History of Sufi Masters
The purity of the message of Islam and the tradition of the Holy Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) were kept intact through an unbroken chain of transmission by the great masters of Shahmaghsoudi School of Sufism®. While mainstream Islam fell into the hands of the clerics and jurists, these masters passed on the inner message of Islam through their teachings, writings, and students. The truth of Islam would not have survived had it not been for the selfless sacrifices of these great spiritual teachers, known as the forty lanterns of Sufism.
From the time of Hazrat Oveys Gharani, the founder of the Oveyssi School of Sufism, to the time of Hazrat Salaheddin Ali Nader Angha, Sufism has driven the expansion of the truth of Islam to many lands. A brief summary about the lives of a selected number of previous masters of the MTO School of Islamic Sufism® is presented in this section:
Salman Farsi (1 A.H./7 A.D.) the first Persian Muslim, is known as a pioneer of Sufism. He spread the teachings of Sufism in Iran during the early years of Islam. Salman sought a path which would quench his thirst and make his heart content. He embarked on a path different from the various religions of the time, such as Christianity and Zoroastrianism, the prominent faiths during the reign of the Sassanid dynasty. During his lifetime, he rose to such great heights that the Prophet initiated him as one of the “Ahl Beit” (his Family), and he was given the title of Abu Abdullah (God’s servant).
Ibrahim Adham, (161 A.H. /777 A.D.) a prince, gave up his family and his kingdom to find the Truth and stepped in the path of Sufism and the world of love. Hazrat Abu Ali Shaghigh Balkhi (194 A.H. /809 A.D.), who succeeded him, illuminated the path of Sufism. After encountering Hazrat Ibrahim Adham in Mecca, he began his journey on the path of love and Irfan.
Hazrat Abu Abdullah Mohammad Ibn Khafif Shirazi (4 A.H. /9 A.D.) was also known as Sheikh Kabir and Sheikh al-Islam. He was given many titles, all reflecting his immense abilities and knowledge of the physical and metaphysical, as well as his vast knowledge of Islam. Sheikh Khafif lived in the same era as Mansour Hallaj, the renowned Sufi, who was executed for blasphemy charges of uttering, “I am the truth.” In this horrific climate, Sheikh Kabir stood to preserve Islam, his Sufi order was known as Khafifieh Oveyssieh.
In the twelfth century, Sheikh Ruzbihan (522 A.H. /1128 A.D.) produced more than 100 works on Sufism. Sheikh Najmeddin Kobra (540 A.H. /1145 A.D.) trained twelve noble disciples, among them Ali Lala Ghaznavi, Farid-ud-Din Attar, and Seyfeddin Bakharzi. Annemarie Schimmel in her book entitled Mystical Dimensions of Islam, states, “There is no doubt that Kobra himself experienced these heavenly journeys and traversed the cosmic ranks in his visions. He agrees with other Sufi theoreticians insofar as he sees man as a microcosmos, containing everything that exists in the macrocosmos.” (255)
The most widely read Sufi poet in the West is the great Jalaleddin Rumi (603 A.H. /1207A.D.), also known as Molavi. A conventional religious teacher, he was transformed at age 37 by the unexpected appearance of a wandering dervish named Shams Tabrizi. He found in Shams a mirror of the Divine Beloved. Rumi joins Oveyssi’s school from two different sides: on his father’s side Baha al-Din Valad, who was a disciple of the famous Sufi Najmedin Kobra, and his beloved master Shams Tabrizi, who himself was a disciple of Baba-Kamal Jondi, who, in turn was the disciple of Sheikh Najmedin Kobra Oveyssi.
Hazrat Sheikh Semnani (659 A.H./1261A.D.) was from a noble family. At the age of 25, he left the court to devote his life to God. He donated his wealth to the Khaneghah of Sakakieh, followed all the instructions and spent his entire time to reading books on Sufism, prayer and devotion. However, he did not get the intended results until he met a disciple of Hazrat Abdolrahman Esfarayeni, and from this encounter he wrote, “The light of Islam shone from his face, and the fragrance of the beloved came from his soul. He taught me how to do the four stroke Zikr of La ilaha illa Allah. I had many discoveries at the time of Zikr. With my eyes, I saw the flares of light from my chest ascending to the sky. I asked him about his Sufi lineage; he said my Pir is Hazrat Esfarayeni, disciple of Hazrat Sheikh Jozjani, who was the disciple of Hazrat Sheikh Lala.”
