Dr. Ali Kianfar
Seyyed Ali Kianfar, Shah Nazar Uwaiysi, is an Iranian American Sufi master of the Uwaiysi Tariqat. He is the co-founder and co-director of the International Association of Sufism, Chief Editor of Sufism: An Inquiry, founder of Sufism Psychology Forum, and founder of the 40 Days Alchemy of Tranquility Program.
Dr. Kianfar was born in Tehran into a religious family. He graduated from the Police Academy in Tehran, and earned a master’s degree in law and a doctoral degree in Sufism and Islamic Philosophy from the University of Tehran, Iran. He began his study of Sufism in his twenties under the supervision of Hazrat Moulana Shah Maghsoud Sadiq Angha, a 20th century Persian Sufi master (d. 1980) of the Uwaiysi Tariqa. Kianfar was later appointed to teach in the Uwaiysi school. He was among the first of Shah Maghsoud’s students to be given permission to teach and lead Sufism. To commemorate this honor, his master gave Kianfar the title of “Shah Nazar,” (The Sight of the King) and accepted him as a spiritual son. He began his teaching in Iran and has been teaching consistently since his arrival in the United States in 1979, for Persian and American audiences through private gatherings and university lectures.
Upon arrival in the United States in 1980, Kianfar established a Department of Sufism and Islamic Philosophy at Yuin University in Los Angeles, and served as the chair of that department.
In 1983, Kianfar and Dr. Nahid Angha established the International Association of Sufism (IAS), a non-profit humanitarian organization and United Nations NGO/DPI based in Northern California. IAS was founded to create and provide a global forum for dialogue amongst Sufis, scholars, interfaith leaders, poets, and scientists, and in this same spirit, in 1988, Angha and Kianfar began publishing Sufism, An Inquiry, which remains the world’s longest running publication on Sufism.
In March 1994, IAS organized and held the first Sufi Symposium inviting the participation of the most major Sufi Orders from all around the world with the goal of friendship, companionship, dialogue, harmony, and peace.
A few years later, in 1996, Kianfar organized a group of Sufi musicians, Taneen Sufi Music Ensemble, as a department of IAS. And in 1997, he created the Sufism Psychology Forum and organized a team of experienced Sufi Psychologists to introduce Sufi healing Psychology to prepare students first for spiritual practices and journeying through the stations of self to achieve witnessing and inward peace and tranquility. Kianfar and the team then established Community Healing Centers, CHC to serve the community in different psychotherapy centers and began to publish a Sufi Psychology Forum newsletter.
40 Days: Alchemy of Tranquility®
In 1999, Dr. Kianfar created the 40 Days: Alchemy of Tranquility® program, a Sufi-Psychology system that brings together Western psychology, psychological principles, and Sufi teachings to establish a new and innovative approach in the realm of psychotherapy. This program is based on the ancient practice of “chelleh,” a forty-day technique of spiritual practice and purification, and includes an annual retreat focused on the way to divine qualities and characteristics for advanced students. Kianfar leads the 40 Days team and works directly with the therapists at the Community Healing Centers in the Bay Area of California and students from around the world. 40 Days retreats held to date have included:
May 2000 Seattle Washington, retreat in Brotherhood Camp.
