Abode News

An Update on the Abode—August 24, 2022

Dear Abode friends,

We hope that you have been enjoying a glorious summer.

Over the past almost two months, we have been working to clarify processes related to transferring the responsibility of the Abode to new ownership. After receiving correspondence from attorneys representing Friends of South Family, Inc., we were advised by legal counsel to discontinue public activities, including email communications, a planned information session, a series of Abode Open Houses, and an Abode Community Day scheduled for August 6th, and instead focus on consulting attorneys with experience in New York State religious non-profit property law. This is why we have not shared any new updates with you until now.

As we go forward, please know that the Abode and Friends of South Family, Inc, are planning to meet this week. Akbar Scott, FSFI’s Chair, and Sohrob Nabatian, Chair of the Abode Board, will begin a dialogue, with Rabia Povich, Vice President of the Inayatiyya’s Kinship Activity, providing facilitation support.

Also, please know that we have not pursued a sale of the Abode this summer and are not pursuing an outside sale right now. Our focus over the past weeks has solely been on clarifying legal processes, addressing financial questions (Abode bookkeeping, financing, etc.), updating human resources documentation, and supporting the Abode staff with operational needs.

Relatedly, the Abode Board has made a financial decision to preserve cash and limit debt as much as possible during this time in the transition process. As part of this, we will simplify the Abode’s operations and not renew the current Abode Executive Director, Kevin Carlon’s, hire agreement past August 31st, 2022. We regret that this is the case and are deeply appreciative of Kevin’s service during this very uncertain time in the Abode’s history. In the interim, until a transfer of new ownership is complete, Jennifer Alia Wittman, the Inayatiyya’s Executive Director, will step down from the Abode Board to serve as Acting Executive Director at no cost to the Abode.

Thank you for your prayers and kind support as we actively call forth a yet-to-be-discovered future.

Toward the One,
Sohrob Nabatian, Abode Board Chair

PS—We will make sure to update you as new developments evolve. Please email any questions you may have to [email protected] We will aim to answer as many questions as we can in upcoming posts.

Abode Village View—July 3, 2022

Dear Abode friends,

We understand that our community has questions about the future of the Abode. Our intention is, and always has been, to have a transparent and inclusive process. We understand that there is an organization interested in acquiring the Abode. In an effort to thoroughly respond to recent correspondence from this organization, legal counsel has recently been retained. This means that our process is slowed so that we may confer with counsel and determine a clear path forward in full compliance will all governing laws. Regrettably, the intervention of legal counsel limits communications as all interactions now have to be vetted through an attorney.

Please know that our thinking related to the Abode’s future is likely similar to your own:

    • Our core motivation is to serve the mission and transmission that created the Abode, and to continue the deep lineage of care for the Abode land and Shaker buildings.
    • We would like to see the sacred nature of the land maintained as a continuum from the Mohican tribe, to the Shakers, to the Jewish youth programs of the 1950s and 1960s, to the Sufis of the 1970s to 2020s, to today.
    • In thoughtfully considering the Abode’s future, we of course are fully committed to following all applicable laws pertaining to the sale.
    • We are open to consideration of all offers and proposals made in good faith and friendship.
    • We are interested in mutually respectful conversations with any group with a sincere interest in the Abode.
    • As of this writing, any potential sale process has been put on hold and will only resume when there is a clear way forward.

We are aware that we are living through a divisive time worldwide. Our larger community is one united by the ideals of Love, Harmony, and Beauty. We know that passionate people can have different perspectives on a place they all love, but our teachings tell us differences do not have to divide us. We pray that we can embody the values that we serve throughout this process.

Lastly, we empathize with the desire to see the Abode continue as the place we’ve known for so long, to be able to visit, do a retreat, attend a program, walk the mountain. We hope that the process becomes more open soon, so that we can envision the future of the Abode together.

Thank you for your patience as we may not send updates for a while, or respond to specific questions sent via email, until we have the opportunity to develop a clear path forward. We will also be in touch after we determine if we can hold in-person gatherings this summer.

In service,
Sohrob Nabatian, Chair
Ted Basir Yasi, Vice Chair
Jennifer Alia Wittman, Secretary & Treasurer

Abode Village View—June 26, 2022

Dear Friends

Thanks to all who participated in last weekend’s honoring of Pir Vilayat’s 106th birthday! It was a beautiful event, attended by many good friends in-person at the Abode and also online.

A few days ago we announced an information session on the Abode sale, scheduled for this coming Wednesday, June 29th. Please note that we have decided to postpone this meeting. The Abode Board of Trustees is in the process of considering recent requests with regard to the future of the Abode, and we will reschedule once we have the opportunity to fully evaluate them. In the meantime, we will continue to share updates every Sunday.

