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Australian Centre For Sufism



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Recent Event:

Religions' Sacred Teachings
and Their Inner Meanings
International Symposium
15th December 2013

Previous Events:

Seeing God Everywhere:
Traversing the
Spiritual Journey
5th November 2011

An Ancient Psychology
for a Modern Era
The Journey of the ego self
to the Spiritual Self
International Symposium
4th December 2010

One Humanity, Many Faiths
Interfaith Summit
February 2009

Sufi Music and Zikr
by Al Madeheen
September 2008

Moulana Rumi and the
Perfume of Divine Love
International Symposium
December 2007

ABC Radio Interview
December 2007


UNESCO Moulana Congress
Tehran and Tabriz
October 2007

UNESCO Moulana Rumi
Symposium
Istanbul and Konya
May 2007

Conference on the
Iranian Identity
December 2006


Dalai Lama meets
with Muslim and
Sufi leaders
April 2006

Sufi Meditation
on ABC Radio
April/May 2006

Life of Maryam (a.s.)
August 2005

The Unifying Role
Of Mysticism
International Symposium
October 2004

Peace and God Consciousness
- The Journey of the Soul
International Symposium
October 2003

Uniting & Dividing
Humanity - The role
politics & religion play
August 2003

Sufism & Self-Transformation
The Path of Knowledge
and Love
International Symposium
October 2002

An Evening with
Claudio Naranjo
September 2002

Unity Within Diversity
November 2001

The Message of Moulana Rumi
"Listen to the Reed
How it Tells its Tale...."
International Symposium
November 2000

The Need for Sufism in a
New Century - An Old
Tradition for a New World
International Symposium
May 2000


Previous Event:

International Sufi Symposium

The Need for Sufism in a New Century -
An Old Tradition for a New World

6th and 7th May 2000

We gathered together because we had been called to gather. From across the country people came to the first Australian Sufi Conference. Many came as strangers and all left as friends, brothers and sisters embraced in a spirit of love and the beauty of unity. The crowd reflected a rich tapestry of faces, religions and beliefs. For the first time we were all gathered together in this meeting of the heart. This blessed event brought together a diverse group, many with only one thing in common, they were all seekers. Over two days we were given many gifts.

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Sheikh Ahmad Tijani

The call to prayer sung by Sheikh Tijani heralded the beginning of the inaugural Australian Sufi Conference. Already something special had occurred. In this brief moment we were held together in the hands of God and the true spirit of the conference had begun. The beat of a drum by the conference moderator James Harvey invited us to listen with our hearts synchronised to the rhythm. Listen with your hearts.

"Where ever we are gathered in the name of Allah (swt)
that place would be a holy place."

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Fleur Nassery Bonnin

Next Fleur Nassery Bonnin the Founder and Director of the Australian Centre for Sufism and Irfanic Studies spoke on "Setting the Tone". She explained "that where ever we are gathered in the name of Allah (swt) that place would be a holy place." She said, "We have two centres for learning, the heart and the mind. You can not hear God with your mind, only with your heart. We have no power in opening up our heart, only God has that power, but we do have the power to give up our attachment to our mind and personality." She drew this parallel to illustrate "We have two centres for breathing the nose and the mouth, in the same way if we close our nose the mouth will open to do the breathing."

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Dr Ali Kianfar

This was followed by Dr Ali Kianfar, co founder of The International Association of Sufism based in San Francisco. He spoke on "Self and Discovery". He said "There is a saying amongst Sufis, that always there is a question, but we have to look for a Quest. A Quest raised from the heart. So we all have a Quest, but we get the answer according to our question".

We then were treated to a taste of Sheikh Tijani, who unfortunately had not been able to join us in person because of last minute illness, but he was there in spirit and in our hearts.

We broke for prayer and Muslims and Christians alike in a beautiful spirit of unity prayed together in their own fashion.

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Sufi Music and Poetry

After lunch we gathered again to the evocative sounds of the Persian Sufi Musicians playing Daf, Ney and Setar accompanying readings from Moulana Rumi's Mathnawi recited by Adrian Rawlins.

"A celebration of creation and ascent to the Divine "

This was followed by Sheikh Abdul Aziz who explained "The Living Tradition of Mevlana Jalal Al-Din Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes" to prepare every one for the forthcoming performance. The development of the Sema by Moulana Rumi was explained as "The outpouring of his worship and love for God expressed through the unique whirl of ecstasy of his heart and was then formalised into the Sema, a celebration of the human soul's participation in the dance of creation and ascent of the Divine. "

In the afternoon the Interfaith Panel consisting of Michael Horsburgh speaking on "The Search for an Inner Life: A Christian Perspective", Bhante Tejadhammo Bhikkhu speaking on "Mistaking Reality: Seizing Suffering in Unreality" and Sheikh Mansour Leghaei speaking on "Spirituality of Islamic Daily Prayers". The speakers reflected on the true spirit of unity, humility and love and, as one attendee beautifully expressed it, "represented three different sign posts to the one Reality".

