Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Pledge

"When half a thousand years or more 
Had passed, and men allegiance swore
To the Arab Prophet, beneath the tree,
My willing hand was still not free
From bonds of time and space to be
Between his hands in fealty.

Such blessings missed, time was when I 
Within myself would wonder why,
Half quarelling with the book of fate
For having writ me down so late.
But now I no longer my lot
Can question, and of what was not.
No more I say: Would it had been!
For I have seen what I have seen,
And I have heard what I have heard.
So if to tears ye see me stirred,
Presume not that they spring from woe:
In thankful wonderment they flow.
Praise be to Him, the Lord, the King,
Who gives beyond all reckoning."

-Martin Lings 

I don't re-call how and when exactly I learned about him, but there was never a time when I thought negative of him. 

Some people have attempted to dismiss his importance and knowledge by claiming that he is a Perennialist, which is actually true. Yet, I ignored those comments believing the man to be sincere, which is funny because I never met him nor heard him speak and also because I didn't really understand the Perennial philosophy. Also, all Perennialist philosophers, well at least the most famous ones, were or are Muslims such as Seyyed Hosein Nasr, Frithjof Schuon (Martin Ling's spiritual guide), and Rene Guenon. So I thought to myself, how bad could this philosophy be? Especially when it was the partly the reason why Frithjof Schuon, Rene Guenon, and Martin Lings were introduced to Islam.

Then I came across this article written by Hamza Yusuf, a well respected Islamic scholar in the West, where he praised Martin Lings and without any hesitation considered Martin Lings a wali-ullah. And to top it all Hamza Yusuf mentioned visiting Martin Lings with Habib Ali Jifri, and he too concluded this man to be a wali-ullah (Friend of God). 

Now anyone who has heard Habib Ali Jifri speak (he speaks in Arabic) can attest to the fact that this man is special - and the best part about listening to him is that you don't need to know Arabic. He communicates with love and his face exudes love. 

So when I read the following by Martin Lings:
"For I have seen what I have seen, And I have heard what I have heard."
I knew without any doubt that this was not poetic license. This was the reality. He had been blessed "beyond all reckoning".

I believe Martin Lings was perhaps the only man in this day and age who could produce Sufi literary masterpieces in the English language, like Jami, Rumi, Hafiz and many others did in Farsi. I intend to read his other poetic works if I get a chance. 

Hamza Yusuf's article at Q-News, A spritual giant in an age of dwarfed terrestial aspirations, can be found here: http://www.q-news.com/363.pdf

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