He lived in the time of the Apostle, but was prevented from seeing him, firstly by the ecstasy which overmastered him, and secondly by duty to his mother. The Apostle said to the Companions: "There is a man at Qaran, called Uways, who at the Resurrection will intercede for a multitude of my people, as many as the sheep of Rabi'a and Mudar." Then turning to 'Umar and 'Ali, he said: "You will see him. He is a lowly man, of middle height, and hairy; on his left side there is a white spot, as large as a dirhem, which is not from leprosy (pisti), and he has a similar spot on the palm of his hand. When you see him, give him my greeting, and bid him pray for my people." After the Apostle's death 'Umar came to Makkah, and eried out in the course of a sermon: "O men of Najd, are there any natives of Qaran amongst you?" They answered, "Yes"; where upon 'Umar sent for them and asked them about Uways. They said: "He is a madman who dwells in solitude and associates with no one. He does not eat what men eat, and he feels no joy or sorrow. When others smile he weeps, and when others weep he smiles." 'Umar said: "I wish to see him." They replied: "He lives in a desert, far from our camels." 'Umar and 'Ali set out in quest of him. They found him praying, and waited until he was finished. He saluted them and showed them the marks on his side and the palm of his hand. They asked his blessing and gave him the Apostle's greeting; and enjoined him to pray for the Muslim people. After they had stayed with him for a while, he said: "You have taken trouble (to see me); now return, for the Resurrection is near, when wc shall see each other without having to say farewell. At present I am engaged in preparing for the Resurrection." When the men of Qaran came home, they exhibited great respect for Uways. He left his native place and came to Kufa. One day he was seen by Harim b. Hayyan, but after that nobody saw him until the period of civil war. He fought for 'Ali, and fell a martyr at the battle of Siffin.

It is related that he said: "Safety lies in solitude," because the heart of the solitary is free from thought of "other", and in no circumstances does he hope for anything from mankind. Let none imagine, however, that solitude (wahdat) merely consists in living alone. So long as the Devil associates with a man's heart, and sensual passion holds sway in his breast, and any thought of this world or the next occurs to him in such a way as to make him conscious of mankind, he is not truly in solitude; since it is all one whether he takes pleasure in the thing itself or in the thought of it. Accordingly, the true solitary is not disturbed by society, but he who is preoccupied seeks in vain to acquire freedom from thought by secluding himself. In order to be cut off from mankind one must become intimate with God, and those who have become intimate with God are not hurt by intercourse with mankind.


He went to visit Uways Qarani, but on arriving at Qaran he found that Uways was no longer there. Deeply disappointed, he returned to Makkah, where he learned that Uways was living at Kufa. He repaired thither, but could not discover him for a long time. At last he set out for Basra and on the way he saw Uways, clad in a patched frock, performing an ablution on the banks of the Euphrates. As soon as he came up from the shore of the river and combed his beared, Harim advanced to meet him and saluted him. Uways said: "Pcace be with thee, O Harim b. Hayyan!" Harim cried: "How did you know that I am Harim?" Uways answered: "My spirit knew thy spirit." He said to Harim: "Keep watch over the heart" ('alayka bi- qalbika), i.e. "Guard thy heart from thoughts of 'other'". This saying has two meanings: (1) "Make thy heart obedient to God by self motification", and (2) "make thyself obedient to thy heart". These arc two sound principles. It is the business of novices (muridan) to make their hearts obedient to God in order to purge them from familiarity with vain desires and passions, and sever them from unseemly thoughts, and fix them on the method of gaining spiritual health, on the keeping of the commandments, and on contemplation of the signs of God, so that their hearts may become the shrine of Love. To make one's self obedient to one's heart is the business of adepts (kamilan), whose hearts God has illumined with the light of Beauty, and delivered from ail causes and means, and invested with the robe of proximity (qurb), and thereby has revealed to them. His bounties and has chosen them to contemplate Him and to be near Him: hence He has made their bodies accordant with their hearts. The former class are masters of their hearts (sahib al-qulub), the latter are under the dominion of their hearts (maghlub al-qulub); the former retain their attributes (baqi 'l-sifat), the latter have lost their attributes ifani 'l-sifat). The truth of this matter goes back to the words of God: Illa'ibadaka minhumu 'l- mukhlasina, "except such of them as are Thy purified (chosen) servants" (Qur. xv,40). Here some read mukhlisina instead of mukhlasina. The mukhlis (purifying one's self) is active, and retains his attributes, but the mukhlas (purified) is passive, and has lost his attributes. I will explain this question more fully elsewhere. The latter class, who make their bodies accordant with their hearts, and whose hearts abide in contemplation of God, are of higher rank than those who by their own effort make their hearts comply with the Divine commandments. This subject has its foundation in the principles of sobriety (,Sahw) and intoxication (sukr), and in those of contemplation (mushahadah) and self-mortification {mujahadah).


