Reflection on May’s theme: Leave opinions and blame; be an objective witness, and serve in love.
Initially this made me reflect on our outer world which is beset with apparent conflict and untruths, and the question of how to meet these without being drawn into judgement and blame.
I don’t believe we are being asked to be passive by being asked to witness. The Arabic for witness is shahid and means one who knows by seeing clearly with open eyes, and in this way I feel we are called to seek to know the truth of a situation, whether that be in relation to an international situation or a personal relationship.
The primary declaration of faith for Muslims comes to mind. It is called the Shahadah in Arabic (connected to the word shahid), and begins with as shaduwan la ilaha ilallah (I bear witness that there is no god but God). Sufis understand this as ‘I bear witness that there is no-thing but God… all is of God.’ I feel tapping into the consciousness of the Shahadah will always help me in my attempts to be an objective witness, to not be drawn into events, to leave my attachment to outcomes to the side, and to truly be present. I guess that true objective witnessing must be very similar if not the same as being in a state of ‘presence’. Something to reflect on further.
I know that in moments of meditation or whilst walking on a busy street reciting la ilaha ilallah or perhaps just as a gift from God, I am sometimes struck by the perfection in the imperfection, by the truth in the lies, by the harmony in the discord, or by this overwhelming sense that through us (creation) the Real is telling us the story of Him/Herself, and that through us the Real is witnessing His/Herself unfolding (expanding) and ultimately re-folding (returning)… and the driver for all of this is Love.
Turning inward to witness: am I free of opinion and blame toward myself? I know I am my own harshest critic. Where is the loving service to myself, and thereby to my Self? I ask myself why I have these expectations of myself. I am this mass of hurt, conditioning and inheritances which I am very slowly (and painfully) coming to know by attempting to see clearly with open eyes. To see myself without even one of the many veils can be such a challenge, but if I could simply accept what I can hold here and now (sometimes I can)… then I could be free to serve in Love?
~ Fatimah Ashrif, Hale Barns
June’s theme is: Patience is consent to the present moment; patience is crowned with faith.
We welcome your reflections on this theme. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ramadan begins June 18th. We wish everyone a month of spiritual awareness, deepening, and solidarity, however you may choose to participate.
The Invisible Rain of Ramadan
Ramadan comes glowing
after night’s long hours.
Ramadan comes to earth
thirsting for fresh rain.
Ramadan comes like a friend
embracing with strong arms.
Ramadan opens the door
of our invisible home.
Ramadan has so many dimensions: purification, sacrifice, community, the still and subtle emptiness of the heart. It reorients us in so many ways. Ramadan is less something that we do—instead it is a force field we enter and are transformed by. But it does take intention and effort on our part. If we can, we participate in the fast. Perhaps we also find other intentions, new aspects of awareness that become part of this sacred time. I’d like to share something I’ve learned.
There are some things we habitually give our attention to that drain us, or reduce our spiritual attunement, things that we take for granted as aspects of modern life: the media, entertainment, the internet. If we pay careful attention to the state that is created as a result of our communing with these sources and how much time we give to them, we might learn something important.
Conversely, if we pay attention to the state we experience when we turn toward trusted spiritual sources, we may begin to discern a significant difference. Some things drain us and some things replenish us.
Ramadan is a time to notice what we give our attention to, what energizes us, in contrast to what drains us of joy, love, peace, hope.
~ Shaikh Kabir Helminski
A Collection of Writings on Fasting
Know that, in the view of the verifiers, fasting has three degrees. The common people fast by refraining from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from morning to sunset prayer.
The elect fast by preserving the seven bodily members from sins and acts of disobedience. They prevent the tongue from lying, obscenity and backbiting; the eye from looking with caprice and appetite; the ear from listening to nonsense, obscenity, idle talk and the like; and the hand, foot and other members from acts made unlawful by the Shariah. The divine revelation gives news of this meaning. The hearing, the sight, the heart—all these shall be questioned
The elect of the elect fast by examining their thoughts and preventing their innermost consciousness from paying attention to anything other than God. These are the people of poverty, and their capital and provisions for wayfaring on the path to God are nothingness. . .[The Easy Roads of Sayf al-Din]
The Spiritual Practice of Rumi
Mahmoud Mostafa speaks about “The Spiritual Practice of Rumi”. Including themed slides and using Rumi’s poetry, Mahmoud takes us through Rumi’s transformation upon meeting his teacher, Shams of Tabriz; the core of essential Islam; the Quran as an operating system of the soul; and the purpose of spiritual practice.
UK Annual Retreat
The UK annual retreat will take place from Friday 28th to Sunday 30th August, with an optional extra day on Monday 31st August (bank holiday). Registrations will open later this month, an email will be sent with more details.
Friends for Change
Some members of Threshold have been taking part in a London interfaith initiative called Friends for Change. Organised by Shinnyo-en UK and St. Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, the programme brings young people (aged 18-36) together to discover and explore the practices and beliefs of diverse faiths in London.
I really recommend this programme – I learned about many different spiritual paths and shared my own. It made me realise that there is no seperation and how much unity there is in faith.
~ Uzma Taj
Mevlevi Zhikr recording
Access the full Mevlevi zhikr recited by Shaikh Kabir and Shaikha Camille and support your daily practice. Listen online or download.
Jun 6th: Threshold London Monthly Open Group, 7pm. Newcomers to the group are asked to seek a telephone introduction and briefing with the host/facilitator before attending. Please phone Sadat on 07710 511517, or e-mail Mahmoud on email@example.com with your phone number so he can call you back — please do this at least two days in advance.
Jun 13th: Threshold Bradford zhikr, 1:30-4pm, Bradford Quaker Meeting House, Russell Street, Bradford BD5 OJB. Open to all. For more details see here.
Jun 14th: Ruminations in Manchester. Join Rumi’s Circle for an informal poetry circle over coffee and cake reflecting on the theme of “Spiritual Fasting”. More details here: rumiscircle.com
Jun 27th: Family zhikr and meal in Harrow from 7pm hosted by Sania and Amer. For more details and address please contact Sania at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jul 4th: Threshold London Monthly Open Group, 7pm. Newcomers to the group are asked to seek a telephone introduction and briefing with the host/facilitator before attending. Please phone Sadat on 07710 511517, or e-mail Mahmoud on email@example.com with your phone number so he can call you back — please do this at least two days in advance.
Aug 28-30/31st: UK Annual Retreat, Gaunts House, Dorset. Registration opens later this month, an email will go out or check the website.
Get in touch
We’d love to hear from you — a favourite piece from Mevlana, your own poetry, reflections on the path… please do contribute. We learn so much from each other, may this space be an opportunity for community, connection and companionship. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Though Light is the food of the spirit and spiritual vision,
the body also partakes of it, son.
If your belly is greedy, turn away from the world;
the only way is by a change of food.
You whose heart is sick, turn to the remedy:
the entire diet is a change of attitude.
You who are kept in pawn to food,
you can be free if you suffer yourself to be weaned.
Truly in hunger there is abundant nourishment:
search after it diligently and cherish the hope of finding it.
Feed on the Light, be like an eye,
be in harmony with the angels, O best of humankind.
Like the Angel, make glorification of God your food.
[Mathnawi, V:288, 293-8]