Sufism: an inquiry - Vol16.4

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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. 4

The sun has thrown the morning upon the roof

OMAR KHAYYAM “Drink! Ashrabu!” .... a melody echoed in the cycles of time

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4


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, Sheikha Halima Haymaker, Munir Hedges, Elizabeth Miller, Safa Ali Newman, Hamed Ross, Taher Roybal, Sarah Hastings Mullin, PhD 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.

Editorial Advisors: Dr. Shahid Athar, MD The awardee of “Dr. Ahmed El-Kadi Award for distinguished service to the Islamic Medical Association of America Dr. Arthur Buehler Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi Sufi Lineage Scholar in the field of Islamic Studies Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz (Saadi Shakur Chishti) Edinburgh Institute for Advanced Learning Dr. Aliaa R. Rafea Ain Shams University, Women’s College, Egypt The Human Foundation: Chair and Founder

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. 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.


Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4

Inside cover spread translations by Nahid Angha, PhD.

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

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4



Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4

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. 4


editors’ desk

09. A Letter from the Desk of the Editor

Shah Nazar Seyyed Ali Kianfar, Ph.D.

13. Principles of Sufism:

I am who I am, the One and Only Nahid Angha, Ph.D.

17. Tark: Abandonment Nahd Angha, Ph.D.

19. Selected Teachings: the Eternal Psalm Hazrat Moulana Shah Maghsoud

53. 99 Most Beautiful Names: Al-Wajid

Shah Nazar Seyyed Ali Kianfar, Ph.D.

poetry and fiction 21. Rhythms of the Heart Rumi

39. Moula Nasruddin the Hodja:

teaching beyond space and time Abu Abu

43. Love Eternal

Kamal José Canção


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35. Sufi Women

with Susan Wyler

49. United Nations Report

Curated by Leili First, Ph.D.

history and inquiry

29. The Cycle of 40 DAys Joseph Francis

47. A Memoriam:

Sheikh Nazim 窶連dil Al-Qubrusi from the Naqshbandi Sufi Order

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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.

Self is the beginning and the end, hidden and apparent


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very new day we witness wonderful and amazing scientific discoveries, discoveries that reveal more about the mystery of our universe. Aside from some of the frightening side effects of these discoveries, it encourages a thoughtful person to reflect more on the great potentiality of human being. Human being, who has found his way into the networking system of the infinite universe, can only do so because he has that potentiality and capability to connect to this greater universe, and we know that whatever we see outside is a reflection of our own selves. If so, then shouldn’t we also pay attention to this majestic universe called “self” as well? Scientific discoveries help us to understand and learn about this majestic universe that has given us birth and our spiritual paths help us

Letter from the Editor

This talk was given in October 2014 as part of a year-long series of events produced by The Pseads Institute for the First Year Big History program at Dominican University of California. The Pseads Institute is a nonprofit committed to the development of self-knowledge and social transformation.

to understand this majestic universe within that had given us life…these two ways of researching and searching to solve the mystery of human being walk hand in hand. Our science relies on our intellectual abilities, mind faculties, practices and possibilities to understand the universe that surrounds us; our spiritual quest also relies on our intellectual abilities, practices and possibilities yet focuses more on heart’s discovery to understand the universe within. Mystery and complexity of human being has been of great interest to the teachers of humanity. These individuals tell us that discovering the self is the beginning of understanding the world outside, perhaps the first step to understand the universe outside is to discover the universe within… “self” is the beginning and the end, the apparent and the hidden.

A Persian Sufi master from the 13th century, Majddedin Kharazmi says: “You are the perfect mirror of the divine. “Search within yourself, “You will find the secrets of all you are searching outside” Searching within to unfold this great mystery of self is like discovering the infinite universe, a universe that opens the door towards understanding the great reality within, a reality that is not subject to doubt or illusion. The question is how do I begin this road to discovery? Especially that we all know that our senses are limited and our sensual understanding changes over time, especially that we all know that our mental faculty can only perceive so much, and we are able to understand only within the boundaries of those perceptions. So where should I look to understand and discover the universe within? Spiritual teachers also direct us to the heart, the organ that opens the book of life as soon as it begins beat, and closes the book of life as soon as it stops beating…so where is a better place to look for the answer for the question of life than looking into understanding this “messenger of life”? Searching for heart, learning how to consciously remain meditative in heart, bringing our energies towards the center of heart is a whole mysterious practice that opens the door towards a greater understanding, opens the door towards realizing the universe within. We are fortunate that we are connecting to the networking system of the universe outside, we also may like to remind ourselves that we are fortunate to have access to understand the universe within, a universe that is the beginning of the great human journey. The great 20th century Sufi Master and scientist, Moulana Shah Maghosud said: “I knocked on every door, the entire night; “Searching to find the essence of life. “No door opened except the door of the heart. “I stood at its gate, and heard: “‘You searched in vain before false door “There is no door except that of the heart.’” I would like to conclude that the worlds of science and spiritual walk hand in hand, one is searching to discover the mystery of this majestic universe that has given us birth; and the other is searching within the heart to discover the mystery of the majestic universe that has given us life.

