The Sufi Path in the 21st Century (Edinburgh, 2011)

World Sufism Symposium

The Sufi Path in the 21st Century

Friday September 30 – Sunday October 2, 2011

Organised by the Edinburgh International Centre for Spirituality and Peace:

Co-sponsored by the International Association for Sufism:
and the Sufi Ruhaniat International’s Edinburgh and UK communities:

For more information please contact Fateah Alice Saunders:
Tel: 44-(0)131-664-6206 or E-mail:


You can register here!

Friday 30 September 2011

(Augustine United Church) 7pm-10pm

Evening of Sufi Music, Poetry, Storytelling and Devotional Practice.

6.30 – 7.00: Registration.

7.00 – 7.05: Welcome, Introduction.

7.05 – 7.50: Saadi Shakur Chishti w/ accompaniment: chanting, music, storytelling.

7.50 – 8.30: Dr Nahid Angha: Sufi poetry (new Rumi, Hafiz and Ansari translations from Persian) with musical accompaniment.

8.30 – 9.15: The Diwan Ensemble: songs (Diwan) from the North African Darqawi Sufi tradition.

9.15 – 10.00: Sheikh Tansen O’Donohoe w/ accompaniment: Chishti Ruhaniat, sacred music and chant.

Saturday 1 October

(Gillis Centre) 10am-4.50pm

The inner world and way of the Sufi: prayer, spiritual practice and spiritual psychology

9.00 – 10.00: Registration.

10.00 – 10.15: Opening spiritual practice and welcome.

10.15 – 10.45: Welcome and talk by Dr Nahid Angha, cofounder of the IAS (Uwaiysi).

10.45 – 11.15: Talk: “Sufism, Health, Wellbeing and Healing.” Dr Amineh Amelia Pryor (Uwaiysi).

11.15 – 11.45: Talk: “Becoming Oneself: A Therapists Version–Ibn Arabi and the Person-Centred Approach.” Dot Clark (Beshara).

11.45 – 12.10: Sufi story and practice.

12.10 – 1.30: Lunch Break.

1.30 – 2.15: Workshop: “Music as Spiritual Training in Sufism.” Sheikh Tansen O’Donohoe (Chishti Ruhaniat).

2.15 – 3.15: Workshop: “The Alchemy of Tranquility: Self Awareness and Balance in Body, Mind, Heart and Universe.” Arife Ellen Hammerle and Amineh Amelia Pryor (Uwaiysi).

3.15 – 3.35: Tea break.

3.35 – 4.30: Workshop: “The Inner World of Persian Sufi Poetry.” Dr Nahid Angha.

4.30 – 4.50: Closing chant/practice/prayer.

(7.30 – 10.00: Optional event for weekend participants: Sharing of prayer and group zikr practice by various teachers in the Skye Room, Gillis Centre)

Sunday 2 October

(Gillis Centre) 10am-4.50pm

The outer world and way of the Sufi: community, ecology, integration in everyday life


9.00 – 10.00: Registration.

10.00 – 10.15: Opening spiritual practice and welcome.

10.15 – 10.45: Talk: “Sufi Practice in Everyday Life.” Sheikh Suhail Assad.

10:45 – 11:15: Talk: “Sufism–Peace and Harmony and the World Ecological Crisis.” Safa Ali Michael Newman (Uwaiysi).

11.15 – 12.00: Workshop: “Green Sufism: Resources for Meditation and Practice from the “99 Beautiful Names.” Saadi Shakur Chishti (Chishti Ruhaniat).

12.00 – 12.10: Practice.

12.10 – 1.30: Lunch Break.

1.30 – 2.15: Talk/Workshop: “Gender Balance: Reconnecting with Nature.” Dr Sharon G. Mijares, Ph.D (Chishti Ruhaniat).

2.15 – 3.00: Talk/Discussion: “Sufi Women and the Sufi Women Organization.” Dr Nahid Angha.

3.00 – 3.20: Tea Break.

3.20 – 4.20: Closing Panel: Finding Balance: “The Meeting of Inner and Outer Worlds”:

Dr Sharon Mijares (chair), Dr Amelia Pryor, Dr Arife Hammerle, Dot Clark, Neil Douglas-Klotz,

Dr Nahid Angha, Sheikh Tansen O’Donohoe.

