Hazrat Owais Qarni (RA)
Uwais al-Qarni or "Oveys Gharani" (Arabic: أويس القرني) (died 657 A.D.) was a Muslim resident of Qaran in Yemen who lived during the lifetime of Muhammad. His grave is in Baykan, Siirt Turkey. Although his life was insignificant from a worldly point of view, he is renowned and honored among both Shia and Sunni Muslims, Sufis in particular, for his piety, practice of zuhd (asceticism), and love for Muhammad(PBUH).
Uwais embraced Islam during Muhammad's lifetime but he could not present himself before Muhammad(PBUH) because he looked after his elderly, blind mother and thus remained deprived of the honour of companionship. It is said that he spent his hours in solitude, fasting, night vigil and salat (prayers). In honour of Muhammad(PBUH), who at the Battle of Uhud in 625, had lost two of his teeth, Uwais al-Qarni drew out his own teeth. Muhammad(PBUH) called him the best of the Tabieen (successors) and he advised his companions to, “Get him to pray for your forgiveness.”
In a Hadith Qudsi recorded by the Companion Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him, the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace and blessings, said speaking on behalf of his Lord:
"Allah, Exalted and Mighty is He, loves of His creation the God-fearing, the pure in the heart, those who are hidden, and those who are innocent, whose face is dusty, whose hair is unkempt, whose stomach is empty, and who, if he asks permission to enter to the rulers, is not granted it, and if he were to ask for a gentle lady in marriage, he would be refused, and when he leaves the world it does not miss him, and if he goes out, his going out is not noticed, and if he falls sick, he is not attended to, and if he dies, he is not accompanied to his grave."
They asked him, "O Messenger of Allah, how can we find someone like that?" He, upon whom be peace and blessings, said, "Uwais al-Qarani is such a one."
Concerning the hadith of the Prophet, upon whom be peace and blessings, "More people shall enter Paradise through the intercession of a certain man from my Community than there are people in the tribes of Rabi`a and Mudar," al-Hasan al-Basri said: "That is Uwais al-Qarni."
At times the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace and blessings, would say of him. "I feel the breath of the Merciful, coming to me from Yemen." Shortly before Muhammad died, he directed Umar ibn al-Khattab (second Caliph) and Ali ibn Abi Talib (the first Imam of the Shi'a) to take his cloak for Uwais.
Following the death of Muhammad(PBUH) in 632, Umar and Ali set out on a quest to find Uwais, who was residing alone in the desert. When they found Uwais, he was engaged in prayer, and they waited until he finished his devotions. They then asked for his blessings, gave him Muhammad's greeting and enjoined him to pray for the Muslim ummah (community).
According to Hujwiri¹, Attar Niyshabpouri², and Sheikh Mohammad Ghader Bagheri³, the first recipient of Muhammad(PBUH)’s Cloak was Uwais al-Qarni.
In so doing, Muhammad(PBUH) confirmed the method of heart to heart communication through which Uwais had received the essence of Islam. The method of the passing of the Cloak represents two significant elements in the teachings of Muhammad which constitute the method of instruction of the School of Islamic Sufism--cognition must take place inwardly, and cognition must be confirmed--as it was in the case of Uwais, and Ali.
In the famous book of poetry, “Masnavi”, by Jalaleddin Rumi, the following is said by Mohammad about Uwais Qarni:
The Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) says that
the breeze brings O’men!
The divine perfume from Yemen.
The scent of Ramin comes from Uwais
The fragrance of God from Uwais.
Uwais’ heavenly perfume from God,
Overjoyed the heart of the Prophet of God.
Forsaking his mortal being willingly
That earthly (Uwais) become heavenly.
Uwais al-Qarni says, “Keep watch over thy heart”, (Arabic: عليك بقلبك) "Alayka bi-Ghalbik".
Uwais al-Qarni said, “Hidden invocation (al-du`a fi dhahr al-ghayb) is better than visiting and meeting," because hypocrisy (riya) might enter in the latter two.
The method of the passing of the Cloak represents two significant elements in the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(PBUH)which constitute the method of instruction of the School of Islamic Sufism--cognition must take place inwardly, and cognition must be confirmed--as it was in the case of Hazrat Uwais, and Amir al-Mumineen Hazrat `Ali.
Since that time, the cloak and the method of receiving knowledge through the heart, symbolizing the highest level of divine illumination, and conferring honor, recognition and respect on the recipient, has been handed down through an unbroken succession of Sufi masters.