Amir Seyyed Ali Hamedani (713 A.H. /1313A.D.), known as “the second Ali” for his greatness of rank, migrated to Kashmir with 700 followers. India owes its Islamic heritage to Hazrat Hamedani. His teachings had such an influence on the people of the region that they turned their temples into mosques and Khaneghahs. One of the original Khaneghahs which he had built in Srinagar, north of Delhi, is still standing and is famous for being the Khaneghah and mosque of the Shah (king) of Hamedan.
Shamseddin Hafiz Shirazi (d.791A.H./1389 A.D.), another Persian Sufi poet with a worldwide reputation, was also a member of the Oveyssi School of Sufism®. He has inspired great philosophers and poets all over the world and has been much admired, notably by the German philosopher Goethe. He was the disciple of Pir Golrang, who, in turn, through three connections is a disciple of Hazrat Sheikh Ruzbihan Baghli (Baqli), the 14th Sufi Master of the Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi .
From the fifteenth century to the present time, great Sufis have continued to emerge, such as Hazrat Sheikh Abu Es’hagh Khatlani (740 A.H. /1339 A.D.) and his successor Hazrat Seyed Mohammad Noorbakhsh (795 A.H./1392 A.D.) They were out of favor with the ruler of that time, Sultan Shahrokh Mirza Teymouri, and were imprisoned and sent into exile many times. Hazrat Khatlani and his brother were eventually executed, while Hazrat Noorbakhsh, after spending twenty five years of his life in prison and exile, upon the death of Sultan Shahrokh Mirza, was free to travel. Despite obstacles, difficulties, and oppositions, these eminent Sufi Masters struggled and endeavored with great efforts to teach and to spread the truth of Islam.
On the other hand, Hazrat Shah Ghasem Feiz-Bakhsh, the great Arif of the 9th century A.H. /14th century A.D., the physical and spiritual son of Hazrat Seyed Mohammad Noorbaksh, was accepted by all classes of people, and King Esmaeil Safavid paid great consideration and respect to his rank and to the grandeur of his spiritual level.
The great Arifs of the 17th to 19th A.D (11th and 13th A.H.) were Seyyed Abdolvahab Naini (1212 A.H./ 1798 A.D.), Haj Mohammad Hasan Kouzeh-kanani (1250 A.H./ 1834 A.D.), and Hazrat Agha Abdolghader Jahromi (1301 A.H./ 1884 A.D.)
The man of great knowledge, Master of the time, Pir Agha Abdolghader, the Pir of Oveyssi, was the caliph of Haj Mohammad Hassan Naini Kozehkanani. The author of Taraegh writes: “Agha Abdolghader was a merchant from Jahrom of Shiraz and resided in Esfahan for business. When the divine love caught him, the love of amassing wealth went thoroughly out of his heart, and whatever he had he gave up for the sake of his way to God. There have been many miracles related to Hazrat Pir Agha Abdolghader, which have been narrated by his devotee and caliph, Hazrat Jalaleddin Ali Mir Abolfazl Angha.”
Mohammad Mohebbi, Aghtab Oveyssi (Düsseldorf, Germany: MTO Publications, editions I- IX, 1998-2008, Print.)
Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975, Print.) p.255
Former Sufi Master
Hazrat Jalaleddin Ali Mir Abolfazl Angha
Molana-al-Moazzam Hazrat Jalaleddin Ali, Mir Abolfazl Angha is the 39th Master of the Oveyssi School. Born in Ghazvin, Iran in 1266 A.H (1849 A.D.), he pursued Islamic studies under supervision of well known teachers of his city until the age of nineteen.
In 1284 A.H. (1867 A.D.), Hazrat Jalaleddin Ali moved to Tehran where he met his eminent master, Hazrat Abdolghader Jahromi, and studied under his guidance until his master passed away. He attained the absolute state of cognition through hard work, obedience and discipline.
