Born : 1871 - San Francisco, California, USA
Married : 1890
Died : 31st August 1947 - San Francisco, California, USA
Children : 1 daughter ; Etta
Letter written to Meher Baba
August 24th, 1945
Divine and Beloved Master,
At your request, I briefly state the journey of the past five months has opened – and opened my consciousness of greater vistas of Love, Light and Truth – than I experienced when I came first to New York and said in simple words to you, "I come to learn and serve." What you have awakened in my heart, my intuition, is without discrimination, analysis, and you cleared the deck of my mind through your Divine Light so fast, I could honestly, earnestly say, "I know:" until my heart panted by the water brooks of your God-Realized experience – and never was there room for doubt, never.
You have often said to us – "You know not love," and yet the love in my heart increased for Baba, and I would cry out in my soul to Love more (which) must be to cry out for you to come and teach, and most of all awaken the great potentials hidden in the love in my heart for you, the Avatar, and be! my experience. Did not Hafiz say: "Me this heritage reached, from the dawn of the creation" – and so my Divine Master, I understand in some degree "Love" as the rightful owner of our soul which you exemplify as far as I understand and am concerned: Your utterances and activities are all Love, Light, Truth.
Feeling is living – I feel what you awaken and teach – so I must cry out and ask you to come and fill my heart and our hearts so full of love, that only Love can remain.
Great exaltations cannot be written – there is nothing to this task I brought but an emptying, and a stirring to experience some of the spiritual grandeur and the simplicity bound up in One Divine Man called Baba – beyond Name and form – in Reality – but who must, to our limited state of consciousness, come down – personify and help me – help us all to realize who we are – and what we may become! You have then – in Holiness – in the Beauty of Holiness – blessed this striver with both knowledge and service. O, come and lead us consciously through the mazes of our limited existence – to the Limitless Love, Light, Truth, God!
With whatever love and light thou hast granted me – Rabia – she rededicates it to the service of her Beloved, Divine Master, for humankind.
Soon after, Meher Baba replied to Rabia Martin's letter through his secretary, Adi K. Irani:
October 1st, 1945
Baba is profoundly happy and delighted that the vistas of new and ever-growing consciousness of Love, Light and Truth were experienced and that you rejoiced in their experience. Verily you have understood and grasped the gravity of Love as the basis of all higher aims and for that Baba is pleased also.
Inexplicable as Love is, it is as easy of feeling for a person like you, as it may be difficult for one who is blind to it. Nevertheless, Baba blesses equally those who are ignorant of it and those who are enlightened.
Baba knows you. He knows how you feel. He knows how you aspire. He knows how you love. He knows what you desire.
He sends his deepest love and blessings from his Infinite Heart.
Margaret was still corresponding regularly with Delia DeLeon in England, who was spreading Baba's name there with Will Backett. In America, Elizabeth was going ahead with her plans to develop the Myrtle Beach property, and Rabia Martin, Darwin Shaw, Frank Eaton, David Brooks, Hilda Fuchs and a few others were staying to help her. Norina was living in New York City in an apartment with three young ladies – Filis Frederick, Adele Wolkin and Dolores Shaw (Darwin Shaw's niece). Nadine Tolstoy was staying with them, but had developed sclerosis and was not well. Filis and Adele had moved in with Norina, Elizabeth and Nadine during December, 1943. Norina had invited them, indicating she intuited – through her "spiritual thought transmission" – that it was basically Baba's invitation, as he sought to draw them closer.
Initiated by Inayat Khan in 1911, and head or Murshida of Sufism in America since 1927, Rabia Martin was destined to come into contact with Meher Baba. In 1942, Rabia Martin met Norina Matchabelli and Elizabeth Patterson, who had come to California to investigate sites for Baba's proposed American center. After listening to their descriptions of their Master, Rabia became convinced that Meher Baba was an extraordinary spiritual figure. She was profoundly affected by her internal experience of the Master and offered her Sufi retreat center in Fairfax near San Francisco for Baba's use. Elizabeth wrote Baba in India: "Rabia's offer seemed to come from the heart and we all agree that she is the most advanced and understanding soul we met in California."