4.20 – 4.50: Closing group zikr and devotional practice.

(Please note: designations of speakers’ Sufi lineage or tariqa (for instance, “Uwaiysi” or “Chishti Ruhaniat” are for identification purposes only. Speakers represent their own views rather than those of any organization, religious or otherwise.)

Opening Talk: Dr Nahid Angha (Uwaiysi).

Dr Nahid Angha: Nahid Angha, Ph. D. is a Co-Director of the International Association of Sufism (IAS) (, the Executive Editor of the quarterly journal, Sufism: An Inquiry, and founder of the International Sufi Women Organization.  She is the main representative of the IAS to the United Nations (NGO/DPI).  An internationally published author, she is one of the major Muslim writers and scholars of the present time, with over fifteen published books and published articles too numerous to list. Her dedication to peace has led her to serve as in various leadership roles in large-scale international interfaith organizations, and has brought Sufi masters and leaders from around the world to the annual IAS Sufism Symposium since 1994. She has given lectures internationally including speaking engagements at the United Nations, Stanford, Smithsonian Institute, Culture of Peace: UNESCO to name a few. She was inducted to the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame for her work for global peace and human rights with focus on women’s rights. Her newest published book is The Stations of The Sufi Path: The One Hundred Fields (sad maydan) of Abdullah Ansari of Herat, the first English translation of this masterpiece with commentary.

Talk: “Sufism, Health, Wellbeing and Healing.” Dr Amineh Amelia Pryor, (Uwaiysi).

Based on the wisdom of Sufism, this presentation will focus on the current practices of Sufi Psychology and its approaches for balance, health, and well-being. Examples and short experiential exercise will be included.

Amineh Amelia Pryor: 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 a clinical supervisor and psychotherapist at the Community Healing Centers in San Francisco. She presents at local and international conferences and is a published author who has written in the fields of psychology, consciousness, and science. She is the author of Psychology in Sufism and co-author of Sufi Grace. Dr. Pryor is co-director of the Sufism and Psychology Forum and a presenter and facilitator of the 40 Days – Alchemy of Tranquility® program.

Talk: “Becoming Oneself: A Therapists Version.” Dot Clark (Beshara)

An important recent experience in the process of my becoming was finding myself as a Person-Centred therapist studying for almost a year at the Beshara School of Esoteric Education in the Scottish Borders. In this paper I seek to exemplify and explore the resonance I found between the Person-Centred Approach and the extensive writings of the Islamic mystic Ibn Arabi (1165-1240 CE) on the Unity of Existence, as studied at the Beshara School. The theme I examine in this paper can be traced from the concept of the Actualising Tendency in Person-Centred theory to Ibn Arabi’s understanding of the nature of Reality in the light of Unity. In making sense of the resonance between these very different bodies of knowledge, I draw on some strands in current feminist and theological thinking which inform my overall theme regarding the inseparability of psychotherapy and spirituality.

Dot Clark: I am an experienced Person-Centred psychotherapist who is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. My early adult life involved seeking meaningful work through a variety of occupations. The search ceased when I trained as a Person-Centred therapist almost twenty years ago, though the exploration, discovery and development of meaningful ways of being never cease.

Workshop: “Spiritual Training through Music.” Philip Tansen O’Donohoe (Chishti Ruhaniat)

Based on the writings and practices given by Murshid Samuel L. Lewis, Tansen will present an experiential session on the potential use of sound in spiritual development. We will explore the sound Hu that is the keynote of all sounds. All sounds come from it and all sounds return to it. We will concentrate on the sound Hu within and without, in our ears and in our hearts and also in the practice of dhikr.

Philip Tansen O’Donohoe: Philip Tansen O’Donohoe is a master of spiritual dance and is a leading international exponent of the Dances of Universal Peace. He has studied Sufism since 1989, and is a senior guide in the Sufi Ruhaniat International. Philip lives in Dorset and travels extensively leading many workshops both in the UK and internationally.