Nov. 2001 retreat at Valley of the moon camp, Glen Elen, Sonoma
April 2002 retreat at Mountain Home ranch, Calistoga
Sept. 2003 retreat at Dumas Bay Centre
August 9, 2007, was the first retreat held at Santa Sabina in San Rafael, California and the retreats are continuing every year under Kianfar’s guidance
(see details of the 2023 40 Days Retreat, January 27-29, 2023):
Sept. 2007, “Presence Healing and Balance”
Jan. 2008, “The Source of All Healing”
April 2009, “Awakening Awareness: The Foundation of Mind and Environment”
Jan. 2010, “Human Being: The Hidden Mysteries”
March 2011, “Access Your Inner Wisdom by Exploring Your First Relationship”
Nov. 2012, “Brain, Mind Self: Contact the Client Beyond the Presenting Problem”
Jan. 2013, “Brain, Mind, Self: Discovering the Art of Connection and Self-Regulation”
Sept. 2014, “The Alchemy of Tranquility”
Sept. 2015, “Value of Self”
Jan. 2016, “Self”
Jan. 2017, “Transformation Through Practice and Knowledge of Unity”
Jan. 2018, “The Root of Security”
Jan. 2019, “Practice”
Jan. 2020, “Transformation”
Jan. 2021, “Reflection: Mind–Heart”
Jan. 2022, “Love and Wisdom”
Jan. 2023, “Love and Destiny“
Kianfar has given talks on Sufism, Islam, Spirituality, and the relationship between Science and Spirituality in the United States and around the world. His approach in explaining Sufism to western audiences relies as much on contemporary science and psychology as it does on traditional Sufi philosophy. A sample of his lectures in worldwide conferences and interfaith communities, include:
First Sufism Symposium, San Rafael, CA, March 1994
Sufism Conference, Sydney Australia, May 2000
Interfaith Conference at Washington University, Seattle WA, June 2000
World of Religion, Spain, July 2005
Lectures at Scotland University, Edinburgh, Scotland 2006, and 2011
A Gathering of Hearts Compassion, San Francisco, CA, 2006
International Conference on Oneness, Fiji, 2007
Philadelphia Sufi Symposium, Philadelphia, PA, 2007
International Conference, Cairo Egypt, 2008
UNESCO Conference of Unity, Uzbekistan, 2013
Among Kianfar’s many sayings are:
“Tranquility is available only by unity of heart and mind.”
“Human being is the most perfect mirror of the universe but needs to be discovered and achieved to his perfection.”
“The corporal system of human being is a bridge between divine attributes and earthy needs. Demands and desires caused a ‘fall’ from his/her true self-worth, dignity, and majesty, but by right practice human being can be turn and return to origin.”
“Being civilized is a character of true human being, and civilization means being able and willing to develop a healthy, peaceful, caring, and supportive environment for every member of a society, especially for those whose rights have been overlooked or ignored, those who have been the recipients of the dark side of human nature.”
“Injustice is a disease and a disorder in a society. For humanitarian members of communities, injustice is not acceptable; they devote their time and search for a cure and healing. Their action is rooted to their heart, and their reward is the happiness of their soul. They are the light and mercy for every community.”
Classes (partial list)
- Since his arrival in the United States in 1979, Kianfar began teaching Sufism for Persian and American audiences through private gatherings and university lectures.
- Love and Wisdom: A series of classes focused on the books of the “Abrahamic Traditions,” religion of unity, monotheism, Bible, and Qur’an. These classes were managed in four courses during four seasons.
- Understanding Qur’an: Studying and contemplating on the root of the holy book to find the direct way for practice to achieve the light of knowledge. These classes are ongoing and open to the public
(*see IAS Events for registration)
Publications (partial list)
Kianfar has published several books and numerous articles and introductions, with focus on Islamic philosophy and Sufism, and holy books in monotheism, including (see IAS Publications for available books):
Uwaise Gharani in Farsi. Yuin University Publication, 1983.
Zekr. California: IAS Publications, 1985.
An Introduction to Religion. California: IAS Publications, 1996.
Fatema, The Daughter of the Prophet, in Farsi. California: IAS Publication, 2004.
Seasons of the Soul: The Spoken Wisdom of Shah Nazar Seyyed Ali Kianfar. California: IAS Publications,2006.
99 Beautiful Names of God. California: IAS Publications, 2011
Inspiration, Reflection on Qur’an.California: IAS Publications, 2013.
Inspiration: Lights of Stillness. California: IAS Publications, 2021.
As-Sal’at. California: IAS Publications, 2022.
“Letter From the Editor,” Sufism, An Inquiry, ongoing