Sufism: an inquiry - Vol16.3

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an inquiry

The Mystery of Eternity is wrapped within You a seed of virtue, compassion, knowledge and balance


International Association of Sufism Publication

Steve Uzzell photography


Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3


take a chance in this moment of waiting the shore and ocean

are not so far apart

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3


The world's longest running journal on Sufism 30 years of service toward cultivating peace and understanding in the world Since its founding in 1983, the International Association of Sufism has been proud to be a home for Sufis, spiritual seekers, and people of all kinds devoted to uplifting the quality of humanity around the globe. Over the last three decades, the IAS has been blessed with phenomenal growth and has worked hard to be a leader in a wide range of areas. Among the longest running of its traditions of service is our journal, Sufism, An Inquiry, which we first published in 1987. Since that time, Sufism, An Inquiry has been a living reflection of the dynamic energy and growing global community of Sufis and searchers who are deeply engaged in the work of the IAS. Over 60 volumes, the pages of Sufism, An Inquiry have championed women’s rights and the work of the Sufi Women Organization; published scientific inquiries ranging from the physiology of heart math to the latest findings of astronomers; shared new translations of classic works of Sufi literature previously unavailable in English; offered works by leading psychologists on human development and the spiritual path, reported on human rights and other diplomatic movements ranging from the work of the United Nations to interfaith organizations such as the United Religions Initiative; explored the cultural gifts of world religions diversely embodied around the planet; and provided insight into a wide variety of effective practices for spiritual development. As a whole, the tradition at Sufism, An Inquiry of featuring the work of great teachers, scholars and scientists from a wide variety of global perspectives, historical contexts and fields of specialization runs deep and strong throughout our journal’s history and shall continue to grow far into the future. Since the time the IAS first began publishing Sufism, An Inquiry, the world has also gone through an amazing transformation full of new opportunities and new challenges. One notable dimension in which the world has changed completely is the world of media under the influence of the internet and high technology. Just as the IAS has been at the forefront of leadership efforts for peace, human rights and equality, religious freedom and international cooperation, critical to meeting the opportunities and challenges of our changing world, today the IAS is proud to announce that it is relaunching Sufism, An Inquiry in a new online, digital format that will make it more dynamic and more accessible than ever to a worldwide population. We look forward to developing video content, mp3 audio files, social interactivity, links to websites with related content, and a beautiful full-color layout. At the same time, we plan to offer the journal, not just online, but in print, in downloadable pdf format, and in other formats readable on e-readers. To all our readers who have added so much to our community over these many years, we wish to extend our great appreciation for making us part of your life and we extend to you and to all our enthusiastic invitation to journey with us into this new and exciting period of growth for our journal. We hope you will enjoy this, our inaugural issue in our new online, digital format! Let us know what you think in an email to:


Peace to you and yours,

Sufism, An Inquiry Editorial Staff, The International Association of Sufism

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3


Publisher: International Association of Sufism, a nonprofit corporation. Editor-in-Chief: Seyyed Ali Kianfar, Ph.D. Executive Editor: Nahid Angha, Ph.D. Journal Board: Hamid Edson, Ali Haji, Halima Haymaker, Munir Hedges, Elizabeth Miller, Safa Ali Newman, Hamed Ross, Taher Roybal. Journal Interns: Nicholas Bischoff Photography:

Susan W. Lambert

Steve Uzzell

Inside Cover Photo: Steve Uzzell Cover Art: “Nasruddin’s Tears” The various articles in SUFISM: an inquiry represent the individual views of their authors. SUFISM: an inquiry does not imply any gender bias by the use of feminine or masculine terms, nouns and/or pronouns. SUFISM: an inquiry is a quarterly journal (ISSN: 0898-3380) published by the International Association of Sufism. Address all correspondence regarding editorials and advertising to: SUFISM, P.O. Box 2382, San Rafael, California 94912 Phone: (415) 472-6959 Fax: (415) 472-6221 email All material Copyright © 2013 by International Association of Sufism. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication (including art) may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. The publication is published by the International Association of Sufism, a California nonprofit corporation. The publication of any article, essay, story, or other material herein constitutes neither an endorsement of, agreement with, or validation of the contents of the author’s views expressed therein.


Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3

Although the Publisher has made all reasonable efforts in its editing of such material to verify its accuracy, the Publisher takes no responsibility for any innacurate or tortious statement by the author set forth therein.

Dr. Nahid Angha masterfully produces an English translation of Abdu’llah Ansari’s The One Hundred Fields or Sad Maydan, as it is known in Persian. The book includes an introduction with biographical information on Ansari, the 11th century Persian Sufi mystic, theologian, philosopher, and poet, in the context of the Persian literary and spiritual renaissance. In Sad Madyan, Ansari details for the reader the “One Hundred Fields” or stations of the spiritual path that the “wayfarer” experiences on his or her journey towards God. Angha provides extensive footnotes that reveal to the reader Ansari’s Quaranic references, note nuances contained within the author’s farsi word choice, and indicate where variations exist between the several published versions of the work. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in Persian literature and poetry, mystical traditions, and the journey towards the self. - Ashley Werner, JD

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editors’ desk

09. A Letter from the Desk of the Editor

Shah Nazar Seyyed Ali Kianfar, Ph.D.

15. Principles of Sufism:

The Pursuit of Happiness and Peace Nahid Angha, Ph.D.

23. Essential Practices: On Beauty Nahid Angha, Ph.D.

25. Selected Teachings

Hazrat Moulana Shah Maghsoud

61. 99 Most Beautiful Names: Ar-Rahim

Shah Nazar Seyyed Ali Kianfar, Ph.D.


27. Rhythms of the Heart Rumi

45. The River and Eternity: 42 Kamal Canção

50. Leaves of Grass: a poem for Walt Whitman Matthew David Segall

history and inquiry 54. Uwaiys Gharani:


teaching beyond space and time Safa Ali Michael Newman & Sara Hastings Mullin, PhD

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women and faith

37. On Devotion: Essay

Arife Hammerle, Ph.D.

38. Moments to Spare: Fiction Nafisa Haji


48. Notable Happenings Hamed Ross

57. United Nations Report

Curated by Leili First, Ph.D.

literature review

51. Nahjul Balagha: Peak of Eloquence Reviewed by: Amineh Pryor, Ph.D.

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before the first moment “Science tells us that before the first moment of the universe, it was so small that there could not even be considered an inside or an outside. All was contained in this point – everything that has since emerged including galaxies, stars, planets, microscopic plants, and human beings. The subsequent early moments of the universe were radically dense and hot (in a tiny fraction of a second it’s entirety was the size of a tangerine) and then expanded rapidly to nearly the size of the current universe. After the initial expansion, energy eventually cooled enough, over thousands of years, to convert into subatomic particles, including protons, neutrons and electrons. The first atoms were hydrogen and helium. Through the coalescence of these atoms into the creative force of stars and supernovae, the heavier elements about which we know, were synthesized. These begin with Carbon, Neon, Silicon, and Oxygen; the last of which also bonded with Hydrogen as the commencement of water into the universe...


