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Tag: The Sufis

April 24, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

All Change

The kind of miracles often performed by Indian Godmen rely on a knowledge of chemicals, physics, and the environment, a kind of layer of information which many of us take for granted. Just as I am fascinated by the illusions conjured by these Godmen, I am also deeply interested in the science that makes them possible. Or, rather, I’m preoccupied by the history of that science, and how it came about.

Over the next few days, I’m going to write some notes — nothing too heavy — on how the science we all rely on every day (the very same that the Godmen rely on too) came to us all through Arab society, predominantly from the Abbasid era. I have touched on this before in my blog, by have long wanted to devote a little more time to it, so excuse me while I indulge myself…

March 24, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel


The Abjad is an alpha-numeric system found in Arabic, similar to such systems used by the ancient Greeks, etc, and currently with the Hebrew alphabet. The system is well-known, and works on the principle of equating specific numerical values to each letter. In the Arab world, Abjad has been used to conceal ideas and information, as well as to develop geometric patterns and images, which in turn contain reference to a name, a word, or an idea. There’s plenty on the system on the internet.The Abjad letters are memorised in a meaningless string (phonetically, they sound like this:)


And these are the basic numerical values.

ALIF    A       1

YA       Y         10

QAF        Q     100

BA         B        2

KAF     K         20

R             R      200

JIM         J        3

LAM     L      30

SH          SH   300

DAL      D       4

MIM      M     40

T             T     400

HA        H       5

NUN      N      50

TH          TH   500

WAU     W      6

SIN       S        60

KH          KH   600

Z            Z      7

AYN      AYN 70

DZ          DZ    700

HH        HH   8

FA         F       80

DH          DH   800

TT           TT   9

SD       SS      90

TZ           TZ    900



GH           GH 1000

March 23, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

Hidden Meaning

The Sufis have always used language to encode ideas and themes precious to them. These hidden meanings are invisible to the eye or the ear of the uninitiated. They can be released and activated however through teaching. The sense of specific Sufi code words or stories is lost on those without the knowledge to perceive the concealed message. An example, is the Arabic root, NSHR, to saw. The word has numerous meanings (see below), and is used as a kind of key into another way of thinking. Sawing wood for Sufis signifies creating something new — sawdust — and from a material — wood — that is being worked on to create something new. The process is a metaphor for transmutation also, as in alchemy. The root and its multiple uses in language makes it a valuable code word:

NaSHaR = to expand, spread, display
NaSHaR = to saw wood, scatter, propagate
NaSHaR = to become green after rain, to spread (as in foliage)
NaSHaR = to recall to life, revivify (the dead)
NaSHiR = to disperse by night in a pasture
NaSHr – life, sweet smell, reviving herbage after rain
YaUM EL-NNuSHUR = day of resurrection
NuSHARa = sawdust
MiNSHAR = saw.

March 22, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel


Anyone interested in the layers of information concealed within Arabic, would do well to read the Annotations at the back of my father’s book, The Sufis.

One interesting root provides the first name for the new President of the United States:

Root and derivation (Arabic)
BaRK b = to stand firm, dwell in.
BaRRaK l = congratulate.
BaRRaK ‘ala = to sit down.
Barrak ‘ala = to bless.
BARaK = to be exalted.

TaBaRRaK b = to bode well of.
BaRaKat = blessing, abundance.
BiRK at = pool, tank, puddle.
BaRIK = happy, fresh dates with cream.
BaRRAK = miller.
MuBARaK = blessed.
BaRRak = make kneel down, bend the knees.

March 21, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel


Arabs believe that their language, Arabic, contains within it many layers of concealed information. It is for this reason that it is often believed that Arabic is the only language in which the Qur’an should be read, and that by translating the holy book one loses secret meaning. The matter is dabated endlessly, as one can imagine. What is very certain however, is that Arabic is a labyrinth within itself, one in which specific roots of words can be used in many different ways. I’m not going to start giving Arabic lessons, but I want to observe how Arabic is used to conceal information. It’s a subject that is well known across the Arab world, especially to scholars, and has been used for millennia by Sufis.


March 20, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel


Nasrudin was throwing handfuls of bread crumbs around his house and waving a huge pink flag all about. His neighbour looked out of his window and asked:

   ‘Why are you doing that, Nasrudin?’
   The Mulla replied: ‘I’m keeping the tigers away!’
   ‘But there are no tigers around here.’
   ‘It’s effective, isn’t it?!’

March 19, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel


‘Baba, why do you always answer a question with another question?’

‘Do I?’ Nasrudin replied.
March 18, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

The Greatest Fool

The King asked Nasrudin to go and find the most stupid man in the world to come to court and be jester. The Mulla set off and travelled for days, weeks and months. Finally, he returned to the throne room where the King called to him.

‘Have you found the most stupid man in the world to be my jester?’ asked the monarch.
‘Yes, indeed I have, Your Majesty, but alas he is too busy searching for fools to take the job.’

March 17, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

Creeping Up On Himself

Bedar, the watchman, caught Nasrudin prising open the window of his own bedroom from the outside, in the depths of the night.

‘What are you doing, Mulla?’ he asked. ‘Are you locked out?’
‘Hush!’ snapped Nasrudin. ‘They say that I walk in my sleep and so I’m trying to surprise myself and find out!’

March 16, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

Only One Thing Wrong With it

Walking with a disciple one day, Mulla Nasrudin saw for the first time in his life a beautiful lakeland scene.

‘What a delight!’ he exclaimed. ‘But if only…’
‘If only what, Master?’
‘If only they had not put water on it.’