Oh distant, ancient thinker,
who wrote, “all is water,”
fluid, cool, transparent, deep,
sometimes I feel that all is light;
and as you were surely asked:
how are trees and stones of water?
so they will ask me:
what of mud and sorrow?
You may have argued,
but records of your words do not survive
and so, writing for a thousand years from now,
I simply assert
that all is light:
the sea, the hills, the horses, the symphonies …
not sunlight, mind you,
crude, natural cousin to what I mean …
but enough of this,
for I might say more than
all I want
inscribed on the dancing flames of my pyre:
the enigmatic phrase,
all is light;
and may time be as kind to me as you,
and may my words,
preserved by miraculous accident,
find a kindred spirit.
NEW HAVEN, 1963
Shaykh Nur al-Jerrahi, a Modern Sage*
In each time there are certain human beings entrusted with keeping the transmission of divine knowledge alive. They protect the creation through their light, and before leaving this world, they pass this role on to others. Lex Hixon, Shaykh Nur al-Jerrahi, the author of this English text, called these beings sages. He himself was one of them–a modern day sage. At all times, Nur affirmed the teaching that supreme Truth surpasses all conception and cannot be grasped, yet it is everywhere and is all that exists. The only way for seekers to realize truth is to unveil it within themselves, for they are never separate from it. Nur personally experienced Supreme Reality as boundless love, and he poured this wine of perfect love into countless open hearts. No amount of words can describe him or his means of teaching which were surprising, disarming, and compassionate. Whether he was called ‘Shaykh Nur’ or ‘Lex’ by the seekers of various paths who surrounded him, his life was always dedicated to revealing the true nature of the human spirit, and freeing the modern mind from the prison of materialism and existential doubt. He helped to liberate religion from the weight of compulsion, convention and patriarchy. He envisioned a humanity consistently inspired by the breath of divine love and continuously disappearing into divine Existence. He was a friend of all the great religious traditions, and worked for their mutual understanding and love. He never wanted to reduce one of these sacred worlds to the other, as he felt that each is a perfect expression of truth, and each has the potential to bring about complete realization.
For thirteen years, as a part of his relentless exploration and service, Lex conducted a radio program called In the Spirit. From this platform he interviewed spiritual teachers from all over the world, helping to draw an untold number of listeners into their own spiritual path. On one of the shows he met the living teacher who became his master and guide in the Sufi path. Shaykh Muzaffer Ozak al-Jerrahi was one who had become fully mature, a ‘master of essence’, the Qutub of his time. He embraced Lex as his spiritual son, and gave him the name Nur, divine light. Indeed Nur would manifest Islam as a dazzling path of light, truth and holy love. The lightning bolt had leapt from the East to the West.
Through the remaining fifteen years of his life Shaykh Nur Lex Hixon became a gushing spring of inspiration. Shaykh Muzaffer appointed him as the head of the community of American dervishes who gathered in the Masjid al-Farah in New York City. After the Shaykh’s passing on February 12, 1985, many dervishes received mystic dreams of Nur as his successor, and so they took the pledge of the student to the teacher, the holy bond which is able to bring about complete spiritual realization in the heart of the aspirant. After the first transitional years, Nur’s community began to grow and spread, particularly through his travels for book readings and his participation in spiritual gatherings. And so there formed a series of circles of lovers of God across the Americas, connected to the spiritual lineage of Shaykh Nur, Shaykh Muzaffer and the founding saint, Pir Nureddin Jerrahi.
Spiritual lineage is transmitted from heart to heart through the special relationship of teacher and student—the bond between one who embodies the light and the vessel who receives it in order to become a new embodiment. Spiritual transmission, formless and wordless, is likened to a ray of light leaping from the breast of the teacher into the heart of the student. This ray brings about a birth in the heart of the student called the qalb weled, the child of the heart. This child has the unique characteristics of its lineage. Following the guidance of the teacher and nourished with the light of Qur’an and Hadith, the child of light grows and matures until it too becomes a guide for others. This process brings about the formation and guarantees the continuation of spiritual community, which is the matrix of Sufism and the living embodiment of Qur’an and Hadith. In Islam, as in all the sacred traditions, knowledge becomes real when it is lived.
* Excerpt from the introduction by Shaykha Fariha al-Jerrahi to the collection of Hadiths: 101 Diamonds from the Oral Tradition of the Glorious Messenger Muhammad
published by Pir Press