The Universal Worship Service

The mission of the Sufi Message is that, instead of giving a new form of worship, it collects all forms in one, so that no one may say, ‘My form of worship is left out.’ It gives examples so that the followers of all religions may worship at the same time. It also brings all teachers known and unknown to the world as different beads in the same rosary. Imagine this idea spreading and penetrating through those separated because of differences of faith! Is there any human being who does not wish that there should be one truth and one idea of God understandable to all? This is not a new religion to upset the thoughtful, to give shock to minds who are tranquil, to hearts that feel deeply. This is the Message that will agree with their deepest longing and it is with that hope that we have the necessity of the Message of today.

– Hazrat Inayat Khan

Universal Worship at Dargah Inayat Khan, Delhi, India

The Universal Worship is one of the five concentration activities of the Inayati Order and is the ceremony offered for worship services. It is so named because its purpose is to promote the unity of religious ideals, to give an opportunity for those belonging to different religions to worship together, and to discover that there is one Source from which all scriptures have come.  Universal Worship is part of the Core Curriculum offered by the Sufi Order of Rochester Center for Sufi Studies.

IMG_4578

Valentine’s, 2010

In this ceremony, a lighted candle represents the One Being. From this candle, other candles are lighted, representing spiritual traditions of the world, known and unknown. Readings, chants, songs or dances are provided to give participants an experience from each tradition. A reading from Hazrat Inayat Khan is given, along with certain prayers. The emphasis is on the unity of religious ideals.

The Universal Worship is offered monthly in Rochester as part of “Eat, Dance and Pray,” every Sunday at 10:30 am.  We also offer Universal Worship at various community locations on an occasional basis.  Please see the calendar for locations and times.  We offer house blessings, reception into the Universal Worship, blessings for children, weddings, funerals and other services.  Jabbar Richard Briggs coordinates the Universal Worship for the Sufi Order of Rochester.

Image 1This montage illustrates the unity of religious ideals with symbols.  Clockwise from the top:  Divine Feminine, Hindu, Christian, Ba’hai, Zoroastrian, Jain, Buddhist, Tao, Native, Jewish,  Sikh and Islam

For more information, please contact any one of our Cherags: Jabbar Rick Briggs, Wadud Henry Cretella, Zaynab Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Amina Linda HallRahima Karen Keenan, Leelah Shoshan, Basira Karpinski,  Shafi Skatharoudis and NurQalbia Emmons.

IMG_0682

Universal Worship, Noor Sufi Center, Rocky River, OH with Cherag Wadud

A Message from your new Vice-President
Announcement of Transition and Board summary
View this email in your browser

A Message From The Vice-President

March 4, 2017

Dearest Cherags;
I am writing from the northern hemisphere where the emergence of spring and the increasing light provides the prompt and the inspiration to reconnect and engage at a time when our role as divine lights is much needed.  Fueled by the recognition that we are the lamps that hold the accommodation, the fire and light of the stream of prophecy, we are reminded that we bring that which is so necessary in the chaotic atmosphere of the world at this time.
As active divine lights we are part of building a global shared consciousness; we contribute to the collective intention, planting the seeds of potential and inspired action. Living in the divine light of the Universal Worship altar we are bringing forth the divine atmosphere and attunement as we hold a living connection to all of the prophets and prophetesses throughout time. Our task cannot be understated.
~Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan~
“Keep burning the fire I have lighted. It may seem very small to you, but one tiny flame, if kept burning, can be the means of illuminating a whole city, and someday many lamps that shall be lighted at this small fire will give light to thousands. This fire of truth is now lighted, and its light will never go out. Your work is to tend it and keep it burning. The fuel needed is your every thought, your faith, your prayers, and your sacrifices. You cannot see the result of this.Light can never be lost. I have kindled this small fire from which millions of lamps can be lit. Their number cannot be reckoned, and millions upon millions of other fires can now be lighted…
Murshid further describes the sacred task associated with fulfilling our purpose:
                  ….Our Sacred Task, then, is to awaken among those around us and among those whom we can reach in the first place, the spirit of tolerance for the religion, scripture and the ideal of devotion of one another; our next task is to make man understand people of different nations, races, and communities, also of different classes. By this we do not mean to say that all races and nations must become one, nor that all classes must become one; only what we have to say is that whatever be our religion, nation, race or class, our most sacred duty is to work for one another, in one another’s interest and to consider that as the service of God.…  The whole humanity is as one single body, and all nations and communities and races as different organs, the happiness and well-being of each of them is the happiness and well-being of the whole body.

