4 November 2001
of the Moon,
the sun set over the Sonoma hills into the cool mid-Autumn dusk,
the Uwaiysi Sufis of the Bay Area began to arrive for their retreat
at a rustic camp in Valley of the Moon near Glen Ellen. It seemed
all too appropriate that a nearly full moon also greeted those
arriving for the first-ever community retreat. The open field
at the center of the camp was filled with light, which set the
tone and mood for the weekend to come.
dinner was set out for the group in the dining hall. Following
the fatiha led by Sheikh Salman, Safa Ali greeted everyone and
provided some opening remarks. After dinner the group who had
arrived spent a little more time settling into their cabins and
making a fire in and setting up the room for the evening prayers.
At about 7:30 pm, Sheikh Salman recited the Adhan and led the
Uwaiysi Sufis in prayer by the warmth and light of the fire. Salim
and Salima arrived just in time and with Soraya and Sheikh Salman,
the other members of Taneen, led the group in a zekr of love and
devotion. More music followed including a beautiful rendition
of a Persian love song by Nazila and Susan. The group departed
from the prayer room into the night to return to their cabins,
but the zekr and the music remained in their hearts.
gathered again for early-morning meditation by the fire in the
prayer room. Sheikh Salman recited the Adhan for the morning prayers.
The group gathered again for breakfast in the dining hall as more
of the Uwaiysi community arrived for the retreat. A beautiful
day of weather appeared in store for the retreat. The natural
magnificence of the site, with oak trees and towering redwoods,
was inescapable in the soft morning light.
breakfast, our holy teacher Shah Nazar Seyed Ali Kianfar arrived
and greeted everyone. The group
then met in the open air on the deck of the dining hall to listen
to the words of the master. Seyed Dr. Kianfar encouraged everyone
to truly practice religion in every movement they make. He stressed
that Islam is the search for your own religion, not the religion
of a group. At the end of his talk, he asked everyone to take
advantage of this beautiful natural setting and find a quiet place
to meditate and pray and connect himself to the Divine.
the Adhan again by Sheikh Salman, we all returned from our quiet
spots for the Noon prayers and zekr in the prayer room led by
Seyed Dr. Kianfar. Afterwards, Seyed Dr. Kianfar departed, but the message and instructions from Seyed Dr. Kianfar
remained in everyones hearts to carry out for the rest of
lunch, the group embarked on the workshop portion of the retreat
program: Sheikh Salman gave an excellent and beneficial presentation
on preparation for Ramadan and answered questions from the group,
Blake led the group off into the woods and hills surrounding the
retreat site for an active silent hike. Again, one
could not help but be continuously reminded of the natural beauty
of the area, which helped greatly in experiencing peace and tranquility.
Thereafter, Arife facilitated the artistic expression of the Uwaiysi
Sufis who each drew on a piece of paper what they were experiencing
at the retreat. The papers were then collectively gathered and
sorted by the group to create a community mural from the unity
of everyones efforts. The absolute unity of the community
was reflected in the beautiful mural that was created.
the workshops, led by the younger members of the Community, many
of the group engaged in a closely contested baseball game featuring
the Ruthian efforts of Salim. Sunset prayers and dinner followed.
more the Adhan by Sheikh Salman called the group to gather for
evening prayers. A sense of peace, tranquility, and unity resonated
throughout the group carrying throughout the zekr and music that
followed the prayer. The group then dispersed into the night under
another moonlit sky.
morning meditation and prayers and breakfast, we all said our
warm good-byes. While time will tell, the faces of the community
members clearly reflected an enhanced strength and unity in the
community of people who care deeply for each other as Uwaiysi
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