Vasheest introduced me to Sufism when i was only fifteen, and gave me the name Karima at the City of Refuge on the Big Island of Hawaii. It has been my name ever since, and I will never forget him. He was my teacher and my friend, taught me singing lessons and believed in me and encouraged me on my spiritual journey. I will miss him.
Vasheest, student and disciple of Murshid Sam Lewis, Pir Vilayat Khan, and Joe Miller,
Dharma brother to Murshid Wali Ali Meyer, Pir Moiniddin Jablonski, Shaykh Iqbal Lewis, and Pir Shabda Khan (and who introduced Shabda to Pandit Pran Nath),
Vasheest, who early on embraced Islam, who invited us to meet Sheikh Muzaffer Ozak Al-Jerrahi, Shaykh Shemsuddin Ahmed (who he brought to live among us), and Abdur Rahman Lomax, who first lured him into the fold,
Who brought Lex Hixon Nur Al-Jerrahi to Sami Mahal, along with Imam Bilal Hyde, and of course, Sheikh Tanner Ansari.
Vasheest, who gifted us with Zuleikha and Hamza el-Din, Coleman Barks, and our Grateful Dead friends,
Vasheest, first to recognize Saadi Klotz and Khalida/Camay as sheikhs,
Vasheest, who regularly hosted Lucas Hoving, Sri Karunamayi, Pandit Krishna Bhatt, Ustad Zakir Hussain,
Vasheest, who brought us together with Sheikh Hisham Kabbani, who opened our doors to a young Zia Inayat Khan and Merlin Inayat Khan, who pointed us to broader horizons with Drs. Nahid Angha and Ali Khianfar by involving us all in the first International Sufi Symposiums,
Vasheest, who befriended Sheikh Ahmad Tijani,
Vasheest, who hosted Jelaluddin Loras and the 1st American Mevlevi semas at Sami Mahal,
Vasheest, who brought Fatima to Sufi Barkat Ali,
Vasheest, who guided groups of us on pilgrimages to India, Pakistan, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, and the Balkans. Who inspired us in zikrs at the shrines of Hazrat Inayat Khan and Hazrat Nizamuddin Awliya in Dehli, Hazrat Salman Chisti in Fatehpur Sikri, Hazrat Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmir Sharif, inside the Taj Mahal in Agra, at the Dome of the Rock in Holy Jerusalem.
Vasheest, who inspired the establishment of Sami Mahal, where we would meet for hours of American-eclectic zikr on Thursday nights, Rifai’ Hadrat on Monday nights, Mevlevi zikr and sema training on Tuesday nights, Chisti zikr on Wednesday nights, Qadiri-Rifai zikr on Friday nights, and spend most weekends in 48-hour zikr / meditation intensives; and still fit in concerts, music, dance, and movement classes, and parties; and managed to be a “hot zone” salon for the cutting-edge of the cullinary, virtual-reality, and world music scenes.
Nice to see this remembrance page for Vasheest here. A smile arises seeing the photo of him that I took of him in India (below) and that either Fatima or I took of him in Pakistan (above) on that amazing and life-transforming pilgrimage that he put together in 1978-79, and for which this person will be forever grateful. May you rest in peace, brother. Someday perhaps, one of us will share some stories of him on this trip. For now, just a smile of fond remembrance.
Vasheest had a Sunday morning choir that met in his and Zuliekah’s house on Holly Park Circle in SF. He was writing charts for the Grateful Dead and teaching us how to harmonize by providing space for a bunch of refugees from other states to come together and be.
Once we all jumped on Muni and went to the Longshoreman’s Hall to see the 17th Karmapa give the Black Hat Ceremony..1974.
He and Zuleikha offered the hand and heart of friendship to me
and my life as a Sufi began.
Vasheest was of great importance in my life as well as many others, providing a cautionary tale of power, exuberance and love. His musicianship as a singer was world-class and he attracted the best in world-style musicians. His was the first Westernized zikr – lengthy, hard-rocking and majestic just at the right moments. Never a dull moment with the Sheikh, even just sitting around. We had a bit of history with Vasheest, starting families at the same time, living at Sami Mahal, traveling together for zikrs – for a number of years. I’m certainly indebted to him for helping me become more of a real person, and forever grateful for his incredible being, the highs and lows and all the in-between.
I just red through memorial webpage that vasheest died 11 years ago…….. tears and memories:
one year before he died I met him in mamas laughing studio in fairfax, through his voice , rhythm and embodied knowledge I immediately deeply surrendered in the unkown and feeling completely safe with him and his guidance.
vasheest, open mind one ,grateful and seconds of outrageous joy in the presence of point-reyes hills and nature,
vasheest, somehow heartbroken, surprised maybe shocked by the intensity of life and love; dealing with the polarity aloneness/wholeness , being old and young at the same time,
I asked him always for his vision, his yearning , his intent to live and he said: well ……..and made a long pause…
then he sang a song …………………………………………………
( i have recorded it, who ever is interested, especially the children of vasheest, please contact me)
vasheest, the early bird ……..thanxs
vasheest made a vow to do zikhr every thursday night for 20 years no matter where he found himself & he did it. for all that time it was an anchor for me, in a life chronically unmoored: if it was thursday & vasheest was around, there would be zikhr. he irritated the hell out of me, but that was irrelevant. truly a great soul.