The Egyptian Society for Spiritual and Cultural Research (ESSCR) 

(Founded 1980)

Mission statement

Out of the conviction that human is spirit enclosed in matter, ESSCR devotes its efforts to awaken human to that realization. Spiritual knowledge is not meant to be for a certain creed, religion or culture. It is for everyone.

 

What does spiritual culture and research mean for us?

We are open to learn from every knowledge, ancient or modern, east and west that teaches humans about themselves as spiritual beings, about a higher and comprehensive purpose of life and about a moral path to live up to. This knowledge finds its roots in:

  • Natural religions

  • Heavenly Revelations

  • Spiritual experiences of humans in diverse faiths and cultures.

 

Basic beliefs

  • Humans cannot gain anything from any source of knowledge, a Holy Scripture, or religious teachings before they develop and purify their own tools: mind, heart, and body.

  • Each individual has a unique way of experiencing the divine spark from within one’s heart.

  • Communication with one’s own divine spark leads to resonance with the spirit of divine knowledge.

  • Spiritual development is reflected in a daily life permeated with peace, love and an urge for service.

  • All revelations provide humans with spiritual training systems in order to help them experience their spiritual being.

  • All revelations came to liberate human beings from illusions that hinder their spiritual development.

  • All revelations support humans in their search for equity and justice.

  • The teachings of Islam as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH assert all the previous points and the following ethics.

 

General ethics

  • Each person has the freedom and right to choose for oneself the suitable way to develop spiritually.

  • No one has the right to value judge or impose one’s beliefs on others.

  • Followers of any particular revelation have no right to show superiority over others.

 

One path with several stages

This path belongs to a continuous connected path from the beginning of creation and until God inherits the earth and those on it, the path of searching for the truth and reading all of God's messages to man in its multiple forms. As we are talking about a limited time dimension like the one we live in this earthly life, the concepts, ideas, and principles that we live in today, are the product of many years in which our path and our gathering passed.

First Stage: Public service & Sufism

Background about As'sayed Rafea, the founder of this Circle (1903-1970):

Since early childhood he was a person who respected reason, had an independent character, and looked up for being in service to all around him. He chose to be a lawyer to defend the rights of the oppressed.

He chose to be a political activist to defend the freedom of his country.

It was a turning point in As'sayed Rafea's life in the late 1930s when he discovered that politics was a game in which all factions rivaled mainly for realizing very personal goals, not public interests. He quitted politics ever since but his inner drive for being in service of his fellow humans went even stronger and deeper. He thought that one way of initiating a society which reflects high values can exist when individuals are conscious of the inner dimensions of life and seek inner liberation and spiritual education.

 

Joining the Sufi path

As'sayed Rafea found home in Sufism in the early 1940s because he experienced in the spiritual journey of great Sufis an echo of his own vision of Islam as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. In the Sufi path humans are urged to purify their souls so as to listen to the words of the Truth spelled out from their own hearts and to express it in a life of unconditional love to all members of the human family.

 

Objectives and achievements of the first Stage

As'sayed Rafea’s main objective in that stage was to educate himself by self purification, exertion of the soul, reading in Sufi literature as well as looking for a Sheikh. After a long journey of searching he found Sheikh Muhammad Abdel Wahid who happened to be a Shadheli. With joining the Order, he became part of a growing Sufi group where members, with the Sheikh himself, did not fail to notice Rafea’s exalted and illuminated presence that was a center of attraction to many people.

Second Stage: Sufism and Spiritualism 

Sufism and Spiritualism: Listening to Silver Birch

It happened in the late 1940s that As'sayed Rafea was invited by some members of Ahmad Abul Kheir’s spiritual Circle to attend a séance where the Spirit guide Silver Birch talked through the medium Muhammad Eid Ghareeb. As'sayed Rafea read in that guidance a way of presenting to humanity the basic principles of all Revelations at a time the mainstream religion turned into dogmatism, stagnant tradition and an excuse for conflicts among people. Rafea found no harm in welcoming those teachings.

 

The Islamic Spiritual Society

The spirit guide welcomed As'sayed Rafea to the circle and gave him an assignment to be a human guide for it. As'sayed Rafea’s Sufi Sheikh did not acknowledge his recognition of the guidance of Silver Birch and chose to break the relation.Now a new circle was composed where Rafea kept the traditions of the Sufi Order such as Zikr and also led the meditation sessions with the Spirit Guide. Activities went under the umbrella of the Islamic Spiritual Society initiated by Rafea early 1950s.

