Report on the 4th Federation Meeting in Kansas City – April 2003

Beloved one of God,

Like in the Conference of the Birds by Farid ud-Din Attar, this story begins with birds-beings of many worlds gathering to search for the unity taught by their great master Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan, the Ideal for which they came together. The (hoopoe) hope and source of Inspiration of this story, who probed them all for the quest many moons ago, is known as Pir-O-Murshid Hidayat Inayat Khan, the younger son of Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan.

For a couple of years the Harmony Council met with representatives of three branches (Sufi Movement, Sufi Order and Sufi Ruhaniat International). Moineddin Jablonski arose to the occasion and joined wholeheartedly after Pir-O-Murshid Hidayat Inayat Khan opened his heart and offered the healing olive branch publicly at the tomb of Murshid Samuel Lewis at Lama. In turn Moineddin wrote a beautiful letter to the members of the Sufi Order which touched their hearts and they then joined in. Thanks the Sufi Order who participated from the beginning in the Harmony Council, to Pir Vilayat Khan who
attended the Federation meeting in Katwijk and his son Pir Zia Inayat Khan who attended the Federation meetings in Katwijk and The Abode of the Message. Thanks to all of them, this was the fourth annual conference of the “birds” of the Federation of the Sufi Message.

It was late in Kansas City when they arrived on a cool night of April 2003. Hazrat Inayat Khan left this image of unity buried deeply in the trunk of the tree of his lineage. Many branches sprouted out in the years that followed and many more branches sprouted from the initial one. In the years past, birds who flew from the branches representing this beautiful lineage came together in Charlottesville, Virginia; then Katwijk, Holland; the Abode of the Message, New York and now in Kansas City.

One great branch is called the Sufi Movement headed by Pir-O-Murshid Hidayat Inayat Khan. A second one is the Sufi Order headed by Pir Vilayat Khan who will be succeeded by his son Pir Zia Inayat Khan. A third one is called Sufi Ruhaniat International headed by Pir Shabda Khan who succeeded Pir Moineddin Jablonski and Murshid Samuel Lewis.

More birds from other branches were invited as guests and observers. Michael Schouwenar represented Sufi Contact in Harlem, Holland, which has around 150 members. This branch came through the inspiration of Gauwery Voute who passed away at the age of 101. She had been initiated by Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan in 1924. Murshid Elias Amidon represented The Sufi Way in England. This branch came about under the leadership of Murshid Fazal who passed away in his 50’s.

“Throughout the world men separately conceived
an image of its shape, and all believed
their private fantasies uniquely true!”
— Farid ud-Din Attar, The Conference of the Birds

This was their fourth meeting reaching the valley of Unity. They flew back again from everywhere. Shaikha Hamida and Murshid Ameen Carp came from the far away Netherlands. Murshid Nawab braved snowstorms and cancelled flights but he made it anyway, one day late. Others were from California, Virginia and New York, and some from New England and as far away as some island in Washington State. They are all exceptional kind of birds. Zuleikha just coming back from a trip to India and Sri Lanka, gave an outstanding performance of dances and poetry. The next day she led a most beautiful Zikar of remembrance.

“It is a sign of Him, and in each heart.
There lies this feather’s hidden counterpart.
But since no words suffice, what uses are mine
To represent or to describe this sign?”
— Farid ud-Din Attar, The Conference of the Birds

Saturday, April 5 was the first day. After Pir Shabda’s welcoming vision for this meeting, particular attention emphasized networking among small groups to get to know each other and deepen the ties of the one heart. Murshid Wali Ali, one of our great “hoopoe” leaders in the Ruhaniat, a symbol of inspiration, persuaded us to continue our search despite any hardship. Small group meetings focused on recognizing that we all come from the same parent, Hazrat Inayat Khan and on what are the special jewels of our lineage. The Sufi Order guided by the beautiful Devi Tide shared some insight on their work for the message. Devi read a letter by Pir Zia sharing that he was among us in spirit if not in form. That night, Tamam Khan blessed us with her original poetry giving voice to the original women of Islam, wives and daughters of Prophet Mohammed.

The second day we all enjoyed Murshid Nawab’s good humor that led us in contemplation and practices. Small group focused on each person leading the rest of the group in a favorite personal practice. Murshid Amen Carp and International Sufi Movement members led us in an uplifting Universal Worship ceremony. Zuleikha, who danced that evening, also shared stories and poetry with great grace.

The third day celebrated the Urs of Murshida Vera Corda. She was remembered for her focus on youth and she blessed us with the presence of her Great Spirit. Ben Burdick and Karim Baer from California and Daulat Rosdorff from Holland, besides also others, spoke of youth and the need of the day for young people to be attracted on the path. A lively discussion ensued on how we find a balance between getting out the teachings and making Sufi mysticism available without seeming like missionaries. Murshid Saul Barodofsky shared his powerful Allah practice and some great stories including the one when Samuel Lewis taught him to slow down and Murshid Wali Ali led us in the walks of the elements.

“A girl fell in a river – in a flash.
Her lover dived in with a mighty splash,
And fought the current till he reached her side.
When they were safe again, the poor girl cried:
“By chance I tumbled in, but why should you.
Come after me and hazard your life too?”
He said: “I dived because the difference.
Of ‘I’ and ‘you’ to lovers makes no sense –
A long time passed when we were separate,
But now that we have reached this single state.
When you are me and I am wholly you,
What use is it to talk of us as two?”
All talk of two implies plurality –
When two has gone there will be Unity.”
— Farid ud-Din Attar, The Conference of the Birds

In this conference we realized that we need many more coming together to reach Unity. We thought three, now five, may be we need thirty like the simorgh (si means thirty and morgh bird in Persian).

Demonstrating Peace in our family and in ourselves during this fourth conference, we exemplified the word of Murad Samuel Lewis: “I would like to see a peace demonstration where the demonstrators demonstrate Peace.”

Pir Shabda must be commended to have orchestrated getting all these branches and all these birds to sing and dance together, to exemplify love, harmony and beauty in the spirit of unity. True free bird-being longing for the one, are we not all? Everywhere I turn, I see the face of my beloved.

Thanks to all the hawks, sparrows, nightingales, eagles, including one named Allaudin and many others of Kansas City that did such a beautiful job hosting this conference in this very accommodating center.

Next year we shall fly to Holland, the home of the Universal Temple born of the vision of Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan for the Unity of the Religious Ideals.

Yâ Fattâh!!!!! May the power of the one open the doors of the heart.
Peace is power.

Love and blessings,
Jean-Pierre David