Hazrat Jalaleddin Ali received permission to guide from four different Masters and became the pole of his time. These four Masters represented five different Sufi lineages that are as follow:
- Agha Abdol-Gader Jahromi in the Oveyssi lineage
- Agha Mohammad Jasebi, the successor of Hadj Mohammad Ja’far Kabootar-Ahangi Majzoob-Ali-Shah, in the Maktab Ma’roofi lineage
- Zahir-al-islam Mir Ayneddin Hossein Dezfooli in the Ne’matollahi lineage as well as the Zahabi lineage
- Agha Seyed Hosssein Ghorayshi in the Zahabi lineage
Hazrat Jalaleddin Ali, Mir Abolfazl Angha passed away in Tehran on the 29th of Jamadi-al Avval, 1333 A.H. (1915 A.D.). His shrine is located in Ray, ibn-Babveyh, Iran.
His Holiness composed numerous works in verse and prose on the subjects of reality of Sufism, the secret sciences, as well as philosophical and scientific writings which are considered to be one of the great works of our time. Some of his books include:
- Adab-e Faghr dar Solouk,
- Ahadith Ghodsi,
- Anvar-e Gholoob-e Salekin,
- Haghayegh al-Managheb, and
- Ghonche-ye Baz dar Sharh-e Golshan-e Raz
Hazrat Mir Ghotbeddin Mohammad Angha
Molana-al-Moazzam Hazrat Mir Ghotbeddin Mohammad Angha, (1887- 1962), the grandfather of Hazrat Salaheddin Ali Nader Angha, is the 40th Master of the Oveyssi School of Sufism.
Hazrat Mir Ghotbeddin Mohammad Angha was born in Tehran on May 10, 1887. Since his childhood, he was under the supervision and guidance of his father Hazrat Mir Jalaleddin Ali Mir Abolfazl Angha, the 39th Sufi Master of the Oveyssi School of Sufism. He excelled in his secondary education and then completed his further studies in Advanced Mathematics (Algorithms & Algebra), literature, poetry, and calligraphy.
From an early age he had an inward interest in developing human’s creative powers and mastering the natural sciences. As it is stated in the introduction of his book From Fetus to Paradise, “whenever I heard of a learned man I hastily went to him with good faith and studied his speech very carefully; but I did not achieve my final goal by listening to their viewpoints. However, I understood that ideas and deeds of those who served only the outer shell and appearances were based on uncertainty, imagination and imitation, that a poor imitator fellow would have to be satisfied with the unknown tomorrows.”
Upon attaining the state of cognition, he wrote: “I perceived that the Sufi’s religion differs from others. They are the lovers of God, and He is their religion. They do not waste their time and do not consider outside affairs as reality. They constantly relinquish worthless affairs, and they are steadfast in calamities and are released from the past.”
This outstanding Arif is considered among the greatest in the history of Sufism and of our era. In regards to his supreme position in science and Sufism, it has been said : “If it were not for our Lord Mohammad, son of Mir Abolfazl Angha, the reality of ma’rifa (cognition) would never have appeared in our era.”
Hazrat Mir Ghotbeddin Mohammad Angha passed away on September 22, 1962, at the age of seventy five. His holy shrine is located next to that of his father, Hazrat Jalaleddin Ali Mir Abolfazl Angha in ibn-Babveyh, Tehran, Iran.
Hazrat Mir Ghotbeddin Mohammad Angha has written many literary works including: Ershad Nameh, Az Janin ta Janan (From Fetus to Paradise), Osool-e Adyan, Tajalliyat, Moraghebeh va Shohood.
Hazrat Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha
Hazrat Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha is the forty-first Sufi Master of the Oveyssi School. Hazrat Pir speaks with unceasing reverence of his father and predecessor:
“His teachings marked the advent of a new era in the history of Sufism. The truth of Islam was to be made world-known…”
Born in Tehran on February 4, 1916, Professor Angha was surrounded by the teachings and wisdom of Sufism from an early age, as both his father and grandfather were Sufi Masters of the School. When Professor Angha became the Sufi Master on September 22, 1962 (as designated by his father), he was well-prepared for the responsibilities. During the preceding 30 years, he had been rigorously trained by his father, who encouraged his son to cultivate his very considerable intelligence in many disciplines including: philosophy, theology, poetry, mathematics, physics, astronomy and alchemy.
