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Sa’di has written: “I have travelled in many lands, I have visited many peoples and plucked an ear of corn from every cornfield, for it is better to go barefoot than to wear tight boots, better to endure the hardships of travel than to stay at home… And I would add: with every returning spring one needs must choose a new love – for last year’s calendar, my friend, is of no use today!” Sufis have travelled a lot. For them travelling is a spiritual practice. Here is an account of such a travel.

A Chishti shaykh made a travel and arrived in the house of one of his mureeds. A small ceremony was taking place starting with the recitation of parts of the Qur’an. Thereafter a certain poem of Hafez, picked out by the shaykh, was recited in Persian by an Iranian mureed. The shaykh, in turn, was asked to give an English translation. In the middle thereof he was unable to proceed as a powerful inner state took hold of him. The lines referred to the help that you may get when in difficulties on the spiritual path. After some time he was able to continue and he finished his translation with these lines:

Last night they relieved me of all my sorrows.
In the darkness I was given the water of life.

Several years later the mureed visited his shaykh, without knowing that it was the final meeting between the two as the shaykh would die a short time afterwards. The shaykh then told a story wherein a Persian Sufi brotherhood is settled in the midst of an Arab-speaking town. The dervishes appear to keep themselves aloof from the problems of the inhabitants of this town. The only thing they share are their songs. Everyone can hear the dervishes sing, but the songs are in Persian, which no one can understand. The dervishes never open their door to the people, no matter how pressing their problems. That is, until the end of the story. One man who has lost all his strength, but who has seized life boldly, combining the innocence of a child with the aspiration of an angel, sees the door of the convent of the dervishes open. The dervishes again sing their song in the Persian language, but now his heart understands the meaning:

Last night they relieved me of all my sorrows.
In the darkness I was given the water of life.

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