Dear Companions on the Path,
I wish you a blessed Visalat Day! May the peace, blessings, and love of God be with you on this special day as we celebrate the earthly and heavenly life of our guiding spirit, Hazrat Inayat Khan.
Today, in the presence of many companions here at Fazal Manzil, and joined in thought and spirit with all of you throughout the world, I am issuing a Declaration announcing that Pirzadi-Shahida Noor-un-Nisa will henceforth be included in the Silsila of the Inayati Order. Please see the Declaration in French, German, andEnglish.
Stimulated by the discovery of a play by Pirzadi-Shahida Noor in the Astana Archive, over the last several months I have been deeply reflecting on her life and legacy. It has become clearer to me than ever before that the time has come for our Order to truly claim her as an essential tradition-bearer of the Sufi Message. Tremendous inspiration can be drawn from her writings, and even more from her life, which was a real-life Jataka tale.
God willing, Pirzadi-Shahida Noor’s play, Aede of the Ocean and Land, will be published this year. It is a fascinating spiritual retelling of Homer’s Odyssey. At Zenith Camp in Switzerland this summer a week will be dedicated to Pirzadi-Shahida Noor, chivalry, and Aede. Please do come if you can. And this, we hope, will just be the beginning.
Zenith Summer Camp, 23 July-18 August 2018
Consider traveling to the Swiss Alps this summer, for the Zenith Institute‘s annual camp!Every year there are four weeks of programs, this year including a week focused on the life of Noor Inayat Khan, the Alchemy of Happiness, a five-day silent retreat with Pir Zia, and many other offerings with teachers including Atum & Emmanuel O’Kane, Maarten Ophiel & Madhu Sangita Van Leer, Majida Heiss, Munir Voss & Malik Hirschberg, Fatimabi Monika Grieger, Mehmet & Ali Ungan, Saki Lee & Latif Peter Brinck, Nigel Hamilton & Himayat Inayati, Deepa Gulrukh Patel & Jacob Eilenberg, and Zuleikha.
Ziraat Leadership Transition in Europe
I would like to announce that following three and a half years of dedicated service as European Vice President of Ziraat, Maumud Zak Waterman is stepping down. Maumud served conscientiously and planted seeds that are now actively growing. I thank him for his service, and am heartened to know that he intends to continue serving Ziraat in his capacity as a Farmer. At the same time, I warmly welcome the new European Vice President of Ziraat, Firos Holterman. Firos brings long experience in Ziraat, and also in sustainable farming. Please join me in thanking Maumud, and welcoming Firos. — Sarafil Bawa
“As long as I act upon my own intuition, I succeed, but whenever I follow the advice of others I go astray.”
An eel would not do well to ask directions to the Sargasso Sea from a pike or a trout. Deep down in its viscera, it already knows the way. Its best course is to trust its instincts. The same is true of human beings.
A philosophizer asked a dervish what truth was. She pointed to his eyes. He asked what was falsehood. She tweaked his ear. Her point being: seeing is believing, and be wary of what you are told.
Whatever the question, the answer is already present. Only, it’s buried under a mass of fears and fancies. One needs to clear one’s mind to know what one knows.
Is counsel worthless then? Not necessarily. The Prophet Muhammad said, “The believer is a mirror of the believer.” A word or glance that confirms what one knows in one’s innermost core is a kind oflight upon light.
For this reason, Guides in the Esoteric School do not give advice. They work instead to empower the murid’s intuition.
Astana Open House
Saturday, 24 February 2018Our first Astana Open House will be held Saturday, February 24, from 12-5 pm, in Richmond, Virginia. The afternoon will feature tours, an Indian luncheon, presentations, suhbat (spiritual conversation), tea and sweets with special guests Bruce Lawrence and miriam cooke. Pir Zia, Pirani Sartaj, Alia, Muhasaba, and Khawar will be your hosts.Details about the Astana Open House can be found here. Please contact Khawar email@example.com with any questions. We look forward to hosting you!Additional information about the Astana, including a Calendar and Elist Sign-up, can be found at www.inayatiorder.org/astana.
Inayati Order Upcoming Events
Astana Open House
24 February 2018
Jamiat-Khas Annual Retreat
The Astana, Richmond, Virginia
20-22 March 2018
Inayati Leadership Spring Training
The Astana, Richmond, Virginia
22-25 March 2018
Wisdom of the Prophets: Sufism & Islam
w/ Sheikha Fariha, Sheikh Ghassan Manrasa & Pir Zia
The Astana, Richmond, Virginia
3-6 May 2018 and Online
The Alchemy of Happiness w/ Pir Zia
The Abode of the Message, New Lebanon, New York
31 August – 2 September 2018
German Easter Retreat w/ Pir Zia
30 March – 2 April 2018
Turkey Retreat w/ Pir Zia
Middle Eastern & South Asian Inayati Community Gathering
12-18 July 2018
23 July – 18 August 2018
Growing Wings w/ Pir Zia
Katwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands
24-26 August 2018
London Seminar w/ Pir Zia
17-18 November 2018
Please see our Inayati Order Programs Calendar for more event listings. New dates and online courses will be announced in March.
