(1940 – 2016)




Why is it a siren at night sounds like

someone crying for help

or else despairing of help?

Why is it the city at night is like a

single person with disturbed sleep

generally peaceful but now and then

thrashing from side to side

and yelling out

under the imponderable stars?

Tonight perhaps one person in this entire city’s made the

permanent breakthrough into an undying

spectacular radiance that would

light up any number of national

wonders like the Grand Tetons or even

New York itself

yet no one might know of it

but his caged bird or his

insouciant cat

curled up asleep under the chair of epiphany

in the roofless room of the

Divine Presence

whose doors and windows have

exploded with light

Now there’s another siren across town

speeding to its dutiful appointment

and I pray for safe outcome

surrounded by voices of

sweet council and high jubilation

and the newly ascended saintly one might also

be hearing it with me and be

flying to the scene in the Unseen

to see by God’s pure Seeing

what should be done

and by no action of his own

doing it




We looked out our mid-winter window in Norwich, England

onto a

backyard being dusted with snow. There’s never any

snow in Norwich! But the snow kept

falling. Finally we

ran out in it, you

three years old, shouting

Let’s make a snowman! Not much to

make one with, snow so soft and

powdery, but we

scraped one together, and pretty soon not a bad

snow-dude appeared, mostly a

tall mound, hardly any head, hardly any

arms at all, but I put my

knitted sock-cap on it to give it

class. Your mother leaned

out the window and threw us a

carrot for nose, and we looked around for

stones for eyes, no

coal nuggets near, until finally we had a

real old-fashioned bone fide

snowman worth crowing about. We

crowed. Your mom

crowed from the kitchen. The snowman was well-

crowed. Suddenly I had a flash about sculpted images,

idols, molded to cast

shadows, monotheism’s

constant contention against them, prophet Abraham’s

victory for

imageless Majesty, and said, “Hey, this is an

idol, we have to

knock it down – only God is real! You

loved this idea, and clapped your

mitts together, yelling, “Yeah, let’s

destroy the idol! ” You mom disagreeing and

Oh-no”ing disappointedly from the

window. We scooped up snowballs and started

pelting the snowman to

slush, slowly

eroding his head, bombarding his

torso to

a pile of shapeless snow again, really getting out

backs into it, “Take this, you idol, and this (splat!), and

this! ” Laughing

until we were exhausted and

done. And you’ve remained

deeply impressed by this memory, saying it’s your

very first memory, that stubborn

powerful fiction that actually

shapes our consciousnesses

all the rest of our days.




Vision perceives Him not, but He perceives [all] vision; and He is the Subtle, the Acquainted.

(Surah al-An‘aam: 103)

At some point you

have to decide just

how much you want an

entirely new perception of things

as they are

We’re not going to find God

in a threadbare overcoat

in a dank laboratory

down a zigzag street on a

moonlit night in


Who turns to us nevertheless

with a most radiant smile —

but in everything and nothing

there and there and there

The songbird never alights too

long on any branch

until it plans to sleep


It’s all to do with

radical simultaneity

or as the Buddhists say:

“Interdependent Arising”

of neon green farmland going on

for miles

fringed with willow copses

under bright blue sky

firefly on the carpet

blinks its thanks when

returned back outside

Nothing reveals Him more

than His invisibility

though “The Invisible One” is not

one of the Ninety-Nine Names of God

nor is “The Visible One”

but only

“He Who Sees”


About the Poet: 

Berkeley CA, 1970: A young Beat poet by the name of Daniel Moore was causing a sensation in the Counterculture scene with his poetry, not to mention his fake fur-covered Chevy with deer antlers on the bonnet, Astroturf carpeting the floor, and a toadstool for a driver’s seat.

Where do you go after you’ve rubbed shoulders with Allen Ginsberg and Frank McClure, and had your debut collection of poems published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti of the legendary City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco? For several years Daniel had  visited gurus, sat in zazen with Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki, practised yoga every morning, and led a “sacred theatre” troupe, The Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company, complete with handmade puppets, skull necklaces, drums, flutes and lots of long, wavy hair.

