Es-Seyyid Es-Shaykh Taner Mustafa Vargonen Tarsusi el Ansari er Rifai el Qadiri, the head of the Ansari Qadiri Rifai Tariqa, an international Sufi spiritual order, died on August 27 after an unexpected heart attack. He was 81. He will be deeply missed by his family, students, and the many people who knew him as a friend. Shaykh Taner was born in Tarsus, Turkey, to a devout Muslim family of seyyids, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. Shaykh Taner received a Bachelor degree in English Pedagogy from Gazi University in Ankara, Turkey, and a Bachelor degree in Linguistics from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. In Michigan he helped found the Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada. He was also a professor of English Pedagogy at Cukurova University in Adana, Turkey. As he was completing his university studies in Michigan, Shaykh Taner was initiated into the Qadiri Rifai Tariqa in Istanbul by his dear shaykh Es-Seyyid Es-Shaykh Muhyiddin Ansari, from whom he later received his ijaza, the license to teach Sufism. At the behest of Shaykh Muhyiddin, Shaykh Taner was charged to create a new Sufi order called Ansari Qadiri Rifai Tariqa (AQRT). His spiritual lineage also includes the Naqshbandi, Mevlevi, and Bektashi Sufi orders. During his life’s work of teaching Sufism, Shaykh Taner gathered numerous students around the world who became devoted followers of the Sufi path. Correspondingly, he and his wife, Es-Seyyida Es-Shaykha Muzeyyen Vargonen el Ansari, established centers of the Ansari Qadiri Rifai Tariqa in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Tanzania, Mauritius, Germany, Australia, and the United Kingdom. In addition to guiding his own students and conducting congregational Sufi services, Shaykh Taner and his wife traveled the world to give talks, workshops and radio interviews on Sufism, Islam, alternative healing and sustainable living in schools and universities including Harvard, Humboldt State University, Boston University and Napa Valley College, as well as at churches, synagogues and other public forums. Shaykh Taner gave several presentations at the annual Sufi Symposium in California, and he and the AQRT were active members of Interfaith communities in California and New York. For many years he conducted weekly live internet talks on Sufism. AQRT (https://aqrtsufi.org) will continue to operate under the leadership of Shaykha Muzeyyen. Shaykh Taner wrote and published several books on Sufism and Islam, as well as translations of classic Sufi texts and the Qur’an. Posthumous publications of his works are forthcoming. In addition to his wife, Shaykh Taner is survived by his children Leyla Vargonen, Joseph (Melissa) Vargonen, Ali (Colleen) Vargonen, Ahmet (Hannah Naples) Vargonen and Metin (Jessica) Vargonen, his former wife Lizabeth Vargonen, several grandchildren, and three siblings.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of the Dufresne & Cavanaugh Funeral Home, Latham, NY.
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