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Stay with your heart. - Uwaiys Al-Qarani


Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4

New Spring Course Series

Over three Sundays May 3, 17 & 31 Understanding the Qur’an 1:00 - 2:00 pm The Hadiths 2:15 - 3:15 pm Understanding the Bible 3:30 - 4:30 pm These classes provide reflections on holy books by a wise Sufi Master. They will provide a valuable resource for people of all religious and spiritual traditions who are seeking to deepen and enrich their own understanding and spiritual practice. $30 for any one of the three-week series; $85 for all three series Reserve a space, send a check made out to IAS to the address below or call (415) 382-7834

Institute for Sufi Studies 14 Commercial Blvd. #101, Novato

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4




Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4

uman beings have been mesmerized by the beauty and mystery of the universe since the beginning of our time – the majestic star that rises from the horizons of the East, and returns home in the horizons of the West; the mesmerizing moon, reminding us of the beauty of the everlasting beloved, saturating our poetic expressions; the night sky with the dazzling stars; and the stars that have been guiding us to our destinations in the dark of the night. We have been mesmerized by the beauty and mystery of the universe since the beginning of our time. Throughout our history, we have worshiped the sun and the moon. We sat our gods on the throne of the heavens, high above, and placed our hope with them. We sought protection, friendship, and strength from and within the mysterious power of the universe that has helped us to dream of a better life, of a rightful and just society, of peace and hopes. Our spiritual metaphors have taken us to distant times, to promised futures and to the world of moral possibilities. We take our chances, and tolerate misfortune, assuring ourselves that the justice of the universe may prevail. We become confident that our wishes will come true and our prayers will be answered, and we declare unity. Our worship, our trust, our dialogue and our declaration of our unity all are essential to our survival. It is through all these that we can claim our own space in time and our own significance in the design of Being; that we can claim that the world of the seen and the unseen are intermingled, the finite and infinite are united, and the communication and dialogue between us

Principles of Sufism

Nahid Angha, Ph.D. I am Who I am, the One and Only

is strong. We profess, we acknowledge and we declare unity, so that not only we, but also the universe, all in one voice, recognize our uniqueness and become aware that such uniqueness begins with me and ends with me. If there is any hope for continuation beyond this life, each of us must come to say: “I am the essence and the core of that process.” In reality, our worship, our acknowledgment and our organization are not without reason. The world of the seen and unseen, the finite and infinite, must come together and all in one voice admit that: “I am who I am, the one and only, a unique, irreplaceable and essential part of this design.” It is from this platform that the Sufi journey begins. In the words of Omar Khayyam, 11th century Persian philosopher, mathematician and poet: When I was young my heart was searching For Your tablet and pen, heaven and hell. The Master called, the secret told, ‘You are the tablet and pen, heaven and hell, and all.’

Or in the words of Ali ibn Abi Talib, of 7th century Arabia, from whom many schools of Sufism originated: “You, the human being, you think of yourself as a small body, but know that a greater universe is wrapped within you.” It is from the station of microcosm that Sufi practitioners begin their journey towards understanding the macrocosm (and, of course, we

remember that these terms are limiting), and it is from the station of concentration or meditation that the great expansion of the heart’s knowledge will emerge. We human beings search to discover not only the beginning and the end destination, but also our own identity. Whether through science or religion, we want to make sure that this “I,” the “human self,” remains unique, essential, irreplaceable, and is noteworthy. What an amazing and daring pursuit! What a daring understanding and confession that I, the human self, exists, and exists in a defined dimension, against all odds – universe’s major energies, collisions, motions, sounds and lights – still standing and holding a defined space in the middle of time. In the middle of this universe and its galaxies and all around, the human self declares: “I am who I am, the one and only.” Not only that, as human beings, we also claim our universe within, a universe that becomes the platform from which a spiritual journey of understanding and awareness begins; a journey from the limited self to understanding the reality of the essence of all that exists, the absolute Self. Understanding that absolute Self within the confinements of this dimension - what an amazing discovery; what an amazing world of possibilities. Our deepest gratitude to those who have helped us discover and understand the universe within and without, the universe that becomes the platform for our love stories from where the spiritual journey begins, that holds the lover and beloved in union, and manifests the beauty of the nature that holds us.

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It is from discovering this union (seen and unseen) that a spiritual traveler declares: “Wherever I look is the face of the Beloved, the absolute reality.” In the words of Ibn Arabi, the 12th century Spanish Sufi: How can I know you, when you are the inward event who is not known How can I not know you, when you are the outward manifest who makes known to me in everything You hide in manifest, yet you do not hide from yourself. Nor do you manifest to other than yourself. You are you, and there is no other than you. How this paradox can be resolved when first is last and last is first?

