This week we have received the sad news of the death of our dear friend Jesús Mehdi Flores. Unfortunately, liver disease ruined his health and, in the end, he ended his life at a relatively young age. When a loved one leaves us, the memories we keep of this person come to mind.
Mine go back to the end of the nineties when we both coincided carrying out responsibilities in the Government of the Autonomous City of Ceuta. Jesús and Musa formed a perfect tandem who worked for intercultural dialogue and the opening of channels of collaboration with the neighboring kingdom of Morocco.
In fact, they achieved something unprecedented, such as the institutional visit of a President of the Autonomous City of Ceuta to various Moroccan cities. Jesus’ network of contacts in the Arab world was very dense and I always take advantage of it for the benefit of our city.
After that first stage of contact I lost track of him, although I knew that he taught Latin classes in different educational centers. We did not resume contact until mid-2018. Jesús and his colleague José Luis Mullor were interested in my research on the Islamic mythology of Ceuta and invited me to participate in the Spiritual Meeting “The Heart of the Prophets” organized by the Ceuta Association to Intercultural Dialogue (ACEDI).
My presentation was entitled “Ceuta, the confluence of the seas” and dealt with the content of Sura 18, called the Cavern, which refers to a sacred place located at “the confluence of the two seas” in which I lived the sage al-Khidr, custodian of the source of the water of life. Al-Khidr is a very important figure in Islamic Sufism, since, according to this spiritual tradition, he has acted as a guide and protector of the main Sufi saints, such as ibn Arabi or Rumi.
The link between this Koranic character and Ceuta is notable, since from the 10th century some Islamic authors identified “the confluence of the seas” with the Strait of Gibraltar and even managed to locate the source of the water of life in the Ceuta environment. .
It can be said that al-Khidr united our destinies again to collaborate together in the resacralization of Ceuta and from there the ACEDI project called “Ceuta, sanctuary of life” was born. Jesús, José Luis and I held several meetings to shape this project at the end of 2019 and we talked about it informally to the media.
We also announced the objectives of the project through the “Esislam” website that the members of the ACEDI association led by José Luis and Jesús launched with such enthusiasm. Later, I collaborated by contributing content to the aforementioned website and I got involved in the production of a documentary entitled “Ceuta, sanctuary of life” that is available on YouTube.
“His love has impregnated the hearts of those who knew him and the best tribute we can pay him is to water and help the seeds that he sowed during his earthly existence to sprout”
After the hard months of confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we met to show me an existing fountain in the vicinity of the town of Benzú and a place that Jesus called tremendous and incredible: the sacred valley of San José. Jesús was very interested in learning more about the history of this site that I did not know at the time.
It didn’t take long for us to meet up to visit both places together with other friends, such as Alfonso Pérez and Riad Hussein. That valley, as Jesus well announced, impacted me and has become one of my favorite places for meditation and contemplation of nature.
In addition, the San José Valley is connected to the Victoria Fountain, which, according to my research, could correspond to the source of the water of life in which Moses’ fish came back to life. As we obtained more information about this magical and sacred place, we were able to establish that the connection between al-Khidr and the San José Valley was much closer than we could initially suspect.
The exchanges of views on this site allowed me to appreciate the deep knowledge that Jesus had about Sufism and Islamic spirituality.
Both Jesús and I shared a great interest in the work of the distinguished French thinker Henry Corbin, who dedicated a good part of his life to the study of a world lost to profane minds “located in an intermediate position between the pure intelligible and sensible perception” that Corbin designated “imaginal world” (mundus imaginalis).
Far from what might be thought, great thinkers of Islam such as Ibn Arabi or the Persian Sohravardi defended that this mediator or intermediate world (barzakh) was a full and total reality that corresponded to the Koranic “confluence of the two seas”.
In some medieval Islamic engravings, this place is represented as an island surrounded by the sea with a spring from which the water of life flows and which emerges at the source of a valley to flow into the sea. The tree of life is also represented and on the top of the mountain the nest of the Simurg bird and, above all, a celestial door whose opening is only available for those who possess the “Potesta Clavium” (the power of the keys). ).
The keys are reserved for the group of so-called “Friends of God” who make up a mystical body that have drunk from the water of life, that is, from sacred gnosis. In the work of the Persian Sufi Fadir ud-Din Attar (twelfth century) entitled “The language of the birds”, the hoopoe says to those who go to the heavenly door: “as knowledge will guide you wisdom, Jezr (al- Khidr) will bring you the water of life.”
Drinking this water provided by al-Khidr, as Avicenna describes in one of his visionary stories, will give the necessary strength to climb the sacred mountain Qaf on which the aforementioned heavenly door opens. In front of her, the candidate to enter the supraterrestrial universe will have to demonstrate that he possesses “the power of the key.”
This power, according to H. Corbin “is the power of faith, because it is the faith that comes from burning desire that opens the kingdom. This faith is what is designated by the Latin word fervor.” The same idea is conveyed by Fadir ud-Din Attar when he writes: “Be a man of that door until it opens for you. Do not deviate from the path until he appears to you.
Your eyes are constantly closed. Wish, that the door is not closed”. This fervor is fueled by love, since, as Fadir ud-Din states in one of his verses, “whoever harbors within himself the longing for love will find the key to both worlds.”
All of us who have been lucky enough to be relatives or friends of Jesús Flores agree in defining him as a person who radiated kindness and wisdom. His voice was soft and musical and his words flowed like a spring. I will never forget his laudatory words at the presentation of my book “The Spirit of Ceuta”.
He did it with his eyes closed, in a state of mystical ecstasy, which made him think that he was nothing more than the means of expression of ideas coming from another dimension of reality. I have no doubt that he has been able to open the gates of paradise, since he drank from the water of life and was always guided by love and faith in God.
His love has impregnated the hearts of those who knew him and the best tribute we can pay him is to water and help the seeds that he sowed during his earthly existence to sprout.
Our shared idea of turning Ceuta into a cultural and ecological sanctuary, as well as a center for intercultural dialogue and the resacralization of the earth, has to go forward. I am sure that Jesus will continue to help and inspire us from Na-Koja-abad (the country of no-where).