 

Objectives of the second stage

The main objective of that stage was to spread the awareness that Silver Birch’s guidance did not come with something new. They rather serve all the objectives of Islam as well as all Revelations:

  • They remind people of their higher objective in life.

  • They disclose the effects of whatever a human does in this life on the coming one. 

  • They clarify that spiritless commitment to teachings have no good effect on human’s soul.

  • They liberate humanity from religious bias and conflict.

 

Achievements of the second stage

  • For about twenty years the service of spiritual healing séances were performed in which White Eagle was the healer. As'sayed Rafea’s talks were collected, printed and distributed in his circle under the name Alwah Ma Baina Qabrin Wa Minbar.[1]

  • Two feature books were published:

    • ‘Memoirs of Khabaridis’[2], which anticipated the manifestation of the spiritual message on earth

    • “Min Wahie Yathrib”[3]: ‘From the Revelation of Yathrib’ about a sheikh and his disciples who came from different parts of the world. In different ways both books show Islam as a universal Path of inclusion.

Examples of As'sayed Rafea's Sayings about the Spiritual Communication:

"Spiritual communication, my brothers, is but a sound faith in God, a faith that is in harmony with all religions. It purifies religion of all evil (caused by followers) and brings to light its latent meanings that are most beloved to faithful souls and believing minds. Spiritual communication is a straight path for liberating the soul of the imprisonment of matter so as to enjoy living freely in the infinitely grand realm of God Almighty. It is God's Hand that is extended to liberate those minds, souls and spirits from the limitations of the physical bodies supporting them to gain insight into some issues related to this life and the coming one which need more clarity. As such it supplies them with means for gaining bliss and fulfillment".

"They (Spirit Guides) do not want the fruits of the humankind tree to fall while still incomplete and immature. They aspire to peace and unity to prevail on earth so that lives of human souls do not rush to death in wars and disputes. When a soul's life comes to an end before reaching due spiritual fulfillment in this life, it is like a piece of fruit that is cut from its tree before ripening.

 

"The spiritual message does not come up with a new revelation, new rituals or new information system. It only brings to our consciousness the essential and very clear truths that all the Prophets revealed but we have been inattentive to. It introduces us anew what is common in the teachings of all the Prophets: guiding to God; building up our understanding about Him, by Him and from Him. This is an essential and broad issue that stands as a backbone of all the religious messages in the Middle East as well as it is a backbone of the wisdom of the East and West."

 

Examples of Silver Birch's Teachings:

"I have come back merely to stress a few elementary spiritual truths. It seems to me—and I am quite an old man—that what your world needs is not some high flown, theological, abstract collection of doctrines, but few simple truths enthroned in the hearts of most religions, taught by those who were inspired by the power of the spirit in days gone by, that all mankind is part of one another, that beneath our physical differences there is a common bond of the spirit which unites us all."

"The spirit grows through kindness, toleration, sympathy, love, service and doing of good works. Character evolves only when you allow the divine spirit to be made manifest in your daily lives. If you harbour unkind thoughts, thoughts of hatred, of malice, of vengeance, of selfishness, you yourself will be the victim of and you yourself must pay the price in a warped, distorted and thwarted character."

"Man is the gardener of his own soul. The great spirit has provided him with all that is necessary for it to grow in wisdom, grace and beauty. The implements are there, he has but to use them wisely and well."

"There is only one peace – the peace which comes to those who are at one with the Great Spirit, whose hearts beat as one with His great heart, whose wills are at one with His great will, who are one in  soul, mind and heart with the Great Spirit. Then there is peace, because they are in harmony with His laws. There is no other peace."

"You should all have perfect faith, because it is a faith born of knowledge. You have had the proof of the power of the spirit. Now you should have the faith that all things work wisely and well and that, if you put yourselves in tune with the laws of the Great Spirit, then you must reap the operation of those laws."

