Who is Bahauddin Shah Naqshiband?

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Who is Bahauddin Shah Naqshiband? What kind of person Bahauddin Shah Naqshiband? When did Bahauddin Shah Naqshiband live?

Bahauddin Shah Naqshiband [1318 – 1389]

Bahauddin Muhammad ibn Muhammad Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) was born in the hijri year 718, in the month of Muharram in the village of Qasr al-Hinduvan, in Bukhara. His lineage reaches back to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) on his father’s side and to Abu Bakr as Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) on his mother’s side[1].

When he was young he used to be an engraver together with his father and so he became famous for the name Naqshiband (Naqsh means engraving). In some works it is said that because Shah Naqshiband was continuously occupied with khafi dhikr, the word ‘Allah’ was engraved upon his heart and so he became known by the title ‘Naqshiband’, the engraver”[2].

Before he was born,  Baba Sammasi (my Allah have mercy on him) would frequently go to Qasr al-Hinduvan and say in his talks:

“Very soon this place called Qasr al-Hinduvan will become Qasr al-Arifan” (Salahaddin ibn Mubarak al-Bukhari, Anisu al-Talibin, p. 36)[3].

Shah Naqshiband has the following to say about those days:

“One of the greatest favours of Allah Most High upon me was that I was honoured with the blessed gaze of Master Sammasi during my childhood and his spiritual adoption of me”[4].

“When Master Sammasi passed away, my grandfather took me to Samarkand. Whenever my grandfather would hear of a dervish of the heart he would immediately take me to him and request, and practically beg that they do not withdraw their beautiful gaze from me. and they would complement me”[5].

In his youth Shah Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) would frequently visit the blessed tombs of the great men of Bukhara. One night when he was visiting one of these tombs, he saw that even though the lantern was filled with oil, the light was weak because the wick was not moving. From there he went to Mazar-i Mazdahin.

Whilst he was sitting facing the Qiblah he was suddenly overcome by a state of ‘ghaybah’[6]. He saw a man whose face was veiled sitting on a large throne with many people surrounding him. When he saw Baba Sammas (may Allah have mercy on him) in that gathering he realised that these were the Friends of Allah who had passed away. One of those Friends came to Shah Naqshiband and told him that the man sitting on the throne was Abdul Khaliq Ghujduwani and that those around him were his successors. He then named each of them one by one. When it came to Baba Sammas he said:

“You saw him while he was still alive. He is your shaykh and he gave you a hat in trust from Ali Ramitani”.

Then that gathering said:

“Listen well! The master Abdul Khaliq Ghujduwani will teach you what is essential in your sayr al suluq”.

Abdul Khaliq lifted the veil from his face and informed him of the beginning, middle and end of training in tasawwuf.

Thus Naqshiband was known as Uwaysi, since he received knowledge and prosperity from the spirit of Ghujdawani in this way and his true murshid is accepted as being Abdul Khaliq Ghujdawani, who lived one hundred years before him[7].

These are some of the words spoken by Ghujdawani (may Allah have mercy on him) at that time:

“Those lanterns that you saw are a sign for you. You have great potential upon this path, but your wick (your capabilities) has to be set into action so that the unknown becomes clear and the mysteries can be uncovered. Also you need to perform righteous deeds in accordance with your capacity so that you can reach your aim”.

Then the Master spoke the following words with great emphasis:

“In all states and circumstances one must walk in the path of the shariah and uprightness (istiqama) and abide by the divine commands and prohibitions. One should prefer azimah in one’s deeds and follow the Sunnah of the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). One should stay away from the ruhsah and from innovations and take as their guide the hadith and seek out and strive to learn about any news or transmissions of the Prophet and His Companions.

When Ghujdawani had finished giving his advice, his successors asked Khwaja Bahauddin to take the skullcap that belonged to Ali Ramitani from his home and take it to Amir Kulal who was in Nasaf.  In addition they informed him of some events that he would see along the way as a sign of the truthfulness of this event. Then they shook him a little and Khwaja Bahauddin came back to his senses[8].

Shah Naqshiband immediately set out to do what he had been told. He felt honoured to be at the service of Amir Kulal (may Allah have mercy on them both). Amir Kulal inspired Shah Naqshiband to continue to perform dhikr and the kalimat al-tawheed (nafy u isbat dhikr) in a silent manner. In accordance with the command that he received from Ghujdawani in the state of ghaybah, Shah Naqshiband carried out his deeds with azimah and did not perform vocal dhikr[9].  However he did not oppose nor speak out against either dhikr jahri or the sama. In regards to this matter he would say:

“We do not occupy ourselves with this matter but we also do not speak against it”[10].

Shah Naqshiband would carry out his teacher’s every command immediately and with great care and felt obliged to serve all creatures of Allah with great sincerity.

He speaks of his state from his initial days:

“Wherever there was something being discussed I was all ears. If the words were relevant to the spiritual path I would receive great pleasure but if they were about another matter I would be extremely grieved and saddened”[11].