Dear Companions on the Path,
New Year’s greetings! As we ring in the year 2018 and bid farewell to 2017, it’s a time to count our blessings and look toward the future with optimism.
For my family and the Inayati Order headquarters, the last year brought us a big transition. We moved from the quiet woodlands of the Northeast to the bustling Mid-Atlantic city of Richmond. It’s just as the Gayan says: In the country, we saw God’s glory, and now, in the city, we glorify God’s Name.
Looking back over the past year, I recall sparkling gatherings with many of you in various places in North America and Europe. The year’s highlights, for me, included the graduation of the Suluk Jabalqa class, Wisdom of the Prophets dialogues on Judaism and Christianity, Season of the Rose and Zenith Camp, and the retreats we had in Gersfeld, Istanbul, Suresnes, Rochester, and Tucson.
I look forward to the continuation of the caravan’s journey in the coming year, God willing. The second volume of the Centennial Edition of The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan is with the printers as I write, and I plan to offer live-streamed commentaries on these teachings in the spring and fall. Leadership gatherings will take place in Suresnes and Richmond, and a new leaders’ training course will commence in June. A new Suluk course will begin in September. I am scheduled to offer retreats in Germany and Holland, and at the Abode over Labor Day weekend. In June we will celebrate Pir Vilayat’s ‘Urs at his Dargah in Delhi, followed by a Himalayan retreat. In July, there will be a retreat in Konya specifically for the Middle Eastern and South Asian Inayati community.
Meanwhile, the Astana continues to unfold, and I encourage you to visit when you can. You will find the calendar here: www.inayatiorder.org/astana. We hope, before long, to be able to livestream the Universal Worship and Gatha class on Sundays.
With deep thankfulness to the One for the grace of our companionship, I close with a New Year prayer from blessed Noor-un-Nisa:
A deeper wish, a wish more true
Than that I have in store for you
Indeed upon this earth is none
And ne’er can be a sweeter one
Little rays of dreams come true
Sunny skies forever blue
Happy hours of endless cheer
Maybe yours this coming year
India Pilgrimage & Summer 2018
Sarafil Bawa and his family will travel to India this June for the 13th Urs of his father, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. You are invited to join in this special pilgrimage. The dates are June 15 to 25, including a retreat and trek in Gangotri. Please firstname.lastname@example.org for details, which should be finalized this month.
Following India, Bawa will travel to Konya, the Swiss Alps, and the Netherlands. We will post additional details about related seminars and retreats in February. Please note that with Bawa traveling all summer, there will be no Season of the Rose in North America in 2018. We do plan to return to the United State’s West Coast in 2019, for this annual summer gathering.
“Every soul stands before me as a world, and the light of my spirit falling upon it brings clearly to my view all it contains.”
Would there be a world if there were no witnesses? It is the perceiving of the world that makes it a world. And as there are many perceivers, there are, accordingly, many worlds.
Imagine a hermit’s dark cell. Light flashes in through two chinks in the roof. One beam has illumined a curl of smoke. The other transfixes a moth in flight.
Spirit is light. The soul is a portion of divided light. The mind is what is revealed in the beam of that portion.
Two minds may know one another, in some measure, by comparing their perceptions through conversation. But a soul knows another soul silently—by rising up to spirit and then, descending, alighting on it.
When the light of one soul irradiates another, it witnesses what the other’s mind contains. When love unites two souls in spirit, their lights converge in a double flame and two worlds become one.
Suluk Academy Mentors
This coming September, we will launch a new Suluk class. While Bawa will be the sole teacher, he will be joined by three outstanding and experienced mentors, Nizam un Nisa, Raqib and Nirtana. You can learn more about each of them below, and we encourage you to consider applying for this upcoming class. Applications are due by February 1, 2018. See www.inayatiorder.org/suluk for details.
Ayeda Nizam un Nisa Husain is a Shaykha, Guide and Representative in the Inayati Order where she uses the teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan to explain the poetry of Rumi, focusing on Sufism as a means of healing and evolving. A student of classical Chishti Sufism since 1988 and a devoted follower of the Inayati Order since 2004, she has led Inayati Order centers in Lahore, in Dubai and now in Oakville, Ontario where she lives. A graduate of the first European Suluk class and a Knight of Purity, Nizam-un-Nisa has led Sufi retreats, taught Sufi meditation to Buddhist monks in Tokyo and been invited to the UN as part of an international delegation of spiritual leaders. A journalist by profession, she is currently working on setting the Urdu poetry of Hazrat Inayat Khan to music.
Raqib Jonah Yakel was initiated into the Inayati Order by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan in 2000. Raqib was an active member of the Baraka Center in Washington, DC, for several years and is a graduate of both the Suluk Academy (Gulzar ‘15) and the Raphaelite Program with Himayat Inayati. Currently residing in the Kansas City metro area with his wife and two children, Raqib leads a Sufi Center and holds an active role in the growth and unfoldment of the Inayati Order’s Kinship Activity. Professionally, Raqib is a chiropractor and functional medicine practitioner. He owns and operates Lifegate Health Center where he specializes in brain health and addiction empowering people to reclaim their health and wholeness allowing for the realization of greatness, the fulfillment of purpose, and the embodiment of peace, love, and joy in their lives.