With inspiration, commitment to the task and a deep devotion to serve, I invite all of us to connect; to build an Akasha together. Let’s collectively explore the ways and means to continue to build the magnetism and power of the Universal Worship and to strengthen our role as divine lamp lighters holding this attunement at this time. I welcome the connection, your thoughts and inspiration.

In service, love and devotion,
Amina Linda Hall, 2nd Vice President of the Universal Worship

ANNOUNCEMENT and BOARD SUMMARY

Announcement of Transition from Pir Zia

Dear Companions on the Path,
Having recently met with the Worldwide Message Council at Fazal Manzil, I am writing to let you know of some transitions in the leadership of the Activities that comprise our international Order.
Two Activity leaders are stepping down after serving with great dedication for many years. These are Shahabuddin Less, who has been the 1st Vice President of Universal Worship, and Zarifah Kadian, who has been Co-1st Vice President of Kinship. Both have made very important contributions to our work in the course of their service in these roles. I hope you will join me in conveying deep gratitude to them.
Zumurrud Butta, who has been the 2nd Vice President of Universal Worship, will now become the 1st Vice President of this Activity. The new 2nd Vice President, I am pleased to announce, is Amina Hall. In her new capacity Amina will work closely with Tara Muir, who has long provided crucial support to the Universal Worship in North America.

Finally, the decision was taken in the Message Council to recognize the Knighthood of Purity as a fully constituted Activity—the sixth Activity of The Inayati Order (the others being, of course, Esoteric School, Kinship, Universal Worship, Healing, and Ziraat). The Chancellor of the Knighthood, Suhrawardi Gebel, will henceforth represent the Knighthood in the Message Council. It is anticipated that in the future a 2nd Vice President from another continent will be appointed to join Suhrawardi in this task.

May the Message of God reach far and wide!

Yours ever,

Pir Zia

Board of Trustees for Universal Worship

The Board of Trustees for the Universal Worship met on February 4, 2017 in person & by video conference. The Members of the Board currently are Amina Hall (NY), Tara Muir (FL), Jessica Bromby (FL), Subhan Burton (GA), Daania Kester (CO), Jabbar Briggs (NY) and Lorell Frysh (GA). Amina Hall was wholeheartedly welcomed to her new position as Second Vice-President of the Universal Worship. Jabbar was invited as a new Board member and Siraj.

We had a wide ranging discussion on future activities: inviting younger Cherags to join the Board; fundraising and funding; training and continuation of curriculum development; annual or biannual meetings for Cherags.

May 2020 will see the 100th anniversary of the Universal Worship. How will we celebrate this?

We sincerely hope that all Cherags will feel the wheel of inter-connectedness to the work and message of the Universal Worship in our time which seems sorely needed. We pray for guidance.

The meeting ended with Ya Musawwir and the Prayer for the Universel.

Copyright ©  2017 The Universal Worship, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you have indicated that you are a Cherag in the Universal Worship.

Our mailing address is:
The Universal Worship
5102 Swift Road
Sarasota FL 34231

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Blessed Cherags, Blessed Collaborators,

We are writing to reconnect, to rekindle the flame of friendship and attune together to the divine light of the prophets. We have much to celebrate and much to look forward to.

By way of reminder, in January of 2015 we asked you to support the Universal Worship with a donation of $10/month.  The goal was to develop a modern organization to spread the message through the Universal Worship.

Many of you generously stepped forward and committed, and as a result we now have a professional website, TheUniversalWorship.org, that describes our history and mission, and has links to participating Cherags.  Thank you for your positive and supportive response. We will continue to build the magnetism of the site and invite you to participate by providing your thoughts, sermons, and pictures.  We also plan to honor world faith traditions and holidays and welcome your help in creating short descriptions that we can post (this can include videos too).

Given that the training of Cherags is essential to developing a body of people who take the Universal Worship into new venues with confidence and faith, our next step is to build a website specifically to support Cherags. This site is planned to provide resources such as on-line training, resources such as scripture readings or music. Once built, we would also like to create and host professional videos for both our websites.

