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Abdullah Nooruddeen Durkee
|Died||September 13, 2020 (aged 81–82)|
Abdullah Nooruddeen Durkee was a Muslim scholar, thinker, author, translator and the khalifah (successor) for North America of the Shadhdhuli School for Tranquility of Being and the Illumination of Hearts, Green Mountain Branch. Nooruddeen Durkee became a Muslim in his early thirties in al-Quds, Jerusalem. He was the founder of Lama Foundation and Dar al-Islam Foundation. His major contribution is in the area of education, and for many years specifically in the realm of teaching reading, writing, and reciting of Qur'anic Arabic, which grew out of his work in the translation and transliteration of the sacred texts of the Shadhdhuliyyah and finally the Qur'an. One of his main contributions is the development of a transliteration of the Qur'an which has enabled non-Arabic people to understand and recite Quranic Arabic. Additionally he serves as a khateeb and an imam for various nearby Muslim communities on the Eastern coast of United States.
Noorudeen has been granted an 'ijaza in Islamic Calling (da'wah) by Umar Abdullah of the Comoro Islands, an 'ijaza in Islamic Introspection and Observation (muraqabah) by Seyed Ali Ashraf of Dhaka, Jeddahand Cambridge, and an 'ijaza in the Teaching, Propagation of Islam and the Nourishment of the Murids by Muhammad al-Jamal ar-Rif'aiof al-Quds ash-Shareef. In the professional world he was granted a master's degree [M.Arch] in Islamic Building in 1983 by Dr. Hasan Fathy of the Institute of Appropriate Technology in Kuwait.
He maintained a Zawiya at the Islamic Study Center, Charlottesville, Virginia which is also the location of The Green Mountain School, the third school Nooruddeen has founded. Until his death in 2020 he lived there with his wife Noura Durkee on Green Mountain Farm in Keene, Virginia.
Abdullah Nooruddeen Durkee was born 1938 in Warwick, New York, as Stephen Durkee. He grew up with his grandmother, a devout Catholic and herbalist, at Greenwood Lake, New York. During this time he made periodic trips to war-time NYC where his mother taught school, his father was in hotel business and his grandfather worked as ship chandler and cargo consolidator for the North Atlantic convoys.
In 1944-1952 he was a student at Corpus Christi, a Roman Catholic Grade School in New York City with a broad interfaith exposure, after which he studied at religious and secular high schools in New York.
In 1957-1960 he studied with Robert Lowe, Professor of the Fine and Applied Arts, Teachers’ College, in Columbia University.
In 1960-1966 he worked as an artist and creator of environments in New York City and San Francisco. Paintings in various private collections as well as the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. Along with Gerd Stern and Michael Callahan, founded USCO and created first multimedia lightshows. Began lengthy correspondence with Meher Baba. Traveled and exhibited at universities and museums throughout the northeast; large exhibition at the Tibetan Museum in New York City; articles on work appeared in various publications in ArtNews and Life Magazine.
1965-1967 lived in California with Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass) and lectured with him throughout the West. Worked for and found land in New Mexico while Alpert went to study in India.
In 1967-1970 he initiated the Lama Foundation in New Mexico which was one of the first centers in North America for Spiritual Realization and Interfaith Studies. During this time he served as Coordinator and Director of Programs and initiated contacts with teachers of many traditions, including Kalu Rinpoche, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi leading to his first contacts with nominal Sufism through the writings of Hazrat Inayat Khan, in person Murshid Samuel Lewis and later Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. Organized, edited and produced Ram Dass' book Be Here Now, an international best-seller.
In 1970-1971 he coordinated the International Work Camps in the Alps conducted by Pir Vilayat Khan. He also began a set of travels in the autumn and spring in the desert regions of North America coupled with excursions to the Subcontinent and Middle-East where he first came into contact with Muslims. He edited Pir Vilayat's book Towards the One.
