Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sufi Institute

The Sufi Institute of Washington

Located just off of 16th Street NW on Manchester Drive is this stately building. Upon closer inspection a sign announced it as the Sufi Institute. I've searched high and low on the internet looking for information, but have turned up nothing. If anyone knows anything about this building and what goes on there, leave a comment and fill me in!

Of course, at the very least, I have deduced that activities surrounding the mystical branch of Islam--Sufism--are housed here. Beyond that and sans ringing the doorbell, my powers of deduction are useless!

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential


Godinla said...

I looked for it too but came up dry. if/when you find out what the hell this is, let us all know. The truth is out there.


Hilda said...

Very handsome building.

An itch you can't scratch — I'm sure that's so irritating for you. I hope you find out more about it.

Virginia said...

Well it's a lovely old home and you captured it well. What goes on in there? Only the Shadow knows!

Debi said...

I wonder if knowing Arabic might help in the search. I've always thought Sufism was rather enigmatic!

You are doing a great service by documenting the images of all these religious entities.

Debi said...

Not one to let a challenge go unmet, especially a mystery, I google searched the address.

According to this site it is called Sufism Reoriented. Search on that instead and a whole variety of hitherto unknown information can be learned.

Wayne said...

I Googled Sufi Institute in DC the first hit was DC Confidential.

I went to the site Debi found. Did anyone look at the dollar amount of total assets for tax exempt organizations? What is that number? Is that a bazillion or a gazillion? Combined they have more money than God. Which is ironic in a way.

Cele said...

Okay I'm not sure I just wasted an hour of my life on this, but it's that bulldog anal retentive mentality of mine. Wow they are hidden deep, usually I can find just about anything. What is the exact physical address?

Anonymous said...

hello friend!....would you mind if we xlinks? link is, feel free to check it out...take care friend ^_^

Brian said...

Wonderful photograph. And it's probably better not to know... Our imaginations are usually so much more creative than the boring old truth, anyway! :)

Maya said...

Oooh, mysterious!

D.C. Confidential said...

GIL: I think I've started a research movement here! I kept thinking I was Googly-inept, but you and others have confirmed that I was not. Apparently the Sufi Institute is a mystery? I may just have to suck it up and ring the doorbell.

Hilda: For Federalist style architecture, it is pretty handsome! And yes, this is an itch that's bugging me. I'll get to the bottom of it, though.

VJ: I think this is new construction. It's too ginormous to be original to the neighborhood. Then again, for all I know, it's been around since the 1800s. Again, see note about ringing doorbell.

Debi: Sufism includes the whirling dervishes, whose spinning dance, they believe, transports the spinner to a high plain and consciousness. Sufism and mystical Islam fascinate me.

Per your dogged research, I'm intrigued by what you found. Interestingly, the link tells us the name of the organization and the address for the building is correct. When I googled Sufism Reoriented, it took me this website. In digging around in there, I note that they're building a sanctuary in northern California. That still makes the building in D.C. a mystery. All I can ascertain from the website is that the first Murshida of Sufi Reoriented was Ivy Oneida Duce, "a businesswoman, magazine editor and Washington hostess". Perhaps this was the Duce's home? Must keep digging, I suppose. Ironically, Sufism Reoriented is based in Walnut Creek, California. I lived there for nearly eight years and never knew that!

Wayne: Most churches generally have more money than God. It's what they do with that money in God's name that is always so interesting.

Cele: I'll have to make you cookies or something to compensate you for the hour of your life you spent on this. If it's any comfort, I've spent an equal amount of time trying to figure this one out, too. The physical address is 1615 Manchester Lane NW, Washington, DC. Let me know if your mad research skillz turn something up.

Gil: Welcome to D.C. Confidential. Thanks for visiting. You're welcome to add a link for my blog to yours if you'd like.

Brian: Given the depth of the mystery here, I'm beginning to think I don't want to know. If there's one thing I've learned in D.C. is, if it isn't transparent it probably means there's an element of clandestine activity going on and, as the saying goes around here, "If I tell you what I do, I'll have to kill you."

Maya: Mm. Quite.

D.C. Confidential said...

P.S. I meant to say to everyone, thanks for digging around and trying to help me find answers to this mystery. I really appreciate it!

Dusty Lens said...

Never heard of it. But this looks like a period mansion.