For those of you who were not there, we had a very powerful and inspirational time at the 2106 Parliament of World Religions It was so moving to have participants bring their scriptures to be represented on the altar.  People expressed amazement at the idea that a service honoring all religions existed, and it was clear that the Universal Worship answers a need of humanity to see the good in all religions.  Especially now, when ideals are sacrificed to power, the Universal Worship’s message of tolerance, of a community in the Divine, is more important than ever. We hope to present again at the Parliament in the fall of 2018. Registration opens this August; please try to join us.

We are fortunate to have all of us working as active Cherags; our collective dedication ensures that we are bringing Universal Worship to the community of the world. Let’s continue to work together to fully manifest the vision and commit to monthly support for the Universal Worship.  If you already subscribe, please consider an additional donation.

Holding you in appreciation and divine light.

Amina and Tara

You can set up monthly payments to the Universal Worship by credit card here or mail checks payable to the Universal Worship, 5102 Swift Road, Sarasota FL 34231.  Donations are tax deductible in the US.

Dear Sister and Brother Cherags,

In seeking wisdom about an appropriate response to the current cries of humanity from around the globe, we sought the wisdom provided by Murshid.

The following passages from The Religious Gathekas and Addresses to Cherags seemed helpful to focus our intention on responding to those cries. Let us work collectively with intention and focus with these readings and the  daily practice listed below for the next 7 days.

In service and with great love,
Amina and Tara

Readings

Religious Gatheka Number 17    The Message of Unity

The Sufi Message is a reminder to humanity, not to anyone nation, but to all, not to one, but every creed, a reminder of the truth taught by all the great teachers of humanity that God, Truth, Religion are one, duality only a delusion of human nature. Think then, what a great service lies before this message. At this time when nation is against nation, race against race, when the followers of one religion are constantly working against the followers of another religion, class working against class; Competition, hate, prejudice prevailing everywhere. What will be the outcome? What can poison produce? Not nectar, only poison.

The message is not for one nation, race, or community it is as already stated for the whole of humanity. Its one and only object is to bring about a better understanding between the divided sections of humanity by awakening the consciousness to the fact that humanity is one family. If one person in the family be ill or unhappy, certainly he must cause unhappiness to the whole family. Even this is not the most appropriate simile. Humanity is one body, the whole life being one in its source and in its goal, its beginning and its end.  No nation, race or section can be considered as a separate part of humanity.

Message to Cherags

The Message is like the rainwater: every year it falls, the water is preserved. The rain which fell ten years ago may still be there, it is nothing but water. Yet the water of this year has its own significance, its own purpose. The past does not supply the need of the present, nor does the present supply the need of the future. The need of every time is to be fulfilled at that time. Therefore the workers of the Message need not feel that because there is the water kept in the reservoir for twenty years, we do not need the rain just now. Their work is to engage themselves in the present supply and to use it for the best advantage of the world. Thus, If the Cherag is qualified in taking the Service correctly, that is not enough. She or he  must be able to inspire those who come in touch with the Message, and deepen in their hearts that belief which is the main object of the whole Message.

Practice

This takes about 20 minutes. Begin sitting comfortably, or standing. To “find” a candle, experience it in the creative imagination.

Towards the One The Perfection of Love, Harmony and Beauty
The Only Being.
United with all the Illuminated Souls
Who form the Embodiment of the Master, The Spirit of Guidance

Experience the aura.
Find the light of the Eternal Candle in the crown chakra. Let it pervade the aura.

Say the prayer Saum

In the aura by the right hand, find the candle of the Hindu religion.
To the glory of the Omnipresent God,
we kindle this light symbolically representing the Hindu religion.

[quiet meditation for several moments]

We offer to the Omniscient God our reverence, our homage
and our gratitude, for the Light of the Divine WISDOM

In the aura by the right elbow, find the candle of the Buddhist religion.
[after each candle, do meditation and the corresponding offering]
In the aura by the right shoulder, find the candle of the Zoroastrian religion.
In the aura by the left shoulder, find the candle of the Jewish religion.
In the aura by the left elbow, find the candle of the Christian religion.
In the aura by the left hand, find the candle of the religion of Islam.
*In the right breast, find the candle for the Divine Masculine.
*In the left breast, find the candle of the Divine Feminine.
In the Secret (center) heart, find the candle for Truth.

