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