Once he had reached a certain state of maturity, Amir Kulal left the spiritual training of his son Amir Burhan to Shah Naqshiband and wanted to see for himself that he was capable of guiding others[12].

Eventually Amir Kulal saw that Naqshiband had reached a very high spiritual station and had the potential to go even higher and one day he said to him:

“My son Bahauddin, I have carried out to the letter the last request of my teacher in regards to you”.

Then he pointed to his breast and continued:

“I have transferred to you whatever is in my breast. Your bird of spirituality has finally emerged from the egg of humanity. Your bird of aspiration is now flying high. I now give you permission. Whenever you find someone from whom the scent of spirituality reaches you, pay attention to him and do not neglect to benefit from him in accordance with your spiritual hunger”[13].

His Life of Guiding Others

When Shah Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) began his task of guiding others he was living in the village of Qasr-i Arifan in which he was born. He would also go to give talks in the region of Maveraunnehir next to Bukhara, to towns such as Nasaf, Kharwizm and Karmina[14]. Having heard about his perfections and virtues there, people would come from large cities such as Samarkand to listen to his talks or align themselves with him[15].

The affiliation of Husamaddin Khwaja Yusuf, one of the leading scholars of Bukhara with Shah Naqshiband was an important turning point. After that many of the scholars and students of Bukhara came in groups to attend the circle of Naqshiband[16].

Shah Naqshiband went to Hajj two or three times[17]. The day he returned from his first pilgrimage was the day that his teacher Amir Kulal passed away.  Before he passed away he told his disciples to follow Khwaja Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on them)[18].

Shah Naqshiband relates an incident that occurred at hajj:

“I saw two people in Mecca; one of them had a very high himmah and the other, in total contrast was very weak. During the tawaf the one who was weak attached himself to the door of the Baytullah. At such an honourable place and such a precious time he was asking for certain things other than Allah.

The person I saw whose himmah was quite high was a young man in the market of Mina. He made purchases to the value of approximately 50000 filori (an old unit of currency) but he never remained heedless of Allah for one instant. When I saw that youth’s efforts the blood rushed to my heart (thinking of my own faults)”[19].

His Sensitivity in Eating Lawful Provision

Shah Naqshiband would place great importance on lawful provision. He also displayed great care in avoiding that which was doubtful. In his talks he would frequently cite the hadith:

 “Worship is ten parts; nine of those are to ask for lawful provision and one is the other acts”[20] [21].

Khwaja would produce his own food from agriculture. Every year he would grow a certain amount of barley, black-eyed peas, and wild apricots. He took great care in making sure that the animals, field, seed and water he used on his farm were all lawful. This is why many scholars would join his talks in order to take the blessing of eating from his meals prepared of lawful origins.[22]

Naqshiband would not eat from the table of kings nor would he accept their gifts. The wife of King Hussain once sent him some robes which she had embroidered with her own hands. Despite all her insistence Shah Naqshiband would not accept them, even though at that time all he had to wear was a shirt made of felt. His turban and his shoes were also very old[23].

One time one of the scholars of Bukhara asked him:

“How does one gain peace of heart in the prayer?”

He replied:

“One should eat from what is lawful and be mindful whilst eating. If one is mindful at times other than the prayer, when one performs one’s ablutions or utters the takbir of iftitah, then one can attain peace of the heart during prayer.”[24]

One time one of his students complained that he was losing his spiritual state and he said to him:

“Investigate very well whether what you are eating is lawful or not”.

When his student did in fact go and investigate, he found that some of the wood that was used to cook his food was of doubtful origins and he immediately repented[25].

Shah Naqshiband placed great importance on earning his livelihood with his own hands and he said about this matter:

“A person who relies upon Allah should not see his own nafs and should hide his tawakkul by working”[26].

He lived by the principle of working in worldly matters to earn his livelihood and not be dependent upon anyone but at the same time not being heedless of Allah, Most High.

He Would Warn of Heedlessness

Most of the time Shah Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) would personally cook his food or prepare the table. He would continually advise the dervishes to be awake when eating and to maintain presence of heart. If he saw any of his disciples take a bite of food to his mouth in a state of heedlessness he would immediately caution him gently and his heart was not content that they ate even one bite in such a state.

If a meal happened to be prepared in anger, unwillingly or by force, he did not eat it nor was he pleased when his followers did:

“There is darkness in this food and it is not suitable for us to eat from it”[27].

One day they had gone to the region of Gadivat.

A dervish brought them a meal. Shah Naqshiband said:

“It is not suitable for us to eat this food for it has been prepared in a state of anger. The one who sifted the flour, kneaded it and then cooked it was very angry when doing so”.

If he saw someone place a ladle of food into a pot in anger or grudgingly he would not eat that food and would say:

“There is no good nor blessings in something that is done in anger, in heedlessness, grudgingly or by force. For it has become tainted by the whims of the nafs and with Satan”.

