Words & Wonder: Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

  • The Path to the Truth is a labor of the heart, not of the head. Make your heart your primary guide! Not your mind. Meet, challenge, and ultimately prevail over your nafs with your heart. Knowing your self will lead you to the knowledge of God.
  • No matter who we are or where we live, deep inside we all feel incomplete. It’s like we have lost something and need to get it back. Just what that something is, most of us never find out. And of those who do, even fewer manage to go out and look for it.
  • Each and every reader comprehends the Holy Qur’an on a different level in tandem with the depth of his understanding. There are 4 levels of insight. The first level is the outer meaning and it is the one that the majority of the people are content with. Next is the Batini – the inner level. Third, there is the inner of the inner. And the fourth level is so deep it cannot be put into words and is therefore bound to remain indescribable.
  • You can study God through everything and everyone in the universe, because God is not confined in a mosque, synagogue, or church. But if you are still in need of knowing where exactly His abode is, there is only one place to look for Him: in the heart of a true lover. There is no one who has lived after seeing him, just like there is no one who has died after seeing Him. Whoever finds Him will remain with Him forever.
  • Intellect and love are made of different materials. Intellect ties people in knots and risks nothing, but love dissolves all tangles and risks everything. Intellect is always cautious and advises, ‘Beware too much ecstasy’, whereas love says, ‘Oh, never mind! Take the plunge!’ Intellect does not easily break down, whereas love can effortlessly reduce itself to rubble. But treasures are hidden among ruins. A broken heart hides treasures.
  • Most of the problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstanding. Don’t ever take words at face value. When you step into the zone of love, language as we know it becomes obsolete. That which cannot be put into words can only be grasped through silence.
  • Loneliness and solitude are two different things. When you are lonely, it is easy to delude yourself into believing that you are on the right path. Solitude is better for us, as it means being alone without feeling lonely. But eventually it is best to find a person, the person who will be your mirror. Remember, only in another person’s heart, can you truly see yourself and the presence of God within you.
  • Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighbourhood of despair. Even when all doors remain closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful! It is easy to be thankful when all is well. A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given but also for all that he has been denied.
  • Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for the know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.
  • East, west, south, or north makes little difference. No matter what your destination, just be sure to make every journey a journey within. If you travel within, you’ll travel the whole wide world and beyond.
  • The midwife knows that when there is no pain, the way for the baby cannot be opened and the mother cannot give birth. Likewise, for a new self to be born, hardship is necessary. Just as clay needs to go through intense heat to become strong, Love can only be perfected in pain.
  • The quest for Love changes us. There is no seeker among those who search for Love who has not
    matured on the way. The moment you start looking for Love, you start to change within and without.
  • There are more fake gurus and false teachers in this world than the number of stars in the visible universe. Don’t confuse power-driven, self-centered people with true mentors. A genuine, spiritual master will not direct your attention to himself or herself and will not expect absolute obedience or utter admiration from you, but instead will help you to appreciate and admire your inner self. True mentors are as transparent as a glass. They let the Light of God pass through them.
  • Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?
  • “But I was thinking, nobody every apologizes to me? It’s usually the other way round. I am the one who says sorry all the time. Even when people do me wrong, I apologize to them.”
  • “The Qur’an tells us, each and every one of us, was made in the best of molds. God is busy with the completion of your work, both outwardly and inwardly. He is fully occupied with you. Every human being is a work in progress, that is slowly but inexorably moving towards perfection. We are each an unfinished work of art both waiting and striving to be completed. God deals with each of us separately because humanity is a fine art of skilled penmanship where every single dot is equally important for the entire picture.
  • The children of Adam were honoured with knowledge so great that neither the mountains nor the heavens could shoulder it. That’s why it says in the Qur’an, Truly, We offered the trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to bear it because they were afraid of it. Only man took it up. Havingbeen given such an honourable position, human beings should not aim any lower than what God had intended.
  • What brought us even closer to God, he said, was none other than suffering. Your hand opens and closes all the time. If it did not, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding. The two are as beautifully balanced and coordinated as the wings of a bird.
  • Despite their seemingly endless differences, all of these people gave off a similar air of incompleteness, of the works in progress that they were, each an unfinished masterwork.
  • Amidst the chaos, I stood in a place of unperturbed silence and serenity, utterly indifferent to the world and yet at the same time feeling a burning love for all the people struggling and suffering in it.
