Sufism Symposium Performers and Presenters


Khalifa Aliyu Ahmed Abulfathi has studied at the College of Art and Arabic Studies in Sokoto, Nigeria, has a degree from the Al-Azahar University in Cairo, and the British Career Training College. He is a published author and has lectured world wide including: Conference on Gender Based Violence and Role of Women in Islam, Narobi, Kenya (2006), Conference on HIV, Prevention, Kampala, Uganda (2007), the International Association of Sufism Symposium in California, United States (2008l 2010, 2011) and the Conference on the Formation of World Interfaith, Instanbul, Turkey (2008). He has served as Sectary general of Network of African Islamic Organization on Population and Development under(UNPFA) 2005-2010, and Board member of trustee International Tijjaniyya Brotherhood Organization. He has received many awards including: “fellow member of the Institute of Administrative management of Nigera” (1989), Sport’s Writer’s Association of Nigeria (SWAN) Borno State Chapter and Sharia Students Association (SHASA) Faculty of Law, University of Maiduguri. In 1970 Khalifa Aliyu Ahmed Abulfathi was initiated into the Tijjaniya Sufi order by Shiekh Al-Hadi and in 1979 was given permission to initiate others into the order. He was appointed the Khlaifa of Sheikh Ahmad Abulfathi on April 23, 2003. His disciples are estimated to be in the millions. Khalifa Aliyu will lead a sitting Sufi Zikr.

Shahid Athar, MD, FACP, FACE, is a Clinical Associate Professor and a physician in private practice in Indianapolis. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and American College of Endocrinology, a past president of the Islamic Medical Association of North America, co- founder and Chairman of Islamic Society of Greater Indianapolis (ISGI) and the Interfaith Alliance of Indiana (IAI). He is an author of 7 books and has over 120 published articles on medical and Islamic topics.  He serves on board of advisor for Protection of Consciousness Project, a human right international organization. The Indianapolis Medical Society in 2002 awarded him Gov. Otis Bowen Award for Community Service, in 2008, the American College of Physicians named him as The Laureate Physician of the Year, and in 2009 the St. Vincent Hospital in Indiana, names him as a “distinguished physician.”  Dr. Athar has been associated with the International Association of Sufism for the last ten years and has contributed to IAS conventions and its Journal, Sufism: An Inquiry. The web page for is writings is Topic: a sufi physicians personal journey of transformation into spirituality and meditation.

Nahid Angha, Ph. D., is the co-director and co-founder of the IAS, founder of the International Sufi Women Organization, the executive editor of Sufism: An Inquiry, and the main representative of the IAS to the United Nations (NGO/DPI). Dr. Angha is an internationally published scholar with over twenty published books and many articles. She has lectured at the UN; the Smithsonian Institute; Compassion Conference, Germany; Science and Spirituality, Italy; CPWR’s conferences in Cape Town, Barcelona; UNECO’s culture of peace conference in Mexico, and others. Was among the distinguished Muslim leaders and scholars invited to gather for the first annual Shakir World Encounters in Marrakech, Morocco. She is the first Muslim woman inducted to the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame, honored as Visionary Marin in 2012; and Huffington post named her as one of the “50 Powerful Women Religious Leaders To Celebrate On International Women’s Day, 2014”.

Reverend Canon Charles P. Gibbs. A lover of the Mystery, Charles Gibbs has sought to be of service all his life. Since 1996, he has served as the founding Executive Director of the United Religions Initiative (, a global grassroots community promoting interfaith cooperation for peace, justice and healing in 78 countries. An Episcopal priest, a visionary and a poet, Charles is blessed by his friends and colleagues of diverse faiths with whom he shares a commitment to serve the world through spiritual transformation and cooperative engagement for the good of all life on this sacred Earth. As son, brother, husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather, he cherishes and is inspired by his family. Mindful of the abundant blessings that come even through life’s biggest challenges, he seeks to live each moment in gratitude.

Sheikha Azima Lila Forest is a Sheikha in the Sufi Ruhaniat International and a Unitarian Universalist minister. In the Ruhaniat, she holds the posts of siraj (senior minister), healing conductor, SoulWork practitioner, retreat guide, and Experienced Farmer in the Ziraat concentration. Her present areas of concentration are dreamwork, Reiki healing, SoulWork, and spiritual retreat guidance. She is an activist and volunteer in organizations promoting locally and sustainably grown and raised foods. Toward this end she serves as the volunteer manager of the Grant County Seed Library. Azima has been a frequent speaker at the annual Sufism Symposium. A native of San Francisco, Azima was also a resident of Auroville in South India from 1993 to 1997; she now lives in Silver City in the mountains of southwestern New Mexico. Sheikha Azima will present on: Meditation While Sitting and While Walking In the World.