In 1972 he lived on Jabal Zaytun outside of al-Quds ash-Sharif in Occupied Palestine where he embraced 'Islam at the Madrasah of the Masjid al-'Aqsah. During this period he studied Tasawwuf with Muhammad al-Jamal, Na'ib of the Mufti of al-Quds, Hazim Abu-l-Ghazali of Amman, Jordan, and Abu Mutalib ash-Sharif of al-Khalil all, of whom were shaykhs of the Shadhdhuliyyah Order. He also received benefit from the teaching of Noor-i-Muhammad, a Naqshbandi from Bokharah who lived and taught within the precincts of the old Islamic city of al-Quds ash-Sharif (Jerusalem).
In 1973-1976 he designed and built the Intensive Studies Center (also known as the I.S.C. or Islamic Sufi Center) in the mountains above San Cristobal, New Mexico. This center (which burned to the ground in a forest fire in the 1990s) contained the first mosque in Northern New Mexico and at this center many people came to hear for the first time about Islam from the perspective of Tasawwuf. Many young American people embraced Islam in this setting and went on to stay at the Center where they learned the rudiments of Islam and began to live as Muslims.
During the years 1976-1979 he lived and studied in Makkah al-Mukarramah in the 'Ashrafiyyah area of al-Jiyad and attended the Markaz al-Lugahat-al-Arabiyyah, Kulliyat ash-Shari'ah, what was then Jami'at Malik 'Abdu-l-'Aziz and is now known as Jami'at Ummu-l-Qurra. During this time he developed the idea of a Muslim school and community in United States, and was able to begin raising funds for the project.
1980–1988 on the first day of new Hijri 1400 century he was the sole signatory on incorporation papers for the Dar al-Islam foundation in Abiquiu, New Mexico which he co-founded in 1979. Nooruddeen Durkee served from 1980 to 1988 as President of Dar al-Islam. During his term of Office the Foundation grew from an idea to a physical reality that, at the time of his leaving office, had assets of US$7 million, was debt-free and in full operation which included a mosque, a school, a number of residences and small businesses. Its purpose was to add as a living, artistic, social and cultural center for Islam in America. It drew visitors from all over the world, and residence, particularly but not exclusively from among Muslim converts from America. The Foundation is operative and remains debt free with a limited summer teaching program.
During this period he also studied Islamic Architecture with world-renowned Islamic architect Dr. Hasan Fathy, who made the original drawings of Dal al-Islam. In 1985 he was awarded the degree of Master of Islamic Architecture by the al-Sabbah Institute of Appropriate Technology in Kuwait.
During 1988-1993 after a conference on Islamic Education in Cambridge, England he moved with his family to Alexandria, Egypt. There he worked with his spiritual teacher, developed a circle of students, deeply involved in the Shadhdhuliyyah, and produced volume one, Orison of Shadhdhuliyyah and collected volume two, Origins of the Shadhdhuliyyah. He also began the first work on the Tajwidi Qur'an.
During this same period he also studied the Shadhdhuliyyah Shari'ah Way for Lovers of Qur'an and Sunnah with Ibrahim Muhammad al-Batawi, who was a Professor of Islamic Philosophy for over 25 years at al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt.
In 1986 Nooruddeen was appointed by Ibrahim al-Batawi as his Khalifah in the Western Hemisphere. He also studied the science of Muraqabah (inner contemplation) with the Mujaddidi Naqshabandi Shaykh, Dr. Seyed 'Ali Ashraf, professor of Islamic Education at King Abdu-l-Aziz University in Jeddah and later Professor of Education at Oxford University in the UK, who granted him an 'Ijaza (certificate to teach) the Muraqqabah. In 1983 he was granted an 'Ijaza in Islamic Calling (da’wa) from Umar Abdullaah, a Ba'Alawi shaykh from the Commoro Islands who served as the Ambassador Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1999 he was granted an 'Ijaza and given 'Idhn to teach from Muhammad al-Jamal, of the High Council of Sufism in al-Quds ash-Sharif, Occupied Palestine, and in 2004 was granted a Khilafah by Hazrat Quttubuddin Yar Fardi of the Nizamiyya/Chistiyyah in Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan, after a series of lectures he gave to large gatherings in the spring of that year.
