Browsing Category



Sunday, July 10, 2011 | Whirling Workshop by Sakina | 3:30 – 5:30 pm

Mevlana and Music: “The sema is like a spiritual field where one can plant seeds of faith. The teaching of Mevlana depends upon and is expressed in three elements: dance, music, and love.”

The workshop will be led by Sakina, a dervish of Shaykha Fariha al-Jerrahi. Please call or email to register for the workshop. Donations are welcome.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011 | Rectifying God’s Name: A Chinese Muslim Approach to Remembering Allah | Lecture by James Frankel | 7 pm | Suggested Donation $10

Islam first entered China more than 1,200 years ago, but for more than a millennium it was perceived as a foreign presence.. A dramatic flowering of Chinese Muslim cultural and religious thought occurred between the 16th and 18th centuries that produced a network of scholars who wrote about Islam in classical Chinese to form a body of literature known as the Han Kit?b. The challenge of expressing Islamic religious concepts in a context devoid of any clear monotheistic principle tested the limits of their scholarship and linguistic finesse.

Looking at the diverse influences on the highly syncretic thought of Liu Zhi (ca. 1660 – ca. 1730), a Chinese Muslim literatus, we see the most systematic and sophisticated attempt to harmonize Islam with Chinese thought and provide a glimpse at Chinese Islamic metaphysics. Liu Zhi found in Sufi theories a bridge between the religio-philosophical traditions of East and West. Other references to both Chinese and Islamic sources remain obliquely embedded in his writing. A study of these various influences provides a sense of the eclectic sources of his syncretism, revealing traces of the Ibn al-‘Arabi school of thought and Wahdat al-Wujud (Oneness of Being) theory that suffuse Liu Zhi’s writings, alongside Neo-Confucian, Daoist and Buddhist concepts that approximate mystical ideas long debated in the Islamic world.

James D. Frankel holds a Bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies and a doctorate in Religion from Columbia University. With his training in the study of religion and his specialization in Islam, his expertise is in the history of Islam in China, a field that draws upon and informs his scholarly interests in the comparative history of ideas, and religious and cultural syncretism. Dr. Frankel’s recent first book, Rectifying God’s Name: Liu Zhi’s Translation of Monotheism and Islamic Ritual Law in Neo-Confucian China (University of Hawaii Press, 2011) examines Chinese Islamic scholarship and literature of the early Qing (1644-1911) period. He has lived in China and has traveled extensively in Asia and Europe, where his research has included work with scholars and religious leaders of Muslim minority communities. As a member of the faculty of Religion at University of Hawaii at Manoa, Dr. Frankel teaches courses in Islam, comparative religion, and mysticism.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011 | The Way of the Heart: The Life and Legacy of Hazrat Inayat Khan | A Film by Mischa Scorer | Q&A session with Sharifa Felicia Norton & Muinuddin Charles Smith, PhD | 7:00 PM | Free Admission

The Way of the Heart is a luminous chronicle of Hazrat Inayat Khan’s journey to the West and the wisdom of Sufism he transmitted, and it reminds us that divinity can be found in the depths of every heart. It sounds a note of universal harmony in response to the great need of the world today.

The film screening will be followed by a Q&A session with Sharifa Felicia Norton & Muinuddin Charles Smith, PhD

Sharifa Felicia Norton and Muinuddin Charles Smith, PhD are co-founders of the Light of Guidance Center for Sufi Studies, in NYC, and co-authors of An Emerald Earth: Cultivating a Natural Spirituality and Serving Creative Beauty in Our World. They are senior teachers in the Sufi Order Interna- tional, offering retreats and workshops internationally.

Please also visit the site for the film:


Wednesday, March 2, 2011 | Subtle Allusions and Spiritual Practice | Lecture by Kristin Zahra Sands | 7pm | Free Admission

The eleventh century Sufi master al-Qushayri wrote a lengthy commentary on the Qur’an entitled The Subtle Allusions. It can be, and usually has been, read as a collection of Sufi interpretations that might be compared with legal, theological or sectarian interpretations. But a close reading reveals al-Qushayri’s deeper intention in writing this work, which is to teach spiritual aspirants how to read God’s signs themselves. These signs might be the verses in the Qur’an, or the signs on the horizons and in their own souls, as described in Qur’anic verse 41:53. This is not accomplished through intellectual training, although al-Qushayri himself was a scholar. Rather, it is knowledge that comes as “intimate communications and whispered confidences” to those who cultivate a receptive and bold way of being. In The Subtle Allusions, al-Qushayri frequently quotes poetry in the midst of other comments on a Qur’anic verse or verses, in an attempt to capture the sensibilities of the intimate friends and lovers of God. But he cites this evocative material with the experienced eye of a master who is well aware of the distractions, fatigue and resistance that are part of the path. This talk will be an exploration of some of the imaginative, creative and very practical advice he gives to spiritual practitioners.

