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Heart Spacr the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship

Heart Spacr the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship

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Published by scparco
THE PHILADELPHIA BRANCH of the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship is a diversely
populated spiritual community of about four hundred individuals located in suburban
Philadelphia, which formed in the early 1970s around the Sri Lankan mystic Muhammad
Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. From 1971 to 1986, Bawa, as he is called, revealed the
profound Truths of God to these seekers through a spiritual path closely related to and
highly influenced by the mystical traditions ofthe Sufis and the Islamic faith. Although
Bawa’s physical presence was charismatic and, above all, unifying of the community,
since his passing in 1986 the community continues to thrive. Even though Bawa’s
physical presence is now absent from the Fellowship, the second generation of
Fellowshippers, who unlike the first generation have had little to no experience of one-on-one contact with Bawa, still feel drawn to the path and praise the benefits of growing
up in their loving community. This project explores how this community was created,
the nature of Bawa’s path, how it has functioned in the lives of both generations, and the
cultural phenomena of the community itself. The result ofthis inquiry is that the
Fellowship is a modern spiritual community inthe deepest sense. That is, it fulfills a
deeper yearning for qausi-religious spiritual work in itsmembers without excessive
restriction to their modern conceptions of freedom and individuality as might occur in a
stereotypical religious setting. At the same time, it caters to a deeper yearning for
communal living and mutually reciprocating relationships while encouraging its members
to remain fully engaged in wider society. This has occurred because, using Bawa’s path
as a foundation, the culture of the Fellowship is one that elevates the qualities which
allow one to function cohesively in a communal setting and in the modern technological
world to a divine level. Fellowship cultureencourages a unity of inner beliefs and
external actions, the transcendent and the mundane, the sacred and the secular.
THE PHILADELPHIA BRANCH of the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship is a diversely
populated spiritual community of about four hundred individuals located in suburban
Philadelphia, which formed in the early 1970s around the Sri Lankan mystic Muhammad
Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. From 1971 to 1986, Bawa, as he is called, revealed the
profound Truths of God to these seekers through a spiritual path closely related to and
highly influenced by the mystical traditions ofthe Sufis and the Islamic faith. Although
Bawa’s physical presence was charismatic and, above all, unifying of the community,
since his passing in 1986 the community continues to thrive. Even though Bawa’s
physical presence is now absent from the Fellowship, the second generation of
Fellowshippers, who unlike the first generation have had little to no experience of one-on-one contact with Bawa, still feel drawn to the path and praise the benefits of growing
up in their loving community. This project explores how this community was created,
the nature of Bawa’s path, how it has functioned in the lives of both generations, and the
cultural phenomena of the community itself. The result ofthis inquiry is that the
Fellowship is a modern spiritual community inthe deepest sense. That is, it fulfills a
deeper yearning for qausi-religious spiritual work in itsmembers without excessive
restriction to their modern conceptions of freedom and individuality as might occur in a
stereotypical religious setting. At the same time, it caters to a deeper yearning for
communal living and mutually reciprocating relationships while encouraging its members
to remain fully engaged in wider society. This has occurred because, using Bawa’s path
as a foundation, the culture of the Fellowship is one that elevates the qualities which
allow one to function cohesively in a communal setting and in the modern technological
world to a divine level. Fellowship cultureencourages a unity of inner beliefs and
external actions, the transcendent and the mundane, the sacred and the secular.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: scparco on Feb 16, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/02/2013

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BYBENJAMIN H. SNYDERHaverford College
 A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment for thedegree of Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology atBryn Mawr College.May 2003
 
 ii
 Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim
In the name of God, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate
 
 iii
CONTENTS
I
 NTRODUCTION
1
 
REFLECTIONS ON COMMUNITY AND SPIRITUALITYMETHODS
C
HAPTER 
1
: BAWA AND THE GENERATIONS
18
 
THE FOUNDING OF THE FELLOWSHIPTHE FIRST GENERATION AND THE EARLY YEARSTHE SECOND GENERATION AND THE LATER YEARSCONCLUSIONS
C
HAPTER 
2
: TRADITIONALISM, MODERNISM, AND THE PATH
47
 
LEARNING UNITY, LIVING UNITYFORGING A MIDDLE WAYA RELIGION FOR THE MODERN AGECONCLUSIONS
C
HAPTER 
3
: THE POND AND FELLOWSHIP CULTURE
68
 
WHY THE FELLOWSHIP WAS CREATEDPROBLEMS AND SPIRITUAL MATERIALISMA CULTURE OF UNITYEXPRESSING FELLOWSHIP CULTURECONCLUSIONS
C
ONCLUSION
86
 
ENTERING HEARTSPACE
A
PPENDIX: INTERVIEW SCHEDULE
97
G
LOSSARY
98
B
IBLIOGRAPHY
99

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