His "name of honour" was Abu Ali; according to others, Abu Muhammad or Abu Sa'id. He is held in high regard and esteem by the Sufis. He gave subtle directions relating to the science of practical religion {'ilm-i mu'amalat). I have read in the Anecdotes that a Bedouin came to him and asked him about patience (sabr). Hasan replied: "Patience is of two sorts: Firstly, patience in misfortune and affliction; and secondly, patience to refrain from the things which God has commanded us to renounce and has forbidden us to pursue." The Bedouin said: "Thou art an ascetic; I never saw anyone more ascetic than thou art." "O Bedouin!" cried Hasan, "my asceticism is nothing but desire, and my patience is nothing but lack of fortitude." The Bedouin begged him to explain this saying, "for [said he] thou hast shaken my belief." Hasan replied: "My patience in misfortune and my submission proclaim my fear of Hell-fire, and this is lack of fortitude Gaza'); and my asceticism in this world is desire for the next world, and this is the quintessence of desire. How excellent is he who takes no thought of his own interest! so that his patience is for God's sake, not for the saving of himself from Hell; and his asceticism is for God's sake, not for the purpose of bringing himself into Paradise. This is the mark of true sincerity." And it is related that he said: "Association with the wicked produces suspicion of the good." This saying is very apt and suitable to the people of the present age, who all disbelieve in the honoured friends of God. The reason of their disbelief is that they associate with pretenders to Sufi'ism, who have only its external forms; and perceiving their actions to be perfidious, their tongues false, their ears listening to idle quatrains, their eyes following pleasure and lust, and their hearts set on amassing unlawful or dubious lucre, they fancy that aspirants to Sufi'ism behave in the same manner, or that this is the doctrine of the Sufis themselves, whereas, on the contrary, the Sufis act in obedience to God, and speak the word of God, and keep the love of God in their hearts and the voice (sama) of God in their ears, and the beauty of Divine contemplation in their eyes, and all their thoughts are fixed on the gaining of holy mysteries in the place where Vision is vouchsafed to them. If evildoers have appeared among them and have adopted their practices, the evil must be referred to those who commit it. Anyone who associates with the wicked members of a community docs so through his own wickedness, for he would associate with the good if there were any good in him.


It is said that he was a man of devout nature who made a show of hypocrisy, not a hypocrite who pretended to be devout. This way of acting is approved in Sufism and is held laudable by all the Shaykhs. He said: "Be content with a little of this world while thy religion is safe, even as some are contcnt with much thereof while their religion is lost," i.e. poverty without injury to religion is better than riches with heedlessness. It is related that when he was at Makkah a man came to him and said: "Tell me a lawful thing in which there is nothing unlawful." He replied: "Praise (dhikr) of God is a lawful thing in which there is nothing unlawful, and praise of aught else is an unlawful thing in which there is nothing lawful," because your salvation lies in the former and your perdition in the latter.