Nirtana Gloria Deckro has been a traveler on the Sufi path for 35 years. She graduated Suluk in 2007 and then served as a mentor for the Alif and Andalib classes. Nirtana trained as a physician in England. After moving to Boston in 1982, marrying and starting a family, she spent eight years as Director of Training and Research for the Education Initiative of the Mind/Body Medical Institute. There she focused on training educators and health professionals in bringing meditation into work settings. Nirtana then built her own healing practice, offering meditation training and spiritual counseling for individuals and groups. Nirtana served on the Board of the Inayati Order from 2007 to 2011 and as Executive Director of the Order from 2011 to 2014. She currently lives with her husband in Sharon MA. They have two adult children.
Astana Upcoming Events
Please join us at the Astana in Richmond, Virginia, for an upcoming event! Bawa resumes his weekly Gatha Class + Suhbat today, January 7th, and Healing Service + Zikr on Wednesdays, beginning again the evening of January 10th.
Also, we are making plans for an Astana Open House on Saturday, February 24th. The scholars Bruce Lawrence and miriam cooke will be our special guests. We hope to offer a luncheon at 1 pm, followed by a talk at 2pm, suhbat, tea and sweets.
If you would like to come for the Open House, a class or a visit, please contact Khawar email@example.com. We look forward to hosting you!
Additional information about the Astana, including a Calendar and Elist Sign-up, can be found at www.inayatiorder.org/astana.
Inayati Order Fall Appeal 2017
Over $130,000 was raised during our most recent appeal. This is an incredibly generous outpouring, which greatly helps us enhance our support to Inayati Order murids, leaders and new friends drawn to the teachings of Sufism. Now that things are settled in Richmond, we are making plans through 2020. What would you like to see us do? Please feel free to email Jennifer Alia Wittman, our Executive Director in North America, with ideas, and let’s see what we can unfold for Murshid’s legacy, together.
December 10, 2017
Dear Companions on the Path,
I hope this finds you well. Here at the Astana in Richmond, things are unfolding wonderfully. We now have two weekly gatherings, a Sunday afternoon Universal Worship Service and Gatha Class, and a Wednesday evening Healing Service and Zikr. Do come and join us; the calendar is here.
Last weekend the Inayati Order’s new Young Adults Council visited. We spent our time exploring the Six Activities of the Order and the inspirations and concerns of young people today. It was a generative discussion and one that we all look forward to continuing. (See photos below.)
During the weekend I offered a Universal Worship Service that was live-streamed as part of a 24-hour global vigil called One World Bearing Witness. It is always an honor to take part in endeavors that highlight the unity of the human spirit.
A few weeks ago, I visited Tucson. I spoke about Sufism and Judaism at Temple Emanu-El, after which we had a retreat among the sujuaros. What a pleasure it was to see friends from all over the Southwest. I was especially moved by the community’s initiative to support the care of the little-known tomb of Murshid’s beloved teacher, Sayyid Abu Hashim Madani, in Hyderabad.
In closing, I would like to wish you a luminous Hanukah, Christmas, and Winter Solstice. May glowing hearths and glowing hearts warm your cold December!
“I have learned more by my faults than by my merits. If I acted always aright, I could not be human.”
We might have been created as flawless beings in a flawlessworld. But we were not, and for a reason. In a placidly perfect world, there would be no discovery. There is a unique perfection to be found in the unveiling of the Perfect within the imperfect.
Life is a school for the education of the heart. Every day there is a new lesson. Lessons not learned are repeated until understanding comes. Successes teach something, but missteps often teach more.
Of course, it is not faults themselves that are instructive. Awareness is what guides. When vigilance illuminates a dark passage through life, the path comes into view.
Coming to terms with one’s shortcomings brings humility and compassion. Observing that one does not always perceive situations in their entirety, one learns to think twice before making brash pronouncements. Recognizing one’s own capacity for error, one is moved to forbear with others in their fumblings.
The evening of November 29th, Virginia Commonwealth University Professor Samaneh Oladi Ghadikolaei brought her Introduction to Sufism class to meet Pir Zia. VCU’s campus is two blocks away from the Astana and we were very happy to see that the university has a lively religious study and mysticism program!
Inayati Order Fall Appeal 2017
Thank you to all of you who regularly and generously give toward our work. As we organizationally move into a phase of greater refinement and expansion, we hope that you will give toward our Inayati Order Fall Appeal 2017. We are deeply appreciative of your support!
November 5, 2017
Dear Companions on the Path,
Autumn Greetings. I hope this finds you well. Over the last month, I had the chance to visit Suresnes, France, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Rochester, New York.