In service,

Trustees for the Abode of the Message
Sohrob Nabatian, Chair
Basir Yasi, Vice-Chair
Jennifer Alia Wittman, Secretary & Treasurer

Please see below for recent news. If you have additional questions, please email us at [email protected]. We’ll continue to try and answer questions through these Sunday newsletters. Thank you!
  • Andy Bruce has returned to the Abode to serve on the staff throughout the Abode transition. The current Abode staff includes Keven Carlon (Executive Director), Steve Pause, Amir Bisio, and Andy Bruce, with Adriana Szyda and Shaheen on work exchange.
  • Basir Yasi, Abode Board Vice Chair, visited the Abode the week of June 13th, where he met with staff individually and as a group, sat in on various meetings, and generally oriented himself to the day-to-day workings of the Abode.
  • Jennifer Alia Wittman, Abode Secretary and Treasurer, arrives at the Abode this coming Monday and will stay for some time over the summer to assist with the process around the sale.
  • Frederick Haley, contracted by the Abode Board, completed a survey of the property, including a proposed subdivision that is being considered as a possible option.
  • Abode Trustees met with Columbia Land Conservancy to discuss how conservation easements can help protect the ecology and sacred character of the Abode mountain.
  • We applied for financing to help pay for ongoing operating expenses.

Abode Sale Information Session

Dear Abode Friends, 

As you are likely well aware, the Abode of the Message is in transition. Since our announcement in April, the Abode’s Board of Trustees have been busily working to prepare the Abode for sale.

We know many of you have questions about how we got here and how the process will unfold. Please register to join us for an information session on Wednesday June 29th at 7:00 ET – 8:30 ET. The purpose of this meeting is for the Inayatiyya and Abode trustees to provide transparency and share in greater detail around the following questions:

  • What exactly led to the decision to sell the Abode?
  • What are the values and approach we are holding as we seek a buyer?
  • How will proceeds from a sale be used?
  • What concerns and rumors have been raised?
  • What other questions do you have?

Please register here to receive the zoom link. We will also make the recording of this meeting available for anyone pre-registered and unable to join.


Abode Board of Trustees
Sohrob Nabatian, Chair
Basir Yasi, Vice Chair
Jennifer Alia Wittman, Secretary & Treasurer

Abode Village View—June 19, 2022

Pir Vilayat’s 106th Birthday Celebration
June 19th, 11am – 12pm ET via Zoom

Today we celebrate Pir Vilayat’s 106th birthday! Please join us via Zoom later today for a special Universal Worship Service at 11 am ET.

Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87518925050?pwd=bTFpZ1hTT1k0OTZZV3NZd2J2SXFpUT09

Meeting ID: 875 1892 5050 Passcode: 472313

The theme from Pir Vilayat’s teaching is “Imagine what you could be, if you would be, how you might be.” Cherags participating include Gayatri Hull, Nizam Ash, Aimée Johnson, Saraswati Spies, Michael K’Shatria, Wahhaba Babbs, Maria Cristina Fernandez and Yaqin Aubert. Mahbub Davis is kindly serving as Zoom tech support.

Please come celebrate Pir Vilayat with us! 

We will return to sharing Abode updates and news next Sunday. 

Abode Village View—June 12, 2022

Dear Abode Friends,


We only have a few quick updates this week. First, thank you to all who signed up for Pir Vilayat’s Birthday Celebration at the Abode set for next Sunday, June 19th. We sold out fairly quickly. (So sorry to those of you hoping to come—more in-person summer events will be announced soon.)


Please know you can still join us for the Universal Worship part of the Celebration via Zoom, Sunday, June 19th at 11 am Eastern Time. See details below. (If you have any questions related to Pir Vilayat’s Birthday Celebration, please email [email protected].)


Otherwise, we are very close to contracting a realtor and anticipate having the Abode property listed for sale within the next three weeks. We hope to craft a listing emphasizing the sacred importance of the Abode history, land, Shaker buildings, and people, intentionally calling forth a “succession steward” for the Abode going forward. We will share more about this in future newsletters.


With love and appreciation always,


Jennifer Alia Wittman
Abode Board Secretary & Treasurer

Pir Vilayat’s 106th Birthday Celebration
June 19th, 11am – 12pm ET via Zoom


Pir Vilayat’s 106th birthday is Sunday, June 19th, 2022. To celebrate, we are hosting a special Universal Worship Service followed by Brunch at the AbodeWhile our in-person celebration is now sold out, you can still join us via Zoom for Universal Worship that day at 11 am Eastern Time.


Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87518925050?pwd=bTFpZ1hTT1k0OTZZV3NZd2J2SXFpUT09


Meeting ID: 875 1892 5050 Passcode: 472313


The theme from Pir Vilayat’s teaching is “Imagine what you could be, if you would be, how you might be.” Cherags participating include Gayatri Hull, Nizam Ash, Aimée Johnson, Saraswati Spies, Michael K’Shatria, Wahhaba Babbs, Maria Cristina Fernandez and Yaqin Aubert. Mahbub Davis is kindly serving as Zoom tech support.


We would love for you to join us online, if you are able!

Abode Village View—June 5, 2022

Dear Abode Friends,


As you may know by now, the Abode of the Message is in a transitional time. We are writing as murids* who make up the new Abode Board of Trustees. We’d like to introduce ourselves in this first of a series of weekly updates to keep our community informed about the Abode sale process and what to expect.


