More openings with the Qur'an
Thirty Days of Ramadan

During Ramadan Kabir Dede will be offering a series of daily quotes and themes on the subject of fasting during Ramadan. Download the text for the 30 days here, or join us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

Download Thirty Days of Ramadan
The Mysterion School 2024: Living Presence

Beginning March 17th: 9-month interactive online study of Living Presence: The Sufi Path to Mindfulness & the Essential Self with Kabir Helminski

Beginning in March 2024 we will begin a study of the seminal work, Living Presence, The Sufi Path to Mindfulness and the Essential Self. The course consists of 9 live online sessions, including suggested spiritual practices, and 18 discussion sessions led by senior “dervishes” of the Threshold Society. Living Presence is a classic work translated into at least 7 languages. This is the book that first brought many people to the Threshold Society and has been the foundation of a unique approach to spiritual development.

Living Presence was first published in 1992, and significantly revised and updated in the 25th Anniversary Edition of 2017. It contains teachings we received from the extraordinary spiritual companions, elders, and murshids that we were blessed to know and from experiences we had during our own spiritual training. Living Presence is based mostly in our lived experience, a practical body of knowledge, not from ideas taken from books. Of course, I also refer to the primary sources of our Sufi tradition -- for instance, Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi and other Sufis, select Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad, may he be blessed, and the Qur’an -- interpreted from an esoteric perspective that has been preserved in a living tradition. It is a joy to be able to share this knowledge and experience with a community of sincere seekers. I invite you to take this journey with us.

We will focus deeply on these nine themes:

Creative Energies and Human Capacities
The Power of Being
Meditation: The Refinement of Our Attention
Mysteries of The Body
Emancipation from Fear
What We Love We Will Become
Worship: Contact with The Infinite
The Religion of Love

Join The Mysterion School 2024
Ramadan Qur'an

May your Ramadan be much blessed!

We offer here the opening two surahs of Volume XI  of the Qur’an translation by Camille Ana, the forthcoming completion volume of the series of eleven volumes, God willing, which all together are intended to hold the complete one hundred and fourteen surahs of the Holy Qur’an. This new volume forthcoming, together with Volume I, is as the two leaves of a plant emerging, with new leaves and branches, and inshallah flowers and fruit, opening further, from the Center. We offer this translation to support the increased opening of our awareness to all the Compassionate Generosity and Loving Guidance of the Divine Bestowal—that Love that is always communicating with us, which we simply need to open our hearts to hear, and our eyes to see.

The Qur'an Volume I is available to buy from Amazon now and soon from all good bookstores.

Buy Volume I
Download Vol XI:
Surahs 67-68
Ramadan Love Songs

Through this second collection in the “Songs of the Soul” series, we encounter a world where Divine Grace is always with us and every moment is an opportunity to “begin again” in God’s Name. Whether amidst expansion or contraction, whether witnessing the intricacies of the human body or the canopy of the stars, Camille Hamilton Adams Helminski draws our attention to something subtle yet intoxicating with Its Beauty. Her clarity of vision, as well as her appreciation of the Mysterious, compels us to witness the workings of the Divine within our lives, with wonder, opening the heart to this Love, our very Life, the Source of our breath—this Force that pours through us and knows no boundaries!

Ramadan Love Songs remind us to turn always to the light of Divine Grace with an open heart. Nothing else allows us to see. Nothing else can seek the companionship of the Most High, Who is always present. These poems for Ramadan—and every month of the year—grant us a sublime scent of a fragrance that inundates us with their power and subtlety. Glory be to one who wrote them and to the One she reminds us to remember.”
~ amina wadud, professor emeritus (Visiting Scholar Starr King School for the Ministry, Berkeley, CA. Author of Qur’an and Woman)

“With Ramadan Love Songs, Camille Helminski has given a precious gift to all who walk the Path of Love. These purifying words of depth and devotion can hold us gently and guide us firmly through sacred passages, that lead us all towards the One.”
~ Rabbi Shefa Gold (Author of Are We There Yet? Travel as a Spiritual Practice)

“The tradition of Ramadan poetry in English goes back to the late Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, and is now extended by the lovely new work of Camille Helminski. Growing out of a mingling of the Qur’an, devotion to the Prophet, and Rumi’s poetry, these poems will touch your heart. These poems begin with the story of the washing of the blessed Prophet’s heart, and, God-willing, they will do the same for yours.”
~ Omid Safi (Professor of Islamic Studies, Duke University. Author, Radical Love: Teachings from the Islamic Mystical Tradition)

March Theme

Fasting is meditation of the body for the sake of God alone.

