4 of 6: A Princess of Piety

May: we will read and discuss A Princess of Piety – up to page 195 (ends with The Fragrance of Prayer).

Please share your thoughts on this section below.

3 thoughts on “4 of 6: A Princess of Piety

  1. saimma Post author

    The more I read about these women, the more shocked (and saddened…and angered…) I feel that we do not know their names as readily as Ibn Arabi and Shah Jahan…what an amazing woman Jahanara was! I love her reference to herself as fakira, and am astonished at her descriptions of her supplications: sweeping the tomb with her eyelashes!

    “From extreme longing I became astonished, and I do not know what I said or did.”

    I wish…

    Nana Asma’u and her culture need to be revitalised…then we would never forget these women of faith if we had musical litanies to pass down generation after generation…what beauty and strength…although it’s written that the teaching songs are still known today in Hausa. She propagated the teaching that women were the primary mentors of future generations and therefore their education was of paramount importance in society!

    I read Michaela Ozelsel’s book about five years ago and I became obsessed with doing a chile…realising forty days was impossible (and not likely to be approved) I did my first 3-day chile. It was excruciating, liberating, unbearable and wonderful all at once. It’s something I love and yet put off…I truly believe that we are no longer capable of longer retreats, and Michaela had amazing fortitude and someone special looking out for her. I think at the time of the book she had done it three times in her life…mental! I really recommend reading it; it is a real treasure of understanding the ego.

    Sachiko Murata makes my head hurt…but a little less than eight years ago when I first read this so I guess that’s progress? I have problems understanding metaphysical gender explanations…I’m sure my ego is too big to allow space for illumination.

  2. Daniel

    Reading about Noor-un-Nisa brought tears to my eyes as I sat in a coffee shop this afternoon. The awful euphemism of the remark she “perhaps had some bad experiences” at the hands of the Gestapo. What light and what courage! A great example of heroism without machismo. The story of this remarkable Muslim woman should be told in schools.

    I also really appreciated Rabia Terri Harris’ insights into khalwah retreats from the Helveti-Jerrahi perspective. How fascinating that they are now hardly ever allowed due to the “interference” in today’s psychic atmosphere. What a remarkable woman Michaela Ozelsel must be to have been given permission to attempt such a retreat in this era. What service to humanity and what insights. And again, what a courageous soul!

  3. Daniel

    I am just so moved by reading “A Princess of Piety” and then reading Camille Ana’s poems. (If you have not yet read Camille Ana’s poems in the resource section, I recommend you do so asap!). The fragrance of Jahanara’s rose-like spirituality seems to drift across the centuries and continents to mingle with Camille Ana’s. Having a glimpse through the window that Camille Ana opens on the world in her poems is something incredibly beautiful:

    Blue jay,
    visiting this branch,
    you are dusted with the same blue
    of the delphinium
    regal in the garden,
    irridescent in the sun,
    startling in your “blueness”:
    a ray of color
    piercing our world.
    “Wake up!”
    “Look at me”.
    Know that color IS —
    a manifold gift and a message:
    from Oneness comes diversity;
    multitudes arise from one seed.

    I am beginning to better understand what Camille Ana means when she says the Path today is less about strict asceticism and more about waking up to the wonder of the moment in everyday life. And how delightful to read about Camille Ana’s experiences as a mother with her children. It’s the mundane (picking up socks!) mixed with the heavenly.

    ANd how amazing that Jahanara was the daughter of Shah Jahan who had the Taj Mahal built in honour of his wife. Talk about the divine feminine! The Taj Mahal is the most beautiful building I have ever seen by a long stretch. It seems to float on the air, so much like the fragrance of these beautiful words from Jahanara and Camille Ana…

    So many treasures from Camille Ana in the Resources section – dive in, everybody!

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