Samuel Lewis was an American mystic and dance teacher who founded the Dances of Universal Peace movement. He was also known under his Sufi name Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti and was addressed by his mureeds and others as Murshid. This is an arabic word that means, “Exalted Teacher.” He was popularly known as Sufi Sam.

photo from the Archives of Robert Altman ©1995

In 1967, whilst recovering from a heart attack in a hospital Lewis claimed that he heard the voice of god say, “I make you spiritual leader of the hippies.” For the remainder of his life Lewis traveled around California developing and teaching the Dances of Universal Peace, which draw on all the spiritual traditions he had encountered. The movement he created continues today in a formal way as Sufi Ruhaniat International, as well as informally through the wide adoption of the Dances of Universal Peace by many other Sufi and non-Sufi groups.

As a soil scientist and horticulturist concerned with feeding the world’s hungry, he endeavored to improve the quality and quantity of food production planet-wide by promoting organic gardening, seed exchange, sea water desalinization and desert reclamation.

The Sufi Remembrance Project:

To heal the wounds of violence and war, he received a simple yet profound peace program from the spirit of Jesus: “Eat, dance, and pray with the peoples of the world.”


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