Dr. Nurbakhsh presents here a wealth of stories and poems about Jesus, many of which are translated into English for the first time from the original Arabic and Persian Sufi sources. They represent the profound reverence that Sufis for centuries have felt for Jesus, regarding him as a symbol of love and the perfect master. The enthusiastic attitude towards Jesus extended to Christianity in general, major symbols of which are frequently used by poets such as Hafiz and Rumi, and this book explains for the first time the inner meanings of these Christian symbols as they appear in Sufi mystical writings. By explaining the importance of Jesus in the Sufi tradition, this book at the same time highlights the centrality of love and compassion for Sufis.
Indubitably no man is born fatherless;
Only one Jesus exists in the world.
The sufis believe that Jesus was born of Mary through the breath of the Holy Spirit, and had no physical father.
The Koran describes the Divine animation of man as a breathing of God's Spirit into the human frame, using the same expression for the generation of Jesus as for the creation of Adam, that is, by blowing of the Divine Breath, respectively, into the womb of Mary and into the clay of Adam's body – a breath which is none other than the Grace of the holy Spirit.
Rumi recounts the appearance of the Holy Spirit to Mary in the following manner:
Suspended in sheer nothing, heart-ravishing
in the Void, Mary saw a soul-stirring
Form, an enlivening Presence;
Out of the earth rose the phantom,
a Holy Spirit of Trust,
brilliant as a sun or moon;
Rapturous as the sun's aurora,
an apparition of naked beauty, bare and unveiled,
rose froth from the earth.
Frightened in her nakedness before the weird
Form, Mary shied back, shaking
in horror of perversion and evil.
Joseph, too, like his Egyptian lady-admirers
would have cut his fingers in wonder
before the candor of such sheer beauty.
As a pure idea bursts form the heart
or the blossoming of some earthborn rose,
this imaginal form bloomed before her.
Overwhelmed by the Vision, of self bereft,
Mary swooned, entreating refuge
in Divine Mercy;
Since her pure-bosomed nature was accustomed
to taking refuge with the Unseen
in flight from the world,
An inconstant kingdom the world appeared
to her, so prudence beckoned to make
God's patronage her fortress,
And so forge a stronghold for her soul
until death, lest any foe
waylay her quest.