Istanbul, a bustling city rich in culture filled with people from around the globe, it is a sheer delight for the eyes. But this is far from its limitation, for deep within the city, tucked away in the most hidden and rather obscure side roads is one of many sacred zawiya’s or tekki’s in the world, a place where beauty is witnessed not only with the eyes, but also experienced with the heart.
The Jerrahi Khalwati is one of the many sacred Muhammadan tariqah’s whose path is that of etiquette (adab) service (khidmah) and love (mahabbah). The generosity of spirit I was privy to experience from the murids of the tariqah on Thursday evening and then again last night, encapsulates what prophetic character (khulq al-nabawiyy) is all about. Besides the outpouring of love and service they showed us, we witnessed their way in their very actions without them having to say much.
Briefly, as murids enter the khanqah (zawiya or tekki) they lower their heads, placing their right hand upon their hearts, and their left foot slightly below their right foot whilst offering a little silent prayer. This is done out of respect and love for the order and those who lie buried just outside its walls, the Jerrahi Khalwati masters. As they exit they do likewise but only walking backwards so as not to turn their backs toward the sanctified gathering space.
Some nights are exclusive to litenies where Allah and His Prophet Muhammad ﷺ are praised in a sitting dhikr and hadrah, which is carried out with dignity and beauty. The entire place echoes with “Hu”, “Hu”, “Hu”. Other nights are dedicated to the Sama’, which includes a musical instrument, praises of God as well as dervishes, all whirling with such dignity and spirit.
The word travel in Arabic is safr and when turned around reads fasr, meaning to unearth or explain. Travel is thus needed for expansion. As my stay in Istanbul with my beloved wife and daughter, Naeema and Jinan, comes to a close, I can’t help but wonder how other tariqahs in the various cities of the world express their love and service, so I end with a quote from the Sufi master of the Jerrahi order:
“Islam is like clear water poured into different vessels. (Rather than rejecting cultures), it takes on the color and shape of each vessel (rejuvenating and revitalizing).”