and discussion are focused around the Ashik culminating in a swirling dance that illuminates the world's transcendental nature. Here Ashiks have sustained the culture through their oral tradition using metaphor and music to convey history and philosophy, giving voice to a people who had no other representative.
[sil.]
Dervish Kemal
Dervish Kemal One has to be very honest to be on the side of the common people. Whoever you are, being an ashik is expressed in this way: No actions should contradict your performance, certainly not. As an ashik , I work for humanity, but if how I act contradicts what I write, then I am not an ashik . Because of this, an ashik is always close… to the troubled, poor and destitute.
[sil.]
Shaturna
Shaturna When I was ten, I finally got a saz- but it wasn't easy. My father always wanted to take me to a doctor to cure my sight, but I always wanted a saz. "Daddy, I want a saz, not eyes," I'd say. One day, he took me to the doctor, and on the advice of the doctor, who said a cure was impossible, he bought me a saz. After getting that saz, it was as if I was consumed by longing for it, as if I had played before.
Dervish Kemal Being Alevi , my background has led me towards being an ashik . It all stems from this. And I really love those works of art, the Alevi perspective… its mysticism and all that. Thus, most of my poems are about spirituality, society, and humanity. Our culture gives a lot of importance to humanity.
[sil.]
Shaturna At that time, throughout Turkey , there weren't really any women who sang and played - certainly not any female ashiks . In those days, a girl wouldn't even think of playing. It was a big thing for a girl to play. What do girls do at home? They do housework. In villages, they work in the fields. Because of all this work, they have no time to play the saz. When would they find the time? Besides, they wouldn't be allowed to play.
Dervish Kemal For us, it's enough to say that you are human… our doors are open and we embrace you. Accordingly, our philosophy is about people, compassion and tolerance. It's founded on equality and freedom. I have chosen that path and have continually written about those themes.
Shaturna In my opinion, to be a woman ashik is much more difficult. Especially for someone in my position, because I represent social and political positions. Some artists oppose this, and when you're successful, they begin to envy you. If I were a man, everything would be different. Why should it be different if you're a woman? As a woman, you are always struggling with these issues.
[sil.]
Dervish Kemal Even if our philosophy appears to be religious, there are sides of it that go beyond religion. For example, everyone believes in the concept of God. We believe that God is manifested in human beings. For that reason, we value people. There's a religious side to this, but it stays in words. People are God's greatest form, his most beautiful and mature creation. Because of this, it's necessary to treat people very respectfully. For example, for us, to break a person's heart is to injure God. Absolutely. To kill a man, to wound a person, sure, but to even hurt a person's feelings goes against our philosophy.
Shaturna Eventually we moved away from the village. We were mainly staying in the city anyway. At that time, I saw the difference between the village and the city, that is, as an ashik . The village is one thing, the city another. There are poor and oppressed, and there is somebody who crushes them, who is master over them. I really saw this, and in 1972 , I first performed this song on-stage: "For years you've kneeled to the master, haven't you been crushed enough, citizen? Always you cried, they never made you laugh, isn't it enough that you're unhappy, citizen? If you're rich, your well-being and time is asked for, if you're poor, your heart breaks. The one that tells the truth has his gallows built, isn't it enough that you're hanged, citizen?" And so on the song continues. Because I sang this and other songs, I was arrested. At that time, there was martial law.
[non-English narration]
Dervish Kemal It's very risky to be an ashik , in the true sense of the word. You know the risks: Nobody loves the one who tells the truth. But these are the real ashiks . In history, all the worthiest people, the ashiks , have been oppressed, unhappy, hanged, and skinned.
Sivas , 1993 37 Alevi intellectuals and ashiks burned to death by an Islamic fundamentalist mob.
Shaturna Because of my songs, they said I was making communist propaganda. I didn't really even know what communist propaganda was. I was only telling what I saw. After that, the government began to look for politics even in all my love songs and my songs of passion and longing. On tour, if I was giving five concerts, I'd be arrested by the second one. All together, I was detained for five years.
[sil.]
Dervish Kemal We ashiks are the dogs of the people. We guard the people. A thief comes to the house and, since we're a dog, We right away bark, "ruff, ruff!" and let the people inside know that a thief is coming. The homeowner comes outside and sees us showing who the thief is. Of course the man knows the thief; the thief is the one exploiting and oppressing the people. But the homeowner, out of fear, grabs us and hits us on the head to shut us up. We serve as dogs of the people, and all they do is hit us.
[sil.]
