Today’s post is dedicated to our guide and teacher, Sidi Shaykh Muhammad al-Jamal, on this special day – his BIRTHDAY!
If you knew Sidi personally, you know he did not like us to make a fuss about his birthday, but sometimes we just couldn’t help ourselves. And I still can’t!
We’ve been collecting stories to go into a book to catalog and commemorate the many gifts we – our community and Sidi’s students – received through Sidi’s teachings and guidance.
I want to share of few of those stories today. The stories are anonymous and unedited (though a little trimmed for this newsletter), as is the intention for the book as well.
I was lost and alone in the world until I came to Sidi. I have no doubt in my mind that he is the first person to have seen me completely and the first person to love me. For me he was the first person I ever trusted and the first person I loved.
I often think of the story of Sidi throwing a date for every stone that was thrown by a man who didn’t know the truth. As Sidi threw dates, the man’s heart slowly softened from the sweetness of the dates and Sidi’s actions, and eventually this man came to know the truth.
I feel that this is what Sidi did with me. He gave me dates to help lead me down the path to know my true self. He gave me (his hand guided by Allah) my husband, my friend, my life’s work and my children.
Along with the truth of my story and my walking, I still cling to these dates as I walk deeper and deeper on this path to Allah. I have more gratitude than I know how to contain for these gifts, truths, and the love I have received form Sidi. Allhumdullilah. Amin.
One day I approached Sidi, sitting on the porch at The Land [Shadhiliyya Sufi Retreat Center in Pope Valley, CA.] He motioned me to come forward. I told him that when my Mom was alive, she had sinus issues and was unable to taste and smell.
I lamented that I too had this problem, presumably from my sinus issues and missed the joy of smelling the flowers, tasting the food.
Sidi motioned for me to go to the plant in the pot at his feet. I moved forward and cut off a leaf of the lemon verbena with my fingernail, bringing it to my nose.
I was delighted to smell the fragrance and in faith, bit down on the leaf to taste as well. I thanked Sidi and he said, “Thank Allah!”
My wife and I had been married by Sidi several years before, but this marriage was not recognized by the state. We therefore made plans to have an official wedding officiated by Salima our local Sufi teacher, who by virtue of her masters of divinity was recognized by the state as able to perform weddings.
Just before the guests were due to arrive, my wife and I were upstairs getting dressed, and we joined hands to pray the Fatiha. Just as we did so we both had a strong sense that someone had arrived at the house.
We looked down from the upstairs window which had a clear view of the front door but didn’t see anyone. We remembered the moment because it was such an odd sensation of presence that we were very surprised to see that we were apparently mistaken and there was no one to be seen.
The wedding was beautiful. Salima’s joining of our hearts was amazing, and the feeling in our large living room full of friends was indescribable, a subtle but tangible feeling of holiness and beauty. Salima would later tell us that she had never felt Sidi’s spirit so strongly present.
After the wedding, when the guests had departed, my wife and i were relaxing with my sisters and brother-in-law, who had all experienced the beauty of the ceremony. One sister said it was the most beautiful wedding she had ever seen. Their concerns about us being victims of a cult were gone.
As we sat together talking in the afterglow of the holy energy that had filled the room, my brother-in-law asked, “Whatever happened to that older gentleman with the white beard?” My wife and looked at each other, puzzled – no one with a white beard had attended. My sister said, “Yes, what did happen with him?”
My brother-in- law explained: “We saw him come in the front door, while you guys were upstairs getting ready. He came in and turned toward the kitchen. I thought about greeting him but felt a little awkward as we didn’t really know anybody.” My sister corroborated that she had seen him too, and then they had forgotten all about it, and hadn’t seen him again and hadn’t thought about it until just then.
My wife and I exchanged a smile, and pointed to Sidi’s picture on the bookshelf. “Could it have been this guy?” “Oh my,” my sister responded.
He had appeared to them at the exact moment when my wife and I had joined hands and felt sure that some guest had appeared at the door. We felt very grateful to have had Sidi join us for that holy day and bless our “official” marriage with his presence.
with love and gratitude from all of us,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BELOVED SIDI!
We are grateful for the work Sidi did with each of us, and we are ever grateful for the teachings Sidi left for us to give through this University – the only one of its kind. If you would like more information about the Master’s of Divinity programs, click here.
May God’s peace and blessings be upon you.
With love and gratitude,
Mastura Graugnard on behalf of all your friends and family at UOS
P.S. If you have a story to share about your experiences with Sidi or what you’ve received through the teachings, please send your story to Media AT sufiuniversity DOT org. Thank you!