letters from moineddin, November, 1975, to August, 1980


Letters from Moineddin



In 1975, it was four years since Murshid died January 15, 1971. As the designated successor to Murshid, also known as, Samuel L. Lewis, Sufi Ahmad Murad Chisti, Rev. He Kwang, Zen Shi, and Sufi Sam, Moineddin lived and worked out of the San Francisco Bay area. Mansur was living in Boston, where he had been sent by Pir Vilayat Khan, after showing an interest in being a leader by leading seminars and workshops in Los Angeles, Tucson, Albuquerque, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Kansas, and Canada to name a few.  At this time, Murshid's group was part of the Sufi Order under the direction of Pir Vilayat Khan. Both men were dedicated to giving to others what they had received from Murshid. The friendship and support going both ways burns with the intensity of a mission, which was keeping alive the teachings of Murshid and spreading the message of Hazrat Inayat Khan. Moineddin and Mansur were friends since being together in Iowa City, Iowa, where Moineddin bartended and Mansur was in graduate school. The character of Mansur in the book Murshid, most agree, deserved to be abandoned by his wife. The character of Mansur in the book Shamcher was characterized as "idiot boy" for good reason. Similarly in Letters from Moineddin, the character of Mansur shows signs of the recently diagnosed [unprofessionally by his girl friend] Asberger's Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction. As the letters show, Moineddin handled Mansur's difficult presentation with grace and tolerance.

During the course of this correspondence would come Pir Vilayat’s declaration which resulted in the separation of the Sufi Order from Murshid's group, which organized as the Sufi Islamia Ruhaniat Society, or S.I.R.S., which is mentioned in the first letter.

Also mentioned are Ayesha, Hassan, Wali Ali, Fatima, Qayyum, Nathan, Murshid Hassan, and Pir. These refer, respectively, to Mansur’s wife, Ayesha [now Geneve] Johnson, Hassan Herz, Wali Ali Mayer, Moineddin’s wife, Fatima Jablonski, Qayyum and Nathan, Mansur’s sons from, respectively, Geneve and Taj Inayat [Jemila in Murshid] Ananda, Geneve’s daughter Amanda Milt, Murshid Hassan, a visiting Sufi from Turkey, and Pir Vilayat Khan.


November 6, 1975

Dear Mansur and Ayesha, Beloved Ones of God,

As-salaam aleikhum!

Hassan too was very impressed with the two heart cells which beat in unison. He saw the show too and told me about it just after I got your letter.

I think Wali Ali would be better to tell you what writings you are missing of Murshid’s His files are the most complete. Certainly, I would be glad to let you know what my files contain—and take things up from there.

It was good to see you too, Mansur, and to meet Ayesha at last. Always she has been someone I just couldn’t get a picture of, and when we met her in Cambridge after the Cosmic Mass it suddenly because beautifully clear! Glad to hear that life in Hull is bringing with it the possibility of community, inshallah.

I told Fatima hello. She sends love.

Qayyoom is quite a guy. Quite a guy.

Nathan seemed to be doing O.K. at the Abode but I didn’t really see him much. Trust Ananda is fine.

The immediate goals of S.I.R.S. are to come to some kind of resolution on the matter of “Initiation”—especially as it has been catalyzed by the recent visit of Murshid Hassan. Externally, there appear to be differences of opinion and even behavior, but the inner reality is what we want to bring to the surface, thereby overcoming external confusions. This is going to take a lot of concerted effort. Our Jamiat is set for this Saturday. Ya Fattah!

Fatima and I are looking to buy a new used Toyota station wagon, preferably a 70 or 71 Mark II. I’m expecting a call from the San Rafael dealer any minute.

Enjoyed your weaher so much. Now ours is very much similar, clear blue sky, a few of the deciduous trees in Marin turning yellow now, and good air to breathe after a bit of rain.

Perhaps we’ll see you here in January for the next Leader’s Seminar with Pir. The dates are Jan. 13 -17, I think.