We welcome your reflections on this theme.

Assisi Retreat Jul 12-15

Tending the Heart: Rumi’s Path of Transformation Through Love

with Shaikh Kabir & Selçuk Gürez, Master Sufi Musician

The human heart is the most precious faculty in existence, needing conscious tending, and energetic purification. Our retreat will be a deep synthesis of mindful awareness, a sharing of practical teachings from Rumi, an introduction to the practice of “turning” and dynamic group zikr. There will also be an opportunity for dialog about the spiritual challenges we face in a dramatically changing world.

Le Case Agriturismo Assisi is a country residence immersed in the splendid setting of the Monte Subasio Natural Park, among streams and woods, livestock farms and organic crops. Please note that you will need to book your accommodation and catering directly with the venue.

More details
UK Retreat Aug 2-5

Shaikh Kabir will be back in the UK for the annual retreat, to be held Aug 2-5 at The Vedanta retreat centre in Lincolnshire. More details in June.

Mar 3rd

Join us for a monthly online meditation and sohbet with Shaikh Kabir and Camille, and special guests from the Threshold community. Held on the 1st Sunday of every month at 12pm Eastern Time (5pm UK).

Zoom meeting:
Zoom passcode: threshold

Watch last month's meeting below and see all our videos here.

Reflection on February's theme: Taqwa: Human will is a gift of the divine. May we use it wisely.

~ Elif Gokcigdem [Virginia, USA]

The angel is free because of his knowledge,
The beast because of his ignorance.
Between the two remains the son of man to struggle.
[Fihi Ma Fihi, Discourse 17, from The Rumi Collection, ed. Kabir Helminski]

Reflecting on the theme of the month was a blessing as it invited me to take a closer look at a memory with my father. When I was going through a teenager’s dilemma, he, like an experienced detective with a flashlight in hand, spotlighted some clues for me as to what taqwa might be.

I was fifteen or sixteen, spending the summer holiday with my parents in a quiet village on an island. I loved spending time on the beach; swimming for long periods of time, watching little transparent fish become invisible on sand, and combing the beach for pebbles and seashells. While tranquil on the surface, it was an age of internal tension for me. I was struggling to find and stay true to an idea of an identity, while also trying to find social acceptance. This tension became unbearable when my love for spending time in the sea clashed with having to socialize with a group of peers, with whom I never felt belonging. One day, I decided to declare to my father—a person of faith and my best friend—that I observed some questionable behavior on the beach, which I did not want to associate with, and for that reason I no longer wished to go swimming. While at it, I continued, perhaps, it would make the most sense to also cover my hair and change the way I dress, so there is no mistake about where I stand. I was confident that my decision would make him proud, and that he would be my ally. It was right after breakfast when I had just served his medium-sweet Turkish coffee. He took a sip of his coffee while looking at our garden, and calmly turned his face towards me, and said: “I respect your decision, my daughter, and I would support you if you choose to do that.” This was the answer I was hoping for. What came after, led to an experience that is always fresh on my mind: “However…” he continued, “I would like to know how you arrived at this decision.”