How is such understanding possible? How does the limited self, or the particle, come to realize its own centrality in the universe? In Sufism, it is the essence of love that brings all back into understanding unity of being that permeates all that exists. Shah Maghsoud, 20th century Persian Sufi Master says: We searched for a while for the Divine Within the depths of our illusions, Looking there to find His signs In the being of ‘You’ and ‘I’. When love appeared, ‘You’ and ‘I’ were dissolved: And no more need To follow signs.


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And so the Sufis dare to ask this question: Who is searching for whom? Who is longing to acknowledge this union? Is it the limited self that longs to know the absolute Self, or is it the absolute Self that cannot be realized unless through the limited self? Ahmad Ghazali, 12th century Persian Sufi, answers this question in his Sawaneh, a book dedicated to love and spiritual journey:

The eye of the Beloved loveliness is shut to the door of illusion, for she cannot perceive her own perfect loveliness except in the mirror of the lover’s heart. This is a great secret in itself, the increase in my intoxication with her was not without reason, there was wine, and tavern, and no opponent in my joy. Do not say that it was I who wanted You, for it was You who had this quest since the beginning of time.

Perhaps this is the soul of all of our inquiries: a love story that permeates all and brings everything into union. Perhaps this is the greatest love story ever written on the pages of existence – a longing for union of humanly and godly, of seen and unseen, of the finite and infinite – all but reflections of the essence of all there is, the absolute Self. As Hafiz of Shiraz, 13th century Persian Sufi poet says: All these beautiful images reflecting all around, is only one image, the reflection of the wine bearer in the cup of wine.

Seyedeh Nahid Angha, Ph.D. Executive Editor of the journal, is CoDirector of the International Association of Sufism and founder of the International Sufi Women’s Organization. She is an acclaimed Sufi Master andNahid spiritual leaderPh.D. fromExecutive an ancient Seyedeh Angha, Editor of t Sufi lineage, anInternational active leaderAssociation in the is Co-Director of the of S interfaith community worldwide founder of the International Sufi Women’s Organiza and the Sufi first Master Muslimand woman initiated an acclaimed spiritual leader from in the Marin Women’s Hall in of Fame. Sufi lineage, an active leader the interfaith c worldwide and the first Muslim woman initiated in Women’s Hall of Fame.

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4


Essential Practices of Sufism


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by: Nahid Angha, PhD A student of Sufism avoids falling into falsehood by learning how not to mistake imagination and assumption for the truth of reality. Pursuing what is not ultimately real takes the seeker deeper into the gulf of unknown desires and longing for the material world. In order to reach the truth of ultimate reality, which is the goal of a Sufi, one must remain in a stable balance, since living in harmony in the state of equilibrium is the environment where spirituality will have the chance to grow. The logic of this necessity is straightforward: When one is continuously pulled by the diverse cords of desires and transient information one cannot remain stable and in the state of equilibrium. Cutting the strings of attachments does not prevent one from enjoying life and learning how to approach the reality within, but rather disciplines one in the control of one’s life. Instead of a limitation, it frees one from being controlled by all the unknown or even known forces that surround every one of us. Teachers have instructed their students to practice three kinds of tark. 1. tark in the world of matter, which is to step beyond the world of illusion by understanding the limitations and the superficiality of the sense perceptions, as well as learning not to mistake mere information for knowledge; 2. tark of paradise, which is to leave the promises of an unknown tomorrow and remain steadfast in learning for the sake of understanding, instead of becoming greedy for a reward, 3. tark of tark, which consists in becoming free from the boundaries of dimensions and limitations. At this level, the salek has freed himself from any attachments, including those of tark.

The person seeking spirituality seeks a tranquility that impurities prevent. The same rule exists for a person’s environment, habitation, and worship. One parallel to this is the modern subject of ecology; the pure balance which ecology demands has been a practice ever kept sacred by Sufis and their students. Impurity holds no promise. It cuts the continuation of life short. A human being should not only establish his own survival in the most promising manner but also the betterment and survival of his environment, generation, culture and the world in general. Whatever prevents a human being from such accomplishment is in fact impurity. Badness reflects the inner state of constant struggle and emotional turmoil. Unless one frees oneself form these agents of self-destruction one will not arrive at the gateway of life. Excerpt from Nahid Angha Ph.D., Principles of Sufism, San Rafael, CA: International Association of Sufism, 1991, pgs. 18-19.