Love and blessings,

Moineddin, Fatima, Noor and Noah


The front page article Moineddin refers to in the next letter was from the Independent Journal in San Rafael. It appeared Saturday, December 6, 1975, and was actually titled “Harvesting the grass in Marin.” It opened by describing the backyard gardening efforts of Jim and Mary who were cultivating marijuana for economic reasons. An ounce of grass in 1975 cost $30, and the enterprising gardeners, who smoked two ounces a month, proudly reported they denied the Mexican mafia $600 a year through their efforts.

Moineddin opens the letter with a description of a seminar in Seattle that he recently led, and closes with an invitation to attend Leader’s Seminar. He speaks about his exhaustion and personal energy going flat. With the knowledge gained from hindsight, one can, perhaps, take his report as a preview of serious health problems not too far in the future.

Sikander, mentioned in connection with the leader’s meeting, was Pir Vilayat’s secretary.


December 9, 1975


Dear Mansur, Beloved One of God,


As-salaam aleikhum! Just returned from giving a 2-day seminar in Seattle, very well received. The people there (some 65 attended the seminar) are very open, so open that it was like walking thru open doors every time a new practice was given. By the time we had worked up to Tassawuri Jesus it was like the room was full of Christs or at least disciples. Praise be to God for blowing away the dust of self-consciousness!


However, experience is always the best tacher. That first day was so intense that the following day was almost anticlimactic. My own energy was rebounding from the day before, and consequently by the day’s end I was real tired. The people seemed to be fine, but my personal energy was going flat, and I had fourteen interviews to go in the evening. Next time I’ll try and keep a better balance between the urouj and nasoul conditions, God-willing.


The enclosed article on “Growing Pot in Marin” was such a good one that I thought you would enjoy reading it. As you know, starting Jan. 1st possession of an ounce or less is only a misdemeanor—punishable by a maximum fine of $100.00. Of course, when you started treading the path toward higher consciousness, LSD was still legal! Ah, the not-so good old days*; the days of opportunity at present; and the days of opening to come!


Have you heard that there will be a Leader’s Seminar here at Hurkalya from January 14 thru the 16, with a public seminar in S.F. on the weekend of the 17 and 18? I believe Sikander will confirm this via a letter to Leaders soon. Be real nice if you could come. Housing can be arranged. Let us know.


That’s it for now,


Love and blessings of the Christmas,




* no-so-bad, either!




The next letter is dated January 12, 1976. Like Jayanara Herz, wife of Hassan Herz mentioned earlier, who has to be constantly vigilant lest someone misuse her father’s creation of the song, Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer, Mansur in this letter introduces a similar theme. Mansur has to be constantly vigilant lest someone misuse, or put into the public domain, or somehow leave open the unauthorized usage of his Murshid photos. All eight paragraphs concern this. Surya is speaking for Lama Foundation in New Mexico, which is preparing a book called In the Garden about Murshid. Graciously, Moineddin painstakingly recovers and quotes from old letters relating to this matter.

The invitation in paragraph 5 for Lama to publish Mansur’s children’s storybook with drawings about “Namla, the cat,” actually titled, “Curiosity Liberated the Cat” did not happen for reasons that escape me at this late date.

To finish the story related to the lost sheet “Instructions for an agent of Sufi Film Productions,” which was the name Mansur was using for his film business, it should be noted that after several years of sales by S.I.R.S. and no royalties to Mansur, when Mansur mentioned this to Moineddin, a check for $100 was issued by Moineddin to Mansur on behalf of S.I.R.S. for unaccounted sales over that time period.

Considering that the letter concludes with Moineddin not recalling Murshid speaking about the commercialization of his photos, I will include a copy of the release Murshid signed regarding the commercialization of his photos after the next letter. The release itself is a zerox copy and doesn’t scan well. Suffice it to say, permission was granted by Murshid to market his image, which is what we are doing exclusively on this website.