(* Optional)

With all candles glowing, say the prayer Salat
Say the prayer Khatum

May the blessings of God rest upon you,
May God’s peace abide with you.
May God’s presence illuminate your heart,
Now and forevermore,
  Amen.

Visualize the blessing going forth into the world.

The Role of the Universal Worship in the Crisis of Our Planet

Shahabuddin Less, Head of the Universal Worship,

North America

The Universal Worship is not only about bringing religions together, but also about connecting us to the living stream of prophecy in the world today. After Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets, humanity is evolving globally towards more collective action. As a result, our prophets are no longer individuals, but rather groups of people with shared visions and knowledge—such as scientists, artists, community workers—who come together to fulfill the function of the Prophet. The Universal Worship has a key role as one of these collectives, as we hold a living connection to all prophets and prophetesses throughout time.

Guidance for our role as the Universal Worship in the world can be found in the prayer Rasul, which is about prophecy. Its first words tell us that one of the tasks of the prophet is that of warner, “Warner of coming dangers, wakener of the world from sleep.” The dangers to our planet are manifest and many, and the eternal calling of the prophet is to alert society that a change in course is necessary. By our connection to the prophets of the past, the Universal Worship can serve as conduit to awaken people to the dangers of the present.

The world has been here before. We find in the sacred scriptures, history books, our myths, and the traces left in the ground of our planet that civilizations have been lost when the earth has been abused and the warnings went unheard. But there is also good grounds for optimism, for our presence on the earth today is testament that the warnings were not always unheeded.

Hazrat Inayat Khan noted that there were different degrees of warning from God, starting with subtle indications that if ignored become more direct and intense—in effect, going from a whisper in the ear to a kick in the pants. In the present milieu, we must warn without preaching. All the information is out there already; what is needed now should be conveyed as an experience, as something felt. Beyond the reach of the clamor of words, the Universal Worship can be the Voice in the Wilderness, guiding people to an inner, visceral realization. So, for example, a Universal Worship service with the theme of Judgment Day could guide people to feel the destruction of the earth, and to draw meaning from that experience. In the same way a mother feels sympathy before arising to answer her child’s cries, we can focus on first awakening the feeling of the cry of the earth. From that feeling, the appropriate actions will follow.

The prayer Rasul also invokes, The sun at the dawn of creation, the light of whole universe. At one level, this is a reminder to honor our physical connection with the sun. Sun worship was very much a part of early religious belief, but with the rise of monotheism we have cut ourselves off from the energy of the sun—not just symbolically, but also literally. Humanity now is working its way out of using the energies of black oil and coal, to using light directly to meet our needs. In this, scientists are leading the way, but religion is even more fundamental in shaping and honoring our relationship with the energies of the world.

You may be aware that the Vatican sponsored a forum this year to ask what role religion can play in developing a sustainable relationship with Nature. The Universal Worship can do analogous work, exploring the role of religion in our stewardship of the planet, and transforming society to have a positive relationship with all planetary energies. I encourage Cherags to do this at the most local level. We currently have Healing Cherags; we might also have Ecological Cherags, whose inner concentration would be on awakening, and whose outward work would be to bring the Spirit of Guidance to their own communities. Because the Universal Worship is inclusive, it is also a symbolic forum where many religions can come together in a safe place. Perhaps we can work with other community spiritual leaders to use religion as a force for repairing the earth rather than as a cover for consumption.

We seek refuge in thy loving enfoldment.” Love needs to be involved in this change, and we should bring the ideal of loving enfoldment into our lives and work. And it is very important that this enfoldment always includes any or all of those who may oppose our goals. It is through awareness of God’s unending love for us all that the next steps will come.

Thou art the life eternal. The task of awakening the world is not hopeless. In fact, it has been done time and time again, as humanity awakens and then falls back asleep. This is the eternal cycle, and the Prophet has an essential role to play. Thou art our Savior. It is our privilege to be able to take part, in any small way.

Letter from the Board of the Universal Worship
Photos from the Parliament of the World’s Religions

unnamed

Cherags at the Parliament of World Religions, Salt Lake City, October 2015.

