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Season for Interfaith-Intercultural Celebration

9-Week Self Study Program

Week THREE: Peace, Sufism

Interview Dialogues
Discussion Questions
Preparation & Background

Related Global Manifesto
Further Reading/ Links



Jamal Rahman on Peace from the Perspective of Islam
A Muslim Sufi interfaith minister originally from Bangladesh, Jamal serves at the Interfaith Community Church in Seattle. He is cohost of Interfaith Talk Radio, and adjunct faculty at Seattle University. He is the author of several books, including The Enlightened Heart of Islam.


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Download Call Notes

Dr. Nahid Angha on The Muslim World: A Sufi Perspective
Dr. Nahid Angha is recognized as a leader in the modern Sufi movement, one of the first modern women to gain that stature. She is the daughter of Moulana Shah Maghsoud, a revered Sufi scholar and poet of one of the most influential Persian branches of the tradition. She is co-founder and head of the International Association of Sufism and also heads, in that connection, the Sufi Women Organization. Nahid is a veteran of the global interreligious movement and a champion of the rights of women in Islam and around the world. She is the author of many books, includingWhite Fire: A Portrait of Women Spiritual Leaders in America and Women in Sufism: A Hidden Treasure.


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Download Call Notes




1. Explore the ways in which your own understanding of peace has evolved and matured in your life and that of your community. Is your own experience of peace and peacebuilding in any way linked to interreligious and/or intercultural dialogue?

2. Many Sufis believe that every religious tradition nurtures its own unique form of Sufism. Why do you think mysticism is absent from the religious lives of so many people?



Islam—from the Arabic root meaning “submission” or “surrender” (to Al’lah, the one God)—was preached by the prophet Muhammad in the 7th century. An adherent of Islam is a Muslim [Arabic, “one who submits”]. The youngest of the three great monotheistic world religions (the others are Judaism and Christianity), Islam stresses the belief in one God, unique and absolutely transcendent. This belief shapes the life of the devout Muslim. Like Judaism and Christianity, its sister religions, Islam is a covenantal faith, grounded in the belief in a sacred compact between the human and the divine. Muslims believe that the Qur’an, their sacred scripture, calls them to build a just social order, to submit to the one Lord, and to become one family. Islam calls its followers to lives of service to God and to the human family.

Excellence: The transformative power of the reconciliation of the personal will to the will of the divine. Peaceful surrender to God and embrace of a detailed vision of God's plan for nearly every dimension of human life. Sacralization of every moment of that life.
Story: The Pilgrimage of Hagar and Abraham to Mecca / Abraham and Ishmael Rebuilding the Kaaba
Ritual Pattern: Hajj (Pilgrimage)
Ethic: Strive for justice



The Zoroastrian religion was founded by Zoroaster (Zarathustra), who preached the religion on the steppes of ancient Persia. Zoroastrianism was the state religion of the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great in the 6th century bce. The religion flourished under later dynasties, but reeled with the advent of Islam. Many Persian Zoroastrians migrated to India where their descendant, the Parsees—concentrated in and around Bombay—have kept the faith alive in India. In an age of idol worship and polytheism, Zarathustra preached the first monotheistic religion of the one supreme God, Ahura Mazda (the “Wise Lord”). The message is contained in the ancient texts of the sacred Avesta, of which the five Gathas are considered to embody the word of the Prophet himself. The teaching finds its essence in the triad: Humata (Good Thoughts), Hukta (Good Words), and Huverashta (Good Deeds). Zoroastrianism celebrates the sacredness of the elements of existence and offers a unique spiritual perspective on ecology.

Excellence: The celebration of the sacredness of all the elements of existence and the cultivation of a unique perspective on spiritual ecology
Story: The Prophet Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) sees God and hears God’s words
Ritual Pattern: Recitation of the sacred in the presence of sacred fire
Ethic: Good words, good thoughts, good deeds



Theme: The Muslim World: A Sufi Perspective

Sufism is the mystical tradition of Islam. While it has influenced every Muslim culture since its rise in not long after the time of Muhammad (7th century CE), Sufism has had a particularly rich connection to Persian literature and culture. Jalaluddin Rumi, the great 13th-century Sufi poet, is widely regarded as a master of Persian literature and as one of the greatest spiritual teachers of all time. It is often suggested that one of the most important tensions in the Muslim world exists between the spiritual path of the Sufis and the rigid orthodoxy of the legal scholars. The countless Sufi orders have exerted a powerful influence over the development of Islam.


Links & Media:

LINK: Quotes from the World's Religions on Peace
LINK: Video Meditation on Peace



The Seville Statement on Violence: (1986: violence not part of the human condition; learned behavior that can be overcome)




The Interfaith Amigos: http://interfaithtalkradio.squarespace.com/

New York Times arcticle on the Interfaith Amigos: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/24/us/24amigos.html

Nahid Angha’s bio: http://www.ias.org/founders.html

Excerpt of video interview with Nahid Angha on Sufism and enlightenment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArgFtw0sfgs