Righteous deeds and good behaviour are only possible through lawful provision. Furthermore, lawful provision should be eaten not in heedlessness but with presence of the heart and in a state of wakefulness. Abiding by the principle of wuquf-i qalbi at all times and struggling to remain aware and conscious at all times will be like spiritual exercise for a person, and it will be a means for presence of the heart during prayer[28].

One time when he heard some of his students talking vainly, whilst heating the water to be used for cleaning and ablutions, he cautioned them as follows:

“Do you not know even this much? When cooking and when heating water one should prepare one’s heart and protect one’s tongue from useless words. This state will bring about a state of presence of the heart and awareness in the person who eats that food or performs ablution with that water. As for the heart of the one who takes ablution from water that has been heated in heedlessness or eats food which has been cooked in heedlessness, it will be filled with darkness and heedlessness will arise”[29].

Knowledge and Action

Shah Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

“As ordered by Abdul Khaliq Ghujdawani I tried to investigate the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be up on him) and any news of the Blessed Companions (may Allah be pleased with them). I attended the assemblies of the scholars and took lessons of hadith and learned of the transmissions of the Companions. I acted upon each of these and by the grace of Allah I was able to witness their effects on me”[30].

While serving at the Sufi lodge on the one hand Shah Naqshiband also continued to study in the madrasah. He says:

“I was learning tafsir and hadith from Diggerani (Kishlaki).  At that time I happened to go to Nasaf. My teacher was gardening. Since there were quite a lot of tamarisk trees, we needed an axe. My teacher said:

“Our axe was left with Husamaddin Efendi in Bukhara”. I immediately understood what he meant. Without them knowing, I went to Bukhara the next day and brought back their axe”[31].

Shah Naqshiband would place great importance on Hakim Tirmidhi (who passed away in 320 hijri) and benefitted greatly from his spirit, his ideas and his works.

He would continually converse with all of the scholars and righteous men who were his contemporaries. One day he went to visit one of the great scholars of that time, Hamiduddin Shashi (may Allah have mercy on him). He said to him:

“The kernel is protected by the shell. If there is a sickness in the shell, this will contaminate the kernel”. Mawlana Hamiduddin was left in awe of these words. Shah Naqshiband continued:

“We are people who harvest the virtuous fruits from our precious scholars”[32].

One of the scholars of that time, Khwaja Yusuf would attend the assembly of Shah Naqshiband from time to time and he would solve any problems of the dervishes if there was a need”[33].

Alauddin Attar said:

The attention, love, loyalty and enthusiasm of the great scholars of that time for Shah Naqshiband was very great indeed.

In fact many students and great teachers would abandon their madrasah and even return any property belonging to the foundation given to them for their services, in order to attend his talks day and night.

One day a great number of scholars from Bukhara gathered together in the presence of Shah Naqshiband. Some bigoted people amongst them said:

“In our madrasahs today there is no brightness of knowledge nor any study left. No importance is given to educated debates, investigation or research. Most students have inclined to your way and left the pleasure of knowledge and study and retreated to the corner of fana and lassitude. What is this state?”

Shah Naqshiband replied:

“O assembly of noble scholars! We are devoted to you in the path of the sharia and we follow you in this path. We follow whatever you transmit to us from the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). If there is anything about our way that is in opposition to the Sunnah of the prophet, then show us, and we will abandon it. Caution us in accordance with the verse: ‘Ask the People of the Reminder if you do not know”  (Anbiya, 21:7) and let us know if we are on the path of guidance or not”.

All of the scholars responded:

“We have investigated your way from all aspects. There is nothing in it which is not in line with the Sunnah of the prophet”.

However there was a scholar by the name of Molla Hord amongst them and he said:

“The robe that you wear is a means of fame in two respects. The first is that the robe is something that the dervishes are most proud of and the other is that by wearing it you consider yourselves distinguished from others. Is this allowed? Those things which cause a person to desire fame will lead them to disaster”.

Shah Naqshiband replied:

“This robe that we wear is not something so precious that it will lead to a desire for fame or distinctiveness. It is the average robe of the dervish. However, since it has become a cause of gossip we will no longer wear it”.

He immediately took it off and presented it as a gift to one of the dervishes there”.

The scholars from Bukhara who had witnessed this and many other virtues and displays of good character from Shah Naqshiband, finally said:

“Just as the eye needs both the black and white parts in order to see, we too are in need of you”[34].

One time Shah Naqshiband was asked:

“If a person studies ‘logic’ with what intention should he study it?” He replied:

“He should study it with the intention of distinguishing truth from falsehood”[35].

Shah Naqshiband received solid training in hadith and he would frequently explain many hadith in his talks and he would make expositions from tasawwuf. He knew Arabic, Turkish and Persian[36].

His uprightness (istiqama)

Shah Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

“One should not incline towards extraordinary acts or karamat. The real skill is to be upright”[37].

