THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A SUFI AND AN ALL-ROUNDER
Praise be to and I take refuge in Allah the Lord of mankind, the King of mankind, the God of mankind and Allah’s blessings and greetings of peace be on all His prophets and messengers among whom are our masters Abraham the Friend of God, Moses the Speaker with God, Jesus Christ the Word of and a Spirit from God born of Virgin Mary and Muhammad the Beloved of and the Last and Final Messenger from God with whom all Divine Guidance culminates in perfection.
I thank Allah for kindly bringing me His servant into existence and blessing me with exceptional health and handsomeness, intelligence and learning, true faith and a disposition to piety and spirituality. I ask His pardon for all my failures and wrongs as well as those of all believers in Him and in fact for all mankind at all times. Amen.
What follows shall insha Allah (God willing) will be an account of and a commentary on my life so far so as to narrate to my dear readers my experience of God and all things Divine in the context of the events and experiences forming my life story. I shall necessarily be brief and economical with truth as far as my wrongs and defects as well as of those in my life are concerned simply because Allah forbids us to announce our sins as well as exposing others similarly. “Sense of shame is part of faith” said our master and the pride of prophets Muhammad (Allah’s blessings and greetings of peace be on him- from now on this blessing and greeting format is always implied any time the Prophet is mentioned or hinted at by any means). No mortal is totally free from defects and immune to committing wrongs and Islam forbids all exposures in the interests of preserving honour and dignity of persons except when a legal case is involved and exposure is needed to serve justice.
In the course of this humble autobiography I hope to convey to my readers what it feels like seeking God as a Sufi and what could be its possible wonderful fruits. Allah forgive, help and comprehensively bless both the writer and the reader.
MY LAND AND TIME OF BIRTH AND MY ANCESTRY AND SIBLINGS
I was born in Limassol, Cyprus on 19th December 1939 (4 Dhilqada 1357 AH) from Mazlume (b. 1917) daughter of Cemaliye (pronounced Jemaliyeh) daughter of Hayriye, a slant-and- blue eyed blond Circassian beauty and Besim, a musician.- I only remember my this great grandmother Hayriye (died 1948) as a bedridden old lady living with her second husband Mahmud after the death of my great grandfather Besim. My father was Ahmed (b.1911) born of Rushdiye daughter of Havva (Eve) and Huseyin Gulle. Rushdiye’s husband and therefore father of Ahmed was Mehmed (Muhammed) Emin (b. c. 1885?) , a blond police corporal of again Circassian origin. Circassians are a Caucasian people who are mostly Muslims and renowned for their handsomeness and military skills. Mind you, when I count my ancestral races of descent you must realize that all Ottoman Muslims were thought of as Turks by the Europeans and to an important extent they were: As Turks arrived into what is Turkey now and settled and spread about as conquerors, they freely intermarried with all races already living there so much so that they lost their Asiatic features and acquired mainly Arian features physically indistinguishable from Persians and Greeks and the like. Many Christian races which came under Turkish rule converted to Islam and eventually melted in the Ottoman melting pot. This applies to a great conquering races of old. Among Muslims the first world conquerors were our brothers in faith Arabs; Everybody knows that a more or less real Arab are the nomads living in the depths of Arabian peninsula while the so-called Arabs of Syria for example are just a cosmopolitan mix of onetime Greeks, Latins, Franks, Caucasians and conquering Arabs. So both race and racism are mainly archaic concepts and today ‘race’ or national identity means more language and culture than genes from a given ancient race.
My father for his part was a dark- complexioned person like his mother who died (1911) not long after he was born, of obstetric complications. What is more, her husband Mehmed Emin (b. c1886) who was a police corporal, got into his head the idea that he would like to become a religious scholar and therefore six months into his marriage to my grandmother Rushdiye (b. 1895) he, along with a similarly motivated friend went to Damascus to study to that effect. Soon however the news came that he died there of a certain fever. On our side of the
My father studied at the local primary and then secondary school and then trained and worked as a barber, a pastries maker and a carpenter in that order until his death in 1964, of heart failure aged a mere 53. At his most successful he had two shops, one a townwide famous pastries shop which served breakfasts from 5 am to 9am mostly to crowds passing by on their way to their jobs and and another carpentry and furniture making shop for the rest of the day. As a result our early childhood was blessed with modest prosperity and our tables and dress was the envy of neighbours and acquaintances. I remember my father as a very handsome man of middle height, very well dressed and groomed man who was so well-spoken and upper-class looking that those who did not know him thought he was a lawyer or something. His voice was greatly sweet and played the lute and sang superbly. He died prematurely in 1964 of circulatory complications, aged 53. He was very musical, played the lute and sang very nicely with a beautiful voice. His musical talents passed to two of my younger siblings, namely my sister Tolgay who now lives in Izmir and is the wife of a Army colonel turned a professor of French after heroic academic effort, and my brother Oktay who lives in London who is a magician with everything to do with music but unfortunately wheelchair- bound for many years now due to a spinal degenerative illness caused by a parasitical infection. Please pray for him.