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Selected Teachings

The wild tulips and [the] water lilies; the pure and clear current of water; the singing of the birds; the glory of the setting and rising of the sun and moon upon the horizon of the sea; the splendor of spring blossoms; the glittering of dew drops upon the lawn; are but a few of the manifestations that are the tranquil melodies of the gods hidden behind the veils of nature. - Moulana Shah Maghsoud Psalms of Gods, 11-12

by: Matthew Davis, PhD

According to the 20th Century Sufi Master Moulana Shah Maghsoud: “Guidance is reached through the union of your thoughts, your heart, your senses, and nature.” Moulana Shah Maghsoud advises human beings to, “Look at the bridges within [the] self and see where they lead”; that the self, “belong[s] to that state…and a person’s world will be summed up in [that network of bridges].”1 There is the recognition that whatever is possible to experience in the world is a demonstration of the network of faith in whichever direction that has been established and cultivated within the human being. The orientation of this network signals whether an individual has attuned a capacity to the eternal wave of creation, which even science tells us is still emerging (timelessly). Or it signals that the balance toward creativity has been established as attracted to the transient temptations of the physical universe. While progress in the world around us often seems to result from the capac-


Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4

ity to lean in the many directions to which a goal may seem destined on the horizon, Moulana Shah Maghsoud, through his own direct experience, has discovered that the “Divine message is heard only at the horizon of equilibrium.”2 In the language and way of poetry he describes this quality of science as: The breeze of the dawn of love, the freshness of the heavens, and the brightness of the shining stars manifesting truth are the waiting places for the humble… Awareness is hidden in silence.3 He goes on to say that in the teaching of his teacher, “superiority and virtue is in the listening ears and not the speaking tongue.”4 Even now we may question why there is speaking on the surface of our being. Albert Einstein has spoken of how Nature is like a lion that reveals only the tip of its tail, the

body of its being hidden from the human eye. This allusion offers us the opportunity to reflect upon Moulana Shah Maghsoud’s words and understand a magnitude of existence in which all that is visible is but a changing facade on the invisible and eternal temple of the Divine. It then always seems a second question leads us to wonder to which horizon are we listening: to an equilibrium within or to the colorful sounds in the relative distances of time and space around us? To provide further guidance by the example and way of teacher, Moulana has written that: A wise teacher is a keen and true student of absolute beauty and truth, and he searches everywhere for them in nature… … … with all his heart. (Manifestations, 39) …Wait [there] (he says) until the tree of life once again bursts into blossom, and the Messengers whisper the psalms of gods in the sky of life. (Psalms of Gods, 12)

Moulana Shah Maghsoud relays the history of the seventh century gnostic Abul Abaas as follows: When he shut his eyes and failed to visualize temporal appearance, his inner eye (of the heart) opened to the depths of solitude. His virtue came from meaning and not through forms and figures. He eliminated the superfluous from his being until he got to the point of unification. (Manifestations, 35) From the songs and colorful tail of existence to the soul and essence of the musician behind the vibrating melody of the universe. On a day of celebration for a master still living eternally beyond the veils of time, perhaps we can find our way to the point of balance and solitude within… and hear him still singing the eternal psalm.

1. Moulana Shah Maghsoud, A Meditation, trans. Nahid Angha, Ph.D. (San Rafael, CA: International Association of Sufism Publications, 1981), 9. 2. Ibid, 6. 3. Ibid. 4. Moulana Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha, Manifestations of Thought, trans. Nahid Angha, Ph.D. (San Rafael, CA: ETRI Publications, 1980), 35.

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Rhythms of the Heart: Rumi

A beloved asked her lover Who is it that you love more? Is it I whom you desire, Or your own self whom you adore? Who are you and I, you ask? Said the lover: I am but a cloak! naming me what I once was But now there is an I no more

Translator: Dr. Nahid Angha, Ph. D. First published in Ecstasy: the world of Sufi poetry & prayer


Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4


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A Project for Peace sponsored by the

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


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... meditation is just the beginning ... Sufism: An Inquiry

Vol XVI, No. 4



Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4

- Prophet Mohammed Peace be upon him

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4


January 15-17, 2016

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. 27

The Alchemy Tranquility速 is a registered trademark of International Association of Sufism. Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI,ofNo. 4

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. 4


40 Days

by: Joseph Francis

Forty Days refers to an ancient spiritual cycle of renewal and growth, through which an individual refreshes a commitment to evolution and improvement, and extends that practice from one stage to the next. Externally, we can begin to see how this practice is relevant in terms of changing habits, rudimentarily, for instance, with an addiction to chocolate. When the commitment to changing the habit is intermittent, the results of not eating chocolate for a few days and then having it again leaves a person’s system in a state of confusion and usually greater fluxes of behavior. Externally, we can see that a person has not stopped eating chocolate, and the comment may be made that, “that was short lived.” However, anyone who has been within this experience, knows that the greater significance relates to one’s psychology, both by the positive outcome of having achieved one’s goal, and on the other hand, by the damage one feels within oneself when one starts and stops the practice. The instability that is witnessed externally, is more significantly experienced internally, and usually has a side effect of emotional instability (the rise of anger, selfloathing, depression, or emotional projection to identify a few). Science has shown that when the body experiences an imbalance within the system of the self, the pituitary gland (which governs many of the hormones that are signaled as emotions) creates feedback through the secretion of emotional content to signal that there is imbalance. I suspect that many of us accept this as part of human nature, without realizing that it is in most cases an unnecessary out-


