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Embattled Saints: My Year with the Sufis of Afghanistan Paperback – April 29, 2014

Winner of the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Silver Award!

In the West, Islam has replaced Communism as the new bugbear, while Sufism, Islam’s mystical dimension, is often dismissed as the delusions of an irrational and backward people. Ken Lizzio corrects such misperceptions in this firsthand account of the year he spent in 1991 living with the head of the Naqshbandis, Afghanistan’s largest Sufi order. He presents the order in all its dimensions–social, economic, political, and spiritual–at a pivotal moment in history. He also gives a rare glimpse of everyday life in an Afghan Sufi school and of how the school has coped with the upheavals in its country.

Poignantly, the Naqshbandi way of life faces threats to its very existence. One threat lies in the creeping secularization of Islamic society, another in the dismissal of Sufism by various fundamentalist Islamic sects claiming the franchise on truth. But historically, Lizzio points out, Sufism has always been Islam’s wellspring for spiritual revival. And because Sufis deal in matters that transcend time and cultures, they help outsiders understand not only the true nature of Islam, but the deeper meaning of all religions. The sound of that meaning echoes throughout this eloquent and fascinating memoir.


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Imam Salim
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Fez to hold 11th Festival of Sufi Culture this month | MEO

Festival themed “Presence of Sufism” seeks to reinforce Morocco’s position in intercultural dialogue by forging bridge between East and West.

Source: Fez to hold 11th Festival of Sufi Culture this month | MEO

CASABLANCA – The eleventh edition of the Fez Festival of Sufi Culture will take place October 20-27 in the imperial city with a rich programme awaiting visitors. Continue reading

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11th Safar Urs Salman Farsi, Ctesiphon, Al-Mada’in Iraq 664CE

Dargah in Ctesiphon, Al-Mada’in, Iraq

Salman the Persian or Salmān al-Fārsī (meaning “the Persian” born Rouzbeh) was one of Muhammad’s companions. During some of his later meetings with the other Sahaba, he was referred to as Abu Abdullah (“Father of Abdullah”).

It was Salman who came up with the idea of digging a great trench around the city of Medina to defend the city and its people from the army of 10,000 non-Muslims of Arabia. Muhammad and his companions agreed and accepted Salman’s plan because it was safer and there would be a better chance that the non-Muslim army of Arabia would have a larger number of casualties. Salman came up with the idea from remembering the same thing happening in Persia; when the Persians learned that their enemies planned to invade their territory, they dug a trench around them to be safe. The attack that the Muslims had expected, is known as the Battle of the Trench.

While some sources gather him with the Muhajirun, other sources narrate that during the Battle of the Trench, one of Muhajirun stated “Salman is one of us, Muhajireen”, but this was challenged by the Muslims of Medina known in Arabic as the Ansar. A lively argument began between the two groups, each of them claiming that Salman belonged to their group, and not to the other group. Muhammad arrived on the scene, and heard the argument. He was amused by the claims, but he soon put an end to their arguments by saying: “Salman is neither Muhajir nor Ansar. He is one of us. He is one of the People of the House, ahl al-Bayt.”

Both Shi’ah and Sunnis traditions say that nobody among the companions of the Prophet pbuh) was equal to Salman. Abu Dharr and Imam Musa al-Kazim said, “On the day of resurrection someone will call on behalf of Allah that ‘Where are the hawariyyin and faithfuls of Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah, who stayed firmly on the path shown by him and never broke his covenant? Then will arise Salman, Miqdad and Abu Dharr.”

A measure of Salman’s scriptual attainment can be gleaned by the following narrations.

Narrated Abu Juhaifa: The Prophet made a bond of brotherhood between Salman and Abu Ad-Darda.’ Salman paid a visit to Abu Ad-Darda’ and found Um Ad-Darda’ dressed in shabby clothes and asked her why she was in that state. She replied, “Your brother Abu Ad-Darda’ is not interested in (the luxuries of) this world.” In the meantime Abu Ad-Darda’ came and prepared a meal for Salman. Salman requested Abu Ad-Darda’ to eat (with him), but Abu Ad-Darda’ said, “I am fasting.” Salman said, “I am not going to eat unless you eat.” So, Abu Ad-Darda’ ate(with Salman). When it was night and (a part of the night passed), Abu Ad-Darda’ got up (to offer the night prayer), but Salman told him to sleep and Abu Ad-Darda’ slept. After sometime Abu Ad-Darda’ again got up but Salman told him to sleep. When it was the last hours of the night, Salman told him to get up then, and both of them offered the prayer. Salman told Abu Ad-Darda’, “Your Lord has a right on you, your soul has a right on you, and your family has a right on you; so you should give the rights of all those who has a right on you.” Abu Ad-Darda’ came to the Prophet and narrated the whole story. The Prophet said, “Salman has spoken the truth.”
Narrated Salman al-Farsi: I read in the Torah that the blessing of food consists in ablution before it. So I mentioned it to the Prophet, who said: The blessing of food consists in ablution before it and ablution after it.
Numerous traditions say that Salman knew ‘al-ismul a’zam (the greatest name of Allah)’; and that he was from the ‘muhaddathin (those to whom the angels talk)’.
Salman died during the reign of the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan at the age of 78. He is thought to have been buried in Ctesiphon, Al-Mada’in in present-day Iraq. Though Ctesiphon has long been abandoned, the nearby town of Salman Pak is named after him. It is also claimed that his grave is in Lod (Lydda), Palestine/Israel, in the modern quarter of Ramat Eshkol.
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9th Safar Urs Syed Shah Amir Abul ullah, Agra, 1061AH/1651CE

Hazrat Syedna Shah Ameer Abulula Ahrari Naqshbandi (سیدنا شاہ امیر ابو العلی احراری) was a Sufi saint of the Naqshbandi order in India. He died in 1651 during the reign of the Moghul emperor Jahangir, and his shrine is located in Agra. He married the daughter of his spiritual master, Hazrat Syedna Abdullah Ahrari Naqshbandi, who was also his uncle. He was also the nephew of Faizi and Abu al-Fazl ibn Mubarak.

The “Abul Ulai” sublineage of the Naqshbandi order is named after him and is one of the major sublineages in South Asia. The major branch of the Abululai order is the Aghai Abululai branch based in Aghapura, Hyderabad, India.

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7th Safar Urs Mohammed Suleman, Taunsa Sharif, Pakistan 1267AH/1850CE

Dargha complex in Taunsa Sharif

Muhammad Suleman Taunsvi (1184A.H/1770CE – 1267A.H/1850CE) was a Sufi saint born to the Jafar Pakhtun tribe of Darug, Loralai District, Balochistan province, in what is now Pakistan. His dargah lies in Tehsil Taunsa of district Dera Ghazi Khan of Punjab province in Pakistan. Taunsa Sharif is located on the Karachi-Peshawar Indus Highway near the headworks on the Indus River called Taunsa Barrage. His urs is celebrated at his shrine every year from 5-7 Safar. Continue reading

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Islam: Containing Beauty and Joy | Daniel Thomas Dyer

Image by Cilla, from Hungarian wikipedia

Daniel Thomas Dyer explores the place of beauty and joy within Islam.

Source: Islam: Containing Beauty and Joy | Daniel Thomas Dyer

I have often wondered why the Beautiful and the Joyful do not usually appear in Islam’s traditional lists of Divine Names. Most of the listed Names are in the Quran, and these two are not. So it might at first seem that God does not wish to be seen as beautiful or joyful. Continue reading

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