New Staff + Summer Plans

July 19, 2017

Dear Friends,

We’ve finally landed at the Astana in Richmond! After many months of packing and preparation, and a very special Season of the Rose, we officially arrived in RVA on the 4th of July.

Since the move, we have begun getting our office set-up and have focused on practicalities, such as helping Pir Zia and his family settle into their new home before heading off for their summer teaching tour of Turkey, the Swiss Alps, and Suresnes, France. Now that they are off, we have begun to focus more fully on getting ready for a public launch of the Astana this fall.

New Staff

Kenneth Sparks

Perhaps the most important aspect of our preparations has been the hiring of new staff. We are pleased to announce that we have just signed agreement letters with two great people. Kenneth Sparks, our new Executive Assistant, will support Pir Zia and Alia, and manage all operations related to the Astana. In addition, Muhasaba Molly Wender, a long-time student of this path, will be our new Programs Manager. We are extremely excited and grateful to have an incredibly capable staff come together to manage activities at the Astana and across North America.

Biographies for staff can be found here.

Muhasaba Molly Wender

We also plan to hire two additional positions this fall: ourAdministrative Assistant and Communications Manager positions will be advertised in September with start dates in October.

* Even as we hire these new positions in Richmond, we want to recognize former staff members Yaqin Aubert and Molly “Moon” Mooney, two of our most devoted friends. Both are shifting into new roles with Yaqin becoming the Vice President of the Inayati Order, a board role, and Moon building her career as a healer, farmer and naturalist. We will miss them both.

Summer Plans

As we prepare to open the Astana, we have decided to cloister ourselves away a bit to focus on a few important projects. Over the next ten weeks, we will work on the following:

  • Preparing the Astana to open in time for Wisdom of the Prophets: Sufism & Christianity, November 2-5, 2017. This will be the Astana’s first program, and will include a special public blessing ceremony. (Preparations include construction to create a public meeting space and audio-video room, and full furnishing of the building and grounds.)
  • Creating new promotional materials and booklets describing our work and sharing Hazrat Inayat Khan’s teachings.
  • Working on communications including a new e-newsletter, updated website, and fall appeal, all noting the Astana as the center of our activity.
  • Finalizing details for upcoming programs, including enhanced leadership training opportunities, and a new Suluk class to launch September 2018.
  • Collaborating with our Esoteric Leadership on how to best support and promote Inayati Order teachers, guides, centers, and programs across North America.

While we work on all of the above, please know that you will hear from us again, and more regularly, beginning Monday, October 2, 2017. Until then, we appreciate your patience as we do everything needed to for a proper launch in November.

New Email Address

As a part of our new transition, we are phasing out the use of the word “Secretariat” in favor of “Astana” and “Headquarters.” Our offices will now be known as The Astana or The Inayati Order North American Headquarters.

As a part of this change, we are discontinuing use of secretariat@inayatiorder.org and ask that everyone begin to use the email address, astana@inayatiorder.org.

Our primary phone number, 518-794-7834, will stay the same, at least for now.

If you can, please try to be with us, either in person or online, for the Inayati Order Astana’s launch in November. Registration is open for Wisdom of the Prophets: Sufism & Christianity, with additional details to come.

Thank you for your kindness, friendship, and support as we have made our way to Virginia. May the Astana become a home of love, harmony, and beauty for all our friends worldwide!

With love,

Jennifer Alia Wittman
Executive Director

Roshan Peay
Chair of the Board

Latest News From the Board

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the Executive Committee of the Inayati Order Board of Trustees. We are writing the first of a few messages to update you with news following our March 2017 Board retreat, held this past weekend at the Abode of the Message. As an outcome of its strategic planning process, the Board has been honing in on key areas of focus as we seek to serve the renewal of our organization. In the upcoming weeks, we will update you on several areas of our work, beginning this morning with personnel and board changes.

Personnel Changes

In assessing and planning for the most pressing needs of the organization, and in preparation for our move to Richmond, we have identified several changes to our personnel structure that are necessary to increase capacity. In the new structure we will be expanding from four to five full-time paid positions; these will include the Pir, the Executive Director, a Director of Programs, Executive Assistant, and Administrative Assistant. In this reallocation of resources, the position of Esoteric Secretary will be discontinued.

The position of Esoteric Secretary was originally designed as a two-year role, ending this past January, to provide support to Pir Zia as the Inayati Order assessed its needs during a time of tremendous transition. Beginning this coming fall, responsibilities of this role will now be shared between the Executive Director, an Executive Assistant (to be hired), and select contractual support hired on a project-by-project basis.

The Board has been in close contact with Yaqin Aubert, who has been skillfully and steadfastly serving as Esoteric Secretary over the past two years, regarding this change. Yaqin will be leaving administrative tasks to the new team, but has graciously agreed to continue serving the esoteric needs of the organization in his new position of Vice President of the Inayati Order, a board position most recently held by Taj Inayat. We are delighted that Yaqin has agreed to serve the Order in this way, availing us of his continuing counsel and spiritual and moral support of our collective work.

Board Changes

This past weekend the Board also bid farewell to three of its most longstanding and deeply committed members: Amina Hall, Fazl Peay and Hadi Reinhertz. We have cherished their guidance and are deeply grateful for their heartfelt and unwavering service.

All three outgoing board members, as well as previous board members Bayazid Ware and Taj Inayat, will form a new Advisory Board of the Inayati Order. This group will help us maintain institutional memory and provide their ongoing expertise to the organization.

Additionally, the Board welcomed new members Hakima Elizabeth Normand (Portland, OR), Raqib Kogan (Tacoma Park, MD), Tajalli Roselli (Cambridge, MA), and Isfandarmuz Hanna (Calgary, Alberta). Look here for a full list of Board members and biographies: http://inayatiorder.org/board/.