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come of actions that do not build a solid foundation for stability. Similarly, if a person is in the process of upgrading the operating system for a computer but interrupts this process midway through, at worst the integrity of the system may be compromised rendering the computer useless without a skilled technician to make corrections, and at best the installation must be restarted (and the time already committed to the upgrade is lost). Now, if we turn our attention from the external practice of something like eating chocolate or exercising, and instead into the center of one’s self, into the domain of the spiritual, we must admit to ourselves we do not have the necessary perceptual tools with which to navigate. In fact, when a “40 Days” practice becomes something more strictly spiritual or religious, then we must realize that most of us are essentially blind to the terrain. It is not as simple as going from one country to another, where there exists the common landmarks of rivers, or mountains, birds, etc. by which to orient one self. Rather we enter into a landscape in which there is no land. In much the same way, when one has never seen something before, there is no way by which to understand that which is seen. There is a popularized story that says that when the boats of Columbus sat within the bay of a Caribbean island, seemingly in plain site of people walking along the beach, no one was able to discern the existence of this ships, because there was no context by which the local population was to know it to be seen. It was only by the unusual ripples coming to the shore that the elder wise men were able to eventually extrapolate that there was something to be seen.

Conceptually, this is what is intended by the name Avay-iJanaan; that there are ripples of some unseen reality. This does not mean that the unseen has not ever been seen, but that “I” have not seen it. In Sufism, one may witness the ripples through a spiritual master (and perhaps through some lesser degree of one’s own intuition, or the call one may hear within the heart of one’s own being). The question in a 40 Days practice and cycle of renewal is to ask how does one engage a 40-Days practice in a spiritual direction? We might say that there are at least three important steps for this journey: 1. Need for someone who has made that journey before, a spiritual master specifically, as was metaphorically depicted by the Hoopoe in Attar’s Conference of the Birds. 2. Disciplined commitment to the practice – so we are not left with the emotional turbulence of not having remained stable to the ground and energy that has been provided for an upgrade to occur. 3. Quiet distance from the common distractions of the world, so that one can be cognizant of one’s own being; not confused by the influences of other movements (ripples in the water of our being that disturb the steady rhythm of the Divine origin within the Self to which we should be attuning our listening).

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Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4


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Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4

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Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4


Women and Faith: Rhythms in Reflection


Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4

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. - Arife Hammerle, PhD, JD, LMFT

SufiWomen Interfaith Discovery

SWO recently held its semiannual Speakers Luncheon Series honoring Susan M. Wyler in Marin County, California. Susan is a poet and historian, with advanced degrees in cultural history from UCLA and Oxford University, and most recently a celebrated novelist for her book Solsbury Hill. Observing that the hardest thing to do is “get out of the way,” Susan shared her experience as a traveler, a writer, and a woman seeking an authentic way of engaging the world. She spoke openly about the difference between writing for herself and writing for the public, and encouraged anyone interested in writing to listen first to the voice of one’s own heart. Susan spent much of her life preparing to write novels, having written her first imaginative story around the age of seven, a time when she remembers reciting poetry to herself as she walked to school. While she went on to write several collections of poetry, Susan struggled with a number of unfinished novels, never able to identify the proper ending or

destination to a story. It wasn’t until she challenged herself to write 1500 words every day for a month, and to develop her writing as a committed practice, that she found her way to the completion of Solsbury Hill. In contrast to the way writing is often taught, with form preceding function, Susan found that her best writing flowed when she committed to daily writing, but not to specific parameters for her stories. Instead, she would write what came, willing to carve away later anything that didn’t bring her closer to the truth of a moment or a character’s experience. Writing, she noted, cannot be forced by the mind, but can arise through a person in moments of quiet, patience and dedication. In the passage she read aloud, it wasn’t the particular words that lingered in the room, but the rhythm, cadence and honesty with which she had spoken them, and her own commitment to her narrative. Her work recalls classic tales of the human search for meaning, strength and identity.

The Sufi Women Organization (SWO) continues to provide a significant forum for the health, freedom, and wellbeing of all women, with seventeen chapters around the world. Founded by Dr. Nahid Angha, and with the efforts and contributions of Sufi women around the globe, SWO was established in 1993 under the auspices of the International Association of Sufism. The Organization has taken active and leadership roles within the global community through interfaith organizations, Amnesty International, Habitat for Humanity, UNICEF, UNESCO, and the United Nations, and continues to work for peace and human rights through a variety of programs, activities and outreach efforts. Together with other humanitarian organizations, SWO has devoted time and financial support toward after school programs in Mexico and El Salvador, immunization efforts in Sub-Saharan Africa, clean water projects in refugee area such as Ethiopia, and the eradication of poverty worldwide.

