Reviewed by Amineh Pryor, Ph.D. Make A Journey To Heaven brings forth the prayers of Rumi in the Mathnawi. The book may be primarily focused on a Persian audience and Farsi readership, however the prayers of Rumi, as translated in English by R. A. Nicholson are inspiring and worth reading. Sixty of the prayers are presented in English, alongside the Farsi. The introduction and other text are offered in Farsi. As an example, an excerpt from the prayer entitled, “Auspicious King”: O Almighty One, Thou art able to pardon our great sins in privacy. We have burnt ourselves from concupiscence and greed, and even this invocation we have learned from Thee. (We beseech Thee) in reference for Thy having taught (us) to invoke (Thee) and of having lighted the lamp (of invocation) amidst darkness like this. (#26) Deep longing and metaphors from nature, such as the rose and thorn and the light of the sun and the moon, are used throughout the book. Each prayer has rich language and depth that the reader can work with to understand, and there is a rhythm from beginning to end of the sixty prayers. The book reminds us of the pain of
separation, stirs a longing within, and conveys the experience of gratitude for the mercy that has been given to the human being – the mercy of existence and creation and the mercy of longing. For example, in “O Thou who givest us intimations”: O Thou who givest us intimations in weal and woe, (though) our hearts are unaware of Thy intimations, O (Lord) who daily and nightly seest us and whom we see not, (our) regarding the secondary cause (instead of the Causer) who has muffled our eyes. My eye has been chosen above (all other) eyes, so that the (Divine) Sun was beheld by me in the night (of material existence). That was (through) Thy well-known grace, O Beauteous One; and (as the proverb says), ‘The perfection of kindness consists in making it complete.’ Do not let Thy nightcompanion be banished (from Thy presence) in the daytime, do not inflect farness (separation) on the soul that has experienced nearness (union).
Absence from Thee is a grievous and tormenting death, especially the absence that comes after enjoyment of Thy favour. Do not put him that hath seen Thee in the position of one that hath not seen (Thee): sprinkle water on his verdure that has sprung up. I have not acted recklessly (heedlessly) while faring (on Thy Way): do not Thou either act recklessly (ruthlessly) in pricking (inflicting pain upon me). Oh, do not drive far from Thy face him who once beheld Thy face! To behold the face of any one but Thee is (like the torture of) an iron collar for the throat: everything except God is vain…” (excerpt #58) The book may be enjoyed and meditated upon by a broad audience including those who seek further study of the Rumi and the Mathnawi, and those who may want to deepen their own experience by reading the prayers as a reflection of their own longing and reminder of the pain of separation from the Divine.
Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 2
A journal for people of the heart.