Sunday, June 01, 2008


I do not believe that I have ever written about my feelings on religion, other than to occasionally make mention of how I avoid it. The following story though, hit me hard. When I first joined the Sufi Order I was kind of aware of its association with Islam but, as there was no accent on religion, I ignored it. Now, things have changed. Religion is becoming an insistent presence in the Sufi Order and that disappoints me greatly. Especially its association with Islam. There is an assertion within the community that religions need to find a way to stop beating on one another, they need to come together in some manner and teach humanity how to live in peace. It is as if religion is some kind of independent entity that over sees humanity's experiences and expectations. That is silly. Religion always always responds to the culture that spawns it or pretends to depend on it. Almost never does religion actually lead to anything. There are people who are reasonable and sane and willing to listen and then there are the people who do the things related in the following story.

Mother who defied the killers is gunned down

Five weeks ago Leila Hussein told The Observer the chilling story of how her husband had killed their 17-year-old daughter over her friendship with a British soldier in Basra. Now Leila, who had been in hiding, has been murdered - gunned down in cold blood. Afif Sarhan in Basra and Caroline Davies report on the final act of a brutal tragedy

The rest of the story can be read here:

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Last night Majida and I went to a concert by the North East Pennsylvania Philharmonic. Since we are used to the extremely high level of performance in New York City concerts, I admit to being a bit wary. I should not have been concerned. The orchestra was crisp and exciting and fun to listen to. It is small, only about half the size of the NY Philharmonic but then the stage would not have accommodated the NY Philharmonic anyway.

What was truly exciting though was the music. For the first time ever I heard Beethoven's Fifth live. Everyone knows the opening four notes and many have heard recordings but how many of us have heard it performed live? It is such an exciting piece of music, full of surprises and drama. Majida remarked that there is a reason that Beethoven has lasted and this was part of the reason.

As I listened to the music I could not help but reflect that there are large parts of humanity that restricts itself severely to musical styles and by extension to thinking that is very limited. I suppose we do this because it is safe. So the next question then is how much of what us more intellectual types think and do is for safety's sake?

It is all too common for the intellectual to look down upon all others who are not clever enough or educated enough to understand the complexities that we revel in. What I have noticed however is that these complexities tend to become frozen. Normal enough I suppose, we really do need safe, even when the safety is gleaned from a momentary flash of brave exploration.

What the mystics advise is to approach each instant in time anew. It is probably unavoidable that we bring our assumptions and opinions and experiences to each new moment, however, we can also step back a bit and enter into each new instant with an attitude of newness. It is a discipline that must be learned but it can be done. Granted that is a place of danger since you are deliberately abandoning what you know to work, to be safe. I admit to being able to do this very rarely but I do attempt it from time to time. I am very often guilty of judging a person or a situation based on my prejudices. Never the less, I do work on stepping around them and looking afresh. It does not always work but very occasionally it does.

So, I sat in the concert hall, great seats by the way, and simply enjoyed the music. I let myself sink into the moment and enjoyed. I found myself with a big smile, bouncing to the rhythm and joy of one of the great symphonies.

I can remember a person, myself in the past, who would have been very stern and concerned mostly with his image to others. He would have been very afraid that someone would find out that he did not really understand classical music and he would have been determined to present a knowledgeable front, but terrified of his lack of actual knowledge. How silly is that? Thank God that we are allowed to transcend such silliness, should we so choose.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Monday, April 14, 2008


Julia NUR JAMIL duhrsen

August 18, 1958March 23, 2008

As most of my readers know, I have a very few people who look to me for spiritual guidance. I am not sure of the actual number but it is small, around 40 or 50 probably. Of those maybe 10 people are in fairly regular communication. On Easter Sunday last, one of them died.

Nur Jamil (Light of Beauty) was my friend. That is what it always comes down to eventually, friendship. The reason for her death is not as important as the impact her living being had on the people around her. Her life was one of constant struggle, a never ending series of very serious challenges which she not only met head on but allowed to shape her over all attitude toward life in general. Nur Jamil was one of those very rare people with no enemies. Everyone who met her went away feeling as if they had been given something precious, though often they had no idea what it was.

