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 métier, 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

1 comment:

zhou said...

The death of someone we have known, intimately or not, is always sobering, as it is not just another human somewhere who’s died, but someone with whom we shared a dimension of life, affecting our own by our simultaneous existence in that living space. And the final impressions, how we leave our traces, every conversation, gesture, attitude, transaction, are crucial markers of us when we must go on to the next existence in the final world, imprinted in the memories of those still living who knew us, and sent ahead for the final “reading,” carrying our “books” with us.

Hajj Amin, for me, left nothing but positive traces all the time that I knew him back in the 1970s, when we were all fledgling Muslim Sufis, practicing with earnestness a spiritual path none of us were born to, undergoing sometimes wrenching transformations with, in our case, an acidic teacher who was the deputized representative of a true Friend of God, Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib of Fez. While the methods of our teacher may have been sulfuric, the light of the shaykh in Morocco, whom we met and with whom we sat, and with whose oldest disciples we lived for a time, that light of Allah he radiated, absorbed according to our varying capacities, not only at the time but until the moment of each of our own deaths, is not an inconsiderable one, easily ignored, but a true witness of our own small presence in purity and yearning with the Truth Himself.

Hajj Amin Evans was there, he suffered the sufferings and tasted some of the joys, and now he has gone ahead. For him, the famous cage bars of this world have melted. And I only remember a sweetness, an earnestness, a taciturn personality that spoke rarely but pointedly, and often with a wry (North Londonish) amusement. He witnessed, and is now himself a witness. A shahid in his illness, struck down by the heart, his core of gnosis. Irradiated along with all of us by the light of the Master and the Path, he can testify to that original reverberation of his heart, and by it recognize in the next world the Generous Face of Allah. May Allah take him to Him, in superlative radiance, in forgiveness and purity, and grant him an eternity of sweetness and beauty.

Daniel Abdal Hayy Moore Philadelphia, PA