When I told my wife about Abiquiu, she said “you meant Albuquerque?”. That was exactly my respond when we were told that we were going there, back in the winter of 1983 (I think). And Abiquiu it was. That winter we went to the south, visiting few places in Texas and New Mexico. We were on khuruj fi-sabilillah and our group includes Brengst, Cik Pah, Mahdi, Rahman, Rushdan, Shamsul, Candle, and maybe few Libyans – Abdullah Bezzan, Nuri and Faruj Hamuda (or may be only two of them), and may be few more Malaysians. Well it had been a long time, and I had forgotten all about it until two days ago, when I suddenly recalled my conversation with a brother in Abiquiu. Somehow, that flick of memory brought back a whole length of nostalgic moments.
To get to Abiquiu, we were guided by a white American Muslim called Abdul Wadud who wore a long white beard and was a bit quiet. He was in his 50’s and only spoke when asked, but was both eloquent and elaborate in detailing the subject. Otherwise, he was always deep in thought – such a wonderful character.
We were taken to a farmland outside the small town of Abiquiu, and I was both excited and a bit astonished when we arrived. It was a small community, that looked very ancient, in the middle of nowhere. The village was quite new at that time – there were only few houses, an unfinished mosque and empty lands reserved for a school, a hotel (the thought of which was not well-received by some of the communities) and more houses. The buildings had wooden structures, cemented by mud, and manually constructed. Insulations were achieved by stuffing old clothes in between the mud walls. Like the houses, the mosque was also made of woods and muds. Hot water was not available, but there was a fire place with very limited amount of woods to use. So, we had to keep up with the cold and dampness. It was nevertheless very interesting indeed.
The village was the home of a sufi community made up by mostly white American plus other nationals. I remember the guy from Puerto Rico with long wavy black hair that touched his shoulder, a full and long beard and a wire-rim glasses sitting on his pointed nose. Across his shoulder, there was a big chain of beads (tasbih) that he constantly moved with his hand as we talked, perhaps continuing his dzikr simultaneously during our conversation. He was soft-spoken and when he did, he was focussed and passionate – as if he was visualising what he was saying. We had a lengthy discussion about life and its responsibility, and he was refering to the teachings of his Shaikh from Cyprus.
Another interesting character was a Palestinian. He was a recent graduate from a university up north and joined the group not very long prior. Along with him was his wife and a small child. When we visited him that night, the house was cold and I was lost in thought, trying to contemplate the motivation for him to join the group. There must be something special, thought I. The next day, we were invited to his house where he offered a delicious meal made from freshly slaughtered lamb. I was deeply touched with his hospitality, especially after looking at his living condition. I said to myself “Subhanallah, this was a manifestation of what we learnt from hayatus-sahabah, a book that we regularly read at night, before we retire for the day. May Allah grant him jannah and all the blessings in the hereafter.
That was some of the memories in Abiquiu with incidents that have in one way or another contributed to the making of what I am today.
Over the years, the village has turned into what is now called Dar al-Islam where various educational activities for the American community are offered. What was a vision by the founder is now a reality. God-willing, I hope I’ll have the opportunity to come back there, and that time, I’ll be sure that it is Abiquiu and not Albuquerque.