Apr 16 2012

Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai – If you are seeking Allah

Published by at 9:13 am under Poetry

If you are seeking Allah
by Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai

English version by D. H. Butani

If you are seeking Allah,
Then keep clear of religious formalities.
Those who have seen Allah
Are away from all religions!
Those who do not see Allah here,
How will they see Him beyond?

Let us go to the land of Kak
Where love flows in abundance,
There are no entrances, no exits,
Every one can see the Lord!

There is no light nor day
Every one can see the Lord!
Those who love the Lord
The world cannot hold them.
Palaces do not attract them,
Nor women nor servants
Nothing binds them:
The renouncers leave everything behind.

A message came from the Lord:
A full moon shone
Darkness disappeared
A new message came from the Lord:
It does not matter what caste you are
Whoever come, are accepted.

Where shall I take my camel,
All is Light…
Inside there is Kak, mountain and valley,
The Lord and the Lord: there is nothing but the Lord.

— from The Melody and Philosophy of Shah Latif, by D. H. Butani


/ Photo by Trekking Rinjani /

If you are seeking Allah,
Then keep clear of religious formalities.
Those who have seen Allah
Are away from all religions!

I am fascinated by how many revered saints and mystics of various religions make this sort of proclamation.

We have the keepers of religious tradition and the knowers of religious truth. Which is the real authority?

Those who do not see Allah here,
How will they see Him beyond?

This is a hard statement for institutional notions of religion. But mystics keep saying it: Heaven is not a place one goes after death; it is the sacred reality upholding all existence. In other words, we are already there; the only journey is a journey of learning to see what is already there. If we are already there and don’t recognize it, does death open our eyes? Perhaps, for some.

The implication, though, is that those who simply follow religious and ceremonial formalities are fooling themselves. They are too often social approval and not inner awakening. Spiritual community can play an important role, but learning to see is always a solitary journey.

I sometimes think of religion as base camp at the foot of a mountain. It can be very satisfying to gather with others around a map under a tent, discussing the path up the mountainside, imagining high vistas, impressing others with how well you’ve memorized the feature names and the accounts of famous climbers who’ve gone before. The problem is, few ever leave camp and start climbing. The real mountaineers aren’t talking, they’re already hiking — with eyes open in wonderment. Real mountaineers love the mountain more than the map.

Let us go the land of Kak
Where love flows in abundance,
There are no entrances, no exits,
Every one can see the Lord!

Bhitai keeps repeating that line — Everyone can see the Lord! “It does not matter what caste you are / Whoever come, are accepted.” This state of awareness is not reserved for some and denied to others. Anyone who looks will see. Anyone who comes will be accepted. It is simply the true nature of reality, everywhere present.

“The Lord and the Lord: there is nothing but the Lord.”






Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai

Pakistan (1689 – 1752) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai (sometimes written Bhittai or Bhittaii) was a devout Muslim Sufi, but his spirituality was broad and welcoming, making room for Muslim and Hindu alike. He is one of the most revered poets and saints of the Sindh region of what is today Pakistan.

Although born into a well-respected family, he turned away from the comforts of life, revealing a natural ascetic tendency. He adopted the saffron-colored robes and simple lifestyle of the wandering fakirs and sanyasins of the region.

In his quest for inner truth, still a young man, Shah Bhitai left his home and began to travel extensively, favoring small villages and the countryside, interacting with the common people and other Muslim and Hindu ascetics. He quickly developed a reputation for holiness and absorption in meditation. At this time disciples began to gather about him.

Shah Bhitai returned to his family home for a while, where he married Bibi Saidha Begum, a young woman who was respected in her own right for her great piety. Sadly, she died at a young age, and Shah Bhitai never remarried.

Bhitai and his growing circle eventually moved to a place of retreat, a sand hill (“bhit”) next to scenic Kiran Lake.

A fascinating story is told of his poetry. When Shah Bhitai was nearing death, he didn’t want his poetry to simply waste away, so he had his writings thrown into the nearby lake. But, at the request of a disciple, Bhitai allowed his poetry to be re-written down by another disciple who had memorized them.

More poetry by Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai – If you are seeking Allah”

  1. Megan Hugheson 16 Apr 2012 at 3:14 pm

    I liked this poem – and was interested in your thoughts about the institutional church as the base camp and the insight that many do not choose to climb the mountain.
    I think this is true but I am not sure that it is a solitary task. We rely on the encouragement and support of other ‘climbers’ to help us keep seeing and to keep climbing and also to support us when we have lost sight of the peak.
    I think that there is very little in this journey that is solitary – and I think if it is it can be seen as deficient because we build our insights upon the insights of others. Therefore anything that relies only on our own solitary insight is journey could be seen as lacking depth.
    Is this not the purpose of this blog Ivan?
    Anyway thanks for helping me think and reflect upon this!
    Megan

  2. patricia Tayloron 16 Apr 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Good Tuesday Morning Ivan, from here in Australia.
    It made me think of Thomas Merton, or was it Bede Griffith? Whoever it was reminded us that Religion is simply the pathway or guide to the Greater Truth. There may come a time when you leave religion behind and just dwell in the Presence itself.
    blessings,
    Trish

  3. Duane Tuckeron 16 Apr 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Great image Ivan,

    Religion as base camp!

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