Category: Issue 80

Archives Issue #80



From Issue #80 on we have shifted the focus of SUFI to how it could best contribute to raising the spiritual consciousness among people of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and experience, and to introduce more diverse interpretations of the Sufi path and other spiritual disciplines in both a contemporary and historical context.  Thus, in this issue our featured articles and narratives present expressions of women’s experience and perspective of the mystical in modern life – an Asian Sufi living in World War Two Europe, an American woman experiencing the mystical dimension on the streets if Istanbul, a Sufi scholar examining gender bias through a foundational Sufi Text, and an interview with a rabbi who overcame religious and gender prejudices to reach her goals.


THE EXPERIENCE OF NOTHINGNESS Discourse by Alireza Nurbakhsh  

DAUGHTER OF SUFISM The Passion of Noor Inayat Khan by Yousef Daoud

WRESTLING WITH GOD A Conversation with Rabbi Tirzah Firestone Interview by Llewellyn Smith and Kelly Thomson

FROM HISTORY TO HER STORY Women in Sufi Discourses by Safoura Nourbakhsh

UNDER THE MINARET Narrative by Jan Shoemaker


Low Budget Mysticism / Spiritual tourism in India by Sholeh Johnston
Revealing the Truth/A Rapper on Rumi by Sholeh Johnston
Community, Nur Foundation Working for the Needs of the Poor-Spain

BOOK REVIEWS by Robert Landau Ames and Eliza Tasbihi
A Soaring Minaret by Laury Silvers
Sacred Spaces, A Journey with the Sufis of the Indus by Semina Quraesh, Ali S. Asani, Carl W. Ernst and Kamil Khan Mumtaz


Whoever Becomes Nothing Becomes God by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh
Friend of God by Jeni Couzyn
The Way Under the Way by Mark Nepo
I Was a Fable by Peter Valentyne




MINA MOMENI, Photographer (


(Front Cover Photo Mina Momeni)


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Featured Poet: Mark Nepo

Mark Nepo is a poet and philosopher who has taught in the fields of poetry and spirituality for over thirty-five years. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, he has published thirteen books and recorded eight audio projects. Recent work includes his next book of spiritual inquiry, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen (Simon & Schuster, with audio book, Fall 2012).


For all that has been written,
for all that has been read, we
are led to this instant where one
of us will speak and one of us will
listen, as if no one has ever placed
an oar into that water.

It doesn’t matter how we come
to this. We may jump to it or be
worn to it. Because of great pain.
Or a sudden raw feeling that this
is all very real. It may happen in a
parking lot when we break the eggs
in the rain. Or watching each other
in our grief.

But here we will come.  With very
little left in the way.

When we meet like this, I may not
have the words, so let me say it now:
Nothing compares to the sensation
of being alive in the company of
another. It is God breathing on
the embers of our soul.


(Photo by Jim Kosinski.)


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Under the Minaret

by Jan Shoemaker

Under the Minaret is a compelling essay about an American woman experiencing the mystical dimension on the streets of Istanbul.

“…my mind wandered again to the woman in the road and I felt the tug of eternity.  Was it possible my mother had traveled along?  I felt the recognition of it open in me.  Under the minarets, below the dome of Hagia Sophia, outside the synagogues tucked behind fortified gates, I’d found but failed to see her in a a stranger’s gaze.” (Photo by Timothy O’Brien.)

(Photo ©Timopthy O’Brien)

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Wrestling with God


Interview by Llewellyn Smith and Kelly Thomson

Author, psychotherapist and lecturer, Rabbi Tirzah Firestone is the founding rabbi of Congregation Nevei Kodesh of Boulder, Colorado.  Today her energies are devoted to the re-integration of ancient mystical wisdom into contemporary Jewish life.  Her book, The Receiving: Reclaiming Jewish Women’s Wisdom (Harper 2003), gives us stories and teachings of forgotten female sages and mystics from the Jewish traditions.  Rabbi Firestone’s interview reveals an intimate account of the honest-to-life God -wrestling throughout her spiritual journey.

(Photo courtesy of Rabbi Tirzah Firestone.)

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Daughter of Sufism


by Yousef Daoud

Hazrat Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan, from an esteemed family lineage in India, has in recent decades merged as one of the most illuminated practitioners of the Sufi path of chivalry (javanmardi in Persian or futuwwa in Arabic).  Recognized decades after her death as a Sufi saint, she has been afforded an honor rarely given to Sufis who have not served as a master of a Sufi order. Daughter of Sufism is a biographical account of Noor Inayat Khan’s early life, British Secret Intelligence service and her imprisonment and death in Germany during World War II. (Photo courtesy of International Sufi Order.)

(Photo of Noor Inayat Khan courtesy of Sufi Order International)

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The Experience of Nothingness

by Alireza Nurbakhsh

“In one of his last interviews, my father said that the goal of Sufism is nothingness, and then added, “because it is only when one is zero that one experiences the infinite.”  To paraphrase what he meant in this context: it is only when we do not experience our own individuality that we experience the divine in ourselves and in others.”

(Original Enso by Kazuaki Tanahashi)

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From History to Her Story

Women in Sufi Discourses

by Safoura Nourbakhsh

The history of women in Sufism has not been written yet.  The problem with our historical understanding of women mystics of the early period and even the later generations is that none of them left any writings. We therefore have to piece together their portraits from the writings of male Sufi historians and biography compilers, who had their own views of womanhood and whether or not it was possible for women to embark on a spiritual path alongside their male counterparts.  This article explores the competing narratives of women in emerging Sufi discourses.


(Photo by Mena Momeni.)

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