The story of the young man, the swimmer and the dervish.

Once a upon a time there came a man to the shores of desperation, anxiety, suicide, fear and hopelessness because his sins were drowning him. He looked into the river with feverish eyes. What did he see? He saw a graceful swimmer whose arm was raised above the water for the next stroke. He looked like a dolphin diving, the majesty of the mountains in the background, the silky appearance of the water, the solemnity of the trees, the splendour of the open space and the grandeur of the vastness of the lake had no effect save that he felt like another coal dropped in the furnace and without complaint, the coal caught alight and added to the intensity of the mesmerising blazing flames.

He read the swimmer’s raised hand as a greeting sign and he waved back and suddenly, the corner of his eye caught the sight of a dervish dipping a needle into the lake, pulling it out and saying: “Not even this much…not even this much…not even this much” and shook his head until the tail of his turban covered his eyes. He looked at the man’s face and it resonated with light. He walked to the dervish and asked him just as he was about to dip the needle again in the lake and asked him in mocking tone: ” How is your relationship between you and your religion?”

The Dervish looked at him with a quizzical expression and replied with a captivating tone: “It is shredded by sins, and I patch it seeking forgiveness.”

The man said nothing and went on: “Why on earth do you that here…and say not even this much…and dip your needle here?”

The Dervish replied with an astonished smiling face: “Oh! if all of creation were to gather today here and ask for anything and everything they want and more from Allah, He would give them all and more and; it will not diminish HIS treasures not even as much as the water that remains on the needle when pulled from this never ending lake.”

The man fell to the ground and gasped saying: “You took my breath away”

The COVID-19 has the effect of taking your breath away literally because the nature of the virus is that it diminishes lung capacity and give a drowning sensation according to reports of survivors thus, leaving us with an image of what the person goes through in the fatal moments.

Today, the appreciation of fresh air made all the difference! Here we are, breathing normally yet, oblivious like the man with the Dervish about the true nature of the magnificence of air and how it was created to sustain life. Life, we have it yet, we are unaware of the stateliness of it to the extent that we are caught looking elsewhere for grandness to make us happy. The man with the Dervish was suicidal and could not absorb the grandiose of nature made for him, nor was the swimmer an inspiration for him but; the dipping of a needle by a random man sways his attention and wise words ends his inner conflict. The point made is that our lives are caught in anxiety of the future while we have time to reflect and change while having so many instances of looking and learning from people of virtue we throw caution the wind.

This is what captivated me today as the hours ate away last portion of the sun to usher in the next course – night. The darkness covered the horizon and people in LOCKDOWN were now preparing for supper, Netflix, TV, ZOOM video calls and more so that the night can disappear slowing as a seven course meal off a table. However, just a stones throw away, there sits a family with meagre rations bombarded by the scenic sumptuous adverts of food on the screen become breathless thinking how the well to do live. Juxtapose these two scenarios with empathy and am I sure it will take your breath away.

While we know that COVID-19 is a means of taking lives in great numbers, we also know that death is inevitable. Therefore, don’t wait to die and be so fatalistic with your life. Add value to peoples lives even if it might be like the strange action of the Dervish because you really don’t know the deeper messages of hope it is sending out. At the same time, do not be foolish with this life you have because you only have one. We are looking to improve ourselves but, we are not searching in the right places because our hearts and minds are disconnected. Really, it feels like our hearts are in one place and minds in another but we want harmony. True to the words of the poet who said: “O wayfarer, that you will not reach the Ka’aba because the path that you are following goes (in the opposite direction) to Turkistan.”

Let us make each breath count by at least finding out for ourselves where are we going with our lives. Has our lives got meaning apart from the accumulation of things and gadgets or pass times that does little for the soul, heart and mind. Prepare at least some goals for this period. If one of those goals fails to take your breath away then know, its a dream that’s mundane for you time and energy you have. It must be that at the end of the day you can actually write down what you did and can also talk about what you learnt. It takes my breath away that people have planned to watch so many series on Netflix and other channels to think that’s all they will do with so much time. This awesome expenditure of breaths on watching series and the likes begs me to ask the question: “What would you be willing to change if Paradise price tag was useful breaths?” This question is breathtaking and so is your life – it’s breathtaking because it has been given to you by Allah, the Creator of air given to all without prejudice.

The Dervish’s answer to the man is an eye opener in that it makes you aware of just how insignificant we are in the face of Allah’s greatness, majesty and glory. I think this feeling of insignificance in this context is actually motivating because it also tells you that HE does not diminish any deed of man and is willing forgive. So, let us find that Dervish in ourselves whose strange impulse is actually a teaching moment of greatness.

Day 8 is a few breathes away. How are you going to make each breath count?


44 thoughts on “YOU TOOK MY BREATH AWAY.”

  1. I truly subscribe to the dervish in every human being. It had to take this virus to unlock many potentialities. Humankind has drifted into a “lazy-taken-for-granted” species. Just existing. Many with no purpose. Earn, eat, drink, pleasure, sleep. Like zombies hurtling into each day without reflection. Sadly, the lives of Sufis and the practice of Zikr is amiss in our dull, mechanical lives. The only solution for our children is a blend of Sufism that will bring back the human qualities, respect and purpose of life. Otherwise we will be left to our own devices and desires and Allah will be absent.

    1. Thank you for the response. Yes, it is true we have become so mechanical that we have lost touch with our soul. Your thoughts do provoke deeper reflections of issues.
      Abdullah Sujee

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