An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

In Loving Memory of Imam Mehdi Rizvi by Rabia Malik and Mahmoud Mostafa

In Spirit, heart & soul on June 10, 2013 at 9:25 pm

IMG_2353Dear Friends

I wanted to share some sad news with you, of the passing of my Teacher Imam Mehdi Rizvi. I have alluded to him indirectly and directly at times and shared his baraka with you.  He has had a profound effect on my life.  I went to meet him at a time when my life had crashed, I was lost and broken and was questioning all that I had put my faith in. What I saw in him the moment we met was a profound love and humility.  What struck me most was his deep love and respect for women.  There he was, such a traditional looking man, with his long white beard and yet he spoke of his mother, sister, wife and daughter with such love.  Although he had had many great teachers, he would tell me his first and last teacher was his mother.  He trained a remarkable woman – Halima Krausen – to be his successor in the mosque and laid the way for Muslim women to take up their place alongside men.  It was funny, I learnt more about being a Muslim woman from this man then I did from anyone else.  He was unlike any other man I had met, and made me begin to see the qualities that the Prophet must have had. In any matter he was so balanced, revealing the truth in a way that brought clarity and ease. He would never give me the answer straight away or let me take the easy way out of things – but when I had struggled and was stuck he would gently help open things and encourage me to keep going. At times when the suffering felt unbearable, he would tell me to give him my pain and would have tears in his eyes – he remarked how these connections were faster than satellite. Despite life’s knocks and disappointments he would tell me to never stop loving. When I was frustrated he would tell me to put my trust in Allah and be patient – reminding me that the last name of Allah in the 99 names was Ya Saboor / The Patient.

I never heard him speak badly of anyone and he would cover the mistakes of others; almost looking embarrassed for their errors. He was forgiving of others and honest about his own mistakes, warning me that we needed to be vigilant of ourselves – that the nafs / ego was always with us. He would never take things personally. Even whenever I would thank him, he would with sincerity and from the heart marvel at God’s Karam / generosity.  He lived through partition and loved Pakistan very much.  He was a man of the East. Although he said he had never wanted to leave Pakistan he had embraced his life in Germany – and would tell me how he loved the German language and people.  He translated the Quran in German.  I asked him once what he was doing here. He responded that he was planting trees.  He connected me back deep to my roots and had a deep respect for tradition in its essence, but would at the same time tell me I had to be a modern woman and not be afraid of changing forms.  He would remark the deeper our roots the more the tree can branch out. A friend astutely once observed, on seeing a photo of him (the one attached), that he seemed to be looking very far back and very far forward. And so he helped me bridge my heritage with my modern context in a way that showed me the beauty of a living Islam and God’s limitless Glory. He loved and had knowledge of many religions and laid seeds for interfaith work – always connecting with the faith of others with a deep respect.  He was a beautiful example of what a human being is capable of and a life fully lived.

I know that he lives on, and his teachings will live on in the lives of many that he touched.  I feels so grateful for having known him and for all he taught me. I would not be who I am today, if it were not for him and so I wanted to share something of him with you. Please pray for his dear soul and give thanks for the blessing and Rahma he was. May the tress he planted bear fruits and may his light continue to shine through those who will continue to be sources of his baraka.  He was truly a man of God.

His janaza is on Thursday 30th May in Hamburg a year to the day that he blessed Mahmoud and I and read our Nikah.


Rabia Malik

Experience of Presence by Mahmoud Mostafa

We were on a shuttle bus a couple of days ago on our way to catch a flight. I was holding the Zhikr of I-AM in my heart and awareness of breath. It was very early in the morning. We were sitting in the very back of the bus and the seats were higher up so we looked down at the rest of the passengers in front of us. As I looked ahead of me the view seemed to change in a subtle way. I saw the people in the bus as if they were just heads floating before me in a stream. Then their meaning became drops of water all moving in the same direction towards the ocean. And somehow this meaning expanded in my heart to “knowing” that we are all moving in a common direction towards the ocean and we are all part of the same stream. Then a voice said to me, “All the water is one.” It was raining outside and I looked up at the sky and knew that even that water was connected to the ocean. Then as I looked ahead of me I saw the reflection of a woman who sat in front of a clear plastic sheet by the door of the bus. Her reflection was super-imposed on the head of the man standing on the other side of that plastic sheet by the door of the bus. The woman’s face was exactly in the middle of the back of the man’s head. She was smiling and seemed to be looking at me. Somehow this scene affirmed in my heart how we are all connected, all of the same ocean.

We were on our way to Hamburg to attend the funeral of my wife’s spiritual teacher, Baba Mahdi. He was one of the rare ones who profoundly touched many hearts. On the shuttle bus, Rabia asked me what zhikr I felt was right for this moment. I smiled in amazement as just a few seconds before she asked, a particular zhikr from our Mevlevi tradition appeared and filled my heart. Roughly translated it was, “No god but God, the Sovereign, the Truth, the Evident. Muhammad, God’s Messenger, True to the Promise, the Trustworthy.” This zhikr filled my heart and resounded in my being as if it came from an eternal source deep within me. I wasn’t doing the zhikr, it was vibrating inside of me on its own. And it stayed with me throughout the day.
When we entered Baba’s house I found myself facing a beautiful Quranic calligraphy saying something like, “They almost slay you with their eyes when they hear the zhikr and say, ‘he is surely mad’…” As I recited these verses I felt Baba’s presence very strongly and heard him laughing in my heart and saying, “Ah, to be mad like this! What else could we want?”

At the funeral chapel I helped lift his coffin and was surprised at how light it felt. Even in death he was not a burden to anyone. We uncovered the coffin to prepare for the eulogies and I looked at Baba’s body wrapped in its white winding sheet. His face seemed translucent to me and I saw the trace of a faint smile on his lips. We recited the Fatiha for him and I felt such tenderness surrounding us as we stood next to him. Along with many people from Baba’s mosque community there were Buddhist monks, Jewish Rabbis, and Christian clergy. We were such a rich mix of humanity brought together to be present at this moment. We were all together with our hearts feeling sadness and joy at the same time and the scene on the shuttle bus came back to my heart. We sat and listened to the eulogies for him. They were all in German, except for the Quranic recitals. Even though I couldn’t understand most of it, I felt the depth of love in people’s hearts and my tears flowed. I felt the presence of the Prophet very strongly and “knew” somehow that Baba was of him. As the eulogies continued, I saw the sun shining behind the stained glass windows. The rain had stopped.

At the grave site, we took his body out of the coffin to lower it into the grave and placed some earth beneath his right cheek. When we filled his grave with earth many people came to lay wreaths of flowers on the top. Their faces were filled with love and tenderness. Even though I didn’t know most of the people there, I felt a strong connection with some of them, as if we “recognized” each other somehow. The presence of the Prophet was still strong and the zhikr was still resounding in my heart. “They are with the prophets, the truthful ones, the witnesses, and the wholesome ones…” was the Quranic verse that came to my heart as I observed this scene before me. I walked up to the grave mound and took out a small bottle of musk that I carry with me. It is musk from the Prophet’s mosque in Medina. I placed a drop of the musk on Baba’s grave.

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