|It may not be a well-known fact, but there are many
Tamilian Muslims: in India, in northern Sri Lanka, in Malaysia and
Singapore, and wherever Tamilians reside.
The greatest of them all in our time was a much-beloved Sufi
shaykh, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. He came from northern Sri Lanka, and
spent the last part of his long life in Philadelphia, where he
brought many Americans to an inner understanding of the spiritual
peace of Islam. He spoke in Tamil, and always ended his discourses
with the Tamil word anpu (love, affection). He was the
author of several books, including Islam and World Peace,
from which this quote is taken:
We are not Muslims if we discard someone saying, "He
holds another belief. He belongs to a different religion. His
color is not like ours." None of that matters; what we need is to
be one. The only real difference between men lies in their conduct
and actions, their qualities, and their faith, certitude, and
determination. When these are correct, then men are one, with no
differences. So, we must keep the good things and wash away the
dirt. We must wash our innermost hearts until they become light.
We must make all people one with us. The Prophet Muhammad
explained this to us, but some of us who came to the world forgot
the message Allah sent. We must learn to wash away our separations
and become one again. That is true Islam. True Islam has never
discarded anyone. Once we entrust the kalima to
Allah, we will never again perceive anyone as different from us.
We will begin to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Please visit the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship web site
to learn more....
Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, a Sufi mystic, can best be
remembered for his efforts to bring unity through understanding to
the faithful of all religions.
Little is known of his early personal history. Records of his
life began in the early 1900s when religious pilgrims traveling
through the jungles of Sri Lanka first caught a glimpse of a holy
man. They were overwhelmed by the depth of divine knowledge that he
imparted. Sometime later a pilgrim invited him to a nearby village,
and with that began his public life as a teacher of wisdom.
Throughout Sri Lanka, people from all religious and ethnic
traditions would listen to his public discourses. Many consulted him
on how to conduct life's affairs, including public figures,
politicians, the poor, and the learned.
In 1971 Bawa Muhaiyaddeen accepted an invitation to visit the
United States. Here, once again, 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
Nations' Assistant Secretary General, Robert Muller, asked for Bawa
Muhaiyaddeen's guidance on behalf of all mankind. Time Magazine
turned to him for clarification during the hostage crisis in 1980.
Thousands more were touched by his wise words when interviewed in
Psychology Today, the Harvard Divinity Bulletin, the Philadelphia
Inquirer, and the Pittsburgh Press. Wherever he went, he tirelessly
answered the many personal and mystical questions that people
brought to him until his death on December 8th, 1986. For fifteen
years, M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen authored over twenty books, and the
Fellowship he founded recorded thousands of hours of audio and video
discourses. The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship now serves as a
thriving community dedicated to studying and disseminating the vast
treasury of his teachings.
The name Muhaiyaddeen literally means 'the giver of life to
the true belief.' And indeed Bawa Muhaiyaddeen did spend his life
awakening and strengthening faith in God within people's hearts.
Though he was an unlettered man, he was able to guide and inspire
people from all walks of life. Many scholars and leaders from the
Hindu, Christian, Judaic, and Islamic communities considered him to
be a true saint.