After breaking for Prayer and meditation we concluded in the evening with a performance of Sema by the Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi Order. The performance was felt by many in their hearts, and seemed to nurture the rest of the conference.

"Ultimately, for those who are prepared to pay the price,
it can lead to that ' light that is neither of the east nor the west'. "

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Dr Harry Oldmeadow

Sunday commenced with Dr Harry Oldmeadow of La Trobe University giving a moving and evocative talk on "The Role of Mystical traditions in a Contemporary World ". He concluded "For those who see religions and the mystical traditions at their heart, as something infinitely more than mere 'cultural phenomena', who believe them to be the vehicles of the most profound and precious truths to which we cannot and must not immunise ourselves, who wish to do justice to both the external forms and the inner meanings of religion, who cleave to their own tradition but who wish to recognise all integral religions as pathways to God, a proper understanding of mystical traditions, within their own religious frameworks, can open up whole new vistas. Ultimately, for those who are prepared to pay the price, it can lead to that ' light that is neither of the east nor the west'. "

With the stage set for a beautiful day we then enjoyed the poetry of Hafez and Moulana Rumi, read by Adrian Rawlins.


Ali ElSenossi

Murshid Ali ElSenossi, gave a humble and enlightening talk on "The Art of Spiritualising our Daily Activities". He said, "Unless we can take something from the conference which we can implement in our daily lives then what have we really learnt". He spoke in detail on spiritualising the most fundamental activities such as eating, ablution and sleeping.

After prayer and lunch Rabia (Annalisa Orselli-Dickson) gave a heart rendered and experiential visual poetry demonstration. Combining her own poetry and Moulana Rumi's with images and zikr she took us on a moving journey of her path to Allah (swt).

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Terence McBride

The Sufism and psychology panel followed this with Terence McBride exploring the Jungian perspective and Fleur Nassery Bonnin the role of Sufism and psychology. Then in a powerful and courageous moment Fleur shared with us through her own example the truth and beauty of God's signs for those who have the ears to hear. She demonstrated in that moment the power of the truth on the path, that God is all we need - our beginning and our end and in between our daily quest.

The afternoon brought more Persian Sufi music and poetry. With three musicians spanning three generations and a bilingual presentation of Moulana Rumi's poetry in Persian and English by Omid Honari.

Our final speaker was Dr Kianfar who spoke first on what Sufism is. In this eloquent presentation he used stories, knowledge and heart to illuminate the Sufi path. He said "Return to your heart. That is your mosque. That is your khaniqah. That is your place. That is your Kabba. The centre of understanding, the centre of realisation is the heart". He also encouraged unity and tolerance from Muslims in the west saying "We should not scare people about Islam, and we do scare people. The media and our enemies do enough to scare people from Islam, we should not add to this fear. I live in America, and I should respect this. Only in America am I free to speak, I cannot do that in my own country which is Islamic. In my own country there are sayings of the Holy Prophet (saw) which I cannot repeat. In my country I cannot invite the people and tell them to trust their own hearts, but I can say this in America. This is freedom! This is a blessing! We (Muslims) should try to introduce people to the real Islam. Islam is a technique of being, not just a way of talking. The knowledge of the heart, this is Islam. As Seyyedena Ali (as) said "Knowledge is the light which Allah (swt) puts in your heart". Islam is to submit to the Reality, to the essence of ourselves. Our essence is light. We are all the children of Allah (swt), how can we hate each other." He followed this by talking on " Meditation and the Power of Zikr". At the conclusion the chairs were moved away, a circle was formed and Dr Kianfar led us all in the Zikr.

When the Zikr and the conference was over no one wanted to leave, they lingered and cried and embraced. They moved around with a sense of urgency to thank each other in a genuine, heart moved way. And whether their words were "Al-Hamdu lillah" or "God be praised", there was only one True convenor and gatherer, only one who had planned and fashioned this bringing together of strangers, who had united, taught and touched us at this first Australian Sufi Conference. Shokran Allah (swt).


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For further information contact the
Australian Centre for Sufism and Irfanic Studies (ACSIS)
Phone: (02) 9955 SUFI (7834)
or email: acs@australiansuficentre.org


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