With the departure of Amina (who is becoming the North American Vice President of the Universal Worship), Roshan Peay now takes over as Chair, Huzur Nawaz German as Vice Chair/Treasurer, and Tajalli Roselli as Secretary.

Next Steps

The Board has been hard at work planning for our upcoming relocation to our new headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. Once we have all details set, we will share them with you.

The Board continues to commit itself in service as it guides the Inayati Order forward in an atmosphere of love, harmony and beauty to create the most effective container for the work of our Pir and for spreading the Message far and wide.

In loving service,

The Inayati Order Executive Committee
Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, President
Roshan Anne Peay, Chair
Huzur Nawaz German, Vice Chair and Treasurer
Tajalli Roselli, Secretary
Jennifer Alia Wittman, Executive Director

Future Communications

To keep you up-to-date on our activities, we will continue to share regular reports like this one here.

Inayati Order Update

Summer 2016

Over the last four months, we have focused almost entirely on programs—many programs! In this time, we hosted four live gatherings, plus two online courses, both with an in-person component. All of us involved in making these programs happen have now had a chance to rest and are beginning to get ready for our fall schedule. But, before we turn the corner and look at a new season, here are a few highlights from spring and summer, so far.

Programs

Inayati Leadership Visioning Gatherings
This winter and spring, we brought together Inayati leaders from across the globe in two separate Leadership Visioning Gatherings, one in Europe in late January, and another in New Lebanon, New York, in April. About 85 Inayati leaders attended both gatherings, which were designed to get us talking about Hazrat Inayat Khan’s legacy, the Inayati Order as it stands today, and about how we would like to see the future of our organization unfold.

Deepa Gulrukh Patel, the Inayati Order’s International Coordinator, based out of the United Kingdom, led this effort, and will be facilitating next steps—a series of “task groups” looking at four areas: culture, leadership, organizational structure, and our relationship with the wider world. Task groups will be made up of 2-3 attendee-leaders from each of the European and North American leadership gatherings, and will invite involvement from the larger mureedship over the next 6-12 months.

Wisdom of the Prophets: Sufism & Buddhism
The second session in our Wisdom of the Prophets series ran from May 5-8 at the Abode of the Message. Lama Jigme Chotso and Dr. Joe Loizzo joined Pir Zia this time to discuss Buddhism’s relationship with Sufism. 53 people attended online, and 30 people in-person. We are hoping for greater in-person participation for Wisdom of the Prophets: Sufism & Zoroastrianism in November (see below), as well as growing online participation.

All previous Wisdom of the Prophets session video and materials will be available for purchase by Inayati Order initiates later this fall, and are already available to past participants.

Entering the Consciousness of Pir Vilayat: A 100th Birthday Celebration
Our “Pir Vilayat 100th Birthday Weekend,” June 16-19, was one of our most celebratory and joyous programs ever. 85 people participated in the full weekend, with over 120 people attending evening programs and the Universal Worship on Sunday.
Aziza Scott served as Master of Ceremonies, with Pir Zia giving two talks and leading the group up to Pir Vilayat’s Pod on the day of Pir Vilayat’s 11th Urs on June 17. Other teachers and events included: Taj Inayat guiding early morning teachings each day; Tasnim Fernandez, Zarifah Kadian, Saphira Linden, and Mikhail Horowitz sharing  stories in the Abode’s Library; Sharif Munawwir Graham telling his own stories about Pir Vilayat in several sessions; conductor Sara Tarana Jobin organizing music throughout, and pieces of Bach’s B Minor Mass, featuring acclaimed musicians and vocalists from New York City; a special Ramadan Feast at 8:50 pm Saturday night; a birds of prey demonstration, including Pir Vilayat’s favorite falcons and hawks; and Universal Worship (called a Cosmic Celebration) on Sunday morning.

The “Falcon Demonstration” was livestreamed on Facebook with over 600 views so far. We also livestreamed the opening evening, Pir Zia’s Saturday morning talk, the Bach concert, and Universal Worship, with over 250 people viewing each.
Pir Vilayat 100th birthday photos, an article about the gathering by journalist Humera Afridi, and the Falcon video can be found at the following link:
http://inayatiorder.org/pir-vilayat-100th-birthday-photos/

Season of the Rose: Essentials of the Sufi Path
Season of the Rose, July 6-11 at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, was unlike any event we have held before (more of a community gathering and summer school than a retreat or seminar). The space was “civilized,” as one of the participants put it, on a gorgeous campus, with beautifully designed buildings and gardens, including upgraded amenities, such as athletic facilities and expansive organic and ethical dining.
We shared the campus with a number of other groups, including over 60 Japanese high school students wanting to make friends with us, to practice English, and sing Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift songs.

Our Inayati community of 145 people created dedicated spaces in the Agnes Flanagan Chapel and Templeton Student Building to gather and study Breath, Love, Beauty, Light, Death, Guidance, Meditation and Remembrance, among other things.

Evaluations have been very positive, with everyone praising our teachers, the location, and especially Sukhawat Ali Khan, who played qawwali music throughout the gathering. There are questions about how to have a program that allows for silence, and a contemplative container, and how location affects these elements. All points will be taken into consideration as we prepare for next year’s Season of the Rose, scheduled for June 28-July 3, 2017, at the Abode of the Message. We will return to the West Coast again in 2018.

