A garden unfolding.

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

Sometimes words turn shy. It's hard to pin down a reason for it. But whatever the why, it does happen, and it has happened especially in trying to write about one friend.

We're not super close as friends go, at least not in the closeness one might think. Neither of us has visited the other's home. Neither of us knows that much about the other. We don't call each other just to catch up, and we might exchange emails only a handful of times a year. Sometimes one or two of those emails can even go unanswered. We see one another less than we email. If someone were to say, "List all your nearest and dearest friends," there's little chance he would think to name me. In fact, it's not clear at all what words he'd use to describe this hapless stranger who showed up on his electronic doorstep one day, out of the ether.

Given his position, he probably receives a lot of random correspondence. Given his kindness, he probably responds to almost all of it. His generosity is immense.

Our relationship began out of a mutual love for Hazrati Kharaqani, the 10th century Persian mystic. Because Hz. Kharaqani has been involved, it comes as no surprise that this friendship unfolds as a garden full of beautiful...surprises. It also comes as no surprise that, even if this friend may consider me as one of the outer planets in his orbit, we share a deep love for one another. Of this, there is little doubt.

Hz. Kharaqani spoke of love's primacy in worship and service. He was exemplary in his adab (or the good manners of love). He loved Muhammad (ﷺ). He was funny and irreverent, and that didn't end when he was put in the grave. Otherwise, just try to figure out how he might have ended up buried in Turkey, given the biographies say he died in Persia. Just try to figure out how a man who is totally trustworthy in every way swears to this day of Hz. Kharaqani's occasional visits in the middle of the night.

Only one book of Hz. Kharaqani's sits on the shelf in the makeshift prayer room upstairs. The book is short. The few words there aren't a part of the daily rotation; they dance in and out from time to time to soothe the soul, even a thousands years on. But no matter their infrequency, Hz. Kharaqani is always, always--somehow or another--there. There are days when the heart craves a word from him, any word. There are some days when a corrective is needed from him, and because of the gentleness with which it is delivered, one might not catch it as such, except in hindsight.

In both encouragement and admonishment (and in truth, they are sometimes the same), Hz. Kharaqani always gives. He gives his bread, whatever form it might take, to any soul who wanders his way. There is always sustenance of some sort.

If you've ever asked, "Wouldn't it be nice to have met [fill in the blank]?" And if that blank has ever been filled with the name Kharaqani, don't be surprised if he finds a way to introduce himself to you one day--in some surprising way. Otherwise, just try to figure out how this man who is otherwise in an outer orbit at best, and in so many ways, is occasionally visited by one whose friendship mirrors the face of Hz. Kharaqani. A friend such as the one about whom the words go shy.