- Bawa Muhaiyaddeen
Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen was a saintly Tamil-speaking teacher [Malik and Hinnells, p. 90.] and Sufi mystic from the island of
Sri Lankawho first came to the United States on October 11th, 1971 [ "Divine Luminous Wisdom", p. 254.] and established the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship of North America in Philadelphia. From Philadelphia, with its approximately 1,000 followers [Malik and Hinnells, p. 93.] , branches of the Fellowship have spread throughout the United States and Canada [Malik and Hinnells, p. 93.] , as well Australia and the UK. Societies of followers were already in Jaffna and Colombo [Malik and Hinnells, p. 91.] , Sri Lanka before his arrival in the USA.
According to the older Sri Lankan students, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen emerged from the jungles of that country in the early 1940s and met pilgrims who were visiting shrines in the north. Reports of dreams or mystical meetings that preceeded a 'physical' meeting by these early students were not uncommon. [ Malik and Hinnells, p. 91.] According to an account from the 1940s, Bawa had spent time in 'Kataragama', a jungle shrine in the south of the island, and in 'Jailani', a cliff shrine dedicated to 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani of Baghdad. His association with that Baghdad Sheikh indicates his connection to the Qadiri order of Sufism [Malik and Hinnells, p. 91.] . Many of his followers who lived around the northern town of Jaffna were Hindus and addressed him as swami or guru. His role was often as healer of both medical and spiritual illnesses, including curing possession by demons. [ Malik and Hinnells, p. 91.]
Eventually an ashram was formed in Jaffna, and a farm was started south of that city. After business travelers from the south of the country met Bawa, they invited him to visit in Columbo, the capital of Sri Lanka. By 1967, the 'Serendib Sufi Study Circle' was formed by these Colombo students who were predominantly Muslims. Earlier in 1955, Bawa had set the foundations for a 'God's house' or mosque in the town on Mankumban, on the northern coast. This was the result of a spiritual meeting with the Mary, the mother of Jesus. [Malik and Hinnells, p 92.] After two decades, the building was finished by students from the United States who were visiting the Jaffna ashram. [Malik and Hinnells, p 92.]
Bawa's teachings through stories reflected the background of the student or listener and included both Islamic and Hindu religious texts and traditions and welcomed persons from all traditions and backgrounds. [ Malik and Hinnells, p. 92.]
Public Career in the United States
In 1971 Bawa Muhaiyaddeen accepted an invitation from an American university student in Philadelphia to visit her in the United States. She had been corresponding with him after being introduced by a fellow university student who had come from Sri Lanka [Malik and Hinnells, p.92.] . By 1973, a group of his followers formed the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship, and a Meeting house that offered several public meetings a week was acquired. [Malik and Hinnells, p.92.]
As before in Sri Lanka, people from all religious, social and ethnic backgrounds would join to hear him speak. Across the United States, Canada and England, he won recognition from religious scholars, journalists, educators and world leaders. The United Nation's Assistant Secretary General, Robert Muller, asked for Bawa Muhaiyaddeen's guidance on behalf of all mankind during an interview in 1974 ["To Die Before Death", p. xix.] . During the years 1978-1980 when the Iranian hostage crisis was occurring, he wrote letters to world leaders such as Iran's Khomeini, Prime Minister Begin, President Sadat and President Carter to encourage a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the region [Haddad and Smith, p 103.] ["The Truth and Unity of Man: Letters in Response to a Crisis"] .
Time Magazine, during the crisis in 1980, quoted him as saying that when the Iranians understand the Koran "they will release the hostages immediately" [Article "Is the Ayatullah a Heretic?" in Apr. 28, 1980 issue of "Time Magazine"] . Interviews appeared in Psychology Today [Article "The Mind is in the Heart" by Sam Keen in an issue circa 1978] , the Harvard Divinity Bulletin [Harvard Divinity Bulletin. Harvard University Divinity School. Dec. 1982 - Jan. 1983, Volume XIII, Number 2] , and in the Philadelphia Inquirer [Haddad and Smith, p 104.] and the Pittsburgh Press newspapers. He continued his teaching and personal guidance to his students and visitors until his passage from this life on December 8th, 1986.
mausoleumor mazaar is located west of Philadelphia near the town of Coatesville on Fellowship Drive. It was built shortly after his death and completed in 1987. It is a place of pilgrimage for Sufis and Sufi sheikhs, and also is visited by Muslims who have the tradition of family gatherings near a saint's tomb [Malik and Hinnells, p.96.] .
