Murshids' Circle

The Mur­shids’ Circle is an advisory body to the Esoteric School of the Ruhaniat, working with and supporting the Pir in overseeing the substantive inner work of our lineage.  Specifically, this includes developing programs for the transmission of the teachings, reviewing all higher initiations, and making decisions that affect the spiritual mission and future of the Ruhaniat. The yearly in-person meeting of the Murshidas and Murshids provides the opportunity to deepen collaborations, share and develop practices, implement policies, and further cultivate love, harmony, and beauty in service to the spiritual awakening of humanity.

MURSHIDS' CIRCLE ANNUAL MEETING * PETALUMA, CA, NOV 2017 - Top left: Allaudin Ottinger, Saadi Douglas-Klotz, Tansen O'Donohoe, Khadija Goforth, Pir Shabda Kahn, Saul Barodofsky, Khabir Kitz, Abraham Sussman. Front Row: Wali Ali Meyer, Fatima Lassar, Leilah Be, Sophia Gita Onnen, Halima Sussman, Baraka von Kügelgen, Mariam Baker. Not pictured: Asha Greer, Darvesha MacDonald

Members of the Murshids' Circle are:

Murshida Mariam Baker

Mariam BakerFairfax, CA   Schedule     Website

"We come whirling out of nothingness. The stars make a circle and in the center we dance." Rumi

Mariam Baker, spiritual midwife, energy weaver, mother of five children, is a dedicated student of embodied spirituality.  She is interested in practical tools for personal and planetary growth and healing - a way of mysticism that is interwoven with everyday life.

Read more ...

Murshid Saul Yale Barodofsky (Hakim Sauluddin)

Saul BarodofskyCharlottesville, VA     Schedule     Website

Saul was born in Cleveland Ohio on January 20, 1939.  He lived in California from 1948 to 1977.  He was an original disciple of Murshid Samuel L. Lewis, to whom he was sent by his first teacher, Mother Mary of Mount Shasta.  He was initiated into Sufism in February of 1969 and made Murshid Sam’s Hakim (spiritual healer and jurist) in 1970.  He formed and has served as director of the Ruhaniat Healing activity, the Dervish Healing Order since 1977.

Read more ...

Murshida Leilah Be

Leilah BeHaiku, Maui, Hawaii    Schedule     Website

Leilah was born in Southern California in December of 1950.  As a child, she preferred to spend time a fair amount of time alone, especially time in nature.  At 19 she made some changes her life, becoming a vegetarian, beginning a yoga practice.  She began exploring sacred teachings and spiritual teachers with inclusive religious perspectives.  These were highlighted by Paramahansa Yogananda and Swami Satchitananda.

In 1975, she was introduced, through the book entitled, Toward the One, to the teachings of Pir O Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan, whose message contained the Unity of Religious Ideals, and was an inclusive path of the heart.  In the same book, she saw a photograph of Inayat Khan and had a strong experience of Darshan.

Read more ...

Murshida Khadija Goforth

Khadija GoforthSeattle, WA and New York City, NY

A student of Pir Moineddin, Murshid Wali Ali and pretty much everyone these days, Khadija accepts as a working hypothesis that “there is nothing but God,” seeking that experience everywhere.  A traveler on the Sufi path since 1973 she first encountered her beloved “Soofies” in her early 20's in a Beverly Hills theatre via Murshid SAM in the film “Sunseed.” 

Read more ...

Pir Shabda Kahn

shabda front photo.gifSan Rafael, CA   Schedule     Website

Shabda Kahn has been a disciple of Sufism since 1969.  He is a direct disciple of Murshid Samuel L. Lewis (Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti), and he worked closely with the great American mystic Joe Miller.  Shabda is currently the Pir (spiritual director) of the Sufi Ruhaniat International and the director of the Chisti Sabri School of Music.

Read more ...

Murshid Khabir Kitz

Khabir KitzDeer, AR     Website

Murshid Khabir Don Kitz was born in Woodbury, New Jersey.  He first thought he would become a Lutheran Minister but instead studied art at the Philadelphia College of Art.  In 1974, while living San Antonio, Texas he met his first Sufi teacher Shaikh Sarmad Brody.  Shortly after, he was ordained as a cherag by Pir Vilayat Khan.

Read more ...

Murshida Sophia Gita Onnen

Berlin, Germany     Website

Sophia Gita is a senior teacher in the Ruhaniat.  She was born in Germany and now lives in Berlin with her partner and five other Sufi friends in the Sufi Khankah Pankow.  For a long time she worked as a Gestalt psychotherapist, subsequent to teaching art in school.  During this time, she also raised her daughter Tanja.

Read more ...

Murshida Baraka von Kügelgen

Brita Baraka von KügelgenBerlin, Germany

Born in the south of Germany during the last phase of World War II her youth was marked by the urge of understanding the Holocaust.  Her family was not religious, so she got a very personal relationship to God with some mystical experiences.

When she was 17 years old she won a competition in writing essays and as a reward she asked for a book about the Religions of the World.  Later this seemed to her as being a symbol regarding her purpose in life.  But it took some steps till she came in contact with the Universal Sufism.

Read more ...

Murshida Asha Greer

Batesvilleasha greer photo, VA     Schedule     Website

Asha is a lifelong student of the human condition.  She is often intoxicated with awe, fascination, or bafflement about the nature of reality.  Her "her-story" includes a lifelong interest in comparative religion and its influence on the brain, thought, and behavior.  She was a co-founder of the Lama Foundation, an ecumenical spiritual community which has been thriving for nearly 50 years in the mountains of New Mexico.

