December 4, 2018

A transcribed sohbet of Shaikh Kabir, from the forthcoming book The Living Tradition, Discourses on the Sufi Path The Qur’an says: In His causes you ought to strive. The Arabic word jihada could be translated as “strive.” The real jihada, the real spiritual striving, is awakening the energy or force from which we gain a new relationship with the struggle between intention and resistance, between striving and whatever opposes our spiritual striving. The “causes” refer to Divine causes, spiritual matters… Read more

November 16, 2018

Once upon a time, I was terrified of views – distant hills, valleys, woodlands seen from a distance – all would make me feel like I was falling, unanchored and without gravity. As a young child living with my grandmother in a Yorkshire town full of green landscapes and a plethora of rolling hills and valleys, this was particularly difficult. My errands to the local grocery shop were fraught – the road I had to traverse had open views on… Read more

November 6, 2018

Through the tears welling up in my eyes, I looked down at the opening and closing of my hand. First I wrapped my four right fingers over my thumb and pressed them against the centre of my palm into a fist. I examined it for several seconds, then slowly released the fist until my fingers were outstretched. For a few moments more, I gazed at my open hand, before closing it again. After several minutes I started to sync the… Read more

October 23, 2018

Back when I was a punk rock teenager, I learned there was a way to be even more rebellious than shaving your head or tearing holes in your clothes: it was called being “straight edge”. Symbolized by a big black X (often drawn in marker on the back of the hand), kids who were straight edge didn’t drink, do drugs or smoke. Most of them were vegetarian or vegan. Often politically active or at least outspoken, they were always deadly… Read more

October 12, 2018

I have often wondered why the Beautiful and the Joyful do not usually appear in Islam’s traditional lists of Divine Names. Most of the listed Names are in the Quran, and these two are not. So it might at first seem that God does not wish to be seen as beautiful or joyful. However, the Quran does refer to the Divine Names as a whole as al-Asma ul-Husna, meaning “the Beautiful Names”. For example: To Hu belong the Most Beautiful… Read more

September 26, 2018

  In a previous article we mentioned how the Prophet (PUH) had a deep capacity for Munajaat, that is the secret discourse between lovers, which involves openly pouring our hearts out to our Rabb (our Sustainer, our Lord, our inmost Self), with openness, vulnerability, and longing for nearness to Him. There is an extensive and rich recorded tradition of the Prophet’s prayers that can help us understand and guide us to what is possible for us in our relationship with… Read more

September 5, 2018

The porter runs to the heavy load and takes it from others, knowing burdens are the foundation of ease and bitter things the forerunners of pleasure. See the porters struggle over the load! It’s the way of those who see the truth of things. [Mathnawi II: 1834-6] Every year these words preface our message to the team of bashis (helpers) that come together to manage the organisation of our annual UK retreat. The words are like a galvanising rod that… Read more

August 12, 2018

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

August 3, 2018

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

July 22, 2018

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

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