From 1994 till the present: He returned to America and settled in Charlottesville, Virginia, working full-time on the Tajwidi Qur'an which was published in 2003. During this time he founded the Green Mountain School as a conduit for teaching Qur'an and publishing of other books and lectures. He also established the an-Noor foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3), specifically for the publication of the Tajiwidi Qur'an and for the propagation of traditional moderate Islam.
Nooruddeen died on at 11:55pm on September 13, 2020, in his home in Green Mountain, near Keene, VA. His burial took place Monday the 14th in Bedford, VA. His successor, Basit Khan, is the imam of the Sufis in America now.
This section reads like a review rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (June 2015)
The Transliterated Tajwidi Qur'an Translated & transliterated by A. Nooruddeen Durkee [English edited by Hajjah Noura Durkee] (ISBN 1879402998) Call number: BP 131.6 .T3413 2003. an-Noor Educational Foundation, Charlottesville, VA, 2003. It is a guide for non-Arabic readers to the pronunciation of the original text and to understanding some of the meanings revealed in the glorious Quran. Translated and transliterated into English from Arabic. The transliteration (based on Mesa and Hart's rules) is clear and accurate, and is found directly opposite its Arabic counterpart. The English appears ayat by ayat under the transliteration. The language is respectful yet contemporary and very understandable. Additions to or ‘bridges’ in the text, necessary for the sake of English reading, are clearly distinguished by brackets and contain no editorial comment. The volume contains extensive notes and charts on tajwid, the rules for reading Qur'an, and a large index.
Its English is edited by Hajja Noura Durkee, with Arabic text hand-written by Munshi Muhammad Sharif and orthography by 'Ustadh Zafar 'Iqbal. The English 'translation' is built on a compendium of the shared understanding of previous translators such as M. Yusuf Ali, M. Pickthal, M. Asad, the Bewleys, and Um Muhammad.
The transliteration is an improvement over previously done work by Muhammad A. H. Eliasi (Golden Press, Hyderabad, India, 1978) on a number of ground including: 1. The Arabic text in the Tajwidi Qur'an is approved both in Pakistan and by al-Azhar in Egypt, is clear and easy to read. 2. Has additional orthographic notation that aids the recitation. 3. The punctuation marks are obvious and clearly explained in the notes which is helpful for the non-Arab people. 4. Take advantages of available Latin fonts to reflect the more correct pronunciation.
In 1994, Noorudeen began this work while living in Alexandria, Egypt, as an aid to non-Arabic readers of the Qur'an. After it was completed in 2000, he sent it to a select group of Arabic scholars, speakers and readers as well as to a representative cross-section of Muslim readers for further review and correction. This latter stage, coupled with careful revisions of form, layout and design, took 3 more years. It was printed and bound during Ramadan 1424–2003.
Origins of the Shadhdhuliyyah which is the translation of three books from the Arabic which deal with the origins of the Shadhdhuli School of Sufism. Two of these books are by the late Shaykh of Azhar, ‘Abdu-l-Haleem Mahmud, and the third is by Dr. Abu-l-Wafa Taftazani, the former vice-regent of Cairo University and the Shaykh ul-Mashaykh of the Turuq as-Suffiyyah of Egypt. Sequentially these books deal with the lives and teachings of ‘Abu-l-Hasan ash-Shadhdhuli, his Khalifah (successor) Abu-l-‘Abbas al-Mursi and one of his two successors, Ibn ‘Ata’ ‘Illah as-Sakandari.
This book: “Origins of the School of the Shadhdhuliyyah” is companion edition to the first volume, “Orisons of the School of the Shadhdhuliyyah (ISBN 977-00-1830-9) which was published in al-‘Iskandariyyah (Alexandria), Egypt in 1991 CE [1411 Hijri]. This volume contains the complete collection in Arabic, English and Roman Transliteration of the ‘Ahzab and ’Awrad of the Shaykh which Shaykh Nooruddeen translated in collaboration with Dr. Ma’ddawi az-Zirr and then edited and prepared for publishing during a five year stay [1989-94] in Alexandria.