After I explained to him my reasonings, he said: “Regardless of what you might think of others, I know how deeply you love the sea and swimming. You do not go to the beach for any other purpose than to follow your heart to what you love, the sea. Allah knows what is in your heart. As your intentions are pure, you should be cautious to make a major change in your life at this age, only to send a message to others. Covering yourself is a big responsibility, its true meaning goes deeper than what it might seem on the surface, and cannot be taken lightly. For example, are you absolutely sure that your decision has nothing to do with disappointment towards your friends, or how they made you feel? Are you a hundred percent sure that after this big change in your lifestyle, you will never regret it? Whatever your answer is, Allah already knows that too. He knows your true intention in every action, even before you do. You should know that we only fear Allah, and we only ask from Him/Her. If your decision is a reaction to others, or to find acceptance from others, either will only cause you lifelong resentment and suffering, because you would be pretending, and placing your expectations and trust in people, instead of Allah. Allah has nothing to gain from your self-imposed suffering, or devotion. However, if there is any speck of insincerity (riya) or duality (shirk) in your heart and your actions, no matter how many layers of covering you cover yourself with, you cannot hide it from Allah. This is the true meaning of “covering yourself”: it is to trust and take cover only in Allah, so that He/She may shield your heart from riya and shirk, the worst of sins that bring disease and rubbish to your heart. What is in your heart is Allah. What Allah values the most is whether you keep your intentions pure and His/Her house, your heart, clean. If you strive to do this, even if you make mistakes on the way (and we all make mistakes) Allah is your True Friend (Haqq Dost), is Forgiving, and is the Best of Guides, who will always help you find the best way forward. I would say, why don’t you consider this perspective for a few days, and we’ll talk again.”

My father was not preaching, but he was modeling taqwa, a love-based consciousness of Allah, as he walked with me through the nuances of my situation. Instead of striking a fear of hellfire in a confused teenager, he was trusting me with an important decision: urging me to use my God-given intellect and will to chose to develop a love-based fear of offending a True Friend (Haqq Dost). He did this by non-judgmentally bringing to light all the hidden traps that could damage one’s sincerity, as it is the human condition to be confused, doubtful, and fearful, jeopardizing the trust, the amanat, that is the heart, and the Divine Secret in it. Taqwa required a conscious choice and an action: a continuous awareness of the traps and witnessing our reaction to them, to avoid offending the True Friend within the heart, all the while only trusting the True Friend for guidance throughout. When there is no choice to be made, there is no struggle; and, if there is no struggle, there is no possibility to flourish into complete humanness deserving the precious gift of the True Friend.

~ Elif is a mother and a community-builder for fostering empathy in our world.

Reflection on February's theme: Taqwa: Human will is a gift of the divine. May we use it wisely.

~ Jeremy Henzell-Thomas [Wells, UK]

When I was overseeing the translation of Muhammad Asad’s Message of the Qur’an into German (published by Patmos Verlag in 2009), I gave the translator a list of keywords translated from Arabic into English by Asad and asked him to be sure to be faithful to Asad’s translation when translating them into German.  Chief among these was Asad’s translation of taqwa as ‘consciousness of God’ rather than the usual ‘fear of God’. In his note to Qur'an 2:2 Asad explains that he has translated muttaqi as 'God-conscious' instead of 'God-fearing' so as to bring out, in his words, ‘the positive connotation of the expression.’  This is clearly important, but it is well to note that the multiple connotations of the root of the word cannot be restricted either to 'consciousness' or 'fear', but embrace both 'awareness' and 'wariness'.

The essential meaning of taqwa is ‘a shield or protective barrier’ to guard oneself from what is displeasing to Allah. When Umar Ibn Al-Khattab asked Ubay Ibn Ka’ab about taqwa, Ubay is reported to have said “Have you ever taken a thorny path, and if so how did you travel along it?” Umar replied, “Yes I have. I rolled up my garment and was cautious as to where I would tread to avoid being pricked by the thorns.” Ubay responded, “This is taqwa.”

We might well reflect judiciously on the word ‘cautious’ as used by Umar to describe his path. As with so many actions, there is always a danger of going to extremes. In discussing the golden mean as an essential principle in Islamic ethics, Al-Ghazali defines the virtue of courage as the mean between cowardice and recklessness – that is between what is defective and what is excessive.  While Umar is wise to be cautious in avoiding the thorns, it has always struck me that excessive caution can often stifle our engagement with the fullness of life, and thus limit our awareness of the Divine Presence.  I have noticed how in his Mathnawi Mevlana Rumi employs the image of thorns ambivalently to represent obstacles either to be avoided or transformed:

Know that every bad habit is a thornbush.
After all, how often have you stepped on its thorns.
[Mathnawi II, 1240, Rumi: Daylight, translated by Camille & Kabir Helminski]

Bring your fire to God’s light in order that
Your fire will disappear in His light,
And all your thorns become roses.
[Mathnawi II,1245-6, Rumi: Daylight, translated by Camille & Kabir Helminski]

I remember when walking a 190-mile stretch of the South-West Coast Path several years ago, I came across a sign on the Devon coast which pointed in two directions, one marked as the normal path and the other as the ‘strenuous’ variant. I had no hesitation in choosing to follow the strenuous path, and was rewarded with a much more scenic walk than if I had been more cautious and followed the conventional path.