Season of the Rose photos and audio can be found at the following link:
http://inayatiorder.org/season-rose-photos-audio/

Aziza Scott & Suhrawardi Gebel’s Online Courses
Aziza and Suhrawardi both taught courses this spring, live and online from the Abode’s Meditation Hall. 2,000+ people participated in their courses worldwide, with 60-150 attending each in real-time online, and another 20-30 in-person at the Abode. Initially, each course was offered for free, to allow the greatest accessibility, then moved to Vimeo for rent or purchase. If you would like to own and/or re-watch these courses, they can be found at http://inayatiorder.org/multimedia/.

Suluk Academy
Suluk’s Jabalqa Class of 28 students met twice, once in April with Pir Zia as lead faculty, and a second time in June, with Gayan Macher. Both sessions were on the theme, Contemplation. Jabalqa has completed its first year, and will enter its second year in September, with graduation set for June 2017.

We anticipate launching a new two-year Suluk class fall 2018, after taking a year off for our office relocation.

Pir Zia Travels
Also, during this time, Pir Zia has traveled leading programs at Naropa University in Boulder Colorado (April 15-17) and Zenith Institure in the Swiss Alps (July 25 – August 6), as well as attended part of the Federation of the Sufi Message Gathering in Berlin, Germany (May 18-22). We will share more about Pir Zia’s annual travel in a report issued this fall.

Communications

We continue to upgrade our communications and technological infrastructure under the leadership of Satya Inayat Khan, the Inayati Order’s Director of Communications.

Over the past months, we have continued to Enhance Program Promotion through online marketing, e-newsletters, social media, and word of mouth. The difference can be seen in strong attendance numbers for the Pir Vilayat 100th Birthday Weekend and the Season of the Rose. As we continue to upgrade and refine promotion, we will begin to look more closely at pricing as a factor, and also at ways to better reach new audiences.

In July, we created several Promotional Pieces, including: a new Inayati Order postcard, sharing basic information about the Order; an Info-Collection Postcard to collect contact information from those who attend events; and an Inayati Order Water Bottle, featuring our new heart and wings logo. (The water bottle was first given as a gift to Season of the Rose faculty and staff, and will be made available for sale through our website later this year.)

Satya has also created an Online Learning Environment (Inayati Order Premium Membership), integrated with our website, for students of Inayati Order online courses. Students are issued a log-in and are able to see all current and archived video from courses they have purchased, as well as related notes and materials. Current courses available include: Season of the Rose 2016 audio; Aziza Scott’s three-part series on Esotericism; Suhrawardi Gebel’s five-part series on The Message; and Pir Zia’s eight-part course on Unfolding the Message. Wisdom of the Prophets, parts I & II will be soon be available as well.

Facebook is currently our most active form of social media. In July, the Inayati Order’s Public Group Facebook page experienced increasing conflict between its members. We intervened and changed the page to allow moderator-approved posts only, and to more clearly state that the page is only for posts directly related to Inayat Khan’s teaching and Inayati Order offerings.

Several years ago, a Digital Media Archive was set-up to archive audio, video and images, using a specialized Amazon S3 Cloud Service. This service has been primarily used to archive Suluk audio and notes. We are in the process of expanding the online archive to include digital media from past programs. Currently, there are two issues that we are trying to resolve:

1. A faster way to upload digital media with limited broadband.
2. An easier way to upload digital media via an uploader plug-in.

Then, of course, there is regular Communications Maintenance, including updates to the website, e-newsletters, database work, online program registration set-up, and social media outreach.

Relocation

As announced last September, the Inayati Order Secretariat in North America plans to move from the Abode of the Message, its home of the last 13 years, to a more populated and diverse location. While the Abode will remain the Order’s primary residential community and retreat center in North America, the new headquarters will become our hub for organizing webcasts, programs, print and digital media; supporting students, teachers, guides and center leaders; as well as managing Pir Zia’s teaching and writing schedule.

After months of researching and visiting possible locations for the new office—including Austin, TX, Boston, MA, Philadelphia, PA, Chicago, IL, Louisville, KY, Nashville, TN, Chattanooga, TN, Baltimore, MD, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, NC, and Atlanta, GA—we are currently setting our sights on Richmond, Virginia.

Pir Zia and his family visited Richmond in April, somewhat by accident on their way back from a tour of the South. They loved it, finding it to be a dynamic, diverse, culturally rich, receptive, and affordable city. Jennifer Alia Wittman, the executive director of the Order, also visited in June, finding a surprisingly open environment for our kind of work. Later this  week, once Pir Zia returns from Europe, we will head back down to Richmond to look at real estate, meet with local friends, and generally get a better sense of the place before making a final decision. We hope to announce our location pick by early September, with a plan to move Spring 2017.

Abode of the Message

As the Inayati Order Secretariat prepares to relocate, the Abode is well on its way to reestablishing itself as an independent community and retreat center dedicated to the Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan. Good things are in the works at the Abode, with a new board in place, a new Executive Director just hired (after 21 months as Executive Director of both the Abode and Inayati Order, Jennifer Alia Wittman will now focus solely on the Inayati Order), and summer appeal actively inviting investment in the Abode’s future.
For details on all of the above, including recent financial data, please visit www.theabode.org/news/. (Also, if you love the Abode, and would like to receive the weekly Abode e-newsletter, please consider signing up at www.theabode.org.)

Finances


The Inayati Order Budget for 2016 was approved by the Board and is attached. In addition, we have also included a comparison to the 2015 Budget vs Actual Performance of the organization. We will be issuing a detailed financial summary in our new Annual Report, to be issued Fall 2016.

Board of Trustees News


For the last two years, the Inayati Order Board has been tirelessly devoted to: making sure that the Abode has the infrastructure it needs to survive, and eventually, thrive; incorporating our new name, The Inayati Order; and laying the groundwork necessary for large-scale realignment of our work, including the Secretariat move and unification of all Inayati Activities into a clear public presence, relevant and accessible for today’s seekers.