Not long after this meeting Uwais left his homeland of Qaran and came to Kufa, in modern day Iraq. One day he was seen by Harim ibn Hayyan, but after that nobody saw him until the period of the first Muslim civil war (656-661). He fought for Ali ibn Abi Talib against the army of Muawiyah and was martyred at the Battle of Siffin in 657. Other accounts relate that he died in an expedition accompanying `Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, to Azerbaijan.
Hazrat Owais Al-Qarni (رضى الله عنه)and his Mother:
The great Saint Owais of Qaran! Was presented the blessed cloak of Rasulullah (Sallal Laahu Ta'ala Alaihi Wasallam) on the Holy Prophet (Sallal Laahu Ta'ala Alaihi Wasallam)'s instruction. It is preserved in Istanbul, Turkey. He reached his Spiritual status due to obedience to his mother.
Owais (radi Allahu anhu) was from the village of Qaran, in Yemen. He had asked his mother's permission to visit Allah's Messenger, and she said: "You have my permission to go, see him once, and come straight back. If the Messenger is at home, you may meet with him; if not, come straight back here." Owais made a journey of three months on foot, from the Yemen to Madinah the Illuminated. When he reached Rasulullah (Sallal Laahu Ta'ala Alaihi Wasallam) 's house, he knocked on the door and Hazrath Aisha (radi Allahu anha), wife of the Chosen Prophet and Mother of the Believers opened the door. She told him that Rasulullah (Sallal Laahu Ta'ala Alaihi Wasallam) was in the Masjid. Owais (radi Allahu anhu) remembered his promise to his mother and replied: "Please convey my salaams to my Beloved Rasulullah (Sallal Laahu Ta'ala Alaihi Wasallam). Kindly inform him that Owais came from the Yemen, did not find him at home, and is returning to the Yemen, since he does not have permission from his mother to meet him in the mosque."
When the Rasul (Sallal Laahu Ta'ala Alaihi Wasallam) came home from the mosque, he found the radiance of Owais in his house. Hazrat Aisha (radi Allahu anha) told him what had happened, and conveyed Owais's salutations. His blessed eyes looked towards Yemen and the blessed Prophet said: "The fragrance of our friend is reaching us." The noble Companions asked: "If Owais is your friend, why did he not stay to see you?" Rasulullah (Sallal Laahu Ta'ala Alaihi Wasallam) replied: "He complied with a promise given to his mother and he is serving her."
Hazrat Umer & Hazrat Ali (RA), went to Qarn to look for Awais Qarni(رضى الله عنه).
Once the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him), while speaking to Sahaba-Ikram (companions), said: “There is a person in my Ummah (followers) whose prayers would bring forgiveness to as many sinners as the number of hair of the sheep in the tribes of Rabia and Mazar.”
The two tribes were well known for raising sheep during the time of the Holy Prophet. The disclosure made the Sahaba-Ikram very curious. They asked the Holy Prophet about the name of that person and the place he lived in. The Holy Prophet first hesitated, but on their insistence told them the name of a person who lived in Qarn, Awais Qarni(رضى الله عنه).
The Holy Prophet continued: “On the Day of Judgment, Awais would be accompanied to paradise by 70,000 angels who’d resemble him.” The reason the Holy Prophet gave for this was: “Since Awais prayed all his life in seclusion so as not to be noticed, Allah would also keep his purdah (cover).”
When people asked the Holy Prophet whether Awais Qarni(رضى الله عنه) had even come to see him, he said: “No, he never saw me, but he has the privilege of seeing me through Kashf (spiritual revelation), and he has reasons for not being able to see me. He is the only one to take care of his blind mother.”
Again Sahaba-Ikram asked if they could see him, to which the Holy Prophet replied: “No, only Umer bin Khattab and Ali would meet him, and his identification is — he has thick hair all over his body, and a white patch on his left hand.” He directed Hazrat Umer and Hazrat Ali: “When you see him, convey to him my salaam (greetings) and ask him to pray for my Ummah.”
“And who’d be the right person to receive your Abaya (the cloak the Holy Prophet used over his clothes) after you leave the world?” the Sahaba asked.
“Awais Qarni(رضى الله عنه),” said the Holy Prophet.
