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The Gnostic (Arif) as Witness

~ An excerpt from a talk to be given by Shaikh Kabir in Ankara and Konya during
Sheb-i Arus, December, 2016.

sems_tebrizi_mevlana_celaleddin_rumi_2…This orphan placed all his hope in something hidden from the people around him, unknown to his society. In the dark night of this world, where the Sun of Reality is hidden behind the clouds of human ignorance, Muhammad’s eyes were focused on the Divine. His single-minded search for Reality awakened a response from that Reality and the angel of revelation descended upon him and taught him to perceive all the levels of consciousness, all the stations a human being must pass through to reach nearness to Reality. Finally, because his eye did not swerve, and his tongue did not lie, God named him the Witness. Many in this world pretend to know, but their testimony is false or only half true. The Witness whose vision is not distorted by tribe, or lineage, or personal desire, can be trusted with the message of Truth.

The Messenger brings a teaching of how to untie the knots that bind us to what is false, trivial, and destructive. The Messenger brings the remedy for ailing hearts. When hearts are restored to health they can be filled with light. God has not created anything more amazing than the enlightened heart which reveals the Spirit of the Human. Such a human being becomes the beloved of God and is watched over by the Divine. The whole phenomenal world then becomes the theater of manifestation for the pleasure of God’s beloved. And God says, “If not for you I would not have created the universe.”

The purpose and destiny of all existence is marifah, the knowingness of the true knower. Muhammad became that Arif who in humility would say, “O Lord, increase me in knowledge, deliver me from all indignities, and after bringing me near to You do not distance me from Your presence.”


Reflection on September’s theme: Adorn yourself with good nature and Allah will ease your account. ~ Imam Ali

~ Zeliha Akdan (Lelystad, Holland)

Adorn YourselfWhen I first read this theme I asked a friend to reflect with me. He said that it makes him think of an Indian wedding where the bride is dressed in red and gold, covered in henna and soaked in perfumes.

I love this image. It brings to mind Hz. Mevlana and his Shab-i Aruz, his wedding night, that united him with the Beloved. I keep this image in my heart while I think a bit more about the saying of Hz. Ali.

I have to go back to the Arabic to have a better understanding for myself of what is meant by “good nature”. The word in Arabic is akhlaq, and it is the same word in Turkish. It means “positive traits of character, especially those beautiful and noble qualities that were perfected and modeled by the Prophet Mohammad PUH.”1

And my second question was: So how can we adorn ourselves with good nature, with akhlaq? The immediate answer for me was remembrance or dhikrAllah in Arabic.

The word remembrance comes from the verb meminisse in Latin which is “to think of, to bring in to mind”. Re-member therefore is bringing back into mind that which was there in the first place but got lost somehow.

Again and again in the Quran, Allah tells us to remember, to read His signs, and to take heed. He also says: Remember me and I will remember you (Faz-kuruni az-kurkum)

[2: 152].

I love this verse because this remembering or bringing back to mind is not one way. It means that we are always in a conversation, a relationship with the Divine when we are in remembrance.

Mevlana says:

To praise God is to be purified: when purity arrives, corruption quickly leaves.
Opposites flee from each other: night flees when the light dawns.
When the pure Name enters the mouth, neither impurity nor sorrow remain.
Your awe and love are the rope to catch My gift:
beneath every “O Lord” of yours is many a “Here am I” from Me.

[Mathnawi III, 186-188; 197]2

When I sit in remembrance, in the silence of the early morning, it is relatively easy to listen within and to remember. It is harder when I leave home for work and go into the busy world. That is where I forget. I need to bring myself back, again and again, especially when I meet other people.

A few years ago, when I was about to leave the house for a journey to Turkey with my teacher and friends, a sudden and very strong feeling came over me: I knew, somehow, I was not going to return, I knew I was going to die. With fear in my heart, upon arriving in Turkey I told my teacher. He listened and said: “There are many ways of dying.”

I did return home, physically, and something had died in me too. Alhamdulillah.