creative force of stars

the universe, one song


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If human being looks more deeply, more closely and focuses both inwardly, beyond the limitations of vision, through space and time; and outwardly as far as a human being is capable to know, each will find that the universe has risen from the exhale of a single, united, condensed, and extremely hot energy, which has gradually gotten cooler, divided and diversified. But indeed all that is, is connected and united through each individual’s center, central origin and heart. And all has been sharing in the same field of causes and effects. This briefly capsulizes both the laws of thermodynamics, and the best we know from embryology. When you breathe out, if you do not breathe in again, the life will not continue. And, if you breathe in and do not breathe out, the life will also not continue. In either direction we breathe, we breathe the same air, and by the sphere of breathability we all live in each other’s breaths, even as we breathe without intention. This is true whether we like it or we don’t like it. It is without like or dislike. And the breath has no color at all. It has no form and no culture. You give

it to me. I give it to you. We share our breathing with each other, and we are the entire shareholder breathing, united, cosmological, and one eternal Breath. When breathing out, the components from the energy of the self that breathes ripple out into the eternal wave of creation (even through how we understand the sheer and interwoven fabric of those thermodynamic laws); be it in the form of suffering, pain, anger, and hatred; or as joy, prayer, peace, tranquility, and blessing. The intelligence, in which human being discovers the self in a universe, makes no mistake in the placement of each component of this breath, even if it may seem to take “time” in the context of human’s timetable. But indeed in the timetable of the universe, the universe will keep and return the breath to its own lineage (particularly to breathing human beings) plus the accumulating weight and consequence of deserving penalties (from the animosity passed between two human beings to the global explosions of war and both ecological and cosmological crises). Understanding this universal

Letter from the Editor

Shah Nazar Seyyed Ali Kianfar, Ph.D., the Editor in Chief of the

journal, is the Co-Director of the International Association of Sufism. He is an acclaimed Sufi Master with students around the world, an international lecturer and the author of numerous books including An Introduction to Religion.

intelligence may help human being to no longer be the cause of any pain or painful breathing, if not for the human’s own being, then for the peace and care of one’s human children, who result from our love. All human beings want to know during the ongoing and universal wave of creation how to identify the self within that chart of the universe, and to know the principles of life. And according to the known principles, human beings want to practice living to survive, prosper and keep his and her line of connection to the center straight; without getting lost under the cloudy and smoky territory of the illusionary mind, a mind which has none of its phenomenon rooted in the principle of life. Instead of this shape-shifting mire of mind, where can we, where should we look to discover the source, potential, and majesty of the human phenomenon? While we are wondering about such things, human being sometimes grasps onto science to maybe satisfy this innate quest for knowing self and universe. And other times, to keep busy, human being grasps at some ritual

religious ceremonies with hope that maybe that might help satisfy the uncertainty of self in the universe. And then there are times human being rejects either one or both of these modes of inquiry and puts the quest for knowledge on hold, and into a place of pending. But the worst scenario is the development of argument between two groups or even two people, and even animosity (or violence) while none is clear at all about each other’s terminology (or often even of their own terms). At the end of this way is much concern about which one will get more credit. But can a human being’s choice of how the universe is designed change the eternal rule of universe by which human being has come to find the self? And even as the choices are made, person-byperson, how yet has the director of our destiny – the origin and conclusion of the universe’s laws – still remained unanswered, unseen, unheard, unfelt to nearly all human beings? The bridge between these two major doorways to the human treasure and consciousness is a Knowledge, which has been wrapped and hidden within the

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terms, especially as in the case of religion with its mystery, metaphors and parables; And under no condition can this Knowledge be translated to any language for understanding by mind. It is only but available through the experience by heart. Through Islam the Holy Qur’an is the witnessing of the heart of the Prophet Mohammad through the heart of the creator, in which there is no doubt about it as ultimate reality for the witness (prophet) as the reflection of One eternal breath, even when wrapped within the terms of the many verses. To understand, though, human being must listen within the instrument through which the expression became manifest, and also through the instrument by which the human being became manifest within him and herself. To begin, Allah is beyond duality, beyond like and dislike and beyond masculine and feminine. It is best not to be confused with language by listening through the ears of one’s culture, gender and philosophy: Sura VI, verse 73: It is He who created the heavens and the earth in true (in Just, balance), bel-Haq, The Day (Yom), He said, “Be,” Behold! It is. His Word is Truth (in just), al-Haq, and His Will be dominion the Day breathed (blown) in trumpet, (Shofar) He knoweth the hidden and appearances, He is Wise and well acquainted.”


Bel-Haq refers to the truth, the “just-ness” and the balance of the universe; in that it just is as it is, and just as it was designed to be – not more and not less, perfectly balanced (justice) and in the truth that in fact it is. Thus, in the moment (every moment of the eternal “Day” of existence) Breath has been blown into the universe, the result of that Breath is the result of it just as it is to be, and as we are. The result of Breath follows the shape of clear fluid flowing into clear fluid, creating the contour and outline of a trumpet, which is the shape of an embryo as it flows into existence. And to hear such a Breath, it is “just” that the heart also has such shapes and so does the ear; rippling endlessly into the trumpets of form which we can see (such like is modeled by fractals). And the Breath still without color, without culture, without like or dislike, is hidden behind the veil of matter. The trumpet

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3

reveals itself around that which is hidden, which is the Breather that has Breathed. The Most Merciful (Rahman) and Most Gracious (Rahim) breathed as the eternal wave, a wave that is both the essence (hidden) and substance (apparent) of survival in charge to nourish every potential in the entire chart of existence. Sura XV, verses 28-30: Behold! Lord said to the angels: “I am about to create man, from sounding clay from mud molded into shape; “When I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My spirit, fall down in obeisance unto him.”

So the angels prostrated themselves all of them together.

When Allah finished the creation of man from the clay, He breathed in. When he breathed in He taught (breathed) all of His Names (in-)to Adam and He set the rule for human being, and for the angels. Angels prostrating to Adam means that all of the knowledge of the Divine is reflected in Adam. It is all there. There is only one objection and one comment that came from one of the angels and that was from Iblis. Iblis got into the condition of contrast and comparison: Qi’as. When he made that comparison, Qi’as, to Adam, he said: Adam is made from the clay. I, Iblis, am from the fire. That is the first, the beginning of disordering the Divine Rule, and the explanation for how has been created the line of disorder, destruction and disconnection. But human being has the capacity and potential (Adam) of witnessing the divine. Islam begins its invitation to human being by two testimonies: bring witnessing to the Divine by La illaha illalah (everything is (Breathed from) nothing, and that no-thing is Allah), and Mohammad is Rasulallah (Mohammad is the witness of Allah; providing an example for human being of human being as witness and prophet). The first testimony is the ultimate reality and the second testimony is the refection of the divine majesty in the majesty of human being, a relationship between the essence (hidden), and substance (apparent); between the invisible and eternal Breath, and the Breathed.

...a relationship between the essence (hidden), and substance (apparent); between the invisible and eternal Breath, and the Breathed.

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3


how many bars do you got? Š @lovebeatsdivine


Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3

Poetry Slam Collective

Echoes from the Unseen Heart of the Universe

You cannot comprehend with your mind the echoes of Janaan, but rather only know the experience living through the stillness in your heart.



