Salaam, one and all! We welcome you with heart-felt prayers for God's peace and mercy and blessings.

This blog is maintained for the readers of In the Light of a Blessed Tree, as well as for all those interested in the wider work of Dr. Timothy J. Gianotti: including the Islamic Institute for Spiritual Formation (IISF, Toronto), which he serves as the Director and Principal Teacher, the Studies in Islam program at Renison University College (University of Waterloo), where he serves as an Associate Professor, and the American Islamic College (Chicago), where he served as the Director of Islamic Studies (2013-2015).

Please stay tuned for new blog entries and announcements for new programs in Toronto and beyond!

LIGHT UPON LIGHT continues April 2!

Light Upon Light continues with an exploration of the science/art/philosophy of alchemy, the secret process by which base or common metals (or qualities) are transformed into gold (spiritually understood as wisdom, truth, virtue, enlightenment, immortality). In his popular Persian work, The Alchemy of Happiness, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 1111) wrote, “Know, O Beloved, that the human being was was not created in jest or at random, but marvelously made for some great purpose…When, in the crucible of abstinence, he is purged from base passions he attains to the highest end, and, in place of being a slave to anger and lust, he becomes endowed with angelic qualities…But the spiritual alchemy that effects this change in him, like that which transmutes base metals into gold, is not easily discovered…”

DATE: Friday April 2, 2010
TIME: 7:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Lower level, Noor Cultural Centre

The Light Upon Light Spirituality Discussion Series features a variety of spiritually nourishing subjects in an inclusive space where participants of all faiths actively contribute in a manner that is respectful to all. This series is led by Dr. Timothy Gianotti (2007-2008 York-Noor Chair of Islamic Studies, 2008-2010 Noor Fellow in Islamic Studies at York University).

PREVIOUS TOPICS (from fall, 2007 until present): Spiritual Knowledge / Love / Tests & Trials / Loving Universally while Living within Particularity (featuring the writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook) / On the Importance of Being a Stranger in the World / Dreams, Death and the Journeys of the Spirit / On the Art of Being Grateful / The Importance of Solitude / Core Paradoxes: freedom in servitude, wealth in poverty, life in death, gaining by spending, spiritual advancement through sin / The World of the Unseen / Spiritual Storytelling / Being a Perpetual Beginner / The Poetry of Kabir / "with a little help from my friends..." The indispensability of community for walking the path to God / Rumi & the Wisdom of the Reed Flute / Spiritual Chivalry / Tests and Trials Revisited / Glimpses of the Religious Ideal: Spiritual Masters, Sages, and Other Friends of God in the Jewish and Islamic Traditions (special Muslim-Jewish "Twinning" session at Temple Emanu-El, Toronto) / The Mysteries of Light and Darkness / Pilgrimage

Great Books, Thinkers & Ideas of Islamic Civilization Continues!

SESSION 3 Friday March 19, 2010

The Mu’tazilah

This session will explore the philosophical, theological, historical, and political dimensions of the Mu’tazilah, a rationalist theological movement of the 8th, 9th, and 10th centuries, CE. Attention will be given to the great theological debates prior to the rise of the Mu’tazilah, the main features of Mu’tazili thought, the brief ‘Abbasid-Mu’tazili political alliance, and the eventual triumph of non-Mu’tazili theologies in the classical or formative period of Islamic intellectual history.

Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Lower social room, Noor Cultural Centre
Admission: $5 per session

Great Books and Thinkers of Islamic Civilization

With Dr. Timothy Gianotti

This new series, open to everyone, calls attention to the rich diversity of the Islamic tradition by showcasing great books, thinkers, and ideas from all over the world and all fields of endeavor, from all periods of Islamic history and all realms and persuasions of thought.


SESSION 1 Wednesday January 13, 2010 Abu Hamid al-Ghazali

SESSION 2 Friday February 12, 2010 Abu Nasr al-Farabi

PUBLIC STATEMENT condemning the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, the bombing of churches in Malaysia, the murder of Coptic Christians in Egypt

Affirming that the Prophet Muhammad was sent, in the words of the Qur'an, "as nothing but a mercy unto the worlds" (21:107), i.e., as a mercy unto everyone -- Muslim and non-Muslim alike -- and unto everything, we categorically condemn the recent waves of violence against Christians in Egypt, Malaysia, and now Nigeria. Understanding that the Qur'an commands us to uphold justice, even against ourselves and our kin (see the surah of women, 4:135), we call upon all Muslims to stand up and condemn the crimes perpetrated against humanity by persons who identify as Muslims, just as we condemn all crimes perpetrated by anyone against any and all members of the human family. More, we ask everyone to pray for the victims and their families and to seek ways by which we might reach out with assistance and support for those whose lives and security has been so viciously violated. May God's mercy prevail and be manifest among us; May God's justice prevail and be manifest in the world; and may God's compassion and grace and healing be with the murdered, the bereaved, the wounded, the violated, the shaken, the downtrodden, the forgotten.