Murshida Fazal Mai Egeling (27 March 1926 From Murshida Fazal Mai's autobiographical sketch)
I was born on 27th March 1861 in the Netherlands. (Murshida Fazal Mai first describes her childhood and youth which were happy – in spite of the early loss of her loving parents – and her equally happy married life. She got a Christian orthodox education and later on became a member of the Theosophical Lodge.) After my husband had passed away I went to Switzerland to live near Lausanne with friends. One day I received a letter from a friend, telling me that he had been elected as the secretary of Murshid Inayat Khan and that he accompanied Murshid, who was traveling in Switzerland to give a series of lectures, and who intended to give a lecture at Lausanne. My friend asked me to assist and so it happened that I was among the audience when Murshid came on the platform. Instantly the revelation came to me: "That is the Master I have been waiting for and whom I have hoped fervently to have the privilege to see one day." It was this revelation that decided my further life, for there was for me but one step to take to become a mureed and to devote my life to the Master and his work.
When Murshid, on his next visit to Switzerland, proposed to me to come and live with him and his family, I did not hesitate for a single moment and answered: "Yes Murshid, I will come and live with you." – Then I arranged everything for moving to Suresnes, where I arrived half April 1922 and was received by Begum and the children, Murshid and the brothers being in Holland. We liked one another from the beginning and when Murshid and the brothers arrived, we were instantly aware that we were of one spirit and that we had one Ideal: to devote our life to the great Cause of humanity. The day of my arrival at Suresnes, Begum had given me a letter from Murshid in which he told me that my Sufi-name would be "Fazal Mai" meaning "Blessed Mother" and that our house would be called "Fazal Manzil", meaning "Blessed House".
A blessed time for me and the few mureeds who were in Suresnes were the Summer-classes in the garden of Fazal Manzil that first year, when we were sitting in a circle under the trees listening to the lectures Murshid gave us. Then during the next two years the summer-classes were given in the same way only with more mureeds.
On the morning of Viladat-day (5th July) 1922 I received my ordination as a Cheraga and on Christmas-day of the same year Murshid made me a Siraja.
At the beginning of December 1922 I started the first Sunday-service in Fazal Manzil, which I have officiated from that time on every Sunday at 4.30 in the afternoon.
On Viladat-day 1923 I became a Shefayat and later on Kefayat and started once a week a private healing-group.
These two services in their simplicity and at the same time in their deep meaning, have become most precious to my heart. To me as a whole they are a meditation, an upliftment, a revelation to a greater consciousness, to a higher state of being. The Supreme Lord, the Illuminated Souls, whose words I pass on to the audience, are a reality to me and I know that I am cooperating with them and that they surround me when I am officiating.
On the morning of Christmas-day 1923 Murshid made me a Murshida and from that date on, every morning, a Blessing goes out from Fazal Manzil to the workers and the mureeds of every country. Beginning with the Messenger I bless with "Fazal" first those of India and America then Belgium, Holland, England, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, to end with Fazal Manzil, embracing them all together in one love-chord. I look at them all as to my children, sending them my loving thoughts, being happy when they are happy, praying for them in their illnesses and troubles. More and more I realize the privilege to be trusted by my Murshid with this precious trust, working in the inner planes to help to uplift mankind, to bring heaven nearer to earth and to bless my fellow men, whenever I feel inclined to do so.
Last summer I had a glorious vision of Murshid as the Buddha. I saw him as he used to sit before us in the silence. At both sides of him there were the mureeds in the shape of long rays of light. Around and above Murshid was a splendid colored light crowded with beautiful beings, who were radiating just as Murshid, and at his feet the whole humanity looking up at him. A big light came from above and shone upon the whole in different colors: golden, silvery and purple, at the bottom in a darker shade.
There is not much to say about the many difficulties I have had in my life; for when troubles have passed we look at them in a different way; then they are only important in so far as we know that we have gained wisdom by these very difficulties. Every sorrow as well as every pleasure has its value as a teacher. It is all given to find in the end our own self, to find the Christ within our own heart.
"Soli Deo Gloria" "Fazal" to every living being.
Miss Lucy M. Goodenough (Suresnes, August 1977, by one of her pupils, Michel Guillaume)
We know very little about the first period of Lucy Marian Goodenough's life. She was born on August 25th 1876, in London, second daughter of Colonel W. H. Goodenough (afterwards Lt. General Sir William Goodenough K.C.B.) and of Mrs. (afterwards Lady) Goodenough, nee Countess Kinsky.