M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen authored over twenty books, although he himself did not read or write. These books were created from transcriptions of audio and video recordings of his discourses in the United States, totaling about 10,000 hours. Some titles originated from Sri Lanka before his arrival in the U.S. and were created from notes by a secretary. The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship continues to study and disseminate this repository of his teachings. It has not appointed a new leader or
Sheikhto replace his role as teacher and personal guide.
He was an artist and created paintings and drawings that symbolized the relationship between man and God. He described his art work as "heart's work." [ Acknowledgments page, "Wisdom of Man"] Three examples are reproduced in his book titled "Wisdom of Man".
Titles and Honorifics
Bawa Muhaiyaddeen was referred to as
Guruor Swamior Sheikhor ' His Holiness' depending on the background of the speaker or writer. He was also addressed as 'Bawangal' by those Tamil speakers who were close to him and who wanted to use a respectful address. He often referred to himself as an 'ant man' ["The Tree That Fell to the West", p. 165.] , i.e, a very small life in God's creation. After his arrival in the United States in 1971, he was most often addressed as Guru Bawa and he established the Guru Bawa Fellowship. By 1976, he felt that the title 'guru' had been abused by others who were not true teachers in his estimation. In that year, he decided to drop the title Guru and the organization became the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship ["Truth and Light", p. 10.] . Most of his American students use the familiar name 'Bawa' when speaking of him.
By 2007, a new honorific, Qutb, was being used by his students in the publications of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen's talks [ "The Point Where God and Man Meet", p. xi.] . Qutb has many meanings with perhaps the most common one being 'supreme saint of the age' [ "Resonance of Allah", p. 716.] . The name Muhaiyaddeen literally means 'the giver of life to the true belief' and has been associated with previous Qutbs. By giving this lofty title to Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, his students are styling him as a universal teacher for this time.
A larger selection of quotes is available at [http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Bawa_Muhaiyaddeen Wikiquote] .
*"The prayers you perform, the duties you do, the charity and love you give is equal to just one drop. But if you use that one drop, continue to do your duty, and keep digging within, then the spring of Allah's grace and His qualities will flow in abundance." ["Sheikh and Disciple", p. 63.]
*"People with wisdom know that it is important to correct their own mistakes, while people without wisdom find it necessary to point out the mistakes of others. People with strong faith know that it is important to clear their own hearts, while those with unsteady faith seek to find fault in the hearts and prayers of others. This becomes a habit in their lives. But those who pray to Allah with faith, determination, and certitude know that the most important thing in life is to surrender their hearts to Allah." ["Islam and World Peace", p. 3.]
*"The things that change are not our real life. Within us there is another body, another beauty. It belongs to that ray of light which never changes. We must discover how to mingle with it and become one with that unchanging thing. We must realize and understand this treasure of truth. That is why we have come to the world." [" Questions of Life Answers of Wisdom, Vol.1", p. 220.]
Books by His Students
A number of books have been published by students of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen that explores his teaching and the impact it has had on their lives.
*"Owner's Manual for the Human Being" by Mitch Gilbert, One Light Press publisher, 2005, IBSN:0977126706
*"The Illuminated Prayer: The Five-Times Prayer of the Sufis" by Coleman Barks and Michael Green, Ballantine Wellspring publisher, 2000, ISBN:0345435451. According to the publisher, the book "offers a compelling introduction to the wisdom and teachings of the beloved contemporary Sufi master Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, who brought new life to this mystical tradition by opening a passage to its deepest, universal realities. It is the loving handiwork of two of Bawa's best-known students, Coleman Barks and Michael Green, who also created "The Illuminated Rumi"."
