When a man comes to see you
A book on Sufism
that I’ve edited came out several
months ago and I put a copy thereof in the
mailbox of a friend, who had made 2 of the
photo’s that were used in the book.
A week later I found out that he was not
at home as I received a letter from Bokhara
He had travelled
to this place (he told me when he came to
visit me) in order to go to Qasr-e-Arefin,
where you can find the tomb of shaykh Bahauddin
You may know
of the Khwajagan, the ‘Masters’,
one of them being the murshid of Khwaja
Abu Ishaq Shami Chishti, the founder of
the Chishti order. Several centuries later
Bahauddin Naqshband became an initiate of
the Khwajagan and his contribution has been
so important that his designation Naqshband
(= ‘designer’) became the name
of the complete Sufi order, the Naqshbandiyya.
have read the book of Sara Sviri called
“The Taste of Hidden Things”.
On its book-jacket you find a photograph
of the tomb of shaykh Bahauddin Naqshband.
Nowadays (according to my friend) there
is a small gate surrounding the tomb so
that people can no longer touch it. Present-day
Naqshbandi’s frown on devotional practices
around the tomb. They have even removed
the cloth covering: everything is very sober.
The ordinary people, however, still tie
small pieces of cloth in the trees nearby
in order to get blessings (baraka) or to
have their wishes fulfilled.
of Bokhara are rather quiet. You see little
people and there is no heavy traffic. There
is an atmosphere wherein you feel safe.
People are very honest. When they do their
shopping they leave the things they have
bought unattended in the street and pick
it up later. In Amsterdam you cannot do
such things. The same thing happens when
people pass on money to one another from
the back of the bus to the driver in front
in order to buy a ticket. The bus-fare really
reaches the driver…
only feels unsafe in Bokhara when being
stopped by the police as they try to let
you pay a fine for everything you do. This
happened to my friend outside of Bokhara.
He was visiting the graves of the several
Naqshbandi teachers to be found in the surroundings
of Bokhara. In Bokhara he had left his hotel
and stayed permanently in a house he rented
for $ 5 a day. Because he could not show
a passport with a stamp of a hotel the police
took his passport from him and gave him
a large fine. Rules, rules, rules: Uzbekastan
still shows some aspects of its being a
former Soviet state. People of Bokhara helped
my friend in regard to these problems.
easy for my friend to meet the Sufis in Bokhara
as it is a rather small town. Most visitors
only stay a short time, but his staying for
a couple of weeks received the attention of
the local Sufis. The shaykh pointed out to
him that he could sit on his right side. He
could not talk with the shaykh as the shaykh
only spoke a certain dialect of Persian. But
that did not matter much as the things you
can speak about are not important and the
really valuable things can never be put into