  • It is easy to love a perfect God, unblemished and infallible that He is. What is far more difficult is to love fellow human beings with all their imperfections and defects. Remember, one can only know what is one capable of loving. There is no wisdom without love. Unless we learn to love God’s creation, we can neither truly love nor truly know God.
  • Real filth is the one inside. The rest simply washes off. There is only one type of dirt that cannot be cleared with pure waters, and that is the stain of hatred and bigotry contaminating the soul. You can purify your body through abstinence and fasting, but only love will purify your heart.
  • The whole universe is contained within a single human being – you. Everything that you see around, including the things your might not be fond of and even the people you despise or abhor, is present within you in varying degrees. Therefore, do not look for Sheitan outside yourself either. The devil is not an extraordinary force that attacks fro without. It is an ordinary voice within. If you get to know yourself fully, facing with honesty and hardness both your dark and bright ideas, you will arrive at a supreme form of consciousness. When a person knows himself or herself, he or she knows God.
  • God created suffering so that joy might appear through its opposite. Things become manifest through opposites. Since God has no opposite, He remains hidden.
  • Look at the abasement of the earth and the exaltation of the heavens. Know that all the states of the world are like this: flooding, drought, peace, and war. Whatever happens, do not forget, nothing God has created is in vain, whether wrath of forbearance, honesty or guilt.
  • If you want to change the way others treat you, you should first change the way you treat yourself. When you learn to love yourself, fully and sincerely, there is no way you can be loved. Once you achieve that stage, however, be thankful for every thorn that others might throw at you. It’s a sign that you will soon be showered in roses.
  • The past is a whirlpool. If you let it dominate your present moment, it will suck you in. Time is just an illusion. What you need is to live this very moment. That is all that matters.
  • Fret not where the road will take you. Instead concentrate on the first step. That’s the hardest part and that’s what you are responsible for. Once you take that step, let everything do what it naturally does, and the rest will follow. Do not go with the flow. Be the flow.
  • Every individual is self-sufficient in his search for the divine. There is a rule regarding this. We were all created in His image, and yet we were each created different and unique. No two people are alike. No two hearts beat the same rhythm. If God had wanted everything to be the same, He would have made it so. Therefore, disrespecting differences and imposing your thoughts on others is tantamount to disrespecting God’s holy scheme.
  • When a true lover of God goes into a tavern, the tavern becomes his chamber of prayer, but when a wine bibber goes into he same chamber, it becomes his tavern. In everything we do, it is our hearts that make the difference, not our outer appearances. Sufis do not judge other people on how they look or who they are. When a Sufi stares at someone, he keeps both eyes closed and instead opens a third eye – the eye that sees the inner realm.
  • “But don’t you Sufis ever doubt anything about Him?”
    “We do, and doubts are good. It means you alive and searching.”
  • My heart rejoiced at the  magnificence of the universe God had created in His image, so that everywhere we turned, we could both seek and find Him. And yet, human beings rarely did that.
  • I recalled the individuals I had met – the beggar, the prostitute, and the drunk. Ordinary people who suffered from the a common malady: separation from the One. These were the kind of people that the scholar failed to see while sitting in their ivory towers.
  • I thanked God for this blessed moment and let myself in His hands. The fragility and brevity of life struck me once again, and I recalled another rule: Life is a temporary loan, and this world is nothing but a sketchy imitation of Reality. Only children would mistake a toy for the real thing. And yet human beings either become infatuated with the toy or disrespectfully break and throw it aside. In this life, stay away from all kinds of extremities, for they will destroy your inner balance. Sufis do not go to extremes. A Sufi always remains mild and moderate.
  • Rumi’s words might be like a wild garden, full of teasels, herbs, spruces, and shrubs, but it is always up to the visitor to pick his fancy. While pretty flowers are instantly plucked, for people pay attention to plants with thorns and prickles. But the truth is, great medicines are often made from these. Isn’t it the same with the garden of love? How can love be worthy of its name if one selects solely the pretty things and leaves out the hardships? It is easy to enjoy the good and dislike the bad. Anybody can do that. The real challenge is to love the good and the bad together, not because you need to take the rough with the smooth but because you need to go beyond descriptions and accept love in its entirety.
  • Aziz believed that all religion wars were in essence a “linguistic problem”. Language, he said, did more to hide than reveal the Truth, and as a result people constantly misunderstood and misjudged one another. In a world best with mistranslations, there was no use in being resolute about any topic, because it might as well be that even our strongest convictions were caused by a simple misunderstanding. In general, one shouldn’t be too rigid about anything because “to live meant to constantly shift colours”.