In Suresnes, Fazal Manzil is undergoing a significant revival as a Sufi center and place of pilgrimage. Across the street, at the home of my esteemed aunt and uncle, I enjoyed a scintillating dinner conversation with the philosopher Abdennour Bidar and his wife, and co-founder of Centre Sésame, Inès Weber.
In Chapel Hill, I attended the first day of a conference in honor of one of my academic mentors,Dr. Carl W. Ernst. It was a fitting tribute to a great scholar of Sufism, and a chance to see dear old friends.
In Rochester, the local center hosted me warmly and introduced me to Arun Gandhi, peacemaker and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, and Dr. Muhammad Shafiq of the Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue. At the Hickey Center I had the pleasure of giving a talk on my bookMingled Waters.
Meanwhile, though I no longer live at the Abode, I was delighted to connect with a retreat at the Abode via live stream. The retreat was organized by, and for, the African-American healer community. It featured the eminent jazz pianist Randy Weston, who related how The Mysticism of Music and Soundgalvanized his musical career.
Activities are commencing in Richmond. Last week, the Healing concentration convened a lovely two-day program. This weekend we host our first public gathering at the Astana: Sufism and Christianity. My partners in dialogue are Tessa Bielecki and Rev. LuTimothy May, two powerful witnesses to God’s Glory.
Yesterday the Astana was ritually dedicated. May it be a place of blessings for years to come. My thanks go out to all who helped to make this new headquarters possible, including many of you reading these lines. I hope you will come and visit. For this new beginning, for every new beginning, and for every breath: all thanks and praise to the One!
Music of the Spheres: Gamaka Commentaries, Gayan
“A fall does not break or discourage me, it only raises me to a new life.”
New Astana Staff
Khawar Alidost joined our staff as Administrative Assistant. She comes to us with a background in office management and customer service. Previously, she served as Administrative Assistant at Stratford University where she is finishing up a Master of Science degree in Healthcare Administration. Khawar has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University and speaks a variety of languages, including Persian-Dari, and recently, Urdu and Hindi. She and her family are refugees from Afghanistan, relocated by the United Nations to Richmond fifteen years ago. In her new role, Khawar will staff the Astana’s reception area, handling all incoming phone calls, emails, guests, book and product sales, and event registration. Please warmly welcome her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Young dults are invited to take part in a special East Coast Sufi Caravan taking part later this month. Our new Inayati Order Young Adult Council, led by Akbar Miller, Ariella-Sophie Steinberg, and Avraham Maistri, will host a two-part event beginning with a Thanksgiving Youth Jam in Sarasota, November 24-26, followed by Opening the Door, an informal gathering with Pir Zia at the Astana in Richmond, December 1-3. Please contact Akbar or Ariella for details.
Inayati Order Upcoming Events
As we wrap up the year, here is a glimpse of our schedule for 2018. There are two online calendars, one for the Astana and Pir Zia’s events, and second one that is more comprehensive, including all Inayati Order Representatives from our Six Activities: Esoteric School, Universal Worship, Knighthood of Purity, Sufi Healing Order, Ziraat and Kinship. We hope to see you, in-person or online, next year!
Inayati Order Fall Appeal 2017
Thank you to all of you who regularly and generously give toward our work. As we organizationally move into a phase of greater refinement and expansion, we hope that you will give Inayati Order Fall Appeal 2017. As we enter the month of November, we enter into the season of outward this year’s appeal. An email with details was sent out last week (also on our website), and if you are in the United States, you should receive a letter in the mail over the next few days. Alhamdulillah!
November 1, 2017
We want you to be part of this critical and exciting moment in the history of our order. The Inayati Order is at a threshold in its purpose to spread the unity of religious ideals and to awaken humanity to the divinity within, as expressed by Hazrat Inayat Khan.
Sufis have created gathering spaces all over the world, filled with baraka, where seekers receive teachings, converse with beloved friends over a glass of tea, write poems, play music, share in zikr practices, or whirl in ecstasy. In 1922, Hazrat Inayat Khan created such a space, which still exists almost one hundred years later, and named it Fazal Manzil, or “blessed house.” In 1975, Pir Vilayat created such a space at the Abode of the Message, where seekers, nestled in the woods, can still immerse in “the holy book of nature”.
At this time, to increase our ability to spread Murshid’s message of love, harmony and beauty, we are delighted and filled with gratitude to create such a space, which will soon be gathering its own baraka, in a beautiful, historic, building in Richmond, Virginia. Pir Zia has named it the Astana, meaning “threshold.”
There are two meanings to the word threshold. The first is an entrance. The Astana is the place we will enter, physically and spiritually; a threshold to our hearts. It will be our new home, housing our archive and providing a grounding center for our newly-staffed administrative offices from which we can better serve the needs of murids, leaders, and regions in North America, in addition to providing support for our order globally.
Threshold also means the magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for something to occur or be manifested. At this time, more than ever, we need your help to garner our collective intention, agency and resources in sufficient magnitude and intensity to manifest our shared commitment to spreading Murshid’s timeless and relevant teachings.