This is a Poetry Slam Collective originating from Avay-i-Janaan - in the echoes of the unseen. The members represent the journey of a human being into the heart and creation of the universe within themselves. Synchronizing with the rhythm and movement of Wisdom through the ages Avay-i-Janaan is a path where peace becomes each step, each breath, each beat of the heart. To experience Avay-i-Janaan “LIVE” is to look for the path in your Self. Through poetry, movement, rhythm, and song, we invite you to seek your own origin through the light of your inner awareness, and the language that emerges from the stillness within your heart.

... meditation is just the beginning ...

Mill Valley Community Center Afternoon Show Mill Valley, CA the International Association of Sufism’s Songs of the Soul Sacred Music Festival

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3


Our senses are capable enough of understanding the surface; beyond the surface is not in the domain of sensual understanding... The limited possibilities of sensual perceptions do not permit us to know the facts of existence. As our eyes cannot perceive sound waves, our minds cannot perceive the sublimity of eternity.


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Principles of Sufism

Nahid Angha, Ph.D. From the Limited Horizons of the Senses

Particles are like numbers, apparently limited but in reality unlimited, so is the human individual who obeys the laws of being, yet carries with itself the universal unity. Is there any knowledge so accurate that we can trust it without harboring any doubts? Are human beings capable of understanding such knowledge? Is the mystery of the universe knowledge that humans are capable of resolving? We, humans, possess logical understanding and intellectual cognition, and we need to examine the capabilities of our mental faculties and the limitations of our sensual perceptions when we try to understand the universe. As we examine our mental faculties, we will began to understand that these tools are limited in their perceptions and will record nothing beyond their capabilities. All manifestations of the universe seem to be so minutely organized and calculated, and it is logical to believe that the foundation of the universe is based on an intellect too abstract for the human mind to perceive. Our philosophical and scientific development over the course of human history suggests that the more we learn about our universe, the more we confess our limitations in regards to understanding the knowledge of existence. It is only after such a confession that we will look for means other than the mind to learn about such knowledge. Science tells us that we must rely on our limited perceptions because there is no other option, yet mystics tell us differently; they open new doors toward a greater universe whose root is found within our own being. If humans were able to cooperate with one another to advance human understanding, if we could become more creative in our thinking processes, and if we could rely on means other than our invented words as the keys toward under-

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standing existence, then we probably would be free from our prejudices, our limitations would not contradict the teachings of humanity’s great thinkers and learners as much, and we would not brand the sublimity of their instructions as mystical and supernatural understanding. It is such limitations that prevent us from insight and satisfy only our confinements, keeping the door toward spiritual knowledge closed and the door of unawareness open. It is obvious that we establish the foundation of our knowledge upon sensual experiences because we learn and become acquainted with the world through our senses. But we must remember that our senses cannot perceive beyond their borders; they even make mistakes when recording information within their borders. Our senses are but translators that do not speak all the possible languages of the universe. Senses perceive the outside objects, as well as the outside of the object, according to the “angle of their view,� and the mind then analyzes information according to its past learning. But the information cannot be applied to abstract existence and will not teach us about the infinite being because our experiences are not universal and, what we can mentally perceive cannot be extended to the universe. Thus, the rules and principles gained from sensual understanding cannot be taken as the unchangeable and universal rules of existence. It is even more interesting to note that our percep-


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tions, knowledge, and even imagination would have changed if we possessed different means of perception. Dimensions of time and space, atoms and waves, and all the principles of logic and rules of science would have been understood differently, even established differently. Thus, the question is: Do any of our accepted rules and ideas really hold any meaning in the greater world and in the abstractness of infinity? Time cannot be understood other than in the dimension of space, and any dimension is limited. Beginning and end are our own creations, and existence, nonetheless, remains as it is: abstract, eternal, and infinite, and humans, left to their perceptions founded on dimensions, find themselves asking: Is there a reality to the existence? Is existence really eternal and abstract? What would have happened to the development of science and civilization if we had cultivated different mental faculties and our organs had been able to sense other than what they do sense now. What would have happened to our definitions of cause and effect, motion, and light? Our scientific perceptions may possess a very computed and sensitive ground, and using advanced technology is of great help for opening new doors; nevertheless, science cannot cover all the rules and principles of existence. Using our senses as the main tools for discovery does not lead us accurately. What is the actual meaning of light, heat, sound or taste

outside of our physical properties? It is our senses that experience motions and movements as light, sound, heat, etc. Our senses perceive the outcomes of movements differently and call them by different names, and yet the appearances of objects that come in contact with our senses are not the reality of those objects. To understand anything, including our own being, one has to confront the reality of those things and judge what one understands according to those realities. Experimental scientists tell us that things are made of waves, or of the double qualities of wave and matter. Heat, light, sound, and so on are all waves. What make them different are their frequencies, conditions, relationships to the space, and so forth. Now, imagine that when science tells us that light is the wave of motion, or even separated particles forming a line, what we see and perceive, in fact, is neither the wave nor particles, but the light. This logic can be extended to all we perceive. With our laboratory equipment we are capable of more accurate understanding, but what is measured is only in the domain of our own limited universe. We really do not know more than what we are equipped to know. We understand only those rules that are harmonious with our nature. Our senses are capable enough of understanding the surface; beyond the surface is not in the domain of sensual understanding.

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When we confront our normal surroundings, sometimes we discover new rules that change what we understood to be real in the past, even though that past assumption was considered so accurate in its time. But there is no chaos in the rules and principles of existence. If at times new understanding seems to follow irregular rules or chaotic principles, it is simply because we do not know more and do not have the whole scope of existence to review. Rules of harmony, and principles of regularity and cooperation, govern existence. The simple event that may look contrary to our present understanding is like the constant activities of the sun. These activities may look irregular, but everything is a part and the result of the huge set of rules that governs the sun, its orbit, and the universe. But because we may not know the actual relationship among these manifestations and the systems of creation, we relate them to whatever principles we presently know. These principles may not be as accurate as we think they are; in the future many will be reviewed, reestablished, or even completely disregarded. Nothing is outside the universal rule of being. If even one particle could move without the approval of the whole being, then we would have probably faced our final destruction by now. The limited possibilities of sensual perceptions do not permit us to know the facts of existence. As our eyes cannot perceive sound waves, our minds cannot perceive the sublimity of eternity. Our philosophical theories, even though they have opened many doors toward understanding, will not open the door to infinite understanding. No theory will remain immortal. Every principle will be reviewed in its proper time, yet the changeless and ageless infinite rules of existence will remain; they will surround the whole being from atom to galaxy, from matter to anti-matter to wave to all those laws that we do not yet know or will never know. The rules of existence rule by their perfect justice. We, as this total being, will carry the abstract and justify the rule of universal unity. We, as the atom, still carry the abstract, but will obey the rule and cooperate with our equals as we live and perceive within our boundaries.


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Seyedeh Nahid Angha, Ph.D. Executive Editor of the journal, is Co-Director of the International Association of Sufism and founder of the International Sufi Women’s Organization. She is an acclaimed Sufi Master and spiritual leader from an ancient Sufi lineage, an active leader in the interfaith community worldwide and the first Muslim woman initiated in the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame.

