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!

Pursuing the Ultimate Horizon: the way of beautification (al-ihsan) and the mysteries of being and becoming "Muslim"

This Sunday (Feb 24) marks the eighth and final session of our INTRODUCTION TO ISLAM class at the Inner Garden.    Please join us for this presentation and discussion of Islamic spirituality and the attitudinal-ethical transformation it both precipitates and demands.

TIME:  4-6 pm
OFFERING/FEE: $50 at the door
LOCATION:  The Inner Garden

FREE PARKING BEHIND THE BUILDING ON SUNDAYS (entrance to the parking lot is on Richmond St, on the east side of the building)


"Archetypes, Prototypes, and the Perfection of Religion" this Sunday

This Sunday afternoon, our Introduction to Islam Course will be exploring the Medinan period (622-632 CE) of the prophet's life.  Migration (hijrah), community (ummah), religiously regulated armed steruggle, and the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation are just some of the points that we will touch upon, in sha' allah.   Feb 17, 4-6 pm, at the Inner Garden.  Drop-ins welcome!  For more info, please visit the IISF website.

"The Advent of Qur'anic Revelations in Mecca" this Sunday

Continuing with our IISF INTRODUCTION TO ISLAM class at the Inner Garden this Sunday, we will be discussing the advent of Qur'anic revelations, the early themes of the Qur'an, the challenges and opposition faced by the early believers in Mecca, the lesser migration to the Christian kingdom in Ethiopia circa 615, and the greater migration to Yathrib / al-Madina in 622.

Class time is 4-6 p.m.  DROP-INS WELCOME! Go to the IISF WEBSITE for more information.

Light Upon Light texts from our Feb 1 Session on "The Mysteries of Light and Darkness"

Al-hamdulillah, we had a powerful and wide-ranging discussion last night.  Thanks to all those who came and participated!  Please find below a few of the Qur'anic texts we read, pondered, and discussed.


February 1, 2013, at the Inner Garden, Toronto



From sūra(t) al-baqara / “the cow” (2): 257



God is the Guardian / Patron of those who believe; God takes them out of the darknesses and into the light - whereas those who maliciously misrepresent and deny the truth, their guardians / patrons are the evil ones who take them out of the light and into the darknesses; such are the people of the fire, therein to abide forever.[1]

From sūra(t) al-an‘ām / the livestock” (6):1

Praise God, who created the heavens and the earth and made the darknesses and the light; thereafter, those who rebelliously reject / deny [God’s generosity] place [themselves] on a par with their [true] Lord.

The Qur’ān frequently refers to itself and to the other scriptures as books containing light and guidance, by which God extracts believers from the darknesses and brings them into the light.

from sūra(t) al-mā’idah / “the table” (5):16

And through [the light and clear book that has come to you] God guides whosoever follows His good pleasure along paths of peace; By His grace, He brings them out of the darknesses [and] into the light and guides them to an upright path.[2]


Throughout the Qur’ān, revelation is celebrated as a means by which God brings humanity out of the various darknesses of this world and into the one light, which of course we understand to be Truth, God,[3] who is explicitly called “The Light of the Heavens and the Earth.”  

From sūra(t) an-nūr / “the light” (24): 35

God is the light of the heavens and the earth.  A parable for His light is a niche in which there is a lamp; the lamp is in glass, and the glass is like to a glittering star – lit from a blessed olive tree, of neither the east nor the west, a tree whose oil is just about to burst into light though no fire has touched it.  Light upon light!  God guides whomsoever He wills to His light.  God crafts [such] parables for the benefit of the people, and God is, of all things, knowing. 

from sūra(t) al-falaq / the light that cleaves the darkness of night (113)

Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the light that cleaves the darkness of night
from the evil / destructive force of that which He has created;
and from the evil / destructive energy of the black, impenetrable darkness as it spreads over;
and from the evil / destructive power of those who practice occult arts and witchcraft;
and from the evil / destructive power of the envious one when envy arises [within him].


[1] See also 6:39. 
[2] See also 14:1-5.
[3] See 5: 44-48.

INTRODUCTION TO ISLAM session this Sunday

This Sunday (Feb 3), God willing, our IISF Introduction to Islam class will be discussing "Pre-Islamic Arabia (al-Jahiliyya) and the Dawn of Islam" at the Inner Garden (6-8 pm). DROP-INS WELCOME! Go to the IISF WEBSITE for more information.