Merisi said...

Maybe it is a brick and mortar "Tax Shelter"? ;-)

D.C. Confidential said...

Rob: I hadn't either. As for the building itself, I think it's a modern replica of older architecture.

Merisi: More than likely!

Debi said...

Aw, come on, Google-eyed-Googlers! A search for "Sufism Reoriented Washington" reveals all.

So sayeth the Master. ;)

D.C. Confidential said...

Debi: Tried that. The results I got weren't that much more revelatory than what I dug up earlier. Did you get something in your Google search I didn't? Inquirying minds want to know. (Or be enlightened, as may be more appropriate for the topic.)

Anonymous said...

It's part of the Sufi Reoriented movement. It's home to Sufi people in the DC area. The Sufi Reoriented has NOTHING to do with the Islamic brand of Sufism which includes the spinning dance.
Hope this clears so mystery, I'm trying to do research on this because I think its creepy, so if anyone has the website links to the tax information it would be appreciated.

me said...

I have been associated with Sufism ReOriented (not a formal member) for over 40 years. They are incredibly harmless. The reorientation is toward Avatar Meher Baba, who reoriented the group in 1952. They have nothing whatever to do with modern Islam. There were a handful of Druzes as members, but Druze has been formally separated from Islam (with the usual murderous oppression coming from the Islamic community) for about 1000 years.

I would not characterize them as a "movement" as they are not moving anywhere nor do they intend to move anywhere nor garner members nor convert people. In fact, for decades I tried to become a member and was not accepted (as a formal member). Although I gotta say, they treated me better than any group of people I have ever been associated with, and I am not speaking of just the leader, Murshida Carol Conner.

I have never been to the Washington center, but hope to this Summer of 2010. It does really look incredibly beautiful.

If your looking for cult behavior, you are looking in the wrong place. I have never given them a cent, except perhaps to buy a reasonably priced book now and then. I was sent $350 cash money unsolicited from the Murshida (leader) when I complained to her in a letter that I could not afford automobile insurance. This was perhaps 5 years ago.

Cults are easy to get into and difficult to get out of. Spiritual schools or groups are difficult to get into and easy to get out of. This is the case with Sufism Reoriented. There is no pressure whatsoever to be a member to to leave the group, except, if you leave, you are no longer a formal member. But I know several people whose spiritual consternation was such that they opted to "leave" the group, and they may no longer be "members", but they are welcomed with the members and still seem to have a good relationship with the Murshida.

Finally, although I have been physically separated from the group for about 14 years, I still think that they are wonderful people and the Murshida is the finest human being that I have ever had the honor of knowing.

me said...

And, also, to the best of my knowledge, no one in Sufism ReOriented know Arabic. It is not part of being a member, although some individuals might know Arabic or business purposes.

amerbud said...

Ladies and Gentlemen, I thought people in DC had a natural flair for investigation.

I'll give you a hint. If you do an image search for Sufism Reoriented, the first thing you'll find is their latest in a long series of controversies that they've carefully PR'd out of existence.

I've been researching facts that got disappeared in the transition from Inayat Kahn to Rabia Martin to Ivy Duce in the '40's, and guess what? It's a cult. I was a member of it when, in the late '70's, Ivy Duce announced in a series of Friday night meetings, "We. Are. A. Cult." She was a Guru, and Gurus have Guru cults, that was her attitude.

If you searce my blog for "Sufism Reoriented" you'll find the results of my reasearches so far. They cover their tracks pretty well, but since I was an initiated member from 1971 to 1983, I have some instincts about where they tend to leave evidence lying around.

Oh, and hey, I almost forgot to mention. The internatonal Meher Baba Community, which is much larger than Sufism Reoriented, and which actually does follow Meher Baba, disagrees with them about just about everything.

amerbud, aka Sufi Deep Throat (hehehe)

Anonymous said...

