I was suddenly captivated this morning by an ayat in the Surah Ihsan that refers to the mystical drink of Kafur; a drink from the purest of springs infused with a sweet fragrant herb such that the subtle smell wafts beautiful even before the water is sipped.
“…the righteous will have a drink mixed with Kafur [in Paradise], a spring from which Allah’s servants drink, making it flow plentifully: they fulfill their vows; they fear a day of widespread woes; they give food to the poor, the orphan, and the captive, though they love it themselves, saying, “We feed you for the sake of Allah alone.” (Ayat 4–9)
If a believer drinks from this wondrous spring, then it will flow even more abundantly, and the believer will be transformed. Note the ayat is referring to believers in Paradise so one would expect the metaphor to refer to the past when the believers lived on earth, they fulfilled their vows, they feared a day…they gave food to the poor… But instead, it is expressed in the present tense. What are they drinking that magically softens the heart into compassion, love, and empathy and then opens the majestic door into Allah’s light filled Paradise weeping of Mercy and Joy?
It is Truth from Allah’s Book (al-kitab). Later in the Surah the believers will imbibe of the water from the Fountain of Salsabil which is infused with ginger (umm al-kitab — the mother of the Books or the source of all Truth).
In the Injil, Jesus comes upon a woman at midday at the well of Jacob who had been ostracized by the women in her village. He requests that she draw water for him, and she in amazement asks why a Jew such as himself would speak to a Samaritan woman (the Samaritans were considered extremely unclean by the Jews, and even more so because she was a woman). Jesus replies, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” She then asks him if he thinks he is better than their father Jacob who gave them the well, in which he reveals who he is (the Messiah) by replying, “Everyone who drinks the water from this well (he is providing understanding of the metaphor) will be thirsty again (this is physical water), but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never be thirsty, but the water I give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:7–14) The woman then asks Jesus if he will give this water to her so that she will not be thirsty nor have to travel all the way to the well to draw water. Jesus, understanding that she is not discerning the spiritual truth of his words immediately pursues cleansing her heart first: “Go, call your husband and come here.” She tells him she has no husband and Jesus responds, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband, for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this which you have said is true.”
This is representative of those believers who read the Word, but whose very lives reveal a lack of understanding of the transformative effect of Scriptural teaching. In the modern world, there appears to be a lack of true spiritual understanding even among believers — which is evidence of impure hearts. The heart must be made pure before drinking the water of Truth or the believer will be unable to be perfected through the Word’s transformation of their hearts and actions.
And from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (chapter 12), “For the Lord my God is my strength and song, therefore you will joyfully draw water from the springs of salvation.”
“His delight is in the Law of the Lord,
And on his law he meditates
day and night.
He will be like a tree planted
by streams of water,
which yields fruit in its season
and its leaf does not wither,
and in whatever he does, he prospers.”
Water symbolizes truth, purity and life. No living thing on earth can survive without water and in the same way if we are to have eternal life we must drink of the pure water of Truth to cleanse ourselves of sin. The rite of baptism established by John the Baptist became a ritual for Christians to metaphorically cleanse themselves from all past sins while rejoicing in God’s great mercy as is the performing of Wudu by Muslims. Allah’s Word of Truth is the pure water we drink to purify our hearts, and the ritual of external cleansing is the symbol of the physical representing the spiritual. This is why you will read both metaphors in this Ghazal.
Come sip, the ginger wafts from my lips-pure love
Kafur flowing deep in hearts is pure love
Drink deeply simple hearted, the spring gushes;
hearts softening leading to the poor — pure love
The orphan cries out in the dark broken night
who hears and responds? Drink beloveds, pure love
The living water Salsabil fount of Truth
poured from Isa’s speech, did she not hear pure love?
Drink His pure water to see eternity
the convert weeps tears of joy, mercy’s pure love
Come seeking the fount of joy through Islam’s door
Muhammad recited Allah’s Truth — pure love
Kafur pours through hardened hearts until they weep
cleansed through baptism, the dove alights — pure hearts
This love seeks Allah, not self, only others
Allah’s sparrow bids you know His Truth--pure love.