Shams-i Tabrizi : Removing the Ka’aba

This previous post tells one version of the encounter with Shams-al din Mohammed that awoke Mevlana Jelaluddin from scholarship to mystical understanding. Shams al-din, or Shams-i Tabrizi, did not write much, and so it is not easy to know him directly; the Diwan i Shams-i Tabrizi is a collection of poetry not by Shams but by Jelaluddin, written under the inspiration of his guide. The following brief passage is taken from the Maqalat (‘conversations’) of Shams, and it might remind us of one form of practice in which we say, ‘This is not my heart; this is the altar of God.’

God commanded us
to pray in the direction of the Ka’aba.
Imagine this:
People all over the world are gathered,
making a circle.
They bow down in prayer.

Now imagine:
Remove the Ka’aba
from the middle of the circle.
Are they not prostrating toward one another?
They are bowing down toward each other’s hearts.

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