The period from September 2014–August 2016 could be thought of as Phase I. Now we are entering Phase II. During this next phase, we will: relocate the North American Secretariat; begin a conversation with the Five Activities (Esoteric School, Universal Worship, Healing Order, Ziraat & Kinship) about how to integrate our work to create a unified organizational structure; reach-out to Inayati Center leaders to create a responsive network of support; and develop a model for expanded leadership development within the Order, among other things.

In October we will meet for an Inayati Order Board Retreat in New Lebanon, New York, and begin to focus on a Strategic Planning process integrated with the post-Leadership Visioning Gathering “task group” work mentioned above. Over the next year, stay tuned for ways that we plan to involve our larger community in this process.

Upcoming Programs

Consider joining us for four upcoming programs this fall. Over Labor Day weekend in the United States, Pir Zia and friends, including Aziza Scott, Khabira Brown, and Yaqin Aubert (with Sarah Leila Manolson, Salima McCall, and Rehan Morey offering evening zikr programs), will guide a three-day Silent Retreat at the Abode (in-person only), September 2-5, 2016.

A few days later, Pir Zia will launch a multi-year online course studying the Sufi Message Volumes, beginning with the newly published volume I, The Inner Life. Join us for four Thursday night teachings, September 8-29, 7–8:30 pm Eastern Daylight Time. Video will be available in real-time, and free throughout the month of October. Please purchase a copy of the new Sufi Message Volume, The Inner Life, updated, authenticated, gender inclusive, and with added supplemental material, so you can study along with us. www.sulukpress.org.

Then, November 10-13, join us in-person or online for Wisdom of the Prophets III: Sufism & Zoroastrianism, with Pir Zia and Dr. Jehan Bagli, an ordained Zarathushti priest through Navar and Martab ceremonies.

Closing out our year, December 2-4, the Inayati Order of the Greater Boston Area will host Pir Zia in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a two-day meditation seminar, Know Thyself, an Exploration of the Within.

Please find details and registration information for all programs on our website www. inayatiorder.org/calendar/

Future Communications

To keep you up-to-date on our activities, we will continue to share quarterly reports like this one. Look for a new update this fall. In the meantime, previous reports can be found on our website on the footer under “Organizational Blog” (http://www.inayatiorder.org/organization/). Also, always feel free to reach-out to us at secretariat@inayatiorder.org.

We hope you thoroughly enjoy the rest of your summer!

Inayati Order Update

Spring 2016

Last September, after our fall Inayati Order–North America Board Retreat, we sent out an update sharing some big changes, decisions made, and next steps for the Order. Today we would like to give you a few more updates and highlights about some of the things happening within the Inayati Order currently.

Our New Logo
On January 1st, we launched our new name, The Inayati Order, and a new website, www.inayatiorder.org. Now, in the last week, we have also revealed our new logo (see above) as a next step in creating a unifying identity representing the Sufi teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan. You can read about and see variations of the new logo here: http://inayatiorder.org/our-new-logo/.

Relocation
Another big change is that we plan to move Pir Zia and the Inayati Order–North America Secretariat offices from the Abode of the Message in New Lebanon, New York, to a more populated area in the next year, likely a site in either the Mid-Atlantic or Southeastern part of the United States. We are in an intensive stage of researching and considering sites. So far, we have:

  • Initiated and regularly convened a relocation committee, including board members—Pir Zia, Taj Inayat, Amina Hall, Roshan Peay, Fazl Peay, Huzur Nawaz German, and Mahbood Seligman—and staff members—Yaqin Aubert, Jennifer Alia Wittman, and Deepa Gulrukh Patel.
  • Narrowed the search criteria and cities under consideration. Important factors emerging for us include—cost of living, cost of doing business, climate, diversity, cultural vibrancy, local interest and support, and ease of travel.
  • Begun to develop space requirements and usage needs.
  • Begun to consult with and research brokers, with the hope of hiring a broker and/or relocation project manager by this summer.
  • Begun to establish a definitive project schedule and budget, knowing that we hope to move June 2017.

Once we pare down the possibilities to just two or three primary site candidates, we will seek feedback from all of you on our choices, and invite your help in finalizing our location. If you haven’t seen this before, background on the rationale for our move can be found here: http://www.inayatiorder.org/organization/executive-committee-letter-october-2015/

Abode Transition
On a related note, since 2005, the Inayati Order–North America Secretariat has provided both board oversight and on-the-ground management for the Abode of the Message, our retreat center and residential community in New Lebanon, New York. We are currently in the process of collaboratively developing a plan to return management of the retreat center to a newly formed Abode Board of Trustees and management staff.

To this end, this past January, an Abode Steering Committee was appointed as a first step in the process. Abode Steering Committee members include: Huzur Nawaz German, chair; Aimee Johnson; Gabriel Steadman; Nasreen Moayedi; and Mahbood Davis. We expect a full transition to a new Abode Board of Trustees and on-site leadership by the spring of 2017.

The Abode Steering Committee has just published its own update that you can read here.

Finances
The Inayati Order in North America is a small, faith-based non-profit organization with an annual budget of around $500,000. In 2015, we spent $475,962, $330,518 going to general operating expenses (including staff, rent, insurances, phone, technology, etc.), $77,957 to program development, $27,696 to direct support for our Pir (not including salary or staff support), $26,100 to communications, and $13,691 to costs of publications and credit card fees.

Last year, we raised $514,801 in support of the areas named above, $271,983 through donations and sponsorships, $229,754 through program fees, $20,000 through grants (temporary restrictions), and $6,977 through sales.

