Tag: Safoura Nourbakhsh



Interviewed by Safoura Nourbakhsh

This is what Mehri joon says about herself and her involvement with Sufism: I loved reading monajats [devotional prayers] and fasting when I was younger. At dawn, during the month of Ramadan, I loved to listen to monajats. Our neighbor had a radio and I would go to the yard and listen in. When I got older I fell in love with Hafez first and then Rumi. I also fell in love with my high school lit teacher because nothing spoke to me like poetry. Then when I was older I thought I was in love with Imam Ali. I thought he was a perfect human being, but later I was not sure. How could one love anyone more than God?

Then, I had this life-changing experience as a young married woman. My first child was a year and a half old. I was wrongfully accused by my husband and his family of something I had not done and which was so removed from my character. I remember I was so crushed because, before this happened, I could swear by my husband. I believed in him, I trusted him. But then when this happened, I understood that I cannot put my trust in any human being. I turned to God completely and called on him genuinely and said “I only want you and no one else.” So what happened made that detachment possible for me.

Was the master accessible to you? Was it easy to see him? I mean the environment was very masculine and he sat in the men’s jamkhaneh. Did you feel that as a woman you were excluded in some ways? Yes, always; I always envied the men. I envied their physical proximity to the master. They could see him all the time.

Did other people in the community also object to your ways? Did they also see you as a radical woman breaking traditions? Yes, from the beginning I would give my poetry to the master and he would give the singers my poetry to sing and recite for the gatherings. Some men would always make fun of me and my poetry afterwards. Most of my poetry was love poetry and to them a woman had no business writing love poems. Sometimes I would also doubt my own feelings and question myself. Perhaps I was suffering from some kind of lack or deprivation that I was so attached or in love with my master. But after examining myself carefully I would come to the conclusion that this love is the love I was seeking all my life, a love that consumes you without any expectations. I wanted to experience that love, and I had finally.



92 Editors’ Note


Issue 92, Winter 2017

This issue of SUFI brings the reader right up against what is uncomfortable. Forget about politics: let’s talk about the weather. Too hot in cold months, too dry in wet ones, ferocious when it should be bleating like a lamb.

Alireza Nurbakhsh, current Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order, describes the planetary climate, and then the spiritual one. He finds that excessive consumption—of goods, people, ideas—probably anything—is one of the causes of deadly changes in our environment. This is not necessarily a surprise, but the cure he prescribes for the problem is. Contentment, “a state wherein one is happy with who he or she is and what he or she possesses,” is the antidote, and what makes contentment possible, he clearly shows, is unconditional loving-kindness, a broken-open love that asks for nothing in return, and sees the Beloved right in front of it at every moment.

Mark Nepo advocates an unflagging and faithful “devotion of attention” to the one moment in front of you as part of the path leading to the love and truth in our hearts, broken open and blooming like window box geraniums when we least expect it.

Marilie Coetsee shows how the medieval Sufi thinker al-Ghazali discusses an experiential knowledge similar to the contentment that can only be acquired through engagement in loving kindness. In this case the special knowledge is acquired through the medium of emotions specifically and is unattainable through the intellect alone, demonstrating that “the heart has its reasons” in a new and profound light.

Edwin Bryant, interviewed by Komal Majmundar and Jawid Mojaddedi, shows that a muscular approach to spirituality is not always the most direct path, although it can certainly be one of them. He discusses the differences among bhakti yoga and other branches of yoga, grounding his remarks in Patajali’s definition that “yoga is the stilling of all fluctuations of thought.” Stop for a second, pay attention, love is arising, in all its forms.

Scenes as disparate as a pristine Quaker meeting house in Vermont and a center for sex workers, addicts, and other desperate youth in New York City, the first in J. Brent Bill’s article on silence, the second in Safoura Nourbakhsh’s interview with Adam Bucko, co-founder of The Reciprocity Foundation, find that deep listening and contemplative silence are the core of loving and transformative action on behalf of others.

In every contribution in this issue of SUFI, readers will find that what we most need is not for sale. Grace is freely given, but we do not dictate the terms of delivery. Love, in its rhythms heard and unstruck, is there when we quiet down and let go of everything else.

—The Editors of SUFI


Print and digital subscriptions available. Buy SUFI now.


Archives 88 – Editors’ Note

Editors’ Note88 FrontCover-cropped

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

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 ( www.minamomeni.com)


(Front Cover Photo Mina Momeni)


Print and digital subscriptions available. Buy SUFI now. 

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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