“One should only trust extraordinary states and wonder-working when one’s deeds are upright and one is in accordance with the Sunnah. If one is not in accordance with the Sunnah then one should not trust in his miracles”[38].

He used to narrate the following words from one of the friends of Allah:

“If a wali happens to enter a garden and every leaf in that garden calls out to him: “O friend of Allah”, he should not heed that voice, neither outwardly nor inwardly. On the contrary, he should increase his efforts and take even more care to be in a state of servanthood, taqwa and supplication to Allah. The rank of perfection in this station is particular to Muhammad Mustafa (peace and blessings be upon him). The Messenger of Allah was subject to countless bounties and favours of his Lord and these only served to increase his state of servanthood, seeking refuge with Allah and his supplication to Him and he would say: “Shall I not be a grateful slave?” (Bukhari, Tahajjud, 16)”[39].

Shah Naqshiband would relate the following beautiful words from Sulami (may Allah have mercy on them both):

“Seek uprightness and do not seek wonder-working! Your Lord desires uprightness from you, but it is your nafs that desires wonder-working”[40].

In order to protect himself from the compliments of mere mortals, Shah Naqshiband would hide his miracles. One day he was asked to show some wonder-working and he said:

“Our wonders are here for everyone to see. Look – we are still able to walk the earth even though we have such a load of sin upon our shoulders”[41].

When his disciples would mention some of the wonders they saw from him he would say:

“They are the wonders of my disciples, not mine”[42].

Whenever some extraordinary wonders were observed about him, he would always warn his dervishes as follows:

“O my friends! We have no control over this. That is, these do not occur through our seeking or desiring them. They are from Allah. No such things can come from something that is destitute, bankrupt, weak, and completely deficient.

Another time he said:

“Even though the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was the most perfect of all created beings, the closest to Allah, and all of his prayers were accepted, he was told by Allah:

‘…and you did not throw, when you threw; it was Allah who threw …’ (Anfal, 8:17).

In that case we should think of the state of his community, how wretched and weak they are. There is no share in the extraordinary acts that can be seen appearing from dervishes. Maybe those states are there in order to open up the horizons of those who seek Allah.”[43]

“Not everyone who runs will catch their prey. Only the one who constantly follows their prey will catch it. Thus, we need to be upright and continuous in our acts”[44].

Straying even an inch from uprightness has an immediate effect upon one’s spiritual state. Shah Naqshiband says:

“Any sort of slip or erring on the part of a friend of Allah is a result of a fault in his humility”[45].

His Following of the Sunnah

Shah Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) would summarise his tariqa as ‘following the words of the Messenger of Allah and of his Companions’. He received great pleasure from applying the Sunnah to every aspect of his life[46]. This was to such a degree that when his son passed away he said:

“Praise be to Allah, this too is from the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah. He saw his own children pass away while he was still alive. Most of the states that befell the Messenger of Allah have also befallen us”[47].

It is because of the efforts and sensitivity to act in accordance with the Sunnah of the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that Bahauddin Naqshiband was known as “مُحْيِى سُنَنِ سَيِّدِ الْمُرْسَلِينَ/ (The Reviver of the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah) and   مُوَضِّحِ اٰثاَرِ الصَّحَابَةِ / (The Expounder of the path of the Blessed Companions)[48].

One time Shah Naqshiband advised Yaqub Charkhi:

“Try as best as you can to act upon the following hadith of the Messenger of Allah: “Keep up your contact with your relatives even though they cut their ties with you give to those who do not give to you, and forgive the one who oppresses you”[49]. All of these are in opposition to the nafs but when applied bring great benefit”[50].

His Worship

Bahauddin Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) was very meticulous when it came to worship. He narrates an example of this:

“When it was made possible for me to repent I was living in the village of Rivertun. I would show great care in performing my prayers in congregation at the masjid. One time by chance I was unable to perform my prayer in the congregation. The imam of that masjid was very pious and knowledgeable. He said to me:

“I always saw you standing in prayer, and I considered you to be a brave man who continued to perform prayer in congregation. However, now I see that you are one who neglects the congregational prayer”.

I responded:

“Sir, you imagined me to be one who stands in the prayer ranks but in reality I am of those whose hearts are veiled.

May Allah have mercy on him I heard the following lines from that great man:

“In the market of love, no one would purchase a dirty heart. A pure heart is needed in order for it to come out of the fire clean”.

These words weighed down upon me. That fire burned in my heart always and that state of indecisiveness continued and increased”[51].

Shah Naqshiband expressed the importance of worship in the path of spiritual perfection:

“Metaphors are bridges to reality”. What is meant by this is that all forms of worship, apparent, inner, spoken and active are metaphors. Those who enter this tariq will not reach the truth unless they take care in all of these forms and pass this stage (as long as they travel from the stage of faith (iman) to ihsan)”[52].

Another time he said:

“One should continue to occupy oneself with inner study and supererogatory worship in the dawn and after the evening prayer (Maghrib)”[53].