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Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3


Essential Practices along the Spiritual Path

by Nahid Angha, Ph.D. To begin a journey, one must find one’s point of departure: the place where one’s feet are rooted firmly on the ground. This step, in the realm of inner journey, commences by withdrawing one’s scattered energies from the outside world and environment and directing them towards the center of one’s being. This practice of concentration is one of the most important basic practices in Sufism. The actuality of meditation consists in concentrating all of the physical, intellectual, and sensual energies in one magnetic point. In Sufism, this point is the inward heart. More specifically, it is the third point within the heart, one of the strongest magnetic centers of the human body. In a truthful meditation, when the salek (seeker) concentrates the inner electromagnetic energies into one stable point, then he develops a strong electromagnetic environment, through which the favorable spiritual waves pass, waves that are in harmony with this environment. Such a concentrative process will result in receiving inspiration and revelation. The exact sensual location of the inner heart is revealed to only those few students who are realistically capable of undertaking the journey. It is through such concentration that the essence of unity is discovered and the perishable world of multiplicity distinguished: the Face of the Beloved appears in all its grace within the heart of the lover. This gateway of the relatively small, yet stable and concentrated energy of the heart, is the location of the beginning of the spiritual journey.


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Selected Teachings “An honest scientist sets his or her thought in his or her nature, and believes in a stable centrality within him or herself. This centrality is infinite, and this scientist can travel through a 360 degree Hazrat Moulana Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha circumference surrounding his or her centrality. He or she can also take any hypothetical point from The adjoining excerpts are from Shah Maghsoud Sadegh this surrounding to show, through a progressive Angha’s Manifestations of Thought, first written in Persian in computation, the table of true existence. 1954, and later made available in English through the work of “Though he or she will never get to the edge his daughter, Dr. Nahid Angha. In the introduction, Professor and boundary of this surrounding, wherever he or Munir Graham writes: “Professor Sadegh Angha enjoys a she is, he or she conceives of peace and tranquility unique position to participate in the birth of the holistic age. resulting from the truth of nature and the nature of He has lived on the cultural borderland between East and true. Therefore, this individual will never be misled West, in Tehran, and thus knows both from experience. He by comparing appearance with reality.2 has been deeply versed in the profound traditions of intuitive “The more the eye of Human Being’s heart knowledge represented by Erfan (Sufism)…and knows in and conscience opens, the more he or she admits his depth the teachings of western science and philosophy.” or her ignorance before the knowledge of existence, and this is the first and most stable step a learned human can take toward true knowledge. The most learned is one whose character is in harmony with the essence of nature, even though his or her identity with nature appears as something unusual and supernatural. “There is nothing for which human being cannot find a complete example of it in his or her own world. The thing which causes humanity to fall from eminent position is dependence on the natural sensual dispersions which are provided by the senses. “If one refines and erases everything from one’s being but God, one will reach that point of omnipotence which is the last verbal descent of God over the quantities and frequencies. In other According to Professor Graham, “There are only a few such words, one will reach that place which is the trust of truly culturally universal beings on earth, and to have a book the Great Name and worship the Kingdom of God, by one of them at this moment, this most difficult moment whose nature, is its essence3. … in human history, is particularly valuable.” Manifestations of “The acquaintance and harmony of the soul Thought “presents itself inevitably to the consciousness of with truth in nature brings true knowledge. When the reader, rather than in an conventional logical or scientific the function of senses becomes something more argument,” for “it is precisely the limitation of conventionality than touching and apparent harmony with the out of which Professor Sadegh Angha seeks to lead us.” 1 figures and forms of things, then the human intellect What follows is a selection of his teachings on the nature and soul can acquire an intellectual and qualitative of science and discovery that seek to reorient the direction insight with every observation…We do not perceive of our attention so that our inquiry yields stable and clear the tunes of things, rather what we perceive is our knowledge. own potentials.4 … “Severe, natural, human expectations and 1. Preface. Manifestations of Thought (San Rafael: ETRI endless are thick and vast curtains Nahid Angha, PhD is the sole authorized translator, writer and authenticator of her carnal Father’sbelongings teachPublications), ii-iv. which are hung, one after the other, between the ing and 2. writings. Ibid, 1.She, alone, has full ownership and authority so granted by the appointment and permission of Hazrat eye of human being’s heart and the truth. This is why 3. Ibid, 34. Moulana Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha. we are deprived of our real fortune and act like blind 4. Ibid, 39-40. people who take substitutes instead of originals.”5 5. Ibid, 51.


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Nahid Angha, PhD is the sole authorized translator, writer and authenticator of her Father’s teaching and writings. She, alone, has full ownership and authority so granted by the appointment and permission of Hazrat Moulana Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha.

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Rhythms of the Heart: Rumi From Diwan-i-Shams-i-Tabris

If heaven is not in love Then how does such glorification Reflect from its heart; If the sun is not in love Then how does such illumination Manifest from its side; If the earth and mountains are not in love Then how can they bring Flowers and trees into life; If the ocean is not in love Then why does it not rest Or seek refuge awhile? Translator: Dr. Nahid Angha, Ph. D. First published in Sufism: An Inquiry, VIII.4, p. 23.


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Tr. Nahid Angha, Ph.D., Deliverance, Words from the Prophet Mohammad. International Association of Sufism, 1995, pp. 15, 19, 28 33, 35, and 38.

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Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3

URI (United Religions Initiative) is a global grassroots interfaith network that cultivates peace and justice by engaging people to bridge religious and cultural differences and work together for the good of their communities and the world.

Visit for more information


du intro

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3


- Prophet Mohammed Peace be upon him


Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3


September 5-7, 2014 @ Santa Sabina Center

Dominican College, San Rafael, CA Food and lodging are provided.

The wisdom of the heart Zekr through psychology, Music martial arts, Breathing spirituality, Movement & science Presentations

within you foster the potential for

the star of wisdom

to grow

To register visit Attendees may participate in ongoing facilitated practice groups that meet periodically after the retreat. The trainings, workshops, and ongoing guidance of the program are a service that Shah Nazar Seyyed Dr. Ali Kianfar provides to society. 33

The Alchemy Tranquility速 is a registered trademark of International Association of Sufism. Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI,ofNo. 3

The Alchemy of Tranquility in 40 Days

Across cultures and fields of study, human beings seek knowledge. More specifically, there is a longing in the heart of some people in which a quest may arise to know more about the self. For some people, constant access to information, facts and data still leaves them unfulfilled and a question rises within them: Is this information all there is to know? Many people who have had experiences and successes of various kinds now ask, How can I know more about myself and experience deep wisdom and tranquility? With clear intention and wise guidance, transformation is possible in 40 days, as has been discovered in many traditions and spiritual paths. Even though this message of 40 Days has been repeated over and over, generation after generation in the human family in all traditions, the true practice and the secret of the practice remained unopened. At this time, if we come with longing and clear intention, we have the opportunity to access the secret mystery of 40 days. This unique program is based on the ancient recognition that psychology, physiology and spiritual experience are interrelated and interconnected dimensions of the whole self. Practices are undertaken in daily life, over a series of 40

daylong increments, under the guidance of a facilitator. Shah Nazar Ali Kianfar, has trained a group of seasoned therapists, educators, musicians, and martial artists who hold advanced degrees in their individual fields, and who bring experience and spiritual awareness, to facilitate the 40 Days program. Workshops and retreats are a place to learn how to practice for self-knowledge. Practices are offered that integrate ancient spiritual wisdom, modern psychology, established forms of movement, and science, including biology and cosmology. The sign or confirmation that the practices are being done correctly include the experience of peace of mind. As participants progress stepby-step through the practices, they report that they are able to transform from being agitated, moody, emotional, confused about life purpose, and distracted by the constant changeability of the mind, toward experiencing happiness, tranquility, harmony, stability, self-confidence and love. This transformation is the Alchemy of Tranquility.

