Feb 2018: Grace of Mercy

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Kentucky Voices

Shaikha Camille and Shaikh Kabir share sacred wisdom from Mevlana
for Festival of Faiths, 2017


Ninety-Nine Day Program

“I have seen the conditioned person who is at the center of ‘my’ universe. I have learned a new language, whereas before I used to be at a loss to express my feelings. It was Rumi who led me to write to you, and after going through this program, Mevlana’s poetry has taken on a new dimension.”
~ Participant’s feedback

Often people ask us how they can connect with the Sufi tradition, or if we can recommend a teacher or a group in their local area. Sometimes an appropriate connection can be recommended; too often it cannot. The Ninety-Nine Day Program was created to meet the needs of our time for a balanced education in Sufi practice and spiritual psychology. It is not a substitute for a living connection with a teacher and a group; it provides the knowledge and the structure for development within the Sufi process and may lead to more personal contact through regional gatherings of the Threshold Society.

It is a first step in the meeting between the student and the tradition. The commitment it entails is short term but intense. Quite a bit has been offered in this program enough to sustain personal work for months or even years. The knowledge and practice offered should enrich and complement the work of people at many different levels of attainment and experience.

If, after completing this course, you feel that you can make a clear intention to seek a connection and to continue wholeheartedly on this way, then the process which has begun will continue. After your work and experience of the Ninety-Nine Day Program has been considered by the Mentor, some recommendations will be made about how to continue to integrate this knowledge and practice.

So far, more than one thousand people have worked with this program and it is being periodically refined. The Ninety-Nine Day Program seems to be answering a real need. It has been used by a political prisoner under the harsh conditions of solitary confinement, by a Catholic nun in a Third World country, by people who have lived up to twenty-five years with the Work, by Buddhist monks, and by people with no formal spiritual training, all with positive results.

Sign up to start the Ninety-Nine Day Program.


Reflection on January’s theme:
“Mercy” (Rahim) is the grace that allows us to connect
with the Divine in every circumstance of life.

~ Aykut Akalin [London/Istanbul]

The Qualities of Rahman and Rahim are very much emphasized in the Divine Revelation as all but one surah in the Holy Quran starts with these Names. The All-Merciful, ar-Rahim, is described as “the blessing found in every condition of life when we turn consciously back to God”.1

God’s presence is broadcasting in the universes from everywhere and nowhere, carrying the Love, Compassion, Mercy and other infinite Qualities. Rahman, God’s Compassion and Love, is shining upon all creation as well as Rahim, but with the quality of Rahim there is a reciprocity as well.

God turns in mercy to the faithful, men and women:
for God is Ever-Ready to Forgive, Infinitely Merciful.

We need to turn our consciousness to the Mercy, need to be receptive, attuned to this flow. Rahim is like the moon reflecting Sun’s (Rahman’s) Light. We need to turn to the moon to see it. A more contemporary and perhaps a little humorous analogy might be: Presence is like the wireless network broadcasting, carrying the Qualities of Compassion, Mercy and many others, and Rahim (Mercy) is the password key for us to connect to the Divine Presence. This may bring us closer so that we become one of the people described in the Quran:

People whom He Loves and who love Him.

But how do we connect, where do we find this password? The answer might be again given in the Quran as Hazrati Muhammad (PBUH) is mentioned as a mercy to all the worlds [21:107]. This might be because of his openness to receive and connect to the flow of Divine Love and reflect it to the world. He was always returning to his Lord and connecting to the Divine Love. It’s been said that the Prophet turned towards God 70 times a day, asking forgiveness and consciously remembering, maintaining the connection to his Sustainer. In one hadith he says, “The one who shows no mercy, receives no mercy.” He was always gentle with people, animals, and even plants, ready to forgive even the people who tried to kill him. This tells me that the more we manifest this Attribute, the more we will receive and realize Mercy in our lives. This would be the way to connect and maintain our connection with our Rabb.

And perhaps if we are “always ready to see His/Her activity in everything even within disasters, calamities and accidents”2 without the judgement of our false selves and with the state of remembrance, then we can become the witness of the unfolding of the Divine Plan and the Love, Compassion and Mercy gushing forth in this grand scheme of life. In the Quran, Allah says:

But it may well be that you hate a thing the while it is good for you,
and it may well be that you love a thing the while it is bad for you:
and God knows, whereas you do not know.

