Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Remembrance of Haji Mike Evans

1972 — I find myself hurtling across the Mojave desert in my little convertible Sunbeam, with three British Sufi Dervishes — Hajj Amin Evans, Abdur-Rahman Wolff, and Abdal Adheem Sanders! I am being driven and accompanied across the United States, from Berkeley, California, ostensibly to visit my ailing mother in Philadelphia, and they are getting an inexpensive way to New York where they are booked for a Tramp Steamer voyage to Morocco.

How I met these three extraordinary and lovely men is another story in itself, but suffice it to say that I have rarely in my life felt so protected and surrounded with such sweet baraka! In the car the talk was of Allah and His Prophet, the singing was the Diwan of Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib, raheemullah, the dhikr was hypnotic for me — I had never heard anything like it before! And most of all, every few hours we would stop along the side of the road or wherever we happened to be, and these three angelic guys (that’s how they seemed to me) would do the Prayer.

But somehow most of all I remember Hajj Amin as the one doing most of the talking — and everything he said was a healing for my almost broken, burnt-out Berkeley hippy heart. What a refuge of Truth, Solace and Perfection he described for me. What a web was woven by his amazing words — a mandala of all that I had been searching for, all the pieces came together perfectly — I was becoming a Muslim and there was no turning back! So thank you, Hajj Mike Amin — Mash’Allah, I think maybe you were the one who “reverted” me — and to this day I still thank Allah for the gift of Islam!

May your present voyage be sweet, peaceful and full of blessings.

Malika Moore Philadelphia, PA

I first was introduced by my brother to the music of The Action while I was at University in the early 1980s and ever since I have been utterly captivated by the superb body of work produced by that hugely influential group and its subsequent formations, Mighty Baby and The Habibiyya. Hajj Amin Mike Evans was an enormously talented bass guitarist who, I think, also played as a session musician on numerous songs by other artists during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The infectiously propulsive sound of The Action - an act much favoured by the original Mod youth cult - emanates primarily from the band's rhythm section - Mike Evans and drummer, Roger Powell. Mike Evans's bass guitar provides the songs with their centre, their pulse, their heartbeat, one might say. It's the bass that gets you, deep down in your bones and swirls you a place of 'Shadows and Reflections' into the 'Land of a Thousand Dances'. It's something that is more than physical. It's the bass that allows you to '...Keep on Holding On'. No wonder the group has been dubbed, 'The Best White Soul Band of All Time'.

Later, of course, the stratospheric explorations of Mighty Baby, arguably one of the best bands in British psychedelic-jazz-power rock and the intimate, hypnotic and quite unique spirituality of the Habibiyya Way portrayed a man keen to explore new instruments, different modes, an artist who clearly was not content to churn out a formula and whose life and music were densely intertwined. This is an example which many of today's musicians - and audiences/ listeners - especially in the pop-rock sphere, would do well to study.

This music has been permeating my consciousness, my heart and my breath for nearly 30 years now. It was, and is, one of the drivers of my own work. I am immensely grateful.

When, around a year ago, for the first time I contacted Hajj Amin Mike Evans regarding something I was writing, he was effusive, warm and helpful.

I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing. I wish to express my condolences to his family and friends.

The music of Hajji Amin Mike 'Ace' Evans plays on... into the eternal

Suhayl Saadi Glasgow

In Memory of Hajj Amin: He had a beautiful heart. He was an extraordinarily kind man, occasionally in spite of himself. He could be acerbic and sometimes sour but there was always a deep sweetness beneath the surface, a sweetness that radiated from his beautiful face. I don’t believe he was ever entirely comfortable in this world. I believe that the circles of remembrance were his m├ętier, his home.

I was deeply fond of Hajj Amin and I will miss him very much. I ask Allah to make the Gardens of Delight his home in the next world in the way that He, may He be exalted, made the gardens of remembrance his home in this world. May Allah cover him with His Endless Forgiveness, Mercy and Grace. May Allah flood him with His Light, and Light Upon Light until the Day of Rising. Amin.

Haroon Sugich Dubai

Thankyou for your kindness in forwarding this sad new to us in Japan. I will read Ya Sin for Hajj Amin and make a du'a. He was our beloved brother and we pray that Allah will have mercy on him and forgive him and grant him a beautiful place in Paradise.

Abdanur Brewer Kobe, Japan

Friday, February 19, 2010

Encounter With Sidi Hakim Archuletta USA

Just a week before this Ramadhan 2009, we are blessed by Allah with an unexpected meeting with Sidi Hakim Archuletta in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia ! He was invited to a gathering of Aqiqah, one sunday morning of a faqir family. We read the Quran, sang the Burdah of Busyiri and Qasidah of Sh.Muhammad ibn alHabib. He told us, three of them embraced Islam, witnessing the syahada with Sh.Abdal Qadir as-sufi in California about 30 years ago. The two other were DANIEL MOORE ABDAL HAYY AND ABDULLAH ROBERT LUONGO ! Then, they visited England and Morocco in quest of pure knowledge of Islam, Tasawwuf and Learning/living the Sunna with the muslims. He also went to study islaimc medicine Tibb Nabawi at Pakistan.

