We’ve all seen images of children wounded and traumatized by the war
in Syria. For a moment, we feel for those caught in this far-away tragedy.
And then comes the familiar helplessness:
but what can I possibly do?
Here is our chance.



In early 2014, the Sufi Way began a funding appeal to raise money for the monastery of Mar  Elian in Syria, whose abbot we know well – Father Jacques Mourad. Over 450 displaced people — including 100 children under the age of ten — had sought shelter at the monastery. Many had arrived at the monastery syria wreck2with nothing more than the clothes in which they fled. Their villages had been destroyed in the fighting, their homes looted and burned.

Father Jacques provided for them as best he could — finding warm clothes for the children, providing food and shelter, struggling to build toilets and heat rooms. He urgently needed help to care for these families.

Within the first month of the funding appeal, we raised over $21,000. We had started transferring the funds — through the monastery’s Jesuit bank account in Rome — when we received news in mid-February, 2014, that the Syrian military authorities had come to Mar Elian and ordered all the refugees to leave the monastery within one week and return to their villages. The hard fact is that their villages and homes are in ruins.

We temporarily suspended the funding appeal — and transferring funds — until we could be assured by Father Jacques that there still was a way for the funds to aid these people outside the refuge offered by him at Mar Elian.

The Situation Now

We have now received word from Father Jacques. He has travelled many times to the villages where the people have been forced to return, “in order to see how we can help concretely.” The following passage from his letter describes the situation in heart-breaking terms:

Damage is everywhere! They have lost everything, their simple and poor houses were stolen and then after burned. 70% of the houses were burned, 10% were completely syria wreckdestroyed. The rest (20 %) were saved from fire and destruction but not from robbery. We are talking of 3000 Muslims families, half of them returned to their houses and the other half is still dispread in and out of Syria. They need everything. Some humanitarian organizations are providing food, necessary thing for daily life, mattresses and blankets etc. But this is still not enough. They live in unhealthy places: water from rain and snow is filtering everywhere, walls are black because of fire, they have no real doors or windows, rest rooms and kitchens are broken and don't function, no water reservoirs, no electric cables etc.

Our aim is to enable those people to go back to normal life. They are not wealthy and have no work, therefore they need help to rehabilitate their houses and have the syria clotheslineminimum of dignity. The project is enormous, other friends willing to help, and together with we shall make it.

I assure you and your friends that your donation, if you agree, will reach his final destination, people in need. I already thank you in their names. You cannot imagine their faces, how much are they grateful for any kind of help. When they were at Mar Elian I couldn't had enough from the smiles of their children, playing with them was my deep spiritual consolation. I hope you will continue to support us in this mission toward marginalised people, in the Name of God and in the name of humanity.

Please Help

Any amount you can donate — large or small — will be greatly appreciated. This is an opportunity to give practical help to families who, through no fault of their own, have been caught up in the appalling violence in Syria. 

There are no management overheads in this project — we transfer all funds received to Father Jacques to be used to support these people. Mar Elian is the sister monastery of Deir Mar Musa, which many of us have visited over the years, and where we first met Father Jacques. He is a trusted friend.

Please receive a deep bow of gratitude from Father Jacques, and from the children and families he is working to support.


The Open Path is a non-sectarian approach to spiritual realization offered by
the Sufi Way — a lineage of universal Sufism first introduced in the West in 1910 by the Indian mystic Inayat Khan.

Open Path trainings and retreats are held frequently in Europe and the United States. These programs are dedicated to the direct experience of our natural state — a state known as pure awareness, selflessness, nonduality, oneness, and by many other names. The Open Path is a process of natural enlightenment that belongs to everyone.

While the Open Path is inspired by the Sufi tradition, it is not limited to any doctrine or spiritual style, and you don't have to "be a Sufi" to participate in Open Path programs. Rather, the Open Path is by its very nature open, emphasizing both direct experience and inclusivity of view and method.

In addition to Open Path programs, the Sufi Way offers a wide range of other programs, retreats, and individual guidance in Europe and North America, and community practice and activities through local centers.

Sufi Way teachings and practices draw from all traditions in a spirit of respect and creativity. Our heritage is both a classical Sufi lineage and an approach that is current and universal.

For more about the Sufi Way, click here.
For more about the Open Path, click here.

six faces

Upcoming Programs – 2018


happy girl jumping2SUFISM AND THE ART OF LIVING
A series of six talks, conversations and creative play experiences
with Murshid Kiran Rana and guest teachers and artists
Rudramandir, Berkeley, CA
July through December, 2018

Three Introductory Sessions
with Pir Elias and Murshid Kiran Rana
Berkeley: November 16, 2018
San Francisco: November 17, 2018
Santa Cruz: November 18, 2018

sand dunes footprints smallTHE OPEN PATH: Recognizing Nondual Awareness
Six-Month Training in Nondual Realization with Pir Elias
Still Meadow Retreat Center
Damascus, Oregon, USA
Seminar I: March 14 – 17, 2019
Seminar II: September 27 –30, 2019


flowers closeupDOING THE BEAUTIFUL
A 2-Day Workshop
with Pir Elias and Murshid Kiran Rana
Berkeley, California
February 8 – 9, 2019


sand dunes footprints smallTHE OPEN PATH: Recognizing Nondual Awareness
A six-month non-residential training in recognizing nondual awareness
with Pir Elias
Engineer’s House, Bristol, UK
Seminar I: May 2-5, 2019
Seminar II: October 9-12, 2019

sun green trees smallLOVE AND NONDUALITY
Practices of the Awakened Heart with Pir Elias
An Advanced Open Path Retreat
Himmelreich Retreat Center, Lindau, Germany
May 8 – 14, 2019


A Two-Day Workshop with Pir Elias and Murshid Kiran Rana
Berkeley, CA
June 21 – 22, 2019


A Nine-Day Experience of Transformation
with Murshid Elmer Koole and Chris Covey
Canyonlands, Utah, USA
September 20 – 28, 2019


Practices of the Awakened Heart
An Advanced Open Path Retreat with Pir Elias
Buckland Hall, Brecon, Wales, UK
October 13 –18, 2019