“The Sound of Silence” by Musa Askari

One day a disciple, whose hearing was beginning to fade, asked his master about “sound”. He knew it would be one of the last times he could hear his master’s voice. He wished to take that voice with him on his journey into the realm of silence.

The master replied, “I can see that, given your situation, you are now fully attentive. But why has it taken so long to bring you to a state of such seriousness? Had you listened more closely when your hearing was not impaired, you would not be so anxious now. Is it not so that man was created to listen? What is the use of sound if not to be heard? As you hear the sound of your own voice, remember it is the sound of your Soul.”

The master continued, “There are some sounds that must be silenced and others nurtured. We in our ignorance and ingratitude have equated “presence” solely with sound. The sound of silence into which you are about to enter is not to be understood as a burden but a liberation. It is in such silence that the Divine Command is uttered perhaps. Think of this and rejoice.”

That night as his hearing slipped away he had a dream. He saw a lake of immense proportions, perfectly still. Above him the clouds were racing by at great speed. His heart was beating fast at some strange excitement. By the same swiftness with which they had come the clouds departed leaving him deafened by the sound of his runaway heart! His eyes remained closed.

Before him a single raindrop was descending from the heavens. The sound of its descent was like the song of the peacock, sad and melancholic. He was witnessing the descent of his own Soul! As the drop reached the lake’s surface the sun was rising upon the horizon. When reaching to half its ascent the sun rose no further. The image falling on the water gave the appearance that it had risen fully, embodied and yet unembodied, reality of the sun and its image upon the water. The drop had now pierced the water. Ripples were forming and being sustained by that same drop which was now like a beating heart until the whole lake was covered by a tide of ripples emanating from one drop. This was what life could be without sound he thought and rejoiced!

By Musa Askari (penned 1992).

“The Dancing Pages” by Musa Askari

By Musa Askari 17th October 1991 – such was the feeling of expansion within my Soul as I lifted for first time “Alone to Alone” by Hasan Askari

The book is opened, A story is read, The reader leans back , And watches a mystery unfold. The book is fresh, The pages are crisp and firm, It is natural for the pages to return to their usual posture, They are strong.

As the reader leans away, A page from the left rises, As though helped by an invisible hand. At first it is a struggle to breakaway, To rise and swim against the current, But it is determined

 Just past midway it comes to rest, A solitary leaf of a book stands in the middle. Then suddenly it crosses over, And comes to rest, Gently gliding down to the right of the book, As though crossing from one world to the next.

 It will have to make this journey again and again, From moment to moment, For every reader that comes across it. For throughout their life the pages will re-enact this display, To remind us of the greater journey will all must make.

 There are only the pages, What of the words? And of the narrator of the words  

The Lord of the Humming Bird

 By Hasan Askari from his book “Alone to Alone”

hummingbirdThe notice at the entrance of the park reads: Roxborough* is made up of many inter-related elements, some are living and some are not. The plants found here are dependent upon the soil and the moisture which are determined by rock and climate. The rock formations direct the flow of air current and water, creating small pockets of different climates, micro-climates, responsible for the great variety of plant life growing here.

Roxborough is a place of meetings: where the great plains and the Rockies meet. Here the rolling prairie ends and the Front Range abruptly rises. The grasses of the high plains mingle with the oak of the foothills, with the pine and the aspen. A meeting place of wind and weather, of warm and cool air, a coming together of many natural forces. In one word, the mystery of man.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The rock layers were deposited two hundred and seventy million years ago. A tremendous upheaval some seventy million years ago lifted them, and so they stand in steep profiles, their present shapes sculptured by weather, water and wind over a vast period of time. Amidst those rocks I saw a humming bird, and I bowed to its sight as a sign of my Lord.

*Roxborough is located a few miles outside of Denver, Colorado.

*Photos by Mia Caruso  

The Seven Steps


by Hasan Askari from his book “Alone to Alone”

 There are seven steps: Testimony(“tasdiq”). Trust (“tawakkul”). Patience (“sabr”). Gratitude (“shukr”). Remembrance (“zikr”). Love (“hub”) and Gnosis (“irfan”).

When one knows, one loves; when one loves, one remembers; when one remembers, one is grateful; when one is grateful, one learns to be patient, and it is the proof that one trusts; and when one trusts, one has given a true testimony.

Gratitude is faith. It is the cornerstone. It is the bridge. Without gratitude there is no strength in patience and no pleasure in remembering. Gratitude is for both material and spiritual gifts, but there is another far higher gratitude, gratitude to the Supreme who is all possessing and yet, what is in reality His, He calls it ours.

Gnosis results in love. Love is remembrance of the object of love. When true gnosis is there every other step follows effortlessly. The begining and the end are connected without break or interval.

 Trust in the unseen is the reliable proof of a testimony being true. If there is no trust as such, testimony in any form is false.

The Limit Is The Threshold by Hasan Askari

“I hear the Pima song, and my heart cries out for the nameless ones, and I repeat the words:

This is the Whiteland, we arrive singing: Head-dresses waving in the breeze. We have come. We have come. The land trembles with our dancing and singing.

