Ali Kianfar

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Shah Nazar Seyyed Ali Kianfar, Ph.D.
Dr Ali Kianfar.jpg
Sufi Master Ali Kianfar at the Parliament of World Religions in Barcelona, 2004.

Ali Kianfar is a Sufi master, author, teacher, philosopher and international speaker. He is a co-founder and co-director of the International Association of Sufism and Editor-in-Chief of the online journal, Sufism: An Inquiry. He has taught Sufism and Islamic Philosophy for over forty years.

Early life[edit]

Kianfar was born in Iran and began his study and devotion to the discipline of Sufism in his twenties under the direct supervision of 20th century Sufi Master, Moulana Shah Maghsoud of the Uwaiysi school or “tarighat.” Kianfar was later appointed to teach in the Uwaiysi school.

Kianfar was among the first of Moulana Shah Maghsoud’s students (numbering in the thousands) to be given permission to teach 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 continued to teach Sufism throughout North America, Europe, and the Middle East. As Sufi Master, he lectures and guides students under the name, Shah Nazar Seyyed Dr. Ali Kianfar.


Since his arrival in the United States in 1979, Kianfar began teaching Sufism for Persian and American audiences through private gatherings and university lectures in many cities across the United States. Kianfar also established a Department of Sufism and Islamic Philosophy at Yuin University in Los Angeles. He served as the chair of that department.

Kianfar continues to tour and lecture in the United States and internationally. He has given talks on Sufism, Islam, Spirituality and the relationship between Science and Spirituality at conferences held in Australia,[1] Egypt,[2] Scotland,[3] Spain,[4] The United States[5] and Uzbekistan.[6]

Ideas about Practical and Philosophical Sufism[edit]

Kianfar’s approach in explaining the subtle, mystical world of Sufism to western audiences relies as much on contemporary science and psychology as it does on traditional Sufi philosophy.[7] His own ideas spring from philosophical and rational principles confirmed by his spiritual and inward experience. In this way, he models what he believes is the best way to understand Sufism and the reality of each individual. His teachings are consistent and compatible with ancient Sufi wisdom and modern scientific principles.

Among Kianfar’s many sayings is:

Tranquility is available only by unity of heart and mind.”[8]

Sufism-Psychology Work[edit]

Kianfar created the 40 Days: Alchemy of Tranquility program, a Sufi-Psychology system which brings western psychology, psychological principles and Sufi teachings together to establish a new and innovative approach in the realm of psychotherapy. Kianfar’s discoveries and ideas present an interesting challenge to the current psychological approach and are likely to have a deep impact on the standard for psychotherapy.[9] His integration of "chelleh" into the practice of psychology is completely new to the field and a practical extension. Chelleh is a forty days technique of fasting and purification rooted in many mystical traditions. His principles are introduced through the 40 Days team and the therapists at the Community Healing Centers in the Bay Area of California.[10]

Interfaith Activities[edit]

Kianfar has been one of the important Muslim Sufi leaders to participate in the interfaith movement. He has been involved in many interfaith events, dialogue and conferences, promoting peace and understanding among faith traditions. He and his wife and IAS co-founder, Dr. Nahid Angha, have helped to raise awareness about the peaceful dimensions of Islam and Islamic spirituality[11] while opening the lines of communication for a better understanding of humanity and the complexity of the human being. They have developed bonds of deep friendship and mutual appreciation with countless faith leaders, philanthropic organizations and educators.[12]


  • "Illumination of the Names: Meditation by Sufi Masters on the Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of God," IAS, 2011, ISBN 978-0918437273
  • "Seasons of the Soul: The Spoken Wisdom of Shah Nazar Seyyed Ali Kianfar," IAS, 2006, ISBN 978-0918437259
  • "The Zekr," IAS, 2000, ISBN 978-0918437013
  • "Fatimah" (in Farsi)
  • "Oveys-e-Gharan and the History of the Robe"
  • "An Introduction to Religion," IAS, 1996, ISBN 978-0918437136

In addition, Kianfar contributes articles regularly in the online journal, Sufism: An Inquiry and to the Sufism-Psychology Series, "Human Self, Volume 1: Body," IAS, 2012, ISBN 978-0-918437-29-7


  1. ^ Nassery Bonnin, Fleur. "International Sufi Symposium". Australian Centre for Sufism and Irfanic Studies. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Dalia. "Salafi intolerance threatens Sufis in Egypt". Egypt Search. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  3. ^ Douglas-Klotz, Saadi Neil. "Sufism Symposium Scotland". Edinburgh International Centre for World Spiritualities. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "World Religions’ Universal Message". Parliament of World Religions. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  5. ^ "Songs of the Soul Festival". IAS. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  6. ^ "IAS Director Participates in UNESCO International Congress On Inter-religious Dialogue and the Culture of Peace in Uzbekistan". IAS. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  7. ^ Kianfar, Shah Nazar Seyyed Dr. Ali (September 2013). "A Letter from the Desk of the Editor". Sufism: an Inquiry. 16 (2): 10–12. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  8. ^ Kianfar, Ali. "40 Days: Visionary Leadership from the Workshop Director". IAS. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  9. ^ Kianfar, Shah Nazar Seyyed Dr. Ali (2013). Human Self: Volume 1 - Body. San Rafael, CA: IAS. pp. 10–28. ISBN 9780918437297. 
  10. ^ Ismail, Ghena A. (2008). Islam, Sufism & Psychotherapy: In Search of Unifying Values and Epistemologies. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest, James Madison University. pp. 93–94. ISBN 9780549746386. 
  11. ^ Mijares, Sharon (2009). The Revelation of the Breath: A Tribute to Its Wisdom, Power, and Beauty. Albany, NY: SUNY. p. 256. ISBN 9781438428789. 
  12. ^ Burklo, Jim (Mar 8, 2008). "Bringing Sufi Muslims together, here and around the world". Marin IJ. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 

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