His Holiness, Shah Nazar Ali Kianfar, a world-renowned Sufi Master and teacher of spiritual practice for over thirty years developed the 40 Days Program, and continues to guide its public offering. Dr. Kianfar provides spiritual wisdom and deep knowledge of the psychology of the human being in ways that provide participants with the opportunity to gain full awareness of themselves, and to learn to act in ways that reduce conflict and foster love and wisdom. It is the first time that this highly spiritual practice of purification has been combined with psychological training. Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3



Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3

Cosmic rays lie hidden in the pupil of my eye... and somehow‌

Mahmud Shabistari ...the center of my heart accommodates the Pulse of the Universe.

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Women and Faith: Rhythms in Reflection and Fiction The potentiality of love dwells within the heart of every human being. Love is essentially the penetrating electro-magnetic power that attunes the individual to the light of the Divine.


ArifeHammerle, PhD On Devotion


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Divine love is a way of being present within the heart. Pure love is beyond duty or question. It is without calculation. There is absolute connection between the heart of the receiver and the transmitter of love; as between the Sufi student and the Teacher. The potentiality of love dwells within the heart of every human being. Love is essentially the penetrating electro-magnetic power that attunes the individual to the light of the Divine. As the individual increases his or her concentration in love, so also his or her connection to witness (ma’arefat) the power of love expands. Love joins all particles of the existence together and connects all human beings to one another. This all-consuming love empties the lover of all attachments to multiplicity or duality and so guides the individual to unity. It is indeed a great mercy and grace (baraqat) to receive the guidance and inspiration of love. Witnessing the grace is a miracle (keramat). The Sufi enraptured by the Beloved ascends to belief and faith founded on inner witnessing of Divine essence within the light of the heart.

The Sufi is the person of knowledge who strives to be united with the Divine in every breath and in every moment. All action is based on clear intention to maintain an inner point of balance and to witness Divine knowledge. Sincerely connecting heart to heart with a Sufi Teacher guides the striving student to receive experiences of abundance, grace and blessings. The human being has the capacity to receive the wisdom of the teachings of love and compassion when he or she attunes and becomes aware of this inspiration. Ascending to belief is an ever-present, unfolding process of experiencing the Divine light and waiting with patience to witness truth at the presence of the heart. When unity calls to you, become still, listen, as you yield to the inner peace and loneliness that is the freedom from the veils of ego and desires (nafs) that constrain and separate human beings so that we may witness and receive God’s grace and mercy with bountiful love.

...she was there, present, at the center of the Universe. There she remained, the final vestiges of the threads of that cloying web burned away.

NafisaHaji Moments to Spare immediate was that deep, rhythmic thud of her heart, drawing in all her attention. The more she concentrated, the wider the range of senses were engaged. She could feel the beat of it, and smell it—the sweetness of its sound, now becoming both a scent and a taste. Finally, she could see the organ, the muscle itself, pumping, the hub of the journey that the life-giving serum of her blood came home to, distributing life itself to her limbs, to her other organs, to her brain, to every cell in her being. Life itself. Within it, this source of her life, her heart, a light shined, the spark that kept the whole majestic rhythm going. She was drawn to the light. Not some near-death illusion of light at the end of a tunnel, with her own consciousness hovering over her, observing her outward physical self from above. She was inside, totally consumed by the beauty of this one, simple, flashing beat. Once inside, the light exploded, like the Big Bang, and she was there, present, at the center of the Universe. There she remained, the final vestiges of the threads of that cloying web burned away. What she experienced was, literally, beyond words. Feather lightness.

Clarity. Tranquility. Release. Bliss. And then, the Bang contracted. She slipped out of the light, though the awareness of it stayed with her, changing her perspective, though how she knew this was a mystery, since she could not recall what it had been before. She was no longer at the center. Her eyes opened. She could see things outside of her now. She knew well that she was waking up, in the conventional sense, but felt that she was falling back into sleep, into the embrace, she feared, of the nightmare she had been released from. She was groggy, adrift, and disconnected to what was going on around her, static and stuck in a state of limbo for a while, afraid to focus because doing so might mean further loss. Until her eyes locked with Andy’s. Seeing him, she had felt waves of relief wash over her, further intensified when he had taken her hand in his. He wasn’t familiar. Nothing and no one was. But he was there. Solid. And filled with presence. Seeing him, she knew that whatever her nightmare had been, before being wrapped in the light, it had nothing to do with what was here and what was now, the only things that were real and true.


When she had sung the last words of the song, the final segment of soothing saxophone playing her out in her head, Shahina took a moment to put words to what she hadn’t shared with Dr. Brown, beginning with the first sensations that she clearly recalled. The sound of her own heartbeat, loud and clear. It had been an awakening sound, the rhythm of it steady and loud, waking her fully, where she had been asleep before, in the grip of a very bad nightmare, the details of which were scattered. For a moment, she had tried to gather those wayward details back, but they were elusive—like the threads of a spider’s web, sticky to touch, their collective pattern left in disarray, a web that no longer served its purpose, which was to hold and bind her in place, the prey to a foe she no longer recognized. These words that came to mind to describe how she’d felt were more than metaphor. For a moment, she had let herself remember the feeling of constriction, of being trapped in the threads of that web and tried to recall what it was she was afraid of. But the fear, with the nightmare, was gone. The only thing that was

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3


A Development Project

The Garden of Light Meditation & Prayer Room

Site dedicated in the peaceful rolling hills of Napa, California, USA

A Project for Peace sponsored by the

International Association of Sufism

Join people from around the world in Contributing to the contstuction and landscaping of this project. Donations are tax deductible.


Phone number: Address: State & Zip:

Paid by:


Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3



Expiration Date:

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Mail to:

Garden of Light Development Project 14 Commercial Blvd. #101, Novato, CA 94949

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3



A FORCE SUCH AS THE WORLD HAS NEVER KNOWN: WOMEN CREATING CHANGE Edited by Sharon G. Mijares, Aliaa Rafea and Nahid Angha 978-1-77133-056-5 / 350 PAGES / JULY 2013 / $34.95

A Force Such as the World Has Never Known: Women Creating Change is a unique collection of narratives from women from all around the globe. These are stories of compassion and bravery, empowered by the vision of a better world for all life. It emphasizes the need to empower the feminine and assure gender balance and human rights for all. This accumulation of women’s stories reveals the role of women in creating needed changes in areas of health and nutrition, supporting efforts toward sustainable environments, promoting political and social rights, protecting women from the travesties of war and rape and promoting religious diversity and better conditions for all beings. A very interesting and instructive manuscript that both gives one much needed hope and reveals some of how much needs to be done before both women and men can hope to live together in equality and harmony in a world at peace.


