The Sufi Way

Dear Mom,

I haven’t made it to Khane much at all like I thought I would. I find it hard to get through even one Du’a (prayer) without just being in a bucket of tears. There are smells and words and sounds and textures- even holding a tasbih in my hand- that are so you. They remind me of you. And this should be a good thing. But they also remind me that you are not here to be the barer of them. And that weighs too heavy on my heart. So instead of solace, sometime being in our place of prayer makes me so overly emotional.

Don’t get me wrong. I think I have written this before, but what our faith and the culture you brought us in has taught me is invaluable. I feel so grateful to know that I could go to any country in the world, and if I walk into a Khane, I will be welcomed and be made a part of a community because of this commonality – a belief system- that we share or at least grew up in.

The problem is that I have so many questions. I have so many misunderstandings or “un-understandings” about the words and rituals and protocols we just follow. But I feel like I am following them blindly because I don’t have a good sense of what they mean or stand for. I do want to learn better. I want to learn not just for myself, but to teach others, especially my nieces, your granddaughters. I know they have questions too, and I want to help them find the answers, but also encourage them to find their own answers, and make their own choices. Faith should not be forced on anyone. It’s very meaning- belief- is about what we feel inside. And I want to feel a closer tie to this faith you so lovingly made a part of our lives. I want to do this also to feel a closer connection to you.

And sure, I haven’t been practising our usual Ismaili ways for years, in terms of customs or going to khane. But I think in my heart and the way I live and the way I treat people shows that I have those values in me.

And I found another way to delve deeper into Islam, through something that resonates more with me- Sufism.  Remember when I came back from that Sufism school that one day? I went to it somewhere on Lonsdale. And I told you about it that night or the next day. And you were so excited. I was excited too. But it was a little overwhelming for. But that and of course all those poems by Rumi, and my fascination with mysticism has just planted this seed in me that I think is my “ticket” into an Islam that connects with me.

Thank you for being so excited for me, Mom. I remember the way your face lit up when I told you about it. You didn’t know much about Sufism, as far as I could tell. But you were pretty charged up about finding me books or helping me learn more about it.

Well, guess what? I am now, Mom. I’ve been taking this online course called The Sufi Way of the Beloved.  It’s by Andrew Harvey, the author whose book I got sent in the mail. I think I have written to you about that recently. Well, he is a passionate speaker. And I was so drawn to his passion and the way he spoke about literature and spirituality and passion and … He had this one line in his description of the course. He said something about Sufism being transfused into your veins, and that just had me.

I have to admit, I have found a lot of the information quite overwhelming. It is a lot to take in and some of it, I don’t quite understand. Or maybe I have just never been a great listener to one voice speaking continuously for long periods of time. I need visuals. I need to read the words. I need to stop and think about them or discuss them. Otherwise, they all become a blur.

But each week, I took another line or another concept, or another piece of history or something that intrigued me with me. And it added up until last week where I just had goosebumps for the whole hour as Andrew spoke about Rumi. I think he is right. The other lessons and talks were leading me to Rumi. Rumi is my in to spirituality, to Islam, to getting back to my connection with my faith. And I am hoping it will help me find a connection to you.

I actually called in to the talk afterwards, and spoke to Andrew live over the internet. I told him about you. I told him about what I was struggling with, what my intentions with the course were. And he reminded me of something it sounds like Rumi taught him, or at least consolidated in him- that there is no death, really. That we are connected still. And that I can find that connection through honoring my name- Tasleem, which I know means surrender. And this is the reason I was so fascinated with Sufism in the first place, Mom. I never got a chance to tell you how after I learned what my name meant, I also found out that the Sufis believed that surrender was the highest attainment that someone to achieve.

And that has been my goal ever since- to live up to my name. To surrender to life, to love, to God.  I just never knew that I’d be doing this without you physically here. Or at least not this soon. But Andrew gave me some wise words of wisdom. He listened with so much compassion and gave me so much hope.

Thank you, Mom, for honouring our faith and being so full of faith. Thank you for being such a beautiful role model of spirituality. Thank you for bringing me up with this as my grounding. I am sorry that I may have never really showed much appreciation for it. But I was feeling lost in it. Not quite understanding it. But I am wanting to learn. It may be through a different route that most, or than you went through or that I expected. But I think this is more me- poetry, mysticism, dance, surrender, passion, and love. When I think of these qualities as being so embedded in Islam, that gets me excited.

And I am going to use this to get more in touch with you. I will try to update you with what I learn along the way.  The Sufi Way.  It is kind of intriguing, and magical, and gives me hope that something truly beautiful will come out of this not just for me, but also for you and me together.

Love you, Mom.

 

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Always Be Your Baby

Dear Mom,

A couple of weeks ago, I had a dream about you and me.  I was sitting on your lap, not as a child, but as an adult. And you were rocking me or comforting me, and still being the mother who babies me. But the thing is that I liked it. Not just because you were holding me- though that was really nice.  But more so because you seemed strong enough to do so, comfortable and healthy and as if you wanted me to know you could still make things better.

Mother's lap2

I was waiting for a class. It was some kind of class that I was nervous about- like an acting class or maybe some kind of dance or performance class.  And, without words, you wanted me to know everything was going to be okay.  I think that while I was sitting on you and you had your arms around me, I realized the door to the class had opened and I was going to be late.  I worried a little about that for a moment, but then I didn’t seem to care, because nothing seemed better or more important than to be exactly where I was, in my mother’s arms.

It was so different than most of the other dreams that I have had about you since you’ve been gone.  The other dreams are disturbing, painful, scary and don’t make me feel l like you are at peace. In the other dreams, sometimes, you didn’t know you had passed away. Other times, you were bleeding, or there was some part of your body that was not together with the rest of you.  Or you were tired or upset or I continued to make the mistake of not dropping everything and just concentrating on you.  In some of the dreams, I tried to help you, but I couldn’t for some reason. And then I would wake up in tears, or feeling guilty, or feeling as if my heart literally hurt.

And I didn’t know what to make of those dreams. Sometimes, I hear about people who have dreams of their loved ones who have passed away. That the person who has passed, sends down messages- usually of comfort or something more positive.

I started worrying that if I was only dreaming of disheartening things that felt full of anguish, that maybe that meant that you were not well, or at peace. And that is so hard to live with, or to not know the true answer to. And of course, the hardest part is to feel helpless in not knowing what I can do to make sure of your peace.

But then there was this one dream- the one about you holding me. And even if it means nothing, or even if I don’t know what to make of it, it is the one I really have to hold on to.  It just felt right- to be an adult and still be able to be comforted by my mother’s arms and her lap.  It doesn’t matter how old I get, or how much time passes, I will always be your little girl, your baby.

I am just sorry I didn’t let you baby me as much as you wanted sometimes, while you were here. I would do anything to have you put your hand on my forehead like you used to, to sooth my head. Or to lay on your lap. That was one of my favorite feelings.  Or even just to hold your hand or have you feed me a piece of cake, or to just sit near you or watch you sleep.

If you can hear me or read these words that I am typing, and you can findmothers lap a way to let me know how you are, through my sleep, I would love it if you could show up in my dreams sometimes.  Well, if I had my way, it would be all the time.  I just want to know that you are okay, and truthfully, not just because you know I want to hear it.

Send me any messages that you need to- whether they are positive or not.  I just need to hear from you. And of course, I do hope that you are at peace and being comforted and loved and pampered and showered with happiness yourself.

Oh, the comfort of a mother’s lap.  There’s nothing else like it. I hope you are enjoying the soothing of your mother as well.

Always your baby,

Love Tas