“Are there any prayers we can offer to people during this epidemic?” The question arose from a phone conversation between friends who had been out of touch for a long time. Now, kept at home by the quarantine, and with the world turning upside down around them, they had talked and shared their concerns.
And one, a student of the Sufi path, wondered if there could be some spiritual support to pass on to the other.
The real devotee – who sees the One in all names and forms – is always eager to help others, but in our present age, some degree of tact and discretion is required. As Hazrat Inayat Khan often states, including in this post, the world has largely lost the wisdom and comfort of religion, and anything that seems very devotional risks automatic rejection. At the same time, though, there is a longing for something higher and finer, and a belief, often not clearly formed, that there must be more to life than what we see. Quite naturally, when we are confronted by something as perilous as this epidemic, we seek for the spiritual, even if we don’t call it that.
Hazrat Inayat said that our approach should be like giving food to wild birds. The birds want the crumbs we have, but they are wary. We have to scatter what we can, and then withdraw, to let them take whatever they choose. For those not on the Sufi path, our principal prayers, Saum, Salat and Khatum, are seldom appropriate, although someone with a sincere belief certainly may feel their beauty. (The mother of one mureed was happy to regularly recite Khatum in her Catholic prayer circle.) Also, words in another language, like wazifas, are more likely to create distance than closeness. However, there are many inspiring phrases in English that Hazrat Inayat gave to individual students, and below are several of these that could be helpful to our friends and relations. As a suggestion, they could be recited – say, 11 times – with a lighted candle nearby. And it is always better to practice with them ourselves before we offer them to others.
We can be happy if these phrases stimulate further conversations along the theme of the spiritual, but like bread crumbs to the birds, we have to offer them freely and without expectations as to the results.