When the Holy Prophet left the world and Hazrat Umer became the caliph, he, along with Hazrat Ali, went to Qarn to look for Awais Qarni(رضى الله عنه). No one knew about him. However, the people of Qarn told them that outside the town there lived an insane person who laughed at the crying people and cried for those who laughed. When Hazrat Umer and Hazrat Ali reached there they saw a person praying amidst the grazing sheep. When he finished his prayers, he saw the visitors and said: “It is the first time anyone has ever seen me praying..”
“What’s your name?” Hazrat Umer and Hazrat Ali asked.
“Abdullah (the servant of Allah).”
“Tell us your real name?”
“Show us your hand,” Hazrat Umer and Hazrat Ali immediately kissed the white patch the Holy Prophet had talked about. Then they presented to him the holy dress and asked him to pray for the Ummah as directed by the Holy Prophet.
Hazrat Awais Qarni(رضى الله عنه) took the dress and stepped away to offer prayers: “O Allah, unless you forgive the sins of the followers of the Holy Prophet I won’t wear his dress.” Then they heard a voice: “I’ve forgiven some of them.” All of a sudden came in front of him Hazrat Umer and Hazrat Ali. “Why did you come in front of me? Unless I had sought Allah’s forgiveness for the entire Ummah I would not stop my prayers.” Then he donned the Abaya of the Holy Prophet and disclosed that Allah had forgiven the number of people equivalent to the hair of the sheep of the Rabia and Mazar tribes.
Afterwards, Hazrat Umer asked him why he didn’t receive the honour of seeing the Holy Prophet. In response to this Hazrat Awais(رضى الله عنه) asked them to tell whether the brows of the Holy Prophet were wide or dense? Both Sahabas could not answer the question. Then he asked another question: “Which tooth of the Prophet was martyred in the battle of Uhad? Why didn’t you break all your teeth for the love of your Prophet?” Saying this, he showed his toothless mouth. “When I broke my first tooth I thought it might be the other one. Then I broke the other one. Still I was not satisfied. When I had broken all my teeth only then I received some relief..”
Seeing so much devotion to the Holy Prophet and his extraordinary Tasawwaf, Hazrat Umer wished to give up his Khilafat and adopt the ways of Hazrat Awais Qarni(رضى الله عنه). Sensing his thought, Hazrat Awais(رضى الله عنه) said, “You should have given up Khilafat for anyone else, and dedicated yourself entirely to Allah.”
Hazrat Umer asked him for some advice. “O Umer, you recognize Allah and there is nothing better than the sense that no one recongizes you but Allah.” Then he thanked them for taking all the trouble to come and see him. Very much impressed, Hazrat Umer and Hazrat Ali returned home filled with great regard for Hazrat Awais Qarni(رضى الله عنه)
Soon after that, the people of Qarn came to know about his spiritual excellence and they started regarding him as a great saint of Allah. Since he didn’t like to be known as a saint, he left for Kufa where, while fighting for Hazrat Ali in the battle of Safain, he was martyred.
Hazrat Daata Ali ibn Usman al Hujwiri writes in his book, Kashf-ol Mahjub:
Hazrat Uwaiys(رضى الله عنه) is like the sun to the Ummah, and the candle of religion. Hazrat Uwaiys Karani is one of the great teachers who lived during the time of the Prophet but did not physically see the Prophet for two reasons. First, he was in the state of Divine ecstasy and rapture, and second, he was caring for his aged mother. The Prophet (asws) said to his devotees, "There is a man in Gharan whose name is Uwaiys. At the day of Resurrection he shall intercede for my people to as many as the number of sheep of the Rabia and Muzzer tribes." (These two tribes had the largest herd of sheep during that time.) Then the Prophet turned to Hazrat Omer and Hazrat Ali and said, "You will see him and recognize him; he is a firm, thin man, of medium height and there is a white scar the size of a coin on the palm of his hand but it is not leprosy. When you see him, give him my greetings and ask him to pray for my Ummah, my people."
Invocation of Uwais al Qarni(رضى الله عنه) (دعاء أويس القرني)
اللهم خلقتني ولم أك شيئا مذكورا، ورزقتني ولم أملك شيئا، وظلمت نفسي وارتكبت المعاصي وأنا مقرّ بذنبي، إن غفرت لي فلا ينقص من ملكك، وإن تعذبني فلا يزيد في سلطانك، وإنك تجد من تعذبه غيري وأنا لا أجد من يغفر لي إلا أنت، إنك أنت أرحم الراحمين
Translation of the Invocation of Uwais al-Qarni:
"O Allah, You created me when I was not worthy of mention;
And You provided for me when I had nothing;
And I wronged my soul and sinned, and I confess my guilt.
