Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

Early life

Little is known of his early personal history. Records of his life began in the early 1900s when religious pilgrims travelling through the jungles of Sri Lanka first caught 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 Nation's 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.

Certain scholars and leaders from the Islamic, Judaic, Christian, Hindu and Sikh communities considered him a saint.

Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen was a revered Sufi saint from the island of Sri Lanka who shared his knowledge and experience with people of every race and religion and from all parts of the world. He belonged to the Qadri order of sufism. He first came to the United States in 1971 and established The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship of North America in Philadelphia. Since then branches have spread throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in Sri Lanka, Australia and the UK.

Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, may God be pleased with him, was a man of extraordinary wisdom and compassion. For over seventy years he selflessly shared his knowledge and experience with people of every race and religion, and from all walks of life.

Born well before the turn of the century, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen spent his early years traveling throughout the Middle East and India, examining the world’s religions and a myriad of spiritual practices. Our record of his life begins around 1914, when pilgrims traveling through the jungles of SriLanka first encountered him. Awed by the depth of his wisdom, they asked him to come to their village to be their teacher. Some time later he did so, there by beginning a life of public service – feeding, healing, and uplifting the lives of all who came to him.

The name Muhaiyaddeen literally means ‘the giver of life to true and pure faith in God’ , and indeed Bawa Muhaiyaddeen did devote himself tirelessly to awakening faith within people’s hearts. As a sufi, he had that special gift of distilling and revealing the essential truth contained within all religions – the oneness of God. Thus, whenever he spoke, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and Christians would sit together for hours listening to his wisdom.

In 1971 he was invited to come to the United states, to Philadelphia, the ‘ The City of Brotherly Love’ . There , also, learned and unlearned, young and old responded to his message of unity. The next fifteen years proved to be a time of maximum outreach. Speaking in person on university campuses, in churches, meetinghouses, and private homes, as well as on numerous radio and television programs, he reached audiences around the globe, from the United States and Canada to England and Sri Lanka . He was interviewed by Time Magazine, Psychology Today, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and numerous other publications. Over twenty books of his discourses and songs were published, as well as scores of audio and video cassettes.

The year 1996 marks the twenty- fifth anniversary of the arrival of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen in the United States and of the formation of the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship. It also marks the tenth anniversary of his passing (December 8, 1986)

Clearly, it is time to reflect – how far have we progressed and how much more have we yet to accomplish, as an individual, as a group, as God’s funny family? So much grace was poured upon us – have we kept that spring flowing, has the pond remained clear for all to partake?

In the following songs and discourses, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen explains the true meaning of fellowship. He both extols and scolds our efforts, urging us forward, closer to that ideal.

We can only pray that his intention be fulfilled, that each of us achieves the heights which he aspired for us, and that together as a fellowship we do justice to his mission and message. May God help us. Amin.


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.

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.