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,