First, we’d like to introduce the current Abode Board: Sohrob Nabatian, a murid in Northern California who lived at the Abode for a year in 2001-2002; Jennifer Alia Wittman, Executive Director of the Inayatiyya and past Abode Executive Director, as well as a resident of the Abode from 2002 to 2017, and Basir Yasi, a murid in nearby Freehold, NJ. All three of us are Suluk graduates who have spent significant time at the Abode in deep Sufi study, as well as for retreats and other programs. This board of trustees was activated on May 2nd with the purpose of overseeing operations, preparing the property for sale, and seeing the process through to completion.


We are working closely with a devoted team on the ground caring for buildings, grounds, and operations during the transition: Steve Pause, Amir Bisio, Andy Bruce, and Adrianna Szyda, led by Abode Executive Director Kevin Carlon. We are profoundly grateful to this group for their dedication to keeping the Abode in beautiful condition. We are currently clarifying ongoing staffing arrangements through the summer and beyond.


For all of us who love the Abode, this transition brings uncertainty. We understand that there are many unanswered questions, and we will endeavor to provide weekly communications going forward, (even if it’s simply “no update”). For updates from the last month, see below. We will also share about opportunities to visit the Abode this summer as they are confirmed.


Thank you to all for holding the Abode in your hearts during this transition.


Toward the One,


Sohrob Nabatian, Chair
Basir Yasi, Vice Chair
Jennifer Alia Wittman, Secretary & Treasurer


*If you are new to the path of Sufism, murid means student. In this case we refer to students of the teachings of the Sufi mystic, Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927).

Over the past month, as we prepare the Abode for sale, we have received many questions that we hope to begin to answer below. Please send additional questions to our new email address at [email protected] for us to answer in future weekly Sunday email updates. 
  • The Abode staff are currently occupied maintaining the building and grounds, cleaning and preparing the property, and getting financial and other records in order. This is a significant workload for our dedicated staff.


  • We know that many of you wish to visit the Abode. We are currently getting many unexpected visitors. To honor our small staff and limit distractions, we ask that we all wait to visit the Abode until a list of Abode Visitor Days is set and shared via this email newsletter. Additional details about set times to visit will be shared within the next couple of weeks (with two initial dates shared below).


  • We plan to hold two public events (so far) this summer, a Celebration of Pir Vilayat’s Birthday on Sunday, June 19th, including a Universal Worship Service & Special Brunchprepared by Donna and Shaheen. Details on how to register (we need to know our numbers) will be shared soon. Also, we will hold an Abode Community Day on Saturday, August 6th, with details forthcoming.


  • Noor Amina Peterson, Chair of the Inayatiyya Board, visited the Abode for a week in May where she met with staff and local community members, toured and assessed the property, and assisted with financial due diligence.


  • We have completed a professional appraisal of the property, which valued the Abode as a whole at $4,235,000.


  • We have also completed a professional survey of the property, verifying property lines, acreage, building locations, etc.


  • We have been interviewing realtors and expect to make our final decision about a realtor within the next week.


  • We anticipate that the formal listing of the property will go up online by the end of June. It is impossible to say exactly how the process will unfold. What we do know is that we will make decisions in the light of the wider mission and transmission of the Inayatiyya, and that the Abode Board will seriously consider the social, ecological, and economic impacts of any offer.




Sohrob Nabatian (Chair) joined a zikr circle in Montreal in 2002 and has been hooked ever since. After living a year at the Abode and joining the first class of Suluk Academy, Sohrob pursued higher education at Harvard Divinity School, worked as a cook and hospital chaplain, and since 2008 has been serving at the Kalliopeia Foundation directing financial resources to organizations rooted in spirit. Sohrob loves nonprofit work, and finds great joy in seeing organizations move through developmental challenges to more fully inhabit their destiny. He lives north of San Francisco with his wife Hannah and children Isaiah and Alma, and for fun teaches a spin class, is learning to surf, and bakes too much bread.


Ted Basir Yasi (Vice Chair), after many years wandering as a self-described “tourist” of spiritual traditions, finally found his home in the Inayatiyya, and was initiated in 2008. He is a graduate of the Jabalqa Suluk class, and became a Healing Conductor in 2018. Conflict resolution and peacemaking have been central themes throughout his life and remain a focus of his work. Professionally, Basir is a freelance videographer with experiences including working with the documentary unit of the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions in Southeast Asia and Central America. Using his heart and lens to help people see and understand each other and the world around them continues to be his passion. Basir lives in Freehold, New Jersey.


Jennifer Alia Wittman (Secretary & Treasurer) has been a leader in the Inayatiyya for over 25 years and has an extensive background in founding, stabilizing, growing and advancing nonprofit organizations. Alia was deeply involved in the youth service movement of the 1990s, contributing to the creation of AmeriCorps and first hired as an Executive Director at the age of 26 to run Hands on Baltimore. After years of such service, Alia was guided to work with the Inayatiyya. She has served as General Manager of Suluk Press (2003-2006), the Inayatiyya’s publishing company, and Executive Director of Seven Pillars House of Wisdom (2006-2012), the Abode of the Message (2014-2016), and the Inayatiyya (2014-today). Alia lives in Richmond, Virginia.