Over the next three years, Rabia Martin studied Meher Baba's writings intensely and began a correspondence with him. She also grew closer to Norina and Elizabeth. In April 1945 they invited her to come and live with them. She joined them in New York and then Myrtle Beach until July. Rabia's inner experiences during those months confirmed her intuitive understanding that Meher Baba was the living embodiment of Sufism and the divine incarnation of God – the Rasool or Avatar.
In May 1945, at Myrtle Beach, Rabia Martin committed herself and her Sufi Order wholly to Meher Baba's guidance. In the following months, she began to share her understanding of Meher Baba with her closest Sufi students, including Ivy O. Duce, Don Stevens and Samuel Lewis. She also moved to formalize her commitment to Baba by giving him all the material resources and possessions of her Sufi Order, including her retreat at Fairfax. She dedicated everything she had to Baba. Her devotion and gratitude to the Master can be felt in one of her letters to Baba in 1945:
After receiving Meher Baba's reply, in the autumn of 1945, Rabia Martin announced to all her Sufi students that her work was now dedicated to Meher Baba and that if they wished to remain in her Sufi group, their spiritual allegiance would need to be to him. Rabia declared that Baba's life, work and message were the essence of Sufism as it was to be lived now and in the future. She was totally dedicated to Meher Baba and fully accepted him as the Avatar, though she had not yet met him face to face.
DESTINED to play a significant role in the divine game, Ivy O. Duce, back in 1941, after more than a decade of searching for God and life's deeper meaning through various forms of religion, mysticism, occultism and astrology, met Rabia Martin, who was the leader (Murshida) of the Sufi Order established by Inayat Khan in America. She was born Ivy Oneita Judd on February 25th 1895, in New Jersey, the only child of an engineer who worked for the inventor Thomas Edison. Although she was a classically-trained soprano, she decided to study law. However, before she completed her legal training, America entered World War I and she went to France as a volunteer for the Red Cross. After the war, she spent two years travelling in South America as a representative for an international bank. Returning to New York, she became an editor for Century magazine. In 1923, she married James Terry Duce, an American geologist she met in South America, who later became an oil executive for the Arabian-American Oil Company. Six years later, their daughter, Charmian, was born. The Duces lived at times in New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and the Middle East. With her husband's involvement and wide influence in international business, she became a diplomatic hostess to heads of state, ambassadors and public figures in the United States and Europe. From 1941 onward, Ivy Duce became closely associated with Rabia Martin and was initiated into the Sufi Order, along with her teenage daughter, Charmian.
It was back in 1942 that Rabia Martin first heard of Meher Baba from Norina Matchabelli and Elizabeth Patterson. For the next three years, she gathered as much information as she could about his life and work and she studied it deeply. In the spring of 1945 she traveled from San Francisco to spend several months with Norina and Elizabeth in New York City and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. During this period, her conviction that Meher Baba was the Avatar deepened and she felt it was critically important to share this conviction with Ivy Duce. So in the summer of 1945, Rabia Martin revealed to Ivy Duce her knowledge about Meher Baba's presence on earth and her conviction that he was a divine being – the living Avatar. Through Rabia's loving influence Ivy, too, became associated with and friends with Norina and Elizabeth. Urged by Rabia, she began to read Meher Baba's books, messages and discourses. Ivy opened herself to Baba's internal guidance and began to experience his spiritual presence and his divine love.
Rabia Martin directed Sufi groups in the United States, South America and Australia. During 1946, at the age of seventy-five, Rabia Martin made plans to travel to India to meet Meher Baba and work out the details of setting up a new organization for Sufism in America and Australia. An Australian Sufi and writer, Francis Brabazon, was sent by the leader of the Sufis in Australia, Baron Von Frankenburg, to California to accompany her to India. Soon, however, it became clear that she was too ill to travel, and she was forced to give up her plan to meet Baba in India. The doctors had diagnosed that she was dying of cancer.
In 1947, a few days before July 23rd, Rabia Martin's birthday, Meher Baba sent a message of blessing to her. Her daughter, Etta, was with her then and recalled: "I do remember one night when she lay very ill in my home, that a cablegram came from Baba in which he blessed her. I also think it was around her birthday time too. This message was wonderful for Murshida. The light that came into her eyes, and her happiness was beyond words."
