Salaam, one and all! We welcome you with heart-felt prayers for God's peace and mercy and blessings.

This blog is maintained for the readers of In the Light of a Blessed Tree, as well as for all those interested in the wider work of Dr. Timothy J. Gianotti: including the Islamic Institute for Spiritual Formation (IISF, Toronto), which he serves as the Director and Principal Teacher, the Studies in Islam program at Renison University College (University of Waterloo), where he serves as an Associate Professor, and the American Islamic College (Chicago), where he served as the Director of Islamic Studies (2013-2015).

Please stay tuned for new blog entries and announcements for new programs in Toronto and beyond!


The Circle's discussions these past weeks (July 16, 23, and 30) have focused on the intertwined mysteries of the nature of God and the true nature of the human being.  The August 6 sessions will, in sha' allah, explore the implications of Qur'anic passages situating the human being within a social context (community).  Please note that the Circle will, in sha' allah, continue throughout the month of Ramadan.

Suggested reading to enrich your reflections in these areas include a wonderful little book entitled, "Major Themes of the Qur'an" by the late Fazlur Rahman, specifically chapters 1-3.

As always, we will begin at noon in the upper teaching space of the Noor Cultural Centre and will close the circle shortly after 1:00 p.m., in time for people to transition downstairs to the prayer area for the jum'ah prayer service if they wish.  As always, people of all ages and faiths are welcome.


Here we find an excellent example of inflammatory, anti-Muslim
misinformation combined with fear-mongering, anti-Obama
propaganda.  It has been circulating around the web and
was sent to me by someone who immediately believed it to
be true. 

Please check it out as well as our response:

begins under this line

Please Read and Forward


Let's take him down through the Internet.. 
Seems the majority of the press are worshiping 
at his feet....

Someone could put this on facebook.. 

 If each person sends this to a minimum of twenty 
people on their address list, in three days, all people 
in The United States of America would have the 

I believe this is one proposal that really should be 
passed around.


[President Obama walking with a book in his hand...]

  The name of the book Obama is reading is called:

The Post-American World,  

and it was written by a fellow Muslim.

"Post"  America means the world After  America! 

Please forward this picture to everyone you know,
conservative or liberal.  We must expose Obama's 
radical ideas and his intent to bring down our 
beloved America!
(end of propaganda exhibit)

OUR RESPONSE (which led to a 
public retraction and apology issued by the individual 
who sent this on to me and to so many others):

Dear ______:

Please check out the book description below.  It's by Fareed Zakaria, a respected mainstream American journalist (editor of Newsweek International and a frequent commentator on CNN), and has nothing to do with bringing down America.  It's about shifts in global power, something everyone is aware of or at least should be. One would expect someone in Obama's position to be reading respected authors and thought-provoking political analysis, such as this.

As is evidenced by the Times Square car-bomb attempt, we live in serious times, and so we have to be serious in addressing the real threats and problems.  This mindless and damaging propaganda is both racist and religiously discriminatory, and it does not help at all.  I urge you to send out an emphatic apology and retraction of this ignorant and shameless propaganda.  This, I feel, is the least any person of moral fiber and conscience would do.  The alternative is to stand by your promotion of the very same racist and religiously discriminatory hatred that you claim to oppose.



The amount of inflammatory misinformation designed to arouse fear, suspicion, and hatred of Muslims is all over the web.  Here we find a particularly pernicious piece that seeks to mislead everyday Americans into thinking that everyday American Muslims support and even celebrate the atrocities perpetrated on September 11, 2001.  To anyone with even a little education in Islamic history or theology, this discriminatory and intentionally misleading email seems too ridiculous to merit a response.  However, for those millions who have absolutely no knowledge of Islam, it seems very real and very threatening.  Such a person sent it to me in a state of tremendous alarm. 

Whatever else can be said about the person who crafted this propaganda, he/she wants us to think that the military conflicts in which America is engaged are part of a larger religious war waged by Muslims everywhere (including within the United States) against the U.S.  More, he/she will use anything and take anything out of context (including the sign cited below) to "prove" this.

(propaganda citation begins below this line)



This is so "Unbelievable"....   
In Houston, Texas 
Harwin Central Mall: The very first store that you 
come to when you walk from the lobby of the 
building into the shopping area had this sign 
posted on their door. 

The shop is run by Muslims

Feel free to share this with others.
In case you are not able to read the sign 
below, it says 
"We will be closed on Friday, 
September 11, 2009 to commemorate 
the martyrdom of Imam Ali"  

[photo of a sign posted in the front window of a shop...]