An exciting interdisciplinary Canadian collection of of ground-breaking work brings together almost seventy articles by formative feminist writers, researchers, activists and visionaries to illuminate the profound globalizing processes of our time. Critical analyses of currentglobalization and possible alternatives are presented in the context of global feminist dialogue and activism since the 1980s. Together, the articles provide a comprehensive overview of the agenda and processes of neo-liberal globalization; women’s activist responses to the consequent environmental and social destruction; and visionary feminist alternatives and worldviews. “This collection includes the work of some of the most critical feminist leadership. The reader will find a wide selection of feminist writings spanning the historic period launched by the UN Decade for Women (1975-85) and continuing into the new Millennium where contemporary issues of Inequality, Climate Change and the Global Economic Crisis are at the centre of activism. It will be especially valuable to feminists coming into leadership today.” — PEGGY ANTROBUS, founding member and general coordinator of DAWN from 1990–1996, and author of The Global Women’s Movement: Origins, Issues and Strategies



Essential Reading for Feminists the World Over Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3

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Kamal Canção The River and Eternity: 42

To come centered within ourselves When words, the accumulation of letters, Tumble into and out of each other Revealing and dissolving the very points Of tension that revolve in the Spiraling potentials of our cells Tensions, as emotions giving rise to thoughts And then the transubstantiation of it all, freeing electrons in radical Recreation. A river unfolding into its own flow, and the moon Dancing in the flickering reflection of 10,000 smooth pebbles Across which the river sleeps in the lullaby Of her own moving stillness Night and day merge into a single Thoughtless moment, self-illuminated With Love, that extends like Ribbons, ripples, dominoes through The horizons into the eternal

eternal now

A single thoughtless moment: now Self-illuminated with Love In the moving stillness of the lullaby Of my own Life, reflected in the eternal mirrors of each of you Sitting here reading words tumble into And out of each other Revealing and dissolving the very points Of tension that revolve in the Spiraling potential of our own cells, of our collective beingness And then the transubstantiation of it all Becoming free electrons, radical recreation – A river unfolding into its own flow of, one Love One breath, we all breathe: silence

we all breathe


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Kamal Canção was born in a small village near the coast of Syria, and was deeply influenced by the mystical poets from both the Middle East and South America, the latter of which he discovered in the libraries he visited while his parents travelled for work. He attended small parochial schools and did well across many subjects. When he was 12 he made a trip to Florence with his mother, which would alter his sense of aesthetics toward an appreciation of the Renaissance and Romantic movements. A few years later his father sent him into the mountains for a month to live close to the land and thereby develop an understanding of the natural cycles and movements of nature. He was also apprenticed out to several aesthetics for various periods of work and study. From 1983 to 1985, Canção spent two years in the Kingdom of Bahrain during which time he studied classical literature and world history.

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The prophets are not known in their time because they are speaking from a Reality beyond the time of the people. Yet the truth of the prophets is always true because it is timeless. The story of the human being is of one who sits on a treasure and reads books about treasure and travels to find it. We should look for what was lost where it was buried - in our own house. Spirituality is the challenge to be alive. You will find the meaning of life only by practicing spirituality. Everyone has a share of the Divine. Work to find your share. As the road gets narrow, it is more difficult to find. A genuine spiritual path is practical. It is a school of meaning, not a school of literature or language. Everyday is a day of graduation. Graduate from the last day into a new day. Are you tempted by the gold coin on the ground, or guided by morality and ethics? The prophets received the message from the Divine, in a place beyond limitation. Heaven is close, the Divine is close. Do not interfere. Let people find the way. Allow them to walk there themselves.


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- Shah Nazar Seyyed Ali Kianfar, PhD excerpts from Seasons of the Soul

Notable Happenings IAS Annual Inspiration Dinner Honored Matthew Fox On Saturday, Novermber, 9, 2013, the International Association of Sufism Honored Matthew Fox at the Annual Inspiration Dinner. Dr. Brian Swimme was a distinguished guest speaker. Muslim-Non Muslim Dialog Muslim-Non Muslim Dialog continued to make an impact on the Marin community with three events in cooperation with Campus Ministry at Dominican University of California and funding from One Nation Bay America. Power of Women United, Muslim and Christian challenged stereotypes about women in both Muslim majority countries and the West. Is Finding Peace and Dignity Possible?: Palestinians and Israelis examined historical and current perspectives on peace in the Middle East. Implications of Violence in Iraq brought back Iraqi war photojournalist, Haider Hamze, to lead discussion about the legacy of the Iraq war on both Iraqis and Americans. 2014-2015 program to be announced. Building Bridges of Understanding Building Bridges of Understanding, a joint program of IAS and Dominican University hosted a three-part conference, The Roots of Women’s Leadership: Leadership, Faith Traditions and Social Justice. A percentage of all proceeds was donated to Amnesty International in support of peace-promoting women worldwide. Sessions featured dialogue about speaking truthfully, the importance of self-awareness and self-care practices in good leadership, and efforts of women internationally to promote education, early childhood care and basic rights. Dr. Nahid Angha presented the first annual Building Bridges Award to Dominican Senior, Kendra Woodglass, on behalf of the Building Bridges Program Committee and Dominican Cultural Studies Department. Dr. Angha noted, “This scholarship award is a recognition reminding our young generation that the community is proud of their work and recognizes their efforts.” Highlights from all events, speaker bios, photos, and details on musical guests, are here:

L-R: Khodadad Pashutanizadeh, Rev. Heng Shure, Dr. Nahid Angha, Prabha Duneja, Sherna Deamer, Rev. Carol Saysette, Sensei Joanne Mied

2014 Building Bridges Award Winner Kendra Woodglass and Dr. Nahid Angha

Building Bridges event at Dominican College University of California.

L-R: Betsy Bikle, Elizabeth Moody, Joy Dryden, Bob Reynolds, Sensei Joanne Mied, Deborah Santana, Dr. Nahid Angha, Dr. Lois Merriweather Moore, Ethel Seiderman, Sr. Elizabeth Padilla, Suzaan Sadowsky, Sherna Deamer, Sally Blackburn, Dr. Leili First, Rev. Carol Seysette

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a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars...

- Walt Whitman

Matthew David Segall is a doctoral candidate in philosophy and religion at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA. His dissertation aims to demonstrate the methodological role of imagination in both scientific theorization and religious mythopoeia. He is the author of several books and articles, including The Re-Emergence of Schelling: Philosophy in a Time of Emergency (Lambert, 2014) and “Logos of a Living Earth: Towards a New Marriage of Science and Myth for our Planetary Future” (in World Futures, 68:2, 2012). He blogs regularly at

photo © Institute of HeartMath


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Leaves of Grass by: Matthew David Segall


(a poem for Walt Whitman)

How, with only twenty-six letters, do poets dare to spell the smell of even a mere tuft of grass? How, with only ten fingers, do poets come to grips with galaxies as large as gods and older than the earth they walk on?

