November 5, 2017
Dear Companions on the Path,
Autumn Greetings. I hope this finds you well. Over the last month, I had the chance to visit Suresnes, France, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Rochester, New York.
In Suresnes, Fazal Manzil is undergoing a significant revival as a Sufi center and place of pilgrimage. Across the street, at the home of my esteemed aunt and uncle, I enjoyed a scintillating dinner conversation with the philosopher Abdennour Bidar and his wife, and co-founder of Centre Sésame, Inès Weber.
In Chapel Hill, I attended the first day of a conference in honor of one of my academic mentors,Dr. Carl W. Ernst. It was a fitting tribute to a great scholar of Sufism, and a chance to see dear old friends.
In Rochester, the local center hosted me warmly and introduced me to Arun Gandhi, peacemaker and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, and Dr. Muhammad Shafiq of the Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue. At the Hickey Center I had the pleasure of giving a talk on my bookMingled Waters.
Meanwhile, though I no longer live at the Abode, I was delighted to connect with a retreat at the Abode via live stream. The retreat was organized by, and for, the African-American healer community. It featured the eminent jazz pianist Randy Weston, who related how The Mysticism of Music and Soundgalvanized his musical career.
Activities are commencing in Richmond. Last week, the Healing concentration convened a lovely two-day program. This weekend we host our first public gathering at the Astana: Sufism and Christianity. My partners in dialogue are Tessa Bielecki and Rev. LuTimothy May, two powerful witnesses to God’s Glory.
Yesterday the Astana was ritually dedicated. May it be a place of blessings for years to come. My thanks go out to all who helped to make this new headquarters possible, including many of you reading these lines. I hope you will come and visit. For this new beginning, for every new beginning, and for every breath: all thanks and praise to the One!
Music of the Spheres: Gamaka Commentaries, Gayan
“A fall does not break or discourage me, it only raises me to a new life.”
New Astana Staff
Khawar Alidost joined our staff as Administrative Assistant. She comes to us with a background in office management and customer service. Previously, she served as Administrative Assistant at Stratford University where she is finishing up a Master of Science degree in Healthcare Administration. Khawar has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University and speaks a variety of languages, including Persian-Dari, and recently, Urdu and Hindi. She and her family are refugees from Afghanistan, relocated by the United Nations to Richmond fifteen years ago. In her new role, Khawar will staff the Astana’s reception area, handling all incoming phone calls, emails, guests, book and product sales, and event registration. Please warmly welcome her at [email protected].
Young dults are invited to take part in a special East Coast Sufi Caravan taking part later this month. Our new Inayati Order Young Adult Council, led by Akbar Miller, Ariella-Sophie Steinberg, and Avraham Maistri, will host a two-part event beginning with a Thanksgiving Youth Jam in Sarasota, November 24-26, followed by Opening the Door, an informal gathering with Pir Zia at the Astana in Richmond, December 1-3. Please contact Akbar or Ariella for details.
Inayati Order Upcoming Events
As we wrap up the year, here is a glimpse of our schedule for 2018. There are two online calendars, one for the Astana and Pir Zia’s events, and second one that is more comprehensive, including all Inayati Order Representatives from our Six Activities: Esoteric School, Universal Worship, Knighthood of Purity, Sufi Healing Order, Ziraat and Kinship. We hope to see you, in-person or online, next year!
Inayati Order Fall Appeal 2017
Thank you to all of you who regularly and generously give toward our work. As we organizationally move into a phase of greater refinement and expansion, we hope that you will give Inayati Order Fall Appeal 2017. As we enter the month of November, we enter into the season of outward this year’s appeal. An email with details was sent out last week (also on our website), and if you are in the United States, you should receive a letter in the mail over the next few days. Alhamdulillah!
November 1, 2017
We want you to be part of this critical and exciting moment in the history of our order. The Inayati Order is at a threshold in its purpose to spread the unity of religious ideals and to awaken humanity to the divinity within, as expressed by Hazrat Inayat Khan.
Sufis have created gathering spaces all over the world, filled with baraka, where seekers receive teachings, converse with beloved friends over a glass of tea, write poems, play music, share in zikr practices, or whirl in ecstasy. In 1922, Hazrat Inayat Khan created such a space, which still exists almost one hundred years later, and named it Fazal Manzil, or “blessed house.” In 1975, Pir Vilayat created such a space at the Abode of the Message, where seekers, nestled in the woods, can still immerse in “the holy book of nature”.
At this time, to increase our ability to spread Murshid’s message of love, harmony and beauty, we are delighted and filled with gratitude to create such a space, which will soon be gathering its own baraka, in a beautiful, historic, building in Richmond, Virginia. Pir Zia has named it the Astana, meaning “threshold.”
There are two meanings to the word threshold. The first is an entrance. The Astana is the place we will enter, physically and spiritually; a threshold to our hearts. It will be our new home, housing our archive and providing a grounding center for our newly-staffed administrative offices from which we can better serve the needs of murids, leaders, and regions in North America, in addition to providing support for our order globally.
Threshold also means the magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for something to occur or be manifested. At this time, more than ever, we need your help to garner our collective intention, agency and resources in sufficient magnitude and intensity to manifest our shared commitment to spreading Murshid’s timeless and relevant teachings.
Our order has never been so well-positioned in terms of space, staffing and institutional cohesion to make our intentions a reality. We are tremendously grateful for previous gifts and even more so this year. Please make a donation and be part of this auspicious and expectant time.
In love and service,
Suluk Gulzar Class of 2015
P.S. Please see our Inayati Order Keynotes 2017 for details on our accomplishments, our future plans, and the various ways in which you can give. The Astana’s birth as our magnetic center and the Inayati Order’s expanding presence in the world depends on your generosity. Ya Fattah!