Sufi Saints and Masters
UwaiysGharani By Safa Ali Michael Newman & Sara Hastings Mullin, PhD
An essential part of one’s spiritual journey is to look to that Teacher who was the first to discover the message, essence and goal appreciated by one’s spiritual school. Without this Teacher’s discovery and guidance, any practitioner would remain at the beginning of his or her inquiry, unable to take a next step into true understanding. For those who practice Islam, or its mystical branch, Sufism, the first Teacher of this tradition was Prophet Mohammad, who through his spiritual practice and development offered humanity great spiritual direction and guidance. During the seventh century, Prophet Mohammad would teach his students, who were called “ahle suffe,” on the platform of his mosque. Under the Prophet’s guidance, these students searched deeply for the truth of spirituality, or the truth of existence.1 Uwaiys Gharani, who eventually cultivated the Uwaiysi school of Sufism, was one of the Prophet’s eight closest and most pious followers, a group known as Zohad. Distinct from the relationships that the other seven members of Zohad shared with the Prophet, the Prophet and Uwaiys never met in person; a fact that is extremely significant to the history of the tradition and its implications. Despite never physically meeting one another, Uwaiys and the Prophet somehow knew of each other, and the wisdom and teachings of the Prophet flowed in abundance towards Uwaiys, who in his devotion and love correctly received these teachings, as the Prophet affirmed. The reader immediately might begin to question how this profound transmission occurred. With this information, the reader can begin to recognize the potential for human beings of a certain spiritual development to be able to communicate without concern for the limitations of time and space. As spiritual practitioners, we can recognize that while we can gain valuable guidance through meeting with a teacher in person, ultimately the
transmission of spiritual knowledge is not passed through words, but instead is transmuted and received through a deeper process – a process of the heart. Science is also coming to understand this process, particularly through the study of coherence and heart synchronization.2 Becoming aware of the spiritual wisdom within one’s heart was Uwaiys’s most significant emphasis. In the Uwaiysi school, the heart is understood to carry great potential, as it both controls the physical body and receives and converts Divine law into the human system. In this way, to achieve total spiritual understanding, the practitioner must first discover connection with his or her heart, and then learn how to use it correctly. When one recognizes the power and potential of his or her heart, then he or she becomes more hopeful and more prepared to receive Divine knowledge. Once the practitioner is able to connect to and use the abilities of his or her spiritual heart, he or she then is able to recognize and appreciate energy received through the heart that allows deep wisdom to be passed from Teacher to student. The essentiality of this practice is demonstrated in the story of one of the practitioners of Uwaiys who asked him for guidance. Uwaiys’s only advice to the practitioner was: “Be with your heart.” When the practitioner asked Uwaiys to increase his teaching, Uwaiys commented: “All I said is enough, you don’t need to know anymore.” The Guiding Star The Great Sufi, Ein-al-Ghozzat, spoke of Uwaiys in the work of Seyyedeh Mah-Talat Etemad Moghadam Angha (1982). This Master describes how ultimate reality is not dependent on anything physical, and therefore a Teacher knowledgeable of ultimate reality does not rely on physicality either. The transmission of knowledge occurs on a deeper level:
Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 3
A journal for people of the heart.