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Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4


Sufi Stories

MoulaNasruddin:TheHodja Retold by Abu Abu The day was warm and bright when some of the men gathered, as was their habit, in the corner of Quiet Garden Square for a late morning walk to the where the inner realm of the natural world began. Among them was of course Mustafa the Elder, as well as Mustafa the Younger, Mustafa Ali, Salim, Salman, Big John, and a man named Small, the last of whom was not from these parts, but who had nonetheless ingratiated himself to the townsfolk through good work and social grace. There were several fine parks, vistas and walkways that a person may choose to meander along the through town, but whenever Mustafa the Younger (who was in fact the eldest of the three Mustafa’s) was available for the walk, his wife permitting him a reprieve from the household needs, the gentlemen would travel by way of the ancient cypress tress that stood in a straight line between the northern edge of town and the incline of the chalky White Hills that rose toward the blue sky. The cypresses were particularly kind by the shade they provided. Their fragrance beneath the sun hung a mist in which the men found themselves stimulated toward conversation; and through which Mustafa the Younger also found himself able to breathe free of the asthma which often, coincidentally, attacked him like a swarm of bees when at home with his family and in-laws. This morning the men were talking on many important topics such as the recent tax reforms, some distant military skirmishes, new trade with the east, how newly married Acelya and Aydin should be doing this and that but were not, and other matters of a similar nature. As the men turned from the line of cypresses onto the last road that dissolved into a soft and dusty single-track trail that bordered along the old stones of building foundations that had long since been abandoned, the men came to the home


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of Moula Nasruddin, an old religious man who was both ridiculed for his peculiar behavior and celebrated for his pure heart. There were a few people in town who appreciated Nasruddin, who understood his humor and who did not hesitate to say so and send him oranges or dates when the occasion and season permitted. But most of the men on the walk were generally annoyed by Nasruddin’s strange ways. Immediately as they approached they heard a great wail, something in the range and vocabulary of a donkey. In fact Mustafa Ali said, “It must be the donkey.” But Nasruddin’s companion donkey stood silently in the shade a good distance to the right in the fields beneath a tree. Another great wail came forth, followed by bellows, and the sob, which was clearly Nasruddin. Nasruddin’s held his palms to his face while sitting against the wall of the house, tearfully moaning and rocking. Even the hem of his turban was unraveling in despair. Salman, the most openly friendly of the bunch had two daughters and had learned to at least feign listening when people were crying, inquired, maintaining some air of superiority, “Dear Nasruddin, what bothers you? Has something happened? Did someone die? Have you received some bad news?” Salman less patiently thought to himself, lift your spirits brother, this is making us all feel quite uncomfortable. And it was, as each of the men now gathered around Nasruddin fidgeted. “Oh lament!” cried Nasruddin. “I cannot say! It is too horrible – my fate has left me in an ocean of loss and despair,” his turban now dangling over his eyes. “Dear fellows, I think there is no way you can help, although I kindly appreciate your pause.” Mustafa Ali, so they could soon leave both quickly and with a blind peace in their own hearts, said, “Well friend, please let us not disturb your private mourning for too long. If there is something we can

do, do let us know…” Mustafa Ali was about to say a final farewell, the other men already all nodding agreement in the direction of bidding the situation farewell, when Nasruddin wailed again and said, “Oh my heart aches dear friends, for the rupture that has emerged at the loss of my dearly Beloved. She has disappeared!” Now Nasruddin’s behavior often provided the townsfolk manners to excuse themselves from his affairs and concerns, but Nasruddin’s wife was a different matter. Not only was she widely respected (despite what was considered the ill fortune of her marriage) for her compassion and care for nearly every family in the village, but she was also by birth and clan related to many prominent persons including Mustafa the Younger, her second cousin, and Salman, a cousin in the first degree, both of whom by law, that is by custom, and by the virtue of their wives’ expectations had a responsibility to help in this situation. In fact, all of the men knew that they could not return home if they failed to provide help when Nasruddin’s wife’s health was in doubt. Without even conferring the seven men set off hurriedly and with concern in different directions around the house and yard. Salim went to the fields, Salman to the animal enclosure, Small headed toward the hills, and Big John looked into the grove of trees. The three Mustafa’s surrounded and entered the house. Nasruddin wailed again, “Oh my Beloved, where have you gone?” Not a minute later a long shrilling whistle pierced the blue sky like the wild falcon called Shikra. All the men, having heard this noise before, knew at once it was Mustafa the Elder and returned. “Nasruddin,” said Mustafa the Younger, “why have you fooled us? You wife is only in the kitchen, doing quite well, and preparing a fine salad with cucumbers.”

