Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddee

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Fast Facts
Sufism, Islam
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Date of Birth: 
Place of Birth: 
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 
ecember 8, 1986


Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen was a saintly Tamil-speaking teacher and Sufi mystic from the island of Sri Lanka who first came to the United States on October 11th, 1971 and established the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship of North America in Philadelphia. From Philadelphia, with its approximately 1,000 followers, branches of the Fellowship have spread throughout the United States and Canada, as well Australia and the UK. Societies of followers were already in Jaffna and Colombo, Sri Lanka before his arrival in the USA.

Early life

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 preceded a 'physical' meeting by these early students were not uncommon. 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. 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.

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 of Mankumban, on the northern coast. This was the result of a spiritual meeting with the Mary, the mother of Jesus. After two decades, the building was finished by students from the United States who were visiting the Jaffna ashram.

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.

Public Career in the United States

Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship

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. 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.

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. 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. Time Magazine, during the crisis in 1980, quoted him as saying that when the Iranians understand the Koran "they will release the hostages immediately". Interviews appeared in Psychology Today, the Harvard Divinity Bulletin, and in the Philadelphia Inquirer 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 8, 1986.


In May, 1984, the Mosque of Shaikh M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen was completed on the grounds of the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship, 5820 Overbrook Avenue, Philadelphia. The building of the mosque took 6 months and was done by the members of the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship under the direction of M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen.

The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship Farm is 100 acres of farmland located in Chester County, Pennsylvania just south of the small city of Coatesville at 99 Fellowship Drive. The center point of the farm is Bawa Muhaiyaddeen's mausoleum or mazar. 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.

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." Three examples are reproduced in his book titled Wisdom of Man. In 1976, Bawa Muhaiyadeen recorded and released an album of meditation, on Folkways Records entitled, Into the Secret of the Heart by Guru Bawa Muhaiyaddeen.

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 Sheikh to replace his role as teacher and personal guide.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


* "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."[29]

* "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."[30]

* "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."[31]

* "My love you, my children. Very few people will accept the medicine of wisdom. The mind refuses wisdom. But if you do agree to accept it, you will receive the grace, and when you receive that grace, you will have good qualities. When you acquire good qualities, you will know true love, and when you accept love, you will see the light. When you accept the light, you will see the resplendence, and when you accept that resplendence, the wealth of the three worlds will be complete within you. With this completeness, you will receive the kingdom of God, and you will know your Father. When you see your Father, all your connections to karma, hunger, disease, old age will leave you."[32]

* My grandchildren, this is the way things really are. We must do everything with love in our hearts. God belongs to everyone. He has given a commonwealth to all His creations, and we must not take it for ourselves. We must not take more than our share. Our hearts must melt with love, we must share everything with others, and we must give lovingly to make others peaceful. Then we will win our true beauty and the liberation of our soul. Please think about this. Prayer, the qualities of God, the actions of God, faith in God, and worship of God are your grace. If you have these, God will be yours and the wealth of the world to come will be yours. My grandchildren, realize this in your lifetime. Consider your life, search for wisdom, search for knowledge, and search for that love of God which is divine knowledge, and search for His qualities, His love, and His actions. That will be good. Amin. Ya Rabbal-‘alamin. So be it. O Ruler of the universes. May God grant you this."[33]

Pro Opinions

He 'gets it'

Omkaradatta's picture

From reading the quotes on the Biography page here, it's evident here that this fellow 'gets it' and is genuine.

Sufi Shaikh Muhammad Radeem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

Ekta Rudrani Mriganka Mata's picture

Shaikh means Saint in Sufism he is not from India but from Sir Lanka.