His Humility and Selflessness

When the occasion arose Shah Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) would say the following:

“The most profitable of those who travel in this elevated path (tariq) are those who are in a state of complete humility, entreaty and supplication to Allah and who have high aspirations. This is the door through which they made us pass. Whatever I have found, I have found through entreaty, being in a state of selflessness and humility”[54].

His following words are an illustration of this state:

The world is wheat and I am the chaff

Everyone else is good whilst I am bad

In reality, the mystery that allowed these Friends of Allah to reach their peak was this state of humility, selflessness and unassuming nature. This is why the Sufis said: “When you get out of the way, what is left is the One who created you”.

Shah Naqshiband  (may Allah have mercy on him) said that the way to progress in the path towards Allah depended on dressing oneself in the robe of humility and selflessness and wiping away the rust and dirt from the ego in one’s heart:

“To enwrap oneself in nothingness on this path and to abandon one’s own being and present one’s selflessness and be humble is a great profit. These are the clues to attaining a great state”[55].

 “Those who have dedicated themselves to this path must consider their own nafs to be one hundred times worse than the Pharoah. Otherwise they cannot be considered to have embarked upon this path”[56].

We should state here that since the Pharaoh was an unbeliever, no believer can ever be considered lower than him in the sight of Allah. However, Shah Naqshiband used such an exaggerative expression in order to illustrate how great a threat the nafs is for one’s eternal life,

Moreover, the end-affair of every human being remains unknown to us. In this regard then, even though a person can be as violent in his unbelief as the Pharaoh was, there is the possibility that he can be guided at his last breath and be cleansed of all his sins. This is why the believer must be meticulous and avoid belittling other servants of Allah and the heedlessness of considering himself superior to them.

The following event is a good illustration of the state of humility and nothingness of Shah Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him):

One time Shah Naqshiband went to a place called Kufin. His own disciples and a great crowd from the people of that town were following him. Seeing that he had drawn the attention of so many people the Shah began to weep. Those who saw him also began to weep however they did not know why he was crying. A little while later, Shah addressed himself as an expression of his own selflessness and humility before the Divine Greatness:

“I am in a state of desolation, incapacity, exhaustion and incompetence and am not worthy of even greeting anyone or receiving their greeting of peace. Allah, Most High, has not humiliated me amongst the people and has made them occupy themselves with me”.

“No one knows my state”. He continued to weep very sadly and then recited some lines, which meant the following:

“If they truly knew me they would cast me out of their town. Woe to me. Nobody knows my true state”[57].

This is the tenderness and sensitivity of the heart that elevated these Friends of Allah to such a state. So whenever one senses one’s own ego rise one should immediately seek refuge in Allah and try to rid himself of it and take great care against this state.

One time a disciple from Nasaf had an argument with his neighbour and offended him. Shah Naqshiband was very upset by this and he travelled to Nasaf from Bukhara. As soon as he entered the city he went straight to the house of that offended man and knocked on his door. In great humility he made the following request:

“Please forgive us this sin, the fault is ours”. As a result he appeased the neighbour of his disciple. The coming to Nasaf of Naqshiband all the way from Bukhara just to placate a broken heart astonished the people of Nasaf and many of them became his disciples[58].

One of the sincere students of Shah Naqshiband, Musafir Khwarazmi narrates:

“One day Khwaja Bahauddin was constructing a building for some service. All of the dervishes were present and were all covered in dirt, working very carefully. Muhammad Parsa had been given the duty of mixing the mud. The sun had reached its peak and it was very hot. Shah Naqshiband gave the command to his workers to rest for a while. Everyone washed their hands and feet and went to sit in the shade. Since  they were so tired they fell asleep where they were. Muhammad Parsa also fell asleep in the place where he was mixing the mud. While they were in this state Shah Naqshiband looked at every one of them. He then went to the side of Muhammad Parsa. When he saw him in this state he was moved and he wiped his blessed face over the feet of Muhammad Parsa and prayed as follows: “O Allah. Have mercy on Bahauddin for the sake of these feet”[59].

Alauddin Attar narrates:

“There is no other hope for salvation other than to perceive your own weakness and repent. The traveller should always see the deficiency in his own deeds and his own shortcomings. He should consider his own repentance from his own weakness and sins and seek refuge in Allah, believing Him to be One of grace and favour. Shah Naqshiband would command his students to this state and say: “I was continually reminded of these attributes”[60].

Shah Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

“The way of the people of the heart is to see their righteous deeds as few, to be in a state of humility, nothingness, and weakness and to know that one’s deeds are faulty and one’s state defective. There is no other beneficial way of breaking one’s ego than to see oneself as lacking and to see one’s own shortcomings. This is one of the wisdoms, which in fact even the prophets erred in.

