Listen From Love
A 20th Century Turkish Sufi Master Ken’an Rifai
Ken’an Rifai is a highly esteemed Sufi figure who lived in the late Ottoman State and early Republican State. He left a permanent mark on our cultural history with his works and invaluable people he had trained. The Sultan of spiritual meaning (mana), Ken’an Rifai, stands out as an elegant artist with a poetic and musical aspect as well as a sheikh. His work titled İlâhiyât-ı Ken’an can be recorded as one of his most magnificent works in this sense. In this distinguished work of Sheikh Ken’an Rifai, it is possible to read the details of his joy in mystical savor, spiritual truth and his dervish life.
Sheikh Rifai’s statements about his work, İlâhiyât-ı Ken’an are as follows: “The interpretation of the Qur’an is in Rumi’s Mathnawi. The meaning of Mathnawi is entirely in the Divan of Niyazi-i Mısri. And we have revealed its ‘core of the core’, that is, its inner meanings in İlâhiyât-ı Ken’an.” Having been written a hundred years ago, it has partially been translated into English as a result of a meticulous study. It is our most sincere hope that this English translation of İlâhiyât-ı Ken’an will contribute to international studies in the field of Sufism and guide those who want to practice Sufi way of living.
Writer, President of TURKKAD, Istanbul , Founder of Kerim Education, Culture and Health Foundation
“In my notes for the year 1989 I come across some sentences jotted down from a conversation I had with J, whom I call my “master.” At that time, we were talking about an unknown mystic called Kenan Rifai, about whom little has been written.
‘Kenan Rifai says that when people praise us we should watch how we behave,’ says J, ‘because that means that we hide our faults very well. Finally, we end up believing that we are better than we think and then the next step is to let ourselves be dominated by a false feeling of security that will eventually set up dangers all around us.’
‘Kenan Rifai was a man who helped many people find themselves and to achieve a harmonious relation with life. Even so, some of those people proved to be ungrateful and never even turned their head to say ‘thanks’. They turned to him only when their lives were in a state of utter confusion. Rifai helped them again without mentioning the past: he was a man with many friends and the ungrateful always ended up on their own.’
Those are fine words but I don’t know if I am capable of pardoning ingratitude so easily.”