Archive for November, 2013

Sacred Geometry of Islamic Mosques – Faith & the Sciences – Health & Science –

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Domes play a special role in sacred spaces. (Mohamed Ali Mosque, Egypt) photo from

By Hwaa Irfan

Friday, 22 November 2013 00:00

The main precept of Islam is the unity and oneness of Allah and the importance of worshipping only Allah and not any statues or other beings. However, as humankind tends to believe what is visible, even in Islam, importance is often placed on physical representations of worship.

An example is that when Muslims seek refuge, they often run to a physical place. Rather than kneeling in prayer in the environment in which one lives and transforming that into a place of worship and remembrance, people tend to seek out the domain of a building, corner of the house or even a nook designed specifically for such a purpose.

For this reason the science of sacred geometry emerged. Sacred geometry is the science of creating a space, writing or other artwork, which reminds one of the greatness of Allah.

Under al-Biruni, geometry was called geodesy and was classified as natural philosophy involving matter and form combined with time and space. During the time of Ibn Sina, it was classified as mathematical sciences. Today, not surprisingly, geometry resides purely in the physical domain (Nasr, p.215).


Geometric Screen

However, many people still consider geometry a religious science. In fact, Islamic religious architectural design is based on sacred geometry. Many spiritual and miraculous concepts are represented in the geometrical patterns of Islamic buildings.

These images include geometric patterns of the cells of our bodies, plant-forms, and geological structures hence the statement “geometry is God manifest.”

Geometry can even affect the mechanical function of a place of worship. Mechanically, the domes of Islamic madressas and mosques are power enhancers. A whisper on one side of a sound-reflected domed-building is easily heard because the sound is focused towards the center of the spherical shape.

This principle applies to all forms of energy under a dome: a concave lens, dish antennae’s and electromagnetic waves (integraton, p.1).

Referring to domes in Islamic architecture traveler Brian Wingate pondered “The designs are so intricate and geometric that they seem to turn in endlessly upon themselves, inviting your own mind to do the same” (Wingate, p.1).

Furthermore, Muslim builders who adopted the dome from previous traditions in their buildings introduced other concepts to Islamic architecture as well.

Their intention has been to make the non-physical, physical, through craftsmanship and artistry using local materials.

It is this transcendence that the Dome of the Rock –el Qubbet ul Sakhrah speaks of. In ancient Semitic tradition, this site was the intersection of the underworld and upper-world.

This was where Prophet Abraham built an alter to sacrifice his son Ishmael and was where God, through Prophet Nathan, rejected David’s wish to build a temple because he had shed blood (Bible- Samuel II, 7:12,13).

Pythagoras who learned Geometry in Egypt is credited for discovering that an oscillating string stopped halfway along its length produces an octave relative to the string's fundamental, while a ratio of 2:3 produces a perfect fifth and 3:4 produces a perfect fourth. Chinese also featured the same mathematical positions on the Guqin and the tone holes in flutes. Pythagoreans believed these harmonic ratios gave music powers of healing which could "harmonize" an out-of-balance body.

Pythagoras who learned Geometry in Egypt is credited for discovering that an oscillating string stopped halfway along its length produces an octave relative to the string’s fundamental, while a ratio of 2:3 produces a perfect fifth and 3:4 produces a perfect fourth. Chinese also featured the same mathematical positions on the Guqin and the tone holes in flutes. Pythagoreans believed these harmonic ratios gave music powers of healing which could “harmonize” an out-of-balance body.

This same site was also where the Hellenic and Greek god Apollo was worshipped in the belief that this was the intersection of both worlds (sacredsites, p.1). Traditionally, the compound of the Dome of the Rock is a place of pilgrimage and is the direction of our first qibla.

Ultimately, however, the goal of sacred geometry is to create a space, which is in physical harmony. This attempt at environmental harmony is intended to be a reflection of the divine concept of the harmony of humanity (Fathy, p.1, 2). Furthermore, it is thought that when humans live in an environment that visually declares harmony they are also more likely to be in harmony. “An illuminated heart is capable of seeing the stamp which helps in transcending this realm to the other!” said Sa’id al-Nursi (abu-Sway, p.10).


The science of sacred geometry lies in the perfection of its reflection of the physical world and its representation of how strongly humanity is governed by geometry.

Water molecules, carbon atoms, proteins, viruses, cells, and tissues are able to facilitate their purpose in the cycle of life because of their geometrical design.

These organisms ability to stabilize mechanically is due to their connectedness to a frame of triangles, pentagons and hexagons. In the past, humans have attempted to break the geometry of the physical world, but it has always resulted in destruction, rather than re-creation.

