Read this piece by Sheikha Maryam Kabeer Faye which appeared recently in the Washington Post: http://tinyurl.com/25yhupo

My path from Judaism to Sufism

By Maryam Kabeer Faye

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, peace and blessings upon the prophets and messengers.

I would like to share with you an amazing tale.

Born in Hollywood into a Jewish family, I became an actress at the age of five and continued acting for the next 20 years. When I was 12, acting in a theater company in the San Fernando Valley, I was befriended by the assistant director who one day gave me a scroll he had made for me. It was a painting of an ancient man with a lantern and a staff, his long white beard and robe blowing in the wind. Inscribed upon it were the words: SEEK AND THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE. This message galvanized my soul, clearly revealing to me even then, the purpose and direction of my life.

Following this stirring message, for the next 50 years, I have been guided on a profound and amazing journey. I directly experienced things that are almost never discussed in the public forum and I believe they should be. And so, it is a blessing to share something of my journey with you here now.

I went to Berkeley in the 1960s and then was guided to India, Nepal, and monasteries in Europe. Next I was guided to Jerusalem and Hebron (El Khalil). It was there, five minutes from the tomb of the Patriarch Abraham, that I met my first Sufi Master. He was a very ancient holy person, and in the holiness of that encounter I embraced Islam in the most natural and beautiful way.

What was offered was the outspread table of God's mercy and grace, a feast of generosity, kindness, love and knowledge. Since that moment of realization I have never left this table, but continued to welcome all to the feast.

As a practicing Muslim, I have studied deeply with Sufi Masters across the earth. On this journey throughout the world I have met wonderful wise people and appreciated their beautiful qualities and knowledge, discovering in this way the light of Islam, which was guiding them. What these educators of the soul taught was the very opposite of terrorism. It was a teaching of wisdom and mercy coming from the Source.

As a student of Islam, without any bias, I read the Holy Qur'an and noticed that every chapter begins, In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, and so considered again and again the importance of these divine qualities.

Reading Arabic, I discovered that the root of the word Islam is salaam, peace. What peace? The peace of surrendering, bowing down in prayer, thought and intention to the Creator, Who is Eternal Peace. This is the peace I discovered on my journey in search of liberating truth.

Studying the life of the Prophet, I learned that the example he established, which we are guided to follow, is mercy, diplomacy, charity, kindness and love, with special care for the disadvantaged and disenfranchised.

The many stories of the life of the Prophet bear witness to this, as does the Holy Qur'an in which God says to the Prophet. "And We sent you not except as mercy to the worlds."
Holy Qur'an (21:107)

In all the years of traveling, meeting, praying, studying, and sharing with Muslims across the earth, I have never met anyone espousing or practicing terrorism. The only battle I heard about and then became engaged in was the battle to overcome and transform the negative qualities within myself.

In seeking true peace, we need to be transformed. What is so greatly needed today to end the wars, heal the wounds, and guide the souls, is the light of the path taught by all the prophets and messengers leading most directly to the Merciful Lord.

I hope my book will help to usher in an epoch of brotherly and sisterly love, so needed in this time of war and destruction.

May our treatment of our fellow beings be as the Prophet Muhammad said:

"What actions are most excellent?
To gladden the heart of a human being,
To feed the hungry,
To help the afflicted,
To lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful,
To remove the wrongs of the injured,
That person is the most beloved of God
who does the most good to God's creatures."

Sheikha Maryam Kabeer Faye is a speaker and writer on Islam, Sufism, and spirituality. She is the author of the award-winning book, "Journey Through Ten Thousand Veils: The Alchemy of Transformation on the Sufi Path" (Tughra Books).