Reflection on February’s theme: Character is the spiritually infused balance of Love and Intelligence.
A thing’s character is its essence, its true nature. Yet we talk about building human character, as if character were something that could develop over time. If our character is our true nature, isn’t it something we were born with? Why do we have to develop it?
To say that someone “has character” means that he or she has taken some real steps toward becoming a true human being. To have character means to be fully formed; to have no character, or a bad character, is to be undeveloped in an unbalanced way. Just as a bodybuilder who builds certain muscle groups but not others is not really well developed, someone who develops his mind but not his feelings, or his will but not his mind, will be unbalanced. He will have flaws and weaknesses in his character.
So character is something we have to work on. But we need to develop it on the basis of who we really are as God made us. God “stamped” us with our true character before we were ever born; our job is to develop, to actualize, what God has stamped us with. Just as to “envelop” means to wrap something up, to “develop” means to unwrap something. Character development, then, is the process of unpacking what God has provided us for our journey through this world, and into the next. Various experiences in this life may stamp us and mold our character. But since all experiences ultimately come from God, everything we encounter in this life is part of God’s knowledge of the character He has stamped us with, in eternity, before we came into this world.
In Arabic the word for character, with the connotation of good character, is khuluq, which is related to the word khalq, creation. Character is the form in which God has created us; our responsibility is live up to it – to conform ourselves, in time, to the shape in which God has created us, in eternity.
~ Charles Upton, from The Book of Character, edited by Camille Helminski
March’s theme is: This is the work of the heart, not the work of the head. ~Shams
We welcome your reflections on this theme. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Integral Sufism: Living Tawhid (The Practice of Oneness)
Given what’s in today’s headlines, how can we awaken what is noble in the heart of our traditions and offer it to humanity? How can we return to the paradigm of Oneness that once created a spiritual civilization? How can we live it personally, in society, and spiritually? What shall we do with the oneness? Beyond all oppositional postures is the possibility of embodying grace and being the custodian of consciousness. We hope to share some inspiration and methods to achieve these ends.
Sunday 12th April, 12:30 to 6pm. Talk begins promptly at 1pm.
Christ Church Hall, Wanstead Place, London E11 2SW
Tickets: £25 Adults, £15 Concessions. Pay on the door.
We have limited capacity so we would ask you to please reserve your place via eventbrite to ensure you do not miss out: thresholdsociety.eventbrite.co.uk
Shaikh Kabir will also be offering an event for a different audience and context (Christian, psychology-oriented, a beginner’s talk on Sufism) at The Meditatio Centre in Islington on Saturday 11th April, but he considers the Wanstead talk a priority for Threshold friends.
The 99 Names of Allah
Chickpea Press are crowdfunding to help publish their new book, The 99 Names of Allah, an inspiring and colourful guide for younger readers, parents and teachers. Creatively introducing the Names that describe Allah, this book aims to engage the heart and illuminate the richness of Islamic spirituality.
This project fills such an obvious need, and does it so beautifully, one wonders why it hadn’t happened until now. Probably so that exactly these people would be the ones to do it. It provides an entry point into a spiritual Islam that every parent would like to give to their children, and illuminating their own understanding in the process. Inshallah, it will be recognized as a classic.
~ Shaikh Kabir Helminski
The crowdfunding bid finishes on March 22nd. Please share and support this work: igg.me/at/99NamesofAllah
Living Presence Workbooks
We have six copies of the Living Presence workbook available for people who wish to study the material in more detail. Please contact Hana if you would like a copy held for you to collect at the London zhikr: email@example.com
Mevlevi Zhikr recording
Access the full Mevlevi zhikr recited by Shaikh Kabir and Shaikha Camille and support your daily practice. Listen online or download.
Mar 6th: Dr. Amina Wadud will be leading inclusive Jummah/Friday prayers at St. Johns Church, London. The jummah takes place in the run up to International Women’s Day and marks the contribution of Dr. Amina Wadud who has been formidable in her stance for gender justice in Islam. More details here: inclusivemosqueinitiative.org
Mar 7th: 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with your phone number so he can call you back — please do this at least two days in advance.
Mar 20th: Ruminations in Manchester. Join Rumi’s Circle for an informal poetry circle over coffee and cake reflecting on the theme of “Spiritual Practice”. More details here: rumiscircle.com
Mar 28th: Family zhikr and meal in Harrow from 7pm hosted by Sania and Amer. For more details and address please contact Sania at email@example.com.
Apr 11th: The Spiritual Psychology of Sufism with Shaikh Kabir Helminski. A day workshop at the The Meditatio Centre, St Mark’s, Myddelton Square, London EC1R 1XX. Booking details here: www.wccmmeditatio.org
Apr 12th: Integral Sufism: Living Tawhid with Shaikh Kabir Helminski. Christ Church Hall, Wanstead Place, London E11 2SW. Please book your place here: thresholdsociety.eventbrite.co.uk
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
Can a Mirror Ever Lie?
Could a mirror not reflect, or balance-scale lie,[Mathnawi I: 3546-3551, The Rumi Daybook]
for fear of hurting or shaming anyone?
Mirror and balance are both like touchstones:
even if you beg for two hundred years,
saying, “Conceal the truth for my sake,
display the abundance, not the lack,”
they’ll say to you, “Don’t be ridiculous:
how can a mirror or balance deceive?
Since we are a means for knowing the truth,
if we fail to display it, what good are we?
If not for us, who else will mirror the face of the fair?”