They come, turn, and leave. That is the glory of the primitives’ entry into the world and their exit. We, the developed ones, the mighty ones, the proud builders of cities and starships, come to stay, stay forever. We do not understand the ecstasy of an Aztec or of a Wintu.

Ah Flowers that we wear. Ah songs that we raise. We are on our way to the Realm of Mystery.

It is above that you and I shall go. Along the Milky Way you and I shall go. Along the flower trail you and I shall go: Picking flowers on our way you and I shall go.

It was Denver that I first watched the Pow Wow, the great assembly of the Native American dancers drawn from various tribes and regions. As I waited for the Grand Entry into the hall, I first heard the starting of the drums, and as I closed my eyes and gave myself up to the beat and the rhythm of those drums I saw myself moving across an unfamiliar valley flanked by a mighty range of mountains, and I saw an eagle descending from great heights. As I opened my eyes, facing was a sight I have never seen before. The sheer variety of colour was so dazzling that it took sometime for me to conceive a meaningful picture of what I was seeing. Each dancer dressed in flowing and yet ingathered garments of such bright colours, their combinations crowned by eagle feathered head-dresses – the entire assembly appeared as a congregation of celestial birds on “their way to the realm of mystery”. Each one an individual and yet an integral part of the marching rows of dancers were now forming a vast circle with their bodies swinging and their head-dresses waving in the breeze of the drum as though saying:

We have come. We have come. The land trembles with our dancing and singing.

I knew then that “the land” was within me, that inner ground which throbbed at the touch of their dancing and singing. And I sat that afternoon watching this bewildering and enigmatic sight unlike anything I had met before. I imagined how all this wonder could be rejected by some as something pagan or explained away in terms of one or another school of cultural anthropology. I decided just to watch and to listen, and to be there co-present to what I was watching and listening. I had to admit to myself that nothing from my conceptual equipment could help me understand what I was then experiencing. I had reached the limit.

I wondered how many among those who went out to study other cultures and religions, their rites and rituals would confess to themselves that in such encounters that had reached the limit, the unsurpassable limit to their own mode of understanding. I am not in any way referring to limit as one difficulty or another in our academic study of alien cultures. Not at all. I am referring to limit as an integral and intense aspect of our experience – the point of the greatest contact with the other! It is the experience of the tangibility of the other, the feeling of having laid one’s hands, as it were, on a closed door, face to face, with its unmistakable presence, its reality. It is then that the limit becomes a threshold, a horizon upon which appears the vision, the vision of the ineffable beauty connecting the other with our own innermost mystery.

When I looked again at the colour and the dance, I knew that it was all within me. The event, though visible from outside, was taking place right within my soul. I was their vehicle as they were my vehicle. The vision had replaced the struggle to comprehend. The seer and the seen were on the way to forming a unity, the source of our presence before each other. Now my hearing and seeing and what I heard and saw all were one act: Ah Flowers that we wear! Ah! Songs that we raise!”

By Hasan Askari from his book “Alone to Alone – From Awareness to Vision” (page 19)


O Light of Lights – a prayer


“O One who is like a Gentle Breeze amidst my hardships; O One who is the Hope amidst my distresses; O my Friend in my despair; O my Companion in my loneliness; O Sign in all my wanderings: Thee alone we worship, and from Thee alone we seek help: Guide us unto the path that is inward and stable.

O Light of LightsO Light of Lights; O Illuminator of all Lights; O Creator of Light; O Light before any Light existed; O Light after every Light is gone; O Light which is above all Lights; O Light which is unlike any other Light: Thee alone we worship, and from Thee alone we seek help: Guide us unto the path that is inward and stable.

O Friend of one who has no friend; O Support of one who has no support; O Peace of one who has no peace; O Companion of one who has no companion; O Proof of one who has no proof; O Refuge of one who has no refuge: Thee alone we worship, and from Thee alone we seek help: Guide us unto the path that is inward and stable.

O One Who In His promises, is faithful: O One Who in His faithfulness, is powerful: O One Who in His power, is Sublime: O One Who in His Sublimity, is near: O One Who in His Nearness, is subtle: O One Who in His Subtlety, is noble: O One Who in His Nobility, is mighty: O One Who in His Might, is great: O One Who in His Greatness, is glorious: O One Who in His Glory, is praiseworthy:  Thee alone we worship, and from Thee alone we seek help: Guide us unto the path that is inward and stable.”

Translated by Professor Hasan Askari (4th July 1932 – 19th February 2008), selected prayer of Calling upon God in His Names by Ali Bin Abu Talib (d.661). 


“He was now ready to start on his journey. He looked sad. The old man said: “Start, my son. You have to go a long way.” He started moving towards the door. The old man raised his voice: “Do not worry that you might be robbed of your possessions. None can rob you of your self”. Then he gave him his rosary: “Keep this, or better still wear it around your neck.”

