The Owaisi spiritual order finds its mystical heritage with non-other than the great gnostic Owais ibn ‘Aamir al-Qarni who was from amongst the believers that lived in the time of the Messenger ﷺ. Due to his preoccupation and magnanimous servitude in caring for his elderly mother, he was unable to physically meet with the Messenger ﷺ during his lifetime. However, his spiritual connection, acknowledgement and esteemed status with the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is assured through various narrations which detail his extraordinary relationship with Allah ﷻ and His Messenger ﷺ.
It was narrated that Usayr ibn Jaabir said:
“Whenever reinforcements came from Yemen, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (the second Khalifa of Islam) would ask them: Is Owais ibn ‘Aamir among you? When he found Owais he said: Are you Owais ibn ‘Aamir? He said: Yes. He said: Are you from Muraad then from Qaran? He said: Yes. He said: Did you have leprosy and then you recovered from it except for a spot the size of a dirham (small silver coin)? He said: Yes. He said: Do you have a mother? He said: Yes. Umar ibn al-Khattaab said: I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say: “There will come to you Owais ibn ‘Aamir with the reinforcements from Yemen, from Muraad then from Qaran. He had leprosy but he recovered from it except for a spot the size of a dirham. He has a mother and he honours her. If he were to swear in the name of Allah ﷻ that something should happen, Allah ﷻ would cause it to happen. If you can ask him to pray for forgiveness for you then do so.” Pray for forgiveness for me. And he prayed for forgiveness for him. ‘Umar said to him: Where are you headed? He said: Kufa. He said: Shall I write to the governor for you? He said: Being among the common folk is dearer to me…”
(Narrated in Sahih Muslim)
From the above narration, we clearly understand that it is an emphasised Prophetic tradition to ask the pious to pray for our forgiveness. Umar ibn al-Khattaab is unanimously verified to be the second greatest man to have walked the face of the earth after the Prophets. However, we find a man who is not from amongst the lofty stations of the companions being propelled to such a station that his prayer and intercession is not rejected before the Almighty Creator. This demonstrates that gnosis of the Lord is the ultimate pre-requisite for spiritual blessing and inward manifestations.
Amongst the great reports and Prophetic traditions which speak of the special status of Owais al Qarni, one particular narration stands out like the glaring sun, illustrating unequivocally the gnosis and rank which this great man has before his Sustainer.
Abdullah ibn Abi’l-Jad‘a said;
That he heard the Messenger ﷺ of Allah ﷻ say: “Because of the intercession of a man from my nation, more people than the tribe of Banu Tameem (largest Arab tribe) will surely enter Paradise.”
(Narrated by at-Tirmidhi)
The overwhelming consensus of the classical scholars of Islam has been that this narration regarding intercession is implicit with reference to Owais al Qarni.
The Owaisi Silsila (chain of transmission) or Tariqa (pathway) is the term used when one is referring to the transmission of spiritual knowledge between two individuals without the need for physical interaction between them, as in the precedential case between the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and Owais al-Qarni.
In the science of Islamic spirituality, the Owaisi Transmission occurs when the spirits of righteous believers (Saliheen, Awliya) meet in the world called ‘Alam al-Arwaah (the world of spirits) which is beyond ‘Alam al-Ajsam (the material plane). Whoever takes knowledge through spirituality from a master in ‘Alam al-Arwaah (the world of spirits) is called “Owaisi”. This means of transmission is commonly considered superior than the traditional physical relationship of Shaykh (Master) and Mureed (seeker/student).
It is a great sign and tremendous favour of Allah ﷻ Almighty when he chooses to honour His slave and uplift him towards the divine bounties of His pleasure. Many great Muslim saints of past and present have delved into the ocean of mysticism and have found themselves under the spiritual tutelage of luminaries with whom they have had no physical contact. This very phenomenon is the epitome of the Owaisi connection (nisbah).
It is for this reason that the great Hadith scholar from the Indian sub-continent Shah Wali-Ullah states that the Owaisi transmission is like a river which flows on the surface for some time and then disappears underground and becomes invisible. In the same way, the chain of transmission periodically disappears from the world, but continues in the life of the grave.
It is only the sovereign right of Allah ﷻ that He alone decides and chooses a special person to traverse the Owaisi path to reach enlightenment and enter into a unique friendship with Him. We are tremendously fortunate to live in an era where such a personality exists and is accessible to the masses dealing with their Spiritual deficiencies and ailments. The individual of whom I speak of is none other than our beloved Shaykh Muhammad Banaras Owaisi, may Allah ﷻ sanctify his secret, grant him sound and stable health, a long and prosperous life, so that he may increase in his servitude for the betterment of this Ummah, Ameen.