She traveled quite a lot, "was a fearless rider", "a very delicate child, but inclined to take the lead over her sisters". Later on, during her Vienna period, she will be a leader in fashion for a season or two... . At the same time she was master of German and French and well versed in Italian. She even knew by heart Dante's "Divine Comedy".
Her social and rather mundane life suddenly came to an end when she came in contact with Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan in London during the First World War (probably in 1916). From this time onward her entire life became devoted to Pir-o-Murshid and settled upon Sufism.
Through her deep interest in Sufism, her staunch devotion to Murshid and her swift progress along the spiritual path, Murshid made her Khalifa, then Murshida, and finally she became the Silsila Sufiya of the Sufi Order, which means the link, necessary for the transmission of initiation in the Sufi Orders. Pir-o-Murshid had a seal made, after his own drawing, and gave this to her as a token of this greater responsibility. Except for her work for the Sufi Cause, she was then inclined to be remote, exclusive and lonely.
The death of the Master was a very severe shock to her. No doubt it has been so for many faithful mureeds. But on her this event seemed to work as a devastating earthquake and it affected her whole being. She fell seriously ill and had to live in seclusion for months together. She emerged from this period as a different person. Formerly she used to be shy; now by her mere presence, one could perceive a sort of mastery over herself and over others. She used to be exclusive; now she was ready to welcome each and all with a patience, a meekness and kindness, at times more than human. One would breathe in her presence that peace, that tranquility of mind which made one feel one's truer self.
After the passing away of Baroness d'Eichthal she became the National Representative for France and gathered around her a group of mureeds with a lively interest in the Sufi teachings. Some among them had known Pir-o-Murshid and had been in contact with him, such as Mesdames Yvonne Detraux, Yvonne Guillaume (both artists) and Marie-Madeleine Frere; and others were newcomers: Madame Antoinette Schamhart and Miss Adriana van der Scheer (Feizi). The former became a very close friend to Murshida, the latter a devoted attendant at the time of Murshida's ill health and overworking. A few other mureeds of Pir-o-Murshid, also attracted by that mind of rare insight and the utter purity of that soul, were Sheikh Sirkar van Stolk, the poetess Zebunnisa (Marchesa Farinola de Tanfani), Shahnawaz van Spengler, the philosopher Louis Hoyack and Wazir van Essen. All recognized in Murshida Sharifa a quality that was unique and found in her the reflection of the Master for whom they had such a great admiration and for whom they were longing so much.
All the above mentioned persons have been valuable workers in the Cause, each according to his talents and field of activity.
From 1930 to 1936 Murshida Sharifa gave lectures in Paris and in Vienna and held Sufi classes at Suresnes and in Paris. Her lectures were attended by a distinguished public and more members joined the Movement. About two hundred of her lectures were taken down in shorthand by Mademoiselle Jelila Guerineau and in 1962 a first volume, "Soufisme d'Occident", was issued, including ten lectures, giving a sample of Sufi-thoughts. More of her lectures are to be found in the French Sufi magazine "La Pensee Soufie". Murshida Sherifa also promoted the regular publication of "Le Message" from 1932 to 1937, mostly at the expense of her own meagre income.
But alas! her life and health were on the waning. And she deeply felt the inner strains and outer splits in the Sufi Movement, as if they were inflicted on her own body and heart. And it must be said here that the constant trust and confidence that the Master had shown to her during his lifetime now seemed to arouse prejudice, jealousy and distrust from several sides, now that he was no more there in person to keep things in balance and to help keeping each and all in harmony. Therefore she, the Silsila Sufiya, had to experience harshness and friends turning their backs upon her.
And so she passed away on the 8th of March 1937. In the house of a stranger, but on the land of Suresnes, dying in poverty, but rich in a hope and a faith which could not be overborne. With her pupils and friends and with all those who so immensely admired her she left the lasting influence of a living spirit and the true fragrance of holiness, as the memorial of a perfected mureed.
Sophia Saintsbury-Green (Written by Angela Alt)
Sophia Saintsbury-Green came of an old family and was reared in an atmosphere of tradition and good taste. One of her grandfathers had been High Sheriff of Berkshire; one was a boon companion of the Prince Regent and ran through three fortunes, which necessitated his son, Sophia's father, entering a profession (the first in the family to do so).