January 12, 1976


Dear Mansur,


Thanks for your letter of January 4. Going back over my correspondence to and from Surya early in 1975 I find that it was clearly stated that the color shots of Murshid were yours and should be credited to you. Without wanting to go out and have several letters Xeroxed, I will quote some lines from Surya’s letters to me at that time.


“Mansur wrote, in response to my query about photos for the Murshid Sam book we’re preparing,--that I should contact you.” (No date on this letter, but I assume it was written in December, 1974.)


“So the question is—about the photos—may we have permission to purchase a full set of photos? (Not just the ‘pre-beard’ ones Mansur mentined.) Then we will check with you about which ones we may have permission to use after we see what is available. Mansur will be paid and credit will be given.” (My italics; from same letter.)


“Thank you so much for the color photos. (I’ve written Mansur about use of photos.” (From a letter dated January 28, 1975.)


“Thank you 108 [?] for set of Murshid S.A.M. photos. As you suggested I have written to Mansur, asking about other photos and also seeing if we could include a little booklet he wrote about his visit to Lama with Murshid (the booklet about Namla the cat.)” (Fro a letter dated February 1, 1975.)


The only additional pertinent stuff I can find is a P.S. you wrote to Surya on February 7, 1975: “But in the meantime, if you want me to keep working on this, send me $200, including $100 for proofsheets of Murshid pictures that I have and $100 for copies of writings, agree to pay so much for each picture that you use, and promise to give credit to MANSUR on each page where you use something I supply. The writings would include my journal [which became the book Murshid] ‘Murshid,’ The Bowl of Saki Life of Samuel L. Lewis, and the book you requested on Namla, Curiosity Liberated the Cat.


Also, after leafing page by page through my Mansur file, I cannot find the “INSRUCTIONS FOR AN AGENT OF SUFI FILM PRODUCTIONS. I recall that I leaded this sheet to Zeinob a couple of years ago because she wanted to sell some Murshid photos. I think she fulfilled all obligations you outlined on the sheet. I do think she returned the sheet to me but now it is apparently lost. Presumably this is why I requested so strongly that Surya contact you personally about all the photos you took, and make any and all arrangements with you concerning the use of the photos. (Any reference by Surya to me of getting my ‘permission’ for which ones to use, is from Surya’s side and not from any request from me.)


I don’t believe that S.I.R.S. owns your picures at all, just the set we purchased. All the rights are yours, obviously. I don’t recall Murshid’s statements regarding permission for you to commercialize photos of him, or that pictures of him without a beard would be valuable some day—but I see no reason not to accept that he made such statements, especially if you say he did.


Sorry for the mix-up.


Love and blessings, Moineddin


P.S. You should write to Lama before the next edition comes out to get it all cleared up. Let me know if you want me to write to them too.








Samuel L. Lewis (hereinafter referred to as the undersigned) does hereby consent to being photographed and recorded by motion picture cameras, sound recorders, or other means, by SUFI FILM PRODUCTIONS, their employees or agents. For good and sufficient consideration received and hereby acknowledged, the undersigned does grant to said parties the right to include his visual image, the recording of his talk or performance, and the contents thereof, in finished motion pictures being made by said parties. He acknowledges and consents that said films may be exhibited publicly, theatrically, by broadcast media, or by other means, and hereby consents to such public exhibition.


A portion of the consideration for the agreement of the undersigned is his understanding and agreement that said film companies have agreed to donate a significant portion of the proceeds of the film or films being produced to charitable, religious organizations (which may be done irrespective of whether they have formally recognized charitable status under the tax law). The undersigned does hereby waive any claim to further compensation for this release, the consents contained herein, or the use of his visual image, or voice associated therewith in said films.


Signed at Novato this 10th day of December, 1970.