There are approximately ninety followers of Meher Baba living in this building, called "Manchester House," in adjacent buildings, and a few who "commute" from neighboring communities. It is an ashram dedicated soley to devotion of God and divinty and to Avatar Meher Baba. What "goes on" in this building is simply this: group meals, meditation, plays, programs and poetry readings (Sufis traditionally express their devotion through the Arts), classes, and occasional celebrations, on occasions such as Meher Baba's birthday. Sufism Reoriented has no affiliation whatsoever with Islam and the group has no interest in proselytizing, converting, or recruiting new members. Instead, new students are drawn to it through their love of Meher Baba or their attraction to the Murshid (Teacher). It is not a cult. It is an authentic spiritual Order whose members are dedicated to their individual spiritual growth and that of the group. They have complete freedom, live independent lives, work for a living, and are responsible members of their community. It is not a wealthy organization. The beautiful building and grounds are renovated and maintained by the intense labor and donations of the students, and students donate what they choose and can afford. There is absolutely no reason to fear, criticize, or project mystery on the group -- its members are kind, honest, and responsible people dedicated to the highest principles of human behavior and growth.

jackbp said...

If you are interested in finding out more about the group and my history with the group may I suggest my blog:

Fool on the Hill said...

What utter garbage.
My grandmother WAS Ivy Duce.
They're innocuous seekers of enlightenment that simply don't recruit and actually turn away a lot of people
That upsets a lot of people, too. They want their way, and it didn't happen and they get upset. I saw it repeatedly.

I was never encouraged to join, but got a heck of an upbringing reading virtually every religious text the world around (as well as a goodly chunk of philosophy, etc.), all voluntarily.

Never joined.

Simply put, there is no big mystery. Go say, "Hi". Talk, then walk away. Happy to answer any questions. I'm not religious, myself, but I was right at the center of it all as her grandchild. It's really no big deal, and I was surrounded by very wonderful people who really spoke little that was negative about anyone (it was always discouraged to judge others). I watched the man who became my stepfather later grow from a classic hippy to a hard-working banking executive that had ethics that were incredibly strong. So many of them have my respect. Go say, "HI!" There is no mystery.

Anonymous said...

By Inayat Khan, who brought Sufism to America from India in 1911.
"I found mv work in the West the most difficult task that I could have ever imagined. To work in the West for a spiritual Cause to me was like travelling in a hilly land, nett like sailing in the sea, which is smooth and level. In the first place I was not a missionary of a certain faith, delegated to the West bv its adherents, nor was I sent to the West as a representative of Eastern cult bv some Maharaja. I came to the West with His Message, Whose call I had received, and there was nothing earthly to back me in mv mission, except my faith in God and trust in Truth. In the countries where I knew no-one, had not any recommendations, was without ant- acquaintances or friends, I found myself in a new world, a world where commercialism has become the central theme of life under the reign of materialism. In the second place there was a difficulty of language, but that difficulty was soon overcome; as I worked more so my command of language improved.The prejudice against Islam that exists in the West was another difficulty for me. Many think Sufism to be a mystical side of Islam, and the thought was supported by the encyclopedias, which speak of Sufism as having sprung from Islam, and they were confirmed in this by know­ing that I am Moslim by birth. Naturally I could not tell them that it is a Universal Message of the time, for every man is not ready to under­stand this. Many felt that the idea of universal brotherhood was a sin against the modern virtue, which is called .national patriotism. My Message of peace was often interpreted as what they call pacifism, which is looked upon unfavourably by many. Many there are in the West who are prejudiced against anything Eastern, either thinking that it is too foreign to their nature or assuming that the Eiastern people, who cannot even take care of themselves, and are backward in the modern civilization, are behind time; though in philosophical and literary circles the philo­sophy of India is considered to be antique.Besides, I often felt as an obstacle on my path the colour prejudice that exists in different places in the West. Some separate the religion of the E.ast and West, saying that Eiastern religion is for the Eastern people and Christianity the Western religion for the West; for most of the pictures
of Jesus Christ are painted in the Western likeness, ignoring the fact that the Master was from the East.Many in the Western world are afraid of mystic or psychic or occult ideas, for it is something foreign to them, and especially a foreign representative of that is doubly foreign."

Anonymous said...

p.s. Murshid Inayat Khan passed the Order down to Murshida Rabia Martin of SF. She, at her death passed it to Murshida Ivy O. Duce, who appointed Murshid James MacKie, who appointed the present Murshida, Carol Conner. These people were and all are Real Teachers who are for the few, but work in the world for the benefit of all to lift humanity,especially to help the poor in the neighborhoods most needed. At Halloween they put on a huge event for anyone who want to take their children to the most wonderful, light (not the dark scary creatures that are associated with Halloween) time. The Order gives much food and new clothes to the under-served.