If You forgive me, that will in no way diminish Your sovereignty;
And if You punish me, that will in no way augment Your authority.
You can find others to punish besides me,
But I can find no one to forgive me but You.
Truly, You are the most merciful of those who show mercy.."
Description of Hazrat Owais Qarni (رضى الله عنه) in Sahih Muslim
Here I am quoting 3 Ahadith related to Hazrat Owais Qarni (رضى الله عنه) from Sahih Muslim:
'Umar b. Khattab reported: I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Worthy amongst the successors would be a person who would be called Uwais. He would have his mother (living with him) and he would have (a small) sign of leprosy. Ask him to beg pardon for you (from Allah). (Muslim :: Book 31 : Hadith 6171)
Usair b. Jabir reported that a delegation from Kufa came to 'Umar and there was a person amongst them who jeered at Uwais. Thereupon Umar said: Is there amongst us one from Qaran? That person came and Umar said: Verily Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) has said: There would come to you a person from Yemen who would be called Uwais and he would leave none in Yemen (behind him) except his mother, and he would have the whiteness (due to leprosy) and he supplicated Allah and it was cured except for the size of a dinar or dirham. He who amongst you meets him should ask him to supplicate for forgiveness (from Allah) for you. (Muslim :: Book 31 : Hadith 6170)
Usair b. Jabir reported that when people from Yemen came to help (the Muslim army at the time of jihad) he asked them: Is there amongst you Uwais b. 'Amir? (He continued finding him out) until he met Uwais. He said: Are you Uwais b., Amir? He said: Yes. He said: Are you from the tribe of Qaran? He said: Yes. He (Hadrat) 'Umar (again) said: Did you suffer from leprosy and then you were cured from it but for the space of a dirham? He said: Yes. He ('Umar) said: Is your mother (living)? He said: Yes. He ('Umar) said: I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) say: There would come to you Uwais b. Amir with the reinforcement from the people of Yemen. (He would be) from Qaran, (the branch) of Murid. He had been suffering from leprosy from which he was cured but for a spot of a dirham. His treatment with his mother would have been excellent. If he were to take an oath in the name of Allah, He would honour that. And if it is possible for you, then do ask him to beg forgiveness for you (from your Lord). So he (Uwais) begged forgiveness for him. Umar said: Where do you intend to go? He said: To Kufa. He ('Umar) said: Let me write a letter for you to its governor, whereupon he (Uwais) said: I love to live amongst the poor people.
Aug 18 When it was the next year, a person from among the elite (of Kufa) performed Hajj and he met Umar. He asked him about Uwais. He said: I left him in a state with meagre means of sustenance.
(Thereupon) Umar said: I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: There would come to you Uwais b. 'Amir, of Qaran, a branch (of the tribe) of Murid, along with the reinforcement of the people of Yemen. He had been suffering from leprosy which would have been cured but for the space of a dirham. His treatment with his mother would have been very kind. If he would take an oath in the name of Allah (for something) He would honour it. Ask him to beg forgiveness for you (from Allah) in case it is possible for you. So he came to Uwais and said.: Beg forgiveness (from Allah) for me. He (Uwais) said: You have just come from a sacred journey (Hajj) ; you, therefore, ask forgiveness for me. He (the person who had performed Hajj) said: Ask forgiveness for me (from Allah). He (Uwais again) said: You have just come from the sacred journey, so you ask forgiveness for me. (Uwais further) said: Did you meet Umar? He said: Yes. He (Uwais) then begged forgiveness for him (from Allah). So the people came to know about (the status of religious piety) of Uwais. He went away (from that place). Usair said: His clothing consisted of a mantle, and whosoever saw him said: From where did Uwais get this mantle? (Muslim :: Book 31 : Hadith 6172)
Hazrat Awais Qarni(رضى الله عنه) always considered worldly life a temporary sojourn and often said, “Sleep with the remembrance of death, and rise with the thought that you will not live long.” He received spiritual training directly from the Holy Prophet. Often the Holy Prophet said: “Awais is the best amongst Ta’beens (the successors of the companions of the Holy Prophet).” May Allah be pleased with him.
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