  • In front of us extended the seven stages on the Path to truth – Seven maqamat every soul had to go through in order to attain Oneness.

    The first stage is the Depraved Nafs, the most primitive and common state of being, when the soul is entrapped in worldly pursuits. Most human beings are stuck there, struggling and suffering in the service of their baser selves but always holding others responsible for the continuing unhappiness.
    If and when a person becomes aware of the soul’s abased situation, by starting to work on himself, he can move to the reset stage, which in a way is the opposite of the previous one. Instead of blamign other people all the time, the person who has reached this stage blames himself, sometimes to the point of self-effacement. Herein the self becomes the Accusing Nafs and this starts the journey toward inner purification.

    In the third stage, the person is more mature and the self has evolved into the Inspired Nafs. It is only at this level, and not anytime before, that one can experience the true meaning of the word “surrender” and roam the Valley of Knowledge. Anyone who has made it this far will possess and display patience, perseverance, wisdom and humility. The world will feel new and full of inspiration. Nevertheless, many of the people who reach the third level feel an urge to dwell here, losing the will or the courage to go further. That is why, as beautiful and blessed as it is, the third stage is a trap fro the one who aims higher.

    Those who manage to go further reach the Valley of Wisdom and come to know the Serene Nafs. Here one’s sense of self is not what it used to be, having altered into a high level of consciousness. Generosity, gratitude, and an unwavering sense of contentment regardless of the hardships in life are the main characteristics accompanying anyone who has arrived here. Beyond that lies the Valley of Unity. Those who are here will be pleased with whatever situation God places them in. Mundane matters make no difference to them, as they have achieved the Pleased Nafs. 

    In the next stage, the Pleasing Nafs, one becomes a lantern to humanity, radiating energy to everyone who asks for it, teaching and illuminating like a true master. Sometimes such a person can also have healing powers. Whenever he goes, he will make a big difference in other people’s lives. In everything he does and aspires to do his main goal is to serve God through serving others.
    Finally, in the seventh stage, one attains the Purified Nafs, and becomes Insan-i Kamil, a perfect human being. But nobody knows much about that state, and even if a few ever did, they wouldn’t speak of it.

    The stages along the path are easy to summarize, difficult to experience. Adding to the obstacles that appear along the way is the fact that there is no guarantee of continuous progress. The route from the first to the last stage is by no means linear. There always the danger of tumbling back into earlier stages, sometimes even from a superior stage all the way down to the first one. Given the many traps along the way, it is no wonder that in every century only a few people manage to reach the final stages.

  • She watched events unfold and days waft by, not necessarily coldly or indifferently but with visible detachment. She had discovered that one she accepted that she didn’t have to stress herself about things she had no control over, another self emerged from inside – one who was wiser, calmer, and far more sensible.
  • A strange calm has descended upon Ella. She felt more stable than she’d ever been, even as she was swiftly gliding away from the life she’d known. In the morning she looked in to the mirror long and hard to see if there was a visible change in her face. Did she look younger? Prettier? Or perhaps more full of life? She couldn’t see any difference. Nothing had changed, and yet nothing was the same anymore.
  • Faith is only a word if there is no love at its center, so flaccid and lifeless, vague and hollow – not anything you could truly feel.
  • Do they think God resides in Mecca or Medina? Or in some local mosque somewhere? How can they imagine that God could be confined to limited space when He openly says, Neither My Heaven nor My Earth embraces Me, but the heart of My believing servant does embrace Me.
  • My God is a magnificent God. A living God! Why would I want a dead God? Alive He is. His name is al-Hayy – the Ever-Living. Why would I wallow in endless fears and anxieties, always restricted by prohibitions and limitations? Infinitely compassionate He is. The name is al-Wadud. All-Praiseworthy He is. I praise Him with all my words and deeds, as naturally and effortlessly as I breathe. The name is al-Hamid. How can I ever spread gossip and slander if I know deep down in my heart that God hears and sees it all? His name is al-Basir. Beautiful beyond all dreams and hopes. Al-Jamal, al-Kayyum, al-Rahman, al-Rahim. Through famine and flood, dry and athirst, I will sing and dance for Him till my knees buckle, my body collapses, and my heart stops pounding. I will smash my nafs to smithereens, until I am no more than a particle of nothingness, the wayfarer of pure emptiness, the dust of the dust in this great architecture. Gratefully, joyously, and relentlessly, I commend His splendor and generosity I thank Him for all the things He has both given and denied me, for only He knows what is best for me.