Meher Baba's message was a great consolation to Rabia Martin before her death. She passed away peacefully on August 31st, a little more than a month after her 76th birthday. Rabia Martin was not destined to meet Meher Baba in person this life. But she achieved her deepest wish by bringing Sufism in America and the Western world under the guidance of the Avatar. She entrusted her work to the successor she named a month before her death, Ivy Oneita Duce.
Ivy Duce was surprised when Rabia Martin named her as the next Murshida of the Sufi Order. Following Rabia's death, the weight of her new responsibility was very grave. Ivy Duce felt she did not have the spiritual illumination necessary to work as a true Murshida. Nor did she feel capable or qualified to assume the temporal responsibilities of directing the Sufi Order. In turmoil after Rabia's death, all Ivy Duce could think about was travelling to India to see Meher Baba. She decided that she had to carry out Rabia Martin's original design: to lay the future of Sufism in America at Meher Baba's feet. This she was determined to do. Ivy Duce had been in correspondence with Baba the past year and intended to ask him to appoint an authentic, illumined teacher for the Sufi Order, "perhaps someone from the East" who could come to America and put the Order on a stable basis. Baba had other plans. Therefore, in 1947, plans for a meeting were set in motion.
MEANWHILE, Baba had continued to keep in touch with his Western lovers throughout 1947. Rabia Martin, who had close association with Elizabeth and Norina in New York City, had died of cancer at the end of August 1947. Since 1945 she had accepted Meher Baba as the Avatar and informed all the Sufis under her and her successor, Ivy Duce, that the Sufi Order was now under the spiritual guidance of Meher Baba. For nearly the past three years, Rabia had taught nothing but Meher Baba's words and concepts in the Sufi Order, and never wavered from her complete devotion to him. Rabia had accepted Meher Baba not only as a living Qutub but had concluded that "Meher Baba is the greatest spiritual leader of our age," implying with certainty that he was the Rasool – the Avatar. Rabia Martin was not destined to meet Meher Baba in person, but she achieved her deepest wish by bringing Sufism in America under the guidance of the Avatar and by urging Ivy Duce to establish direct contact with him.
After Rabia Martin's passing, the group of Sufis in the San Francisco area dwindled to a small number which met regularly under Ivy Duce, consisting of Don Stevens, Daphne Macdonald, Joyce Ruggles, Louise Urico and Rosemary McFall. From Hillsborough, Fred and Carolyn Frey joined the Sufi group occasionally, and from a far distance Laura Delavigne in Michigan kept in correspondence with Ivy Duce. Gradually, from 1947 through the next several years the Sufi group was joined by Harold Stewart, Lud Dimpfl and Marvin Campen, and later became increasingly integrated with the joining of Joseph and Kari Harb. Ivy Duce was eager to meet with Meher Baba, the living Avatar and unify her Sufi group under his direction. She wrote to Baba and he granted her permission to meet with him in India at the beginning of 1948.
By October of 1947, several Australian Sufis had also come into Baba's contact through the influence of the Sufi leader Baron Von Frankenburg, to whom Rabia Martin had sent a copy of the Discourses. Among them were May Lundquist, Ena Lemmon, Bill Le Page, John and Joan Bruford, Stan and Clarice Adams, Oswald and Betty Hall, Denis and Joan O'Brien, and their eventual leader Francis Brabazon. In 1948, Francis wrote to Baba of his vivid dreams. Through Dr. Ghani, Baba replied to Francis: "Baba would like very much for you to look upon him as a friend, and maybe, in the course of time, you will grow to look upon him as the Beloved." Indeed, it did not take him long to "surrender to the Beloved of his heart."
I highlighted the Sufic affairs but he hardly listened – I showed him Inayat Khan's photograph and Rabia Martin's. He said he knew, motioning to Inayat Khan's and then pointing at Rabia's said: "She was the right successor."
Meher Baba 's message :
It can thus be seen that no certification from Hasan Nizami or any Chishti school from Ajmer or elsewhere would go to help and uphold the prestige of Mahboob Khan or others like him. Even the certification of Khilafatship obtained by Murshida Rabia Martin from Hasan Nizami, copies of which you gave me while in India, is of no spiritual worth whatsoever.The spiritual
worth of Rabia Martin consists in being appointed as Murshida by Hazrat Inayat Khan personally and directly. Hence the effort on the part of Rabia Martin to obtain a written investiture from Hasan Nizami was altogether superfluous and unnecessary... .
