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 Cookbook
  • 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.

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