This circle of avant-garde artists – who saw Daniel as a kind of spiritual leader – didn’t just want to shake up the turgid American psyche of the time with their eclectic mashup of shamanism, Zen and Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism, as seen through acid-coloured glasses: their lofty ambition was, in fact, to exorcise America’s demons of violence and war. Several public performances (to audiences whose drinks were spiked, of course) earned them an article in Rolling Stone magazine in February 1970:

“The shaping spirit of the Floating Lotus company is a lion-maned poet named Daniel Moore… Though he exerts himself to make the opera a collective product, through group meditation at rehearsals, continual rewriting and the interaction of living closely with the actors, it is necessarily deeply stamped with his spirit. It is poetic, rather than dramatic stage…”

A copy of this magazine wound its way to a Paris café terrace, where a certain Scotsman was reading it. An American sitting at the next table noticed the picture of Daniel, leaned over and commented that he knew him. The Scotsman asked politely for Daniel’s number; it turned out that he had recently returned from a visit to the Zawiyah of the great Moroccan Sufi, Shaykh Muhammad Ibn al-Habib, where he had embraced Islam, taking the name Abdal-Qadir, and been made a Muqaddim (“one who brings forward”) of the Darqawiyya-Habibiyya order.

Daniel seemed like a natural person with whom to share this spiritual path; a cultural influencer like him might inspire others to follow suit. As it happened, that year Daniel had come across R.A. Nicholson’s translation of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi’s Mathnawi, and taken to giving impromptu readings in the hallway of the brownstone building where he lived, in a temple-like attic room where he was busily typing up a new poetry manuscript.

Arriving in Berkeley, Shaykh ‘Abdal-Qadir went straight to the artist commune and Daniel’s attic room, where he proceeded to regale him with a vivid depiction of Islam and the saint he had so recently seen. Daniel was captivated:

“For the three days following our meeting, two other Americans and I listened in awe as this magnificent storyteller unfolded the picture of Islam, of the perfection of the Prophet Muhammad, 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.”

The same year, Daniel made a trip to Meknes for the annual Moussem gathering in homage to the saint Sidi Muhammad Ibn Al-Habib, where he was given the name ‘Abdal-Hayy, formally accepted the tariqa, and committed to help establish this Sufi order in the US. Over the next few years he was involved in several zawiyahs in Berkeley, where a small but enthusiastic group of converts converged. He recognised that the wird (litany) of his Shaykh that he was reciting twice daily and the Diwan (poetry collection) they sang at their nightly dhikr sessions would have a formative impact on his understanding of poetry. In it, he writes, he

“…saw poetry in its true function as a joining of beauty with truth. Here was poetry that had a spiritual reality to lead its reader or reciter (or singer) to enlightenment (and connecting to my earlier interest in sacred texts), as a vehicle for knowledge of Allah…to know Him by His multifarious manifestations on earth and in the heavens.”

In keeping with Daniel’s myriad fascinations, his encyclopaedic poetic references and wholehearted drive to know and honour Truth in all its disclosures, when Abdal-Hayy returned to writing around 1980, the poetry that poured out was rich in cosmic imagery, sprinkled with gazelles and zebras and geese flying overhead, but also brought home with street scenes, contemporary references and tender vignettes of family life. It is a deeply personal prayer, proof positive that love of Allah can be expressed in any mother tongue, and that the “signs on the horizons” can be found in the most everyday and surprising of places.

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore continued writing prolifically until he was no longer able to hold a pen. After struggling against cancer for five years, he passed away peacefully in 2016, rahimAllah. Two collections of his last poems, Transitioning to Zero and Holy Door in the Ground, were published posthumously, and are a lucid testimony to his longing for Allah, accepting all the rigours of his illness as the purification needed to meet his Creator in the best state possible.

Abdal-Hayy wrote over sixty manuscripts, at least 25 of which were published. With such a broad bibliography, a Selected Poems anthology of his finest work is long overdue. His family and friends are currently crowdfunding to make this finally possible; you can watch the video about Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore’s extraordinary life and work and preorder your copy of From a Shore Beyond Water at

*Words by Medina Tenour Whiteman 


To read more of Abdal-Hayy’s poetry visit his digital archive ‘ Ecstatic Exchange ‘