What if the world were just the veil on God's face?
For a Sufi, or a fan of Sufi's mystical poetry, that's the sort of question that gets pondered, along with questions about dying to self and the transforming power of love.
But in the Fideler household in Saranac, those questions are set to music and sometimes read in the original Persian. Sufi writings, a form of Muslim mysticism, reached a high point in about the 13th century. In the United States today, one of the most widely read poets is Rumi, a Sufi writer who lived in that century.
While David Fideler plays an Iranian setar, his wife, Sabrineh, reads a Rumi poem in the original words. David Fideler follows with an English translation:
"Today, like every day,
We are ruined and lonely.
fleeing your emptiness
through the doorway of thinking.
Try making some music instead.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel in prayer ..."
The poem, included in the couple's book "Love's Alchemy," is one they like to read in their performances.
David Fideler is a lifelong scholar of Sufism and mystical Persian poetry. When he first ran into the works 20 years ago, they spoke on one level, he said. But six years ago, in the middle of a lot of life changes, that changed.
"When I read Sufi poetry, I saw that it spoke to me in a much deeper way," he said.
After some attempts to learn Persian, Fideler hired Sabrineh as an English-Persian translator from Tehran. She became his wife two years ago.
In translating almost 500 poems to choose the 170 in the book, Sabrineh Fideler said she had to not only take her husband into the minds of the poets but into something that is part of everyday Iran.
"People in Iran have long passages memorized," she said. "Little proverbs we use are usually a small part of a poem."
But they are part of a much larger picture. There are dozens of Sufi poets in the book that point to "the transformative power of love," said David Fideler.
"The Sufis tried to experience that sense of something larger than self," he said. "When you're in love, you're no longer the center of the universe."
By Juanita Westaby - The Grand Rapids Press - Grand Rapids,MI,USA