In addition to this, within the last year, we raised $233,401 for the Abode of the Message, with $168,913 coming through the then Sufi Order–North America, both as checks and as on-line donations through Donor Perfect. The Abode Summer Appeal 2015 came together quickly, in response to an anticipated Abode financial shortfall. Because things came together so quickly, we used the Inayati/Sufi Order’s existing on-line donation system to ease the process. Future Abode fundraisers will use a new donation system owned and operated by the Abode. All monies specified for the Abode were audited and fully transferred to the Abode in September 2015 by our outside accountants, Kensington Business Solutions.

Over the first part of the year, we spent considerable time closing-out our bookkeeping for 2015 and budget planning for 2016. An Inayati Order Statement of Financial Position for December 31, 2015, is now available, as well as related Financial Highlights. We will share the Inayati Order Budget 2016 in our summer e-newsletter.

Communications
As for communications, we continue to actively modernize and update all of our technologies, including our new website (WordPress) and e-communications (Mailchimp), an easier on-line registration system (EventBrite), improved audio and video archiving (Amazon S3), increased access to video and audio (coming), and updated print materials and resource publications (coming), among other things. Each month, we aim to improve our communications bit-by-bit.

Next, we will focus on timeliness and responsiveness via email and phone (we hope new administrative staff, as well as technology, will help), growing-out our website with more offerings and better up-to-date information, and specialized communications packages for local Inayati Order Centers, among other things. If you have ideas or questions about Inayati Communications, please feel free to e-mail them to Satya at communications@inayatiorder.org.

Upcoming Programs
Registration is now open for a variety of upcoming programs, including: Wisdom of the Prophets – Part II: Sufism & Buddhism (in-person and on-line), May 5-8 at the Abode of the Message in New Lebanon, NY; Entering the Consciousness of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan: A 100th Birthday Celebration, June 16-19 also at the Abode; and Season of the Rose: Essentials of the Sufi Path, July 6-11 in Portland, Oregon. For a full list of programs and registration details, please visit http://inayatiorder.org/calendar/.  (Partial scholarships are often available, so please ask!)

We are also expanding our on-line programing with two new series this spring: Esotericism with Aziza Scott, Thursdays, April 7-21, and The Message with Suhrawardi Gebel, Thursdays, April 28 – May 26. Pir Zia is also planning to offer a livestream course this fall. All on-line courses are first offered on a donation basis for 3-4 weeks (to be as accessible as possible to our worldwide audience). After this period, we move our on-line programs to Vimeo for rent or purchase.

Inayati Leadership Visioning Gathering
Next week, April 22nd-26th, an internal organizational event is happening at the Abode of the Message: the Inayati Leadership Visioning Gathering, bringing together over 90 Inayati leaders from across North America, with representatives also from Australia, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The purpose of the gathering is to contemplate and discuss the future of our Order.

The Inayati Order is going through some big shifts, and in the context of the changes taking place, sincerely hopes to better unify all of our collectively held pieces across continents, countries and states, integrating the Five Activities, and bringing together generations of Inayati leaders in one shared body and clear organizational identity.

In January, a first meeting was held in Suresnes, France, to begin the conversation. Details from that gathering, as well as the one here in the United States, will be shared in our Summer Newsletter 2016. (A report will also be sent out earlier from Deepa Gulrukh Patel, our International Coordinator, and the lead organizer of these gatherings.)

Board Membership
Our board currently has 10 members, including a new addition, M’ellen Kennedy, who joined our group this past January. M’ellen is a Unitarian Universalist minister in Vermont, a Universal Worship Cheraga, a Sufi Healing Order Shafayat, and a member of the Sufi Healing Order Board. As a board member, M’ellen will chair the newly formed Five Activities Committee, collaboratively looking at ways we can integrate the Esoteric School, Sufi Healing Order, Universal Worship, Kinship Activity, and Ziraat under the umbrella of the Inayati Order. For more on M’ellen and others on our board, you can find a full list of board members, with bios, here: http://inayatiorder.org/board/.

Staffing
As of this past month, Chris Jalila Maddox has taken over the post of Suluk Administrator from Sarah Leila Manolson (who has been filling in) for the Jabalqa class (September 2015 to June 2017). Jalila is a graduate of Suluk’s Gulzar class that graduated last June. She is an experienced event organizer, and is founder of the Wild Woman Project, which hosts circles worldwide, as well as an annual festival on the Abode’s Mountain. http://thewildwomanproject.com/

Currently, our small staff is made up of: Pir Zia as head of the Order; Yaqin Aubert as Esoteric Secretary; Jennifer Alia Wittman as Executive Director; Satya Inayat Khan as Director of Communications (12.5hrs/week); Chris Jalila Maddox (10hrs/week); in addition to several others contractors or professional volunteers who assist us throughout the year. See our full staff list here: http://inayatiorder.org/staff/.

We are currently in the process of hiring two new positions: an Executive Assistant, and an Administrative Assistant. You can find details on both of these positions here. As we plan to move our offices in the next year, we will hire both positions on contract through June 2017, with a possible option to move with us to the new site. Please help us spread the word about these opportunities to serve our Order.

Future Communications
Our hope is to report like this quarterly. We intend to send-out our next e-mail in the Summer of 2016, followed by Fall 2016, etc. Between reports, if you have any related questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to e-mail us at secretariat@theabode.org.

Thank You
We thank all of you who have participated and supported the Inayati Order over the past year. One of our goals is to move toward a greater transparency and responsiveness, taking every organizational step in service to our unfoldment as individuals and as a collective, all representing the Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan in the world today.

