Sufi Women Organization
The Sufi Women Organization, founded by Dr. Nahid Angha and with the efforts and contributions of Sufi women from around the globe, was established in 1993 under the auspices of the International Association of Sufism. A forum for all women, it has been tremendously successful in gathering together women from diverse cultural backgrounds who share a dedication to the goals of Sufism, especially with respect to human rights. Our primary humanitarian goals include women’s rights, education, and social awareness. The devotion of all who have volunteered their time, energy and expertise have led to substantial achievements:
- opening lines of communications among Sufi women from many different schools throughout the world;
- bringing the influence and the leadership of Sufi women into the traditional Sufi gatherings;
- taking active and leadership roles within the global community through interfaith organizations, Amnesty International, Habitats for Humanity, UNICEF, UNESCO, and the United Nations;
- working with diverse community services programs including Women’s Wisdom, Women in Action educational conference series, Prison Project, Literacy Program, and more;
- providing classes and meditation series for Sufi women introducing Sufi women’s accomplishments in art, literature, poetry, teachings, and practices in publications distributed internationally and through the SWO Quarterly Newsletter, Luncheon Programs, and annual Sufism Symposium meeting;
- establishing an electronic mail news group and web site to facilitate sharing among Sufi women;
- creating a forum for exchanging ideas, traditions and teachings among Sufi women from different orders and cultures.
Message from the Founder
The essence of the human being, regardless of gender or color, time or place, has been regarded as reverent, dignified, and respectful by teachers of humanity. Such magnificence is the gift of Being to humankind, the art of recognizing such magnificence is learned. The foundation of civilization is based on teachings and learning, and the first teacher of any human being, male or female, from any social position or illumination, is a mother. To direct the civilization to a favorable station, one has to rely on the power of a mother, providing that she knows the value of her position. A mother, in fact, is the teacher of all. Underestimating such power and strength, overlooking such magnificence is most unfortunate, an illness to the body of civilization.
Sufism is based on the knowledge of the self. This knowledge is accompanied by respect, dignity and service. These qualities make the role of Sufi women most critical in a civilization lost in the wheels of commerce and technology. It becomes the responsibility of Sufi Women to firmly stand for the sake of humanity, to teach the present generation and generations to come the art of being, to celebrate life, not the imitation of it.
Knowledge makes us responsible, motherhood teaches us to learn the art of service. If a mother understands and learns the value of self knowledge and discipline, and teaches such arts to her generations, the world would be a peaceful and respectful place for all, the rights of every human being will be recognized, and humanity will arrive at the gateway of a deserving civilization, worthy of the human being.
Let’s come together, celebrate the generation of humankind, and teach the art of living through teaching and learning, through respect and service, through communication and understanding.
Nahid Angha, Ph.D.
Founder, Sufi Women Organization
Code of Ethics
The Sufi Women Organization, a humanitarian, non-political, non-sectarian organization, has been created to introduce, disseminate, honor and acknowledge, with Divine Guidance, the contribution and service of Sufi women to the world civilization.
The mission of this organization is to come together free from human prejudice to share the knowledge, wisdom, experience, and concerns of Sufi Women of the past and present with our societies and time, remembering that the essence of the human being, regardless of gender or color, time or place, has been regarded as reverent, dignified, and respectful by teachers of humanity. Such magnificence is the gift of the Being and recognizing such magnificence is learned.
Sufi Women Organization has come together to support, protect and educate for such learning. It is important that the Sufi teaching be protected, such teaching is not to be used for selfish gain or corruption of any kind. True Sufism requires great vigilance and sustained continuous self-improvement efforts. We, as a group of honorable and responsible women, have come together to serve as educators, guides, advisors and friends.
As the result, the following Code of Ethics is created and honored by the Sufi Women Organization. These suggestions are offerings, but not mandates or regulations. Those who honor these suggestions honor them at their own free will.
As the result of this Code of Ethics, a Sufi Women Advisory Council will support a common ground for conflict resolution, reconciliation for the sake of humanity, compassion and respect as important factors t for maintaining healthy communities.
Code of Ethics Declaration of Principles
Be it hereby resolved:
1. Recognizing the value of human beings, we shall act with integrity, honesty and truthfulness, accepting responsibility for our well being and the cultivation of awareness within our society, culture, and civilization, beginning with ourselves.
2. The Sufi path is a path of honor and servitude. We put the work of the path above personal ambition and personal gain, and we seek to inspire others through our own lives and work.
3. We shall improve our own education, increase our skills, and strive to achieve within ourselves unity of thought, action and belief.
4. All human beings, regardless of gender, race, age, social and economic status, have the right to educate themselves to their full potential and to advance on the spiritual path. If they attain spiritual knowledge, they have the right to lead and attain spiritual leadership.
5. All people have the right to respectfully express their feelings and ideas, to receive recognition for their abilities and work, and what they have earned.
6. We respect the rights of others to hold values, attitudes and opinions that differ from our own as long as those values, attitudes and opinions treat all people with dignity, honor and respect.
7. Individuals, men or women, students or leaders, have the rights to refuse any request made by others if they feel such request or demand is immoral, unethical, unnecessary or against their will.
8. We believe in the full representation of genders in public discussions, dialogues and forums on matters of spirituality and in making decisions about marriage, divorce, education for all people as they relate to society and the family.
9. We dedicate ourselves to supporting those who suffer or are oppressed in our own communities and beyond, through our daily actions and active humanitarian works. We shall encourage the oppressed to speak and be heard by denouncing unethical conduct and manipulation within our own Sufi communities and in the larger society. We support human rights and humanitarian peace efforts through organizations such as the United Nations.
