An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

Teaching Stories by Cemal Nur Sergat

In Story telling on May 6, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Over the weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend a talk by Cemal Nur Sergat at the Ibn Arabi Symposium at Oxford. She is said to be one of Turkey’s deepest and inspiring spiritual teachers who brings a lot of creativity into her teaching. I had always wondered what happened to the Islamic tradition of the female scholar. Among the many amazing women at the time of the Prophet pbuh there was also Aisha, the beloved wife of the Prophet pbuh, whose scholarly intelligence is said to be unique in the history of women. Many more would follow. (Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure by Camille Helminski). I had met some extraordinary women of the Islamic tradition of our time from Camille Helminski, Aminah Wadud, Seemi Ghazi and Nur Aritan. Now I had met another; a teacher of the highest caliber.

I was deeply moved by Cemal Nur’s talk. She spoke so directly from and to the heart, it brought me to tears. I’ve heard a few great scholars and spiritual masters of the Islamic tradition speak over the years but none moved me as Cemal Nur did. I hadn’t met anybody who had such a big radiant smile as hers either. She explored some of the deepest spiritual teachings of Islam through story telling. Yet they were stories I could narrate to my children. At the end when I asked her about the era of Shams and his teachings for our times, she almost crying said ‘how can one look at the sun directly, we need Mevlana’ and then went on to explain the significance of today, Sunday 3 May, being the day of Khidr, the arrival of spiritual spring. Later after the talk she said she was glad I asked that question.

The camel has his plans; the Camel Driver has His. After tea, while making ablution, believe it or not, I broke my ankle and dislocated my knee on my right leg. Everything suddenly became symbolic and for everything physical there seemed to be a meaning which was also spiritual. When I was being taken by the ambulance, Cemal Nur was there right at the front, out of all people, looking so concerned telling me ‘Your will see Shams, we are all with you, this is a blessing, you will see’.

If I had to have an accident, it couldn’t have unfolded in a more beautiful way. Many later commented on the event. Some said ‘sorry to hear that’ or ‘what a setback’ or ‘if only you had..’ Cemal Nur didn’t see it that way.  For her it was a blessing and she was certain of it. Although in pain, I feel gratitude for the event and at peace with His will. With my life at a standstill and being immobilized, I know I am at a place where I need to be. It was also moving to see a speaker or scholar have such genuine concern for a member of the audience. With a heart so very alive, character full of compassion, she is for me a walking Qur’an.

  1. How auspicious that you find yourself in a place that allows you to become a witness to a teaching moment.

    May you find a healing and comfort out of your pain 🙂

  2. Thank you Asma- and in my pain too! 🙂

  3. Dear Saqib, Cemalnur Hoca was so moved when she read your blog and so were we all. May we all get healed both physically and spiriutally at all times
    Much Love and Muhabbat from Istanbul

    • Dear Aylin,
      Thank you so much. In her talked she said “the dervish lodges are now closed where will we learn about God now? We have to make our bodies the lodge” Confined to bed, I am working on my lodge and really appreciate her words. It would be wonderful if she could write about education/parenting for this blog sometime. Please send her my love.
      Best wishes,

  4. i join aylin in her wishes and thank you for this blog where you shared your beautiful cemal and celal experiences. much love and muhabbet from ankara too

  5. I had the honor to meet Cemal Nur twice already. Your explanation of her being the walking truth, having the most radiant smile, and speaking from and to the Heart is so familiar to me. She sees any pain as a blessing from above. If Leili didn’t have some feeling for me, why did she break my bowl, right?
    This is also very nice to me to read that you found your stories meaningful and yet simple to be told to your kids. I exactly had the same thought after the last time I met her. I am, little by little, telling Masnavi’s stories to my soon to be 6 year old son. What a blessing!

  6. Saqib, Leila: If you don’t mind, can you share these Masnavi stories with us? I am currently searching for spiritual stories to tell my children but am hard-pressed to find a simple enough story for my four year old.
    Thanks so much.

    • Asma, have a look at the chickpea press linked on the right. The stories Cemal Nur told are audio linked above. There might also be some books for kids you can find on amazon.
      Hope that helps

    • Dear Asma,
      One of the stories I tried to tell my son was like this: once upon a time a man decided to travel on the sea. So he bought himself a good ship and sailed away. Suddenly he found himself very close to a little boat. The boat was zooming very directly toward him. So he got very anxious. What if the boat hits his ship? It may break and he may drawn. So he started yelling at the boat and directing him to go another way. But nothing happened. The boat was still coming right at his ship. He felt mad and very upset, he felt unheard and out of anger he started yelling bad words and pinching his feast in the air. The boat got really close now and the man could see what was happening. The boat was empty!! He was waiting his breath!:)

      And thanks to Saqib for the links and directions. I’ll look them up as well.

  7. Thank you Leila for sharing this story. It is simple enough for a beginner storyteller like me to tell it to my children. I’m sure my eldest Ali would love this tale about an impatient, angry man and a little boat and hopefully, its deeper meanings would make an impression on him!

    Saqib, I will look into the links you mentioned. Much appreciated!

  8. […] on a few occasions with her unabashed attention to the all-encompassing divine love. Another report here – with audio. Sunday began with the PhD scholars speaking on a range of deep topics (of […]

  9. As salamualaykum Saqib! Sorry to see you in so much pain at the symposium. Thank you for asking our sister CemalNur the question about Shams…………..

    I wrote about my experience here.

    take care
    jonny mahmoud

  10. Merhaba Saqib Safdar,

    Ben Sevgili Cemalnur Sargut’un sitesindeki yazınızdan ulaşdım…Ben de size paylaştığınız yazınıza teşekkür etmek isterken bloğunuzu gördüm…
    Ne yazıkki lisanım yazılanları anlamaya yeterli değil…
    Size yazdıklarınız için teşekkür etmek istedim…

    Allah’a emanet olun…

    Esin Toraman

    • Sevgili dostum,

      Sozleriniz beni etkiledi.Tesekkur ederim. Dedem bana lisanin onemsiz
      oldugunu ve kalpten konusmam gerektigini ogretti. Zira kalpten gelen
      kalplere ulasir.
      Lutfen Cemalnur Sargut hanimefendiye sevgi ve selamlarimi iletin.
      Umarim beni hala hatirliyordur?
      Allaha emanet olun.


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