Rahul Singhvi and others have tried to force living cells to take on other geometrical shapes because they believed that by changing the shape of cells, they could switch God’s genetic programming. Instead the cells became flat away from their geodesic dome shapes and developed a propensity to divide and activated apoptosis – a death program.

George Gurdjieff, a priest who traveled much in the Islamic world, said, “Among works of art, especially works of ancient art, you meet with many things you cannot explain and which contain a certain something you do not feel in modern works of art”.

“Objective art requires at least flashes of objective consciousness; in order to understand these flashes properly and to make proper use of them a great inner unity is necessary and a great control of oneself” (Ouspensky, p. 26, 298).

Read the original article at:

Sacred Geometry of Islamic Mosques – Faith & the Sciences – Health & Science –


‘Sufi music is a gift to western listeners’ – DAWN.COM

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

German scholar Dr. Jurgen Wasim Frembgen reads excerps from his book at the Goethe Institut on Wednesday evening. (Photo credit Dawn)

‘Sufi music is a gift to western listeners’ – DAWN.COM.


Introducing himself and the book to a thin audience, Dr Frembgen said he started listening to Indian classical and folk music at a young age in the 1970s. It didn’t take him long to realise that the reaction of German audiences to eastern music was quite different from that of Pakistani music lovers. While the former reacted to it in a reserved manner the latter sat on the floor and appreciated it verbally (wah, wah) and through gestures. It was then that he started working on classical and Sufi music.

“I can’t play any instrument but am a keen listener,” he said.

Speaking on the genesis of the book, Dr Frembgen said he visited the walled city of Lahore quite a bit and sat with musicians and connoisseurs of music in order to observe their understanding of the subject. He claimed Sufi music was a gift to western listeners in order to help them develop their spirituality. He being an anthropologist could train his ear to have a better understanding of the genre. There were several histories of Indian classical music and its comprehension depended upon what kind of cultural setting the music was based. The atmosphere that’s part of the performance (with agarbattis and dhamal) and the concept of sharing were keeping alive the subcontinent’s music that was indigenous to the region’s value system.

Dr Frembgen recalled an event where the established flutist Akmal Qadri was playing raga des (a nighttime raga). This made him read the first chapter of the book in which he remembered his visit to the late classical dancer Maharaj Kathak’s house in Lahore in the 1990s where Ustad Hamid Ali Khan was singing ghazals and thumris. It was not just the singing and admiration for the poets whose poetry was being sung but the whole ambience that inspired him (people touching Maharaj Kathak’s feet or appreciating the couplet with loud gestures etc).

The author then touched upon a sensitive topic. He said today there was a debate raging on about whether music was haram, and with bomb blasts at shrines a political angle had entered the whole scenario. There was a need to accommodate differences and celebrate cultural diversity. His book was not a scholarly one but was a collection of small narratives. Dr Frembgen mentioned the name of Dr Ashfaq, a homeopathic doctor and music expert with whom he had many discussions on the emotional dimension to Sufi music. He read out the chapter in which Akmal Qadri was playing raga des on his bamboo flute and commented that ‘a raga can awaken certain masculine or feminine emotion in the listener’.

Dr Frembgen also spoke on a chapter on Shah Latif’s shrine (which he said had undergone quite a few aesthetic changes unlike other shrines) where six to eight musicians sang till morning. “We need music to console our hearts,” he remarked while lauding those who perform at the great Sufi poet’s shrine. He also briefly discussed the difference in behaviours of people that nowadays visited shrines and argued Sufi tradition was at the heart of Islam.

The last bit that Dr Frembgen read out from the book was his experience of being at Baba Shah Jamal in Lahore. The chapter focused on the different people who indulged in trance dance or dhamal.

Replying to a question put to him by an attendee, Dr Frembgen said the dynamics of change were always at work that was why at some shrines the performances had more of an entertainment value, while when he recently visited an area in Karachi he found members of the Sheedi community trying to search their Sufi identity.



Elderly Sufi in Cyprus preaches love to counter radicalism | GlobalPost

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013
Sheikh Nazim

Sheikh Nazim

[From Imam Salim – many years ago Sheikh Nazim and about 30 of his followers came to where I was on a retreat with Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan (ra). It was such a wonderful experience to meet him and his mureeds then. His is one of three silsilas that are linked with the Chishti silsila and we are all united in our quest for true love and connection with the divine]

From the GlobalPost:

Nestled at the end of a street in the Cypriot village of Lefke is a house to which an elderly Sufi Muslim sage draws disciples with a message of love to counter the radical face of Islam.

