The Zephyr September 2018

The Zephyr

Dear Companions on the Path,

I hope this finds you very well. I last wrote to you in the dog days of summer; now fall is nearly here. The wheel of time keeps rolling on. Sometimes the road is smooth, sometimes it’s stony. Through it all, the hub whirls.

While staying at Fazal Manzil in August I was able to teach the second-to-last session of the Jabarsa class of the Suluk Academy. Our subject was realization. The Jabarsa class will complete its two years of study in January, God willing. It’s a delightful group, wayfarers all.

After Suluk I received sad news from Afghanistan: Huzur Sayyid Ahmad Shah, the international leader of the Chishti Order and a truly beloved presence in my life, had passed away. I am so thankful to have known him, and to have had a treasured final meeting with him in Konya in July. Here is a brief reflection on the life and personality of this unique paragon of mystical love.

At the end of the month I made my way to Katwijk-aan-Zee in Holland for a retreat at the seaside Sufi Temple. On the last day, we gathered in silence in the dune in which Murshid communed with the Infinite in 1922, and which he named “Murad Hasil,” the place of wish fulfillment.

My family and I then returned from France to the U.S., leaving Rasulan in Paris for a semester of study abroad. Back in the States, I visited the Abode for a retreat over Labor Day weekend. It was wonderful to return to the Abode, and especially, to find it flourishing. I stayed in my old home, which has since become The Pir Vilayat Center, a house for focused Sufi study under the care of my esteemed friend Yaqin Aubert. Batina and Wahhab Sheets recently led a well-received month-long course there.

Closing prayers in the Abode Herb Garden, with special guest Rabbi David Breitkopf from JerusalemClosing prayers in the Abode Herb Garden, with special guest Rabbi David Breitkopf from Jerusalem

Over the weekend we received more sad news: the great jazz master and friend of our Order, Dr. Randy Weston, had peacefully departed from the world at the age of 92. You will find my tribute to Dr. Weston here. At his memorial service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Harlem, I was invited to recite Murshid’s homegoing prayer. The service was a powerful celebration of an extraordinary life and a moving evocation of the vibrancy of the transatlantic flow of African spiritual and artistic traditions in which Dr. Weston played such a crucial role. Vivid photos of the service, by Enid Farber, may be found here.

Back in Richmond, last week the new North American Suluk class convened at the Astana for its first five-day session. The subject of the session was concentration. The name of the class is “Naubahar,” meaning new spring. On the evening of September 13th, we celebrated Hejirat Day and the Urs of Pirzadi-Shahida Noor-un-Nisa. On the same day, celebrations took place all over the world: at the Dachau Memorial, at Gordon Square in London, at Fazal Manzil, and in many Sufi centers. Here is an inspiring account of the gathering at Dachau convened by Latifa Mancinelli and friends.

The centerpiece of our celebration of Pirzadi-Shahida Noor’s Urs was the unveiling of a magnificent portrait of Noor, which is now installed in the Meditation Room at the Astana. The portrait, by Suluk alumna Majida Nan Hill, portrays Noor on horseback, exuding idealism and dauntlessness. The story behind the painting may be found here. This is an icon that will doubtlessly be cherished by present and future generations of ashiqs, murids, heralds, and knights.

If the word “ashiq” is not familiar to you, I request your patience: I plan to say more about this word when I write again next month. Meanwhile, I am settling in here in Richmond and plans are in place to webcast our twice-monthly Gatha classes at the Astana, the first being this Sunday. To tune in, please follow this link:

God bless you.

Yours ever,

Sarafil Bawa

Portrait of Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan

Over the summer of 2018, the painter, Nan “Majida” Hill, created this portrait of the WWII heroine and daughter of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan. The portrait now hangs in the Inayati Order’s North American Headquarters, called the Astana, in Richmond, Virginia. Please continue reading to learn more about the artist and the story behind the portrait. Limited edition prints are available via the Inayati Order’s Online Store here:

The Mysticism of Sound & Music Online Series: Fall 2018

Join us Thursday evenings in October at the Astana in Richmond, Virginia, or online any time, and experience the Sufi teachings of the Indian musician and mystic, Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927) with Pir Zia Inayat-Khan and special guest musician-in-residence, Sukhawat Ali Khan.

When: Thursday, October 4, 11, 18, and 25
Where: The Astana & Online
Price: $0-50


Gayan Commentary

Music of the Spheres: Gamaka Commentaries, Gayan

“If anyone throws it down, my heart does not break; it bursts and the flame coming rises from it, which becomes my torch.”

The human heart does not stay enclosed in the breast of its owner; in the course of day-to-day life it passes from hand to hand. One person holds it gently, another squeezes it, and still another hurls it down.

When the seat of one’s emotions is thrown to the ground, the injury is felt. How it is felt depends on the condition of the heart. If the heart is weak and rigid, it shatters and falls to pieces. Its pride is all it knows, and when that pride is ruptured there is nothing left.

If the heart is strong and flexible, instead of breaking it bursts. The “I” shines out, triumphantly revealing the light and life hidden within the shell of the self. Life’s vicissitudes do not dim the spirit within, but rather intensify it, as fuel to fire, so that it glows ever more brightly as the surrounding darkness deepens.

There is no better guide on the path than the heart’s own florescence when it has died as lump of flimsy pride and resurrected as a clear instrument of the light that is forever.

See the full commentary on the Inayati Order website, and please check back for updates.

Making One’s Own Nature with Pir Zia Inayat-Khan
1-2 December in Cambridge, MA – Register Now

Inayati Order Upcoming Events


Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story
Film Screening and Hub Talk w/ Pir Zia Inayat-Khan

Pleasanton, California
28 September 2018

Making One’s Own Nature w/ Pir Zia – SOLD OUT
Berkeley, California
29-30 September 2018

Making One’s Own Nature w/ Pir Zia
Cambridge, Massachusetts
1-2 December 2018


Angelic Lights w/ Pir Zia
London, England
17-18 November 2018

Please see our Inayati Order Programs Calendar for more event listings.