Abd al-Hayy Moore
Abd al-Hayy Moore has two books of poetry published by City
Lights under the name Daniel Moore. He has traveled extensive,
living in England, Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria, and Spain. Mr
Moore is a talented writer and poet and has turned his talents
in writing for Islam.
became a Muslim when it seemed I had already accepted Islam
in my bones, as if beyond choice, and I only had to make a
leap to embrace it formally. Outwardly I was content; inwardly
I was coasting. My three-year-old theatre company was disbanded
after a hilariously chaotic production for a Tim Leary Benefit
at the Family Dog in San Francisco, circa '68-naturally the
orange juice everyone had passed around was spiked, so that
chorus members were doing the final scene in the first ten
minutes-and for six months I had been methodically typing
out poetry manuscripts in my attic in Berkeley preparatory
to a big Publishing push.
considered myself a Zen Buddhist. But I was other things as
well. My normal routine was to get up, sit zazen, smoke a
joint, do half an hour of yoga, then read the Mathnawi of
Rumi, the long mystical poem of that great Persian Sufi of
the thirteenth century.
I met the man who was to be my guide to our teacher in Morocco,
Shaykh Muhammad ibn a]-Habib, may Allah be pleased with him.
At first the meeting was simply remarkable, and MY guide simply
a remarkable man. But soon our encounter was to become extraordinary,
leading to a revolution in my life from which I have never
recovered and never hope to.
man looked like an eccentric Englishman. He too had only recently
come out of the English version of the Hippie Wave. He was
older, refined in his manners, spectacularly witty and intellectual,
but of that kind prevalent then who had hobnobbed with the
Beatles and knew the Tantric Art collection of Brian Jones
firsthand. He had been on all the classic drug quests-peyote
in the Yucatan, mescaline with Laura Huxley-but with the kif
quest in Morocco he had stumbled on Islam, and then the Sufis,
and the game was up. A profound change had taken place in
his life that went far beyond the psychedelic experience.
the three days following our meeting, two other Americans
and I listened in awe as this magnificient story teller unfolded
the picture of Islam, of the perfection of the Prophet Muhammad,
peace be upon him, of the Sufis of Morocco, and of the 100-year-old
plus Shaykh, sitting under a great fig tree in a garden with
his disciples singing praises of Allah. It was everything
I'd always dreamed of. It was poetry come alive. It was the
visionary experience made part of daily life, with the Prophet
a perfectly balanced master of wisdom and simplicity, an historically
accessible Buddha, with a mixture of the earthiness of Moses,
the otherworldliness of Jesus, and a light all his own.
prophetic knowledge our guide talked about was a kind of spiritual
existentialism. It was a matter of how you enter a room, which
foot you entered with, that you sipped water but gulped milk,
that you said, "Bismillah" (In the Name of Allah) before eating
or drinking, and "Al-hamdulillah" (Praise be to Allah) afterwards,
and so on. But rather than seeing this as a burden of hundreds
of "how-to's," it was more like what the LSD experience taught
us, that there is a "right" way to do things that has, if
you will, a cosmic resonance. It is a awareness of courtesy
to the Creator and His creation that in itself ensures and
almost visionary intensity.
is hard to put forward any kind of explanation of Islam, to
try to suggest the beauty of its totality, through the medium
of words. The light of Islam, since it is transformational
and alchemical in nature, almost always comes via a human
messenger who is a transmitter of the picture by his very
to face with our guide, what struck us most was his impeccable,
noble behavior. He seemed to be living what he was saying.
Finally the moment came, as a surprise, when he confronted
me with my life. "Well," he said one morning after three full
days of rapturous agreement that what he was bringing us was
the best thing we'd ever heard. "What do you think? Do you
want to become a Muslim?"
hedged. "It's the most beautiful thing I've heard about so
far. After all my Zen Buddhism, all my yoga, Tibetan Buddhism
and Hindu gurus, this is certainly it! But I think I would
like to travel a little, see the world, go to Afghanistan
(then unoccupied), maybe meet my Shaykh in a mountain village
far off somewhere."
not good enough. You have to decide now. Yes or no. If it's
yes, then we start on a great adventure. If it's no, then
no blame, I've done my duty. I'll just say goodbye and go
on my way. But you have to decide now. I'll go downstairs
and read a magazine and wait. Take your time."
he had left the room I saw there was no choice. My whole being
had already acquiesced. All my years up to that moment simply
rolled away. I was face-to-face with worship of Allah, wholly
and purely, with the Path before me well-troden, heavily signposted,
with a guide to a Master plunk in front of -me. Or I could
reject all of this for a totally self-invented and uncertain
was the day of my birthday, just to make it that much more
dramatic. I chose Islam.