Suddenly, in the sky at dawn, a moon appeared,
Descended from the sky
Turned its burning gaze on me,
Like a hawk during the hunt seizing a bird,
Grabbed me and flew with me high into heaven.
When I looked at myself, I could not see myself
For in this moon, my body, by grace, had become soul.
And when I traveled in this soul, I saw nothing but moon,
Until the mystery of eternal theophany lay open to me.
All the nine heavenly spheres were drowned in this moon.
The skiff of my being drowned, dissolved, entirely, in that Sea.
Then, that Sea broke up into waves, Intelligence danced back,
And launched its song,
And the Sea covered over with foam,
And from each bubble of foam something sprang, clothed in form,
Something sprang from each light-bubble, clothed in a body.
Then each bubble of body-foam received a sign from the Sea,
Melted immediately and followed the flow of its waves.
Without the saving, redeeming help of my Lord,
Shams-ul-Haqq of Tabriz,
No one can contemplate the moon, no one can become the Sea.
Mevlana Rumi (Translator: Andrew Harvey)
The shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai
Some people say that he fell in love, left home, became a phenomenon and came back to marry the woman who had been refused to him earlier. There is no way of knowing whether the career of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai of Sindh actually paralleled the Count of Monte Cristo so closely (and we need to be careful about apocryphal stories woven around the lives of great saints), but there are other testimonials to the warmth of the heart that throbbed in him.
The most astonishing is the way his work captured the spirit of a new age that was coming up not only in the Muslim world but also outside.
Bhittai was born in 1689 and died in 1752. This was when the Muslim world seemed to be awakening to the realisation that a universal ideal could be manifest in regional forms. Hence Abdul Wahhab in Hejaz set out to distinguish between the crux of Islam and historical accretion while Shah Waliullah of Delhi taught that the traditional model of Islam was an application of its ideals in the context of the seventh century Arabia and many other applications were possible in other contexts. Surprisingly, the new ideals that started developing in Europe around this time also converged on regional states.