Professor Kristin Zahra Sands is a Professor of Islamic Studies at Sarah Lawrence College and the author of Sufi Commentaries on the Qur’an in Classical Islam. She is currently working on an English translation of Abu’l Qasim al-Qushayri’s Lata’if al-Isharat for the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought’s tafsir project.


Friday, March 11, 2011 | Mystical Music of the Near East | Concert by Eliyahu & the Qadim Ensemble | 8pm | $15

Qadim is a word found in both Arabic and Hebrew meaning ‘ancient’ as well as ‘that which will come.’   Their repertoire includes Jewish music from throughout the region, Arabic, Turkish Sufi, Hebrew-Yemenite, Ladino, Armenian and Moroccan music, celebrating the common musical and spiritual heritage of the region’s cultures, while honoring the great diversity found within them.

“Beautifully presented, the players bring superb musicianship and palpable enthusiasm to each performance . . . creating a sense of human communication with the divine.” – NPR, All Things Considered


Saturday, April 2, 2011 | Who’s calling? How to respond?: Ibn ‘Arabi on the divine Call and our response. | Lecture by James Morris | 3pm | Free Admission

In a world in which we are all being so constantly and urgently solicited from every direction, there is a special poignancy today to the repeated insistence, throughout the Qur’an and hadith, on our fundamental human responsibility first simply to perceive, and then to respond fully to the manifold ways we are each constantly called to respond “to what gives you-all Life” (8:36). Some of the most accessible and universal sections of Ibn ‘Arabi’s Meccan Illuminations are devoted to those challenges of spiritual perception and discernment-and unsuspected occasions for shared growth and creativity-that arise throughout life’s daily encounters. A few translated excerpts from the Shaykh’s chapters outlining these very practical spiritual teachings will provide a springboard for exploring and sharing some of the ways these lessons actually unfold in our everyday life.

Professor James Morris (Boston College) has taught Islamic and comparative religious studies at the Universities of Exeter, Princeton, Oberlin, and the Sorbonne, and lectures widely on Sufism, the Islamic humanities, Islamic philosophy, the Qur’an, and Shiite thought. Recent books include Ostad Elahi’s Knowing the Spirit (2007); The Reflective Heart: Discovering Spiritual Intelligence in Ibn ‘Arab?’s ‘Meccan Illuminations’ (2005); Orientations: Islamic Thought in a World Civilisation (2004); and Ibn ‘Arab?’s The Meccan Revelations (Pir Press, 2003).


Saturday, April 30, 2011 | The Sunrise of Sufism: Early Sufi History | Lecture by Zasha Ganovskaya | 3pm | Free Admission

We will discuss the emergence of early Sufi communities in the Middle East and Central Asia, and consider the historical and social conditions under which Sufism became more visible and influential. We will also profile sev- eral prominent women and men whose asceticism and devotion continue to inspire Sufis around the world today.

Dr. Zasha Ganovskaya is currently teaching in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University.  For her research on Sufism, Islamic jurisprudence, and politics in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, she is currently an Edward A. Hewett Policy Fellow, a Visiting Research Fellow at the American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan, an American Councils Research Scholar, and an IREX Research Fellow.  Prior to teaching at Columbia, Dr. Ganovskaya taught in the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilization at Harvard, where she served as a Research Fellow for the Islamopedia Initiative of the Islamic Studies Program, and received an award for excellence in teaching.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011 | The Shahi Qawwals from Ajmer Sharif (India) | Concert by The Chishty Sufi Sema Ensemble | 8pm | $25 | Advance Tickets $20

NOTE: Advance tickets for this event are no longer available. We have SOLD OUT. We just announced another performance for Friday night.

Please join us for an extraordinary evening of music. We are blessed to host the Shahi Qawwals, a troupe of traditional Chishty Sufi Sama singers from Dargah Ajmer Sharif of 6th Century saint Haz-rat Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti, located in Northern India.

The Qawwali tradition is a form of Sufi devotional music that stretches back 700 years. It is per- formed mainly at Sufi shrines, but was popularized by the late Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Please come to show support for the Shahi Qawwals and the representatives of the saint, Syed Riyazuddin Chishty & Syed Salman Chishty.