Imam Ali flew one of the planes 
into the twin towers.

Nice huh?  
Try telling me we're not in a  
Religious war!
  (end of propaganda citation)

OUR RESPONSE (to the person 
who originally sent this to us, a response that was
never acknowledged):

Dear _______:

I send warm regards, along with real disturbance over the kind of mindless, fear-mongering propaganda that you continue to spread and, by spreading, promote.

For the record, Imam Ali has been dead for nearly one thousand four hundred years (he was killed by an extremist in 661 CE).  He was the prophet Muhammad's first cousin and son-in-law, and he is revered by Shi'ah Muslims as the first of the twelve blessed imams, or Divinely-guided spiritual leaders of the Muslims following the death of the Prophet in 632 CE.  The "A.S." following his name means "peace be upon him" and would never be used for any other Ali in Islamic history. 

For the record, in the solar year 2009, the anniversary of his death in the Islamic lunar calendar fell on September 11, and so this Shi'ah-owned shop closed in remembrance of that anniversary.  IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ATROCITIES OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001.

_______, in the name of truth and for the love of humankind, PLEASE STOP SPREADING THIS FEAR MONGERING AND DEMONIZING PROPAGANDA!  This is the very kind of thing that leads to the irrational and unfair demonization of an entire group, the very kind of thing that can lead to mass persecution and even genocide.  It is discriminatory and dangerous, especially in this global climate. 

Please remember, that our greatest enemies are really ignorance and fear, and such emails are powerful weapons in the service of evil plots to spread both.

This is reality!!!


(which was, not surprisingly, also unanswered):

Dear _______:

Again, I send warm regards, along with my sincere hope that you are beginning to grow more cautious about spreading this kind of discriminatory propaganda that plays upon people's ignorance and fears.

As someone who remains confident that you yourself oppose the promotion of slanderous misinformation against any group, I write to urge you to send out a public retraction and apology for this irresponsible and dangerous email.  Our shared commitment to "never again" must include all peoples who are victimized by this kind of hateful propaganda.  Otherwise, we are mere hypocrites who promote some perpetrators while denouncing others.



SATURDAY INTERFAITH PANEL on "Spiritual Fulfillment, Social Justice, and Environmental Sustainability: the case for optimism"

Saturday July 17, 2 to 6 pm - Vedic Cultural Centre, 4345 14th Ave. Markham

Awakening consciousness: Integration of inner peace with universal peace.  What can move us to Unity in Diversity? What has worked during our history? Hope for the future?

Vedic Cultural Centre: 905-475-5778 www.vedicculturalcentre.com, (Pickup from TTC available between 1:30 to 2PM for the Sat Jul 17th Symposium - at Kennedy/Steeles Petro Canada station—call to request)

Featured Speaker Swami Veda Bharati (see description below)

Meditation & Reflections: Swamini Shivapriyananda, Senior Acharya, Chinmaya Mission,Toronto

  • Ervad Dr. Jehan Bagli, Zoroastrian priest, scholar, and scientific researcher
  • Dr. Timothy Gianotti, Noor Fellow in Arabic & Islamic Studies, York University and Noor Cultural Centre, author of Al-Ghazali’s Unspeakable Doctrine of the Soul
  • Chrystal Hawk, Coordinator, Institute of Noetic Sciences, Toronto; Psychotherapist, Healer and Educator
Moderator Rev. Leslie Gabriel Mezei, Interfaith Minister;  Coordinator Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposium; Founding Publisher, Interfaith Unity News, past Professor of Information Sciences, University of Toronto

Swami Veda Bharati D.Litt.(Holland), a renowned philosopher acclaimed internationally for his works, has authored a 1,500 page commentary on the first two chapters of Patanjali’s Yoga  Sutras. Chancellor of one of the largest Hospital Trust Universities in India, he has addressed many UN sponsored dialogue sessions on peace, climate change, and sustainable development around the world. He teaches meditation from within the religious, spiritual and literary traditions of different world cultures of India, China, Africa, Europe and the Americas and has a deep understanding of the different schools of Eastern and Western philosophies. www.swamivedabharati.org
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Copies of his new book:  Human Urge for Peace: What’s Right with the World will be available. 


In honor and celebration of the Islamic months of Sha'ban and Ramadan, the Circle of Sacred Knowledge will resume on Fridays, from noon until one, beginning Friday, July 16, and running continuously until Friday, September 3, in sha' allah.  Classes are held in the upper educational area of the Noor Cultural Centre.  All are welcome.

Topic for session 1 (July 16):  God