*Photos and reflection courtesy of Abu Ayyub, (Istanbul). For more info or to book Abu Ayyub, contact him at @abu_ayyub_chronicles
As a Muslim from the West who has spent the past twelve years overseas, I’ve come to know of many Anglophone Muslims that feel disconnected to the rich local Islamic Tradition due to language barriers. Therefore, when an English speaking scholar does visit, it’s an opportunity not to be missed.
This week, the small but growing community of Western Muslims in Istanbul was treated to a visit by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani of SeekersGuidance. In a talk entitled “Seeking Allah: Finding the Divine in Your Life”, Shaykh Faraz delivered an inspirational talk to a collection of Muslims from Canada, the US, UK, Malaysia, Germany, Australia, Turkey, Russia, Pakistan and more. Held in the beautiful Molla Zeyrek Camii in the historic Fatih District, we sat under domes that were erected over nine centuries earlier. Once the second largest Byzantine church after the Hagia Sofia, the structure was converted into a mosque shortly after the Ottoman conquest in 1453 and served as the main madrassa of Istanbul for two decades. It was therefore a very fitting location for Shaykh Faraz’s spiritually moving lecture.
“Seeking Allah: Finding the Divine in Your Life” was based on Ibn Ajiba’s commentary and spiritual allusions of the famous Arabic Grammar text, Al Ajrumiyyah. Beautifully explained with anecdotal wisdoms and stories of his own teachers, Shaykh Faraz reminded us that we must increase our focus on Allah Most High and disconnect from the perception that our own existence is independent from Him. As one of these remedies, Shaykh Faraz advised those gathered to seek the company of the righteous and it was by no coincidence that most of those present equated this advice as the main reason why they came that evening.
Shaykh Faraz would end the night by giving a group of students of knowledge sincere advice ranging from the significance of the path of scholarship, to tips on how to increase one’s potential as a student. These lessons, drawn from Shaykh Faraz’s own experiences as a student in Syria, comforted the hearts of those who left family and home in the pursuit of knowledge.
May Allah Most High reward Shaykh Faraz for the time he spent with us, and although his trip was short, his depth and spiritually refreshing insights will remain with the Western Muslims of Istanbul for a long time to come.