....worth of Rabia Martin consists in being appointed as Murshida by Hazrat Inayat Khan personally and directly. Hence the effort on the part of Rabia Martin to obtain a written investiture from Hasan Nizami was altogether superfluous and unnecessary... .
For the continuance of the work of spiritually enlightened humanity, it is never imperatively essential to contact disembodied Masters, nor is it necessary to receive messages from departed souls. It is only living Masters actually working on the physical plane that sometimes communicate or send messages of guidance through and to suitable mediums.
The sending of messages even by living Masters is a rare phenomenon and very seldom resorted to, unless the urgency of the situation warrants it. The Masters who are out to guide humanity always do so by having recourse to ordinary and natural means of communication. When Masters in flesh avoid all occult methods of teaching and guiding humanity through appointed mediums, whatever may be their intrinsic worth, you can imagine how tall and presumptuous the claim of certain individuals can be when they talk of receiving messages from Masters, and that too from those who are no more on the physical plane of existence. You are therefore enjoined by Hazrat Meher Baba to remember that nobody should succeed in impressing or overawing you by such claims as having the capability of receiving messages from Masters, living or dead.
Hazrat Meher Baba has once again taken this opportunity of reiterating the advice given to you while here in India:
"You should openly declare that you are a student of spirituality. You are not God-realized and that you are aspiring for that blessedness with the help and grace of a Master who is alive and active in the affairs of the world today. Since the responsibility – not of your seeking – of supervising the Sufi movement has devolved on you through Murshida Rabia Martin, you would do your best to shoulder the Cross, knowing fully well your shortcomings and weaknesses. While trying to help and teach others in the Sufi way, you are alive to the fact that you yourself are growing and learning. The result of your work when conducted in this spirit should be left entirely in the hands of Baba."
Francis Brabazon had been attempting to meet Baba for several years. A poet and writer, Brabazon was spiritually inclined and had studied metaphysical literature. He had become attracted to the Persian Sufis and had found out about Sufism and Meher Baba through the Australian Sufi leader Baron Von Frankenburg. He had been sent by Baron Von Frankenburg to San Francisco, California, in September 1946, to accompany Murshida Rabia Martin to India to meet Meher Baba. But Rabia Martin fell seriously ill with cancer and could not travel to India prior to her death in 1947. Brabazon could not go alone and he remained in America until the next appointed Sufi Murshida, Ivy Duce, returned from meeting Baba in India, during January 1948. Upon Ivy Duce's return she telephoned Brabazon in San Francisco and assured him that Meher Baba was indeed "the Qutub of all Sufis." Brabazon was directed to return to Australia, work hard, save his money and await Baba's call. In 1951, when Von Frankenburg died, Brabazon was appointed head of the Australian Sufis by Ivy O. Duce.
At her first meeting in 1948, Ivy Duce had asked for Baba's guidance, as she had been appointed to the leadership of the Sufi order after Rabia Martin died and knew that she was not a Realized soul. Baba assured her not to worry about her limitations; he would see to the welfare of the organization and restructure it with himself as its head.
The next day, July 19th, Carolyn Frey met Baba. Donald Eugene Stevens, age thirty-three, one of Ivy's mureeds and her chief helper, arrived in the afternoon. When Rabia Martin had told her group in San Francisco about Baba, Don had initially rebelled. He was devoted to Inayat Khan and was skeptical of another Master. He had been unable to come to Myrtle Beach for the May 17th darshan, and though he had sent a telegram asking if he could meet Baba in Prague, Oklahoma, Baba had not permitted it.
Joseph Harb had known of Meher Baba since 1947, having been a Sufi connected with Rabia Martin in California, and vividly remembered that first embrace from the God-Man:
Baba turned to Ivy and asked, "Have you heard of the ancient Sufi prophet, Khwaja Khizr?" She replied that she had heard Rabia Martin speak of him. Baba explained: "Khwaja Khizr now and then takes on a physical body if there is some spiritual situation that absolutely demands it. The Realization of Francis was such a case, because he had no Perfect Master to give him Realization. So, on the night we read about on Mount La Verna, near Assisi, during which St. Francis also received the stigmata [wounds of the Crucified Christ], Khwaja Khizr, in his temporary human form, gave this beloved Western saint the touch of grace which made him a Perfect Soul – a Qutub or Perfect Master."
|Type||Non-profit religious corporation|
|Location||Walnut Creek, California|
|Key people||Carol Weyland Conner|
Sufism Reoriented is an American school of spiritual training headquartered in Walnut Creek, California, established by Meher Baba in 1952. In November of that year he signed The Chartered Guidance from Meher Baba for the Reorientation of Sufism. He appointed Ivy O. Duce as the first Murshida, or spiritual guide, of Sufism Reoriented.
