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

July 16, 2018

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

July 2, 2018

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

June 18, 2018

“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

June 5, 2018

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

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