Workshop: “Self Awareness and Balance: Body, Mind, Heart, Universe.” Arife Ellen Hammerle and Amineh Amelia Pryor (Uwaiysi)

In this experiential workshop we will share wisdom teachings and practices developed to increase self-awareness. The workshop will focus on balancing the body, mind, and heart through presence, intention, and meditative concentration that guide the process of self discovery. Participants will learn powerful tools that may be used in an ongoing practical way after we return home from the symposium. Practices are derived from the 40 Days: Alchemy of Tranquility Program and the Total Focus Stress Management Program.

Arife Ellen Hammerle: Dr. Arife Hammerle is a student of the Uwaiysi School of Sufism, as guided by Sufi Teachers Dr. Nahid Angha and Shah Nazar Seyyed Dr. Ali. Kianfar. She is a member of the International Association of Sufism and Sufi Women Organization. She sits on the Executive Committee Board of the Institute for Sufi Studies. Dr. Hammerle serves as the Coordinator for the United Nations Department of Public Information for the  International Association of Sufism, a Non-Governmental Organization. Dr. Hammerle has taught Psychology, Stress Management and Sufi Courses at the Institute for Sufi Studies and 40 Days Alchemy of Tranquility Program. Dr. Hammerle is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT #32398) who holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and is a psychotherapist with the Community Healing Centers, an integrative psychotherapy non-profit organization. Dr.  Hammerle is a published author who has completed research linking psychology and spirituality. Some of her publications include, “Sacred Journey: Unfolding Self Essence” and “Sufi Grace Heart to Heart”.

Workshop: “The Inner World of Persian Sufi Poetry.” Dr Nahid Angha (Uwaiysi).

The story of love is the focal point in Sufi poetry and invocation. Sufi poets, who are the masters of ghazal (sonnet, love poems) quatrains (rubai), paint the most vivid colors of nature intermingled with rhythm and rhyme, to softly and gently bring our heart to the footstep of their Beloved, in appreciation and humility, and as Rumi says, ready to kneel and kiss the ground a thousand times. In this workshop, we will examine symbolism in Sufi poetic expressions.

Talk: “Sufi Practice in Everyday Life.” Sheikh Suhail Assad.

Sheikh Suhail Assad: Sheikh Suhail Assad has a Doctorate in Theology from the Open University of the Islamic Civilization, Beirut, Lebanon, and Bachelors in Philosophy and Mystical Theology from the Theological Center of Qom, Iran. He is the Director and Religious Guide of the Muslim communities of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Peru and Venezuela, in which development in the areas of communications, academia and inter-religiosity is among his most important experiences. His work is currently geared to the propagation of Islam (Muballeg) and teaching on the American continent.  Since 1996, his mission has been the founding of religious institutions all over America, in which various public appearances and participations and encounters with the highest political, social and religious authorities stand out, including Presidents, Ministers, Legislators and Archbishops.

Talk: “Sufism – Peace and Harmony and the World Ecological Crisis.” Safa Ali Michael Newman (Uwaiysi).

Can the Sufi principles of peace and harmony be applied to resolve the earth’s ecological crisis? This talk will ask the question and try to answer it, particularly from the perspective of the individual.

Safa Ali Michael Newman: Safa Ali Michael Newman 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 leads a bi-weekly gathering of Sufis in Marin County, California. 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.

Workshop: “Green Sufism: Resources for Meditation and Practice from the ’99 Beautiful Names.” Saadi Shakur Chishti (Chishti Ruhaniat)

In the Sufi tradition, all meditation, healing and essential prayer begin by finding our way back into contact with qualities of the divine seeded in us at the beginning of time, when we were all in the heart of the Beloved. We find a guide to some of these inner seeds in the “pathways of the heart, ” the “99 Beautiful Names” (Asma ul Husna) found in the Qur’an. They invite us into a deeply ecological experience of the human soul and its purpose in consonance with the whole natural world and all created beings. Included will be Sufi stories, selections from the Quran and Hadith, walking meditation, and a guided ‘journeys’ through a short selection of the “pathways of the heart.”