Sufism was originally brought to the West by Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882–1927) in 1910. He appointed Rabia Martin as his successor and Murshida of his Sufi Order. In the 1940s Rabia Martin recognized Avatar Meher Baba as the reigning spiritual authority of the age and surrendered herself and her order to him. She appointed Ivy Duce as her successor as Murshida of the Sufi Order. In 1948 Murshida Duce was called to India by Meher Baba who confirmed her role as Murshida and announced that he intended to reorient Sufism under his guidance and her leadership in the near future. This was realized in 1952 with the creation of Sufism Reoriented.
The members of Sufism Reoriented celebrate Meher Baba as the Avatar, the human incarnation of God and the spiritual authority of this age. This represents a substantial departure from Sufism in either its traditional Islamic form, or in the form taught by Hazrat Inayat Khan. It is worth noting that Meher Baba asserted that Sufism pre-dates the Islamic prophet Muhammad, having begun with the prophet Zoroaster of Persia, and that Muhammad gave Sufism a spiritual push back toward the esoteric aspect of the spiritual path (this last point was conveyed to Don E. Stevens by Meher Baba in person).
Meher Baba designed Sufism Reoriented as a universal spiritual school which recognizes a central core of divine love at the heart of all spiritual systems. Meher Baba reorganized patterns of life and inner training associated with ancient Sufism and adapted them to the needs of spiritual students in contemporary America. He identified the central principles of Sufism Reoriented as love and service: active love for God and active service to others in God’s world.
Those who are drawn to join this Sufi school share certain characteristics. First is an inner connection with divinity that cannot be denied or set aside, an overwhelming impetus to dedicate one’s life to God and to honor the divinity of life itself. Though this impulse may not always emerge in one’s daily awareness, it is felt at deeper levels as a central quality of life. Sufis identify it as love, and they recognize its fulfillment in Meher Baba, the very embodiment of love.
Those drawn to Sufism Reoriented also recognize a natural affinity with the school’s spiritual teacher, who occupies the office of Murshid. The term Murshid or Murshida means Guide. It is used in traditional Sufism to refer to the spiritual figure who directs a Sufi school. Meher Baba, who described himself as the Murshid of Murshids, first received Murshida Rabia Martin as His follower, and agreed to guide her and her Sufi group. However, Murshida Martin died before meeting Meher Baba physically. Before passing, Murshida Martin made Ivy Oneita Duce (1895–1981) her successor (the next Murshida) of the Sufi Order. In 1952 Meher Baba appointed her the first Murshida of Sufism Reoriented. Meher Baba confirmed this in India upon meeting Murshida Duce there. Before her passing, Murshida Duce named Dr. James S. B. MacKie (1932–2001) as her successor. He, in turn, designated Carol Weyland Conner, the current Murshida, as his successor.
Back in the 1940s I was a newly minted Sufi hardly dry behind the ears. I was struggling to come to grips with the challenge of having vowed, for the first time in my life, to obey another person, Murshida Rabia Martin, whom, in addition, I still scarcely knew. Yet I was willing to do my best, because I was convinced that the goal was valid and worth probably all the rest of the goals in my life together, and more besides.
I had not been a Sufi for very long when Murshida Martin, my spiritual guide, announced to me and other members of the Sufi Order whom she had gathered together in her San Francisco apartment, that she had finally found the successor to her own teacher, Inayat Khan, who had died many years before. She told us his name, Meher Baba, which meant nothing to me, as I had never heard of him. She went on to recount that she had studied during the last two years, for as much time as she could, with two of this great man's students in New York, and that they were coming to the San Francisco Bay Area the following week-end. In fact, they had accepted Murshida Martin's invitation to address her Sufi students at the Fairfax Sufi School, and we were all invited and urged to attend this rare opportunity to hear first hand accounts from direct devotees of the great man, Meher Baba.