Murshida Khadija Goforth, MS. A traveler of the Sufi Path for 40 years, Sufi Ruhaniat Int’l Murshida Khadija Goforth practices Service and Remembrance. Through Dances of Universal Peace, Walking and Whirling Meditations; she endeavors to embody spiritual realization. She serves as a Ruhaniat Siraj (sr. minister) and Healing Conductor and in 1994 was semazenbashi/dance master at Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi’s tomb in Konya, Turkey. A mother and grandmother, Khadija lives and teaches in Seattle, WA and New York, NY. Practice: Sufi Walking Meditation: Sifat-i Allah in Motion.

Murshid Ibrahim Jaffe MD is the Murshid Murrabai Ruhi (Main teacher and spiritual caregiver of the soul; for the Shadhiliyya Sufi Order under the guidance of Shaykh Muhammad al-Jamal ash-Shadhiliyya ar-Rifai from Jerusalem. He is also a licensed medical doctor who, for the past of 25 years, has pioneered the integration of wholistic, advanced energetic, and sufi spiritual healing in the United States. As co-founder of the University of Spiritual Healing and Sufism located in Napa Valley, CA, he is working to bring Sufi teachings, the complete Islam and spiritual healing to the world. Using a combination of these methods he has successfully helped bring the Light and Healing of the 99 Names of God, Dua, and Quranic Recitation to thousands of individuals around the world who have suffered from various physical, psychological and emotional ailments. Dr. Jaffe’s presentation is on: Walking The Stations Of The Soul To Teach Fana with a practice on Absorption of the Divine Names in the heart and soul.

Tamam Kahn is a poet, lecturer and the author of Untold, A History of the Wives of Prophet Muhammad, Monkfish Books, (International Book Award 2011) and Fatima’s touch: Poems and Stories of the Prophet’s Daughter, Ruhaniat Press (2016).  She is a senior teacher in the Sufi Ruhaniat International and is the wife of Pir Shabda Kahn, leader of the Sufi Ruhaniat International. Topic:  A Conscious Transformation: Life and Legacy of Fatima.


David Katz, MD was born in Wisconsin and educated in New York and California. He completed his medical degree and Residency in Family Practice at the University of Rochester. During his time in Rochester, NY, he met his teacher and Sheikh M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. Dr. Katz and his wife Anne studied Wisdom and the Qualities of God at the feet of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen from 1976 until his passing in 1986. He states, “these Qualities continue to guide me in the care of my patients from day to day.” Dr. Katz is the current president of the California Branch of the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship. He lives with his wife Anne in the Sacramento area and enjoys time with his children and grandchildren. He is currently an active teacher of medical students and resident physicians in the art and spiritual aspects of health care. Dr. Katz will present on: Zikr Meditation – the moon breath and the sun breath.

Shah Nazar Seyed Dr. Ali Kianfar is the co-director and co-founder of the International Association of Sufism, and the executive editor of the journal Sufism: An Inquiry. He is a disciple of Moulana Shah Maghsoud, 20th Century Persian Master of the Uwaiysi Tariqat. Dr. Kianfar began studying erfan, under the guidance and supervision of his Master, Moulana Shah Maghsoud. He was later appointed by his Master to teach and lead gatherings. An internationally published author and lecturer, Dr. Kianfar has taught Sufism and Islamic Philosophy throughout the world for over 40 years and has thousands of students internationally. He also teaches an annual class series on wisdom and love as explained in the Bible, Quran, and Hadith. Dr. Kianfar was the keynote speaker at the first conference on Sufism in Sydney, Australia that was sponsored and organized by the International Association of Sufism. He was an honorary speaker at a conference in Uzbekistan, organized by the government of Uzbekistan and UNESCO on Inter-Religious Dialogue and Peace. And on many other occasions Dr. Kianfar was invited as a representative of Sufism speaking alongside other world religious leaders, i.e. at the International Conference of Oneness in Fiji, the Sufism Symposium in Egypt, the Sufism Symposium in Scotland, and the World of Religions in Spain. Lastly, Dr. Kianfar is the founder and spiritual director of 40 Days: The Alchemy of Tranquility, a psychospiritual program for spiritual growth and inner peace.

