Last night I attended a Sufi zikr service/prayer with a few friends and it was a beautifully profound evening…almost too beautiful to put into words. To give a little background, Sufism is a part of Islam (as the sheikh said last night if Islam is a rose then Sufism is the fragrance). The zikr, from my understanding, is a service of prayer and a time of inviting the presence of Allah to come into our midst. The zikr usually lasts 2 hours and begins with prayers for those who have gone before us and ending with prayers for those to come. In a sense, the zikr follows the timeline of the world from creation to the hereafter, all the while calling on Allah to make his or her presence known.
The repetition of words and body movement, the passion, the mixture of Arabic and English, the mixture of singing and reciting, the devotion, the dancing, the unity– it was all incredibly profound and deeply enthralling. A part of me wanted to close my eyes and meditate as well but another part of me couldn’t take my eyes off the Sufis and their beautiful ritual.
Such emphasis was placed on our common humanity, Allah’s greatness and mercy, valuing the world, and valuing all religions. This group of Sufis was a diverse group with Indians, Middle Easterners, Africans, and Americans– the sheikh herself was a white woman. Each member had a part to play and the love and respect between the group was evident.
Even now it is difficult for me to put into words the power and beauty of this zikr experience. In fact, nothing I can say would describe the service to its fullest degree or truly do the service justice. Sometimes, when we witness such beauty, all we can and should do is hold it dear to our hearts and remember it. That is often the only thing beauty asks of us, to remember that we’ve experienced it and to let it permeate through our walls.
I loved the emphasis on God in creation. Allah or God is not just the creator but s/he is present in all of the creation. As the sheikh said, sometimes we Sufis just simply gaze into each other’s eyes because we see God in each other. What a profoundly true statement. God is not just in the Christian or the Muslim or the Jew or the Buddhist…God is in each and every human being s/he created. I find that this fact is often forgotten in a world where each individual and each religion seems to believe that they have the sole claim on the truth when, in fact, we only have the tiniest glimpses.
I bet God often gets a good chuckle out of us when she sees us acting like we have it all figured out when we don’t even know the half of it! Yet there is a beauty in this, in knowing that we don’t have all the truth and that we never will and that we don’t need to. If we knew everything there is to know about God and truth what would be the point of life’s journey?
I am grateful for times like this in my life when I can witness another person’s truth and passion and see it lived out. It keeps me grounded and humbled yet lifts my feet off the ground and renews my own hope and passion.