Lately I’ve been having a funny mix-up: I keep opening the prayer app on my phone when I want to get directions. No doubt it has something to do with the fact that my Google maps app is right above the little minaret icon on my phone’s home screen. But somehow I think there is more to it than the errant tap of a finger. I’ve been looking at maps more often than usual because I’ve been traveling a lot… Read more

For many years starting at around the time of the 9-11 terror attacks, I referred to myself a “moderate Muslim.” I used the term on my Facebook profile and pronounced it if asked about my religious beliefs. The label was in many ways a reactive disclaimer to popular opinion about Muslims. It meant for me that I was raised in an Arab, Islamic household in the West, I rejected extremism and was tolerant of diversity and multiculturalism. I was an… Read more

Author: Bruce Miller Publisher: Miller eMedia What happens when a mercurial Englishman living in 1970’s California invites into his community of spiritual seekers a Turkish Muslim mystic? The answer can be found in this book. The Turkish mystic was one Suleyman Hayati Loras Dede, and the mercurial Englishman one Reshad Feild. The author, Bruce Miller, was an integral part of Feild’s community and the book begins with a brisk sketch of what they were up to before Dede’s arrival. We… Read more

I’d just finished getting my hair cut and styled at the one salon in London that specializes in curls only to walk out the door to find it was pouring rain. The nearest Tube station was shut that Saturday for engineering works, so I scurried down the side streets of the West London neighborhood to the closest alternative, about a 20-minute walk away. Determined to protect my neatly defined coils from unravelling into a mass of frizz, I huddled under… Read more

Patience has been on my mind a lot recently, perhaps because I realise it’s a virtue I need to cultivate. I often notice how I become impatient when I am thwarted, or even just momentarily distracted, in the midst of some task I feel is important. It goes hand-hand with a tunnel vision in which I am less present and open to what is being offered in the moment. The Oxford English Dictionary defines patience as: “The capacity to accept… Read more

The opening scenes of the film show men made of mud, their backs bowed under the weight of sacks. In his narration of these pictures taken of a gold mine in Brazil, the photographer says, “When I came upon this place, every hair on my body stood on end. It was as though I was seeing the entire history of mankind, from the building of the pyramids to the tower of Babel. There wasn’t the sound of a single machine… Read more

Huddled at the back, left-hand corner of a large hall, me and a handful of other women would gather to take part in the Islamic Friday prayer at our university in British Columbia the early 2000s. Meanwhile at the front of the room, where light streamed in from the windows, dozens of young men stood side-by-side in rows. We recited the same prayer, but the gap in our experience was far wider than the swath of carpet separating the masculine… Read more

It is a time of reckoning for men around the world who have disrespected and brought distress and harm upon women. Rumi, writing about what could be called the “sacred feminine,” quotes the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):   The Prophet said, “Woman prevails over the wise man, while the raw and ignorant prevail over her.” Those men who lack tenderness and affection are animals, not men. [see Mathnawi I 2421-2437]   To paraphrase: woman can dominate a wise… Read more

When I ask myself who or what the Beloved is in Sufi terminology, I have to admit I don’t know. Maybe the beloved is a feeling or a face, a river or a tree, a word or a silence, a presence or an absence… or That which is aware of all these things, and aware of Itself, beyond them. Nothing is more accessible than the beloved, yet He/She/It won’t be tied down. It’s baffling and pleasing, and I don’t know… Read more

Two-thirds of the way through high school I fell under the spell of baking. Every night after finishing my homework I’d drift downstairs to the kitchen and start pulling down flour and sugar and spices from the pantry shelves. Soon the aroma of cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies or banana bread would fill the house At first my parents enjoyed the sweet treats I produced, and were glad to share the bounty with neighbors, co-workers and friends. As time went… Read more

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