Patrick Marius Koga, MD, MPH, FRSPH. A Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health, London, with an academic career in psychiatry, psychology, and public health spanning three decades, Dr. Koga received his training at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Timisoara, Romania, and Tulane University, New Orleans, USA. His work focuses on mental health services and policies for traumatized refugees. His current appointments include Director, Refugee Health Research at University of California, Davis, Dept. of Public Health Sciences in the School of Medicine; Core faculty, UC Global Health Institute, Center of Expertise on Migration and Health; Researcher, UCD Center for Healthcare Policy & Research. Past appointments include Professor of Psychology, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP), and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Tulane School of Medicine. Dr. Koga is a lifelong student of world religions and an Advaita Vedanta initiated disciple of the late Swami Shraddhananda of Ramakrishna Order of India. Between 2012-2015 Dr. Koga conducted the mental health screenings of all newly arriving refugees at Sacramento County Refugee Clinic. This latter work has led to his Ulysses Project, on which he is co-PI with Dr. Joseba Achotegui, Secretary of World Psychiatric Association/Transcultural Psychiatry Section. Dr. Koga will present: Ulysses’ Journey: Trauma Vulnerability and Resilience in Afghan and Arab War Refugees Resettling in Northern California.

Mevlevi Order of America. The dervish tradition of whirling and devotional music provides the foundation of the Sema Ceremony or Mevlevi Mukabele. This is the traditional form of Mevlevi Zikhr, originally developed by Sultan Veled, Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi’s son. The ceremony has been preserved and performed in its original form for over 700 years. The semazen (turners) and mitrip (musicians) have been trained and prepared under the guidance of Makam Postneshin Jelaleddin Loras. He was sent by his father Murshid Suleyman Hayati Dede to be a living embodiment of the Mevlevi way, in the spirit of inclusion, equality and love. You are invited to witness this sacred ceremony performed by the Mevlevi Order of America.

Sharon Mijares, Ph. D., licensed Psychologist. Associate Faculty at National University, teaches at Brandman University and is lead faculty at the California Institute for Human Science. She is a member of the Sufi Ruhaniat International, a mentor teacher of the International Network of the Dances of Universal Peace and a Sufi Cheraga — Minister of Universal Worship. Dr. Mijares is also an author and/or author-editor of six books. She has contributed articles and chapters supporting healing ways. Dr. Mijares will present on: The Healing Power of the Breath.

Abdullahi El-Okene, born on the 6th of June 1957, hails from Okene in Kogi State of Nigeria Nigeria. He obtained his Bachelors degree in Engineering from Ahmadu Bello University, M.Sc in 1984 and Phd. in 1995. He is a Professor of Engineering and formally head of Agricultural Mechanization Research Programme. Abdullahi is a student of Shaikh Ahmad Tijani and Shaikh Ibrahim Nyass is his Role Model. He studied, traveled widely with Shaikh Tahir Bauchi of Nigeria and Imam Hassan Cisse of Senegal, and had the blessing of brief studies with Shaikh AbulFathi, Shaikh Shereef Ibrahim Saleh al-Hussainy, Shaikh Ismaila Sufi, Shaikh Aliyu Harazim al-Hausawi, Mallam Habu Danbami, Khalifa Ghali of Shaikh Yahuza-Zaria, Ustaz Ismaila. He studied Qur’an with Mall Aliyu Ogaminana where he graduated in 1968. Abdullahi follows the schools of Thought of Imam Malik with regards Sharia; al-Ash’ari with regards Tauheed and Divine Attributes; Warsh with regards Recitation of Qur’an; al-Tijani with regards Methods of Zikr. Abdullahi is currently the Chairman of “International Organisation of Tijaniyyah Brotherhood”, a Sufi organisation charged with spreading and strengthening the Tijaniyyah Sufi Path in its pure and unadulterated form. Abdullahi also conducts Tafseer of the Holy Qur’an to students and staff of Ahmadu Bello University. He is blessed with wives and children, some of who have memorized the Holy Qur’an. Alhamdulillah. Topic: Freeing One’s Self from Burden by Submitting to the Anthem and Hymns: A Presentation and Meditation.

Sr. Elizabeth Padilla is currently the Program Manager for the Anubhuti Mediation & Retreat Center administered by the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization (BKWSO). She has been a spiritual student and educator since 1985. Her professional experience has been in Administration, Human Resources and Program Management since 1990. Previously she was a working actor in San Francisco for 12 years in such productions as Beach Blanket Babylon in the leading role of Snow White and with the American Conservatory Theater. Elizabeth has been trained as a facilitator in Appreciative Inquiry method and Self Managing Leadership. She has been involved with the BK Environmental Initiative since 2010 and has been facilitating and promoting Awakening the Dreamer Workshops in India and Internationally with the BKWSO. Sister Elizabeth is a very talented singer and a theater artist. She is now fulfilling her life’s dream by reaching the heart and spirit though her songs and work. Sr. Elizabeth will present a Raja Yoga Meditation.

