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Guest Author: 
Imam Jamal Rahman

A question I am often asked is, "What is a Sufi?" Sufis are Muslims who emphasize essence over form and substance over appearance in their spiritual practices.

If the institution of religion can be compared to a cup and the water in it is the spiritual message, Sufis lament that we spend too much time polishing the outside of the cup and neglect to drink the water.

They do subscribe to outer rituals, but are mostly eager to do the inner work. They aspire to taste and live the essence of their faith. To give an example of the Sufi approach to teachings, a conservative Islamic theologian might say that a Muslim who does not perform the five cycles of daily prayers will suffer punishment in the hereafter. A Sufi teacher, on the other hand, will liken prayers to attendance at celestial banquets. A practitioner who fails to pray is missing out on the joy of the feast. That loss is the punishment.

Guest Author: 
Steven Crandell

                      

In Asia and Africa and in many indigenous cultures around the world, venerating ancestors is more than a tradition of the past. It's a way to live well and prosper today. In the Hebrew Bible, one of the most famous commandments says, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land THE LORD your God is giving you.”  Christian and Islamic faiths also see honoring parents as a virtue. All these traditions hold that individuals, as well as communities and even countries, benefit by respecting those who came before. In this blog post, SDI’s new Director of Content and Philanthropy, Steven Crandell, looks at our relationship with our ancestors (and the lack thereof). The ideas that follow are Steven’s own, not those of SDI. We offer them here  in our beloved public square of spiritual direction  in hopes they may of some use to our members as they guide their directees and as they follow their own spiritual paths. As always, we welcome your comments. How do you honor your own mother and father and the generations that came before? Or do you choose not to honor them? These questions are not always easy to answer, but the process of considering them can be fruitful.  -- Editor

A tree without roots cannot grow.

When we humans lose our roots, we too begin to wither — losing our balance, our health and our spiritual foundation.

I call this Ancestor Deficit Disorder — the new ADD. And I believe it is a spiritual epidemic.

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