Dar al-Islam, Abiquiu, New Mexico
Nooruddeen Durkee is the founder of Dar al-Islam, a non-profit educational organization. It was a spiritual center of the first Islamic village in the United States. Dar al-Islam was founded in 1979 to facilitate the growth of accurate and authentic knowledge of Islam among the American people with a commitment to build bridges among the Muslims and non-Muslims of America. Programs undertaken were focused on reaching beyond information to the contextual and experiential dynamics of living in multi-cultural society.
In 1975, while studying at the Markaz al-Lughat al-Arabiyyah in Mecca, Saudi Arabia he met a businessman and industrialist named Sahl Kabbani who was to become his partner in the endeavor of Dar al-Islam. Kabbani had studied engineering in the United States and was anxious to return something to the country that had contributed to his education. The two of them put together the plan for Dar al-Islam, with Kabbani reportedly contributing $125,000 to the foundation. Other money came from the Riyadh Ladies’ Benevolent Association of Saudi Arabia, from the late King Khalid, and from two of his daughters, Charitable donations – called sadaka – in the Islamic tradition serve to “purify” the donor's money.
Planned as the eventual home of 150 families, it is the first Islamic village in the United States. The idea was to establish a community in the United States whose members could live a fully Islamic way of life. Dar al-Islam would be a place where American Muslims could engage in life's daily transactions according to their beliefs: the deen, or code of Islam. And in manifesting their faith, they would bear witness of Islam to others: the da'wa, or calling.
The foundation purchased its first 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) site from Alva Simpson, a well-established rancher along the Chama, for $1,372,000. The land included the 400-acre (1.6 km2) mesa top, plus 600 acres (2.4 km2) below the mesa – a lust, fertile tract along the Chama River. A master plan was drawn up for the community, and the Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy was called in to help make it a reality.
The Lama Foundation
The Lama Foundation in New Mexico was founded in 1967 by Nooruddeen Durkee, then Stephen Durkee and Barbara Durkee, now known as Asha Greer or Asha von Briesen. It began with the purchase of 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land adjacent to federal forested land, and continues today as a place for people to visit and live. "Construction of the first buildings began in 1968. The following year, the foundation was incorporated as an “educational, religious and scientific” organization.
It was one of almost thirty communes established in the region around that time, and one of the most well-known, along with Morningstar East, Reality Construction Company, the Hog Farm, New Buffalo, and The Family. By 1973, the vast majority of these communities had closed, but the Lama Foundation was able to continue because it had more structure and discipline than most others.
Ram Dass was a friend of the founders, and he stayed at the Lama Foundation as a guest when he returned to America from India. During his visit, he presented the Durkees with a manuscript he had written, entitled From Bindu to Ojas. The community's residents edited, illustrated, and laid out the text, which ultimately became a huge commercial hit when published under the name Be Here Now. Dass also held seminars at the Foundation. So did other spiritual leaders, such as Samuel L. Lewis, who was buried there after his death in 1971.
Green Mountain School
Founded in 1995, The Green Mountain School is the third school Nooruddeen Durkee has founded. The major concentration of the school was and continues to be the teaching of the Qur'an. The School also serves as a local conduit for the dispersing of zakat and sadaqah (charity). It sponsors a weekly ma'idatu-l-rahmah (table of mercy), which gathers together orphans and widows from the refugee community, local university students and professors, and others among the poor, lately imprisoned and broken hearted to eat together, pray together, make dhikr together and read Qur'an together. The Green Mountain School, in concert with An-Noor Foundation, has for more than seven years run a prison chaplaincy for both men and women in maximum security state prisons.