Murshida Rabia Perez-Chisti, MA., Ph.D., is the President of the SUFI: Sufi Universal Fraternal Institute ( presenting the ideals of Spiritual Liberty. She is an ordained minister with the Creation Spirituality Community and senior teacher with the Sufi Movement. She continues to direct a training program for Chaplaincy, Hospice and Prison reform workers through the SUFI institute. As professor of Religion Philosophy and Psychology, she holds faculty position at the California Institute of Integral Studies, the Sofia Institute and Fox Institute and continues to lecture and publish internationally. Topic: Meditation Practices for the Awakening of the Soul as given by Hazrat Inayat Khan, Ibn al Arabi and Avicenna (Ibn Sina).

Swami Vedananda is a senior monk of the Vedanta Society of California, San Francisco. He is well known and respected for his contribution to interfaith dialogues and guiding students in Vedantic philosophy and religion. Before taking vows of sannyasin, he earned a Ph.D. in physics. Since 1995, he has been leading a small discussion group, sponsored by the Hindu Students Association, at Stanford University for the study of Hindu spiritual texts and the Sanskrit language. Swami’s presentation is on: Meditation According to the Ancient Scriptures of India.

Sky Road Webb is a descendent of the Tamal’ko – Tomales Bay Miwok, of present day West Marin. Tamal’ko, is part of the larger ethnographic and linguistic grouping now called Coast Miwok, which encompasses greater Marin and Sonoma Counties. The Coast Miwok share highly spiritualized cultural and religious traditions with numerous tribes in Central and Northern California. Ceremonies of prayer, song accompanied with split-stick rattles, and choreographed dance are held in semi-subterranean roundhouses and outdoor dance arbors at changing of the seasons, times for gathering, and for nearly any imaginable occasion. Sky Road is the President of the Marin American Indian Alliance based in San Rafael. Sky Road appeared in the 2014 independent documentary, “The Invisible Peak,” about the restoration project of Mount Tamalpais. He has composed and performed original Miwok songs with The Mill Valley Philharmonic, the Common Voice Choir, The Museum of the American Indian, and for other community venues. As part of the of West Marin based Sound Orchard nonprofit, Sky Road has been conducting Miwok Music Workshops, teaching traditional instrument making and sharing songs in the Coast Miwok dialect.

Meditation: Healing, Psychology, and Movement

Jamal Lawrence Granick, Ph.D., LMFT. Sheikh Jamal holds a doctorate in Transpersonal Psychology and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in Albany and Palo Alto.  His doctoral dissertation was on transpersonal aspects of therapists’ presence. He also holds a 4th degree black-belt in Aikido and teaches a regular weekly class in Berkeley.  He is a member of IAS and the  Days, Alchemy of Tranquility team. His topic is Meditation and Movement.

Arife Hammerle, Ph.D. Arife holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Director of the Community Healing Centers.  She has extensive experience working with stress management, communication-skill development, and clients with chronic illness. She has written many articles and is frequently called upon to give lectures and lead workshops in Stress Management, Meditation, Western Psychology, Sufism, Spirituality, and Consciousness. She is an accomplished author who has completed research linking psychology and spirituality.  Her publications include: Sacred Journey: Unfolding Self Essence, and Sufi Grace.  She is a member of IAS and the 40 Days, Alchemy of Tranquility team. Her topic: Meditation and Healing.

Jalal Brian Heery, Ph.D., holds a doctorate in transpersonal psychology.  He has been exploring the interstices between the body, mind, and spirit since his early career as a world class gymnast and as assistant gymnastics coach at Stanford University.  He wrote his dissertation on Awakening Spirit in the Body at Sofia University in 2003.  He currently holds the rank of 5th degree black belt in Aikido and is the founder and current head instructor of Rocky Valley Aikido Dojo in Santa Cruz, CA.  Jalal frequently gives presentations offering an experiential somatic practice.  He is a member of IAS and the 40 Days, Alchemy of Tranquility team. His topic is Meditation and Movement.

Katherine Preston, MA, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and has been a practicing for over 27 years.  She maintains a private practice in San Francisco and has held many clinical leadership positions overseeing and providing training and supervision for therapeutic services throughout the Bay Area, as well as taught graduate level human development courses. Katherine has contributed to the book Inspirations on the Holy Qur’an and to the first in a series of books about the 40 Days program entitled Human Self, Volume 1: Body.  She is a member of the IAS and 40 Days, Alchemy of Tranquility team. Katherine will moderate the discussion.

