What Do You Get When You Cross Latinos and Islam?

January 9, 2011 § 5 Comments

Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group in America.

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the US. What do you get when you combine Latinos and Islam? New York City in particular has a strong Latino and Hispanic influence. Said differently, they’re everywhere! I recently came across an interview with photographer, Eirini Vourloumis. James Estrin of the New York Times visual arts journal called, LENS discussed Latinos, Culture and Islam with the renowned photojournalist.

Why Philadelphia Men Wear Beards

October 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

Ramadan Dinner @ Columbia University

September 17, 2008 § 1 Comment

Once again, the Osmanli Naksibendi Tarikat is hosting an iftar/supper at Columbia University during Ramadan. Last year it was a SMASH-HIT! People, Muslim and non-Muslim alike were talking about it long after Ramadan had passed.

For some it was a moment to break their fast with more than the 3 other Muslims they know on campus. And for others it was that pivotal moment when the demonized “muslim” they have heard so much about over the past 7 years became a human being with some “really cool traditions”.

We would like to see you there and tell em Saif sent you! 😉

DATE: Saturday, September 20

TIME: 6:30 pm

PLACE: Earl Hall Auditorium

The Earl Hall Center
203 Earl Hall
2980 Broadway MC 2008
Columbia University
New York, NY 10027


Spirituality: Pearls and Roses

May 10, 2008 § 11 Comments


In today’s environment we increasingly find a new kind of believer. This believer is not religious and not exactly an atheist. They may or may not, however, be an agnostic but believe in something “greater than themselves”. This kind of believer is, for all intensive purposes, considered “spiritual”. Which essentially means that a person does not practice or partake in one particularly religion but believes there is a “transcendental reality” beyond the material world. These believers are often attracted to mysticism, often seeking the emotional  experience of religious awe or reverence.

The Western world has been scared by doctrinal and dogmatic religious systems and thus many of the would be Believers coming out of the Western world are skeptical of the mature methods of faith. Often times the intention of these kind of seekers is to find plurality in faith, thus penetrating some kind of perennial or objective truth. You can find this happening daily throughout America.

In the film, My Mom’s New Boyfriend, which debuted in Spain on April 30, 2008, writer and director George Gallo portrayed a scene which is becoming all too familiar in the religious landscape of America. The setting has three of the characters sitting at the dinner table sipping wine after a meal. Meg Ryan plays Martha who after a life altering experience lost weight and became beautiful, changed her name to Marty and adopted a new outlook on life. The other two characters: Colin Hanks, plays Martha’s son and Selma Blair his fiance Emily. And when sprituality becomes the topic of discussion it mirrors the reality that is fast growing in American society, that being, “more spiritual than religious” as the screen play narrates,

Marty: It just took me a long time to realize that there was something missing inside.

Henry: Missing from inside the house?

Marty: No Henry, missing inside here, spiritually.

Henry: Oh…

Marty: So started my quest for enlightenment, inner peace; inner joy. The person who’d gotten buried alive in a sea of nicotine and packaged cakes. 

Emily: Yeah, this is so great.

Henry: Yeah… yeah (eyes skeptically reading the scene while nodding the affirmative).

Emily: So what did you do?

Marty: I went to India!

Henry: You went to India?

Marty: Yeah!

Henry: You used to never leave the house.

Marty: Then I went to Tibet and I studied Buddhism and I read the Koran and then studied Kabbala and then, I understood!

Emily: What?

Marty: That the whole world is one truth-seeking organism and so it doesn’t matter if your science is religion or your religion is science. Because we all seek meaning; we all seek our reason for being.

Emily: That is so beautiful.

Henry: And the reason that we’re here is?

Marty: To have fun, because its all over too frickin fast (as the two women toast their wine glasses in agreement).