Read more ...

Murshida Fatima Lassar

Fatima LassarPetaluma, CA

Fatima met Samuel Lewis in February 1967 at the age of 20 and received bayat the next month.  For the next four years, until his death January 15, 1971, a portion of 5 days per week were spent in his presence.  Learning, studying, practicing, eating, dancing, walking, working, observing, playing, and living with him filled this intense period of her life which did not end with his death.  It all continued seamlessly with various students assuming the roles he had given them.  She lived in Sufi community houses for 20 years.

Read more ...

Murshida Darvesha Victoria MacDonald

Darvesha3Silver City, NM     Schedule     Website

From a very early age Darvesha was concerned about class inequities and wealth distribution; but in high school, as a result of the death of a beloved parent, she developed a sense of the futility of life as it’s normally lived, and urgently wanted to find a way out of the meaningless cycle. She came to feel that nothing was as important as freedom, but understanding what that actually meant took another 20 years.

She went forth, full of questions and looking for answers. After college, she worked as a photojournalist for the San Francisco Chronicle, idealistically believing in the power of witnessing. But she did not find this to be the witnessing that leads to freedom, so she turned away from her career and began looking for answers within.

Read more ...

Murshid Wali Ali Meyer

Wali Ali MeyerSan Francisco, CA     Schedule     Website

Wali Ali was born in Mississippi in 1942.  He attended the University of Alabama at a time when it was a segregated institution and was named college newspaper editor of the year for his newspaper’s editorial campaign offering ethical and moral reasons to support integration.  He went to graduate school at Vanderbilt University on a fellowship, majoring in Philosophy, and minoring in Theology.  He received a M.A. in Philosophy and fulfilled all the requirements for the Ph.D. with the exception of completing his dissertation.

Read more ...

Murshid Tansen O'Donohoe

Hazelbury Bryan, United Kingdom     Schedule     Website

Tansen was born in Cheshire, England in 1950.  Professionally for many years he was a librarian in the university sector.  His first excursion into eastern spirituality was his early 20's through the book Zen Flesh Zen Bones, a strange coincidence perhaps.  A few years later the practice of Kung Fu ironically led him to the path of Yoga, one that he walked and taught for some years especially exploring Hatha Yoga, Nada Yoga, Mantra Yoga and meditation practices.

Read more ...

Murshid Saadi Neil Douglas-Klotz

Fife, Scotland     WebsiteSaadi Neil Douglas-Klotz

Saadi was a long-time student of the Murshid Moineddin Jablonski (d. 2001), the spiritual successor of Sufi Ahmed Murad Chishti. He was recognized as a teacher in the Sufi path in 1981 and a senior teacher in 1993. Under the name Saadi Shakur Chishti, he gives retreats internationally each year. In 1982, he co-founded the International Center for the Dances of Universal Peace. In 2003, he initiated the Ruhaniat European Summer School, a joint project with the main Ruhaniat teachers in Eruope (

Read more ...

Murshid Allaudin Ottinger

Allaudin OttingerKansas City, KS

Allaudin was born in Kansas City, Missouri.  A lifelong dedication to music, gathering people together and pursuit of the miraculous, led him to a study of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.  This in turn led him to find "Sufi Dancing" in the college town of Lawrence, Kansas circa 1976.  More experiences in Sufism followed, which led to a deep darshan with Murshid Moineddin in the spring of 1978.  Later that summer he again had the experience of darshan with Murshid Moineddin at the Mendocino camp.  At this camp Allaudin met many of the mureeds of Murshid SAM and one of his music mentors, Hamza El Din.

Read more ...

Murshid Abraham Sussman

Allaudin OttingerCambridge, MA     Schedule     Website

Murshid Abraham Sussman was born in October, 1945, just after WW II ended.  A child of the 60’s, he was a seeker and wanderer when he first met Samuel Lewis in San Francisco in 1969.  Abraham had read many books about spirituality, and had had some visionary experiences of the inner life, but it was only in his becoming receptive to the transmission, in person, of a God-realized teacher that the journey of awakened consciousness began to be real for him.  He took Bayat with Murshid Sam in early 1970, and was in awe (and still is) of the beauty and power of the community that had grown around Murshid Sam.

Read more ...

Murshida Halima Sussman

Halima SussmanCambridge, MA     Schedule     Website

Halima grew up on the east coast of the US, born to a family with strong Norwegian roots.  This family cultural legacy seeded a respect for socially responsible action and a deep love for art, music, science, and nature.
In 1969, she moved to San Francisco to go to art school, and by grace, soon found herself at a Sufi Dance meeting with Murshid SAM in Marin County, CA.  This encounter changed her life - the transmissional spark of that time still illuminates her way.  The Dances and Walks, along with their embedded wisdom teachings, have been the foundational practice of her spiritual journey.

Read more ...

Murshida Kamae Amrapali Miller, 1944-2011

Kamae MillerKamae was a writer, artist, MA (Creativity and Spirituality) and teacher of sacred movement in the Sufi tradition.  She facilitated workshops on women's spirituality, dance, walking meditation, and creativity in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Russia, and Australia.  Deeply devoted to harmony in the human family and for this planet she was engaged since her teenage years in being an active voice and body for Peace.

Kamae moved to San Francisco in the 1970's and began her formal Sufi training.  She immersed herself in the joys and rigors of daily life with the community at Khanqah SAM and with her guide Murshid Wali Ali Meyer.

Read more ...