After the gathering, we drove him back to the city of Kuala Lumpur and managed to
chit chat about his past journey and sharing his wisdom. He was blessed with 12 children, there eldest at 45 year ! Now he is living in New Mexico/California. He also visited with the community of Alburque of Haji Nuradeen Durkee .

AsSalamu'alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu.

Alhamdulillah, we were blessed once again in the GTA, with a visit from Sidi Hakim Archuletta this past weekend. Masha'Allah, he is truly a beautiful person to be with -- Salik, who met him for the first time, also quickly fell in love with Hakim.

As I did after his last visit here in March 2006 (A Weekend with Hakim Archuletta...), I'm going to post some of my notes from his talk/workshop, as well as some of the things I learned from him in a more informal way over the weekend -- my notes are not linear...just points that stood out to me.

Sidi Hakim began by saying "Alhamdulillah, Shukrulillah" -- and he said it with his entire being and mentioned that we cannot begin, but with those words of gratitude to the One without whose permission we could not have gathered together.

  • Traditional Medicine is called Hikma Medicine because it requires wisdom to understand the human body. He mentioned that Imam Ghazali said, "Do not offend your animal, learn to ride it so that it does not drag you" and the hadith "do not chase the camel". He also mentioned the example of ants in Pakistan that crawl up people who push them off only to have the ants return, not knowing that the best thing to do is help them in the direction they're headed by pushing them that way and not back where they came from.

  • Sidi Hakim told us that one of the principals of Hikma is that Allah's patterns in creation are the same. Therefore, what we find in animals, we find in ourselves, and what we find in ourselves is what we find in the environment. We are polluted. What we have done to the environment is simply a reflection of what we've done to ourselves.

  • Our lifestyles are obese -- we suffer what the kings of the past did. Our lifestyles aren't just destroying our environment, but our souls. Over tea, Hakim mentioned to Salik and I that people often will stuff themselves with food when they're already full in order to not "waste" food -- but since waste is anything that is excess, such people are wasting food, and unlike when thrown in the garbage, when excess food is thrown into our bodies, it's actually dhulm to our bodies. He reminded us of what he's often referred to in the past as "the bite" -- that is the point in our meal when our body signals to us that it does not need anymore...it tells us not only through how our stomachs feel, but by the way the food looks, feels, and smells at that point...and that is when we should stop eating. Thus the hadith that we should fill 1/3 of our stomach with food, 1/3 with liquid, and 1/3 with air. He finished by saying that we should cook in accordance with what we can eat without wasting, likewise, we should take a little food at the table, and take more if we need it...rather than filling the plate with food because we're hungry when we first see it.

  • We are digging our graves with our teeth!

  • Addiction to a life of ease does not bring fulfillment.

  • Hakim spoke of the fact that there is much barakah in eating food prepared by a believer, and especially that of one's mother which is made with immense love. He told us the hadith that "the believer's heart goes through 2000 hals in a day and that the heart of the non-believer can stay in one hal for 2000 days".

  • As he often does, he told us that one Shaykh said that the flood in the time of the Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) was one of water, and that the flood of our times is one of separation. In light of this he advised us to never eat alone and added there is a hadith in which we were told that the one who eats alone eats with Shaytan and that in Morocco there are many people that still seek refuge in Allah if given a plate of food to eat from alone!

  • We are mammals and we have a need to connect. Just talking meaningfully affects our nervous system.

  • And men, as in the past, he mentioned once again the need to listen to your wives! He said that men often say that their wives are weak and that he says, Alhamdulillah because women have saved our humanity! Men don't express their feelings enough. The depressed person does not want to face things that bring grief, sorrow, distress, anger, and the like -- what we need to learn is to come into our sense and know where we have these feelings and to let them come out in words, tears, and vocal sounds that want to come out because they've been trapped inside. He said that when tears come because of something we've kept locked inside, they come from the stomach and bring deep breaths that feed the body with much needed oxygen -- just as Allah says in the Qur'an that He sends down rain to revive the dead earth, so too do tears revive a heart that is dying! He said once again that he has never met a depressed person that was really breathing.

  • Finally, although he did not specifically recommend or endorse these books, he did mention them in his talk in passing: Jerry Mander's In the Absence of the Sacred; biodiversity work by Vandana Shiva; Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest; Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food; David Korten's When Corporations Rule the World; and work on the Bioneers. These aren't "recommendations", though...just works he referred to in the context of a workshop on Faith and the Environment.