The reality of repentance is this: to perceive one’s own incapacity by abandoning one’s feelings of arrogance, pride and ego, which are the origins of sin. This comes about by recognising the selfish nature of the nafs and realising the danger it brings to one’s spirituality. While in this state of pain and incapacity one can plead with Allah and beg Him wholeheartedly. This is the reality of repentance.

“O my Lord! People fear you, but I fear myself. From You, my Lord, I have seen only good but from myself I have seen nothing but bad”.

A fault coming about in the people of Allah is due to their annihilating their own nafs and ego. This is one of the wisdoms in the prophet Musa objecting to Khidr (peace be upon them both) on the basis of his devotion to the Shariah. The prophet Musa realised his objections were wrong and his ego vanished”[61].

Khwaja Husamaddin Yusuf wished to compile and write down the words and anecdotes of Naqshiband while he was still alive, however; Shah Naqshiband did not give him permission, which is another indication of his high level of humility[62].

His Generosity

Shah Naqshiband gave no importance to worldly wealth and preferred to live as a poor man. Despite this he was still extremely generous, and would give much charity to people. If somebody gave him a gift he would offer a similar gift in return or something much better, in accordance with the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him).

His followers who attended his talks could also be seen to have these traits. If a friend or guest happened to visit one of his disciples, who were trained with this character, they would prepare a meal (without too much trouble) and offer them whatever they had. In fact, they would even show altruism that is they would prefer their brothers in religion above their own selves, and would not hesitate to offer something that they were in need of themselves. For instance, when one of their guests stayed for the night, they would give them their own item of clothing to wear and would endure the cold weather without making this known to their guest[63].

His Service

One time Shah Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) told his students that he had cleaned all of the toilets in all of the madrasas of Bukhara in order to encourage them to serve others. He then continued saying:

“My master advised me of the following: “Be careful about the hearts. Serve those who have fallen, the weak and broken-hearted. Pay attention to those whom the people belittle and be humble and modest with them”. I then occupied myself with such acts of service as indicated by my teacher. Then my master turned to me and said:

“Take care of the animals with humility and attention. The animals are also creatures of Allah (Observe His manifestations in them. Try to look at them with the glance of compassion shown to them by their Creator). Occupy yourself with treating the sick and injured”.

Upon his command I took up the duty of taking care of animals. I continued like this for a while. If an animal happened to pass before me I would allow him to pass first. My days continued like this for seven years. Again that dearest master turned to me and said:

“Take sincere care of the dogs of this blessed lodge and search for one who will expand your horizons of happiness.

I considered this act of service to be a goldmine and I embraced it fully. One night I saw a dog. A completely different state overcame me. Beside him, I supplicated and pleaded with Allah. I began to weep and sob uncontrollably. While I was in that state, that poor dog laid down on his back and turned his face towards the sky. He raised his front legs and began to whimper mournfully. I then raised my hands and supplicated and said: “Amen”. This continued until he was silent and returned to his normal state…

My dearest teacher again turned to me and said:

“Occupy yourself with the roads and passes. If you see something on a path that is an obstacle for people, remove it so that those passing by are not harmed by it”.

Then I began to occupy myself with this act of service. It was such that I was constantly covered in dirt for seven years. I carried out with great fidelity every act that the Friend of Allah ordered me to do. I was able to observe the result of those acts upon my own state”[64].

Shah Naqshiband would carry firewood on his back to the lodge of Amir Kulal (may Allah have mercy on them both). Again while the village mosque was being built, he would carry the mud mix on his head and would read some lines, which had the following meaning:

“O Allah! I would ladly do anything in Your Path. O mosque, I would carry your load upon my head”[65].

Alauddin Attar said:

“My teacher Shah Naqshiband’s character was very elevated. If a friend happened to visit him in his house, he would serve him personally and offer him in the best way, taking all manner of care to host him. He would also look after the mount of his guest with great care to the degree that his friend was no longer worried about his animal”[66].

One of the disciples of Shah Naqshiband, Shaykh Shadi, narrates:

“Whenever a friend or guest arrived, Shah Naqshiband would serve him and then prepare water and food for his animal. He would consider all acts of service to be a bounty for him. Even if some of his own dervishes whom he was training came to visit him, he himself would prepare their water for cleaning and say: “All of these acts of service are an obligation on me”.

Whenever Shah Naqshiband would honour one of his disciples with a visit to their house he would ask about his children, his relatives, his servants, his animals and even his chickens. He would compliment them all and endeavour to please them” [67].

Whenever a meal was being prepared in an assembly he would serve it to those who had cooked it[68].

One of his students narrates:

“The reason that I devoted myself to Shah Naqshiband with all my heart is this:

One day the dervishes from Bukhara came to visit Khwaja who was ill. I joined them. We saw Shah Naqshiband in a place called Bagh-i Mezar. Even though he was ill, he still greeted us with a smile. He immediately went to prepare the lambs that would be slaughtered. In fact, he himself carried one of the lambs on his shoulders and he cooked it himself.  This beautiful character of his made me his servant”[69].