Our order has never been so well-positioned in terms of space, staffing and institutional cohesion to make our intentions a reality. We are tremendously grateful for previous gifts and even more so this year. Please make a donation and be part of this auspicious and expectant time.
In love and service,
Suluk Gulzar Class of 2015
P.S. Please see our Inayati Order Keynotes 2017 for details on our accomplishments, our future plans, and the various ways in which you can give. The Astana’s birth as our magnetic center and the Inayati Order’s expanding presence in the world depends on your generosity. Ya Fattah!
Dear Companions on the Path,
I am writing to you from France, where with great sadness and concern I have been following the news coming out of the United States. I am grieving, as so many are grieving, the tragic death of Heather Heyer.
Charlottesville is just an hour’s drive from Richmond, where our new North American headquarters is located. Richmond has its own statue of Robert E. Lee.
It is said that Gen. Lee himself opposed the construction of Confederate memorials, recognizing the need for the nation to “obliterate the marks of civil strife.”
Our nation is now struggling to find an adequate response, not only to the presence of Lee’s image, but to the shadows of American history, encompassing the dispossession of native people, the brutal practice of slavery, and the subordination of women.
And yet for all our troubled history, America is a land of vision and promise, where much has been, and may yet be, achieved.
Lost souls grasp desperately for belonging and forge factional identities premised on assumed superiority in the hope of shoring up self-esteem. Sooner or later, however, the illusion of separateness must crumble. Murshid says, “The one who will not take in the idea of unity will be taken in by unity one day.”
How much better it would be for the whole of the world to take in the idea of unity now. It is for this reason that the Inayati Order exists: to realize and spread the knowledge of unity so that hearts overflow with love and hatred based on distinctions and differences is rooted out.
We intend to always be a community of equality between people of all races, religions, and kinds, and to spread the message of unity. This requires of us continuous vigilance, uprooting the traces of divisiveness whenever they appear in our own minds and hearts.
I am grateful for the conscientious work on behalf of our Order done in Charlottesville by Rabia and Zakir Amin, who recently shared their experiences. I honor, likewise, the contributions of all of you, my companions on the path, in your prayers and meditations, kinship activities, healing circles, Universal Worship services, and Ziraat lodges, and in all that you do in the service of the Message of Love, Harmony, and Beauty.
May love’s victory come soon.
TOWARDS THE ONE
THE PERFECTION OF LOVE, HARMONY AND BEAUTY
“Dive deeply into the miracle of life and let the tips of your wings be burnt by the flame, let your feet be lacerated by the thorns, let your heart be stirred by human emotion, and let your soul be lifted beyond the earth.”
Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
You are cordially Invited to the
13th Urs celebration of
Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Sajjada-Nashin of Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan and Founder of the Hope Project
Saturday, 17th June 2017
At Dargah Sharif Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan and
Dargah Sharif Hazrat Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Saturday, 17th June 2017
From 6.00 am onwards Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan’s Dargah is open for Morning Meditation.
9.30 am Fatiha and blessing of the Chaddar at Dargah Sharif Hazrat Inayat Khan; procession to Dargah Sharif Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan; prayers and offerings.
Followed by a reception with the community of the Hope Project at the Noor Inayat Khan Library, with refreshments.
Distribution of Langar at Dargah Sharif Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan.
Organized by The Inayati Order under the auspices of its President, Pir Zia Inayat-Khan ‘urf Sarafil Bawa (Sajjada-Nashin of Dargah Sharif Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan and Dargah Sharif Hazrat Pir Vilayat Inayat-Khan), in conjunction with the Hope Project Charitable Trust founded by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. Pir Zia will be represented by Haji Aslam Hussain.
Dargah Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan
and Dargah Hazrat Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
129 Basti Hazrat Nizamuddin,
New Delhi 110013 INDIA
For further information please contact Ms. Carmen Hussain: email@example.com
Dear Companions on the Path,
I am writing to share with you a piece of wonderful news: The Inayati Order, North America, has a new Headquarters!
Two years ago it became clear that it was important for The Inayati Order to free itself from its time-consuming responsibilities toward The Abode of the Message and allow the Abode to become self-directed. At the same time, I felt the “pull of the future” drawing me to establish my work in a new and more populous and diverse setting.
While considering a long list of cities, my family and I took a road trip last year, driving from New York to Georgia and back. Richmond, Virginia, was not on our list, but on the return journey we felt compelled to stop there. We stayed at a Holiday Inn, and when we stepped outside of the hotel and looked around, something felt very right in our bones.
I communicated my enthusiasm to the Board, and Alia and some of the members of the Board visited Richmond and experienced a similar sense of the rightness of it. The search for a Headquarters building now began. Alia and the Board (especially Fazl and Roshan Peay) put in a lot of work, and at last a splendid building was found. When all signs were positive, my family and I went to Richmond to see the building. Lo and behold, we discovered it was diagonally across from the Holiday Inn where we first arrived in Richmond and felt intuitively we had come to the right place!
The building is a historical brick edifice that has been beautifully renovated inside. It has room for a reception, a meeting space for approximately forty people, an archive, offices, and breakout areas. It is situated on a quiet street not far from the city center.
