A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century

Shaikh Ahmad al-'Alawi - His Spiritual Heritage and Legacy
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Fairly often while I was talking quietly with the Shaykh, the name Allah had come to us from some remote corner of the zawiyah, uttered on one long drawn out vibrant note:


It was like a cry of despair, a distraught supplication, and it came from some solitary cell-bound disciple,  bent on meditation. The cry was usually repeated several times, and then all was silcence once more.

"Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord. From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."

These verses from the Psalms came to my mind. The supplication was really just the same, the supreme cry to God of a soul in distress.

I was not wrong, for later, when I asked the Shaykh what was the meaning of the cry, which we had just heard, he answered:

"It is a disciple asking God to help him in his meditation."

"May I ask what is the purpose of his meditation."

"To achieve self-realisation in God."

"Do all the disciples succeed in doing this?"

"No, it is seldom tha anyone does. It is only possible for a very few."

"Then what happens to those who do not? Are they not desperate?"

"No they always rise high enough to have at least inward Peace." Inward peace. That was the point he came back to most often and there lay, no doubt, the reason for his great influence. For what man does not aspire, in some way or another, to inward Peace?

242 pages

Hard bound

Martin Lings

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