The soul is always there; it is the noise, the mind-talk and my ego’s distorted lens that make it difficult to look beyond and see the soul of the other. I find this painful, it hurts my heart and makes me cry at times.

The Divine asks this from us, not for Himself but for our own wellbeing. When the soul is in unity, the heart starts paying attention and the mind becomes inspired. These are rare states for me, but in our circles we have great ones who have been able to integrate this heart connection in their lives. They are people who are loved and respected by everybody, and they treat everybody with a gentle love and care. When they enter a room, love comes in, joy comes in, and wellbeing too.

Forgetting and remembering are two shores, and in between those two shores there is a part of me that yearns for transformation. A state of being that comes from the silence of my heart gives great focus, and then my heart is able to see beyond dualities, beyond good and bad, life and death. How often have I heard the phrase: “Close the ears of your head and open the ears of your heart.” I strive every day, I try and fail and try again every day.

I know with a deeper knowing that my greatest task is to remember and to hold this Truth. This is the only place where I can see what comes from the connection with the Divine, and from that connection nothing else comes other than Truth, Compassion, Love and Mercy for myself and for others.

Once we open the gates of our heart, which can only be opened from the inside, we connect to others, to one soul then another, and we start an intimate relationship instead of observing the other as an object outside of ourselves. Is this not the greatest remembrance of all?

I have heard this Sufi saying many times:

Baba, (pls grant me) himmah (spiritual resolve)!
O child, (persist in) hizmah (service)!

In serving others and giving of the best that we have, we can find so many of the keys for transformation and the possibility to grow and even heal. Then service is remembrance too.
When we asked how we could develop and cultivate a loving community, my teacher said: “Delight each others’ hearts.” Just as in the delight of each others’ hearts we find the soil that nourishes growth, so one day we can return to our Beloved, adorned with the most beautiful qualities of all the prophets, like an Indian bride.

May our return be a wedding night, may we taste the joy of completing the one task that is given to us.


Zeliha Akdan is a Dutch/Turkish Mevlevi living in Holland. She will be singing with world-renowned Troubadour, Latif Bolat, in Kendal UK next month for the Unveiling the Divine gathering.


1 The Book of Language, Kabir Helminski
2 The Rumi Collection, Kabir Helminski


October Theme

Faith (iman) bears the fruit of happiness and positive energy.
All negativity is a form of faithlessness (kufr).

Rose petals scattering joyIt is never been so clear as it is today that what is needed is happiness, positivity, and a clear heart. We cannot afford to be negative, because negativity literally feeds the dark forces that seek to enslave our souls.

On the one hand, we are more aware than ever of the lies, hypocrisies, and injustices that make up official reality. On the other hand it is essential that we commit ourselves to increasing the happiness of all, at the same time that we are compassionate toward ourselves, free of undue attachments, and content that our basic needs are met. This will add to our resilience and allow us to be more of service.

Then it is for us to lend to humanity our intention for realization, to help humanity move forward into the joy and ecstasy of embodying the Divine.

We welcome your reflections on this theme.


UNVEILING THE DIVINE: Honouring the Sacred Feminine

Kendal, UK
October 14-16, 2016

with Elizabeth Anne Hin, Fatimah Ashrif, Tania Henzell-Thomas, Rabia Malik and others
Music by Latif Bolat & Zeliha Akdan

Main image by Irina Naji

Threshold Society through Rumi’s Circle are holding a weekend gathering to honour the Sacred Feminine, and dedicate the event to our beloved teacher, Shaikha Camille Helminski.

Join us for a weekend honouring the Sacred Feminine through spiritual conversation, heart reflections, meditation, prayer, music and movement. We are blessed to offer this gathering in the beautiful setting of Kendal in the Lake District, with its rich spiritual heritage and long tradition of social activism. The weekend includes a Sacred Music concert with the sublime voices of Latif Bolat and Zeliha Akdan, with whirling dervishes.