This past Sunday Majida and I officiated at a memorial service for Nur Jamil in Yonkers, NY. The service was held in one of those funeral home rooms that we have all been in at some point. And it was packed. There were people standing in the halls. It is rare that a Universal Worship attracts that kind of attention but of course it was not the service at all but the reason for the service. We conducted the normal service up to the point of the sermon. Then without expressing any opinion ourselves, we asked those who wished to express their feelings or thoughts about Julia. Person after person arose to stand in front of the audience and express their deep gratitude for the opportunity to know a truly innocent, totally giving individual. It was a bit strange for me to listen to since I knew her as my student and friend. She came to me for advice but apparently it was the other way round for everyone else. Listening to the deep emotion being expressed was a cathartic experience for her family and her closest friends. It was obvious that such a person, in their innocence, affects people in the most profound way, just because they are being who they are.

When everyone else was finished speaking I was moved to say just a few words. What I found myself saying was that we are all connected. We are all individuals but there is also a unity that we exist within. Occasionally a soul appears to remind us of this deep connection. Julia Nur Jamil was one such soul. I will miss her.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I just looked at my page on my publishers web site and saw the following announcement:
A SOUTH ASIA EDITION of The Sovereign Soul: Sufism: A Path for Today was published by Readworthy Publications Ltd., of New Delhi, India, in February 2008, under the title Sufism: A Path for Today: The Sovereign Soul. Readworthy is a new imprint of D.K. Printworld Ltd., also of New Delhi. The Readworthy edition is available both as a paperback and in hardcover form.

The first I knew of this was when two books arrived in the mail. One hardback. Wow. I am international. Isn't that cool?

If you are interested, you can see the book and some reviews at

Saturday, March 08, 2008


This is our new home in Scranton PA. Lot's of people have asked us, why Scranton? The truth is that it was total serendipity. I was surfing the real estate parts of the web and saw this house. We went to see it and decided this was the house for us. Now, it turns out that it is perfect in many ways. Last night my daughter was commenting about how nice everyone is here and what a contrast it is to NYC. She was raised in NYC and has little experience with small town America. Now she is noticing just how closed New Yorkers are. Of course it is understandable to be wary when you live amidst 17 million other people but she had never really noticed it because she was in it.

When you live in New York City, you take rudeness for granted. Well not rudeness exactly, it is more like being constantly on guard. Since you never know just where the next assault is going to come from you are constantly tense. So it is a bit of a shock to find that people here do not have that reaction. There is tension of course, that is hard to avoid in this modern age, but it is at a much lower rate.

And the house is lovely. There is a lot of work to be done on it but the electricity and plumbing are new (thank god) so I can do almost all the work myself.

So, we are here. It is good. And life is still to be discovered.

I will write another philosophical blog when the dust settles a bit.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Friday, January 11, 2008


The following is an answer I wrote to someone I guide in response to a question she asked about what to do when nothing seems to be happening. It is a question that has come up quite a bit lately so I thought I would post my response to her hoping that it might also answer someone else with the same sort of question. In deference to the individual I am not posting the original question but I do not think it is really needed.

"I think there comes a time in one's spiritual life when the illusion of one's intent begins to pale. It is as if one must go deeper but we don't know quite how to do it. Consequently we might tend to feel that our spiritual life is becoming quite meaningless. This is a place where pushing thru becomes the important thing. I think it is when the trappings no longer seem quite so important and something else must arise within us. All of the things we do are part of our support system, they are the things that we latch onto in order to make some sense of the inner turmoil of true spirituality. For awhile they make us comfortable and, for some, they are the most important thing. But eventually a person might come to understand that all of these rituals only are the bare surface of an extremely deep experience. Really, they are cultural, just as most things are. I imagine that you have reached this place. Now the real question is why go on?"
Much Love, Musawwir