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Next Steps: Creation of Abode Steering Committee

Greetings friends,

On November 9th, 2015, the Sufi Order North America Board of Trustees (SOINA BOT) met and approved a motion, which outlines the process by which the Abode of the Message will begin to form its own governing structure. The first step in this process will be the selection of members of the Abode Steering Committee, a new sub-committee of the SOINA BOT. This committee will be responsible, in collaboration with the entire Board, for the formation of the new Abode of the Message BOT and management team. Please find attached to this message the resolution, and a message from the Board outlining the process by which nominations for the steering committee will be accepted.

The Board is whole-heartedly looking forward to a robust collaboration with the emerging leadership from the Abode. We recognize the current and future inter-dependence of both entities, and we look forward to a dynamic process of working together to bring to reality a self-governing and fully independent Abode of the Message.

As the letter from the Board indicates, nominations for the Steering Committee are now open. We are initially seeking 2 to 4 individuals to serve alongside one current SOINA Board member on the committee (this number may expand in the future based on the needs of the committee). We will accept nominees through December 11th, after which time the Board, in consultation with current Abode leaders, will select potential members to forward to Pir Zia, who will ultimately appoint the slate of Steering Committee members. We plan on having the Committee in place in the first few weeks of 2016.

We welcome your nominations for these important positions (please see attached letter for the information on how to submit a nomination). Committee members will work closely with the SOINA Board in creating their charter, sub-committees and in determining benchmarks and a timeline for reaching the final goal of an independent Abode Board of Trustees. Please note that serving on the Steering Committee is likely to be a multi-month commitment, and membership on this committee does not commit one to serve, nor imply that one will be asked to serve, on the eventual Abode BOT.

Thank you for your continuing support as we seek to position our Order to better meet the spiritual needs of today’s world.

In service,
Executive Committee,
Sufi Order International Board of Trustees

Attachments:
Steering Committee Nomination Process
Motion to create the Steering Committee

Survey Results and Drawing Winners

Dear friends,

Attached are the results from the two surveys recently conducted by the Mureeds and Centers Committee of the Sufi Order International North America (SOINA):

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in these surveys, which are providing enormously useful information to the SOINA Board and its committees. We take these inputs very seriously and are using the information to help us set priorities for the future.

We are also pleased to announce the winners of the drawings for free copies of the beautiful new edition of the Gayan-Vadan-Nirtan of Hazrat Inayat Khan:

  • Anne McDade of Greenville, South Carolina, USA
  • Aqdas Linda Newmark of San Francisco, California, USA

Congratulations to you both!

Many blessings,

Mahbood Seligman, National Representative
for the Mureeds and Centers Committee of the Sufi Order International North America (SOINA)

Executive Committee Letter, October 2015

Greetings Friends of the Sufi Message,

The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Sufi Order International North America (“SOINA”) and the Abode of the Message (the “Abode”), on behalf of the entire Board, would like to thank all of you who have commented to us regarding the decisions that were announced following our September retreat to move the headquarters of the SOINA from the Abode so that the two separate organizations become sustainable and the Abode becomes self-governing. The vast majority of the comments we have received have been supportive of our Pir, of the Order, and of the direction that has been chosen. This initial feedback is entirely heartening, as the vision before us is one that will require a high level of unity among our membership to actualize.

As we move into this next phase of transition, the Board is united in our intention to facilitate a highly conscientious and transparent process. To that end, we encourage you to continue to send us your thoughts and your questions. You can email the Board directly at board@inayatiorder.org. To date we have responded to every inquiry.

The following are a few of the questions that arose regarding the resolution that was passed at the meeting authorizing the Board to begin planning for a move of the SOI headquarters from the Abode to an as yet undetermined metropolitan location:

How will the move of the SOI Headquarters to a new location be financed?

This is one of the most obvious challenges before us. The Board unanimously agrees that the preferred method of financing the move is a targeted fund development campaign. In the coming weeks, we will begin the process of initiating this campaign in coordination with our other annual fundraising efforts. It is our sincere hope that the membership will respond to this campaign to a degree that further sources of funding will not have to be considered.

What if the Order cannot raise sufficient funds to finance the move through contributions alone?

In the resolution that was passed at the retreat, the Board identified potential sources of funding that may be considered if the targeted campaign falls short of its goal. The resolution mentions the possibility of a proposed use of funds from a conservation easement, as well as a potential partial sale of real estate. At the present time, no decision has been made to utilize such resources. The Board recognizes that the leveraging of any Abode assets to finance the move may elicit controversy, and any process that explores this possibility will be done with full transparency and in full compliance with federal, state and local law including the New York State Charities Bureau which describes the process the Board would follow.

While the Abode’s charter states that it “…is formed to perform the functions of, and purpose of, the Sufi Order,” the Sufi Order does not own the Abode. The Abode is a separate not-for-profit Religious Corporation that owns the property, and for which the Sufi Order Board serves as the trustees. Thus, as we have stated, we are going to need to work together as an organization in order to achieve an outcome that best serves the larger shared goals of both the SOINA and the Abode; we won’t be successful without broad membership support. If we were to pursue a less-preferred alternative of funding, the process we would follow would include soliciting the support of stakeholders and petitioning for court approval as required by New York state law. The Board will fully comply with all of its legal, fiduciary, and ethical responsibilities to both organizations as we collectively navigate our path into the future.

In addition to these factors, Pir Zia stated that he does not want assets from a potential sale of Abode property to be used to fund his personal residence in the new location.

Was the Board unanimous in its support of this decision?

In the communication that went out at the close of the Board retreat, we indicated that the vote on the resolution passed was unanimous. The Executive Committee wishes to issue the following clarification to that communication: Although Taj Inayat, Sura Gilbert-Miller, and Siddiq Singler attended portions of the retreat in person or via video conference, due to personal scheduling conflicts they were unable to be present for the vote on the resolution contained in the communication and, therefore, did not vote. The vote was unanimous among the Board members who were present, and those who were not present subsequently voiced their support.

