I would also like to express an enormous gratitude to the people of Morocco, who have always shown us the deepest generosity. At first, filled with longing and excitement to be a part of a tariqat in Morocco, I went to Meknes to the zawiyya of our shaykh thinking it would be a kind of perfect Utopia, and it was perfect, but not in the way we think. It was perfect the way the world is perfect. And at the same time, the intention, the niyyat, of everyone, even the imperfect ones, like us, like me, was to be in a circle of dhikr, and to find the Presence, the Hadrat of Allah.
There is something deeply imbedded in the heart of the Moroccan people that is very beautiful and essential, full of iman, having available to it the various steps toward real knowledge of God, and as a citizen of the world with spiritual thirst, for that I am deeply grateful. When our little community of European Muslims passed through the market streets, in our djalabas and turbans, purchased in Tangiers before we went south into the Moroccan heartland, people would stop and weep to see obviously Muslim westerners respectful of Moroccan culture, instead of as with the earlier influx of Europeans who came as hippies in the 60s, and who seemed only to indulge in some of the less Islamic aspects of Moroccan culture.
Although I was born in Oakland, in the North American state of California, I consider Meknes, Morocco, my real birthplace, where I met Shaykh ibn al-Habib, raheemullah, wali of Allah, Qutub shaykh of the time, and where I also lived for a time that had the taste of eternity in it, in his zawiyya with his disciples.
It was there I saw the old men (and some of the women as well, most especially his wives) of his spiritual community who had been with him for decades, who were now like trees, forests of trees — I was living in a forest of ‘ilm and ma’rifa. Among all the variety of people we encountered there we found these giant trees, like towering redwoods. That was the world of our shaykh’s domains. So when my wife and I visited Meknes a few years ago, in early 2000, I suddenly felt at home again.
HAJJ IN 1972
I was with a group of us living in the zawiyya during the last Ramadan of Shaykh ibn al-Habib’s life, and I went on Hajj in 1972, with Shaykh Dr. Abdal-Qadir, Shaykh Abdalhaqq Bewley, Abdal-Aziz Redpath and the great photographer, Peter Abdal-Adheem Sanders. It was a truly momentous Hajj for us. We were meant to meet the shaykh in Jeddah. We had asked permission in Meknes at that Ramadan to go on Hajj and he had said, “Meet me in Jeddah.” But we arrived in Jeddah and he wasn’t there. So we went on to Mecca, and still didn’t see him.
Then the sheriff of his zawiyya, Sidi Moulay Sheriff, came running up to us, greeted us very happily, asked how we were, how our travels were, and if we were satisfied with our accommodations (which we were not, our mutawwif had not really taken care of us). He then went and found us a good place to stay, took us to a place to eat, for we were all very hungry, and after all that, which must have taken over an hour or so, took Abdalhaqq Bewley off to speak to him privately.
When Abdalhaqq came back he had tears streaming down his cheeks. Shaykh ibn al-Habib, raheemullah, wouldn’t meet us in Mecca, for he had died on his way from Meknes by automobile, in Blida, Algeria. So our Hajj was one of deep grief as well as the deep experience of the Hajj itself, and was therefore a doubly difficult journey, and continued to be so when we returned to England to tell the community there the very sad news. But I’ve always felt, and this has been a constant in my own spiritual life as a living example of true ‘adab, that the way in which this faqir greeted us, carrying such a terrific burden of news, was so extraordinary, in that he didn’t run up to us saying, “The shaykh is dead! The shaykh is dead!” But in fact, he made sure we were comfortable, and fed, and then spoke the right words to Abdalhaqq privately.
We found in all our journeys to Morocco and our visits with the people, that with the natural beauty of the country itself, with its lavender valleys and rolling green hills, and its variegated and rich culture, among the people there’s an innocence and a deep wisdom, there’s a depth, a beauty in the people, and certainly in the profound tradition of Sufism and Islam that is so much a part of Morocco, in all of its manifestations. And the tradition is still very much alive that makes available, through the living scholars and shuyukh and awliyya, the Path to Allah, The Ultimate Reality, through correctly and sincerely receiving the proper initiation and ‘idhn, from a real shaykh of m’arifa, of whom there are many great and magnificent living exemplars today.
May Islam and Sufism continue to grow and thrive among all humankind everywhere, with Morocco again at its peak of a golden age of Sufism and true Islamic teachings, and constant nourishment for all those who go with a hunger for true spiritual experience and deep-rooted foundational learning. Amen.
Visit Daniel Abdal Hayy Moore’s website: www.danielmoorepoetry.com, where you can read many of his poems.