  • The human being has a unique place among God’s creation. “I breathed into Him of My Spirit,” God says. Each and every one of us without exception is designed to be God’s delegate on earth. Ask yourself, just how often do you behave like a delegate, if you ever do so? Remember, it falls upon each of us to discover the divine spirit inside and live by it.
  • Hell is in the here and now. So is heaven. Quit worrying about hell or dreaming about heaven, as they are both present inside this very moment. Every time we fall in love, we ascent to heaven. Every time we hate, envy, or fight someone, we tumble straight into the fines of hell.
  • My place is placeless, a trace of the traceless.
  • Why worry so much about the aftermath, an imaginary future, when this very moment is the only time we can truly and fully experience both the presence and absence of God in our lives? Motivated by neither the fear of punishment in hell nor the desire to be rewarded in heaven, Sufis love God simply because they Love Him, pure and easy, untainted and non-negotiable. Love is the reason. Love is the goal.
  • Brother, stand the pain. Escape the poison of your impulses. The sky will bow to your beauty if you do… That way a thorn expands to a rose. A particular glows with the universal.
  • Love can be explained. It can only be experienced. Love cannot be explained, yet it explains all.
  • The Qur’an is like a shy bride. She’ll open her veil only if she sees that the onlooker is soft and compassionate at heart.
  • The Qur’an is a gushing river. Those who look at it from a distance see only one river. But for those swimming in it, there are four currents. Like different types of fish, some of us swim closer to the surface while others swim in deep waters down below. Those who like to swim close to the surface are content with the outer meaning of the Qur’an. Many people are like that. They take the verses too literally. No wonder when they read a verse like the Nisa, they arrive at the conclusion that men are held superior to women. Because that is exactly what they want to see. There are three more currents. The second one is deeper than the first, but still close to the surface. As your awareness expands, so does your grasp of the Qur’an. But for that to happen, you need to take the plunge.
  • She told you that whenever you got angry with someone you should replace the face of that person in your mind with the face of someone you love. Have you tried replacing Shams’s face with our mother’s face? Perhaps you could find something to like in him.
  • The universe is one being. Everything and everyone is interconnected through an invisible web of stories. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in a silent conversation. Do no harm. Practice compassion. And do not gossip behind any one’s back – not even a seemingly innocent remark. The words that come out of your mouths do not vanish but are perpetually stored in infinite space, and they will come back to us in due time. One man’s pain will hurt us all. One man’s joy will make everyone smile.
  • Things that can seem malicious or unfortunate are often a blessing in disguise, whereas things that might seem pleasant can be harmful in the long run.
  • This world is like a snowy mountain that echoes your voice. Whatever you speak, good or evil, will somehow come back to you. Therefore, if there is someone who harbors ill thoughts about you, saying similarly bad thins about him will only make matters worse. You will be locked in a vicious circle of malevolent energy. Instead for forty days and nights say and think nice things about that person. Everything will be different at the end of forty days, because you will be different inside.
  • It felt like falling, except falling upward into the bottomless sky.
  • The past is an interpretation. The future is an illusion. The world does not move through time as if it were a straight line, proceeding from the past to the future. Instead tie moves through and within us, in endless spirals. Eternity does not mean infinite time, but simply timelessness. If you want to experience eternal illumination, put the past and the future out of your mind and remain within the present moment.
  • There is a stage after which language fails us. When you step into the zone of love, you won’t need language.
  • Destiny doesn’t mean that your life has been strictly predetermined. Therefore, to leave everything to fate and to not actively contribute to the music of the universe is a sign of sheer ignorance. The music of the universe is all-pervading and it is composed on forty different levels. Your destiny is the level where you will play your tune. You might not change your instrument but how well to play is entirely in your hands.
  • In this world take pity on 3 kinds of people – the rich man who has lost his fortune, the well-respected man who has lost his respectability, and the wise men who is surrounded by ignorants.
  • The true Sufi is such that even when he is unjustly accused, attacked, and condemned from all sides, he patiently endures, uttering not a single bad word about any of his critics. A Sufi never apportions blame. How can there be opponents or rivals or even “others” when there is no “self” in the first place. How can there be anyone to blame when there is only One?
  • Faith and love turned human beings into heroes because they removed all the fear and anxiety from their hearts.
  • On the Sufi path, first you discover the art of being alone amid the crowd. Next you discover the crowd within your solitude – the voices inside you.