We all duly collected in Fairfax on the appointed day, and were told many things by Norina Matchabelli, Elizabeth Patterson and Mildred Kyle, a third devotee from the Seattle area. Our Murshida told us that after the Fairfax meeting she would give us two weeks to decide whether we would follow her under the guidance of Meher Baba, or ask her to release us from the vow we had each taken with her on our initiation as Sufis.
The story she recounted as the basis for this decision she asked us to make, was that she had asked Meher Baba in earlier correspondence if he would accept her as his student, and when he had agreed to this, she then asked if he would also accept the responsibility for the spiritual guidance of her students. In turn he had agreed to this request as well, assuring her that as soon as he could he would travel to America to meet Murshida Martin as well as his other new spiritual charges.
The end result of all this was that everyone then present accepted Meher Baba as their Spiritual Master, and a great project to adapt the Sufi School as a home worthy of Meher Baba's visit began, with painting and pruning and refurbishing everywhere. In turn, Murshida Martin began at once to teach her Sufi mureeds from the charts contained in "The Divine Theme, by Meher Baba" one of the few teaching tools available to Murshida Martin directly from Meher Baba. But her classes were not to continue for long, as soon after she contracted a cancer, and after a rather lengthy battle, succumbed to its inroads.
Meanwhile Meher Baba's promise to visit his Sufis was postponed several times, and eventually it was Murshida Martin's successor, Murshida Ivy Duce, who made a special visit to India to meet Meher Baba. I recall her enthusiastic letter to us recounting the reactions of her daughter, Charmian and herself, ending with the clear statement that she confirmed completely Murshida Martin's original decision to put the Order under Meher Baba's charge.
This story I have told many times, and included it in a chapter on Murshida Martin in my little book, "Some Results." (see Some Results, Companion Books: "Preliminaries," pp. xi - xiv, and Murshida Martin pp. 1 - 7). I also confirmed the correctness of the entire story, from the India side, with Mani.
Some years later, I heard a younger Sufi telling a version of this story that seemed to omit any part of Murshida Martin's turnover of the Inayat Khan Sufis to Meher Baba's care, changing the story from Murshida Martin's orbit and placing it in the new Murshida Duce's area of decision and actions. I chose the first opportunity to tell Murshida Duce of my astonishment at hearing this erroneous interpretation.
Murshida Duce replied to me that Murshida Martin had indeed wished originally to make this transfer, but that then she had recanted, so Ivy had to transfer the Sufis to Baba during her trip to India. I explained that I had been in Murshida Martin's classes in San Francisco subsequent to the Fairfax meeting, and that she had used Baba's charts from "The Divine Theme" until she had to abandon class work due to the cancer, and that she had never until her death given any indication of any regrets for her acts regarding Baba. Murshida Duce said she had a letter that Murshida Martin had written to Samuel Lewis recanting her act. I asked her if I could read it, which Murshida allowed me to do
It never ceases to amaze me how Baba foresees problems and provides for the means of resolving them. When I read the letter I saw at once that it referred not to the passing of the Sufi Order to Baba, but the further and later act of deeding the Fairfax Sufi School property to Baba. My knowledge of this series of events came about curiously through the fact that I had moved to the Sufi School to help with the repainting and repairs for the repeatedly postponed arrival of Baba. During that time Murshida Martin was bedridden. One day she had her daughter Etta Mehdy telephone to her secretary in Fairfax, asking if she could have the gown Murshida Martin had had prepared for her own funeral, to be sent to her in San Francisco. She asked me if I could take the package to San Francisco and deliver it to Murshida, which I did at once.
When I gave the package to Etta, she told me that her mother had asked to see me when I arrived. Etta took me to her room and left us alone. Murshida did not look especially weak, and asked me to sit while she talked to me. She then did something completely out of character and began a story at the time of Inayat Khan's departure in 1927 for India and his instructions to Murshida Martin on the manner she should employ to reach him in case of any emergency. This was to use Samuel Lewis, who, Inayat Khan told Murshida Martin, was quite able to transmit and receive messages psychically. Then Inayat Khan died. This last instruction Murshida Martin had presumably not forgotten. Soon, however, she had the impression that the replies received by Samuel from Inayat Khan, always seemed oddly slanted to Samuel's own tastes, desires, and good.