- Al Qur'an al Karim with transliteration and translation, 2000
- Peace and Love: Four Essays and an Article, avail. as reprint, 1992-5
- Ya Seen: The Heart of the Qur'an in Arabic, transliteration and translation
- Love of God, a collection of articles from people of varying religious traditions, the chapter to represent the Muslims, entitled The Love of Allah, published New Delhi, 1994
- The School of the Shadhdhuliyyah, Volume One: Orisons [translated with Ma‘ddawi az-Zirr, edited, transliterated with a long introduction], published in 1992 by The School of the Shadhdhuliyyah.
- A Garden in Flames [the Jerusalem mss] [edited and produced] unpublished
- In the Garden [co-edited and co-produced] 1975, Harmony Books, Crown Publishers
- Toward the One [edited and produced] 1974, Harper Torchbooks, Harper and Row
- Seed [edited and produced] 1973, Harmony Books, Crown Publishers
- Be Here Now [edited and produced] 1970–1971, Lama Foundation, Crown Publishers
- Bindu to Ojas [edited and produced] 1969–1970, Lama Foundation
- Muslim / Jewish Dialogue, Paragon House 2000 [contains a paper given at the Muslim/Jewish Dialogue Conference, Cordova, Spain, 1999
- Petals of Light from the Muhammadan Rose, Texas Islamic Press, 1998
- Muslim Christian Dialogue - Promise and Problems, Paragon House, 1998
- The Selling of Sufism, International Sufi conference, San Francisco, 1997
- The Love of Allah [revised edition] Published by Noon Heirographers, Nakhujabad
- Reflections of the Possibilities of Perfection, Proceedings of the International Mawlid Conference, Chicago, 1996
- Recital of Qur'an as a Way to Peace
- 'Islam is Salam published in Voices from World Religions, ISPK, Delhi, India, 1993
- Making Peace With the Earth in the Light of Surrender
- Acts of Peace, Inner & Outer
- The Love of Allah, written for inter-religious and intra-religious conferences, have been gathered in a book entitled Peace and Love: Four Essays and an Article, 1995
- Dar al Islam, ‘Mimar: Architecture and Development’, Autumn, 1987
- Islamic Architecture for Schools in ‘Muslim Education Quarterly’, 1986
- Hassan Fathy in America, VIA; Journal of School of Architecture MIT, 1985
Lectures and conferences
- Renewing the Family and building a Culture of World Peace, Washington, DC, 2000. Organised by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace
- United Nations Millennium Peace Summit for Religious and Spiritual Leaders, New York 2000. Organised by the United Nations
- Journey to Salaam, A Culture of Peace for the Muslim Community, Washington, 2000. Organised by Muslim Peace Fellowship and Assoc. of Muslim Social Scientists
- Second International Islamic Conference, Chicago 2000, organised by the Nation of Islam, [three talks]
- Mawlid an-Nabi, Columbia South Carolina, June 2000 organised by Islamic Studies and Research Association
- Jewish-Muslim Encounters, Cordoba, Spain August 1999, Organised by the Inter Religious Federation for World Peace
- Sayyidina Muhammad: The Mercy to All the Worlds, June 1999 Columbia, SC organised by Islamic Studies and Research Association
- Unity Conference, Washington DC, September 1998 [three lectures]
- First International Islamic Conference, Chicago, 1998, [two talks]
- The Universal Spirit of the Holy Qur'an and the State of the Ummah, Oct. 1998, Columbia, SC organised by Islamic Studies and Research Institute
- Sufi Symposium, San Francisco, 1997 California, Paper: Truth in Advertising, The Selling of Sufism.
- Sufi Symposium, San Francisco, 1996 California, Paper: Recital of Qur'an as a Spiritual Practice
- Bluefield Meeting on Qur'anic Studies, Sept 96 Paper: Transliteration and Translation of Qur'an.
- International Mawlid an-Nabi [S] Conference, Chicago, Illinois, USA, August 1995
- Paper: Manifestations of the Shadowless Presence
International Federation for World Peace, 1995 Congress, Seoul, Korea, August 1995
- Paper: Possibilities of Perfection considered from Light of Islam
- Problems and Challenges in Islamic and Christian Dialogue, University of Waterloo, Rension College for Religious Studies, Waterloo, Ontario Canada, May 1995
- Paper: Some Personal Thoughts on Muslim Christian Dialogue.
