The prophet says “There are such mistakes that it will be steps in the evolution of my people.” Now this doesn't mean go out and make mistakes, but it means to come to awareness there. If a person can't cry, they can't really feel the joy of laughing. The events of our lives are training us, are cooking us. Now coffee is a fruit which represents ashk, because it totally represents the realm of the heart. In Tassawuf we have this state called seyri suluk. This journey, from the beginning to the end, is described with the words seyri suluk. And so the seyri suluk of the coffee is completely ashk.
Now, coffee, when it grows in a tree, is a fruit covered by a shell. And then it goes through so many steps. First they take it, break open the shell, then they roast it, and keep turning it as it's roasting, the poor seed is screaming out there the whole time. As it's being roasted, the filthy scents are being burned out of it. And then what do they do with it? They take it, put it into a grinder, and just grind it. Just like a mureed in the hands of a murshid gets ground and ground… And turns into, like, flour. Its color has changed. Its name has changed. We call it coffee now. But if you just ask that poor coffee up to that point, how much pain it had to go through – and then you take it from there, it is not over yet, you put it in water, and then put it under the fire again. So there the second fire is burning it. Then it starts to dance, foaming on top, and then the Beloved drinks it.
And that's how ashk is. First it develops in the heart. Just like coffee. But it's got this shell around it, so in other words there is gaflet, unawareness enveloping it. So first you have to break that shell open, and then it's got to darken first in the sun. It's the nazr of the murshid, when you are seen by a murshid, the look... But still, it is hard, if you try to bite it, it will break your tooth. Then you put it into the fire. There, he's put into the love of people. When you enter into the love of people, you go in with the ego. There you plant your plum tree. But in the end, you are going to eat the grape. There, after that, you are put into the grinder. The lessons that the murshid gives, the systems of living in our lives, so all of these encounters, events, crush you. There you learn humility, patience, you learn how to be halim and salim, soft and gentle, you learn sukud, silence. You learn not to be hasty, and to do everything in its time. Now all of this is to be crushed with the events in our lives. It's easy to say, but to live it is really tough, just like that coffee that's being ground between those two rocks, the heart gets ground there. Then that hard coffee becomes soft. Then they take you and they put you in the water. But you still haven't reached kemal yet, you haven't reached full evolution yet. Underneath you that fire of ashk has to burn. That's when that true ashk has to begin. And such a compassion develops that it envelops the whole world, all people. If you hit that person, he'll take out the morsel in his mouth and give it to you. Ashk brings you to such a state, the state of the Prophet, of being rahmet alemin, the compassion of the world, is the makam, the station, of ashk. Every person who lives this ashk will take people under his wings. That's why the emblem of the Sufi Order is the winged heart, because they take you underneath your wings. This is coffee. That's why you all love coffee so much. We always drink coffee after we eat, in small cups.
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.