Receipt of the Robe The best-known story regarding Uways is how he received the robe of the Prophet Mohammad. One day the Prophet gave his robe to Imam Ali and told him, upon the Prophet’s death, to take the robe to his best follower, Uways. The Prophet, who had never met or seen Uways, explained to Imam Ali who Uways was. “Uways lives in Najd. He is a slight man with long hair and a white scar, about the size of a coin, on his left side and on his palm but not from leprosy. He is a camel shepherd. All the money he earns he spends on taking care of his old mother. He has obeyed my law saying that everyone must serve and care for his needy parents. He is a servant of God.” Guided by the Prophet’s words, when the Prophet Mohammad died, Imam Ali and the Caliph Farooq went to Najd to deliver the robe to Uways. Upon reaching Najd, they asked for Uways, and were told that Uways was a recluse who spent his time on the mountain praying. When Imam Ali and the Caliph went to the mountain, they found Uways standing for prayer. After Uways had completed the salute oinama’az, they greeted him and asked him to show his side and hand. Satisfied that this man was Uways, they gave him the message of the Prophet and the Prophet’s gift, the robe. Uways asked if they would let him resume his praying. When he returned, Uways told Imam Ali and Farooq that he had asked God for permission for the great honor of carrying the robe and that God gave him shafaa’t (the intercession) of numerous followers of the Holy Prophet. Listening within the Heart After receiving the Prophet’s robe, Uways continued his pious life without interruption. Many pious persons sought out Uways and asked to be his student. Among his students were Haram ibn Hayan and Habib ibn Salim Race. When Haram ibn Hayan, who had not yet met Uways, first came to see him, Uways greeted Haram by his full name. In response to Haram’s question, how did Uways know him, Uways told his visitor, “My soul recognized your soul.” Haram asked Uways to teach him. Uways instructed Haram:
I have never known that someone who knows God can seek the presence of anyone else and seek refuge in him. Death is close, it is under your pillow when you sleep and in front of your eyes when you are awake. Do not underestimate your sins no matter how small they seem, because if you fall in them they will become the cause of your destruction. According to the stories, one day as he performed his ablutions (washing before prayer), Uways heard the sound of a drum in the distance. He wondered what the sound was and received an answer, “This is the sound of the drum of the King of the Believers [Imam Ali] who is going to a battle.” Uways told himself that there was no prayer worthier than following Imam Ali, and hurried to follow and accompany him. Finding Imam Ali, Uways asked him to take his hand as an expression of his allegiance. Imam Ali asked Uways, “By what provision do you seek allegiance?” “By my life,” Uways replied. By himself, Uways became a branch (usually 1000 soldiers) of Imam Ali’s army. Uways was the first soldier martyred in the Battle of Saffein. WAs the best example of a pious spiritual traveler, Uways received the robe of the Prophet Mohammad, a teacher he never met in person. Through the inward connection of the reality of their hearts, Uways received the teaching of the Prophet, his unseen teacher. By his love and devotion, he stayed true to the Prophet’s teaching and the guidance and knowledge it provided him. Uways passed on this guidance and knowledge for the many generations of Sufis that followed him. He taught: Your heart returns to you, keep it pure and present only for Allah, so no one enters your heart but God. Watch your heart and guard it from any thought except that of the Divine.
Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 1