Letter from your Board members
Dearest Cherags,
We are writing to reconnect and engage at a time when our role as divine lamp-lighters is much needed. In June, Shahabuddin wrote on the Role of Universal Worship in the Crisis of Our Planet:

“The Universal Worship is not only about bringing religions together, but also about connecting us to the living stream of prophecy in the world today. After Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets, humanity is evolving globally towards more collective action. As a result, our prophets are no longer individuals, but rather groups of people with shared visions and knowledge — such as scientists, artists, community workers — who come together to fulfill the function of the Prophet. The Universal Worship has a key role as one of these collectives, as we hold a living connection to all Prophets and Prophetesses throughout time.”

Moved by this message, more than 50 Cherags from around the globe met with Shahabuddin, Annapurna and us in Salt Lake City to attend the 2015 Parliament of World’s Religions. We joined 10,000 participants from over 80 countries, representing more than 50 different religious and spiritual traditions in sessions, heart to heart conversations and shared prayer and practice. The theme of the conference, “Reclaiming the Heart of Our Humanity — Working for a World of Compassion, Peace, Justice and Sustainability” provided us with a completely natural connection to the conference topics and to others joining the conference.

unnamed-1

On each day of the Parliament we participated in worship, rich conversation and shared prayer with participants. The Universal Worship hosted a booth with a standing Universal Worship altar (photo below). Cherags presented two Universal Worships as part of the sessions for large groups. We also joined in the presentations of our brothers and sisters from the Abrahamic Reunion, the Rainbow of Being Journey and the Ruhaniat.

unnamed-2

The powerful and sacred aura of the Universal Worship service, the attunement of the Cherags and the beauty of the atmosphere of our entourage provided a powerful magnet, and we made many deep connections with people embodying thoughts, feelings and traditions from around the world. We all expressed the joy of being fully engaged in our sacred task.

Our Sacred Task is to awaken among those around us and among those whom we can reach in the first place, the spirit of tolerance for the religion, scripture and the ideal of devotion of one another; our next task is to make man understand people of different nations, races, and communities, also of different classes. By this we do not mean to say that all races and nations must become one, nor that all classes must become one; only what we have to say is that whatever be our religion, nation, race or class, our most sacred duty is to work for one another, one another’s interest and to consider that as the service of God… The whole humanity is as one single body, and all nations and communities and races as different organs, and the happiness and well-being of each of them is the happiness and well-being of the whole body.
~Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan~

In the spirit of this akasha, we invite all of us to connect again. We would like to plan to hold within the next year another large gathering of Cherags, in order to build the magnetism and power of the Universal Worship and to strengthen our role as divine lamp-lighters holding this attunement.

With great love and many blessings
The Universal Worship Board of Trustees:
Shahabuddin David Less
Tara Anne Muir
Jessica Bromby
Daania Rebecca Kester
Subhan Inayat Jim Burton
Lorell Frysh
Amina Linda Hall

Link to videos of services
http://livestream.com/accounts/3116574/events/4361397/videos/102256287

All religious observances were at 7 AM. Nonetheless, about 100 people and all the Cherags came to each of the two services. Here, Rev. Cherag Hermione Garland lights the candle. Sri Karuna Mayee with her group (in the background) played before the service. (The candles were electric!)

The booth for the Universal Worship was a gathering place! It was moving to see how people were deeply affected by seeing the altar, with all the scriptures, for the first time. It was a kindling of the light in the mind and heart. The Sikhs and the Bahai brought their holy books and asked for them to be included as well. Pictured from left: Mahdiah Jacobs-Kahn, Subhan Burton & Kismet Weeber (standing).

The Women’s Walk for Peace was inaugurated by Elana Rosenman & Siham Halabi of the Abrahamic Reunion. Cherags joined with hundreds of women walking silently, arm in arm with thoughts of peace, through the vast halls of the Salt Palace. (In the back, men participated as well.) We held olive branches cut by Elena’s husband from their own trees.

Copyright © 2015 The Universal Worship, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you have indicated that you are a Cherag in the Universal Worship

Our mailing address is:
The Universal Worship
5102 Swift Road
Sarasota, Fl 34231

 

 

The Sufi Order of Rochester Center for Sufi Studies, 494 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607, the Carriage House behind the AAUW mansion (Carriage House is 492).