I have experienced this in my life in the last 5-6 years. We were having trouble in our family life, feeling we were left out of the blessings of marriage. At the same time, having trouble at work, missing the best opportunities for promotions and a better career were pushing from the other side. Some days I was in a state where I had no energy or will to go to work, or even live that day, and we came to a point where we had to flee. We were desperately looking for ways to escape where we lived, the people around us and the reality of our lives. Then I was offered a job in the UK which I accepted in ten seconds without even thinking much, and ended up in London. This was also the time I started to read psychology and Sufism, which led me to search for Mevlevis in London and finally to Threshold Society. We were accepted as family here in London, experienced love and felt we found our home. After being part of this circle of lovers for 2 years, we have sincerely said on multiple occasions “Alhamdulillah – Praise be to God!” because all these troubles given to us led us to being part of this circle, taking hand with our teachers and being on the path. The problems which I was thinking were almost a punishment really turned into great Mercy and delivered me to this path where my forehead touched the ground.

Praise be to God, as His/Her Mercy overwhelms everything.

“All stories of our lives and that of creation are held within the womb of God’s nurturing Love”3, like a baby is nurtured through the navel cord of the mother.

Your Sun shines each day upon us all,
whether in remembrance
or forgetfulness
Your Compassion holds our hearts
and would inform us
if we would but pause
to receive Your Knowledge –
and the rains come pouring
in to these hearts
when we have opened
in thirst these throats
ready to receive your Mercy,
clear water for those who are longing.

Ya Rahim, O Infinitely Merciful One
(The Rain of Blessing we receive when we turn and open in receptivity)4


Aykut is a seeker on the Mevlevi Path, part of the Threshold London Circle, who had to travel 2000 miles to find Mevlana in the hearts of the lovers in the UK. He is about to return to Istanbul together with his wife.



1 The Book of Language, edited by Kabir Helminski, p.103
2 “The Voice of a Dede”, article by Camille Helminski
3 Ninety-Nine Names of the Beloved, by Camille Helminski, p.3
4 Excerpt from the poem by Camille Helminski in the Ninety-Nine Names of the Beloved, p.1
Apart from the references above, I have benefited greatly from the following books while reflecting on the theme:
The Book of Character edited by Camille Helminski
The Book of Hadith edited by Kabir Helminski
The 99 Names of God by Daniel Dyer.
Translations of Quran are from either The Light of Dawn or Muhammad Asad’s translation.


February Theme

Disengage from the ego realm; enter the Reality of the Sacred.
Whether in worship or in the ordinary acts of life, contemplate the Divine Beloved.

We welcome your reflections on this theme.


Hope & Beauty, The Path of Mevlana
Annual West Coast Retreat, February 23-25 2018

With Kabir & Camille Helminski, and special guests including
Dr. Amina Wadud, internationally respected author,
and Sufi musicians Amir & Nasreen Etmenazade.

Join us for these days of spiritual practice, music, poetry, conversation, and friendship.

The Mercy Center, Burlingame, California (a few miles from San Francisco Airport)

In these times when we are constantly bombarded by news of terrorism, immigration, and war, when most of the news about Islam is negative and distorted, let us remember the timeless, energizing wisdom of the Path of Mevlana.

Register here.


Mevlevi Zhikr

In order to attain the optimum coherence and beauty in our practice, we should be aware of how we perform zhikr in our tradition.

Each Mevlevi zhikr cycle begins with three elongated, singing repetitions before steady, rhythmic repetitions. We may end with one elongated repetition.

• Head movement:
La ilaha to the right – il Allah to the left. Il Allah brings the energy of the zhikr back to the heart.
Allah and Astaghfirullah: only to the left, to the heart.

• Resonance:
In the Mevlevi zhikr it is important that we are in harmony and unity. The goal is to be as one and that takes subtlety, nuance, and attention. To achieve this we need to follow the lead of the person leading the zhikr by being conscious of their volume, speed, and tone. We also need to be aware that our own voice does not rise above that of those who are near to us or the general level of the group. With practice and time this will create a more refined resonance in the group.

Listen to Shaikh Kabir and Shaikha Camille lead the zhikr.


Rumi Comes to America

An excerpt from Bruce Miller’s recently published book. The story focuses on Suleyman Loras Dede’s visit to Los Angeles. The intimate recollections that form the core of this book reveal how Suleyman Dede planted the seed of Rumi in America, leading to Mevlana becoming the most popular poet in the USA, and bringing the Whirling Dervishes of Konya to the western world.


Dede continued: “I came from Konya for the sake of Reshad’s love. Likewise, if you wish, you can visit me. Thank God, you are here! Everyone gets what is predestined, nasip, for them.

“This is a spiritual dining table. A predestined dining table was drawn and you arrived to receive the blessings. This is how a spiritual dining table works.

“A human needs a spiritual guide, a teacher to help enlighten the soul. If a student does not go to school and does not sit at the desk, can this student learn something by oneself? A student needs a school to become a human — to gain the necessary attributes. The school is here; the teacher is here.”