Has any decision been made regarding the new location for the SOINA headquarters?

No. The Board is still in the process of gathering relevant data and evaluating potential options.

When will the Headquarters move take place?

As was outlined in the letter from the Board following the retreat, it is anticipated that the transition of Headquarters to a new location, as well as establishment of a new governing structure at the Abode, will take several years to complete.

What are the Board’s next steps?

During the Board’s September retreat, we established 30, 60 and 90 day action items. Over the next few weeks, we will be reviewing and vetting those action items to finalize next steps. When these next steps become more concrete we will provide an additional update.

Will additional results of the recent mureed surveys be shared with the mureed body?

Yes, they are attached in aggregated, anonymous form.

Thank you for taking the time to stay informed regarding our collective process, and for your continuing support as we strive to better position our Order to meet the spiritual needs of the world today.

In loving service,
The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the SOINA and the Abode

Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, President
Taj Inayat, Vice President
Amina Linda Hall, Chair
Bayazid Jonathan Ware, Vice Chair
Roshan Anne Peay, Secretary
Huzur Nawaz German, Treasurer

Board Message

Greetings friends,

We, the Trustees of the Sufi Order International North America (“SOINA”) are writing to you following our September 2015 Board retreat at the Abode of the Message (the “Abode”).  This retreat has been substantial in terms of decision-making regarding the way forward for our Order.  As Pir Zia has stated, an outcome of the retreat is the unanimous support of the Board for his vision of moving the headquarters of our Order and the residence of our Pir from the Abode to a metropolitan location while maintaining the Abode as a Sufi residential retreat center in alignment with its original purpose.

This decision is the culmination of an intensive year-long process of dialogue and in-depth study on the part of the Board. Some of the steps that were taken to prepare us for this decision include:

  • Completion of a comprehensive information-gathering process, including a due diligence review, to inform our deliberations regarding possible future reconfigurations of our organization.
  • Creation of a transition blog to provide information regarding the Board’s process and create an additional means of providing input to the Board.
  • A thorough upgrade of accounting systems and processes which provided the Board with accurate financial data for both the SOINA and the Abode.
  • A summer program, including a 40th year reunion at the Abode, with a day-long conversation regarding the past, present and future of the Abode.
  • Two online surveys of our membership.
  • Several in-person and online town-hall meetings with the Abode community.
  • Submission of a proposal to the Board by the Committee for a Sustainable Abode.
  • Countless hours of dialogue, both formal and informal, between Board members and members and friends of our Order.

Upon consideration of all factors, the Board’s unanimous consensus is that the current model for the SOINA and the Abode is unsustainable.  We also unanimously agree that we want to see both entities prosper, and that relocating the SOINA headquarters and revitalizing the Abode is the best option for securing the long-term sustainability of both entities.  Making this change will enable the SOINA to shift its focus beyond the Abode to its mission throughout North America and the world.  This decision will simultaneously allow the Abode to flourish, and over a transition period of several years, to become independent as a Sufi residential and retreat center, with its own governing Board, that supports the Message in its own unique way consistent with its original purpose.

It is further envisioned that Abode and the metropolitan center will mutually support and nourish each other.  In our new metropolitan center, the Message will be more accessible both to local residents and visitors from afar.  At the Abode, seekers will continue to have the opportunity to live the Sufi Message in a rural, residential setting.

The Board recognizes that realizing this vision will require considerable resources and may take several years to complete.  In order to ensure the sustainability of both entities, the transition will be carefully and conscientiously managed.  Two key factors for consideration are finance and governance:

Finance

The intention of the Board is to finance the transition by utilizing our resources in a most conscientious manner.  Below are the sources of funding we intend to consider in the following order of preference:

1.  Donor contributions to a targeted campaign.

2.  A restructuring of SOINA/Abode resources to effectuate an equitable allocation between the organizations to make them both sustainable, which would potentially include:

A) An equitable distribution of potential funding from any proceeds of a conservation easement on the property located in New York and Massachusetts, based on recent investments of the SOINA in the Abode.

B) A partial sale of real estate on the property located in New York and Massachusetts as a source of funding with priority given to spiritually minded and ecologically-attuned organizations or individuals.

Governance

Throughout this year, there have been many advocates for more autonomy in terms of the Abode’s leadership. In the near future, the SOINA Board of Trustees will form a new committee which will be charged with creating a plan for a sustainable Abode in New Lebanon, NY. Based upon the achievement of certain milestones as set forth in the plan, managerial and operational responsibility for the New Lebanon campus will be transitioned to this committee. Provided the operational plan is realized, leadership and managerial control will be fully transferred to this committee, which thereafter will serve as the independent governing body of the Abode.  Consistent with the process of appointing other trustee positions in our organization, committee members will be nominated by the the SOINA Board and confirmed by the Pir.

Here is a link to the full Board Resolution which authorizes the implementation of the plan described above.

We pledge to continue to be in open dialogue as we implement these changes.  Please email any comments or questions to board@inayatiorder.org.

We commit ourselves in service as we collectively proceed in an atmosphere of love, harmony and beauty to create the most effective container for the work of our Pir and for spreading the Message far and wide.