How, with only two eyes, do poets sing the twice-reflected sight of moonlight on the ocean waves? Poets do not pull the grass from its home to smell it. They let it spell itself from where it grows.

They let it spell itself Its home may seem dirt for digging graves to you and I, but poets know, that is where the grass turns the lifeless into light. Poets bend down to the ground to wet their tongues on drops of dew. They place their noses near to rooted plants to celebrate the solar scent of sunlight green’d.

sunlight green’d

Poets bow to upright blades of grass. They lay their heads against the horizon: one ear down to earth witnesses the whisperings of worms, while the other up to heaven listens to the languages of angels.

against the horizon


A hundred-thousand human words cannot approach the worth of one earthworm— each an ouroboric world unto itself. Each leaf of grass, a unique universe. Every blade, a loyal renegade: sharing a single soil bed, content to create without contention or copyright.


Fed freely by the Sun, these leaves write for fun. Step lightly, lest you trample on the work of stars as you go. Learn from poets to stand in silence, to hear the pages of the trees turning in the wind, and to read on them the teachings of ages. Learn to listen as Nature speaks: Every fallen leaf a eulogy for summers past, every writhing worm another written word in the memoir of the world.

stand in silence


Poets do not pull the grass from its home to smell it. They let it spell itself from where it grows.

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Literature Review

Nahjul Balagha: Peak of Eloquence Reviewed by Amineh Pryor, Ph.D.

Nahjul Balagha, Peak of Eloquence is an extraordinary resource that teaches about the life and work of Hazrat Amir al-Momenin Ali in Islam. It chronicles history, and provides discourses on theology, metaphysics, philosophy, worship, government, justice, moral teachings, the world and worldliness, and many other subjects. This book is presented in twelve parts that include 239 sermons, 70 letters, and numerous instructions and sayings of Hadith of Imam Ali. From these teachings and writings we further understand the complexity and circumstances of the time. The momentousz person of Amir al-Momenin Ali is revealed in his unwavering religious and spiritual capacity, as well as his remarkable ability to influence societal revolution through his vision and values. Peak of Eloquence goes into detail about Imam Ali’s life, revealing his characteristics, values and belief system. It is a book that can be used for reference on holy days to remind us of the direct words that were spoken and the messages conveyed. For students of the essence of Islam, it illuminates the historicity of the highest, most prosperous form of witnessing. This book is a record from the heart of a Master who understood the highest quality and potential of a human being. In this way, it is a great gift and one that may be returned to for remembrance and reflection.


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By Amir al-Momenin Ali Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, Inc., Elmhurst, New York. Seventh U.S. Edition Softcover 990 pages

“Education is not the filling of a pail, “

but the lighting of a fire.

– William Butler Yeats

Spark your curiosity and explore our interdisciplinary programs

Adult Degree Completion Program in Humanities and Cultural Studies Master of Arts in Humanities


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Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3

Sufi Saints and Masters

UwaiysGharani By Safa Ali Michael Newman & Sara Hastings Mullin, PhD

An essential part of one’s spiritual journey is to look to that Teacher who was the first to discover the message, essence and goal appreciated by one’s spiritual school. Without this Teacher’s discovery and guidance, any practitioner would remain at the beginning of his or her inquiry, unable to take a next step into true understanding. For those who practice Islam, or its mystical branch, Sufism, the first Teacher of this tradition was Prophet Mohammad, who through his spiritual practice and development offered humanity great spiritual direction and guidance. During the seventh century, Prophet Mohammad would teach his students, who were called “ahle suffe,” on the platform of his mosque. Under the Prophet’s guidance, these students searched deeply for the truth of spirituality, or the truth of existence.1 Uwaiys Gharani, who eventually cultivated the Uwaiysi school of Sufism, was one of the Prophet’s eight closest and most pious followers, a group known as Zohad. Distinct from the relationships that the other seven members of Zohad shared with the Prophet, the Prophet and Uwaiys never met in person; a fact that is extremely significant to the history of the tradition and its implications. Despite never physically meeting one another, Uwaiys and the Prophet somehow knew of each other, and the wisdom and teachings of the Prophet flowed in abundance towards Uwaiys, who in his devotion and love correctly received these teachings, as the Prophet affirmed. The reader immediately might begin to question how this profound transmission occurred. With this information, the reader can begin to recognize the potential for human beings of a certain spiritual development to be able to communicate without concern for the limitations of time and space. As spiritual practitioners, we can recognize that while we can gain valuable guidance through meeting with a teacher in person, ultimately the

transmission of spiritual knowledge is not passed through words, but instead is transmuted and received through a deeper process – a process of the heart. Science is also coming to understand this process, particularly through the study of coherence and heart synchronization.2 Becoming aware of the spiritual wisdom within one’s heart was Uwaiys’s most significant emphasis. In the Uwaiysi school, the heart is understood to carry great potential, as it both controls the physical body and receives and converts Divine law into the human system. In this way, to achieve total spiritual understanding, the practitioner must first discover connection with his or her heart, and then learn how to use it correctly. When one recognizes the power and potential of his or her heart, then he or she becomes more hopeful and more prepared to receive Divine knowledge. Once the practitioner is able to connect to and use the abilities of his or her spiritual heart, he or she then is able to recognize and appreciate energy received through the heart that allows deep wisdom to be passed from Teacher to student. The essentiality of this practice is demonstrated in the story of one of the practitioners of Uwaiys who asked him for guidance. Uwaiys’s only advice to the practitioner was: “Be with your heart.” When the practitioner asked Uwaiys to increase his teaching, Uwaiys commented: “All I said is enough, you don’t need to know anymore.” The Guiding Star The Great Sufi, Ein-al-Ghozzat, spoke of Uwaiys in the work of Seyyedeh Mah-Talat Etemad Moghadam Angha (1982). This Master describes how ultimate reality is not dependent on anything physical, and therefore a Teacher knowledgeable of ultimate reality does not rely on physicality either. The transmission of knowledge occurs on a deeper level:

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Uwaiys Gharani, who saw the reality of the Prophet, did not need to see his face, because the purpose of seeing a face is to know meaning and reality. A face is just a curtain for the one who sees reality.3

In this way, while all members of the Zohad became distinguished Teachers, Uwaiys was unique in the way that throughout his life and teachings, he emphasized non-verbal transmission of knowledge. Uwaiys is not well known historically because he chose a life of isolation from society. However, the school of Uwaiysi Sufism continues today, demonstrating that Uwaiys continues to pass his knowledge through non-verbal means to those who are able to receive it. Farid al-Din Attar, mystical Sufi poet (12th century) described Uwaiys as the shining Eastern star that in his time was used by the people during the night to find their direction. He also described Uwaiys as hibla, referring to Uwaiys as a living example of correct self-purification, and as a man who demonstrated direction and dedication towards true prayer. Several stories illustrate the relationship between the Prophet and Uwaiys, and highlight both their connection and the essential teachings of Uwaiys. Although the Prophet Mohammad never met Uwaiys, he knew of him and held him in high regard. It is documented that the Prophet returned home one day and said, “I smell the fragrance of Rahman from the side of Yemen,” the area from which Uwaiys hailed. The Prophet then asked his wife who had visited their home earlier that day. She replied that a man named Uwaiys Gharani had come to their home. Uwaiys had come to pay his respects to his master, the Prophet, but had not been able to stay, needing instead to return home to his sick mother for whom he cared. The commitment Uwaiys demonstrated to his mother spoke to his piety, as such care is a priority within the Muslim tradition. Although they had never met, the Prophet told his wife that Uwaiys was one of his best students. Regarding Uwaiys, Sheikh Farid-e-din Attar, a poet from the 12th and 13th centuries writes: “Uwaiys is the one about whom