Sufism traces its roots back to the origins of Islam and focuses on the inner, mystical dimension of the faith and a personal relationship with God, especially through meditation.

It is made up of many orders. Among the most prominent are the Naqshbandi, renowned for their austerity and scrupulous observance of sharia, or Islamic law.

Sheikh Nazim, now very frail at the age of 91, leads a group known as the Naqshbandi-Haqqani, which is more flexible in its teachings, and “is one of the best known Sufi masters in the West,” says Thierry Zarcone, a French historian and specialist in Sufism.

“It’s an Islam that is more flexible, with an acceptable vision. At the same time, (Sheikh Nazim) is playing on the danger of radicalism in the US and Europe… by showing that Sufism is a kind of instrument against radicalism.”

The door is open to all, with a cheerful greeting of “welcome to the house of love,” and visitors are invited in to share one of the day’s two meals.

Inside, the shady arched veranda looks out on a courtyard brimming with flowers and fruit trees.

There’s a steady flow of people into the house in the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, from residents to visiting pilgrims and locals who have come to ask for prayers or to seek a favour.

Among them are Germans, Italians, Swiss, Americans, Russians, and of course Turks and Turkish Cypriots, who converge on the tiny mosque to attend prayers followed by a sermon on “true love,” the love of God.

At the centre of it all is Sheikh Nazim, whose blue eyes, though dimmed by age, still radiate gentleness and affection.

Nazim, who is now mostly confined to a wheelchair and has difficulty talking, was not up to an interview, but he still preaches sermons that are later uploaded to the web by the Internet savvy community.

Nazim embraced the pope

Three years ago, already bent with age and walking with difficulty, he came to the attention of the wider world when the former pope, Benedict XVI, visited Cyprus.

He travelled from Lefke to the Roman Catholic church in the UN-patrolled buffer zone that divides Nicosia.

Benedict was heading into church, but stopped when Sheikh Nazim approached him, and the two shared a few poignant moments in quiet conversation.

“God bless you,” Sheikh Nazim said, before adding: “Pray for me. I am so old,” to which the pope replied with a twinkle in his eye: “I am also old.”

Nazim then embraced the pope and patted him on the back before pronouncing: “Good one. Good one.”

To some, it might have seemed incongruous to see a Muslim cleric embracing the pope, but the message of love, of tolerance is at the centre of Sheikh Nazim’s teachings.

In his book entitled simply “Love,” Sheikh Nazim says that “in every religion, love is the primary force. When you love, you respect.”

Sheikh Nazim’s son, Bahauddine, said: “If you love the human and you love the nature and you love the people and you love the animal, that means you are in the right way.”

Jehan Raqab is an Italian-Egyptian who gave up a good job with the United Nations to join Sheikh Nazim’s community.

“I came here once and felt like I was in heaven,” she said. “When I see Sheikh Nazim, he feels your heart with his eyes.”

“I had quite a bit of difficulty with my family (over the move), because I was working with the UN… and suddenly I felt something else was more important.”

Raqab, who is single, came to Lefke three years ago and settled into a simple life that revolves around prayers five times a day and weekly meditations, known as Khikr.

Looking back on her “tasteless” former world of “running, working and shopping,” Raqab said her new one “gave me a sense of satisfaction that my life and work was not giving me anymore.”

She lives near the derga, the common house where dozens of adepts share meals, the men on one side, women on the other, and participate in household tasks, work in the garden or go out to do service in the community.

‘Voice of silent majority’

Bahauddine explained that “we have here people who are originally Muslim, others are converts. We do not make any separation.”

“Our most active communities are in Europe, particularly in London,” he says, while also mentioning others in Istanbul, Los Angeles and the US state of Michigan.

One of Sheikh Nazim’s sons-in-law, Sheikh Hisham Kabbani, has actively promoted the order in the United States in 1990.

And, after a terrorist bombing in London in 2005, he spearheaded the creation of a council of Sufis to get out the “voice of the silent majority” to counter that of radical Islam.

As Bahauddine put it: “We have to explain Islam to foreigners, especially these days as there are so many ideas that are violent.”

“If you look back into the history of Islam, what are the rules? You cannot kill women or children or old people or burn a house. There is no excuse for suicide.

“This is our religion; it is the most beautiful religion. But it is coming into the wrong hands. I am deeply sorry to say this.”

Elderly Sufi in Cyprus preaches love to counter radicalism | GlobalPost.