Sultan Uvays Bobo mausoleum
LocationThe Sultan Uvays Bobo mausoleum is located in the barren southern foothills of the mountain chain that bears the name of the Sufi saint - the Sultan Uvays Dag. The mausoleum is surrounded by a massive mazar or cemetery. Higher up the mountain is a holy place said to bear the marks of the Sultan's footprint and knee.
Satellite image of the mausoleum (top left of centre) and the surrounding mazar.
After visiting the mausoleum you can continue driving up into the mountains for a further 3.25km to reach a car park from where you make a short climb up to a holy site, said to contain the foot and knee prints of the Sultan.
After returning back to the A380 it is about another 110km to No'kis.
His full name was Sayyidinaa Uways bin 'Amir al-Qarani and he was a simple camel shepherd who came from the village of Qaran in the Yemen. He was a contemporary of the Prophet Mohammed and is regarded in some Islamic quarters as the founder of the Islamic Sufi movement.
Early Islamic writings claim that while living in the Yemen, Uways al-Qarani inwardly received the teachings of the Prophet and became a devout Muslim. He was inspired to travel to Medina to meet the Prophet Mohammed but his mother, who was blind, only gave him permission to go provided that he return immediately once he had reached the Prophet's house. After a three month journey he arrived in Medina only to find that the Prophet was not at home. True to his promise he returned to the Yemen without ever fulfilling his objective.
Despite having never met Uways in the flesh, the Prophet would frequently refer to him, sometimes saying "I feel the breath of the Merciful, coming to me from Yemen". Shortly before his death in 632, the Prophet ordered two of his closest companions: Omar (who would later become the second caliph) and Ali (the husband of the Prophet's daughter Fatima) to take his cloak and give it to Uways in the Yemen.
Because of Uways al-Qarani's spiritual initiation into the Islamic faith without the involvement of any physical teaching he was pronounced a saint and has been venerated by the faithful ever since. The so-called "Uwaysi connection" has become a model for understanding and explaining visionary experiences in which a student becomes initiated, perhaps by a deceased imam or sheikh. The Uwaysi school of Sufism even continues today under the banner of the Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi Shahmaghsoudi, or the "School of the Path of Uways".
It is highly unlikely that Uways al-Qarani is buried in the mountains that bear his name. Tombs associated with Uways al-Qarani can be found at two sites in Syria – namely Damascus and Raqqa – and at another close to Zabid in the Yemen. Uways apparently died in 656/657.
The origins of the present mausoleum probably date back to the time of the arrival of the Sufi movement in Central Asia, around the 9th century AD. Ceramic finds suggest that the site was completely occupied by the 10th century at the latest. However the present structure seems to have been mainly constructed between the 17th and 19th centuries. In the 1920s and 1930s it was regarded as one of the holiest places in Central Asia and was a popular pilgrimage destination. However as Stalin's Soviet authorities increasingly attempted to clamp down on religious institutions, the mausoleum was officially closed in the 1960s. Following perestroika and the collapse of the USSR its popularity has been restored.
There is a large rectangular fish tank at the steps leading up to the mausoleum, which is entered through old beautifully carved wooden doors. The main mausoleum is built from yellow fired bricks and its walls have been whitewashed. The mausoleum and some of the adjacent buildings have domes covered with square unglazed clay tiles. The buildings are arranged around a small internal courtyard.
There is an open area for parking and, in the summer, a row of merchants selling amulets and other religious paraphernalia. The path winds up into the rocks above, where there are small shrines consisting of tree branches covered with strips of brightly coloured knotted rags. These simple offerings have been made by the faithful in the hope of fulfilling a wish – for a cure for a sick relative or a baby for a barren wife.
|Google Earth Coordinates|
|Place||Latitude North||Longitude East|
|Sultan Uvays Bobo mausoleum||41º 0.668||60º 38.726|
This page was first published on 3 September 2008. It was last updated on 31 January 2012.
© David and Sue Richardson 2005 - 2015. Unless stated otherwise, all of the material on this website is the copyright of David and Sue Richardson.