Shah Naqshiband would make efforts to solve everyone’s problems. This is why he was known as ‘Khwaja-i Mushkil-ghusha’, that is, the “Master who solves difficult problems”[70].

Shah Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) narrates:

“The true friends of Allah bear the burden and troubles of the people in order to beautify their character. There is no heart which is not observed by Allah, whether the owner of that heart knows it or not! And so the people of Allah bear the burden of others so that they can succeed in pleasing the heart. Thus may they then hope to benefit from the Divine observation of them”[71].

He Gave Great Importance to Suhbah

One of the dervishes narrates:

“At every opportunity Shah Naqshiband would tell us that the suhbah of the friends of Allah was a great bounty and that ‘to stay away from this bounty is a fault of the traveller of this path’. When this weak servant travelled from Samarkand to Bukhara to listen to him speak I saw that the most important thing for his students was to perform the prayer in congregation in the masjid as much as they could and to benefit from the spirituality that radiated from his talks”[72].

Shah Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) would say:

“A person finds more peace of heart when he serves the people, then when he retreats in solitude (That is, he attains unity within multiplicity and if he can be with Allah whilst he is in a crowd, then his heart finds even more peace). This is how the realm of the heart develops on this path. Our way is the way of suhbah. There is fame in seclusion and in fame can only come disaster. Goodness and bounty comes from being together and unified. It is possible to be together through the suhbah. However the suhbah must be beneficial. This arises when a person abandons their ego and enwraps themselves in selflessness”[73].

“In the hearts of some of those who come to our talks there is the seed of love, however due to their concern for the world and the impurity that results, their seedling does not develop and grow.

Our duty is to cleanse their hearts of these worldly and carnal desires and to nourish the seed of love. In some hearts, however there is only a trace of the seed of love and then we strive to make love form there”[74].

His Death

During his old age Shah Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) went for the pilgrimage once more. He became ill on his return.

One of his students narrates:

“Shah Naqshiband would remember death often. Especially in his last days he would remember his past elders and say: “How beautiful is the realm of the hereafter to which our friends have gone”. At a time close to his death, he repeated often the following hadith narrated by Aisha, the wife of the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him):

“My great prophet brothers (the five Prophets of Resolution) and the other blessed messengers suffered greater and more intense tribulations than this. In that state they went and were reunited with their Lord. Almighty Allah offered them great things and bestowed upon them many rewards. I would be embarrassed to elevate my standard of living in this world. If I do so, my share in the hereafter may decrease and I will lag behind my brothers. To be patient for a few days in this world is more pleasing to me than decreasing my share of the hereater. For me, at this moment there is nothing more pleasant than to be reunited with my Companions and my brothers” (Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum al-Din, III, 82)”[75].

Alauddin Attar narrates:

“During the last moments of the Shah we were reciting chapter Yasin from the Qur’an. When we came half way, the lights began to appear. Shah proclaimed the kalima-i tawheed and then gave his last breath. He had lived 73 years and had begun his 74th year. He passed away on a Monday night on the 3rd day of the month of Rabia al-Awwal in 791 (1st March, 1389)”[76].

Shah Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) was buried in his garden at Qasr-i Arifan. He had requested that the following lines be read while his coffin was being carried:

We are the bankrupt who come to Your village

Show us some of your beauty!

Abdul Quddus, one of the great friends of Allah, tells of one of his visions[77]  as follows:

“When the burial of the Shah was finished, a window opened up on the side of his coffin where his blessed face was, in accordance with the hadith that ‘the grave is a garden from the gardens of Paradise[78]…” Two huris appeared and after greeting him they said:

“Allah, Most High, created us for you. We are yours and we await your service”.

Shah Naqshiband said to them:

“I have a covenant with Allah Glorified and Most High is He. I will not occupy myself with anything until I have been honoured with witnessing His Beauty, the likes of which there is none”[79].

Yaqub Charhi narrates:

“When I heard that Shah Naqshiband had passed away, I was very saddened and I began to cry. That night I saw him in my dream reciting to me the verse: ‘If he were to die or be killed, would you turn on your heels?’ (Al’i Imran, 3:144). Then he said: “Zayd ibn Harith narrates…” When I awoke I understood the meaning of this verse. That is, their beautiful training and compassion continues in the spiritual realm just as it did in the Manifest Realm. On the second night I saw him again in my dream. He said: Zayd ibn Harith said: “Religion is one and forever” thus completing his words from the night before”.

By giving Zayd ibn Harith, the Companion, as an example, he was showing me that I should not part from his way. Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him) was the adopted son of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and he never parted from him. Our Master did not immediately accept a student but once he did they became like his sons.

On another occasion when I saw his spirit I asked him:

“How are we going to find you tomorrow on the Day of Judgement?”  He replied:

“By remaining devoted to the shariah”, that is by acting in accordance with the commands of the religion.