It was by virtue of a generous low-interest loan from friends within the Order that The Inayati Order was able to purchase the building. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all who have supported this grace-filled move. Alhamdulillah.
Our new Headquarters in Richmond will be called the Astana, which means, “the Threshold.” Our intention is that it be the beating heart of our order; a magnetic and energetic center; its outer physicality reflecting our inner quest for harmony. Our hope is to fill it with an atmosphere of hospitality, with music, visiting scholars, a shared commitment to matters of the heart, and abiding adab.
I look forward to seeing you all there as soon as you are able to come and visit.
For more photos and details, please visit the Inayati Order website.
A response to Pir Zia’s new book Mingled Waters: Sufism and the Mystical Unity of Religions:
With the love of the Supreme Creator, who is the most Gracious and the most Merciful
“Both worlds, the spiritual and the material have no knowledge of Love itself. There are seventy- two kinds of madness, there are seventy-two types of insanity. The lover’s creed is far from being able to embrace the seventy-two religions! The lover’s teacher is God, the owner of majesty. In this world there are hidden stairs that reach, with steps leading one by one, all the way to the heavens. Every community has their own stairs, their own heaven. Each one is unaware of what another’s situation is like. See the believer and the unfaithful with your own secret- with the eye of your heart. In each of one of them and according to their own beliefs, there is nothing but yearning that cries out ‘Oh Lord’ ‘Oh True Life’.” Hz. Mevlânâ Jelâleddin-i Rûmî
This exceptional piece of work, written by our very precious and dear friend Pir Zia Inayat Khan, will undoubtedly be a fountain of Nothingness and will illuminate the hearts and eyes of those who discover the lesson of Love. Knowledge that does not free mankind from duality and lead to unity and togetherness, is nothing but a heavy burden. The divine laws that we call religion, are intended for us to experience absolute oneness or unity, which in this world of appearances, is revealed within multiplicity. God is One. There is no doubt that He wishes to see His servants, His creation, also living in Unity. This is why Semitic beliefs never accept duality. Religion is not the personal matter of the prophets, it belongs to God, totally. The prophets are responsible for spreading the commands that are of an elevated, divine nature belonging to God, across the world. For that reason, personalizing religion and making discriminations between prophets make a very wrong ideology. The Essence and the Truth of religions is the same. What is different in appearance is created by the requirements of the present times and its conditions, and by the design of the Supreme Creator; there are the surface waves, the outer shell, forms and appearances. Consequently, to be attached to surface appearances, to form, to the facade of a religion is another type of idolatry. As told in the Surat Fatiha, it leads us away, separates us from the “True Owner of Religion” away from Essence, from Truth, away from His Divine Love. It must also be acknowledged that religion is not the ultimate goal, it is a divine instrument that enables us to reach that goal, it is the best path, the most beautiful and the most virtuous.
In Surat Al-Maidah 48 and An-Nahl 93: “Oh Muhammad, we have revealed to you the Coran, in truth, confirming and protecting all the holy scriptures that preceded. To each of you we have prescribed a sacred law and a method. Had God willed, He would have made you one nation, but He intended to test you in what He has given you. So then, race towards goodness and beauty. To God is your return, all of you together. He will then inform you the truth, concerning that over which you used to differ.” “If God had willed, he could have made you of one religion. You will surely be questioned about your past actions.” So, if you still fall into this duality despite all the warnings, think of when you will be surely questioned.
We pray that this book called ‘Mingled Waters’, filtered through a blessed and pure heart, will bear witness to Unity and to our Oneness on the day of Resurrection, and we offer our most sincere gratitude to Pir Zia Inayat Khan for offering us this exquisite work which extends our horizons and illuminates our souls.
Within Love, praying to be amongst the lovers and the true-hearted.
H. Nur Artiran
President of Sefik Can International Mevlânâ Education and Cultural Foundation
by Misbah Noor
On Sunday, February 5—Visalat Day—a beautiful Universal Worship service was held in the khanqa at Fazal Manzil, in Suresnes, in remembrance of Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan (may his secret be sanctified) who passed into the Realm of Beauty on this day, ninety years ago. The khanqa, vibrant with flowers and smiles, was filled to capacity. A heart-warming sense of closeness was discernible in the community of mureeds belonging to many different traditions, cultures, and walks of life, yet all united on the spiritual path of Love, Harmony and Beauty. Indeed, there was something very special about celebrating the Urs of our beloved Murshid in the home where he resided during his life.
A garland of marigolds adorned the ceiling and a panel of gold fabric formed a backdrop against a table displaying the sacred books and candles representing the great religious traditions of the world. On this day, an additional candle, preceding the six customary ones, was included to represent the “tradition of God’s (feminine) creativity,” referring to spiritual traditions outside the Religions of the Book which take nature as their scripture and have often, historically, been administered by priestesses.
