SUFI Journal of Mystical Philosophy and Practice

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NEW — HIGHLIGHT from SUFI Archives

From SUFI Issue 89
The Guide
Interview with a Sufi Shaykh
By Safoura Nourbakhsh

In this interview, Hossein Kashani, one of the shaykhs of the Nimatullahi Order, speaks candidly about the distinct trials of a master/disciple relationship, when a perfected human being commits his or her life to guiding others on the path towards Truth. He emphasizes that a disciple’s sincere yearning for the Truth attracts one’s guide, and begins a relationship of total commitment and trust that is necessary to navigate the trials of confronting one’s ego and its desires. He shares from his own experience, as a disciple of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, how a master/disciple relationship evolves through devotion and the master’s attention. While this may not be in a way that we expect, his unconditional love and acceptance enable a disciple to see and accept one’s shortcomings. “The master provides the light. We are in darkness, so it is through the master’s light that we see…”

Read the entire interview from the SUFI archive that is now available free to anyone. Subscribe to SUFI to enjoy the full array of articles, stories, poetry and more in each issue.

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This issue of Sufi focuses on active engagement with the divine as the means to spiritual union.

It includes two original studies of the enigmatic figure known as “Khezr” in Persian and represented in a number of spiritual traditions. Irfan A. Omar analyzes the Muslim modernist Muhammad Iqbal’s reading of the story about Khezr in the Qur’an. A critic of interpretations of Ebn Arabi that support passivity and lack of responsibility, Iqbal sees Khezr as an exemplar who guides seekers to develop their own selfhood in conformity with God’s will, an achievement he perfected in the famous story about his encounter with Moses.

The Path of Blame
by Alireza Nurbakhsh

We live in a world in which it has become acceptable to blame others when we are faced with misfortunes, calamities, accidents and even our own mistakes. But how should we approach these undesirable events? Pointing our finger at other people as the source of our misfortune is the easiest way out, as it seems to save us from dealing with the problem altogether.

Of course, we soon realise that this does not make the problem go away. Even if others were the main reason for or even a contributing factor in our misfortune, we still have to live with the pain of what has happened to us; the pain and grief will not go away even if we convince ourselves that it is not our fault. I should say at the outset that I am not advocating that people should not be accountable for their bad behaviour and misconduct. Accountability and punishment for criminal and immoral behaviour are the foundation of any civil society. Without these any society is in danger of being reduced to chaos. Nor am I suggesting that one hold onto childhood self-blame stemming from abuse suffered early in life. The point I am making is that healing from the grief caused by our misfortune is not accomplished by way of blaming others.

The Restorative Nature of Belief
by Mark Nepo

In my thirties, I almost died from a rare form of lymphoma but the tumor in my skull bone vanished—a miracle no one could explain. Everyone tried to claim its disappearance for their particular facet of the Mystery: it was Jesus, Moses, Allah, the power of my mind, the insistence of my heart, my will, my surrender, the care of my loved ones, the randomness of chance, it was the healing power of our ancestors.

Yet when light floods a prism, the power of its illumination does not reside in any one facet, but in the source of light bringing the prism alive. Having been restored and brought alive, I cannot argue with the praise for any one facet of my healing but am humbled to say yes to all, as each is evidence of the Source under all causes.

Because of this, I’ve come to see that everything is saturated with the spirit of life and our belief in life is the conduit that releases life’s power. Our belief animates us through whatever we choose to believe in. Our focused belief is the magnifying glass of heart that can ignite the inherent life-force residing in any particular aspect of life. And so, that we believe is always more important than what we believe in.

Tibetan Buddhist Nuns
by Dominique Butet
Photography: Olivier Adam

Although we approached mid-autumn, a dense but bearable heat welcomed us as soon as we got off the plane in Bodhgaya, located in Bihar, one of the poorest states in India. Nothing else to do but to embrace this particular feeling accompanied by an invasive brightness from the surrounding rice fields.

An electric and yet whirring tuk-tuk brought us directly to Tergar Monastery, in front of a huge hall which hosted the 26th non-sectarian nuns’ annual Winter Debate (“Jang Gonchoe” in Tibetan), from 16 October to 17 November 2022, gathering around 500 Himalayan nuns of the Tibetan tradition. All these Buddhist practitioners had come from ten nunneries in India and Nepal.

Khezr in the Mirror of Muhammad Iqbal’s Poetry
by Irfan A. Omar

Khezr is known as the immortal guide in the Islamicate tradition. He has been called the Muslim equivalent of Elijah; he is a prophet by some accounts, a mysterious guide and saint for others.

In popular piety, Khezr is venerated at numerous sites and sacred spaces around the world many of which belong to and are frequented by people from different religious communities. In Sufism, Khezr remains an indispensable master-teacher figure for the countless who follow the mystical path. Khezr’s name is also invoked in classical forms of poetry in various Islamic languages including Arabic, Persian, Indonesian, and Urdu, and his archetypal roles have captured the imagination of writers and thinkers beyond the boundaries of Islam.


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Posts Photos/Artwork – Left to Right/Top to Bottom: ©Александр|; ©Ave Calvar Martinez|; ©Olivier Adam; ©Canva