[Mathnawi II 1834-1835]
The disciplines of dervish-hood: regular spiritual practice, practices of adab and service, cultivating sincerity and authenticity in relationships, committing to a sheikh and lineage, self-witnessing with honesty and compassion, identifying and ‘fasting’ the nafs, responding to every circumstance with Eyvallah (all good is from God)… each, to this raw one, can feel an immense, insurmountable challenge and simultaneously the most joyful blessing!
Through each practice what seems to come up is an awareness that my nafs is trying desperately to maintain a regime of order and control, to dictate its own reality, to remain undisturbed.
I try to find any means to resist shouldering that “heavy load”, with all its associated effort and challenge. Common excuses not to see service or practice through include lack of time, commitments such as work or family (all very noble and self-righteous), believing “I’m just not good enough” (a personal favourite), and increasingly “God will forgive me” (!). Every morning I hit the snooze button and think “maybe tomorrow”… With every excuse, will is weakened, transformation less likely.
The rub is this; somehow, through Grace, if that braying ego can be silenced, even briefly, there is a glimpse of such profound sweetness – a tiny taste of something greater, more unified, more Real.
As a bashi at the last UK retreat it was a humbling privilege to serve amongst wholehearted companions, to witness the grace and ease that flows when the needs of the whole are served rather than the demands of each separate one. In Ramadan, an incredible joy and peace came from forgoing temporarily the demands of sleep and meals, the senses experiencing a deeper, non-physical Source of nourishment. With regular zhikr practice, days somehow seem to flow differently with greater opportunities for perspective and gratitude. Though often painful, self-reflection opens the possibility of finding a different response to internal and external voices, usually one that is more Compassionate, Just and Loving. The support of a sheikh and spiritual community further challenges this nafs, but in far greater measure melts it through love, laughter and example.
In Living Presence, Kabir Dede describes that through practice, “instead of the contents of the mirror, we are aware of the mirror itself”. May the disciplines of dervish-hood open us to know and ultimately become this identity. May it become Love.
~ Hana Iqbal, London
December’s theme is: The beauty of the human being is as much and as great as their love.
We welcome your reflections on this theme. Please email email@example.com.
Rumi’s Urs 2015 Bradford & London
Rumi’s Circle with whirling dervishes from The Threshold Society are pleased to announce the 2015 celebration of Mevlana Rumi’s Urs, the anniversary of his union with the Beloved. Join us for an uplifting evening with renowned musicians Amir Koushkani, Sarah Yaseen, Ali Nourbakhsh & Mina Salama. We will be sharing music and poetry on the theme of “Receiving Spirit: Mary & Muhammad”.
Buy your tickets here: rumiscircle.eventbrite.co.uk
Doors open at 6.30pm, performance begins promptly at 7pm.
Sunday 13th Dec: Delius Arts Centre, 29 Great Horton Rd, Bradford BD7 1AA
Friday 18th Dec: St Mark’s Church, Myddelton Square, London EC1R 1XX
Do share the event and bring your family and friends!
Join our Facebook event page.
Kneeling on the old carpet
In the middle of the room
Adorned with emptiness.
The only feature; the lamp
The coloured glass spraying light
Upon the rich red ancient threads.
Standing and kneeling,
Prostrating and feeling
Ney tones with daf vowels
Whirling through amber edges
Where the light caresses the dark
Beyond old brick walls.
The moon makes its journey
And the Eastern Star Writes
In the heavens – An Nur!
In this room he paints with light
And carves the name of the divine
With eternal dance.
~ Kam Murray, Annan (Scotland)
Annual Retreat Aug 2015 Audio
Audio recordings from the sessions at the annual retreat in Dorset are here.
Little by Little
Kabir Dede & Camille Ana, as part of the group, Ruby (including Erika Luckett & Lisa Ferraro), read a poem and perform their original song “Little by Little” based on a Ghazel by Rumi.
