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My Sufi Experience


Cliff JACOBS, Deputy Executive Director of
Queens Public Television, Flushing, New York


by Clifford
JACOBS

The event dedicated to in memory of ALIYE AK AYDAGÜL...

Good evening everyone and welcome to another important program sponsored by the Light Millennium.

It is a special honor for me to be invited to deliver these opening remarks. This introduction grew out of an informal conversation that Bircan and I had about Sufism.

My first awareness of the Sufis occurred when I was very young. My brother George was a History major who received his Master Degree in North African and Islamic History from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He had a great many books on Islamic Culture; however, I remember distinctly a series of books entitled The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan. Khan belonged to an order of Sufis from the Indian continent. He brought knowledge of Sufism to the West in 1910 when he arrived in Europe. He is quoted as saying:        

"There is one religion and there are many covers. Each of these covers has

 a name: Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, etc., and when you take

 off these covers, you find that there is one religion, and it is that

 (my emphasis added) religion which is the religion of the Sufi."*

In Judaism it is said that the Torah is the Law, the Talmud is the soul of the Law and, Kabbalah is the soul of the soul of the Law. If that is true then perhaps we can say that, if the Islam is God's, and the Koran represents the soul of that Law, then Sufism is the soul of the soul of the Law, which reaches its highest form of expression in the idea of LOVE. 

In later years I became a Free and Accepted Mason. I say that I became a Mason not joined them, because like the Sufi I believe that one does not join them but one's spirit evolves to the point where you become a Mason, or a Rosicrucian or a Sufi. I also developed a particular interest in what is known as the Western Mystery Tradition. This tradition includes such areas of study as Freemasonry, the Rosicrucians, the Knights Templar, Druids, Neoplatonism, Wicca, and Kabbalah. It was also at this time that I discovered the writings of Idries Shah, who has suggested that the Western Mystery Tradition was influenced by Sufi philosophy which was brought back to Europe by the Knights Templar at the end of the Crusades.

And my education came full circle through my friend and the producer of the cable program, The Voice of Anatolia, Ms. Aliye Ak. She gave me tickets to see the Mevlevi Order of Whirling Dervishes at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. I saw them for a second time at their historic performance at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine here in New York in the early nineties. Ms. Ak also gave me my first cassette of Sufi Music which is a treasured part of my collection. Sadly for me and for Bircan, Ms. Ak passed away last Wednesday (November 10, 2004) and has taken her last journey to Istanbul, and we would like to dedicate this evening to her memory.

Professor Talat Halman was the First Minister of Culture of the Republic of Turkey. He served as part of the National Cabinet, and was the first person to ever hold that position. He is the author of many books and articles on Islamic Mysticism. He is an authority on the works of both Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi and Yunus Emre. A poet of note, his work has been translated into English and French. In addition he has translated into Turkish Shakespeare's Sonnets, selected works of Wallace Stevens, Langston Hughes and William Faulkner. He is a member of UNESCO's Executive Council and Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures at New York University.

In1971 he was decorated Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

Tonight he will be performing with musicians Jeff Peretz and Abu Gara. And with Defne Halman, actress.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Brothers and Sisters, please welcome Mr. Talat Sait Halman.

_ . _

Introductory Speech of the "RUMI: SOARING TO ECSTASY"
A Live Documentary Event
Presented by:
Prof. Talat HALMAN & Defne HALMAN
Date:
November 18, 2008
Place:
Turkish House, #821 United Nations Plaza, 2nd Floor, NYC, NY.
Produced by: Bircan Ünver
Organized by: Light Millennium
Sponsored by: New York Turkish Tourism & Culture Office

Special Thanks to:
Seniha HALMAN; Mr. Levent DEMIREL, Tourism and Culture Atache; Figen BINGÜL, Mevlut AKYILDIZ & Pinar SENVELI.
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YES To Lighting Our Souls & Minds.

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