  • I was sick and tired of always longing to be somewhere else, somewhere beyond, always in a rush despite myself. I was already where I wanted to be. All I needed was to stay and look within.
  • Sometimes it is necessary to destroy all attachments in order to win over your self. If we are too attached to our family, our position in society, even our local school or mosque, to the extent that they stand in the way of Union with God, we need to tear those attachments down.
  • If you want to strengthen your faith, you will need to soften inside. For your faith to be rock solid, your heart needs to be soft as feather. Through an illness, accident, loss, or fright, one way or another, we all are faced with incidents that teach us how to become less selfish and judgemental, and more compassionate and generous. Yet some of us learn the lesson and manage to become milder, while some others end up becoming even harsher than before. The only way to get closer to Truth is to expand your heart so that it will encompass all humanity and still have room for more Love.
  • Nothing should stand between yourself and God. Not imams, priests, rabbis, or any other custodians or moral or religious leadership. Not spiritual masters, not even your faith. Believe in your values, and your rules, but never lord them over others. If you keep breaking other peoples’ hearts, whatever religious duty you perform is no good. Stay away from all sorts of idolatory, for they will blur your vision. Let God and only God be your guide. Learn the Truth, my friend, but be careful not to make a fetish out of your truths.
  • This world was full of people obsessed with wealth, recognition, or power. The more signs of success they earned, the more they seemed to be in need of them. Greedy and covetous, they rendered worldly possessions their qibla, always looking in that direction, unaware of becoming the servants of the things they hungered after. That was a common pattern. It happened all the time.
  • God wants us to be modest and unpretentious. And He wants us to be known. He wants us to know Him with every fiber of our being. That is why it is better to be watchful and sober than to be drunk and dizzy.
  • Well, if Sheitan is as wicked and indomitable as you are saying he is, then we human beings have no reason to blame ourselves for our wrongdoings. Whatever good happens we’ll attribute to God, and all the bad things in life we’ll simply attribute to Sheitan. In either case, we’ll be exempt from all criticism and self-examination. How easy that is!
  • The torment a person can inflict upon himself is endless. Hell is inside us, and so is heaven. The Qur’an says human beings are the most dignified. We are higher than highest, but also lower than the lowest. If we could grasp the full meaning of this, we would stop looking for Sheitan outside and instead focus on ourselves. What we need is sincere self-examination. Not being on the watch for the faults of others.
  • While everyone in this world strives to get somewhere and become someone, only to leave it all behind after death, you aim for the supreme stage of nothingness. Live this life as light and empty as the number zero. We are no different from a pot. It is not the decorations outside but the emptiness inside that holds us straight. Just like that, it is not what we aspire to achieve but the consciousness of nothingness that keeps us going.
  • A man who has no time for stories is a man who has no time for God. Don’t you know that God is the best storyteller?
  • Every true love and friendship is a story of unexpected transformation. If we are the same person before and after we loved, that means we haven’t loved enough.
  • Where there is love, there is bound to be heartache.
  • I don’t know about that, but it is true that I find silence painful these days. Words give me openings to break through the darkness in my heart. This was what Shams had wanted all along, wasn’t it? To make a poet out of me!
  • Life is about perfection. Every incident that happens, no matter how colossal or small, and every hardship that we endure is an aspect of a divine plan that works to that end. Struggle is intrinsic to being human. That is why it says in the Qur’an, Certainly we will show Our ways to those who struggle on Our way. There is no such thing as coincidence in God’s scheme.
  • At the end of the day, aren’t we all put on trial? Every day, every passing minute, God asks us, Do you remember the covenant we made before you were sent to the world? Do you understand your role in revealing My treasure? Most of the time, we are not ready to answer these questions. They are too frightening. But God is patient. He asks again and again. And if this heartache, too, is a part of a trial, my only wish is to find Shams at the end of it.
  • My mouth is spewing out lines of verse, constantly and involuntarily, and, listening to them, one might conclude that I am becoming a poet indeed. The Sultan of Language! But the truth, insofar as I am able to tell, is that the poems do not belong to me. I am only a vehicle for letters that are placed in my mouth. Like a pen that writes down the words, it is ordered to inscribe or a flute that plays the notes blown into it, I, too, am simply doing my part.
  • Submission does not mean being weak or passive. It leads to neither fatalism nor capitulation. Just the opposite. True power renders in submission – a power that comes from within. Those who submit to the divine essence of life will live in unperturbed tranquility and peace even when the whole wide world goes through turbulence after turbulence.