Reshad interjected again with unexpected pathos: “I only want the Truth. That is all I want. To find the Truth, it is necessary to die… in life…”

“Excuse me, excuse me!” Dede interrupted emphatically. “To die does not mean to eradicate for good. Humans carry so many problems; these problems even come to mind while praying. You have to withdraw from your problems. With this withdrawing, comes the state described as to die before dying. You should withdraw from your problems and follow this path. This is how it works. This is how the Cosmos revolves. The Cosmos is structured in this manner. If you keep attending this lodge, you will learn many things, and your hearts will be filled with Light and Love. Every human needs a teacher, a mentor, a spiritual guide.”

Dede quoted, Niyazi Misri, a sixteenth-century Sufi poet:

Do not give your heart to every guide, that you might be misguided on your path,
Become One with the Absolute Guide, to guide you to the furthest destination.


Rumi Comes to America by Bruce Miller, published by Miller eMedia. Available on Amazon.


Threshold’s collaborative blog channel The Living Tradition on Patheos.com is reaching new audiences and sharing the experiences of our community in a unique and vibrant way.

Let us know what you think by commenting on the posts — join the discussion at www.patheos.com/blogs/livingtradition and “follow” The Living Tradition.

Recent articles:

If the Quran Were a Film by Anna Rohleder


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Feb 23-25: California, US. Annual San Francisco retreat. Hope & Beauty: book now(KC)

May 15: Ramadan

May 14 – Jun 15: Ninety-Nine Names of God online e-course through Spirituality & Practice, more details next month.  (C)

Jun 15: Eid al-Fitr

Aug 24-27: UK Annual Retreat, Gaunts House, Dorset  (KC)


Events with Sh. Kabir and Sh. Camille marked (KC)


Threshold Throwback

One of the first UK retreats in Bath, 2003
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Henzell-Thomas


Ar Rahman, The Infinitely Compassionate One
& Ar Rahim, The Infinitely Merciful One

~ from Ninety-Nine Names of the Beloved
by Camille Hamilton Adams Helminski

Ya Rahman, Ya Rahim, Ya Wadud

O You Who Are Infinite Compassion,
Infinite Mercy,
how could we conceive
of the vastness of Your Love?
Every day you nourish us,
every day You support our limbs
as we move through this space
You have given us;
and those whose portion
has become stillness,
still, inwardly, may travel vast distances.
Your Sun shines each day upon us all,
whether in remembrance
or forgetfulness,
Your Compassion holds our hearts
and would inform us
if we would but pause
to receive Your Knowledge—
and the rains come pouring
into these hearts
when we have opened
in thirst these throats
ready to receive Your Mercy,
clear water for those who are longing.
You return us to our origin—
and everything was created from water
Your Mercy comes to know Itself in us,
until Rahman is seated upon the throne of the heart,
so that the radiance of that Sunshine
might fill these fragile bones
with strength from the depths
and the heights
of Your Loving,
that like the Prophet Muhammad
we might, also,
become “a mercy to the worlds.”
For, Truly, those who have faith
and do the deeds of wholeness and healing
the Infinitely Compassionate will endow with love.

Ya Rahman, O Infinitely Compassionate One
(the Sun that shines upon us all),
Ya Rahim, O Infinitely Merciful One
(the Rain of Blessing we receive when we turn and open in receptivity),
Ya Wadud, O Infinitely Loving One

We made out of water every living thing.

O our Sustainer! You embrace all things
within Your Compassion and Knowledge.
Forgive then those who turn in repentance and follow Your Path.

Your Sustainer has willed upon Himself/Herself
the law of Compassion and Mercy.

Say: “Call upon God, or call upon the Infinitely Compassionate:
by whichever name you invoke Him/Her,
His/Hers are all the Most Beautiful Names.”12

To all who stand in awe, a revelation from Him/Her
who has created the earth and the high heavens,
the Infinitely Compassionate One,
seated on the throne of His/Her almightiness.

To God belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth.
And all things return to God
who merges night into day and merges day into night
and knows completely the secrets of hearts.

We have sent you as naught but a mercy for all worlds.

And God sends down water from the skies
and with it bestows life to the earth that was dead:
truly, in this is a sign for those who listen.

My Mercy overwhelms everything.

Truly, those who have faith and do righteous deeds
the Infinitely Compassionate will endow with love.
[Surah Maryam 19:96]

12 Al Asma al-Husna, “The Most Beautiful Names,” all the attributes of perfection, the qualities of the Divine that manifest throughout this creation in all their interplay and assist us in coming to know that Truth of Compassion and Mercy. The root word in Arabic for both The Compassionate (Rahman) and The Merciful (Rahim), is the triliteral root word for “womb,” and all but one of the Surahs (chapters) of the Quran begin with the phrase, In the Name of God, the Infinitely Compassionate and Merciful (Bismillah arRahman arRahim), encouraging us to recognize how we and all the stories of our lives and that of creation are held within the womb of God’s nurturing Love.


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