I will not go into the description Murshida gave me of the agony this situation had caused her over the years. What I read in the letter from Murshida Martin to Samuel, and from what Murshida Martin told me on that final fatal day, for it was her last day of life, it was clear that the deeding of the Fairfax Sufi property to Baba had been a bitter event for Samuel, as he often lived there at that time. Samuel had then delivered a message to Murshida Martin, purportedly received from Inayat Khan, which criticized her for having deeded Sufi property to the new spiritual head of the Order. This was the act Murshida wrote to Samuel that she regretted, and promised to find some means to rescind, or soften, the effects
When I explained this long story, which I had heard directly from Murshida Martin on her last living day, to Murshida Duce, she said then that she had misinterpreted the intent of Murshida Martin's letter to Samuel, and she would have to correct the matter. But as the years rolled along, I found she had not kept her promise; So, the confusion has apparently continued until the present day, which is why I am recounting this, as I believe I am the only living person who knows the complete facts.
On my return last week from a series of travels I found in my mail the latest copy of "The Glow," containing the very special information on the history of Meher Baba's taking on the spiritual responsibility for Inayat Khan's Sufi Order, and its present manner of achieving the aims set out for its activities. I would like to say that I felt Naosherwan's product in this issue answered a perhaps overdue detailed presentation for the Baba world on this subject, which I know to have been so close to Baba's heart. However, it still contained the old confused version of Murshida Martin having intended to turn over the Sufis to Meher Baba but not having done so. It is certainly time now for this erroneous account to be corrected and the accurate version to be placed in its stead. Murshida Rabia Martin brought the Sufis to Meher Baba, I was there.
Don E. Stevens
May 5, 2004
Mrs. A. Martin ( Murshida Rabia )
Jan. 2 - 14,
Blessed Murshad [ Old way of rendering the word Murshid ]: This represents a short biography of my life.
My parents were born in Russia - and came to California in 1850 - and were pioneers. They married in San Francisco - and I was born here in 1871. I was reared and educated here - and graduated from the public schools.
I was always ( as a child ) deeply fond of older people - and wanted ever to converse with them. My folks had a difficult time of it I guess - because when I played with children - I wanted to lead them and they had to follow - or there was no play for me. My sense of Justice in my world of play was so marked - they did not understand me - and consequently my family felt I was too positive and all sorts of advice was unheeded. Of course you know - I could not accept less than the ideals of my childish heart - and somehow as I grew older I felt quite alone within the family circle.
I married at nineteen - my dear daughter was born a year later; this was real happiness, to train her in the principles of morality, justice and patience, and then the blessed music.
In my 28th year a deep grief came to me - and for four years. I suffered much - and the problem compelled me to search deeper for the questions I asked of God - for the reasons demanded an explanation and in this storm and tumult of a problem too sad for words - I was led into spiritual teachings and freed myself from pain and heart sorrow - and tested these principles and universal laws - and stayed here in this form. After certain realizations came in the secret place of my own heart - I gave all to Allah and studied, served, prayed ever - to realize His laws - love - mercy and justice. This period of my life I call the reconciliation and spiritual regeneration, all praises to Allah.
I was not satisfied with the Western teachings, so made an independent study of comparative religions - and prayed Allah to lead me to the source - as thus far it was only drinking from a brook instead of the Ocean of Reality. Lecturers, teachers and advanced students here, I met always - but none touched my heart's longing - they all represented more or less the circumference. I longed for the center. Then Allah sent my blessed Murshad, spiritually - and later in form. These mystical and blessed experiences I cannot give to the world - to me they are too sacred - this may be selfishness - I cannot share them. My blessed Murshad's Murshad too - may Allah glorify you both - came to me - and it can never be told in words - realizations which belong only to the Rabia not of this world - and so all I care for in this life is to worship Allah - love and serve Him - and Murshad and all Murshads in chain. May Allah keep my heart pure and my spirit humble (Amen).
Humbly - (w.s.:) Rabia.
(Ada Martin) Please Note: We have an artist - and also a Rabbi Priest - in our family. Also I have almost a passion for the study of philosophy and in New York I found there were others (men) of my family branch who likewise gave a lifetime to this study.
Murshida Martin passed away in San Francisco in 1947.
From the archives of the Nekbakht Foundation.