Idries Shah had an older brother. His name was Omar Ali Shah, and he also included himself among the Sufis. At first they acted in concert, although the tone of the Work was given by Idries. Then, Omar decided to begin teaching people, which did not at all fit into the plans of the younger Shah, and they quarreled. Understandably, if Idries prepared the soil for the future Work which must be conducted in different conditions and with different people, then given the demand for it which he had crated, Omar’s appearance in the role of the Teacher could not lead to the necessary results. Yet the need created by Idries for a real teacher could be reasonably removed, and even discredited. Nevertheless, Omar decided to begin his game and took many of those for teaching who had been attracted by his brother’s books. Furthermore, Omar Shah began to use in the teaching the most “fantastic” of his ideas, ascribing to Tradition truly magical power in influencing those who seemingly belong to it. You would only have to begin attending any of the groups led by Omar to already join Tradition and seemingly be connected to its magical effect. Here is an excerpt from his book Sufi Tradition in the West: “if a person performs an activity connected to the Tradition in a special way, say, by exercise or reading, then during these 10, 15, or 30 minutes almost definitely there will be 5 or 10 moments of contact (with a person’s internal essence—author). What a person is doing or listening to, or what he is thinking about during such moments will be reinforced in the sense of understanding. These things will not necessarily be in the focus of attention at a conscious level, but they will be at the internal level.” That is, Tradition, according to Omar, has an influence that is almost divine and extremely beneficial. Due to what does it exist and what maintains it? But of course by the Work of the Sufis – well, not by the Supreme Being (this is how God is named by Omar, although He is also mentioned extremely rarely). On the whole, it is the same old song, only brought to the point nearly of the absurd.
The older brother did not provide new exercises: he introduced those which the “Islamic” Sufis had earlier. His books were very meaningful in form and quite shallow in essence, although in them, he honestly tries to “modernize” Sufism, using fashionable concepts at that time like intention (a nod to Castaneda) and the methods of positive thinking. As one of the fundamental purposes for his followers, Omar chose the achievement of harmony, which, like any such term, each person can fill with is own meaning and strive for it. Quite in the spirit of the “Islamic” Sufis, Omar left his own son to lead the groups of followers, which by that time had acquired all the signs of sectarian thinking – a sense of chosenness, a sense of significance from possession of the only possible truth, and intolerance to any other points of view.
It is hard to say whether the fact that Omar Shah declared himself a Teacher influenced the general results of the Work of Idries Shah. A true Teacher, who could breathe life into the new, non-Islamic version of Sufism did not appear in the West, and what occurred in Omar’s groups is impossible to take seriously. In any event, the demand for true Sufi teaching created by Idries is still alive, and that means , the opportunity to receive an answer to it still exists.