Although this may be a story-line for the purpose of entertainment, it is reflecting a growing culture and mentality in our society. A culture which has its good and its harm. On one hand it is waking people up to themselves but it is a path that is not sustainable for long periods of time. And the wakefulness one once found seeking the plurality of faith ends in a similar mentality as Marty’s conclusion, that the meaning of life is to have fun and enjoy yourself before you die.

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Wisdom and Intellect

May 7, 2008 § 5 Comments

Recently, I have delved into the profound wisdom of Yusūf Balasağuni (qs) taken from his masnavi entitled, Kutadğu Bilig or The Wisdom of Royal Glory. Yusūf the Khāṣṣ Ḥājib (qs), an honorific which translates roughly to “Chancellor”, was an 11th century writer and poet; a contemporary to Mahmud al-Kashghari and is the author of the oldest known literary work of what is known as Islamic Turkish literature, the Kutadğu Bilig. Its original form is a “long didactic” poem in what is known as the mirror-for-princes tradition and it was prepared for and presented to the reigning prince of Kashghar in 1069 CE, Tavghach Bughra Khan.

There are two connecting parts of the Kutadğu Bilig that I would like to cite. These segments of Yusūf Khāṣṣ Ḥājib’s (qs) masnavi are concerning three sets of pairs. These particular pairs are integral, and they meet, joining at a point. The first of the pairs are “wisdom and intellect”; the second “merit and demerit” and the third, “benefit and harm”. That joining component, the centerpiece that acts as the interconnecting item is, “the tongue”.

The reason this item stood out is because, not only did Yusūf Khāṣṣ Ḥājib (qs) address wisdom and intellect as it relates to speech prior to the main body of his mesnevi, but it is a topic which my own shaykh addresses regularly during his talks, often quoting the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessing be upon him) and warning against the folly of foolish speech. Likewise Yusūf Khāṣṣ Ḥājib (qs) expounds on man’s chief glory, wisdom and intellect saying,

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Inheriting A Lifestyle of Islamic Chivalry

April 25, 2008 § 6 Comments

What is chivalry? Today, we have a very narrow understanding of chivalry and what generally comes to the minds of most Americans when contemplating chivalry is: medieval knights, throwing your jacket over a puddle or some random act of kindness for a damsel in distress. All of which are about as likely to happen in today’s world as owls delivering acceptance letters to teenage children the world over, inviting them to attend the fabled and legendary school of magic.

In other words this kind of chivalry is not likely to happen. But real chivalry in today’s world means having honor and courtesy. But not the kind of courtesy we generally understand, this chivalry, Islamic chivalry has a depth that, when observed, one cannot help but to admire.

It is said that the one who exemplified Islamic chivalry in the way of the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) most perfectly was Hazreti Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra). There is a story of Hazreti Ali (ra) that gives us an idea of the spiritual power and sheer faith that it takes to embody Islamic chivalry,

“The perfect example of this level of control and chivalry is demonstrated by the conduct of Hadrat Ali ibn Abu Talib (RA) a companion of the Prophet (SAW) who once, in the midst of battle was about to slay his opponent. As he raised his sword to strike, his enemy spat in his face. Hadrat Ali immediately dropped his sword & refused to kill his opponent, “what is wrong with you, why do you not strike?” the man asked “because before you spat at me I was fighting you for the sake of Allah Almighty” Ali (RA) replied, “but after you spat I was fighting you because I was angry – and as a muslim I can only fight for Allah , never for my own Nafs. “Upon hearing this, Ali’s ( RA) opponent recongnized the nobility & truth of his words and immediately accepted Islam.” [1]

But is Islamic chivalry dead? I can, with a great deal of certainty, tell you that it is not. The essence of Islamic chivalry is found in the Tradition (sunnat) of the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him). Therefore those who are holding tightly onto the Traditions of the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) and applying them to their lifestyle, they are the chevaliers.

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Traditional Islamic Music Sung at a Church

April 21, 2008 § 1 Comment

Video (01:19) – “Sheikh Nazim” ilahi performed at a New York church by murids from the Osmanli Dergahi

Video courtesy of nakshibendi.com

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