 

Third Stage: Start of As'sayed Ali Rafea leadership

In 1970, following the physical passing of As'sayed Rafea, As'sayed Silver Birch asked the circle members to renew the pledge with As'sayed Ali Rafea as their guide. He was just echoing what was already in the hearts of all the members. As'sayed Ali says that he accepted the role of a ‘guide’ to the group under this new definition:

“At this stage, we say that we do not consider the traditional Sheik -disciple relationship as the only example to be followed by the group. We believe that we are all brothers (and sisters) before God walking along the path to Him. The secret of the path is in the bond that connects our hearts and gives us power and support."[4]

"I tell the members of the Circle that everything I am saying is not absolute and can be discussed – that they are only hearing wisdom from me because of their love, confidence and belief in me. We are all one… if I am the tongue, they are the ears. If I am the mind, they are the heart and body. We complement each other by love, desire for knowing the truth and a wish to improve our earthly lives and to be exposed to the mercy of God."[5]

 

Fourth Stage: Post Spiritualism

The birth of the ESSCR

In 1976 the medium Muhammad Eid Ghareeb passed away. The group continued the spiritual path with the conviction that seeking truth is the constant goal, and that the Source of knowledge is ever there while the ways and tools always vary. In 1980, and according to new NGOs law, our spiritual circle was declared anew as the Egyptian Society for Spiritual and Cultural Research ESSCR. Its mission is: carrying research in the field of Spirituality and publish it in all forms of publicity such as books, magazines and Symposiums.

 

Goal reintroduced

In early 1990s the ESSCR defined its main goal as: The dissemination of knowledge about the oneness of all revelations, prophetic and natural, and conducting research in that area. We feel that throughout history, the basic concepts that underlie the teachings of all revelations have been misunderstood, misused, misrepresented, distorted and overlooked. We are attempting to clear up the misconceptions as we see them departing from a belief that the aim of all revelations is to guide man through his earthly journey to make life spiritually fruitful.

 

Research plan

Four main objectives have been identified to achieve our goal:

  1. Explain our belief that there is One Primordial Religion that guides human to live according to the Divine Law.

  2. Clarify the fact that Islam as revealed to The Prophet Muhammad e guides humanity to the path, and the method to live according to the Divine Law,

  3. Explain reasons that led to the emergence of thoughts and practices that are alien to the spirit of the Teaching such as dogmatism, extremism and ethnocentrism

  4. Attract notice to some wisdom, old and new, in the East, West and everywhere in order to show how they coincide with the guidance of the Primordial Religion.

 

Publications

  • We published our research related to the first objective in 'Beyond Diversities: Reflections on Revelations’[6], which includes our vision about the oneness of Religion based on research into the major revelations of history: Ancient Egyptian beliefs, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The book elucidates the basic concepts that all revelations perpetuate within diverse ways of expression highlighting the contribution of Islam as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. Please put the link

  • The second objective's reached results are documented in 'Islam from Adam to Muhammad and Beyond', which is also published under the title 'The Book of Essential Islam[7]'. We elaborated on the way that Islam enriched humanity clarifying that "the Islamic Call targeted the whole world while respecting diversity and freedom of choice, and that its universal nature does not seek to abolish variations or impose uniformity."

  • The third objective’s research is published under the title ‘Divine Revelations and Human Interpretations: An Ever-Open Horizon’, to be released soon.

  • The fourth objective’s research is published under the title: One Humanity One Home: Journeys of Spiritual Seekers, to be released soon.

  • Islam: Living in Harmony with the Laws of Life[8], is an Anthology that includes the spiritual vision of As'sayed Ali Rafea, which he has been conveying in his Speeches over the years. It is compiled and translated from Arabic into English by some close members of the spiritual Circle. Please put the link to the book

  • Islam: A Book and a Human (in Arabic). Please put the link to the book

 

New activities added

  • A women group was formed headed by Dr. Aliaa Rafea in cooperation with Aisha under the supervision of As'sayed Ali.

  • A monthly gathering has been devoted to discuss research work that members carry out.

  • A Road Home, an electronic organ for the ESSCR was initiated.

Achievements

We have a highly interactive group in which all members feel their oneness and also each and everyone expresses himself or herself in a unique way by which he or she serves the group and/or spread knowledge. To give few examples:

  • Aliaa is a co author of The Root of all Evil: An Exposition of Prejudice, Fundamentalism and Gender Imbalance[9].

  • Aisha published several books in Arabic:

    • Bal Azmat el Ruh (Spirit in Turmoil)[10]

    • Kulluna Haza Al Insan (We Are All This Human)[11]

    • Al Bad' Fiel Islam Kalimah (In Islam, First Is A Word)[12]

    • Nahw Hadharaten Afdhal (Towards A Better Civilization)[13]

  • Nivin Sedki published two pieces of spiritual literature: Finka[14] and Ashajara al Fadhyia[15] (the silver tree)

  • Dr. Sadek el Adawi published several books: Al Insan Hadha al Ka'en bin Alamin[16] (Human: a Creature who lives in Two Worlds and Al Ma'rifa al Ruhyia[17] (Spiritual Knowledge).

