“The religion of Love is different from all religions,
For lovers, religion and denomination is God alone.”
St Margaret’s Bay, Kent, Saturday 25th July 2015
St. Margaret’s Bay near Dover, provided the backdrop for this year’s annual walk. Our diverse group of students, teachers, performers, singers-and all those between- walked along the grassy clifftops, celebrating and reflecting upon the work of the great 13thcentury spiritual master and poet, Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi.
The walk took us through St.Margaret Bay’s sloping hills, flanked with dramatic chalky cliffs, and to the Pines Garden where we were joined by Jumana Moon, a storyteller from award winning theatre group Khayaal for a special performance based on a short story written by Rumi. Further stops were made along the route for short inspirational talks, poetry recitals, Qur’an recitation and devotional song/nasheeds.
Walkers began at the Dover Patrol Monument at point A (as marked on the map below), and headed towards Point B, the Coastguard beach, followed by The Pines Garden at point C. Walkers then moved along the cliffside to The Front at point D, and onwards to the South Foreland Lighthouse at point E. Point F marked the end of the walking route.
The route above is easy to moderate in terms of difficulty, and is uphill for the most part.
The Theme: Rumi
Copies of Rumi’s work have sold in the millions, including in the US where he is now the biggest selling poet. His influence on the Muslim world has even deeper roots. One of the aims of this year’s walk was to celebrate and appreciate Mawlana’s Rumi’s contribution, and in particular the spiritual journey he undertook to attain nearness to God, driven by his love for Him, and for creation in general.
- Shaykh Thaqib Mahmood
- Ustadh Saquab Ashraf
- Dr Ibrahim Harvey
- Jumana Moon from Khayaal Theatre Group
- Awais Rafique (Qur’an recitation)
- Al-Birru Wal Taqwa (Nasheeds)
Introduction: Who was Rumi?
“Love will find its way through all languages on its own.”
Dr Ibrahim Harvey provided walkers with a brief biography of Rumi, explaining his background as a scholar with a formal education, who was transformed after the mysterious Shams of Tabriz entered, and eventually left, his life. Rumi the scholar became Rumi the poet.
A Performance Based on the Poetry of Rumi: Jumana Moon in The Pines Garden
Jumana Moon delivered a wonderful performance based on a short story written by Rumi, in beautiful setting of the Pines Garden.
Talk: “The Spiritual Journey & Ascent to God Through Love”
“ The lover’s case is separate from all other causes. Love is the astrolabe of God’s mysteries.”
Shaykh Thaqib Mahmood began by speaking of Dover and how it has come to represent something that is quintessentially English, in all that is good and true. He then read the poem ‘Dover Beach’ by Matthew Arnold, who saw in the rhythmic movement of the waves, sadness, pain and a loss of faith. Arnold’s poem ends on this note of despair, and although Rumi’s work also contains such melancholy themes, Shaykh Thaqib went on to explain that his poetry always resolves such sadness by bringing understanding through metaphor, making sense of uncertainty and chaos, and thereby bringing the reader away from a sense of despair and back to hope. He highlighted the importance of love and the fact that while ‘love’ is an attribute of God, fear is not. As Rumi’s poetry espouses, love is to be realised, not articulated. Allah is reached through love, and to love Allah in an Absolute sense, we much also love His creation.
The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
Short Talk: Rumi and the Qur’an
“Flee to God’s Qur’an, take refuge in it
there with the spirits of the prophets merge.
The Book conveys the prophets’ circumstances
those fish of the pure sea of Majesty.”
The 15th century Sufi poet Jâmî, said of Rumi’s Masnavi, “It is the Qur’ân in the Persian tongue.” It is thought that 6000 verses of Rumi’s poetry are practically direct translations of Qur’anic verses. Ustadh Saquab Ashraf explored Rumi’s relationship with the Qur’an, an aspect of his work that is often neglected. Participants read and discussed the poem ‘Love Dogs’, a poem that contains a number of concepts and themes that can be related to the Qur’an, such as knowledge, connecting with God, Dua, sincerity, practical guidance (action) and the idea of connecting with nature to attain gnosis.
One night a man was crying, Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with the praising, until a cynic said,
“So! I have heard you calling out, but have you ever gotten any response?”
The man had no answer to that. He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.
He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls, in a thick, green foliage.
“Why did you stop praising?”
“Because I’ve never heard anything back.”
“This longing you express is the return message.”
The grief you cry out from draws you toward union.
Your pure sadness that wants help is the secret cup.
Listen to the moan of a dog for its master. That whining is the connection.
There are love dogs no one knows the names of.
Give your life to be one of them.
Devotional Song/Nasheeds, and Dinner on the Cliffside
Following a ‘mandatory’ coastal dinner of fish and chips, Al-Birru Wal Taqwa rounded off the amazing day by singing nasheeds/devotional songs in praise of God, on the grassy clifftop as the sun went down.
Join us next year as we celebrate 5 years of sauntering on the coast!