Amineh Amelia Pryor, Ph.D. Amineh is a psychotherapist and holds a doctorate degree in East-West Psychology. She is currently a clinical supervisor at the Community Healing Center in San Francisco.  Dr. Pryor offers public presentations internationally as a member of the International Association of Sufism, the Sufism and Psychology Forum, and Sufi Women Organization.  She is an accomplished author, having published articles on psychology, consciousness, and science, including books entitled: Psychology in Sufism and Sufi Grace.  She is a member of IAS and the 40 Days, Alchemy of Tranquility team. She will be speaking on Meditation and Psychology.


Avay-i-Janaan Echoes of the Unseen is a poetry slam collective originating through the Echoes of the Unseen. The members represent the journey of a human being from and into the heart and creation of the universe within themselves. Through poetry, movement, rhythm, and song, you are invited to seek your own origin in the light that emerges from the stillness of inner peace and unity.


Taneen Sufi Music Ensemble. With an authentic fusion of Middle Eastern and Western influences, Taneen creates new, original melodies; yet their music is deeply rooted in the Sufi tradition in its intention and inspiration. Taneen primarily sings the love poetry of the great masters (such as Jalaleddin Rumi, Hafiz, Omar Khayam and Shah Maghsoud) in English translation, making the profound message of unity and love accessible to all audiences. Taneen has performed locally and internationally at events that focus on peace-building, human rights, and interfaith understanding and cooperation, including such events as the Sufism Symposium; Women’s Partnership for Peace in the Middle East Inaugural Conference, Oslo, Norway; and at the Parliament of World’s Religions conference in Barcelona, Spain.


Hamaseh Kianfar, Ed.D., is Moulana Shah Maghsoud’s granddaughter and was named after his book Hamaseh-i-hayyat, The Epic of Life. She is a member of the International Association of Sufism, the Sufi Women Organization, Sufi Youth International, and founding member and director for the Voices for Justice that advocates for the rights of children by providing a forum for public awareness through education and community service programs. She has received a doctoral degree in education, and has served as a director and clinical director of several organizations in Northern California, worked as a medical case manager for HIV positive women and children, and has co-authored and published several research papers on that subject.

She has written many articles on Sufism and biographies of Sufi Masters, and with her sister Sahar co-authored Sufi Stories.

Sheikha Halima JoAnn Haymaker, Ph.D. ABD, is a student of Seyedeh Dr. Nahid Angha and Shah Nazar Dr. Ali Kianfar and a member of the Uwaiysi Sufi tariqat. Sheikha Halima serves on the Executive Committee of the International Association of Sufism. She is a member of the Sufi Women’s Organization and leads meditation groups and retreats for women. She has been a speaker at Sufi Symposia, Parliament of the World’s Religions and at numerous churches and organizations in Marin and Sonoma Counties. Her articles have appeared in the journal Sufism: An Inquiry and the online journal of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. For 27 years she served as a consultant in fund raising, organizational development, board and staff training, conference and event planning, grant writing and public relations for more than 75 non-profit organizations in Northern California. She also worked for the Marin County Commission on the Status of Women. In 1986 she received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award from the Marin County Human Rights Commission.

Safa Ali Michael Newman is a practitioner in the study of Sufism under the guidance of Seyedeh Nahid Angha, Ph.D. and Shah Nazar Seyed Ali Kianfar, Ph.D., who were students of Moulana Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha. Safa Ali is President of the Board of Directors of the International Association of Sufism and Chairperson of IAS’ Executive Committee of Institute for Sufi Studies. He has given lectures on Sufism, Islam, and interfaith issues both locally and nationally including the Association of Humanistic Psychology Conference. He has authored a book on Uwaiysi Sufism and Islam entitled The Gift of the Robe and co-authored another book on Sufism entitled Sufi Grace -Sacred Wisdom – Heart to Heart. He has also contributed articles to the journal Sufism: An Inquiry.

Professor Arthur Kane Scott has taught history/cultural studies for many decades centering on Dominican University of California, Contra Costa College and UC Berkeley Extension. His specialty has been in Islam and Native American Studies. He began offering courses on Islam in the early nineties at Dominican University. He realized as he got into the subject that Islam had a deeper philosophy, spirituality and aesthetic that could not be learned from books. He knew that he needed a mentor and it was this desire that led him to the office of Dr. Ali Kianfar, a renowned Sufi practitioner. When Professor Scott encountered Dr. Ali he immediately had a heart connection with him similar to the relationship between Rumi and Shams. He knew that he was spiritually home. Ever since Professor Scott has been a devoted student and has sought to incorporate into his life the ‘Tasawuf’ teachings.

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