The Soul’s Longing: A Language of Spirit
My heart torn in its every beat by longing for Your love,
pain of parting drags to dust my being without cease.
How much longer will You rebel in communion by the tossing of Your hair?
I beg of You, rebel no more against my scattered thought.
Either grasp this heart in your embracing
or brighten with a joyous tulip the desert that I hold within.
— Moulana Shah Maghsoud, 20th Century Uwaiysi Sufi Master
Celebrating our Divine Desire
From the dawn of existence, human beings have longed to understand. They have spent millenniums in the universe of the heart with hopes of seeing the unseen. This primordial yearning was cultivated by the earliest Sufi mystics at the advent of Islam.
For centuries after, great salek(s) have conveyed their insight in numerous magnificence forms in order to nourish the hearts of fellow seekers. In this Divine spirit, Sufis have made invaluable contributions to the fields ofliterature, science, philosophy, art, architect, music and movements.
These mystics expressed their desires to celebrate the glory of Unity in complex and revolutionary ways. Modern scholars are struck by these varied methods which echo a common truth. Present -day students of Sufism immerse themselves in these inspirational masterpieces and long to be elevated to a state of Divine drunkenness.
The International Association of Sufism honored these expressions of our Divine desire toknow at the 2001 Sufism Symposium, themed: The Soul’s Longing: A Language of Spirit. This year’s symposium was the eight time in which esteemed academics, scientists, and mystics from a multitude of countries and backgrounds joined together to celebrate the wisdom of Sufism.
In 1994, for the first time in fourteen centuries, students of Sufism gathered in this international forum to share their experiences of peace, harmony and love. From March 23 until March 25, 2001, speakers and participants were enraptured in camaraderie as their own longing to unite with the Divine transcended cultural and philosophical barriers.
At the Symposium, many speakers reiterated the necessity of truly understanding expressions of divinity.
“If our knowledge of the truth of religion is to embody a real understanding and not mere verbal formulae, it must be distilled into the real knowledge of the heart, not the half-informed speculation of accepted dogma. Only then, through the light of the heart, can our faith be other than uncertainty and darkness.”
—Shah Nazar Seyyed Dr. Ali Kianfar Uwaiysi Sufi Master
(Excerpt from Introduction to Religion)
It was clear that the light of Divine knowledge illuminated the hearts of Symposium participants. The truth was spoken clearly by modern philosophers, scholars, poets, musicians who shared the unifying message with the audience.
Friday, 23 March 2001
On Friday afternoon, a panel of psychologists and researchers showed how spiritual principles and practices fulfill our desire to know the Divine and, subsequently, cultivate tranquillity within. The forum served as an uplifting prelude to the evening celebration of Sufi music and poetry. Classical and modern metaphysical poetry was read by Seyyedeh Dr. Nahid Angha, one of the major Sufi translators and teachers of our time. Musicians from various backgrounds harmoniously thread global melodies between Seyyedeh Dr. Nahid Angha’s readings. Performers included the ensemble Taneen, the Persian instrumentalist Mohammad Saeed Nejad, and the vocalist and harpist Destiny. The musicians were over whelmed by the presence of the Divine that they joined together in a spontaneous Zikr, elevating the audience.
Add to my thirst
Reveal the secrets to me
Be glad when poor,
have mirth, be drunk,
It is the alchemy of being that transforms
poverty to wealth
Khajeh Shamseddin Hafiz, 14th Century Sufi Poet
Trans.: Seyyedeh Dr. Nahid Angha
Saturday, 24 March 2001
On Saturday morning, Sheikh Ahmed Tijani’s voice echoed in the hallways, calling upon the participants and fellow seekers to join in the worshipping of Allah. Sheikh Tijani’s familiar, hearth-felt opening the Symposium reminds the audience that the weekend is a retreat into their own souls. The magnanimous adhan was followed by two days of keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops and zikr.
Sunday, 25 March 2001
On both Saturday and Sunday evenings, the days events culminated in zikr(s) led by Sheikh Tijani, who united participants in the divine melodies of Taneen. The crowd of Divine lovers enmeshed their hearts and souls, submitting to their Divine desire through remembrance. Each night, the audience was empowered and elevated through the support of this great Sufi family, meeting each year to rejoice. As the immense tranquillity and harmony surrounds our memory of the Eighth Annual Sufism Symposium, we eagerly await the next time we meet to celebrate our single longing-to experience Allah.
Neither cold nor hot
this fine breeze blows
The dust cloud from
the rose garden of desire.
“Drink! Drink Your Wine!”
To the loving heart of the yellow rose
–Hakim Omar Khayam, 11th Century Persian Mystic
Trans.: Seyyedeh Dr. Nahid Angha
Annual Meetings at the Symposium
Sufi Women Organization
The international sisterhood of Sufi Women Organization (SWO) rejoiced in the opportunity to reunite, again, at this year’s Sufism symposium. Raising social consciousness and actively protecting human rights are the humanitarian focus of many SWOs projects. The four primary SWO projects-United Nations, Prison and Literacy, Resource Library, and Open Letters reported major accomplishments n the past year and projected a promising outlook for the year 2001. With representatives on every continent, the SWO share stories of action through an active on-line dialogue. SWO members share a deep heart connecting and the symposium served as wonderful revue for them to meet in person. For more information, visit SWO on-line at: sufiwomen.org.
Sufism Psychology Forum
The Sufism Psychology Forum (SPF) welcomed a group of distinguished scientists, academics, and psychologist to discuss the accomplishments and goals of the Forum. This international network of scholars expresses the immense benefits of SPF in developing a nurturing community within the field of psychology. In this light, the members discussed plans to develop a code of ideals and standards for professional. SPF looks forward to finalizing and disseminating the code before the next Symposium.
Sufi Youth International
A department of the International Association of Sufism, the Sufi Youth International (SYI) held a roundtable discussion on March 24 at this year’s Sufism Symposium. The participants discussed how they could continue to cultivate local and international service to the Sufi community and the broader society. This work encompasses three primary dimensions: 1) support and communication among youth who study Sufism or whose parents study Sufism, 2) local community service work in areas where SYI is active, 3) international research, education and writing projects. These three dimensions are designed to help facilitate the spiritual growth of the participants, contribute to society in accordance with the principles of Sufism, and stimulate international dialogue and cooperation. Paralleling the work of the IAS as a whole, SYI intends to work steadily toward including and involving more and more representatives from Sufi Orders around the world. This year’s Symposium reflected the progressive integration of Sufi students from Seattle, Washington into the activities of the SYI and the IAS generally. Ongoing dialogue between SYI coordinators has yielded a new organizational structure. The present coordinators are: Emily Hedges – National: College Groups, Seyyedeh Hamaseh Kianfar – International: Online Dialogue, Seyyedeh Sahar Kianfar – National: Community Service Groups, David Roper – International: Research Groups.