FAQ

Which Sufi traditions are represented within the Oregon community associated with this site?

Several diverse communities and concentrations within the Chishti-Inayati, Mevlevi, Shadhili, and Nur Ashki Jerrahi traditions participate in Oregon’s Sufi community. Contact information for each may be found here.

There may be other Sufi communities practicing in Oregon not yet known to this site’s maintainers. We look forward to meeting!

What principles guide people walking the path of the Sufi?

While the answer to this question may be as simple as looking deeply within one’s heart, and as diverse as the many traditions in Tassawuf (“Sufism”), one good taste is provided by the Ten Sufi Thoughts of Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, whose life and teaching is a great inspiration to many in the West and East.

Hazrat Inayat Khan

Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan is the root teacher of the Chishti-Inayati Sufi tradition. Directed to do so by his own teacher, Hazrat Shaykh al-Masha’ikh Muhammad Abu Hashim Madani, of the Chishti-Nizami tradition, Inayat Khan brought Sufism to the West in 1910. He shared this message throughout the United States, Europe, and Russia until 1927, carrying with him the blessing of the Chishti, Naqshbandi, Surhawardi, and Qadiri Sufi traditions. For 17 years he shared a Sufi Message of Spiritual Liberty, igniting a flame of love, harmony, and beauty which still burns brightly today.

The Chishti-Inayati Sufi tradition is notable for the open heart and hand it extends to sincere seekers, without regard to specific external religious form; for the message of spiritual liberty is universal, and all belong to the family of God.

Ten Sufi Thoughts

1. There is One God, the Eternal, the Only Being, none exists save God.

2. There is One Master, the Guiding Spirit of all Souls, who constantly leads all followers toward the Light.

3. There is One Holy Book, the sacred manuscript of Nature, the only scripture which can enlighten the reader.

4. There is One Religion, the unswerving progress in the right direction toward the ideal, which fulfills the life’s purpose of every soul.

5. There is One Law, the law of reciprocity, which can be observed by a selfless conscience, together with a sense of awakened justice.

6. There is One Human Family, which unites the children of earth indiscriminately in the Parenthood of God.

7. There is One Moral, the love which springs forth from self-denial and blooms in deeds of beneficence.

8. There is One Object of Praise, the beauty which uplifts the heart of its worshippers through all aspects from the Seen to the Unseen.

9. There is One Truth, the true knowledge of our being, within and without, which is the essence of all wisdom.

10. There is One Path, the annihilation of the false ego in the Real, which raises the mortal to immortality, in which resides all perfection.

What is Zikr?

“Zikr”, “dhikr”, and “zikar” are all common English transliterations of this word, which is sometimes capitalized, and sometimes not. As it is an Arabic word, there is no single correct way to spell it using Roman letters.

Considered objectively, zikr is the rhythmic chanting of sacred phrases from Islamic Sufi traditions. Classically and most commonly the phrase chanted is “La illaha il Allah Hu”, an ancient and traditional Arabic sacred phrase which could be translated as “nothing is but divine unity” or perhaps “there is nothing but The One, here, now”; each of which barely touch the meaning, which is ultimately experiential rather than rational. Other names and phrases may also be used in zikr practice. The word zikr, itself, is commonly understood to mean “remembrance”.

Zikr is a Sufi lineage practice, offered by experienced guides who have received the permission of their own guides to do so.

This chanting may be silent, vocal, melodic, or harmonic. It may occur in stillness or motion, swaying the body around and into the heart, or in alternating left and right outpourings from the chest, or while moving shoulder to shoulder in a slow circling step, or while jumping in rhythm with the voice, or in other physical forms. It may be breathed silently, continuously, and deeply within throughout one’s entire life. The external form of this practice is commonly associated with one’s particular Sufi tradition, which in turn commonly reflects the culture in which one lives. Yet, sincere practice of the remembrance of divine unity remains anchored in one truth, regardless of the external cultural context.

Zikr – remembrance of the continual presence of God – is the core practice of the Sufi mystical tradition. This ancient and traditional path towards spiritual realization and  awakening has flowered most widely within Islam, without being limited to the external cultural forms of this most recent great expression of the Abrahamic faith tradition.

Experientially, the observable actions of zikr practice – internal or external sound, movement, breath, rhythm, context, and concentration – support, God willing, an internal process of remembrance; remembrance of the true nature of reality: divine unity. One purpose and function of zikr practice is to nurture this experience, the regular encounter of which supports a shift in awareness, over time, beyond the personal ego.

How this internal experience and shift occurs – or not – is highly individual. It is beyond words, by definition. The practice of zikr, by drawing and re-drawing awareness to the subtle paradox of reality – diversity and unity, particle and wave, form and emptiness, all pointing beyond all duality – provides a key to unlock inner doors we may encounter on our path. God willing, light will shine.

What are the Dances of Universal Peace?

The Dances of Universal Peace, sometimes also known as “Sufi Dancing”, are a shared group experience of sacred dance, set to scripture, mantra, and music from the world’s spiritual traditions. They may invoke an embodied sense of unity, presence, and compassion, while allowing one to seek an experience of spiritual essence. They are carefully taught to all regardless of skill or ability, before each dance begins, and are offered to all in an atmosphere of safety, authenticity, and mindfulness.

While some dances may draw upon phrases traditionally used in zikr, the dances are a different practice.

The Dances of Universal Peace were brought forward by Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti – Samuel Lewis – a disciple and representative of Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, in the 1960’s in San Francisco. Since then, they have flourished into an international movement for the embodied practice of peace. Information on where and when you may participate in the Dances of Universal Peace is available on the contacts and calendar pages.

What is Sema?

Sema is embodied musical prayer in remembrance of divine unity. In the sema, all are participants, whether as dancer, musician, or witness.

In the West, this practice is commonly seen in the turning ritual offered as spiritual practice through the Mevlevi Sufi traditions; the “whirling dervishes” of Hazrat Mevlana Jelaludin Rumi.

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