The Beacon

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from Signs on the Horizons by Shaykh Michael Sugich.

“I was with a group trudging up one of the long steep cobbled streets of the ancient city of Fes.  The streets were teeming at that time of day.  Crowds of pedestrians were walking down the hill in our direction.  Far away up the hill in the distance I saw a shining light, from a face in the crowd, like a beacon.  I could not make out the features, the distance was too great, but I became transfixed by this dazzling light moving down the hill through the crowds.  My heart was pounding.  I had never seen anyone so radiant.  I watched this slow-approaching figure bathed in supernal light with anticipation and rising excitement.  When he came closer I was stunned.  The illuminated figure I had been watching was a man I already knew, someone who I always associated with severity and scholarship.  His formal knowledge veiled his hidden illumination.  He knew us.  He beamed and shook my hand with a powerful grip before moving on down the hill.

The first time I saw Si Fudhul al-Hawari asw-Swufi (q.s.) was shortly after I had entered the Path.  I attended a gathering of fuqara in the city of Meknes at the elegant home of Mawlay Hashim Balghithi (q.s.), who has since become the Shaykh of the Habibiyyah Order.  The hadhrah was held in the open courtyard of the large house.  The fuqara’ sang from the Diwan of Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib (q.s.) and, as evening moved into night the recitation of the Diwan gave way to the sacred dance.  The hadhrah was powerful and induced intense concentration in the gathering.  Upon its completion, an austere and unassuming scholar began to give a discourse.  At the time, I did not speak a word of Arabic but a companion whispered what it was about.  The discourse was on the most prosaic of subjects, the act of wudhu’, or ritual ablution.  The scholar’s presentation was soft spoken, simple and matter-of-fact.  He began by going through the process of wudhu’, step by step, explaining the deeper meaning of each action.  There was no hint of emotion in his voice.  No histrionics.  Yet, as his discourse progressed, I watched as the man sitting beside me bowed his head into his open hands and, overwhelmed, began to weep.  Another man directly behind me shrieked the Name of God – ‘Allah!’ - in ecstasy.  In front of me another fainted dead away.  I looked around me and the entire assembly was overcome, weeping unashamedly, shaking their heads at the power of the knowledge quietly articulated by this austere man of God.”


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