In a time when attachment to the world and its wealth seems to many to be out of reasonable control, Winter Issue #88 SUFI explores the many facets of the act of
In December 1972, Apollo 17 gave us one of the most powerful photographs of the 20th century. It was called “The Blue Marble” and it was the first fully illuminated image of the earth taken from 45,000 kilometers away in space. For the first time people could visually comprehend something that mystic traditions have intimated for millennia—the earth as a unified, “absolute” being. The individual ego paled in comparison to the beauty of the earth floating in a vast cosmic ocean. The image continues to inspire contemplation of our existence within a delicate interconnected, interdependent ecological system.
It is too easy to forget the importance of nature to our spiritual nourishment, to forget our commitment to serve all living things—not just other human beings. However, as this issue of SUFI attests, there are remarkable people whose connection to nature translates to active engagement, who seek to adapt to nature’s creative ebb and flow, and for whom service to all of creation is at the heart of spiritual practice. Among the foremost of these are the Kogi people, whom Maria Gutierrez meets at the “Heart of the World” while traveling in Colombia. Les Sponsel reviews the case for a revolution in consciousness in his introduction to the field of spiritual ecology. The threads of his call to action are beautifully taken up by eco-activist and Jain monk, Satish Kumar, in conversation with Llew Smith and Annie Stopford. Wendy Tremayne shares her vision of a modern sustainable lifestyle, underpinned by Sufi principles, and Planetary Collective explores the power of wonder and awe in reconnecting us to a state of unity in CultureWatch.
Alireza Nurbakhsh’s discourse, “Perspectives on Climate Change,” goes to the heart of how taking a spiritual stance towards the world could lead us to overcome the distractions of “right” and “wrong” and change our collective behavior for the better. Andy Goldsworthy’s photo essay reminds us of the constant state of change, evolution and transformation all around us and within us at every moment, summing up anew ecological paradigm with its title: Shaking Hands with Nature.
—The Editors of SUFI
THE GENDER ISSUE: ART | POETRY | CULTUREWATCH | BOOK REVIEWS | & more…
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.
DISCOURSE, ARTICLES, NARRATIVES AND INTERVIEWS
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
JENI COUZYN, Poet
(Front Cover Photo Mina Momeni)
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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.)