Arif Ali-Shah

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Arif Ali-Shah
OccupationFilm and screenplay writer, Sufi teacher
Parent(s)Omar Ali-Shah, Anna Maria Ali-Shah
RelativesShah family

Arif Ali-Shah is an award-winning British film writer and screenplay writer. Following in his distinguished family's footsteps, he is also a teacher in the Naqshbandi Sufi mystical tradition.

Life and work[edit]

Of Afghan Indian origin, Sayyid Hashim Arif Ali-Shah studied and received a degree in Literature at the University of Exeter in England.[1]

Ali-Shah is credited as the writer and screenplay writer of the award-winning film Bye Bye Blackbird (2005),[2] an early 20th-century period drama directed by Robinson Savary and starring Sir Derek Jacobi. In the film, a man lives out his dreams by learning to fly on the trapeze. In the end he is unable to continue living on the ground.[3]

The film won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2005 Taormina International Film Festival and was nominated for the Tokyo Grand Prix at the 2005 Tokyo International Film Festival.[4] The director Robinson Savary previously won a Gold Plaque for Best Experimental Short Film, À suivre (1988), at the 1988 Chicago International Film Festival.[5]

Ali-Shah is also credited as writer of the animated film Papelucho y el Marciano (2007), directed by the Chilean Alejandro Rojas Téllez.[6]

He has worked with film-makers Sir Derek Jacobi, Jodhi May, James Thierree, Niklas Ek, Izabella Miko, Michael Lonsdale and Andrej Acin.[7]

Sufi lineage[edit]

Arif Ali-Shah comes from a family line of Afghan nobles and teachers in the Sufi mystical tradition. His father Sayyid Omar Ali-Shah Naqshbandi (1922–2005) and his uncle Sayyid Idries Shah (1924–1996) were both prominent writers and teachers of modern Sufism.[8] Arif Ali-Shah has guided study groups led by Professor Emeritus Leonard Lewin of CU Boulder, as did his father and uncle.[9]

Arif Ali-Shah is the grandson of the Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah (1894–1969), an Afghan author, poet, diplomat, scholar, and savant. His great-great-great grandfather was the Afghan warlord, noble and Sufi teacher,[8] the Nawab Jan-Fishan Khan (d. 1864) who significantly assisted the British in the First Anglo-Afghan War and the subsequent Indian Rebellion of 1857.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Arif Ali-Shah's brief biography in French (shockwave flash file)[permanent dead link] Retrieved on 2008-11-14.
  2. ^ Writing credits for Bye Bye Blackbird Retrieved on 2008-11-14.
  3. ^ Details of Bye Bye Blackbird at Austrian Film Commission Archived May 31, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 2008-11-14.
  4. ^ Awards for Bye Bye Blackbird Retrieved on 2008-11-14.
  5. ^ Robinson Savary's award for À suivre Retrieved on 2008-11-14.
  6. ^ Writing credits for Papelucho y el marciano Retrieved on 2008-11-14.
  7. ^ Film-makers Arif Ali-Shah has worked with Retrieved on 2008-11-14.
  8. ^ a b Obituary of Idries Shah, The Independent (London) of November 26, 1996.
  9. ^ Professor Emeritus Leonard Lewin 'established and, for many years, led study groups under the guidance of Idries Shah, Omar Ali-Shah and Arif Ali-Shah', according to his University of Colorado obituary here Archived 2010-06-04 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 2008-11-14.

External links[edit]