The teachings of Hazrat Shah Maghsoud opened a new chapter in Sufism and the reality of Islam became known like never before. Due to Hazrat Shah Maghsoud’s immense knowledge in many fields, his voluminous writings and ceaseless efforts, Sufism became accessible to the seekers around the world. Therefore, the school is known as Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi Shahmaghsoudi®.
Like his father and grandfather before him had done, on September 4, 1970, Professor Angha formally designated his son Hazrat Pir, Molana Salaheddin Ali Nader Angha, the 42nd Sufi Master of Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi Shahmaghsoudi®, to be his successor.
During his life, Professor Angha produced more than 150 works of poetry and prose, among them Manifestations of Thought, Ghazaliat, The Mystery of Humanity, (containing three treatises: Nirvan, Message From the Soul, and Psalm of the Gods), Al-Rasa’el, The Traditional Medicine of Iran, and The Hidden Angles of Life. From the vibrant imagery of the poem in Ghazaliat to the complex reasoning of Theory of Particle’s Structures, these writings continue to instruct, delight, and amaze while being firmly rooted in divinely transmitted knowledge.
In 1976 Dr. Yoshimichi Maeda, a Japanese biologist, interviewed Professor Angha and the result of this interaction was published in the book Dawn, an excellent introduction not only to the thought of Professor Angha, but also to the teachings of Sufism as a whole. In this interview, Professor Angha formulated the idea that remains central to his son’s thinking about how real world peace can be achieved.
Dr. Yoshimichi Maeda, in the introduction to Dawn, writes about a research work by Dr. I. Shata, Professor of Literature at Cairo University, Egypt, who dedicated his research to the Oveyssi School of Sufism as follows: “During my sessions that I had with Professor Angha- and each meeting was protracted hours and hours – I never fatigued, because his extraordinary spiritual awareness and his boundless knowledge distinguishes him very clearly. He opened vast passages of various specialties like a new world to me. His book, Psalm of the Gods, is a loud cry to invite all beings to free themselves from the mundane attachment which are the heavy burdens of sins on their shoulders.” 12
In 1974, an international research organization called I.M.R.A. (International Multidisciplinary Research Association) submitted a series of questions on the sophisticated scientific issues to Hazrat Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha. The astonishing answers of Hazrat Shah Maghsoud to those questions were gathered and published in a book entitled The Hidden Angles of Life.
Dr. Grisell, then general secretary to the International Multidisciplinary Research Association, in the preface of The Hidden Angles of Life wrote:
“… Hazrat Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha’s vast knowledge and extensive experience in mathematics, physics; particularly relativity theory, astrophysics, quantum physics; physical chemistry, biochemistry, alchemy, philosophy, literature, and other sciences reflect his infinite and comprehensive knowledge and wisdom.” 2
Sufism, as taught by Professor Angha, is both the art and science of applying metaphysical principles to the physical world. An example of this is a shrine near Novato, California, which was designed by Hazrat Pir as a memorial to his beloved father. When the dimensions of the building are converted according to the science of letters and numbers (jafr), the name of his father is obtained.
The roof structure directs its angles into a pointed summit, representing the unification of the individual with God, which signifies that God can be known in the heavens of the heart, the pure elevated state of the person. In addition to the design of the building, the close attention to details – carved and painted stucco with mirror inserts, mosaic tiles with gold, tile and mirror inlays, calligraphy, and smooth black marble floor –creates an everlasting memorial to the great Master.
Professor Angha passed away on November 17, 1980, but not before leaving a wealth of knowledge and teachings about his life’s dedication and work.
1. Hazrat Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha, Dawn (San Rafael, CA: M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi Publications, 1984), p. 3
2. Hazrat Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha, The Hidden Angles of Life (Pomona, CA: Multidisciplinary Publications, 1975).p 3-5