Orientalist painting of a Rifa'i dergah in Istanbul
I love this painting-- I think it's my one of my two favorites in the world. (the other is the Lyn Ott painting in the Meeting Place at the Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach). This is a 19th Century Orientalist painting of a Rifa'i tekke in Istanbul. In the picture, one sees a visiting Mevlevi turning sema. I think it's also interesting that there are Africans, likely slaves brought through Egypt. As a person who's professional interests are in American slavery, this is a useful reminder that the African slave trade was not solely a transatlantic phenomenon-- some left Africa to the North and East, rather than to the Americas. Aziz Nessin describes in his autobiographical work Istanbul Boy about how many people of African descent used to be present in Turkey in the earlier part of the 20th Century. Today, they have become thoroughly mixed with the rest of the population but their descendants are still around. Though they do not really form a distinct community, there are certainly still Turks of partially African descend who retain both oral histories and physical features. Someone really should work on this topic.
Hu, Dost! This is my way of saying thank you for all of the gifts that my teacher, Sherif Baba, has given all of us.
I love the Ahl-ul Beyt, but I am not Shi'a, at least not in the usual sense. I love the Alevi way, but I am a mainstream practicing Muslim (or, at least, trying to be one). I love Mevlana, but I'm not a Mevlevi. I love some teachers who may or may not be very shari'ah adherent, but can open hearts. Several that I love most are practicing Muslims, but not all of their students are. I've even seen one or two Salafis who are dripping with the Nur of Allah. As a Bektashi Baba once said, if we find something useful, we embrace it. I'm a liberal, but practicing Muslim, and I believe that anyone who is showing us Compassion and Mercy is showing us the way of Islam.
May we all become beautiful human beings, insha'Allah! ;)
This is really putting up some things I put together for myself about my shaykh and our path-- a friend suggested that it might be helpful for some other people as well. I thought while I was at it, I might as well add some music links along the way. Because this began for my own personal use, I have no idea where some of these pictures and quotes came from, so I apologize for putting them up without citation. I make no claim that all of this is my own. I'm simply trying to share a beautiful vision of God and humanity that I have learned about from Sherif Baba and also some inspirations from the Alevi/Bektashi tradition of Turkey, with whom Rifa'i Marufi shares many principles. Let me make it clear that I am not myself a Bektashi, though I love their path. My connection is to the Rifa'i. I hope you enjoy this offering and that these things will inspire you as much as they have inspired me.