through spiritual experience is the heart and soul of the Baraka Institute from which everything else follows. Transformation requires a wisdom that is born from both knowledge and spiritual experience. The knowledge must be salvaged from the distortions and misunderstandings that are all too prevalent. The spiritual experience can be accelerated when people with a common yearning and intention come together. Through the companionship of wise and spiritually developed people, with the honesty, energy, and hope of the young, we can awaken to a more spiritual life.
We wish to ground something in the tangible world and leave something behind for future generations. Our perspective is shaped by the illuminated, universal souls who have realized the truth of the Divine Revelations, including but not limited to the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospel, and the Qur’an. It is time to be bold and visionary, to build the foundation for something that will become one of the most transformational institutions in America. It is time for a spiritual upgrade, not in the essence of our spirituality but in how we access, develop, and express it.
This is a time when many people in the West are coming to realize that they know almost nothing about the deep spirituality that inspired the great civilizations of Islam. It is also the time when the first numerically significant generation of Muslims born in America and Europe will be coming to maturity. Many, if not most of these people, have had little exposure to the spiritual legacy of their own tradition. They are searching for the knowledge, experience, and wisdom to satisfy their human and spiritual needs and to respond to the present global crisis.
We have to find the common ground, representing the most just, merciful and generous values of traditional spirituality. One of the immediate ways we can have an effect is by designing and producing events that embody the principles and values of spiritual transformation—events that integrate wisdom, spiritual practice, the arts, and some exposure to new ideas in ecology, science, holistic medicine, etc. If this is done with an awareness of universal spiritual values and principles, these events will inevitably have their own coherence.
We also need to gradually encourage the development of talent within our community: spiritual communicators, capable of inspiring others with the wisdom at the heart of our faith.
The Baraka Institute can be the organization par excellence that stands for this Unity and champions it from a perspective that is solidly rooted in traditional wisdom. With a universal, inclusive perspective, we are uniquely positioned to integrate the broad faith communities in the West, and even in the world.
The Baraka Institute will address a broad set of needs, particularly for younger adults. We will share these results more widely through various media: a web site, podcasts, an internet radio station, a virtual think tank, publications, and films, to mention the most obvious. Part of the challenge is to embody this new vision in a way that can make it touch a broad segment of the community without losing the spiritual intensity and purity that can actually transform individuals. Training programs will reach out broadly to establish a significant presence in the community. One or more Spiritual Centers will eventually be created to embody the core of values of the Institute: spiritual awareness, appreciation of beauty, and interpersonal respect.
Our aim is to create a transformative community, to stimulate a renewal of authentic spirituality capable of facing the challenges before humanity while giving due recognition to the needs of our eternal souls.
The Baraka Institute will become a crucible of transformation in which the deepest minds and noblest hearts work together to express a contemporary vision. Our first objective, then, is to become a gathering point for people who can share this yearning and understanding. Coming together in a context of God-consciousness, respect, and the free exchange of ideas, we hope to establish a community that will inspire positive actions and enduring relationships.
 The use of this word is meant to give a fresh perspective. The “transformation” that is meant here is the movement from an egoic mentality to a soul consciousness. God does not change a people’s condition until they change themselves. The egoic state is absorbed in “my” advantage, “my” family, country, or religion. It perceives through opposition, conflict, defensiveness, and ultimately leads to the misuse of resources and power. Egoic consciousness corrupts religion, and everything it touches. The soul consciousness, on the other hand, perceives others as souls in process, serves all of life and humanity, and keeps the Divine always at the center. This is made possible by higher consciousness, spiritual practice, and communion with others committed to the same ideal.