Sharif Graham – 1942-2024

Sharif Graham

In Loving Memory

Sharif Munawwir (legal name Donald Avery Graham), was born in Pasadena, California in 1942, and grew up in Prescott, and then Tucson, Arizona, in the western United States. He studied at Yale University (BA, Magna Cum Laude, 1963, and M Phil, 1973) and the University of California at Berkeley (MA 1965). After his education, Sharif became a professor of Literature and Comparative Religion, first at the University of Arizona and then at Pima College. Sharif began studying Sufism after he first encountered Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan in Paradise (Arizona) in 1970.

In 1982 Sharif visited the archives of the Biographical Department in Suresnes, France, and from that time began working on “The Complete Works of Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan” every summer. When the founding editor of the Complete Works, Munira van Voorst van Beest, died in 1990 Sharif then became the editor-in-chief of the compendium.

In 1998 Sharif retired early from Academia and moved to Suresnes with his wife Kore Salvato and his daughter Elodie to take up work in the Archives full time. Over the course of 14 years, eleven volumes of the Complete Works were finished. This involved a careful scholarly analysis of Murshid Inayat Khan’s teachings, delving into and comparing all relevant early documents. In this way, Sharif became intimately familiar with every aspect of Murshid’s thinking and teaching.

Since leaving Suresnes in 2012 and returning to the US, Sharif has been largely leading a quiet life, though he had continued to consult with Qahira Wirgman, who took over his position at the Archives. In early 2016 he was in a terrible automobile accident where his spine and other bones were broken, but he eventually recovered from those injuries. Of late, his Sufi work had mostly been on the inner planes, following in the footsteps of Pir-O-Murshid.

Over the decades Sharif had edited many Sufi publications including “Mastery Through Accomplishment” and “The Message” magazine. He also worked closely with Pir Vilayat on “The Message in Our Time”.

Sharif had been working on a memoir of his close relationship with Pir Vilayat, to be called “Friend of the Pir”. It is nearly done.

Links to audio/video material about Murshid:
In 2010 Sharif narrated the “Life Story of Hazrat Inayat Khan”, an audio recording. Also, Sharif appears 3 times in the video “The Way of the Heart: The Life and Legacy of Hazrat Inayat Khan“.

He is survived by his three daughters: Ramona, Jalelah, and Elodie, and three grandchildren, all of whom can be seen in this photo taken at Sharif’s 80th birthday celebration.