A Sufi Wish

Dr Ali Keyhani

In the year 1225, Attar, a Sufi master wrote the story of his beloved teacher, Omar Khyam, a poet, a mathematician, an astronomer, and a tent maker for his livelihood. The story goes:

I went to visit my teacher, Omar Khyam in the city of Neishahboor . It was hot, windy springtime when I entered the city. The bazaar hummed like a bee hive with hurriedly coming and going of merchants and their customers. There were all kinds of shops: gold smiths, pot makers, tailors, butchers and  so on. Suddenly, the melodic sound of minarets calling the worshipers to pray permeated through the bazaar. All I could hear was the sound of “God is great, God is great.” Instantly, everything stopped. Silence fell on the Bazaar and it hung in the air. Everyone left for the mosque. I followed them. Line after line, the worshipers stood in prayer. Being tired from a long journey, I rested in the yard under a willow tree. When the noon prayer ended, slowly, the vibrating sound of pot makers pulsated in the air. Being distressed in not finding my master’s shop, I stopped the mosque preacher to ask for directions. He starred at me in bewilderment and said, “The heretic tent maker is in the far end of bazaar.”


By late afternoon, I found my beloved teacher sitting on a stool threading a tent. His long white hair hung around his shoulders touching his snow-white beard. Involuntary, I bent to kiss his hand; he pulled me over and kissed my forehead. We drank tea in the yard under a blooming cherry tree. Slowly, his spirit rose and read a poem to me:

“Ah love! Could thou and I with fate conspire to grasp this sorry scheme of things entire!

Would not shatter it a bit and remolded nearest to the Heart’s Desire!”

I asked what was his heart’s desire? He said, “I wish when I die, when the north wind blows in spring, it covers my tomb by white petals.” Years later, I returned to visit him. He was dead; I went to graveyard to pay my respect. I could not find his grave. I saw a preacher by the mosque and asked him. He smirked and said, “The heretic tentmaker could not be buried among the believers, and he directed me toward t he outside of town.” By late afternoon, I arrived at the edge of town. It was springtime. Row after row of cherry trees with their white flowers danced in the north wind, scattering their petals in the air. When I found his tomb, it was covered with a blanket of white petals. I picked up a stone, knocked on his grave, and

wept for my beloved master.