- Islam in Practice in the Modern World
- Unitarian conference center, Charlottesville, VA 1995
- Perspectives on Islamic Sufism, Piedmont Community College, faculty seminar, 1995
- Islamic Architecture; What it Is and What it Isn't Piedmont Community College, faculty seminar, 1995
- Stories from Qur'an Fifteen Ramadan TV shows for the Arab World, Cairo, 1994
- Islam in Focus, Twenty talks on Islam for TV presentation in the Arab World, Cairo, 1993
- Hasan Fathy and Appropriate Architecture, American Cultural Center, Alexandria, 1992
- The Nature & Practice of Islam: Now, talk given in Batesville, Virginia, USA, June 1991
- The Nature of Islam: Outer and Inner, Alexandria, Egypt, 1990
- The Life After This Life, seven 2 hour talks given in Alexandria, Egypt, 1989
- Islam in Practice, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico USA. 1987 held under the auspices of the Presbyterian Synod for Reconciliation between Christians and Muslims.
Participant and speaker
- Inter-Faith Dialogues sponsored by: World Council of Religions: “Spirituality and Practice”, Vancouver, Canada, 1987
- “Making Peace with the Earth”, New York, New York, 1991
- “Peace in Practice”, Paris, 1991
- “Ways to World Peace”, Seoul, Korea, 1992
- Participant and Speaker at Muslim World Intra-Faith Dialogues: "Islam and the Family”, Istanbul, Turkey, 1990
- “Islamic Law”, Istanbul, Turkey, 1988
- “Peace in Islam”, Casablanca, Morocco, 1989
- “Islamic Education”, Casablanca, Morocco, 1988
- National Delegate to the Sixth International Conference on Muslim Education, Cambridge, UK, 1990
- National Delegate to the Fifth International Conference on Muslim Education, Cairo, Egypt, 1988
Work in progress
Exile: A Stranger's Tale, a memoire of the spiritual path, out for editing. The School of the Shadhdhuliyyah, Volume Two Origins: Shaykh Abu-l-‘Abbas al-Mursi and his Instructor Shaykh Abu-l-Hasan ash-Shadhdhuli by H.E. Shaykh of Azhar, Dr ‘Abdu-l-Halim Mahmud, translated, edited and ready for proofing. Section Three: Shaykh Ibn ‘Ata’Illah by the Shaykh al-Turuq as-Sufiyah Misriya Shaykh Dr. Abu-l-Wafa Taftazani is translated and in final editing.
Lectures and Khutbahs
Nooruddeen lectures widely, nationally and internationally. He lectures actively around Charlottesville, Greater Richmond, Virginia and Washington D.C. area. On a local level he has for more than ten years delivered the weekly khutbah (sermon) at a number of different community mosques where he serves a varied constituency, including prisoners, students, immigrants and refugees, Afro-Americans and Euro-Americans.
In 2005 and he gave the Eid Khutbah to the United Muslim Communities of Richmond, Virginia where he spoke to over 6,000 people on the theme of "One Deen, One Ummah." Many of his speeches are digitally recorded and are made available through Green Mountain School Official website.
- Lama Foundation, San Cristobal, New Mexico http://www.lamafoundation.org/
- Dar al-Islam Official website http://www.daralislam.org/
- A Mosque in Abiuqiu by David Dillon. Published in Progressive Architecture, volume 6, issue 83, pg 90
- Dar al - Islam: The Code and the Calling, by William Tracy Published in Saudi Aramco World, volume 39, number 3
- Building for Allah: Abiqui, Denver Post, April 27, 1986
- Green Mountain School
- Dar al-Islam
- Audios of talks and Friday Khutbah of Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee
- 1988 Aramco World Article about Dar al-Islam
- Bio Article in Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
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