by Misbah Noor
On Sunday, February 5—Visalat Day—a beautiful Universal Worship service was held in the khanqa at Fazal Manzil, in Suresnes, in remembrance of Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan (may his secret be sanctified) who passed into the Realm of Beauty on this day, ninety years ago. The khanqa, vibrant with flowers and smiles, was filled to capacity. A heart-warming sense of closeness was discernible in the community of mureeds belonging to many different traditions, cultures, and walks of life, yet all united on the spiritual path of Love, Harmony and Beauty. Indeed, there was something very special about celebrating the Urs of our beloved Murshid in the home where he resided during his life.
A garland of marigolds adorned the ceiling and a panel of gold fabric formed a backdrop against a table displaying the sacred books and candles representing the great religious traditions of the world. On this day, an additional candle, preceding the six customary ones, was included to represent the “tradition of God’s (feminine) creativity,” referring to spiritual traditions outside the Religions of the Book which take nature as their scripture and have often, historically, been administered by priestesses.
Sarafil Bawa offered inspiring words reflecting on this tradition. Throughout time, he said, “… from the priestesses of the Mediterranean to the indigenous grandmothers of our own time, there has flourished, and continues to flourish, a tradition of sacred remembrance that glorifies the divine creativity. This tradition transpires in many places in the world. It does not uphold a written scripture, but rather reads the scripture of nature itself. For every existent thing is a word written by God. And the revelations of nature resound, indeed, in all of the hallowed scriptures of the world’s greatest revelations. And this, the disclosure of the creative grace of the Creator, abounds everywhere, on the horizons and in ourselves. And it is intimated in these words of Murshid: Wide space, womb of my heart, conceive my thought, I pray, and give birth to my desire.”
Outside the glass walls of the khanqa, the air was dewy and the sky formed a mirror to our emotions—a vast, glistening ‘heart’ ambivalent with longing and the celebration of union. The laden horizon and the trees in the garden—still as a painting—matched the atmosphere of expectant stillness inside at the beginning of the ceremony. We joined voices in song, our spirits stirring, becoming uplifted. And as the service proceeded, the weather turned around, the sun suddenly breaking through the clouds! Sunlight beamed on the arches of the Universelle, reflecting the bare winter branches in patterns of delicate filigree.
Inside the khanqa, attuning to the atmosphere of Murshid, in the very place in which he lived and met with mureeds upstairs, we felt his spirit, his blessed presence and nearness. And in this room filled with ‘instruments’—leaders, teachers and workers of The Inayati Order kindled by his consciousness—we were ever conscious of the living pulse of Murshid’s teachings. Our view of the Universelle in the garden (housing the original cornerstone blessed by Murshid) reminded us that it stood as both witness and monument, an embodied form of the Universel prayer which, as we recite it, inspires us to realize the divine creativity working through us in our work on the physical plane.
At the end of his remarks, Bawa offered Murshid’s benediction:
May your heart be filled with heavenly joy
May your soul be filled with divine light
May your spirit uphold the divine Message
May you go on in the spiritual path
May God’s peace abide with you forever and ever more.
A moment of silence followed, then, suddenly, Murshid’s voice rose in our midst. It was as if he were physically there amongst us in the room, reciting the takbir al-‘id— Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar la ilaha illa’Llah Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar wa li’Llahi’l-hamd—singing the praises of the Almighty in a tone resonant with love, striking at the very core of our hearts, breaking up and clearing any residual hardness, mist, or doubt that might be lurking unbeknownst to us; tuning us; harmonizing us; and, above all, elevating us. Time and space collapsed in that transformative moment of Murshid’s power working via the conduit of his stirring voice.
The Urs culminated in a beautiful flower ceremony. We each, in turn, stepped forward towards Bawa, receiving his gaze of benediction as he presented a long-stemmed rose. We drank the light of his eyes, a fire that filled our very beings with the light of the Silsila, linking us to the chain of illuminated souls going back to the Divine source. What a gift and treasure that brief moment! It encompassed a lifetime, served as a vivid reminder of a sacred trust.
Even as rose petals fade and disintegrate, even as beloved Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan is no longer with us on this physical plane, the bloom and fragrance of his teachings live on. They do so, as Sarafil Bawa reminds us, in our manner of witnessing and experiencing and joining together “for the sake of the One from whom we have been brought forth from nothingness.” What joy to unite in love and remembrance at Fazal Manzil, Murshid’s House of Blessings.