In truth, I led my prayer leader in prayer (from The Poem of the Sufi Way)

by Umar Ibn al-Farid

English version by Th. Emil Homerin
Original Language Arabic

In truth, I led my prayer leader in prayer
     with all of humanity behind me;
          wherever I turned
               was my way,

And my eye saw her before me
     in my prayer,
          my heart witnessing me
               leading all my leaders.

It is no wonder
     the prayer leader prayed toward me
          since she had settled in my heart
               as niche of my prayer niche.

All six directions faced me
     with all there was
          of piety and pilgrimage
               both great and small.

To her I prayed my prayers
     at Abraham's Station,
          and I witnessed in them
               her prayer to me,

Both of us one worshipper
     bowing to his reality
          in union
               in every prostration.

For no one prayed to me but I
     nor were my prayers performed
          to other than me
               in each genuflection.

How long must I be brother to the veil?
     I have rent it,
          and its clasps were loosened
               in the bond of my pledge!

-- from Umar Ibn al-Farid: Sufi Verses, Saintly Life, Translated by Th. Emil Homerin

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Ibn al-Farid has so totally merged with "her" -- the Beloved -- that she is alive in him. In recognizing this, he has become like the living Kaaba, the the great focal point at the heart of Mecca toward which Muslims pray. Everyone, everything, the six directions themselves, turn and pray to him, for it is there, within him, that the Divine is found.

Is this blasphemy, an inflated sense of spiritual self-importance? Or is it precisely the opposite, the supreme humility of recognizing no self at all, just the radiant Reality at one's core and seeing how everything naturally turns in that direction? This is the question Umar Ibn al-Farid keeps forcing on us throughout The Poem of the Sufi Way.

Recommended Books: Umar Ibn al-Farid

Umar Ibn al-Farid: Sufi Verses, Saintly Life Sufi Poems: A Mediaeval Anthology From Arab Poet to Muslim Saint: Ibn Al-Farid, His Verse, and His Shrine The Wine of Love and Life: Ibn Al-Farid's Al-Khamriyah and Al-Qaysari's Quest for Meaning

In truth, I led my