Nahid Angha

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Nahid Angha at the International Conference on Science and Spirituality, Cortona, Italy, June, 2009, addressing "Human Dignity and the New Frontiers of Science."

Nahid Angha, Ph. D. is a Sufi scholar, human rights activist, women's rights activist, lecturer, translator and author of over fifteen published books.[1][2] She is the co-director and co-founder of the International Association of Sufism; Founder of the International Sufi Women Organization; Executive Editor of the online journal Sufism: An Inquiry; main representative of the IAS for the United Nations NGO/DPI,[3][4] the organizer behind the annual Sufism Symposium and Songs of the Soul: Poetry and Sacred Music Festival. Angha is the first Muslim woman inducted into the Marin County Women's Hall of Fame[1] and she is also the recipient of the 2012 Visionary Award from the Marin Interfaith Council.[5]

Angha is a Sufi master from an ancient lineage. She is the daughter of the twentieth century Persian Sufi Master, Moulana Shah Maghsoud.[6] Shah Maghsoud appointed her to teach and lead Sufi gatherings when she was in her early twenties. She initially held gatherings at her father's Khaneghah in Sufi Abad, Iran, and continues her teachings to the present time, in the US.

Peace, Social Justice and Intra-faith Vision[edit]

Angha has established a tremendous range of peace-keeping humanitarian activities and made significant contributions to interfaith activities and programs in the United States and internationally. In 1983, Angha & her husband, Shah Nazar Seyyed Ali Kianfar, Ph. D., co-founded the International Association of Sufism (IAS), a non-profit educational and community service organization, with chapters and representatives around the world. The headquarters are in Marin County, Northern California. IAS was admitted as an NGO/DPI of the United Nations.[7] She serves as the main representative of the IAS to the United Nations.[8]

In 1993, Angha, with the sponsorship and contribution of Sufi women from around the world, created the International Sufi Women Organization,[1][4] an organization with representatives and chapters around the world. SWO advocates for women's rights, children's rights and sponsors contributions towards education, immunizations, safety and health. She has created a series of round table discussions and formed a domestic violence awareness and prevention program specifically for women within the Islamic community.

In 1999, recognizing the need for interfaith understanding, she sponsored a Women's Wisdom Conference in San Rafael, California.[9] The Conference brought together women from five states, many others from overseas, and represented dozens of faith traditions and congregations.

She has inspired and mentored a group of young women to develop the nonprofit organization Voices for Justice. This non-profit supports the rights of children worldwide. Another one of Angha's initiatives is the SWO Prison Project. The Project works within women's jails to provide education, health awareness, cancer prevention and stress reduction services. The Project also maintains correspondence with women prisoners throughout the United States and sends books and newsletters to women inmates. Sufi women contribute money, goods and volunteer time to projects throughout the US and in numerous other countries.

Angha's dedication to global peace, women's rights and human rights earned the International Association of Sufism the recognition award of a Messenger of Peace UNESCO's Manifesto 2000 for its contribution to the culture of peace and non-violence, and an Ambassadorship status from UNICEF for Voices for Justice. She is frequently invited by world media to share her ideas on peace, social justice and Islam as she did at this appearance in London, 2011.

Sufism Symposium[edit]

One of her significant accomplishments is the creation of the annual Sufism Symposium,[10] the first intra-faith movement within the Sufi Community organized on an international scale. Angha was the first to successfully bring Sufis from around the world together to a weekend of conversation and understanding. The Annual Sufism Symposium celebrates this most influential school of civilization and provides a platform for diverse Sufi teachers to share their wisdom with a wide range of English-speaking audiences. Sufism Symposium became an annual IAS springtime event in 1994 and has been celebrated in the United States as well as in Spain, Egypt and Scotland.[11]

The annual event continues to serve as an important contribution to intra and interfaith dialog and encourages peaceful conversation, the exchange of ideas and an opportunity to set goals for global peace, education and human rights advocacy amongst Muslims and people of all religions in the United States and across the globe.[12]

Songs of the Soul: Poetry and Sacred Music Festival[edit]

In recent years, Angha has organized an annual event which highlights the beauty of Sufism through poetry and music. The event is both interfaith and multicultural while retaining a Muslim aesthetic. The Songs of the Soul event typically occurs in the Spring and has included a poetry contest open to the public and people of all faiths.

Women's Rights in Islam[edit]

At the first international Sufism Symposium, Angha paved the way for many other Muslim women to engage and participate in the inner circle of a male-oriented Muslim Sufi ritual when she sat with male Muslim leaders from around the globe and led people in prayers and zikr. The significance of her action, in leading prayer and zikr, in an international forum, should not be overlooked. Angha has led the way for Muslim Sufi women across the globe to assert their equal rights and leadership privilege within the context of Islam. In this sense, Angha has been a leading advocate for Sufi women and the rights of women in Islam.[13]

Partnerships with Higher Education[edit]

Angha created a partnership between IAS and the Humanities Department of Dominican University of California and developed a conference series entitled, "Building Bridges of Understanding." Among the highlights of this series, Angha was instrumental in inviting Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi to the Dominican Campus.[14] Building Bridges of Understanding continues to bring Interfaith Communities together with academia and service organizations for interfaith dialog, cooperation and social justice. Representatives of many faith traditions in Marin County serve as the Program Committee for these series.

Angha's work builds bridges between Islam, the West and between tradition and modernity. Angha identifies and promotes a philosophical framework of action that advances dialogue between secularism and spirituality on a mission of peace. A variety of programs, such as Muslin non-Muslim Dialogue,[15] in partnership with Dominican University of California's Campus Ministry, are focused on respectful exchange, conversation, personal stories among Muslims and non-Muslims for the sake of better understanding.