On the other hand, another personal anecdote tells a different story. When I was 12 years old and living in Bermuda, I once rowed out to sea in a small rowing boat, taking little notice of how far out I had rowed. A speedboat came from the shore to warn me that I might be in danger of being swept out to sea by the current, and offered to tow me back to the shore, but I protested that I was fine and did not need their help. Sheer bravado and excessive self-reliance, for I only just managed to row back to safety after going to the limit of my strength.

I remember a conference in London, when the final session was chaired by Shaykh Zaki Badawi, Chief Imam of the London Central Mosque and founder of the Muslim College. He appealed to the assembled participants not to bury themselves in what he called ‘Scripturalism’, the study of texts subject to human interpretation yet divorced from context and circumstance, a process which can shackle us to unbending formalisms and inflexible conservatism, to sterile disputes about the law, its interdictions, prescriptions, prohibitions and rulings, ultimately, in his words, to ‘the reduction of Islam to the beard and the scarf’. Weighed down, he said, solely by the ‘law’, and its ‘mountain of details’, or what we may mistakenly believe the law to be, we are no longer able to emerge into the fresh air to find that simple, broad and deep Islam, the broad and humane path which leads to water, its true essence and spirit.  At the end of his address, he said with deliberate provocation, ‘Women, revolt!’ to the consternation of many of the men present in the assembly.

A personal anecdote from that conference highlighted for me the true nature of taqwa and how best to engage my will.  I was praying next to a celebrated Muslim convert who turned to me after the prayer and said that I had ‘done something wrong in the prayer’. I cannot remember what I was supposed to have done wrong, but perhaps I had failed to bend my toes in the prescribed manner when prostrating, an omission which might cause my prayer to fail to be ‘accepted’. What struck me, however, was that my hyper-vigilant critic was apparently more concerned about the minutiae of how I was praying than attending to his own prayer. His need to observe and correct me in line with what he judged to be halal was greater than his need to engage his own faculties wholeheartedly in the consciousness and worship of God. It is surely that expansive engagement of the heart that is true taqwa, and not the narrowly focused and prescriptive legalism that governs the position of my toes.


~ Jeremy Henzell-Thomas is an independent researcher, writer, speaker, educational consultant, Associate Editor of the quarterly journal Critical Muslim, and former Visiting Fellow and Research Associate at the Centre of Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge. He was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2021 for services to the Civil Society and the Muslim Community.

The Threshold Society

The Threshold Society, rooted within the traditions of Sufism and inspired by the life and work of Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi, is a non-profit educational foundation with the purpose of facilitating the experience of Divine Unity, Love, and Truth in the world. Sufism is a living tradition of human transformation through love and higher consciousness. Our fundamental framework is classical Sufism and the Qur’an as it has been understood over the centuries by the great Sufis. The Society is affiliated with the Mevlevi Order, and offers training programs, seminars and retreats around the world.

Each month we intend to highlight an article about our lineage and its principles. This month we offer: Practical Aspects of Dervishood


Practical Aspects of Dervishood
by Mahmoud Mostafa

For me, dervishhood is a total commitment to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet, Mevlana Rumi, Shams, and all the blessed ones who traveled the way of love. There are many aspects to this following and over the years it has been shown to me that the sincerity of commitment to this path is manifest in knowing that one is a servant and living one’s life in this truth. What are the practical aspects of this way of living? For me there are several dimensions, there is a state of being, an active practice, a quality of self-reflection and self-knowing, and a way of conduct in daily life.

[Read more...]

Moments from San Damiano February Retreat

1st Sunday of every month: Online Meditation, more details   (K)

Mar 12: Ramadan

Apr 9: Eid al'Fitr

Jun 17: Eid al'Adha

Jul 12-15: Assisi Italy Retreat, more details   (K)

Aug 2-5: UK Annual Retreat, The Vedanta Lincolnshire   (K)

Sep 27-30:  San Juan Bautista, California retreat   (KC)


Events with Kabir (K) & Camille (C)

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