A born poet and writer of exquisite English prose, Sophia passed through a vivid girlhood of study and mental attainment. She was never taught her letters but at the age of three read aloud from a page of the Times. She was always drawn towards ancient philosophies and cultures, and at the age of five (while playing with toys upon the floor) broke into the conversation of two startled elders with her own original comment upon a two-thousand-year-old heresy which they were discussing!
In May 1921 Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan founded in London the Universal Worship as an exoteric activity of the Sufi Movement. He ordained Sophia Green the first Cheraga, an office she held alone for fifteen months, conducting the services regularly. On becoming a Siraja, further Cherags and Sirajs were ordained and Universal Worship spread to other countries. In 1921 she had been given the initiation of Khalifa (a position on the esoteric side of the Sufi Movement) and in 1923 she was created a Murshida.
She continued until her death to interpret the Message, and although never in good health valiantly declined to consider her personal comforts, up to the last year, rising above physical limitations to work undeterred for the welfare of others. The deep and esoteric side of the Message was part of her very being, but she joyed in the exoteric activity of Universal Worship; and symbolism also, as a world language appealed to her strongly, covering as it does in one sense yet suggesting and revealing to those who can see, the hidden mysteries of life. In the later years of her mission, in order to meet the requirements of listeners who were not at home in the English language (or else unfamiliar with esoteric lore) she altered her former methods and adopted a more simple and direct manner when speaking or lecturing. Perhaps in later years it was only the few who were privileged to listen when she was untrammelled by circumstances, and could freely rise and carry them to heights where momentarily under her inspiration they could view something of that heaven of wisdom which she longed to share with others.
Of her personality and temperament it is difficult to speak. She was not understood by many. But to some of those who knew her intimately the memory of certain characteristics shone out vividly: exquisite sensitiveness and refinement together with stoic courage; a habit of bearing misrepresentation and detraction silently; lightening quickness of perception and insight into human nature, and utter forgetfulness of self. Blessed be her memory.
Two of her books published by the Sufi Movement, reveal something of what the Messenger and the Message meant to Murshida Sophia. Their titles are: Memories of Hazrat Inayat Khan (London) and Wings of the World (London and Deventer).
Mrs. A. Martin (Murshida Rabia)
Jan. 2 - 14,
Blessed Murshid: This represents a short biography of my life.
My parents were born in Russia - and came to California in 1850 - and were pioneers. They married in San Francisco - and I was born here in 1871. I was reared and educated here - and graduated from the public schools.
I was always (as a child) deeply fond of older people - and wanted ever to converse with them. My folks had a difficult time of it I guess - because when I played with children - I wanted to lead them and they had to follow - or there was no play for me. My sense of Justice in my world of play was so marked - they did not understand me - and consequently my family felt I was too positive and all sorts of advice was unheeded. Of course you know - I could not accept less than the ideals of my childish heart - and somehow as I grew older I felt quite alone within the family circle.
I married at nineteen - my dear daughter was born a year later; this was real happiness, to train her in the principles of morality, justice and patience, and then the blessed music.
In my 28th year a deep grief came to me - and for four yrs. I suffered much - and the problem compelled me to search deeper for the questions I asked of God - for the reasons demanded an explanation and in this storm and tumult of a problem too sad for words - I was led into spiritual teachings and freed myself from pain and heart sorrow - and tested these principles and universal laws - and stayed here in this form. After certain realizations came in the secret place of my own heart - I gave all to Allah and studied, served, prayed ever - to realize His laws - love - mercy and justice. This period of my life I call the reconciliation and spiritual regeneration, all praises to Allah.
I was not satisfied with the Western teachings, so made an independent study of comparative religions - and prayed Allah to lead me to the source - as thus far it was only drinking from a brook instead of the Ocean of Reality. Lecturers, teachers and advanced students here, I met always - but none touched my heart's longing - they all represented more or less the circumference. I longed for the center. Then Allah sent my blessed Murshid, spiritually - and later in form. These mystical and blessed experiences I cannot give to the world - to me they are too sacred - this may be selfishness - I cannot share them. My blessed Murshid's Murshid too - may Allah glorify you both - came to me - and it can never be told in words - realizations which belong only to the Rabia not of this world - and so all I care for in this life is to worship Allah - love and serve Him - and Murshid and all Murshids in chain. May Allah keep my heart pure and my spirit humble (Amen).
Humbly - (w.s.:) Rabia.
(Ada Martin) Please Note: We have an artist - and also a Rabbi Priest - in our family. Also I have almost a passion for the study of philosophy and in New York I found there were others (men) of my family branch who likewise gave a lifetime to this study.
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