August 2, 2019

Just before sunset, we met in a parking lot adjacent to a marshy field. Two field biologists distributed keychain flashlights and stapled sheets of paper covered in squiggles and dashes that looked like alien Morse code, or some kind of ancient alphabet. The task before us was daunting. In the space of just fifteen minutes, and with the light rapidly fading, we had to learn this new language well enough to both understand what was being said and use the… Read more

July 14, 2019

There are so many manifestations of beauty in life. This has always been for me the supreme evidence of God, an indication that all of existence proceeds from a divine Source. And so, when I first heard the Hadith Qudsi, “God is beautiful and loves the beautiful,” I thought: this makes deep sense.  Could it be that Beauty is a path to God? Then one day my teacher said to me, “Beauty is our point of contact with Love.”  I… Read more

July 3, 2019

  What if Muslims who are in positions of religious authority acted as if Allah is Beautiful and loves Beauty? All too often Muslim religious leaders are actually in opposition to beauty and its expressions in our lives. Recently, an incident caused me to reflect upon our faith and its dominant expression in Islamic institutions, venues, and media. A dear friend of mine was holding a workshop on the Ninety-Nine Names of God for Muslim children. He was telling the… Read more

June 15, 2019

More than previous Ramadans, this year the holy month felt like a journey with my Rabb, my inmost self, deeper into the arms of Mercy. Under the gentle guidance of the Sustainer who is closer to me than the beating of my heart, I traveled through time to wounded parts of myself and allowed this body to experience the tragedy of unexpressed pain and emotion. Grief that had been tucked away, sometimes for decades, came into conscious awareness and flowed… Read more

June 2, 2019

Be patient and persistent in fasting: be always expecting the Food of God. For God, who acts with goodness and is long-suffering, bestows His gifts on those who are expectant. The full-fed man doesn’t wait expectantly for bread, wondering whether his allowance will come soon or later; but the foodless man is always asking, “Where is it?” and expecting it hungrily and seeking and searching for it. Unless you are expectant, that bounty of manifold felicity will not come to… Read more

May 28, 2019

As we enter the last ten days of Ramadan, my thoughts turn to Laylatul Qadr, the Night of Power. Reflecting on what Muhammad (peace be upon him) experienced on this night – the receiving of the first revelation (and perhaps the seed of the entire Quran) – it strikes me how deeply mystical Islam is. In fact, it seems to me that to really understand and embrace Islam, one necessarily has to be a mystic. Yet many Muslims regard mysticism… Read more

May 16, 2019

I have written previously about my fasting challenges and how I try to focus on other aspects of Ramadan to deepen in the blessings this month offers. Last Ramadan I took an online course on the Ninety-Nine Names of God. There was an over-abundance of material that the teachers supplied, and I decided to revisit the e-course this Ramadan to deepen in my reflections of the Divine Names. The main text used in the e-course is the Ninety- Names of… Read more

April 21, 2019

Sooner or later those who travel the path of God will encounter a series of questions related to the very existence of the “self.” What began as a self-evident and solid “I”, an identity made up of desires, satisfactions, disappointments, insecurities, and aspirations, gradually becomes rather different and mysterious sense of self. According to one map of the Sufi journey, the self proceeds through a series of fanas (stages of annihilation). First it realizes that maybe its actions are not… Read more

April 6, 2019

When I imagine sacred space, my first impulse is to think of the soft, thick purple and cream-coloured prayer carpet that sits at the foot of the floor-to-ceiling windows in my living room. Looking out the past the balcony to the right, I can glimpse the moon blooming and retreating each passing month in the night sky. A vase with fresh roses and a flickering candle accompany me on my left, while the fragrance of wild orange and bergamot fills… Read more

March 26, 2019

  When the mirror of your heart becomes clear and pure, you’ll behold images which are outside this world. You will see the image and the image-Maker, both the carpet of the spiritual expanse and the One who spreads it. Rumi, Mathnawi: II, 72-3   Spiritual perception is a recurrent theme in our tradition; prominent in Rumi’s Masnavi, it also emerges in the work of other Sufi poets and philosophers such as Yunus Emre. And it’s a theme that has… Read more

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