Samuel L. Lewis

910 Railroad Avenue


Witness: Mansur Johnson



Moineddin’s next letter is dated January 22, 1076. Mansur replied to Moineddin’s letter of January 12 on January 17th. Mansur spoke about three photos credited by Lama in the book In the Garden as “Photo: Mansur” without the copyright symbol, needed, he felt to protect his ownership of the photos. Mansur questioned how Lama got these photos and how SIRS got their complete set of photos and, yet no royalties were paid as specified in the lost INSTRUCTIONS FOR AN AGENT OF SUFI FILM PRODUCTIONS.

As mentioned above, Mansur had turned over the marketing of his Murshid photos to a forgotten individual who apparently marketed the photos without any accountability to Mansur. Moineddin speaks to this and indicates a willingness to make amends.

Moineddin also speaks in this letter about a camp at Lama Foundation in New Mexico, May 25 to June 6, 1976, planned to be dedicated to building a pilgrim’s hut at the site of Murshid’s grave, called the Maqbara. “I feel that as Khadim of the Maqbara, you should rightly present a Zikar session at the gravesite.” Although the teaching in Sufism is that initiations are for all eternity, I am sorry to say that after Moineddin’s passing, Pir Vilayat’s bestowal of “Khadim of the Maqbara” on Mansur was not respected by Moineddin’s successors.

Along with Moineddin’s letter dated January 22 to Mansur was another letter of the same date “To the Members of the Maqbara Committee,” which will follow the first below.

January 22, 1976


Dear Mansur,


The day before yesterday Siddiq, Wali Ali and I spent time going over In the Garden to make necessary corrections and revisions for the upcoming 2nd edition. The matter of your photos was taken up too, and Siddiq assured us that your shots of Murshid would receive a copyright symbol.


On the matter of royalties never paid to you, how much do people owe you? I mentioned that I lost the SUFI FILMS INSTRUCTIONS. Anyhow, I’ll see what I can do.


The other photo you mention (Murshid in Tassawuri Mohammed) is apparently a subject of some disputation. Amina apparently feels that since the Dance Manual is entirely a non-profit venture as far as individual personalities go, then simple mention of you as the photographer is sufficient. Your view is otherwise.


Perhaps some toke payment can be made, as you sought in your letter to Amina, but I feel a dollar is too much—especially since Amina had them printed up. I agree that you should be given protection for the picture. Again, I’ll see what can be done.


Just for the record, of all the photographers whose pictures have been used in SIRS publication, you have put up the only squawk, and perhaps rightly. I’d love to get off the subject.


On a real positive note, I would like to ask if you can come to Lama around May 25 – June 6, the Camp which is explained the the enclosed carbon to Maqbara Committee members. I feel that as Khadim of the Maqbara, you should rightly present a Zikar session at the grave-site. Siddiq and I outlined a regular period following the afternoon work to gather for Zikar (or other appropriate practices) at the Maqbara. If you would agree to conduct a regular session, I think there is a possibility of getting your transportation paid to Lama. I’m not sure, I I think it is possible. (Incidentally, the Zikar period would immediately precede supper.)


The Leader’s Seminar was quite good; I am writing an article on it for The Message. Things are going well. Fatima and the kids and I leave tomorrow for the snow. We plan to stay a couple of days up near Tahoe or Donner. We’ll just drive until we see what we like. The kids have never really had much snow experience. The Bay Area is lovely for weather, but terrible for seasons.


All our love to Ayesha, the children and your Self.








                              January 22, 1976


To the Members of the Maqbara Committee,


Beloved Ones of God, as-salaam aleikhum!


Siddiq and I have just concluded the initial planning phase of the of the May 25 – June 6 Camp at Lama which will be dedicated to building a pilgrim’s hut at the Maqbara site. In the past five years since Murshid’s passing, there has not been much actual interest in Maqbara-related projects from people outside the immediate Lama community. This is in contrast to the definite interest shown by so many during the summer of 1971 when many of us traveled to Lama to excavate the build the Dance-ground.