Saadi Shakur Chishti: Murshid Saadi Shakur Chishti, is the student of Pir Moineddin Jablonski Chishti, who was the student of Pir Sufi Ahmed Murad Chishti, who was the student of Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan Chishti. The Chishtia lineage, one of the oldest Sufi tariqas, uses music, art, poetry and sacred movement as practices to help “remember” our original relationship to the Source and Ground of all Being. He is the author of several books of translation on the Aramaic words of Jesus, including Prayers of the Cosmos, The Hidden Gospel, and Blessings of the Cosmos. He co-authored the book The Tent of Abraham: Stories of Hope and Peace with a Christian nun and a Jewish rabbi as part of his interfaith peace work. His primary book on Sufism is The Sufi Book of Life, a new translation and meditation upon the “99 Beautiful Names” (Asma ul Husna). He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland and directs the Edinburgh Institute for Advanced Learning. He also directs an annual Sufi Summer School in Europe ( He co-founded the Edinburgh International Festival of Middle Eastern Spirituality and Peace, now in its ninth year. He is the past chair of the Mysticism Group of the American Academy of Religion. In 2005 he was awarded the Kessler-Keener Foundation Peacemaker of the Year award for his work in Middle Eastern peacemaking.

Talk/Workshop: “Gender Balance: Reconnecting with Nature.” Dr Sharon G. Mijares, Ph.D.(Chishti Ruhaniat)

Gender equality is a necessary element accompanying healthy social change. Women are awakening to their role as instruments for global transformation. Women are also more in touch with nature. Paradise is always described as a lush garden, filled with flowing water, fruit trees, and other images of abundant nature, yet Patriarchy and Corporate greed have been neglecting and destroying the natural world. If Paradise is symbolized as a garden, then Mother Earth should also be revered for She is a reconnecting force.

Dr Sharon Mijares: Sharon G. Mijares, Ph.D., is a Licensed Psychologist. She is a member of the Sufi Ruhaniat International, the International Association of Sufism’s Sufi Women’s Organization and the American Association of Antropology and an ordained Sufi Minister of Universal Worship. She also has a black belt (Shodan) in Aikido. She teaches Comparative Religions and East-West Metaphysics at the California Institute for Human Science, is a core adjunct faculty member of both National and Brandman University’s Counseling Psychology programs. Dr. Mijares is the primary author of The Root of All Evil: An Exposition of Prejudice, Fundamentalism and Gender Imbalance (Imprint Academic, 2007). She has edited three books, The Revelation of the Breath: A Tribute ot Its Wisdom, Power and Beauty (SUNY Press, 2009), Modern Psychology and Ancient Wisdom: Psychological Healing Practices from the World’s Religious Traditions (Routledge Mental Health, 2003), and co-edited The Psychospiritual Clinician’s Handbook: Alternative Methods for Understanding and Treating Mental Disorders with Gurucharan Singh Khalsa (Routledge, 2005). She has also authored several articles and contributed a chapter “At every moment a new species arises in the chest” in Stephen Gilligan’s and Dvorah Simonds edited book Walking in Two Worlds: Theory and Practice of Self Relations (2004).

Talk/Discussion: “Sufi Women and the Sufi Women Organization.” Dr Nahid Angha (Uwaiysi).

In the western media, the common picture of a Muslim woman is the stereotype of a woman hidden behind a veil, a voiceless, bereft of rights. It is a picture familiar to all of us, in large part because this is invariably how the western media and orientalist writers portray Islam and its women.  It is also so timely that when we face all these representations of Islam and its women that we come across the writings of Sulami, the tenth century Persian Sufi writer, who had dedicated a section of his tabagat as sufieh, biographies of the Sufis to Sufi women, their life story, their teachings, and their outstanding students, both male and female.  The book contains the life story of women, a testimony of the spiritual independence of women in Islam. The talk will also include a description of the work of the Sufi Women Organization, founded by the speaker. The Sufi Women Organization was established in 1993 under the auspices of the International Association of Sufism. A forum for all Sufi 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 (see

Closing Panel: Finding Balance: “The Meeting of Inner and Outer Worlds”:

Dr Sharon Mijares, Dr Amelia Pryor, Dr Arife Hammerle, Dot Clark, Saadi Shakur Chishti, Dr Nahid Angha, Sheikh Tansen O’Donohoe

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