My mother who survived my father long time died in 1995 aged 78. She was a superb men’s and women’s dressmaker and manufactured everything we put on from underwear to great coats and all the bridal gowns of my sisters until we set up our own respective families. She had extraordinary high intelligence and like my similarly intelligent father she could impress total strangers as somebody with very high education. An elderly dentist friend of mine who was also an imam at our local mosque swore to me that my mother as a young girl was the most beautiful woman among all the women of Limassol, Turk and Greek alike.
When my parents contested something you had a spectacle of two brilliant wits exchanging resounding canon fire like two great men-o-wars, i.e. sailing battle ships. The only difference was that it was in good humour and the exchange of fire was frequently interrupted by laughter as each scored a point the other could not answer. Ours was a very intellectual family with an equal measure of religiosity on the tolerant and enlightened side. My mother was additionally psychic with appreciable telepathic talents.
For her part my maternal grandmother was a bookworm poring over many tomes bought for her by her husband Mustafa Hasan (Hasanoz), books on religion and history on a regular basis which eventually run into a hundred volumes or so. She regularly read to us from her books after dinner in the long winter nights before going to bed. They were about the Muslim heroes headed of course by the Prophet and we particularly enjoyed her reading out to us about the exploits of chivalric old heroes who wrestled with giants and dragons to rescue innocent victims. Of course the chief fighter hero was always the invincible Ali the cousin and son-in-law o the Prophet and a hero both for Sunni and Shia alike. He rescued innocent Muslim captives from giants and dragons each time winning the praise and prayers of the Prophet and naturally our further admiration of course. Alongside Ali we were fascinated with Abu Bakr and Umar, the two closest companions and advisers of the Prophet- peace and blessings of God be on them all.
My father had again Circassian blood in him, as already noted. I must haste to add that all this because the Ottoman Empire was a world empire like the Roman before it and was therefore a melting pot of innumerable races caught into its wheels and nets through conquest, emigration for a better life, conversion, slave trade and the like until its population became a convergence of all human genes and types under the sun. Blonds rubbed shoulders with blacks and slant-eyed with the straight-eyed. It was an entirely meritocratic society with hardly any so-called nobility vs commonality segregation or barrier; yesterday’s slave could become today’s prime minister entirely on merit and soon perhaps also the son-in-law of the sultan himself. All in all, it was the most Islamic of Muslim empires and has also been rightly called by some as the third Roman Empire with ample justification, for it had jurisdiction in and around the Mediterranean, from Hungary to Crimea and Caucasia in Europe to North and North East Africa all the way down to Somalia and Sudan and in Western Asia from Iraq to Arabia proper and Oman and Yemen. Kings of France and the queen of
My Albanian ancestor on the father side was a muslim Slav, a Bosniak or Balkan ‘Turk’, a certain Hurshid Pasha who was an Ottoman governor in
My mother’s Turkish ancestor was a certain Uzun Pasha (the Ottoman title ‘pasha’ more or less corresponds to the British ‘sir’ or ‘lord’ although not hereditary like it but won by merit alone) was settled in the Karaman province in central Anatolia which now makes most of modern
This is the order of birth of my siblings, girl (g.) and boy (b.):
Umran, g. 1934, Suzan, g. 1935, Ertan, b. 1937 after whom is me and then Taylan,g. 1941, Erdal, b. 1944, Tolgay, g. 1946, Oktay, b. 1948, Berkay, b. 1952 and Feray, g. 1954, altogether ten with 5 girls and 5 boys of which overall seven are blonds and three including me are tans. A very mixed bag of kitten in fact showing how varied is racial mix in most places and cases.
As for our fate: Umran now (2009) is an old lady retired long ago from
Next is my sister Suzan. She is a retired science teacher, a divorcee with two sons, both university teachers, one domiciled in the
Ertan, recently died of a heart condition aged 71 was a retired Agricultural engineer living with his wife in Magusa in
Myself a chemical engineer, have initially been a science teacher and lecturer, then a petroleum refinery engineer and technologist and lastly an industrial manager in Cyprus and once in England since 1980 a teacher and lecturer again, then a financial consultant, then a Ph D in and a trained practitioner of homeopathic and herbal medicine and a lifelong Sufi seeker and amateur imam.
Declared and appointed a professor of Sufism by our illustrious master maulana Sheikh Muhammad Nazim al Haqqani head of the world Naqsibandi Order (may Allah bless everything about him) with the instructions for the creation of a “Prophet’s Academy” to teach Islam the Sufi way. At the moment of writing this (may 2009) I have been carrying out this function since December 1999- for more than ten years.