*"One Song: A New Illuminated Rumi" by Michael Green, Running Press publisher, 2005, ISBN:0762420871
*"My Years with the Qutb: A Walk in Paradise" by Professor Sharon Marcus, Sufi Press publisher, 2007, ISBN:0973753404
List of famous Sufis
*cite book | last =Bawa Muhaiyaddeen | first =M. R. | title =The Divine Luminous Wisdom That Dispels the Darkness | publisher =The Fellowship Press | date =1972 | location =Philadelphia | isbn =0914390112
*cite book | last =Bawa Muhaiyaddeen | first =M. R. | title =Truth and Light: Brief Explanations | publisher =The Fellowship Press | date =1974 | location =Philadelphia | isbn =091439004X Radio Interviews by Lex Hixon - WBAI, New York, and Will Noffke - KQED, San Francisco
*cite book | last =Bawa Muhaiyaddeen | first =M. R. | title =The Truth and Unity of Man: Letters in Response to a Crisis | publisher =The Fellowship Press | date =1980 | location =Philadelphia | isbn =0914390155
*cite book | last =Bawa Muhaiyaddeen | first =M. R. | title = The Wisdom of Man: Selected Discourses | publisher =The Fellowship Press | date =1980 | location =Philadelphia | isbn =0914390457
*cite book | last =Bawa Muhaiyaddeen | first =M. R. | title =Sheikh and Disciple | publisher =The Fellowship Press | date =1983 | location =Philadelphia | isbn =0914390260
*cite book | last =Bawa Muhaiyaddeen | first =M. R. | title =To Die Before Death: The Sufi Way of Life | publisher =The Fellowship Press | date =1997 | location =Philadelphia | isbn =0914390392
*cite book | last =Bawa Muhaiyaddeen | first =M. R. | title =Questions of Life, Answers of Wisdom, Vol. 1 | publisher =The Fellowship Press | date =2001 | location =Philadelphia | isbn =0914390325
*cite book | last =Bawa Muhaiyaddeen | first =M. R. | title =The Resonance of Allah: Resplendent Explanations Arising from the "Nur, Allah's" Wisdom of Grace | publisher =The Fellowship Press | date =2001 | location =Philadelphia | isbn =0914390619
*cite book | last =Bawa Muhaiyaddeen | first =M. R. | title =The Tree that Fell to the West: Autobiography of a Sufi | publisher =The Fellowship Press | date =2003 | location =Philadelphia | isbn =0914390678
*cite book | last =Bawa Muhaiyaddeen | first =M. R. | title =Islam and World Peace: Explanations of a Sufi | publisher =The Fellowship Press | date =2004 | location =Philadelphia | isbn =0914390651*cite book | last =Bawa Muhaiyaddeen | first =M. R. | title =The Point Where God and Man Meet | publisher =The Fellowship Press | date =2006 | location =Philadelphia | isbn =0914390791
*cite book | last =Y. Y. Haddad and J. I. Smith, editors | title =Muslim Communities in North America | publisher =SUNY | date =1994 | location =Albany | isbn =0791420191 Chapter 4: "Tradition and Innovation in Contemporary American Islamic Spirituality: The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship" by Dr. Gisela Webb, Professor of Religious Studies at Seton Hall University
*cite book | last =J. Malik and J. Hinnells, editors | title =Sufism in the West | publisher =Routledge | date =2003 | location =New York | isbn =0415274074 Chapter 4: "Third Wave Sufism in America and the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship" by Dr. Gisela Webb, Professor of Religious Studies at Seton Hall University
*cite book | last =Snyder | first=Benjamin H. | title = HEARTSPACE: The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship and the Culture of Unity | publisher =Haverford College thesis | date =2003 | location =Philadelphia
* [http://www.bmf.org/ Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship Web Site]
* [http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Bawa_Muhaiyaddeen Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Wikiquote page]
* [http://thesis.haverford.edu/dspace/bitstream/10066/610/1/2003SnyderB.pdf HEARTSPACE: The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship and the Culture of Unity] Haverford College Thesis by Benjamin Snyder
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=K0LMZqtRpCcC&pg=PA75&dq=Yvonne+Yazbeck+Haddad,+Jane+Idleman+Smith&source=gbs_toc_s&cad=1&sig=Uaq2YUQNxDUo_HEXdc0VYEyYx_U Tradition and Innovation in Contemporary American Islamic Spirituality: The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship - Chapter 4 of "Muslim Communities in North America"]
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=6cYK0EpegggC&pg=PT102&vq=%22bawa+muhaiyaddeen+community%22&dq=%22allah+muhammad+muhaiyaddeen%22&source=gbs_search_s&sig=y5zjJV7cQ8TZmilw3GThzc5ebYc#PPT102,M1 Third Wave Sufism in America and the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship - Chapter 4 of "Sufism in the West"]
* [http://baharna.com/karma/sufibawa.htm A Sufi View of Spiritual Rebirth: Bawa Muhaiyaddeen] Essay by Joseph F. Morales with extensive quotes from "To Die Before Death: The Sufi Way of Life"
* [http://members.aol.com/yahyam/bawaveg.html Vegetarian quotations from Bawa Muhaiyaddeen]
* [http://books.google.com/books?q=+inauthor:%22M.+R.+Bawa+Muhaiyaddeen%22&source=gbs_authrefine_t M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Books Online at Books.Google.Com]
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1097972015709965172 Video Song and Discourse "Practicing the Constant Remembrance of God", July 19th, 1980, Philadelphia, 57 min.]
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8213026409971160782 Video Discourse "We Need The Qualities of God", May 6, 1975, Philadelphia, 26 min.]
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8792902203037392333 Video Discourse "The Learning of an Ant Man" May 18, 1975, St. Peter's Church, New York City, 83 min.]
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