Irina Tweedie was born Irina Tamara Karpow (Ирина Тамара Ка́рпов) in Russia. Her family escaped the Bolscheviks to Central Europe, and she eventually lived in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, and then finally England. She studied in Vienna and Paris. After the World War II she married her second husband, an English Navy officer named Tweedie.
Because of her second husband's premature death in 1954, Irina Tweedie went through a personal crisis that launched her on a spiritual quest. She became an active member of the Theosophical Society and eventually she travelled to India in 1959. On 2 October 1961, through her friend Lilian Silburn (1908-1993), a Sanskrit scholar and translator at the Sorbonne, she met her guru, Radha Mohan Lal (1893-1966), a Hindu Sufi Sheikh from the Naqshbandiyya-Mujadiddiya Sufi Order, living in Kanpur, commonly known as Bhai Sahib (Elder Brother). She became one of the first Western women to be trained in the Naqshbandi system.
Her teacher's first request of her was to keep a complete diary of her spiritual training—everything, all the difficult parts, even all the doubts. He predicted that one day it would become a book and would benefit people around the world. Indeed, it became the book, Daughter of Fire: A Diary of a Spiritual Training with a Sufi Master.
This diary spans five years. It is an account of a spiritual training with a Sufi Master and is the most detailed account of the relationship between disciple and teacher that exists in Western Literature. The book is written in diary form. From a psychological viewpoint, the diary maps the process of ego dissolution, gradually unveiling the openness and love that reside beneath the surface of the personality.
The book was first published in its abridged form as The Chasm of Fire which has sold over 100,000 copies and has been translated into five languages. Later the unabridged book, Daughter of Fire: A Diary of a Spiritual Training with a Sufi Master, was published. This title has sold over 40,000 copies worldwide and is now being published through The Golden Sufi Center.
After her guru's death in 1966, she returned to England where she started a Sufi meditation group in North London. Gradually the group spread throughout Europe and North America. Irina Tweedie retired in 1992 after having named Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee as her successor.
"I hoped to get instruction in Yoga, expected wonderful teachings, but what the teacher did was mainly to force me to face the darkness within myself and it almost killed me.... I was beaten down in every sense until I had to come to terms with that in me which I kept rejecting all my life." — from her Foreword to Daughter of Fire: A Diary of a Spiritual Training with A Sufi Master.
- The Chasm of Fire: A Woman's Experience With the Teachings of a Sufi Master. Element Books, 1993.
- Daughter of Fire: A Diary of a Spiritual Training with a Sufi Master. The Golden Sufi Center, 1995.
- The Naqshbandi Path, Irina Tweedie Recorded in 1991, released by The Golden Sufi Center in 2009.
- Branded by God: Interviews with Irina Tweedie Recorded in the late 1980s, released by The Golden Sufi Center in 2005.
- In Daughter of Fire: A Diary of a Spiritual Training with a Sufi Master. The Golden Sufi Center, 1995, page 49, Irina Tweedie lists her maiden surname as "Karpow". This is a German transliteration of the Russian surname Ка́рпов, "Karpov" in English transliteration.
- "All Birth, Marriage & Death results for Irina Tamara Tweedie". Ancestry.com.
- In Daughter of Fire(p. 91) Mrs. Tweedie alludes to her two sisters.
- Lilian Silburn at Projet Sahaj Marg
- Lilian Silburn translated some works of Kashmir Shaivism, was also a student of Lakshman Joo and was the author of Kundalini : The Energy of the Depths, A Comprehensive Study Based on the Scriptures of Nondualistic Kasmir Saivism, Suny Series in the Shaiva Traditions of Kashmir, State University of New York Press, 1988.
- Neither of the East nor of the West: The Journey of the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya from India to America
- The Golden Sufi Center Daughter of Fire: A Diary of A Spiritual Training with A Sufi Master
- Available Translations English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish
- The Golden Sufi Center Biography of Irina Tweedie
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Sufism and Tariqat