Dar Al Islam
In another chapter of New Mexico’s long utopian history, a few American converts to Islam established Dar al Islam (505/685-4515, www.daralislam.org), an intentional religious community, in 1979. A village for about 150 families on 8,300 acres just south of Abiquiu proper, it was meant to be a place in which Muslims could practice their religion in every aspect of life, from education to food (cattle for halal slaughter were to be raised).
With funding from the Saudi royal family, the group hired renowned Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy to build the mosque and madrassa (school) that formed the core of the site. The group also established local businesses, such as the Abiquiu Inn.
The village concept never quite took off, though, and Dar al Islam has been reinvented as a retreat center that’s open to visitors—but call first. Fathy’s adobe mosque, all organic sinuous lines, is beautiful and harmonizes flawlessly with the land surrounding it.
The most direct route to the community is via Highway 554, which runs east from U.S. 84 south of Abiquiu (follow signs for El Rito); immediately after crossing the river, turn left on County Road 155, which leads to the main entrance.
If you leave the mosque by the far side, continuing on County Road 155 on its loop back to meet U.S. 84, you pass the towering gypsum formations of Plaza Blanca (White Place), an oft-photographed patch of land that looks like a pile of bleached bones. You can park your car anywhere and wander among the pinnacles.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition