Sufism Symposium Performers and Presenters


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.

Aziz El Kobaiti Idrissi, Ph.D., Moroccan scholar, is an academic researcher and a director and organizer of many international sufi events (including Fez Sufi Conference). He is also a spiritual teacher in Sufism who belongs to the Prophetic Lineage of Idrissi Hassani. He has written many books and articles about Moroccan and Western Sufism. He is a current president of the International Academic Center of Sufi & Aesthetic Studies in Fez, Morocco. He is also a secretary general of the World Sufi Parliament which is based in Chitagong, Bangladesh. He was an international lecturer who delivered regularly talks in many international universities: Morocco, USA, Indonesia, UK, Malysia, Singapore, Algeria, South Africa. Dr. Idrissi will present a paper on: The spiritual Journey of the Sufis: From The Purification to the Ascension.

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).

Shahjada Syed Saifuddin Ahmed Al-Hasani Maizbhandari (M.J.A.) is the prominent Imam of Darbar-E Gausul Azam Maizbhandari, a holy centre of Sufi practice carrying the essence of the Maizbhandari Tariqa’. This Sufi order was established at the Southeastern region of Bengal in the mid 19th century by the 27th descendent of holy Prophet (SAW) Gausul Azam Hazrat Shah Sufi Syed Ahmadullah Maizbhandari® (1826-1906). The order is renowned for its open spiritual method or Sufi way where anyone can join despite caste, creed, gender, or religion. It is based on humanity and love which connects creator and creation. This Sufi school continued through Hazratul Allamah Shah Sufi Syed Mainuddin Ahmed Al Hasani Wal Hossaini Maizbhandari®) or Baba Mainuddin (1937-2011). Syed Saifuddin Ahmed was actively involved in helping spread the Maizbhandari philosophy nationwide and globally, alongside revered ‘murshid’ and father Shah Sufi Syed Mainuddin Ahmed®. His continuous passion and dedication towards the ‘Sufi’ cause led to his eventual succession from Baba Mainuddin. He attended “The UN Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious & Spiritual Leaders” in 2000 and is currently an advisor of the International Association of Sufism (IAS). Syed Saifuddin Ahmed believes in peace and equality between people of different races and religions, congregated and formed the “World Sufi Parliament” in December 2016, and is the president of “Sufi Unity for International Solidarity” (SUFIS) Bangladesh. The forum regularly organizes seminars, meetings and spiritual discussions on communal harmony & world peace, involving scholars, academics, thinkers & peace activists.

Syed Saifuddin Ahmed has established numerous Madrasas/schools, orphanages and several general and technical educational institutions in many places of Bangladesh. Syed Saifuddin Ahmed has three sons: Syed MehbubMainuddin, Syed Mashuk-E-Mainuddin and Syed Hasnain-E-Mainuddin. His topic is on: The Journey of transformation.

Sheikh Ahmed Tijani was born in Ghana, West Africa. He specialized in Islamic Law and Jurisprudence, and studied and became a Master of Comparative Religion. Sheikh Tijani also studied Astronomy, Spiritual Science and Healing, Divine Poetry and Chanting, Singing, Fine Arts and Culture. He focused on Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Kulliyat Athakaffah Al Arabiyah in Ghana, studied and mastered Biblical Science and History through the Methodist Missionary High School in Ghana. Sheikh Tijani also specialized in Media Broadcasting and mass communication, studied and memorized the Holy Qur’an at age 15 and the Holy Bible at age 20.

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.


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.

Jamal Lawrence Granick, Ph.D., LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist in the SF Bay Area. He is a student of Uwaiysi Sufism under the guidance of Dr. Nahid Angha and Shah Nazar Dr. Seyyed Ali Kianfar, the founding directors of the International Association of Sufism. Dr. Granick is a member of IAS and serves on its Executive Committee, and has participated in many of its activities, including the 40 Days: Alchemy of Tranquility program. He has presented on the subject of “Sufism and Psychology” nationally and internationally. His doctoral research was on the spiritual presence of the therapist as a factor in psychotherapy. Dr. Granick also holds a fourth degree black belt in Aikido, which he teaches in a regular weekly class in Berkeley.

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.

Arife Hammerle, Ph.D., is a senior student of the Uwaiysi School of Sufism, as guided by Sufi Teachers Dr. Nahid Angha and Shah Nazar Seyyed Dr. Ali. Kianfar. Dr. Hammerle is a member of the International Association of Sufism. She sits on the Executive Committee for the Institute for Sufi Studies and the steering committee for the Sufi Women Organization. Dr. Hammerle is a psychotherapist in practice at the Community Healing Centers and a published author who regularly teaches courses at the Institute for Sufi Studies and the 40 Days Alchemy of Tranquility Program.

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.

Amineh Amelia Pryor, Ph.D., is a student of Uwaiysi Sufism under the guidance of Dr. Nahid Angha and Shah Nazar Seyyed Dr. Ali Kianfar. She is an active member of the International Association of Sufism and a facilitator of the 40 Days: Alchemy of Tranquility program and retreats. Dr. Pryor is a psychotherapist at the Community Healing Centers, a non-profit psychotherapy practice in San Francisco and Marin. She has published books on Sufism and Psychology and has written numerous book chapters and articles on psychology, spirituality, and science.

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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