Sarafil Bawa offered inspiring words reflecting on this tradition. Throughout time, he said, “… from the priestesses of the Mediterranean to the indigenous grandmothers of our own time, there has flourished, and continues to flourish, a tradition of sacred remembrance that glorifies the divine creativity. This tradition transpires in many places in the world. It does not uphold a written scripture, but rather reads the scripture of nature itself. For every existent thing is a word written by God. And the revelations of nature resound, indeed, in all of the hallowed scriptures of the world’s greatest revelations. And this, the disclosure of the creative grace of the Creator, abounds everywhere, on the horizons and in ourselves. And it is intimated in these words of Murshid: Wide space, womb of my heart, conceive my thought, I pray, and give birth to my desire.”
Outside the glass walls of the khanqa, the air was dewy and the sky formed a mirror to our emotions—a vast, glistening ‘heart’ ambivalent with longing and the celebration of union. The laden horizon and the trees in the garden—still as a painting—matched the atmosphere of expectant stillness inside at the beginning of the ceremony. We joined voices in song, our spirits stirring, becoming uplifted. And as the service proceeded, the weather turned around, the sun suddenly breaking through the clouds! Sunlight beamed on the arches of the Universelle, reflecting the bare winter branches in patterns of delicate filigree.
Inside the khanqa, attuning to the atmosphere of Murshid, in the very place in which he lived and met with mureeds upstairs, we felt his spirit, his blessed presence and nearness. And in this room filled with ‘instruments’—leaders, teachers and workers of The Inayati Order kindled by his consciousness—we were ever conscious of the living pulse of Murshid’s teachings. Our view of the Universelle in the garden (housing the original cornerstone blessed by Murshid) reminded us that it stood as both witness and monument, an embodied form of the Universel prayer which, as we recite it, inspires us to realize the divine creativity working through us in our work on the physical plane.
At the end of his remarks, Bawa offered Murshid’s benediction:
May your heart be filled with heavenly joy
May your soul be filled with divine light
May your spirit uphold the divine Message
May you go on in the spiritual path
May God’s peace abide with you forever and ever more.
A moment of silence followed, then, suddenly, Murshid’s voice rose in our midst. It was as if he were physically there amongst us in the room, reciting the takbir al-‘id— Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar la ilaha illa’Llah Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar wa li’Llahi’l-hamd—singing the praises of the Almighty in a tone resonant with love, striking at the very core of our hearts, breaking up and clearing any residual hardness, mist, or doubt that might be lurking unbeknownst to us; tuning us; harmonizing us; and, above all, elevating us. Time and space collapsed in that transformative moment of Murshid’s power working via the conduit of his stirring voice.
The Urs culminated in a beautiful flower ceremony. We each, in turn, stepped forward towards Bawa, receiving his gaze of benediction as he presented a long-stemmed rose. We drank the light of his eyes, a fire that filled our very beings with the light of the Silsila, linking us to the chain of illuminated souls going back to the Divine source. What a gift and treasure that brief moment! It encompassed a lifetime, served as a vivid reminder of a sacred trust.
Even as rose petals fade and disintegrate, even as beloved Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan is no longer with us on this physical plane, the bloom and fragrance of his teachings live on. They do so, as Sarafil Bawa reminds us, in our manner of witnessing and experiencing and joining together “for the sake of the One from whom we have been brought forth from nothingness.” What joy to unite in love and remembrance at Fazal Manzil, Murshid’s House of Blessings.
The following is a transcription of a video posted by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan to the Inayati Order Facebook group.
Hazrat Inayat Khan said, “I see as clear as daylight that the hour is coming when women will lead humanity to a higher evolution.”
Today in Washington DC and across the world, women are preparing to march. God bless them. May the marches be filled with and surrounded by peace. And may the voices of the marchers resound.
Rumi said, “Woman is a beam of divine light. She is not the being whom sensual desire takes as its object. She is creator, it should be said, she is not a creature.”
The light of women is needed in our world. It will illuminate the shadows. It is time to gather the light of all souls, the old and the young, people of all religions, people of all races, people of all genders and orientations.
We are one humanity. Kindred in blood and spirit. Through every soul the divine light shines.
There is a need for a wide and deep, civil discourse. A need to collectively contemplate and act upon what matters to humanity in its entirety and to the earth. Hidden in multiplicity is unity. Hidden in unity is multiplicity. God is one and creation is manifold. Humanity is one and our stories are many and diverse.
It’s time to be gathered to do justice to the dispossessed. To hear every voice, including the silent voices of animals, plants and the earth. To be vigilant and resolute against oppression and belligerence. To be united in faith and love. To create and sustain robust and diverse communities at every level of scale. And to walk in devoted companionship with all travelers through time and space.
Toward the One. We invoke you, Divine Retriever, Summoner, Harmonizer, Reconciler and Unifier.
Ya Jami, O (wazifa repeated)
May God’s blessings encompass all beings and unite us all in God’s perfect Being.
Prayer for Universel.
(Many thanks to MaryAnn Gulbadan Vila who quickly and kindly transcribed Pir Zia’s Facebook Live for us.)
