Sufism Symposium 2017 Report

Meditation, Universal Consciousness, and The Journey of Transformation

April 22-23, 2017

People from around the globe attended a fulfilling and uplifting weekend on the timely and important topic of Meditation, Universal Consciousness and The Journey of Transformation, hosted by the International Association of Sufism (IAS) on Saturday and Sunday, April 22-23, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in San Rafael, California.

The weekend began with Taneen: Sufi Music Ensemble, who opened our hearts with lyrics from the love poetry of the great Sufi Masters. Dr. Nahid Angha, an Uwaiysi Sufi Master, co-director and co-founder of International Association of Sufism, gave an opening statement introducing the theme and its relevance in today’s world. We then had the great opportunity to participate in the Four Prayer Songs in Coast Miwok, led by Sky Road Webb.

Dr. Hamaseh Kianfar, member of IAS, SWO, and founding member of Voices for Justice, moderated a panel welcoming Dr. Sharon Mijares, a psychologist and member of the Sufi Ruhaniat International, who gave a presentation on The Healing Power of the Breath. Shah Nazar Seyyed Dr. Ali Kianfar, an Uwaiysi Sufi Master, co-director and co-founder of International Association of Sufism, spoke profoundly and succinctly about meditation – what it is and what to expect from ourselves.

Dr. Patrick Marius Koga, a psychiatrist specializing in trauma and refugees, spoke on his work with Afghan and Arab War refugees. Sheikha Azima Lila Forest of the Sufi Ruhaniat International and a Unitarian Universalist minister, shared Meditation While Sitting and While Walking in the World.

The Sufi Women Organization’s Fashion Show, held during Saturday’s lunch, was fun and lighthearted, raising funds for the local and international work of SWO.

Dr. Shahid Athar, an established physician and author, spoke on A Sufi Physician’s Personal Journey of Transformation, and Sr. Elizabeth Padilla of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization presented a lovely Raja Yoga Meditation.

Murshid Ibrahim Jaffe, MD, the main teacher for the Shadhiliyya Sufi Order, gave a presentation on the Practice on Absorption of the Divine Names. Professor Saleh Arthur Scott, a student in the Uwaiysi lineage, shared his experience of beauty, love and wisdom within the journey of transformation. Murshida Khadija Goforth, MS, a member of the Ruhaniat International and Dances of Universal Peace, offered a well-received Sufi Walking Meditation.

On Saturday evening the Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi Order of America offered a Sema Ceremony, complemented by ethereal and esoteric music, under the guidance of Makam Postneshin Jelaleddin Loras.

Sunday began with a multi-faceted presentation by the 40 Days: Alchemy of Tranquility team, a program designed and guided by Shah Nazar Seyyed Dr. Ali Kianfar. Panel was presented by Sufi practitioners including: psychotherapist Katherine Preston who introduced the program’s profound wisdom. The panel continued with Dr. Arife Ellen Hammerle, clinical director of Community Healing Centers, who gave a moving talk on Meditation and Healing; Dr. Amineh Amelia Pryor, a psychotherapist who spoke about Meditation and Psychology and their interrelated usefulness in contemporary society. The presentation closed with a demonstration on Meditation and Movement, by Aikido Black Belt holders Dr. Jalal Brian Heery, Dr. Jamal Granick, and Dr. Sarah Hastings Mullin, showing us experientially the importance of receiving in all moments of life.

Dr. David Katz, a physician and loving student of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, presented Zikr Meditation, and Swami Vedananda, a senior monk of the Vedanta Society of California, shared his wisdom on Meditation According to the Ancient Scriptures of India. Tamam Kahn, poet, lecturer, author and a senior teacher in the Sufi Ruhaniat International, shared her research in: A Conscious Transformation: Life and Legacy of Fatima.

Reverend Canon Charles Gibbs, founding executive director of the United Religions Initiative, poet, and ‘lover of mystery,’ gracefully led a lively discussion, inviting attendees to share their experiences and challenges in choosing Light and Life in a Time of Trauma. Khalifa Aliyu Ahmed Abulfathi, of the Tijjaniya Sufi Order, an author and speaker who has studied in Nigeria and Egypt, then led a sitting Sufi Zikr.

The Sufism Symposium concluded with an uplifting performance by Avay-i-Janaan (Echoes of the Unseen), a poetry slam collective whose members represent the journey of a human being from and into the heart and creation of the universe within themselves.

We parted ways with heartfelt goodbyes, knowing that we’d made a unique connection and that each of us was taking something special home with us after such a profound and beautiful weekend.

Audio tapes of talks and performances are available through Conference Recording. Email:

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