Shaturna I went abroad, both for medical treatment and musical work. After the 1980 coup, Turkish-language broadcasts On German TV and radio called for me to return home, saying that if I didn't, my citizenship would be revoked. Legally, someone who is undergoing medical treatment cannot be interfered with, but our country's government in those times was different. The report I sent was not accepted. Despite going to my consulate to inform them of my situation, despite saying, "Look, ask some of our people, a bunch of generals can't throw me out!" They took away my citizenship.
[sil.]
Dervish Kemal This feeling is more than curiosity. I have an aim. And one day, our work will definitely see the light of day. After I'm gone, researchers will come and maybe even print something. It's so that I might shed some light on humanity. I proposed being more human; I stress this aspect. In this way, if I could have a beneficial influence on just 5% of the people… this is my aim and I don't expect anything in return. I'm not in this for profit. If I can just be a benefit to people, I will be very, very, happy wherever I go.
Shaturna In Germany , I still have a message for people. I tell them, "Let's all be one." I talk about discrimination against Turks . But the government there doesn't put me in jail. On the contrary; they sent me a notice thanking me for informing and warning them When my Turkish citizenship was taken away, they took me into their country as a citizen. And I became German , with a ceremony, even. "We embrace such an artist," they said, and it was as if my eyes could see.
[sil.]
NARRATOR Your beauty would be worthless if I do not have this love. You will find no enjoyment if the house were not in my heart. You cannot be described by pen. Your sorrow is the cure for my wound. Your name would not spread around the world if it weren't for lovers compositions. Who would read, who would write, who would untie this knot. Sheep would travel with wools if opinions were not different from each other. Your beautiful face would not been seen, this love would not become alive in me. Roses would not be valuable if lover and beloved did not exist. I got this cry from you this is the world's taste. The poets name would not be called if you are not in love with you.
[sil.]
NARRATOR The ashik culture that was, is no more. No more do ashiks wander the countryside, instead old men sit in cafes and tell stories of the past. Their children have forsaken the life of the village for the promise of the city, losing touch with the folk culture as they dream of becoming the next pop star. As modern industry changes the face of village culture and is the political and intellectual round for Turkey slowly begin to broadening the possibility of and the need for an old tradition faiths leaving behind the memories of a generation about the disappear as the culture is transformed into something entirely new.
[sil.]
[non-English narration]
Bektash Aktash
Bektash Aktash I was an ashik , a real ashik , not some sort of fairy-tale ashik . I sat over there, crying and making people cry. But look what's happened to my voice. It's gone. But I've lived to be a healthy 94 years old.
[non-English song]
Seyrani
Seyrani Because I was poor, I married a little late. I came back from the army in 1961 , worked a little, and married in 1965 . Except that I had several illnesses inside me. My wife really loved me a lot, but then she also fell ill; she became a little crazy. We went to one doctor; she went to another doctor. The doctor said that we should separate. And my wife, unwillingly, crying, gave a petition and left me. "What can we do?" I said. And so we separated. Then I retreated into solitude since that day I have been alone.
Bektash Aktash I started when I was about 15 and played right up until I was 70. The pleasure I get from the saz I haven't found anywhere else, Ten yellow sazes helped me live in this life and brought me to this age.
Seyrani Even if I have troubles from head to toe let's be honest: who cares about a little guy like myself? What's important are the world's struggles and beliefs. Thus I have embraced the sufferings of people and nations.
[sil.]
Bektash Aktash If God took this old age and converted it to youth, then I would play again.
No one reads our kind of poetry anymore. It hurts me to see the young go in different directions. And more so in the direction of pop music, this worries me.
Seyrani Ours is not only a moral knowledge; it's spiritual knowledge. And it embraces the need for everyone to have a sense of the past, of honesty, and good virtues. Not just professionals, knights or monarchs; everyone from the shepherd to the king needs it. Therefore my writing is spiritual, filled with goodness and beauty. But I write all kinds of things: I've written a play, a scenario and two children's books. This winter I'll go home and retype them. These books give children love, knowledge and culture. But nobody is holding my hand.
Bahattin Kader Now people have TV's and cassettes; everything is opening up. There are no words left for the saz. There are TV's, cassettes, amplifiers. It's "Come on, dance!" right away. But this has no value. The one that lives the saz knows its value. The one that plays, understands. Not everyone can understand the saz.
Seyrani Generally, I write poetry on every subject, no matter what it is. But when a sick person goes to the doctor, does the doctor give him medicine before the patient says anything? The doctor first listens to the patient's complaints. In the same way, you come to me with a problem, and depending on how well I know its causes, I'll write about it.