My teacher/sheikh is the most illustrious Naqshibandi Sufi master Sheikh Muhammad Nazim al Haqqani of
I have had the good fortune to be associated with him since half a century now. Presently I am living in
What led the Mediterranean Basin to lead the world in the flourishing of civilization was its overall excellent climate which reduced the need of men to spend time against the brutalities of seasons, excess or sparse vegetation and instead give them plenty to eat from staple crops like corn, olive, carobs, dates and an incredible range of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as easily domesticated or hunted animals. Although draughts were not rare, often rivers fed by waters from far wetter climates both in the north and the south more than compensated for the caprices of rainfall; the Nile dependably flooded the lands around it from Ethiopia all the way to its delta on the Mediterranean, providing millions to have both industry and leisure, leisure which has been the womb for all creations of civilisation from engineering to art.
At about 500 BC
In 1571 the age’s superpower the Turkish Ottoman Empire managed to wrestle it from the Venetians and as was their Islamic habit they freed the Greek serfs, re-established their Orthodox church with a Greek archbishop at its head, whom the sultan had crowned and gave the staff and firman and the authority to rule over all Christians of the island. Turks granted and allocated great stretches of land to the Greek Cypriot church and divided the rest between the natives the ex-serfs and the Muslim immigrants brought over from
Accordingly (as ‘true’ Christians) and due to racial and religious hatred on their part Cypriot Greeks thanked the Turks little for their liberation and empowerment through the donation of a church and freehold lands of their own; almost as soon as Greeks broke from the Ottoman Empire after a nationalistic revolt in early 19th century (helped by Russia, Britain and France) and succeeded in the creation of an independent Greece, their Cypriot brethren laid own their claim to Cyprus. Initially they seemed to stand not much chance but the
Once British rule as from 1878 more than half replaced the Turkish, the island’s Greeks felt the time was ripe to assert their claims to
One must admit however that, excepting their mutual distrust and nationalistic rivalry, Cypriots, both Greek and Turkish are very civilised and easygoing people who can get along exceedingly well when they are not possessed by their respective nationalistic paranoias in the hands of their respective demagogues- of course there is no realistic prospects that the demagogues will ever away go away. Demagogy is too powerful a tool any ‘self-respecting’ politician to afford to abandon. Both the eloquent Greek language and proud and dreaming Greek soul promote great ambitions, produce great rabble-raising demagogues and make Greeks to reach for the moon and often get it no matter the cost in blood and tears. Love or hate them, their talents are undeniable.
Other than their respective religions, many traditions of Greek and Turkish Cypriots overlap, among which are attachment to family, ready hospitality and honesty, honour and peacefulness in their daily, non-political relations. Trouble begins when the usual bad blood of politics come between them two. So long they are free from inordinate nationalistic selfishness and despite a long history of politically motivated bloodshed between the two communities their individual members can get along exceedingly well once left to civil relations which fact exposes the main cause of inter-racial or inter-communal strifes and bloodsheds: morbidly politically ambitious members prepared to advance their careers by fomenting racial hatred whenever they can whatever the cost. Naturally as by far the minority community Turks are concerned they could never afford or initiate a violence-oriented racist conspiracy against Greeks; hence they cannot be accused of bad faith, at least initially, while the Greeks have been doing all those ugly things deemed great honour and heroism by themselves (curse racism!). This of course does not mean that Turks could not act similarly in a situation where the roles were reversed- after all human nature is one and the same across all accidental divides. As God’s last and incomparable Book the Koran explains “Man is in loss, except in the case of those who truly believe in True God and therefore are mutually advised by truth and informed by good patience and tolerance” (103: 1- 3). Unfortunately politics is not one of the areas such morality is popular in. Politics stirs up and exploit what is most elfish and vile in man and then attempts to fish in the waters it so troubled.
At the writing of these lines the
MORE ABOUT LIMASSOL
As regards my town Limassol, it is built around the southernmost bay of the island with a most fertile hinterland by Mediterranean standards as well as boasting of most and earliest developed industrialization and tourist trade. Small proud factories were everywhere and as usual were entirely owned by Greeks. Turks traditionally preferred agriculture, small trades and crafts and salaried government jobs. As industry and commerce outstripped farming in creating wealth, the Greek community overtook the Turkish in prosperity and influence with the English government of
The Turkish quarter I was born in made at the time about one fifth of its total built area but today it lies deserted and decaying at a leisurely rate, a ghost town quarter in fact. We had to abandon it and emigrate to the north of the
Despite that great trauma since, the Greek part sorted out its problems and licked its wounds back to health and is presently (2009) as alive as ever and in constant development as well. We from south
At the moment of writing Cyprus problems remains unsolved with Greeks suffering from a sense of victimization based on the notion that what was Greek centuries ago should again become Greek until a Greater Greece could be resurrected at the expense of half a dozen of other nationalities around the North Eastern Mediterranean which idea is called Megali Idea (the Grabd Idea) which has been clashing on and off with the grand ideas of other Balkan irredentist nations like the Bulgarians, Romanians, Serbs and the Macedonians- a collective grandiose madness in fact which has been causing untold aggression, adventurism and barbarism among all the contending parties: note the Yugoslav civil war in the last decade of the last century to understand how mad and barbaric these contending nationalisms have been. Collectively they caused the collapse of the