Understanding Ramadan Anew: Taken Apart, Put Back Together Again

Each year we discover new meanings and experiences during Ramadan. It seems that in Ramadan we are more open to be infused by new understandings. What was once merely a stretch of time, a challenging 30 days in which I faced my own attachments and weaknesses, has deepened into a new sense of relationship with [Read More…]

Preventing Spiritual Flabbiness: The Benefits of Regular Fasting

Several years ago, one of the most-thoughtful readers of my blog commented on a piece I’d written about the spiritual benefits of fasting throughout the year, rather than solely during the month of Ramadan. In that article, I’d reflected on how it was during the times I’ve fasted regularly on either Mondays or Thursdays (or [Read More…]

The Timelessness of Hunger

“O you who have faith, fasting is ordained for you as it has been ordained to those who have come before you that perhaps you will attain God-consciousness” 2:183 I sat in the audience at the end of the Mevlevi Semaa ceremony, listening intently to these words recited by Kani Karaca, one of the great [Read More…]

The Feminine Power Supporting the Prophets

I was struck by Jim Garrison and Banafsheh Sayyad’s article last year for the Huffington Post: “Muhammad was a Feminist”. It touched on some interesting viewpoints and received a lot of positive and negative responses. And while the article didn’t go into much detail, it stayed with me and left me with another interesting thought: [Read More…]

Complex Trauma and Spiritual Healing Power of Sufism

Since I was a 13-year-old spending recesses in the schoolyard composing poems inspired by my turbulent home life, I’ve been passionate about storytelling. My career has centered on telling thousands of stories about the interplay between economics, politics and financial markets in developing countries. I also love blogging about the ways the spiritual tradition of [Read More…]

On Saints as Friends of the Divine

Saints were everywhere in my Catholic childhood. Their haloed, beseeching visages appeared in the unlikeliest places, from laminated prayer cards that fell out of books to oblong medals glued on to car dashboards. This suggested to me that saints were holy people pulled down to earth by the concerns of daily life. Their names designated [Read More…]

What the Heart Knows

My wife and I were recently invited to lead another service at our local Unitarian chapel and when thinking about what our theme should be, it occurred to us that both Muslims and Unitarians champion the use of reason, firmly insisting that reason should be a bedrock of faith.  Yet within Islam, there has always [Read More…]

The Mercy of the Ailing Body

One evening a few weeks before my 25th birthday, I alighted from a train in the Heidelberg railway station and took off running. It was a twice-weekly routine at the time. I was taking evening classes at the University of the Frankfurt, and the train returning me to Heidelberg arrived just a few minutes before [Read More…]

The Most Important Thing I Learned From Our Murshid

He could have been someone’s grandfather from Sicily, dressed in a three-piece suit, walking with a cane, the bearer of the mischievous yet innocent smile. But, somehow, contained within this merely earthly form was a powerful generator of heart-melting love — a love free of any sentimentality, sanctimony, or possessiveness. My first encounter with a [Read More…]

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the Women in His Life

        Dearest M, Where do we go from here? For the last year I have been writing you these letters like a distant admirer. But I don’t want to stay at a remove any longer. I want to be as close to you as I possibly can. And more than that: I [Read More…]