بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
'In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful,
All praise is due to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds.
The most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.
Master of the day of requital.
You only do we worship and serve,
To You alone do we turn in time of need.
Guide us along the straight path
The path of those to whom you are giving
not the path of those with anger upon them
nor the path of those who have lost the way."
Holy Qur'an (English Translation of
Surah 1) "Al-Fatiha"
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim
May Allah grant Sheikh Baba Sultan everlasting peace and abundant grace. All thanks be to Allah. Bismillah!
"Go home,” he said, "the path is extremely difficult!” The Pir lay back on his sheepskin and turned on a tape of Kashmiri Sufi songs. I sat quietly with my friend and our translator waiting for more of a response. The Sufi Pir we were visiting was a middle aged man who had been on the spiritual path for almost twenty years. We had heard that his teacher was a Qalandar whose reputation for holiness, miraculous ways, and elevated states, was known throughout the Kashmir Valley. I knew I had to meet such a holy man. I was adamant and I hoped this Pir, who was one of Baba’s long time students, would give us his blessing to go. This etiquette felt important, although at the time I wasn’t sure why.
I had been in India for almost one year, yet something within me said it wasn't time to go home. As I anxiously awaited the Pir’s response I listened to the repetitive melodies and foreign words flowing out of the cassette player. Questions about the Sufi path and memories of my encounters in this exotic land whirled about in my head. Was Baba Sultan the spiritual guide I had been seeking?
Finally the Pir sat up, methodically scribbled a note, handed it to me and spoke abruptly to the translator. Then he reclined again, closed his eyes and fell back into his music. The note, the translator explained, was to be given directly to Baba Sultan. It was a courteous formality from student to teacher requesting that Baba accept my petitions. From Srinagar it would take about four hours by bus, or a little over two hours by taxi to reach Badasgam, Baba’s village. We opted for the taxi.
Our translator tried to dissuade us: "Qalandars are very powerful, different from 'normal' people. Their speech is difficult if not impossible to understand. Even if I could translate his words, he speaks in symbols and…" he shook his head. “I can take you to Shalimar Gardens and then show you Srinagar's many other beautiful tourist attractions." He continued with great vigor, trying to discourage us from going to Badasgam. When the tourist attractions did not interest us, he began describing Baba's unusual "shabby" clothes and the Dervish's uncanny "way of knowing what is in people's hearts.” This only fueled my burning desire to meet Baba Sultan. As our translator spoke it became more and more evident that he was in awe of, but also feared the power of this Qalandar Sufi. After we had refused all of his suggestions, he finally agreed to come with us to Badasgam and translate (as best he could) the words of this awesome holy man.
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