While reading Omid Safi’s new book, Radical Love: Teachings from the Islamic Mystical Tradition, I was among editors from London’s media outlets attending a briefing on how the British public perceive Muslims, based on research commissioned by the Aziz Foundation. The book was sitting in my purse as we heard some staggering statistics: nearly one in three Brits feel negatively toward Muslims, three times higher than the closest religious group. Among these sceptics, 91% feel more suspicious of Muslims after… Read more

Islam began as something strange, and so it will become again one day, and blessed are the strangers. ~Hadith In a somewhat random conversation I had recently a woman said to me, “You know, my daughter and the younger generation get their spirituality mostly from Instagram.” Now, several months later Threshold Society has ramped up an Instagram account. A quick search for Rumi on Instagram yields a range of quotes from a few interesting paraphrases, to some bland clichés and… Read more

I was walking along the river when I spotted a crow on the railing. Cautiously, I approached it – not too close – and stood by the railing looking over the river with it. Then, I turned my head slowly and said, “Salam.” At first it did nothing, then it leapt into the air and hovered close to my left shoulder, before circling behind my back – ever so close – to hover over my right shoulder. After a few… Read more

I recently accompanied my murshid on a spiritual retreat in Turkey, along with a group of dear friends and seekers. We sat in the presence of sufi teachers and visited shrines, including the House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus and the tombs of Mevlana Rumi and Shams of Tabriz in Konya. One of the lessons that resonated with me was the idea that we can relate to prophets and saints like Muhammad, Jesus, Mary, Buddha or Rumi not merely as historical figures,… Read more

In our tradition, it is sometimes said, “Although Mevlana is not a prophet, he does have a book.” Another way of expressing the same idea is that the Masnavi is the Qur’an in Persian. But what do those statements really mean? What kind of book is the Masnavi, and what is its relationship to the Qur’an? Something the Qur’an and the Masnavi both have in common is that they are not books as we normally think of books being written…. Read more

“O My God, show us Truth as truth and bless us with following it and show us falsehood as falsehood and bless us with avoiding it.” We all hold noble ideas about Truth. Our notion of Truth may often be influenced by our ideas of right and wrong, of how things should be according to our own understanding. We often associate truth with what we believe to be justice. And we often associate truth with what we consider to be… Read more

It’s well after midnight and burning candles flicker in my dimly lit living room. Music hums quietly in the background, a love song carried through the vibrating cry of the reed flute. My head gently sways right to left to Oruç Güvenç’s sweet notes and we sit, me and my Beloved, at the table overlooking the night sky as London fades into a deep sleep. There’s a stillness outside and within. No words are spoken as I gaze at my… Read more

A chronic illness has prevented me from fasting for a number of years now. Initially I felt like I was missing out on Ramadan because I wasn’t doing it ‘properly’. I went to extremes – packing the month with extraordinary intentions to ‘make-up’ for not being able to fast. As the years pass I am learning how to experience Ramadan beyond the outer forms and cultivate a deeper appreciation for the essence of this blessed month. 1. Develop Gratitude Develop… Read more

What would life be like if you all you had ever eaten was dirt? That’s how a teacher of mine once explained the effect of social and cultural conditioning. “Imagine you’ve been eating mud from the time you were a baby. You wouldn’t want a carrot or an apple,” he said. Knowing the nutritional value of those fruits and vegetables wouldn’t be enough to change your diet, even if you had become ill as a result. In order to stop… Read more

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

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