Dervish Kemal In this life, I have gotten the most pleasure from the yellow saz- Nothing else gives me this pleasure. If all the world's goods were mine, what would I do with them?
[sil.]
Dervish Kemal All the ashiks passed through here, all of them. But today, nobody comes. Why? Economic problems cause us to break away from the tradition and grow cold towards it. I definitely link this to money. But regardless, the ashik's form and idea will not change. Whatever happens to the culture happens; it is still true to itself. But people still break away from it.
Bektash Aktash Before, wherever you went you would find an ashik , but now there is no such thing left. There isn't even anyone who plays the saz. No one takes the saz in their hands and plays. No students says, "I will do this work; I will learn." Now there is TV; TV is stirring up everything. Everyone has gone down the wrong path because of those TV's. We would come home late from work, and at night we would play and sing until dawn. In the morning, we would go to work again. We didn't know what being tired meant. Now you sit down; you watch TV; and as you stare and stare, your heart grows tired. The day ends tired. You wake up tired. And in the morning, without coming to your senses, you get up tired. You see this nation tired.
[sil.]
Seyrani Give me a program on TV. Wait, hold on a minute. Look, I went a while ago and gave these TV scripts to the President. Look at these programs: In the future you'll see what meaning they have. Look: this is the program description. Look at this: "The Damage of Unprotected Waste." A question without an answer. These programs are about the most important topics. Look: "The Negative Effects of Bad Habits." I prepared the questions, and if they had accepted the program, I would have spoken from memory.
[sil.]
[non-English song]
NARRATOR I leave, my name will remain, friends remember me, during weddings, during feast friends remember me. The soul doesn't stay caged it flies. The world is an inn, whoever alights migrates. The moon revolves, the years pass, friends remember me. The soul will leave the body, the chimney doesn't smoke, the furnace doesn't burn. Salutations and arm (inaudible ) from me, friends remember me. Various flowers bloom and wither who was happy, who will be happy. Desire is fake, death is real. Friends remember me. Its afternoon, the evening approaches see what may happen to me, the poet leaves his name will remain, friends remember me.
PRODUCED, WRITTEN, DIRECTED AND EDITED BY DAVID GRABIAS THE ASIKLAR (IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE) NURi KILIC BAHADDiN KADER MiZRAP CiHANGiR & WIFE DERViS KEMAL öZCAN SAHTURNA THE EDREMiT ASIK SEYRANi CAMERA JUSTIN SCHEIN SOUND NICOLE NEWNHAM PRODUCTION MANAGER M. ADiL YALCIN DIRECTOR'S ASSISTANT AKiF ERGÜLEC EDITORS TUYGUN DiNCEL MERT YASUK iBRAHIM AKIN DRIVER CAGLAR CANDAS SAN FRANCISCO P.A. JANE GRABIAS TRANSLATIONS (INTERVIEWS) MAJA BIEHL DAVID GRABIAS (POETRY) ARMAGAN TEKDÖNER POEMS IN TRANSLATION (BY ASIK VEYSEL ) UZUN iNCE BiR YOLDAYIM KARA TOPRAK GüZELLiGiN ON PARA ETMEZ DOSTLAR BENi HATIRLASIN POST PRODUCTION FACILITIES SiNETEL - iSTANBUL THANKS TO KUTAY KUGAY BiRSEN DAVIS MUHiTTiN ARPACI ALi TOSUN ILANA NAVARO MATTHEW VURAL FEZA TANSUG HASAN ALEMDAR ERDAL TANSEV iLHAN BASGöZ CAROL WOODALL JEAN FINLEY NATASHA CURRY AYSEGÜL GöKCE TONY GREENWOOD NURDAN ARCA ALEJANDRA PERO BENJAMIN GALDSTON BAHADIR iNöZü MAHAL ABDALLA NATACHA COLOMBANT CHRIS DEVILLIERS BUGDA SAVASIR EFFENDi PRODUCTIONS TURKISH - AMERICAN ASSOCIATION iSTANBUL FiLM FESTiVAL TURKISH MINISTRY OF CULTURE FOLK CULTURES RESEARCH DEPARTMENT AND ALL THOSE WHOSE ADVICE AND SUPPORT MADE THIS FILM POSSIBLE, ESPECIALLY: JOHANNA SUNBORG STANLEY GRABIAS BARBARA DARHUN GRABIAS COPYRIGHT 1995 SiNEMA PRODUCTIONS
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