March 8th (CE Calendar) Urs Murshida Sherifa Goodenough Suresnes, France 1937CE

Murshida Sherifa Goodenough

She was a dedicated Mureed of Hazrat Inayat Khan in Europe. If you Google “Murshida Goodenough” you will find many references to her. Among them is this short biographical sketch on http://wahiduddin.net/mv2/bio/Sketches.htm:

Miss Lucy M. Goodenough (Murshida Sharifa)
We know very little about the first period of Lucy Marian Goodenough’s life. She was born on August 25th 1876, in London, second daughter of Colonel W. H. Goodenough (afterwards Lt. General Sir William Goodenough K.C.B.) and of Mrs. (afterwards Lady) Goodenough, nee Countess Kinsky.

She traveled quite a lot, “was a fearless rider”, “a very delicate child, but inclined to take the lead over her sisters”. Later on, during her Vienna period, she will be a leader in fashion for a season or two… . At the same time she was master of German and French and well versed in Italian. She even knew by heart Dante’s “Divine Comedy”.

Her social and rather mundane life suddenly came to an end when she came in contact with Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan in London during the First World War (probably in 1916). From this time onward her entire life became devoted to Pir-o-Murshid and settled upon Sufism.

Through her deep interest in Sufism, her staunch devotion to Murshid and her swift progress along the spiritual path, Murshid made her Khalifa, then Murshida, and finally she became the Silsila Sufiya of the Sufi Order, which means the link, necessary for the transmission of initiation in the Sufi Orders. Pir-o-Murshid had a seal made, after his own drawing, and gave this to her as a token of this greater responsibility. Except for her work for the Sufi Cause, she was then inclined to be remote, exclusive and lonely.

The death of the Master was a very severe shock to her. No doubt it has been so for many faithful mureeds. But on her this event seemed to work as a devastating earthquake and it affected her whole being. She fell seriously ill and had to live in seclusion for months together. She emerged from this period as a different person. Formerly she used to be shy; now by her mere presence, one could perceive a sort of mastery over herself and over others. She used to be exclusive; now she was ready to welcome each and all with a patience, a meekness and kindness, at times more than human. One would breathe in her presence that peace, that tranquility of mind which made one feel one’s truer self.
After the passing away of Baroness d’Eichthal she became the National Representative for France and gathered around her a group of mureeds with a lively interest in the Sufi teachings. Some among them had known Pir-o-Murshid and had been in contact with him, such as Mesdames Yvonne Detraux, Yvonne Guillaume (both artists) and Marie-Madeleine Frere; and others were newcomers: Madame Antoinette Schamhart and Miss Adriana van der Scheer (Feizi). The former became a very close friend to Murshida, the latter a devoted attendant at the time of Murshida’s ill health and overworking. A few other mureeds of Pir-o-Murshid, also attracted by that mind of rare insight and the utter purity of that soul, were Sheikh Sirkar van Stolk, the poetess Zebunnisa (Marchesa Farinola de Tanfani), Shahnawaz van Spengler, the philosopher Louis Hoyack and Wazir van Essen. All recognized in Murshida Sharifa a quality that was unique and found in her the reflection of the Master for whom they had such a great admiration and for whom they were longing so much.

All the above mentioned persons have been valuable workers in the Cause, each according to his talents and field of activity.

From 1930 to 1936 Murshida Sharifa gave lectures in Paris and in Vienna and held Sufi classes at Suresnes and in Paris. Her lectures were attended by a distinguished public and more members joined the Movement. About two hundred of her lectures were taken down in shorthand by Mademoiselle Jelila Guerineau and in 1962 a first volume, “Soufisme d’Occident”, was issued, including ten lectures, giving a sample of Sufi-thoughts. More of her lectures are to be found in the French Sufi magazine “La Pensee Soufie”. Murshida Sherifa also promoted the regular publication of “Le Message” from 1932 to 1937, mostly at the expense of her own meagre income.

But alas! her life and health were on the waning. And she deeply felt the inner strains and outer splits in the Sufi Movement, as if they were inflicted on her own body and heart. And it must be said here that the constant trust and confidence that the Master had shown to her during his lifetime now seemed to arouse prejudice, jealousy and distrust from several sides, now that he was no more there in person to keep things in balance and to help keeping each and all in harmony. Therefore she, the Silsila Sufiya, had to experience harshness and friends turning their backs upon her.
And so she passed away on the 8th of March 1937. In the house of a stranger, but on the land of Suresnes, dying in poverty, but rich in a hope and a faith which could not be overborne. With her pupils and friends and with all those who so immensely admired her she left the lasting influence of a living spirit and the true fragrance of holiness, as the memorial of a perfected mureed.

Suresnes, August 1977
By one of her pupils, Michel Guillaume


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