Haiku from Islam

3id 2008

The Hijri spiritual year, and the spiritual cycle of days months and years are intimately intertwined with the cycles of the sun, the moon, and the stars, but the spiritual seasons are disconnected from the geological seasons. The lunar year is 10 days shorter than the solar, so the seasons of the spiritual year turn on a different axis than the seasons and climates around us.

One need only to look and listen to know that the cycle of daily prayer is all around us. Morning prayer is signaled by the edge of the penumbra, and the air, the trees, birds, creatures all respond the change from night to pre-dawn, and noon and afternoon, sunset and nightfall are clear to anyone who cares to look. The months begin and end with the appearance and disappearance of the scimitar of new and old moons on the horizon, and the weeks, quarter, half, three quarter moons, all measure the days.

It is the spiritual seasons which have neither geological nor astrological connection.

The new year starts with Muharrem, and tenth of Muharrem is Asure, the 10th in Arabic. The day Moses [aws] set for atonement. Each month in turn has its unique spiritual exercise.

The 7th, 8th, and 9th sacred months of peace culminate in Ramazan, which celebrates God's revelation that we are not alone, not abandoned, not lost, but loved, absolved of imperfection, and cared for, cherished.

The 12th and last month is the Pligimage.

The season of pilgrimage starts in the month of pilgimage, leaving home and going out into the world. Haj. Haj is at least at one level about the Prophet Abraham [aws] as the archetype of humanity's search for truth. Abraham's request for a son was made with a vow to sacrifice everything he loved most, if God would grant him a son in his old age. Of course, once granted, his most dearest love was that same son. The Feast of Pilgrimage is about how our mistakes are transformed into blessings, our blindness into vision by faith in the essential mercy at the heart of creation. That love is the highest truth. Not only are we OK. We are sanctified. That is the whole truth. That is humanity's gift to creation.

That is at its simplest the story told by the Feast of Sacrifice, 3id ulAdtha, on the 10th of the month of Pilgrimage.

On the 9th, the pilgrims spend the day out in the desert, at the place where Mohammed [saws] gave his last sermon. During the Pilgrimage, men are not allowed to wear clothes, but must wrap themselves in unstitched unsewn sheets, and women's faces must remain uncovered. On the tenth, one throws stones at the devil and renounces ignorance and evil, and makes a sacrifice.

This year, on the day of Arafat, we went to visit the tomb of Hz. Pir Nurrettin Jerrahi on Karagumruk Hill, near the Edirne Gate of the Old City in Istanbul, where he established his community on the highest hill in the city. Many people stay vigil there the whole night. Morning prayer this year is about 5-6am, and the Feastday Prayer is 8am. A block away is the Karagumruk Football Stadium.

cold Arife afternoon
god's mercy
falls softly, lightly
Hazretti Pir's prayers
football cheers and jeers
share the air
dervishes' remembrance
god's mercy
lightly wets latecomers
bored children
climb a tree
after afternoon prayer
some pizza
evening litany
then housekeeping all night long
prayer hall
kids play football
ignore dervishes cleaning up
night of Arife
dervishes clean up
ignore kids' football
empty silent streets
city sunrise
3id ul adtha
3id morning
dervishes do the litany
share fat Turkish pretzles
wide eyed big eyed little kids
watch the goings on
dervish kids do the litany
dervishes' 3id circle
absolve each other's sins
give each other peace
after 3id prayer
the community feast
fresh sacrifice
randy rams
await their fate
sheikh efendi
toys for kids
sweetmeats for dervishes
sheikh efendi
grills kidneys
sunny city streets
families visting for 3id
clumps of roving teens

Hazret is Arabic, means something like "saint" as in fully present, realized, fully "with it" Pir is Persian, and in Turkish it means "saint" in the sense of the founding father. Nurrettin Tekke in Karagumruk is where the Jerrahi Community meets, founded by Hazreti Pir Mohammed Nurettin al-Jerrahi. His family name means surgeon, and his community among many other things is known for its healing practice. The Jerrahi community builds clinics and hospitals and feeds hungry people in places like Sarajevo, Kosovo, South Africa townships, Tulsa OK, Sao Paulo. Efendi means mister. It is a traditional term of address for the senior teacher, or dean, of the community, which meets several times a week, but especially on Fridays and holy days.

After the 3id prayer, everyone gives each other peace, from the oldest to the youngest and give forgiveness to each other. It is literally forbidden to carry a grudge after that. Anyone who can afford it is recommended to sacrifice a goat, sheep, cow, buffalo, camel, and distribute the meat to the poor. When dervishes meet, they traditionally sit on sheepskins of the sacrificial rams, a recollection of where we all are going. Traditionally caps or garments with divine names embroided in are worn when meeting. Each community is unique, and each traces its lineage in an unbroken line back to Mohammed the Prophet[saws]. Zikrullah, remembering god, vocally and silently in the heart, comes in many forms depending on the lineage. Breath and breathing while repeating the divine name are a common practice. Today there are dervish communities virtually everywhere, and most of Asia and Africa and the Americas have been introduced to Islamic culture primarily by dervish communities. If you hit a dervish, I was told, they apoligize for hurting your hand.

3id is a time to give friends gifts, share food, especilly the sacrificial meat with the poor, have open house to family friends neighbors and the poor, visit tombs and cemetaries, especially parents' and forebears' and friends' and share the peace, feast, visit family and friends and holy places. Wear new clothes, new shoes, new haircuts.

3id day two
cold and wet
warm under a quilt
cold and wet
3id visitors come and go
bang bang banging the door
patchwork sky
moon not yet full
last night of 3id
new wood stove warm
baked potatoes, baked quince
last night of 3id
last embers linger
warm under quit
last night of 3id
tempslibres - free times
Copyright Isa Kocher, 2008