“Give me a sign for the journey,” the young man requested with a choking voice. The old man held him in his embrace, and said: “Let this reflection of the moon in the river be a sign to you. Let your self-remembering be like this reflection!”

By Hasan Askari – “Alone to Alone”

God is on both the sides

 By Hasan Askari from “Alone to Alone” published 1991

“It was a couple of years ago that I was standing at the spot outside Vienna where the Ottoman Turks once stood towards the close of the seventeenth century when they had laid siege, and Vienna was at their mercy. I had gone to Austria to spend sometime at St. Gabriel, a monastic house in Modling, one of the suburbs of Vienna.

My host took me the very evening I arrived there to show me the Vienna Woods, and as we stood there, and as I recalled the Ottoman siege, I became aware with tears in my eyes that God was on both the sides.

How else could God be? I asked. We worship the God of the heavens and of the earth, the creator and the sustainer of the entire universe, the giver of life and guidance to all humanity, irrespective of religion or race. How is it, I asked, that we raise our hymns of praise to his universality and omnipresence and yet reduce him to a racial or communal god when we are drawn to our political identities?

Is it not so that He is on both the sides of a battle line, on both the sides of a religious argument, with the victor and with the victim, with us and with those whom we oppose, with all of us at once?

I was passing through a city. I first saw a wedding procession entering a church. Within a couple of minutes I passed by another church where a coffin was being carried towards the graveyard. I wondered at the Mystery of His omnipresence, at one place a wedding guest and at another, one of the mourners.”

There Are Only Four Communities

“There are those who do not look beyond this world and its appearances, who are attached to its fortunes, however fleeting, and who insist, either on account of their personal conviction or under the influence of some dominant ideology, on a materialistic outlook. They are to be found in every age, country and culture. They constitute one community however they are distributed into various conflicting identities.

There are those who call themselves religious but are strongly attached to the outward forms of their beliefs and practices. They seem to have substituted religious forms for the material forms, and as they are fanatic about them, they bring about a far greater degree of discrimination and conflict in the world than their materialistic counterparts. They too constitute one community. Though they may belong to totally conflicting religious interests and traditions, they are still like mirror images of one another. When their fanaticism for the outward forms of their religion is combined with their material interests, they create havoc both for themselves and for the rest of the world.

Therefore, let us not be deceived by how these two groups identify themselves, whether as materialists or religious people. Ignore the names they give themselves after some ideology or religion. Beware of the trap: imperceptibly without the slightest awareness on your part, you may be dragged by them into giving yourself a collective name or belief. All of them, as you will often notice, feel uneasy before an unidentified or nameless mode of self-understanding. Unless you are careful, you will soon be a part and parcel of their discourse even when you think you are disagreeing with them. It is how most of the reformers end up as greater fanatics than their opponents. So beware of the outward forms, and those who adore them. At best these outward forms have a value for the species in its collective discipline, but they are a hindrance to the individual.

There are those who look beyond the outer forms of this world and of their religion and culture. They look at their inner meanings and correspondences. They are the individuals. They are not many. They are to be found in every age, country and religion. They are the ones who embody the one indivisible humanity. They are the true humanists. They are one community on account of their inwardness, their interconnection across religious, cultural and historical boundaries. They reflect a deep positive patience. They may stand in one or another house of worship or they may constitute one unbroken fellowship of the spirit. They are the salt of the earth. They are the peacemakers.

And there are those who have gone beyond both the outward and the inward. They have gone beyond themselves. Though they appear as present, they are in reality absent. They are very few, some known and others hidden, even from themselves. They are past even human identification, neither man nor woman, they are a being, pure and transparent. They are the elect. They are the horizon towards which the people of the inward look.

Between the outward looking and the inward looking there is an abysmal gulf. Between the inward and the elect there is a bridge. They are both communities, and also modes of awareness and being*.

“Alone to Alone – From Awareness to Vision” by Hasan Askari *For a detailed discussion about these four modes you may refer to “Towards a Trans-Religious Dimension” in Spiritual Quest: An Inter-Religious Dimension by Hasan Askari.

The Feet of our Lady by Hasan Askari

“It was once staying for a week at the Retreat House of St. Raphaela-Mary outside Philadelphia.

In the corridors were those night-lights, tiny lamps, a few inches above the floor on either side along the walls.

As I returned one night after a long and exhaustive discussion with Jews and Christians on the meaning of revelation, and as I passed through the corridor leading to my room, I was struck by those little lights on either side of the corridor. An image came before my eyes – The Feet of Mary. As she walks she leaves her traces behind.

I had to start for the airport the following day quite early in the morning. As I was waiting for the taxi all by myself at that early hour, one of the Sisters of Clare who looked after the Retreat House unexpectedly brought me a hot cup of coffee, and said: I came to say Good-Bye to you, and also to thank you for what you taught me about “The Feet of our Lady!”

By Hasan Askari

from “Alone to Alone” ISBN 1 873685 77 7