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the Prophet said, ‘Uwaiys Gharani is the best of the devotees in beneficence and affection.’ So how can one find the words to praise a man who has been praised by the Forgiving God, and whose breath is the breath of God?”4 Another story about Uwaiys Gharani that demonstrates the profound connection between Prophet Mohammad and Uwaiys recounts that just before he passed away, the Prophet asked Imam Ali, one of his students and his eventual successor, to give his robe to Uwaiys. Without ever laying eyes on Uwaiys, the Prophet gave Imam Ali a very specific physical description, including the scar on Uwaiys’s body. Imam Ali and the 2nd Caliph, Caliph Farooq, went to deliver the robe of Uwaiys. They found him on a mountain praying. After Uwaiys heard their message, he asked the two men if he could resume praying. When he finished and came back to them, he told Imam Ali and the Caliph that he had asked for God’s acceptance to take the robe, and had been permitted to accept the students. In all of the stories of Uwaiys, what stands out is the deep spiritual relationships that are not dependent on the teacher and the student having physically met. After Uwaiys became a teacher, following his receipt of the robe of the Prophet, a student named Haram ibn Hayan visited him for the first time. Haram was surprised when Uwaiys addressed him by him full name. When Haram asked Uwaiys how he knew his name without previously having met nor heard of him, Uwaiys replied: “My spirit knows your spirit.” An Inner Practice of Spirituality For many Sufis past and present, Uwaiys symbolizes or represents a certain style of receiving knowledge. Seyed Ali Kianfar, Ph.D., Shah Nazar Uwaiysi, teaches how despite a practitioner having a physical teacher whom he or she visits for teaching and guidance, it still is necessary to connect with the unseen teacher: The major communication is unseen, instead of just going physically and seeing the teacher. Even if you go physically, ultimately it should

end in that way. The style of communication Uwaiys represents invites us to a different way of practice, to an inner practice of spirituality, practicing and communicating with the unseen teacher and the spirit of the teacher.

Dr. Kianfar explains, “This style became the foundation of Sufism, especially in the Uwaiysi tariqat.” Amongst most major orders in Sufism, the principle of searching to connect and communicate with an unseen teacher is essential to one’s development, and occurs through connection to the heart. Uwaiys removed himself from all distraction and focused his life on his spiritual practice. In the same way, the spiritual practitioner recognizes that his or her first step in the spiritual process is to clear all distractions from the path toward ultimate knowledge. Any true seeker of knowledge can be hopeful, as Uwaiys validates, that there is always a Teacher available for a devoted practitioner. Uwaiys teaches us to wait patiently in solitude to discover and appreciate the wisdom of our heart, and to seek connection with a guiding light or star, praying to have our heart illuminated with divine guidance.

1. Dr. Nahid Angha, Principles of Sufism (San Rafael: International Association of Sufism, 1991), 7. 2. See Sufism, An Inquiry 16(2), pgs. 33-57. 3. As cited in M.T.E. Angha (1982), From the prophet Mohammad to the great Sufi Mir Ghotb-eddin Mohammad: A history and lineage of the Islamic Sufism Tarighe Oveyssi. (San Francisco, CA: IKM Printing), pg., 27. 4. Ibid., 21.

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Briefing in Observance of the Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child


Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3

14 November 2013 10:15 am – 12:15 pm General Assembly Hall – North Lawn Building United Nations Headquarters – New York

To RSVP to this event, e-mail

Website: #DPINGO | www.facebook/com/UNDPINGOsPartners4Change |

Updates from the United Nations

The International Association of Sufism is a non-profit organization, and a DPI/NGO associated with the United Nations. As an active human rights advocate, IAS disseminates information focused on Human Rights, Social Justice, Education, Women’s Rights offered and organized by the United Nations. For the most up to date information visit:


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Susan W Lambert photography


Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3

The illumination of heart is my mirror, the Mountain lies within my chest. I am the secret behind the cycles of being and time.

Moulana Shah Maghsoud (1916-1980)

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The 99 Most Beautiful Names

the Truth Al-Haqq describes the all-encompassing Unity that resides within, below and above all that exists. It is the original, everlasting and eternal foundation or source of everything in existence. In this way, truth and existence are linked, for as one exists, one simultaneously presents the truth of existence itself. Truth is expressed in the very being of anything for each existence expresses itself only according to what is. In this way nothing can be devoid or different from the truth of its being, nothing can alter its given reality. Because each part of the universe cannot deny the truth of its unique existence, the quality of truth


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prepared from the teachings of

Shah Nazar Seyyed Ali Kianfar, Ph.D. by Sarah Hastings Mullin, Ph.D. is constantly revealed by the absence of what is not true. The bird sings truth when she doesn’t bark, the flower when it remains silent, the rain when it doesn’t pour upward, the field that grows grass versus water. Studying this quality helps us navigate and better embody our own true and honest selves. What might we currently add or delete from our Divine design that is actually our personal creation or plan? What might we attribute to ourselves or distract ourselves with that is superfluous? How might purifying ourselves from such attachments lead to increased self-awareness and better focus?

I set out on a well-worn path; In fact each plant and dusty patch I knew well: the delicate veins of the ferns, the broken and frayed leaves, those small stones clustered under the larger rock, the distance between here and there.

(No particle is out of place or unnamed and yet I walk around as if I hide. I worry! that I will never talk to you when every part of my being has been breathed into by Your Magnificence.

Yet today a patterned snake stretched herself on ground I often pass, her long suntanned body coolly dividing the path, I stopped -- I could go no further...

I wish for honesty, for purity, to live in perfect calculation, to surrender into the sweetness of discipline, into what is real.

I might step over her, I thought. But then distracted by the rise of her pebbled tail, shaking her long applauding finger to turn me away I quickly moved back from this tense gatekeeper, unbalanced by her strict authority and the newness. But then her dark eyes rose up like flames, inviting me dangerously towards! Did she hope I would touch the hard casing of her slanted head, to know the wisdom of silky smooth scales or gather warmth from the bright diamonds on the ridge of her back engaging with the low sun. I quickly found her magnificent, and myself a lowly imposter unable to find my way.

Even though my hands and face raise towards Your Glory the load of my rebellions hang like chains shuffling around my walking feet. See! I can only be honest about my dishonesty, (But even of that I do not know.)) *** It is Here that Your Truth always finds me. The warmth of the sun on my back, your gentle touch, A light slicing between two paths within my mind. This ground, this snake, the woods, the ferns, me, they all again become You! All sparkling particles strung up by afternoon light, Unable to do anything but reflect your Divine Face.

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3



Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3