  • Magda el Mofty published Al Kinz (The Treasure: Discovered by Millions of Successful People in Life who have realized their Dreams… How to reach it?)[18]

  • Amani el Mofti wrote: "Leta'arafu" (So that You May Know Each Other)[19]

  • Inas Amer wrote: Al Hub, Tarnimat Ishq Ilahyiah (Love: a hymn to the Beloved)[20], and "Al Kashf" (Unveiling)[21].

  • Hassan el Eseily translated two books: To Those Who Are Searching by Alain Guillo[22] and The Inner Life by Inayat Khan[23]

  • Amani el Mofty and Inas Amer are two painters who had several art exhibitions inspired by spirituality.

  • Amira el Adawi translated a book about Red Indians.

  • Ma’man Rafea designed a program for spiritual education for children entitled: Ethics Through Art.

  • A team of the ESSCR members are working on another program for children called: The True “Me”: Creative, Reasonable, Focused, Free and Fulfilled

Conclusion

We support every step at any place of the globe that aims for gathering all the hearts and minds of those who care about the spiritual well being of humanity. It cannot be realized unless with spreading peace within and around; a noble mission that comes in the heart of spiritual culture.

 

References

[1] The title that As'sayed Rafea gave to the Collections of his Speeches in Arabic is too metaphoric to be translated into another language. The background of the statement Ma Bayna Qabren Wa Minbar seems to be inspired by the Prophet Muhammad’s Tradition, “Between my grave (or house) and my minbar (pulpit, platform, stage, stand) there is a garden from the gardens of Paradise.

  ما بين قبري (أو بيتي) ومنبري روضة من رياض الجنة  

The Prophetic Tradition is also too symbolic to be subject to literal translation or interpretation. Therefore, we just mention the translation of the vocabulary of the title Alwah Ma Bayna Qabren Wa Minbar and leave it as open and inspiring as the Arabic. Alwah means scripts, writings, speeches, words or letters. Ma Bayna Qabren Wa Minbar as one whole is a statement that possibly points to the life time of someone on earth from birth to death. The vocabulary used in that statement can inspire the reader with diverse meanings of the title of As'sayed Rafea’s Collection.

[2] Rafea Muhammd Rafea, translated by Aisha and  Aliaa Rafea, Memoirs of Khabarides, The Future of Spiritualism, Vantage Press, New York. Los Angelos, 1990.

[3]  Rafea Muhammd Rafea, Min Wahie Yathrib, Sadk Publications, Alexandria, 1989.

[4] Read more in the book Soul Companions: Conversations with Contemporary Wisdom Keepers - A Collection of Encounters with Spirit:

https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Companions-Conversations-Contemporary-Collection/dp/1846940605

[5]  Ibid.

 

[6] Rafea, Ali, Aliaa, and Aisha, Beyond Diversities: Reflections on Revelation, Dar Sadek, Alexandria, Egypt, 2000, Nahidt Misr Publication, 2005

 

[7] Rafea, Ali, Aliaa, and Aisha, Islam from Adam to Muhammad and Beyond, Or  The Book Of Essential Islam, The Book Foundation, Watsonville, California Bath England, 2004

 

[8] Ali Rafea, Islam Living in Harmony with the Laws of Life, an Anthology compiled and translated by Aisha Rafea, Samhaa el Beltagy, Aliaa Rafea and Magda el Mofty, 2008.

[9] Sharon G. Mijares, Aliaa Rafea, Rachel Falik & Jenny Eda Schipper, The Root of All Evil, An Exposition of Prejudice, Fundamentalism and Gender Imbalance, Imprint-academic, UK, USA, 2007

[10] 1992

[11]  1993

[12]  1996

[13]  2007

[14]  2004

[15]  2007

[16]  1992

[17]  2003

[18] Dar Sharqyiat, Cairo, 2005

[19] Dar Sharqyiat, Cairo, 2008

[20]  2002

[21]  2004

[22]  1999

[23]  2000

© 2020 by The Egyptian Society for Spiritual & Cultural Research. 

© ٢.٢٠ حقوق النشر محفوظة للجمعية المصرية للبحوث الروحية والثقافية

مسجلة برقم 2813 لسنة 1980 جنوب القاهرة

٢٨ ش علي مبارك - الحلمية الجديدة- القاهرة - مصر