10. People who are oppressed or abused have the right to leave any oppressive and abusive situation without being outcast or blamed.
11. According to the Sufi Women Organization, sexual harassment or exploitation of anyone is inconsistent with ethical behavior.
12. We support and protect the rights of children.
13. We support equality of genders in both spiritual and secular domains.
The Sufi Women Organization reserves the right to modify and append the Code of Ethics according to our increased knowledge and experience gained through the application of the Code. The Code of Ethics is not intended to be legally binding on any members of Sufi Women Organization or any other persons nor shall any person be deemed authorized by SWO , expressly or implicitly, to maintain any legal or regulatory claim, cause of action, or lawsuit against any other person based upon or related to the guidelines and principles set forth herein.
Breaking New Ground in Women’s Leadership
In the Beginning
In 1993 a group of women, from all phases of life, different social backgrounds, cultural backgrounds, and Sufi and spiritual affiliations, got together and became the foundation of the Sufi Women Organization, headquartered in Northern California.
Their first creation was East Bay Sufi Women and their first appearance was in the Annual Sufism Symposium 1994. They established themselves as an organization of strong and knowledgeable women when SWO founder, Seyedeh Dr. Angha, sat in the inner circle of zikr side by side with her Islamic and Sufi brothers, leaders from around the world, from Kuwait to Ghana, from Turkey to Canada, from India to Algeria, and many lands in between, and led a zikr. Dr. Angha was the first woman ever to sit in the inner circle council of the annual Sufi Symposium – a truly revolutionary accomplishment.
Inspiration to Action
SWO’s second appearance was in March 1995 at the second annual Sufism Symposium, where many Sufi women stood side by side with their brothers and to lead the conference. They spoke on a panel before a packed conference hall, where many attendees even stood outside the room to hear what the women of SWO had to say.
In 1997 SWO established the Sufi Women Dialogue, an email group, as a complementary service to (Sufi) women. SWO became a close family, with sisters from around the world. Through this effect, people who had never met before came together and created a trust, respect and friendship.
Prompted by a desire to connect with all women, including those from other faiths, who were dedicated to women’s rights, in September 1999, SWO organized our first Interfaith women’s conference. It was a two day conference, dedicated to Interfaith, dedicated to Islam/Sufism. The weekend proved a success. Even our Indonesian Chapters came to stand for the rights of women.
SWO has also been Involved with movements such as:
- Global Women’s Peace Petition
- Amnesty International
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights
- United Nations NGO/DPI
- Parliaments of the World’s Religions
- United Religions Initiative
Organized events and programs such as:
- SWO Quarterly Luncheons
- SWO Art Show
- Chocolate Box contribution
- Save the Iraqi Children
- Sufi Women “Working Retreat”
- Hijab in Turkey and Afghanistan
Published books such as:
- Code of Ethics
- The Veil: Hijab
- Women’s Wisdom: Women in Action
- SWO Cook Book
- Sufi Women: Journey Towards the Beloved
We are sure there are so many goals that we have accomplished, but nothing has been as magnificent as our coming together to become a family. Alhamdullelah.
Open Letter to World Leaders
The following letter has been sent to political, social, and religious leaders throughout the world. It was developed to raise awareness about the need to promote basic human rights universally, in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries.
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Compassionate.
Whoever obeys the Prophet, obeys Allah
Qur’an: IV, 80
The best amongst you are those who are best for their families; and their women are respectful and are honored among them. The most hateful is a society where women are neither honored nor respected. Said the Messenger of Allah.
Knowing about the abuses, cruelties, and violence committed against women and children, in many countries, including Islamic, has made it necessary for us to write to you, our brother/sister in Islam to call for the safety, and honorable treatment of women and children.
This letter is a call for action by asking every Muslim to stand for what is right, and be an honorable model for generations to come. By recognizing and educating the truth of Islam, we emphasize on the standards set by the Prophet and his teachings. By ensuring women their rights we honor men and women in Islam, for when women are treated with respect it reflects the true spirit of Islam.
The Islamic leaders of today have the unique opportunity to act as role models for future generations by following the spirit and teachings of Islam and the tradition of the Prophet (PBUH). It is imperative that the believing men take an active role in speaking forth on this issue and in ensuring that their errant brothers are held accountable for these injustices.
Should our Muslim leaders become the leaders of zulm (oppression) towards their own citizens, particularly women and children? Are you, as Muslim leaders or citizens, among those who can raise their heads with pride and claim that their women and children are safe, their rights are supported and protected, their interests protected?
Women’s rights, including rights to property, rights to education, rights to work and right to divorce are guaranteed by Islam. Are these rights being protected and established in your country? Are those who beat, oppress and disregard the needs of women arrested and punished?
The whole world is beginning to recognize the truth of the rights established by the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Let not Muslims be the last to establish what is taught by Islam!
We urgently request that every possible, effective measure be exercised to protect women and children from violence and that those responsible are brought to justice in an expedient manner. We insist that this basic principle of human rights, the right to live in peace, be put into action by renewing the commitment to bridge the gap between the existence of rights and their effective and honorable follow through in each country.
We are writing this letter as a strong reminder of the moral and ethical responsibilities existent, not only for national authorities and citizens of the world, but for followers of Islam. The time for change is imminent; to prevent others from engaging in unethical behavior and to establish new local and international examples with heightened humanitarian awareness and action.
Let us work together to create a better tomorrow for all of us, all humanity.
Sufi Women Organization Headquarters
Articles on Women in Islam and Religion