Jews and Muslims Together

I’ve just begun a new blog that relates to my research on Jewish-Muslim relations in Israel. The research project looks specifically at Sufism in Israel whereas the blog is more generally about Jewish-Muslim relations. It hasn’t been up for long so it’s still in its first stages with more to come but you’ll still find plenty of interest there as well as some good videos. Take a look and please give me some feedback if you’re interested. Click here


Sufis in Palestine


"Rare glimpses of two 20th-century Sufi saints are offered in this work: the eminent Shaykh al-Alawi and the lesser-known woman saint Fatima al-Yashrutiyya, both of whom continued on the Sufi path even as they watched their world crumble. Shaykh al-Alawi's influence was pivotal to the spiritual development of Thomas Merton, who looked to al-Alawi's writings and teachings in his own practice. Fatima al-Yashrutiyya is a rare example of a literate Muslim woman living a public spiritual life. Readers will see a new side of the Sufi Path from her uncompromising viewpoint, and can catch an uncommon glimpse of life in the early 20th century for a spiritual seeker, writer, and self-educated woman in the Muslim world. These essays represent Islam in its esoteric dimension and raise issues of regional unrest and colonial intervention that are still relevant. Through the words of these two saints the world of the Sufi brotherhood is opened, revealing an underlying theme of the oneness of Allah."

Fatimah al-Yashrutiyya was born in Acre, Palestine in 1883. The Yashruti Sufi Order in which she grew up and in which her father was a Shaykh (spiritual guide) are a branch of the Shadhili Order, founded in 1258. Fatimah’s father promoted the advance of education for women and in her autobiography she speaks of the many scholars of philosophy and the Sufi path from whom she learnt. Following the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948, known to the israelis as the War of Independence, Fatimah and her family had to flee their home to live permanently in Beirut. The book pictured on the left, Two Who Attained contains a translation of her autobiography and is published by Fons Vitae. Just click on the image if you would like to order it. Below is an excerpt from the autobiography. The book also contains translations of the work of Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi, another 20th century Sufi saint.

“The Shadhiliyya Sufi method is founded on the Holy Book and the Sunna of the Prophet Muhammad, the search for knowledge, and the frequent practice of invocation in an attitude of worshipfulness and consciousness of the divine. This means of calling upon God is the easiest and most direct of spiritual paths, for it does not entail great hardship or much strenuous effort. The primordial light lying dormant within the soul gains strength through the light of knowledge and through the light of invocation, so that the soul is rid of its defects and impurities. It can then draw nearer to the Divine Presence until it is completely absorbed and the invocation burns away all thoughts of anything other than the One Invoked.”

Photo of Fatima al-Yashrutiyya taken from the Fons Vitae website

Photo of Fatima al-Yashrutiyya taken from the Fons Vitae website

Palestine, Israel, and the Dialogue of Love

I believe that the greatest example of how best to behave in the face of
such conflict situations as that happening in Palestine-Israel today are
the Palestinian and Israeli people themselves. Many might say, What! But
they are always fighting each other! This is the impression gained from
most main stream media. However, there are several groups in Israel,
Palestine, and around the world who are not only talking to each other
but who are actively attempting to help each other.

The following video is one example. An Israeli woman and a Palestinian
man, the immense pain they feel is palpable, but through that pain comes
a tremendous love and courage. It is only 6 minutes long and you can see
it here: http://tinyurl. com/a3vvod

This video link was sent to me by a dear friend, a young Israeli with
whom I have had many long conversations and with whom I have
participated in dhikr together with other Muslims, Jews, and Sikhs. On
the Sufi path I have learnt that love can be painful and that courage is
needed to follow the path. Often that courage fails me, it is a constant
struggle, but the two people speaking in this short video are a
wonderful example of the power of love and courage, Alhamdulillah!

When I pray, May there be peace, Inshallah! Then I also acknowledge that
there is peace already, dwelling in Israel and Palestine, among some of
the worst battlefields of the world. May it strengthen and grow and may such initiatives be reported more often in the media.

Ilan Pappe: An Israeli Academic Writing About Zionist Ideology

It is worth reading the entire article as Ilan Pappe attempts to clarify the causes of the present situation in Israel and Gaza.
clipped from

“My visit back home to the Galilee coincided with the genocidal Israeli attack on Gaza. The state, through its media and with the help of its academia, broadcasted one unanimous voice — even louder than the one heard during the criminal attack against Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Israel is engulfed once more with righteous fury that translates into destructive policies in the Gaza Strip. This appalling self-justification for the inhumanity and impunity is not just annoying, it is a subject worth dwelling on, if one wants to understand the international immunity for the massacre that rages on in Gaza.

“There are no boundaries to the hypocrisy that a righteous fury produces. The discourse of the generals and the politicians is moving erratically between self-compliments of the humanity the army displays in its “surgical” operations on the one hand, and the need to destroy Gaza for once and for all, in a humane way of course, on the other.”
blog it

Compassionate Listening

I have just added a new blog to my blogroll. It is Listening to the Tune in Dialogue by my friend Lisa Saffron. Lisa has been running dialogue sessions using the skills of compassionate listening for some time now and having attended a couple of her Jewish-Muslim sessions I can testify to how powerful these sessions can be. Compassionate communication is as much about listening to oneself as it is about listening to others and about being heard without judgement.

Lisa has also written a novel called Checkpoint which is about the meeting of a Palestinian and an Israeli family in tragic circumstances and how this experience changes lives.

Go across to Lisa’s blog and take a look.