October 25, 2021

On a Friday afternoon in mid-June, I found myself at the Sankt-Jakobi Friedhof, a cemetery transitioning into new life as the Prinzessinnengärten community garden. It is an unexpected swathe of green and quiet in the midst of Berlin’s gritty Neukölln neighbourhood. From the little hut at the gate I walked past the graves until I came to a field with raised beds, to where a group of volunteers was sitting around a weathered picnic table. Some of them were eating... Read more

August 30, 2021

Daliah Merzaban describes the taste of Love concealed beneath pangs of hunger “Keep your body hungry,” was the advice a spiritual guide gave as a few friends and I embarked on a three-month fast earlier this year. In addition to Ramadan, we set the intention to fast during the two preceding months — Rajab and Sha’ban — as well. In one way, it felt impossible; at first, I had to battle resistance even to say yes to the invitation. My... Read more

July 23, 2021

On Monday, the pilgrims marched out in their great multitudes from the plain of Mina outside of Mecca, to Arafat, a small mountain about 8 miles away. Millions of souls heading in the same direction, for the same purpose, calling out in the same way with their collective voices resounding in every direction:   “Labayk Allahumma Labayk, Labayka la Shareeka Laka Labayk. Innal Hamda, Wan Ni’mata laka wal mulk, la Shareeka lak”.   “Here I am O my God, here... Read more

June 19, 2021

  In Book III of the Masnavi, Mevlana tells the story of an eagle taking the shoe of Prophet Muhammad as he is finishing his ablutions before prayer. That man of sweet address moved his hand towards the boot: an eagle snatched the boot from his hand, And bore it away into the air, as the wind; then she turned it upside down, and a serpent dropped from it. From the boot dropped a black serpent: on account of that... Read more

April 17, 2021

  Listen to the voices of the holy in our breasts. By their hearts all hearts are intoxicated. Through their nonexistence, we learn to truly be. [Rumi] If we could hold a mirror up to our own minds, what would we see? A mirror can’t be bribed or flattered. It simply reflects. If we reflect on what fills our hearts and minds, we may find a constant torrent of the mundane details of everyday life: what is needed to merely... Read more

March 28, 2021

True power and compassion flow when validation comes from within Of the many stories relating the beautiful character of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, the one I’ll call The Tale of the Trash has been the most present in my life. From a young age, my mom would tell me and my sisters this story to describe how the Prophet of Islam acted with mercy. The version in my memory goes something like this: Muhammad lived... Read more

February 23, 2021

What do you call an enlightenment about the dark? Something shifted for me around the winter solstice last year, that time in late December when the days are shortest and the nights are longest, to make me perceive darkness in a new way: To see its beauty. To feel its healing capacity. And to sense its preciousness and fragility. Like so many other inhabitants of the pre-industrial world, from wild animals to rainforests and glaciers to silence itself, it is... Read more

February 1, 2021

I was feeling hopeful in December; reflecting back on 2020 all I could see were blessings. It was a sharp turn-around from earlier in the year in March when I felt a wave of depression, not sure how I was to manage without my regular medical treatment in Turkey to help my M.E. and fibromyalgia symptoms. The UK lockdown had kicked in two days before our flight, and Turkey had closed its airspace. The year ahead looked bleak. It took... Read more

January 4, 2021

It would be impossible to separate my heart’s awakening with my Sufi master Rumi from awakening to music, and in particular the music of the Turkish reed flute, called the ney. Outwardly, I suppose it wouldn’t seem surprising for a disciple of the Mevlevi tradition of Sufism to be drawn to the mystical instrument described in the opening lines of Rumi’s poetic masterpiece, the Mathnawi. Mevlana’s description of the ney is the entry point into a universe of 26,000 verses... Read more

November 22, 2020

  Are we asleep? Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi can really challenge us on this issue: This world is a dream—don’t be deluded; if in a dream a hand is lost, it’s no harm. In dreams, no real damage is done if the body is maimed or torn in two hundred pieces. The Prophet said of this apparently substantial world that it is but the sleeper’s dream. You’ve accepted this as an idea, but the spiritual traveler has beheld this truth with... Read more

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