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The Custodians of Consciousness
Hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war torn countries, Beirut and Paris ripped by terror, demagogues responding to the lowest instincts of the populace… Amidst what seems like a cacophony of voices, of arbitrary violence, of staggering hypocrisies, we have to keep our hearts intact. On Friday I was at a local mosque for the weekly congregational prayer. A guest Imam was giving a rousing sermon, and we all know what a disturbing time Muslims are passing through. The gist of the sermon was that Islamophobia has always been present, that every prophet who came to the world faced challenges, and that Muslims should realize they are being tested. Furthermore, we should not let the extremists define our religion for us. The imam was addressing a community made up almost entirely of immigrants, when he said, “We came to this country because of its laws, and we are not the enemy of this country, or of any country.” He was addressing a community of people whose Muslim identity is one of their main objects of concern, especially in the face of so much misunderstanding and distortion. I happily stand with them and support them, and I stand, as well, with another community that I call “the custodians of consciousness.” Read more.
International Sufi Festival India Feb 9-14 2015
Sufism in Our Time with Shaikh Kabir Helminski & Pir Shabda Kahn. More details. Let us know if you are going and would like to be connected with the UK travellers.
H E A R T S P A C E
The Threshold Society iPhone App will be available at the iTunes App Store this month.
(Eventually also for Android)
The purpose of HeartSpace is to awaken the consciousness of the heart through the wisdom and practice of Sufi spirituality. It is through the heart that a human being can experience the peace, inner strength, and sense of well-being that comes through spiritual practice. True spirituality is based in experience more than beliefs. Heart space is not limited to one Sufi lineage, but offers an introduction to traditional principles and practices shared across lineages. HeartSpace is not meant to replace living spiritual guidance, but may it be an opening or a complement to your spiritual journey.
The core of HeartSpace is a series of guided practices that should initially be followed in sequence, but eventually can be listened to in any order and as often as you like. The free app is complete in itself, offering a comprehensive and many-leveled introduction to the practice of remembrance, or zhikr as it is called in traditional language.
Those who wish to continue and go deeper can subscribe to a version of the app that will offer further practices, more daily reminders, recordings of Sufi music and Quran, and the ability to connect with others engaged with this material.
We have also included a program that will allow you to receive one or more quotes per day drawn from the rich treasury of Sufi literature, especially Jalaluddin Rumi, and from the primary sources of the tradition, namely, the Hadith and the Quran. We have chosen these selections to be useful in supporting the development of your inner life. You will also be able to designate your favorite quotes, both as a personal record and to share them with friends.
Mevlevi Zhikr recording
Access the full Mevlevi zhikr recited by Shaikh Kabir and Shaikha Camille and support your daily practice. Listen online or download.
Dec 4th: Threshold London Monthly Open Group for Newcomers, 7pm. Newcomers to the group are asked to seek a telephone introduction and briefing with the host/facilitator before attending. Please phone Sadat on 07710 511517, or e-mail
Dec 13th: Rumi’s Urs Bradford. More details.
Dec 18th: Rumi’s Urs London. More details.
There is no London family zhikr this month, and there will be no weekly London group on Fri 25th Dec and Fri 1st Jan. Please note that the weekly group on Friday 18th Dec will instead be meeting on Thursday 17th Dec – Mevlana’s Urs!
Get in touch
We’d love to hear from you — a favourite piece from Mevlana, your own poetry, reflections on the path… please do contribute. We learn so much from each other, may this space be an opportunity for community, connection and companionship. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
See the UK regional information here.
Join the UK mailing list, email email@example.com.
THE FIRE THE DERVISH NEEDS
The fire that iron or gold needs—
[MATHNAWI II, 827–30, The Pocket Rumi]
would it be good for fresh quinces and apples?
The apple and quince are just slightly raw;
unlike iron, they need only a gentle heat.
But gentle flames are not enough for iron;
it eagerly draws to itself the fiery dragon’s breath.
That iron is the dervish who bears hardship:
under the hammer and fire, he happily glows red.