Angha's efforts continuously promote the importance of understanding the inherent dignity of the individual as put forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Nahid Angha has participated as well as given numerous lectures at the United Nations, the Smithsonian Institution, The State of the World Forum and at universities in the United States, as well as at international conferences in Egypt, South Africa, Spain, Italy, Germany, Morocco, and Mexico on subjects including Peace, Human Dignity, Gender Equality, Science and Spirituality, Compassion, and Women in Islam, Sufism, Sufi Literature and Poetry. Angha addressed the Commonwealth Club of California in October, 2012 on the subject of Sufism: Mysticism of Islam.[16]

Partnership with Interfaith Communities[edit]

Angha's dedication to peace has led her to serve in various leadership roles in large-scale international interfaith organizations including serving as:

  • President of the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Center at the Presidio, San Francisco
  • Assembly member of the Parliament of the World Religions, Cape Town, S. Africa and Barcelona, Spain
  • Scholar Advisor for the Interfaith Sacred Space Design Competition, presented at the CPWR, Barcelona, Spain
  • Member of the Advisory Board of the Institute for World Religions
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Marin Interfaith Council
  • Member of the Organizational Design team of the United Religions Initiative
  • Founding member of the URI Council for Women
  • Board of Directors of Marin Women's Hall of Fame
  • Board of Directors of Marin Museum of American Indian
  • National Interreligious Leadership Delegation to Washington, DC: In Support of the Road Map to Peace in the Middle East
  • Founding member of the IAS: Voices for Justice, UNICEF Ambassador
  • Assembly member: UNESCO's Culture of Peace, Mexico
  • Assembly member: UNESCO's Culture of Peace, Barcelona


  • "A Force Such as the World Has Never Known: Women Creating Change" (co-editor with Sharon G. Mijares and Aliaa Rafea), Inanna Publications, 2013, ISBN 978-1-77133-056-5
  • “Stations of the Sufi Path: The 'One Hundred Fields' (Sad Maydan) of Abdullah Ansari of Heart,” Archetype, 2011, ISBN 1-901383-35-0
  • “A Meditation,” IAS, 1994, ISBN 0-918437-05-9
  • “Deliverance: The Word of the Prophet,” IAS, 1995, ISBN 0-918437-12-1
  • “Destination: Eternity,” IAS, 1987, ISBN 0-918437-02-4
  • “Ecstasy: the World of Sufi Poetry and Prayers,” IAS, 1998, ISBN 0-918437-18-0
  • “Manifestations of Thought,” ETRI, 1980
  • “Nature of Miracle,” IAS, 1999, ISBN 0-918437-11-3
  • “Personality Development and Behavior Disorders during Childhood”
  • “Psalm of Gods,” IAS, 1991, ISBN 0-918437-09-1
  • “Selections: Poems from Rumi, Khayam, Hafiz and Shah Maghsoud,” IAS, 1991, ISBN 0-918437-04-0
  • “The Journey,” IAS, 1998, ISBN 0-918437-16-4
  • “Sufi Women: The Journey towards the Beloved,” IAS, 1998, ISBN 0-918437-17-2
  • “Statistics: Intelligence Test, Cross-Cultural Studies,” (in Persian)
  • “Critical Analysis on Existentialism Theory,” (in Persian)
  • “Negah,” (Reflection, in Persian)
  • "Principles of Sufism," Quarterly Column, in journal Sufism: An Inquiry


  1. ^ a b c Staff (2005). "Marin Women's Hall of Fame (Dr. Nahid Angha, honoured for Religion in 2005)". Marin Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  2. ^ Angha, Nahid; Lewisohn, Leonard. (2010). Stations of the Sufi Path. Cambridge, UK: Archetype. p. 11. ISBN 1-901383-35-0.  See Amazon page
  3. ^ Staff. "The Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders". The World Council of Religious Leaders. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  4. ^ a b Drucker, Malka (2003). White Fire: A Portrait of Women Spiritual Leaders in America. Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing. pp. 38–41. ISBN 1-893361-64-0.  See Google Books Preview
  5. ^ Staff, MIC (2012-09-15). "Visionary Marin: Honoring Dr. Nahid Angha". Marin Interfaith Council. Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  6. ^ Pierce Gonzalez, Karen (2000-08-25). "Selfless Sufis Spread Their Word Throughout Marin County / New Novato institute offers refuge, education with peace in mind". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  7. ^ Staff. "Non-Governmental Organization/DPI (registry)". United Nations Department of Public Information. Retrieved 2012-02-01.  Access to DPI NGO Directory
  8. ^ Staff. "International Association of Sufism". International Association of Sufism. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  9. ^ Clow, Soraya Chase. "Women's Wisdom: Women in Action: An Interfaith Conference presented by the Sufi Women Organization". International Association of Sufism”. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  10. ^ Glover, Malcolm (2001-03-23). "'Language of Spirit' At Sufism Symposium". SFGate: Home of the San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  11. ^ Staff. "Sufism Symposium". International Association of Sufism”. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  12. ^ Moore, Brian (2002-05-25). "Sufism Symposium seeks harmony with all religions". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2009-06-03.  For example, at the 2002 event held in Seattle, Washington, USA, 700 Sufis were scheduled to attend.
  13. ^ Mijares, Dr. Sharon. "The Role of Women in Religion: A Shifting Paradigm". 'Sufi Women Organization”. Retrieved 2012-01-27. 
  14. ^ Ashley, Beth (2006-09-10). "2003 Nobel laureate discusses Iran, Islam". Marin Independent Journal. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  15. ^ Staff. "Muslim Non-Muslim Facebook Page". Facebook". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  16. ^ Staff. "Sufism: Mysticism of Islam". Commonwealth Club of San Francisco. Retrieved 2012-11-11. 

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