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Hajjah Amr Rasheed speaking on Sufism.

“I chose to lead a conscious life,” said the Sufi Muslim scholar and Charlottesville interfaith leader Hajjah Amr Rasheed. The wise and gentle author and teacher was the presenter at Monday night’s discussion on Islam held in library at Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville and sponsored by the LOTUS Center for All Faiths

“All paths,” she said, “they lead to the same goal.” Sound familiar?

Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, is more than a thousand years old. The visiting Muslim scholar underlined the powerful similarities in the philosophies of her great teacher and ours. From our chanting to our dedication to serving humanity and Mother Nature.

Forty-six years ago I had the great privilege of being granted television interviews with Swami Satchidananda and a month later with Pir Vilayat Khan, leader of the Sufi Order in the West. Like Swami Satchidananda, Pir Vilayat sought to end the false divisions in the world. Sufism’s core teaching is encapsulated in three words: “Love, Harmony and Beauty.”

Similar to Swami Satchidananda, Pir Vilayat was elegant, kind, and gentle. Also like Sri Swamiji, the Sufi leader was a very early advocate of the Interfaith movement. It was a blessing to be in his presence. He left the body in 2004, almost two years after Sri Swamiji.

Monday night’s event was attended by program participants in the Living Yoga Training (LYT) program in Yogaville, as well as by some of the students who helped Swami Satchidananda establish Integral Yoga International — with global centers, and ultimately, Yogaville itself. Those pioneers attending included: Rev. Prakash Capen, Swami Jyotirmayananda, Bhaskar Deva (who also helped construct most of Yogaville’s buildings, including the LOTUS) and his wife, Nischala Joy Devi, a global Yoga teacher and author.

 

About the Author:
Award-winning journalist Jeff Kamen is the author of Warrior Pups: True Stories of America’s K9 Heroes and co-author with Robert Kupperman of Final Warning: Averting Disaster in the New Age of Terrorism. His New York Daily News Magazine cover story, “Facing the Terrorists,” provided readers with extraordinary access to the NYPD’s storied Bomb Squad. His news reporting and documentaries on national security, law enforcement, race relations, and politics have been featured on radio TV and in print for more than forty years. Kamen has reported for NPR, NBC News, ABC and CBS Radio, CBC and Mutual News. Jeff’s documentary, “Outside the Wire,” for the Air Force won the top prize for Pentagon-produced films in 2005.