By Syed Hasan Askari from his book “Alone to Alone”

“It was winter. What is winter, she used to ask, and what could one say about it. It is sheer negation, a moving away from the sources of warmth.

North East India. The middle of the thirteenth century. A period of widespread upheaval and powerful manifestations. A century of the rise of Ghengiz Khan and the Mongol Hordes, and also a time shared by such great mystics as Francis of Assisi and ‘Attar of Nishapur, Ibn ‘Arabi and Mere Angelique, Rumi and Dogen.

A small town on the Gangetic plain. A mother and a child in a room without wood, without coal, without any means, without proper clothes, without adequate blankets for the cold season.

It was winter. There was poverty.

What is winter, she used to ask, and what could one say about it. It is a returning to one’s own self, to another fire and warmth, a compelling invitation to rethink our humanity.

Mother and child. There was an air of gratitude about them, between them.

She did not look at winter. She looked at one of the faces of God. The child looked at the face of his mother.

It was winter. It was also a Word from Him, she used to say to herself, and her face used to glow as if she were facing the sun on a warm summer day.

There was poverty. She was one of those few who knew that particularly in poverty God’s providence was beyond measure.

Nizamuddin Auliya was one of the well-known Sufi masters of India. He passed away in 1325. A contemporary of Dante, Amir Khusru, Eckhart, Bu Ali Shah Qalandar, Muso Kokushi and Haji Bekuash. Nizamuddin’s shrine is in Delhi, and has been a source of inspiration, over all these centuries, both for the seekers and the pilgrims.

When Nizamuddin was asked how and when it was that he first experienced the spark of divine love within himself, he said: First the spark of trust lights the lamp of joy, and then we discover that we are in the mansion of His Love. Then he recalled his childhood: It was a long time ago. My father passed away when I was a small child. My mother had no means of her own. Sometimes we used to get up in the mornings during winter to discover that there was nothing in the house, not even a piece of wood or coal to boil water. It was on one of those mornings that my mother used to come up to me while I was still all huddled up in some sort of blanket with lots of patches and holes, and say to me: “Wake up!” Then, after a pause, I used to hear, amidst all that poverty when we had nothing in our house, not even a loaf of bread, my mother saying to me:

“Baba Nizamuddin! Wake up! We are guests on this day in the House of God!”.  And she used to glow with joy, and her hands were warm while she lifted me and held me in her arms. It was my mother who initiated me upon the path of trust and joy, who liberated me once for all from the slavery to the seasons and the conditions of this world.”


  1. I REALLY love that line, “We are guests on this day in the House of God!” It’s a really beautiful way to look at each and every day, especially considering the poverty that Baba Nizamuddin grew up in.

    Every day when we wake up, even if life seems like pure drudgery, it’s really a new and beautiful experience in this house and world of God. Thanks for sharing this Musa.


  2. ☸ڰڿڰۣ ♥ @Alone2Alone …
    “Baba Nizamuddin! Wake up! We are guests on this day in the House of God!”
    My gratitude …
    I had a tear for you …
    Thankee friend …
    (( HUGS ))
    ~Love and Light …


  3. We once knew a young man whose mother had passed away. He had this saying tattooed on his forearm, “Mother is the name of God on the lips of every child.” How wonderful if that were so for every child. The world is a beautiful or ugly place, not depending on our location, but depending on the eyes we see it through. Excellent illustration of that point.


  4. Hello Musa. Iliked your piece on Love and i was so pleased to find you had printed my favourite story from ‘Alone to Alone’. Whenever I have read it to anyone it has never failed to move them. In Hasan’s telling of this story he evokes the scene as though it is happening before our eyes and in our hearts. i love the words of Nizamuddin’s mother so much I had them as a screen saver on a previous computer. If only we could wake each day from sleep both physical and spiritual with these words in heart and on lips the transformation would be immense. To love truly is to accept our vulnerability and to trust in the unseen – to accept our true poverty for what it is and to ask to be shown things as they truly are. This is I believe one message of this story though it has so many layers which are revealed the more often it is read.


  5. She looked into the face of the child and saw the face of the Beloved. And it is like that for all of us. We think we find and wake the Child—what we do not realize is that the Child is always awake. He simply loves to play and so pretends He is sleeping so that we will seek him. And where is He found? Everywhere—there are Houses of God everywhere. “In my house are many mansions.” In every heart—the heart of the mother, the heart of her child, the heart of Baba Nizamuddin—everywhere. The Child runs and plays through the halls of our souls. And His laughter is echoed in our loving one another.


  6. When the Face of God appears in our ordinary, life unleashed its beauty and with it, its extraordinariness. “We are guests on this day in the House of God!” What else is to add to the bold yet truth statement of a mystic remembering the Source with his heart..
    Love and Light Always.


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