“Oh friends! Thank you!” Nasruddin with an overwhelming wave of sincerity, which softened even the hardest annoyance within the group of men. “Thank you, thank you! I cannot bear even a moment without the site of my Beloved, be it 10,000 waves over the sea or just around the corner! Oh my aching heart! Please excuse me while I go heal this rift that had struck so suddenly! And do join us for a simple shepherd’s salad on this hot afternoon.” In the awkwardness that lingered in the men’s hearts, and the stammer upon their lips, they could do nothing but agree (and wonder how it is to desire to be with one’s Beloved so deeply and without interruption). A reader of the fables of Nasruddin does well to recognize that Nasruddin is a spiritual master who teaches and guides the often unsuspecting. The invitation to Nasruddin’s fellows in this story is not to miss their wives, necessarily, but to miss the Beloved, which is the Divine nature within each of us. This seed of our own existence is hidden beneath our nafs; that is, the seed is hidden beneath the entrapments and distractions of the physical world that call us away from ourselves through our senses, our biochemical responses, our psychology, and even our conversations. The Beloved is instead the origin hidden within the mysterious beat of our hearts, always pulsing a reminder to look more deeply for the Source of Love (the Beloved) within the universe of our being.

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4


find your seed, said the sky to the tree Š @lovebeatsdivine


Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4



Love Eternal Kamal José Canção

It is the case That we commonly synthesize Charles Darwin’s origins and evolution of the species In the phrasing of “adaptation, competition and survival of the fittest” Then we tell the story, as history, Of how Darwin was in competition with another Who had a similar realization but who published too late (This person as a consequence is now mostly forgotten) Our systems of education are not too different and have contributed to both this outcome in history and our way of interpreting the results For here is Charles Darwin who as a child had a profound Love of poetry And who in his writings describing the evolution of life uses as one of his Most prevalent terms, the word: “Love” How strange that we most haven’t heard this. Perhaps we missed something that could make the threshold of life more interesting and worth learning about. Perhaps we’ve seen a picture of the evolution of species that is too simple, that the culmination in our moment of being human has confusion from an omission about what it means to be something, and to have self-value Maybe there is a threshold of evolutionary condition that we’re missing. Maybe even there is a threshold that marks the emergence of heart as the seed around which human beings would eventually blossom first as a single cell vibrating with Love, then as embryo, as children and so on we are continuing. This is all science.


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But what is Love… before it’s a word? What is Love before we weave it heavy with our gripping waves of sadness and make it personal, anchoring it to things and people un-lasting? What is Love when it’s still universal, still eternal… When my Beloved is still my Origin… When my Beloved is closer within me then even my jugular What does it mean to be something living and beautiful When we’re not afraid to be free with our loneliness And explore internal This Love Eternal in some way I hope helps us understand this journey, When we listen deeply within the silence of our hearts And see if we can hear the wave of eternal creation with some sounds To help our ears find a transition back to their origin, Before there were distractions

Kamal José Canção was born under a peaceful waning crescent moon in a small village near the coast of Syria. He was deeply influenced by the manusrcirpts of mystical poets from both the Middle East and South America, that he discovered in remote libraries around the world. He attended small parochial schools with kind headmasters in Spain, and did well across many subjects. When he was 12 he made the first of many architectural trips to Florence with his mother, which would alter his sense of aesthetics toward an appreciation for the Renaissance and rebirth. A few years later his father sent him into the mountains for a month to live close to the land, in meditation, to develop an understanding of the natural cycles and movements of the universe He also apprenticed out to several aesthetics for various periods of work and study. Canção spent two years on the island Kingdom of Bahrain during which time he studied classical literature and world history.

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Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4

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. Every day is the day of graduation. Graduate from the last day into a new day. It is a great honor to say, “I am on the path of submission.” Then nothing can stop you. You are greater than any obstacle. Don’t convey beliefs about your religion. Convey universal truth about what we should be and do. It is through experience, guidance and the light of God that you understand the Divine Message. Words alone do not carry the meaning. Wise men and women don’t focus on circumstances, but on the way through them. They distinguish between circumstances and destiny.