  • Traveling to a new place often engendered a dreadful sense of loneliness and sadness in the soul of a man. But with God by my side, I was content and fulfilled in my solitude.
  • Little did I know that I was making the most common mistake women have made all throughout the ages: to naively think that with their  love they can change the men they love.
  • In this world, it is not similarities or regularities that take us a step forward, but blunt opposites. And all the opposites in the universe are present within each and every one of us. Therefore the believer needs to meet the unbeliever residing within. And the nonbeliever should get to know the silent faithful in him. Until one day one reaches the stage of Insan-i Kamil, the perfect human being, faith is a gradual process and one that necessitates its seeming opposite: disbelief.
  • But nothing happens outside of God’s will. This world is erected upon the principle of reciprocity. Neither a drop of kindness not a speck of evil remain unreciprocated. Fear not the plots, deceptions, or tricks of other people. If somebody is setting a trap, remember, so is God. He is the biggest plotter. Not even a leaf stirs outside God’s knowledge. Simply and fully believe in that. Whatever God does, He does beautifully.
  • God is a meticulous clockmaker. So precise is His order that everything on earth happens in its own time. Neither a minute late nor a minute early. And for everyone without exception, the clock works accurately. For each there is a time to love and a time to die.
  • It is never too late to ask yourself, ‘Am I ready to change the life I am living? Am I ready to change within?’ Even if a single day in your life is the same as the day before, it surely is a pity. At every moment and with each new breath, one should be renewed and renewed again. There is only one way to be born into a new life: to die before death.
  • By and large over time, pain turns into grief, grief turns into silence, and silence turns into lonesomeness, as vast and bottomless as the dark oceans.
  • You think you cannot live anymore. You think that the light of your soul has been put out and that you will stay in the dark forever. But when you are engulfed by such solid darkness, when you have both eyes closed to the world, a third eye opens in your heart. And only then do you come to realize that eyesight conflicts with inner knowledge. No eye sees so clear and sharp as the eye of love. After grief comes another season, another valley, another you. And the lover who is nowhere to be found, you start to see everywhere.
  • Love has taken away all of my practices and habits. Instead it has filled with poetry. And though I know that there are no words that can express this inner journey of mine, I believe in words. I am a believer of words.
  • The first line came to me one day at dawn apropos of nothing, while I was watching the sunlight slice the dark. Eve since then the poems spill out of my lips as if by a force of their own… Prose of poetry, the words come to me in flocks and then leave just as suddenly, like migrating birds. I am only the bed of water where they stop and rest on their way to warmer lands. When I start a poem, I never know beforehand what I’m going to say. It could be long or it could be short. I don’t plan it. And when the poem is over, I’m quiet again. I live in silence.
  • The world has been moving and changing at a speed we human beings can neither control nor comprehend.
  • Little by little, one turns forty, fifty, and sixty and, with each major decade, feels more complete. You need to keep walking, though there’s no place to arrive at. The universe is turning, constantly and relentlessly, and so are the earth and the moon, but it is nothing other than a secret embedded within us human beings that makes it all more. With that knowledge we dervishes will dance our way through love and heartbreak even if no one understands what we are doing. We will dance in the middle of a brawl or a major war, all the same. We will dance in our heart and grief, with joy and elation, alone and together, as slow and fast as the flow of water. We will dance in our blood. There is a perfect harmony, and subtle balance in all that is and was in the universe. The dots change constantly and replace one another, but the circle remains intact.
  • While the parts change, the whole always remains the same. For every thief who departs this world, a new one is born. And every decent person who passes away is replaced by a new one. In this way not only does nothing remain the same but also nothing ever really changes.
  • Our religion is the religion of love. And we are all connected in a chain of hearts. If and when one of the links is broken, another one is added elsewhere. Names changes, they come and go, but the essence remains the same.
  • Ask anyone who has heard the call to morning prayer for the first time and he will tell you the same thing. That it is beautiful, rich, and mysterious. And yet at the same time, there is something uncanny about it, almost eerie. Just like love.
  • “The morning prayer is special. Did you know that of the five prayers a Muslim is supposed to perform every day, the one in the morning is said to the most sacred but also the most testing?”

    “And why is that?”

    “I guess it’s because it wakes us up from dreams, and we don’t like that. We prefer to keep sleeping. That’s why there is a line in the morning call that doesn’t exist in others. It says, ‘Prayer is better than sleep.'”

  • A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western… Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of a fire! The universe turns differently when the fire loves water.
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