Another year has run its course, and a new year, a new circuit around the sun, is upon us. 2016 is already a bygone age, its faded days now consigned to the vaults of memory. Ahead, 2017 looms large, bristling with hazards, brimming with opportunities, and wrapped in mystery. Do you feel the ground under your feet? This embodied moment is the threshold between the past and the future, the boundary between the known and the yet-to-be-known. This is what we are given. Here we take our stand.
What are we to make of the past? Should we shrug it off and keep shuffling along? Or, faced with the onslaught of an unwelcome future, are we justified in making a perfumed shrine of what once was, or seemed to be—a halcyon haven in which to retreat in a pique of defiant nostalgia?
We will all always do as we wish. But our wishes are best rewarded when guided by understanding, and understanding is the product of reflection. To penetratingly reflect on the past is to absorb its lessons in our bones.
Murshid says, “The Sufi learns not only by the study of books but by the study of life. The whole of life is like an open book to a Sufi and every experience is a step forward in one’s spiritual journey.”
In retrospect, the past year consists of a series of steps taken. Looking back, we may ask ourselves, which steps of ours were sure-footed, and which were maladroit? Which were the strides that sped us along the road to the Friend, and what sorts of stumbles sent us into the ditch? We can learn as much from our collapses as from our advances if our eyes are open.
Trial and error is part of the forward march of life. The real error is the error of repeating our errors time and again, refusing to learn. The sign of learning is repentance: having the humility to admit mistakes, having the insight to understand our mistakes, forming the resolution to make amends, and taking the initiative to ask God’s forgiveness. What is requested must be accepted when it is granted. We show that we have accepted God’s forgiveness when we move forward resolutely.
But it is not only in studying our own lives that we stand to gain understanding. Wisdom is the butter of life, and just as the child Krishna was known to steal butter whenever he could, we do well when we avail ourselves of the knowledge that is available from every person and every situation. The wise and the foolish may equally serve as our teachers. The virtues and vices of those we encounter day by day may prove equally illuminating as mirrors revealing the choices that are ours to make.
The past is a treasury of experience from which to learn. To learn well, however, we must also unlearn. This means shaking off the compulsive grip of all kinds of half-truths, complacent assumptions, and niggling fears—in short, the full sum of our unexamined prejudices about our selves, other people, the world, and reality in its totality. We’ve got to open our minds, expand our hearts, and look anew at the universe with fresh vision.
As Jesus said, only when the “planks” are removed from our eyes will we properly perceive the present moment. Otherwise, the here and now is merely the shadowy perpetuation of the then and there. The dross of the past endures and obscures the essence of the present. We see through a glass darkly.
In Arabic the heart is called qalb, which is related to the word qalab, meaning “mold.” The heart is a mold, a vessel that contains whatever fits within its contours. If the heart is narrow it will hold little; if it is wide it will hold more. If it is rigid it will accommodate only that which conforms to its predetermined shape. If it is malleable it will encompass whatever is bestowed.
Disclosures of God’s presence are constantly given to the world, but a disclosure is never repeated—each is unique, as God is unique. A narrow, brittle heart can contain little more than the flaking residue of an old disclosure. An expansive heart, by contrast, meets the vividness of each moment in its fullness. Such was the heart of Abraham, who prayed each morning, “O God, this is a new creation!”
Hence a Sufi is called a “child of the moment.” To be a child of the moment is to be born anew with each dawning instant of time. It is to witness everything perpetually dissolving into emptiness and reappearing, reanimated by the rhythmic pulse of the Divine fiat: “Be!”
This is what we are given. This moment, this now, this ground under our feet, this sky over our heads, this encounter with faces and forms, this awareness. Revealing the whole of what is shown is a light that is continuously renewed in our minds. That light, we may be sure, will never die.
The past has morphed into this moment, and the present will become the future. What our minds nurture will be grown in us; what we renounce will be composted. Good seeds and the elixir of well-churned decay are bound to produce a rich harvest if Providence is smiling.
There is nothing to be gained in brooding listlessly over dark dreads. Jesus said, “Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.” Muhammad said, “Even if you expect the world’s end tomorrow, plant a tree today.”
Let beauty lead. It will lead to a more beautiful tomorrow if we follow it. Follow the trace of what-may-be, the track of the shimmering ideal. Travel in the footsteps of those who leave marks of wisdom and kindness in their wake. Their path will surely lead us to the Friend.
Look to the past, look to present, look to the future—wherever you turn, if your eyes are open, there is God’s Face. Past, present, and future are in essence no different from each other. All that is has always been, and will always be, in the One. It is only our perspective that alters, like a searchlight flashing across the sky. “Time is God,” says Murshid, “and God is eternal.”
May our perception widen, deepen, refine, extend, and partake more and more of the light of the One whose glance, encompassing and harmonizing all of the myriad angles of vision streaming through creation, is reality itself.
Let us pray:
O Thou who abidest in our hearts,
most Merciful and Compassionate God,
Lord of Heaven and Earth,
we forgive others their trespasses and ask Thy forgiveness of our shortcomings.
We begin the New Year with pure heart and clear conscience, with courage and hope.
Help us to fulfil the purpose of our lives under Thy divine guidance.