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

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Sufi Saints and Masters

Sheikh Nazim ‘Adil Al-Qubrusi A Memoriam Notice from the Naqshbandi Sufi Order



Nazim ‘Adil al-Haqqani was a descendant not only of the holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) but also of the great Sufi masters, ‘Abdul Qadir al-Gilani and Jalaluddin Rumi, Shaykh Nazim was born in Larnaca, Cyprus, on April 21 1922, just before the fall of the Ottoman Empire (of which he remained an admirer for the rest of his life), and during the period of British rule of the island. Shaykh Nazim’s family was of Arab origin with Tatar roots. Gifted from earliest childhood with an extraordinarily spiritual personality, from his father’s side, he received initiation and training in the Qadiri Sufi Order, keeping company with his paternal grandfather, who was a shaykh of the Qadiri Order, to learn its discipline and its spirituality. At the age of 18 he moved to Istanbul to take a degree in Chemical Engineering at Istanbul University but, as he recalled later: “I felt no attraction to modern science; my heart was always drawn to the spiritual sciences.” While still at university he was educated privately in Arabic and Islamic theology under Shaykh Jamaluddin al-Lasuni and acquired a spiritual guide in the Naqshbandi Sufi order, Shaykh Sulayman Arzurumi. After graduating in 1944 Shaykh Nazim travelled to Syria to find the Naqshbandi leader Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Fa`iz ad-Daghestani, then living in Damascus, but due to growing countrywide unrest in response to French Mandatory rule, he was unable to enter the city until 1945. There he followed a period of intensive training under Shaykh ‘Abdullah, during which Shaykh Nazim divided his time between Damascus and Cyprus. Shaykh Nazim began to spread Islamic teachings and spiritual guidance in Cyprus. Many followers came to him and accepted the Naqshbandi Order. It was a time when all religion was banned in Turkey, and as he was in the Turkish community of Cyprus, religion was entirely banned there as well. Even the reciting of the adhan, the call to prayer, was prohibited. Shaykh Nazim was arrested for calling the adhan and was sentenced for over 100 years in prison. Miraculously however, the day of his judicial hearing, the government was overturned and his case dismissed. During his years in Cyprus, Shaykh Nazim traveled all over the island. He also visited Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi

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Arabia, and many other places to teach the Sufi Way. He moved back to Damascus in 1952 when he married a disciple of Grandshaykh, Hajjah Amina ‘Adil. From that time, he lived in Damascus but would visit Cyprus every year for the three holy months of Rajab, Sha’ban and Ramadan. He had two daughters Naziha and Ruqaiyya, and two sons Mehmet and Bahauddin. Before leaving this world in 1973, Grandshaykh designated Shaykh Nazim as his successor. In the year following the death of Grandshaykh ‘Abdullah, Shaykh Nazim began visiting Western Europe, travelling every year to London. In 1974, Shaykh Nazim traveled to London for the first time, thus initiating what was to become an annual visit during the month of Ramadan. A small circle of followers began to grow around him, eagerly taking their training in the ways of Islam and tariqah at his hands. From this humble beginning, the circle of Mawlana Shaykh Nazim’s students has grown to include millions of disciples from all walks of life and all parts of the globe. Mawlana Shaykh Nazim was a luminary, possessing an impressive spiritual personality, radiating love, compassion and goodness. He was regarded by many as the Qutb or “chief saint” of this time. Mawlana Shaykh Nazim used a subtle interweaving of personal example and talks to deliver his teachings to his students. Such “associations” were invariably delivered extempore according to the inspirations granted to him. He would rarely lecture, but rather pour out from his heart into the hearts of his listeners with knowledge and wisdoms able to transform their innermost beings and bring them toward their Lord as His humble, willing, loving servants. The sum total of Mawlana Shaykh Nazim’s message is that of hope, love, mercy and reassurance. Mawlana Shaykh Nazim ‘Adil passed away at the age of 92 in Northern Cyprus, attended by family and students from around the globe. His resting place is in self-same home-based teaching center (dergah) next to his humble house, in Lefke.

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Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4

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:

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4


Susan W Lambert photography


Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4

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)

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4


The 99 Most Beautiful Names

the Finder

prepared from the teachings of

Shah Nazar Seyyed Ali Kianfar, Ph.D. by Sarah Hastings Mullin, Ph.D. The Revealer of the hidden, only divine energy can lead the practitioner to self-actualization. The Divine finds whatever It seeks. In our genuine seeking, ultimately the division of self is annihilated and the Divine finds the Divine. The One able to penetrate any concealment. With this knowledge we can trust our devotion will be fruitful for any obstacle can be purified. The one to whom all is present at all times. There is nothing except the Divine.

Italics taken from: Illumination of the Names: Meditation by Sufi Masters on the Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of God. International Association of Sufism Publications: San Rafael, Ca.


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Oh God, please help me

sweet grace -

in my quest towards finding your a handhold to grasp from this jagged edge of a shaky life that cannot really even be called living. If you are everywhere you must also exist in my mind but in these trodden searched halls with many doors you seem so far away and never able to be found.

Please, echo your beating voice in the empty chambers of my heart,

all rushing in the excitement for finding life. Do not let me die without knowing this life as it is when with you. For you are the one I have always known and yet do not know. The one who I see in the mirror but yet have never seen. Please, do not allow me to turn away from your call, make me a prisoner to your every demand. Make all that is left of me weak and submitted in your love-as a mother with child has no choice but to fiercely love.

Sarah Hastings Mullin, Ph.D is a member of the International Association of Sufism and is a clinical psychologist, working specifically with young adults, couples and families. She also holds a second-degree black belt in Aikido.

Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4



Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 4

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