With Great Love,

The Sufi Order North America Board of Trustees

Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, President

Taj Inayat, Vice President (not in attendance)

Amina Linda Hall, Chair

Bayazid Jonathan Ware, Vice Chair

Roshan Anne Peay, Secretary

Huzur Nawaz German, Treasurer

Sura Gilbert-Miller, Trustee (not in attendance)

Hadi Reinhertz, Trustee

Fazl Peay, Trustee

Siddiq Bill Singler, Trustee (not in attendance)

Mahbood Seligman, Trustee

Board Resolution

Sufi Order Board North America Resolution 9.19.15

The SOINA headquarters will relocate from the Abode to a metropolitan area. The Abode will continue to develop in alignment with its original purpose as stated in its organizational documents, which is:

The purpose for which the Corporation is formed is to perform the functions of, and carry out the purposes of, the Sufi Order, by:

  • Establishing one or more in-residence economically self-sustaining spiritual centers, which will perform the following functions:
    • Promoting the religious teachings of the Sufi Order; and
    • Being a center for the teaching and performance of the Universal Worship Service and other forms of worship taught by the Sufi Order; and
    • Exploring and developing methods by which persons may live in a manner most harmonious with the forces of nature, consistent with the teachings of Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan and other Sufi masters;
  • Doing any other act or thing incidental to or connected with the foregoing purposes or in advancement thereof.”

The relocation of the SOINA headquarters will be financed in the most conscientious manner. Sources of funding might include, in the following order of preference:

  1. Donor contributions to a targeted campaign.
  2. A restructuring of SOINA/Abode resources to effectuate an equitable allocation between the organizations to make them both sustainable, which would potentially include:

    • An equitable distribution of potential funding from any proceeds of a conservation easement on the property located in New York and Massachusetts based on recent investments of the SOINA in the Abode.
    • A partial sale of the property located in New York and Massachusetts as a source of funding with priority given to spiritually-minded and ecologically -attuned organizations or individuals.

Over a transition period of several years, governance of the Abode would be transitioned to a subcommittee of the SOINA board, and eventually to a fully-independent Board of Trustees to be nominated by the SOINA Board and confirmed by the Pir.

Motion  (Bayazid): That we adopt and authorize the actions as written in the roadmap that we have outlined.

Second, Huzur Nawaz.

Motion passed unanimously by those in attendance.

Message from Pir Zia

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Community of the Sufi Message Near and Far,

Greetings of peace! I am writing to you from Inayat Manzil, my home at the Abode of the Message, to which I have recently returned with my family following weeks of travel in Turkey, Switzerland, France, and Holland. In all of these travels it has been rewarding to witness the Sufi Message spreading in the world and kindling innumerable hearts.

Conscious that the Sufi Order International North America (SOINA) and the Abode are at a crossroads, during my travels I frequently contemplated the relationship of the Sufi Order and the Abode. At the same time, the Board of the SOINA undertook a survey of our membership and collected and analyzed large quantities of information.

My own process of deliberation has included both spiritual and rational modes of inquiry. I have meditated and I have reflected, and I have found, in the end, that my heart and my mind both incline to the same conclusion. I am writing to share with you what I see.

Let me reaffirm, first of all, that in all of the major decisions of my life—and the current decision is no exception—the fundamental criterion is whether the chosen path will further the cause of the Sufi Message. This is the cause that I live to serve. I understand, of course, that not everyone will agree that a particular decision best serves the Sufi Message. Murshid said, “There is nothing in life which pleases me more than pleasing others, but it is difficult to please everyone.” In the end, I have to be true to my own clearest understanding of Guidance.

I am a founding member of the Abode of the Message. I was four years old when the Abode was founded and I grew up here as a child. When I married and had my own family, with my father’s encouragement I returned to the Abode. We have lived here for the last fifteen years. I cannot put into words the reverence I have for this land or the warm feeling I have for the many friends who have lived in, or passed through, this enchanted garden.

When my father left the world in 2004, he left me with the responsibility of caring for the Sufi Order worldwide. To “fill the shoes” of Pir Vilayat was, and remains, an enormous, and daunting, undertaking. Alhamdulillah, I have not been alone in the effort to fulfill my responsibilities, but on the contrary have received unwavering support and tremendous goodwill from many dedicated workers for the Message.

During this decade, the Abode provided an auspicious and protective environment in which to commence my task. There was a convergence of energy buoying my work. The North American Secretariat moved to the Abode, the Boards of the SOINA and the Abode became one Board, and the Suluk Academy was born. These were, in many ways, golden years.

The focalization of the Sufi Order at the Abode, however, came at a cost. The Board and staff often found themselves so preoccupied with Abode issues that, often, little time or energy remained to consider nationwide needs. At the same time, the community of Abode residents sometimes felt that the work of the Sufi Order at the Abode left too little space for the community’s needs and aspirations.

I believe that we are now on the threshold of a new phase in the work of the Sufi Order. The legacy we have received from Murshid is vitally alive and significant. It comes in an era when, as I believe we all recognize, there is an enormous need for spiritual remembrance in our world. Our mandate is to work quietly, without fanfare, but at the same time, energetically and expansively.

In this next decade of my service to the Sufi Message, in order for me to be more present to the bustling, diverse world of interactions between people of many walks of life, in order for the SOINA to refocus on its mission in North America, and in order for the Abode of the Message to revitalize itself as a residential community oriented by the Sufi Message, it is my determination that I should, with my family, move to a metropolitan environment and establish the headquarters of the SOINA in that new setting, joined by all who wish to live and serve in such a setting.

I envision a flourishing metropolitan center serving as a clear focal point from which the Sufi Order can effectively radiate its work throughout North America and the world. I envision, equally, a flourishing Abode, where individual and collective retreats and a vibrant communal life interweave in wonderful patterns. God willing.

Linked to this message is a letter from the Board of Trustees of the SOINA and the Abode, together with a copy of the Resolution passed by the Board this past weekend authorizing and implementing this vision for the future.

Yours always in service to the One,

Pir Zia