We believe that deep respect and harmony between the masculine and feminine principles of existence is necessary for the wellbeing of communities and society as a whole. The present imbalance is reflected in the increasing sexualisation of women and young people and in structures which continue to favour male biology and perspective. These are damaging not only to women but also to men. We trust that human beings should be free to discover and determine for themselves what it means to be male and female. We begin by reconnecting to the Sacred Feminine.

We aim to create an inclusive and safe space which encourages authentic and open enquiry into these issues. Our speakers hail from different faith backgrounds with experience of working at various levels within, and for, communities. Participants will be invited to reflect on and share what the Feminine means to them, and consider how this understanding might be integrated into their own lives, work, and beyond.

Fri-Sun: £130
(accommodation not included, limited concessions available)

More details about the range of speakers, the programme and to register your place: unveilingthedivine.com


Living Tradition 01

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:




Oct 8: 1pm – 10pm Location on steps of Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC. Following a performance by the American Qawwali group Fanna-Fi-Allah, Shaikh Kabir and Shaikha Camille will speak for 20 minutes on “Embodying the Divine,” at an event called Chant for Change. The event is free. 10,000-15,000 people expected.  (K)

Sufi segment
3:55pm-4:35pm  Fanna-Fi-Allah – 40minutes
4:35pm-4:55pm  Kabir & Camille – 20 minutes
NOTE:  these times may adjust

Oct 14-16: Kendal, UK. Unveiling the Divine: Honouring the Sacred Feminine. With Elizabeth Hin, more details.

Oct 20-23: San Jose, US. Science & Non-Duality Conference. Shaikh Kabir will begin the morning session on Sunday Oct 23rd at 9:15 AM with a talk on “The Qualitative Science of the Heart”, followed by Ken Wilber and Larry Dossey. www.scienceandnonduality.com  (K)

Dec 13-17: Konya/Ankara, Turkey. Shaikh Kabir will speak at the Celebrations for Rumi’s Urs. Other guests include Cemalnur Sargut & Omid Safi.  (K)


Feb 24-26: San Francisco, US. Mercy Center Retreat.  (KC)

May 5-9: Paradise Island, Bahamas. Meditation Symposium at the Sivananda Ashram. Sivananda.org  (KC)

July 7-9: Whistler, Canada.  Annual Retreat British Columbia, deep in nature, following Ramadan.  (KC)

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


The recent Turkey trip

with Shaikha Nur Artiran at the Sefik Can Foundation, Istanbul

with Shaikha Nur Artiran at the Sefik Can Foundation, Istanbul

Armenian Ruins

exploring the ruins of Ani, a 1000 year old Armenian city near Kars,
destroyed by an earthquake in the 14th century

Hazreti Harakani

Hz. Ebu’l-Hasan Harakani, Kars

Shaikh Tavus and Dede

Yavuz Efendi, of the Kharaqani Foundation, presenting a plaque honoring Futtuwah (Sufi Chivalry)

Dinner in Konya

dinner in Konya

Essential Selfie

fajr at Hz. Shams


Words from the East

~ Shaikha Camille Adams Helminski ~

Work is finished and Your colors call me . . .
I walk down the road to see You better.
Venus lingers in the sky,
but soon in the Face of Your Radiance,
I can see her no longer.
A mourning dove calls,
and then begins a chorus of owls.
The birds know when Your Sun rises,
how can we humans sleep?
From trees all around, their voices gather in praise
and I, standing below in my feathered vest,
watch for a moment as a bird.
Ribbon by ribbon of rose,
Your light rises
and sky that was no color
becomes Light-blue.
I step sideways to watch more fully,
and find a fallen branch at my feet.
Let my old branches fall, too,
that I may stand new in Your sight —
new at the dawn of creation,
new in Your Light.
Just next door,
a child is waiting to be born —
perhaps this moment,
that new being stirs
and begins his or her journey
out into this world.
Your miracles are innumerable.
Every milisecond
a new atom of being
takes on Your color
and becomes



We’d love to hear from you – get in touch at eyeoftheheart@sufism.org


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