As can be understood by these dreams, the blessed shaykhs are ever training and educating their disciples, while they are alive and also once they have passed away. If one turns oneself towards their spirit and attaches their hearts to them, then this is a means of a person attaining perfection and being subject to divine prosperity and enlightenment”[80].

May Allah bless their spirits and keep their favours upon us. Amen!

The tomb of Shah Naqshiband was a very humble grave, but with time it was extended to include a masjid, a madrasah, a taqqa, a guesthouse, and a fountain until it became a large complex[81].

His mother’s grave is found in the village of Qasr-i Arifan, which is now known as Bahauddin. In accordance with his last requests, those people who come to visit his tomb first visit his mother’s grave.

His Words of Wisdom

  • “One needs two wings in order to fly to the sacred realm. One of them is to perform many righteous deeds and the other is to see oneself as having many faults”[82].
  • “Ever embrace Allah’s attribute of al-Latif and seek His grace and favour. Never await recompense for your deeds. Whatever perfection and virtue appears from your words or behaviour, forget them immediately. Always see the faults of your nafs[83].
  • Ubaydullah Ahrar narrates:

“One time a devout man saw Shah Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) in his dream after he had passed from this world and he asked him:

“What should we do for our eternal salvation? He replied:

“Occupy yourself with whatever you should be occupying yourself with at your last breath”. That is, just as you need to be thinking about Allah completely at your last breath, be as aware of this throughout your life”[84].

  • “To inspire others to do dhikr is like giving someone a flint. After that, it is up to the student to act in order to receive a good result (to light the fire)”[85].
  • “The aim of dhikr is not merely “Allah” and “La ilaha illallah”. It is to go from the cause to the Causer (that is the actual Doer of that cause) and to see that bounties come from the Causer that is from Allah Almighty”[86].
  • “The reality of dhikr is to rise to the realm of witnessing from the arena of heedlessness”[87] (That is, dhikr should not merely remain on one’s tongue but should affect the heart and be reflected in one’s behaviour).
  • Dhikr is the removal of heedlessness. When heedlessness is gone, even if you are silent you will be in a state of dhikr[88].
  • “One should occupy oneself with the pillars of the prayer and its invocations and turn oneself to it completely. This will change according to the state of the beginner And never forget that there are a great many rewards in performing the ablution of prayer”[89].
  • “Allah, Most High, is above everything that one can see, hear, imagine or conceive of. The reality of “la” in the kalima-i tawheed is to exalt Allah, Most High, above all such things”[90].

(One of the attributes of Almighty Allah is al-Mukhalafatu lil-hawadith. That is He does not resemble any of His creatures).

  • “To justly abide by other’s rights in every situation is from the manners of those travellers in the way of Allah. That is why those who have attained their goal and desire are those who complied with justice and adab[91].
  • “To attach one’s heart to masiwa, that is, all worldly things that detract from Allah, is the greatest veil of heedlessness for those who travel this path”[92].
  • “The reason why people find themselves distant from Allah, Most High, is that they distance themselves and they willingly burden themselves with the burdens of the world.

(That is, they become an ox for the greedy ambitions of their nafs). Otherwise, there is no fault on the part of Allah”[93].

  • “One of the benefits of consulting with the people of the heart about a certain matter is that you will be freed of being egotistical if you find that your decision in the end was the right one. If your decision turns out to be the wrong one, then you will realise your own deficiency and fault and you will not become egotistical”[94].
  • “The basis of this path is to turn towards one’s heart. then to turn to Allah with that heart and remember Him often. (Faith is to acknowledge with one’s tongue and to confirm with one’s heart, not with one’s mind. That is, one’s dhikr should establish itself in the heart and then be reflected in one’s behaviour and actions.) As a result the servant of Allah is aware and cognisant of being ever under divine observation.

Another principle of this path is to perform well the obligatory and acts of the Sunnah. One should be moderate in one’s affairs and habits, and in acts such as eating, drinking, dressing and sitting. It is to protect one’s heart from evil thoughts and from misgivings. One should realise that the suhbah of one’s spiritual master is a great bounty. One should act with adab both in his presence and absence.

The aim of this path is to be aware of being ‘ever in the presence of Allah, Most High’. During the time of the blessed Companions, this was called ‘ihsan’. As one progresses on this path, one reaches stations such as the elimination of the desires of one’s nafs, becoming surrounded by light, reaching fana and baqa, and becoming a person of good character”[95].

  • “One can never reach their goal (in the path of spirituality) as long as one does not eat from what is lawful”[96].
  • “A traveller on this path of ours should not know which station he is in; so that this does not become a veil for him and he can continue in his humility and state of selflessness. The one who is pleased with his state will have drawn a veil over his own progress”[97].
  • “We are only a means in the path of reaching Allah. One should break away from us and reach the True Goal”.

That is once the disciple has reached the state of fana, and then become aware of Allah, Most High’s baqa (eternity), one should break free of everything. This station is the station of the perfect Muslims and those who perfect others.

Even if the seeker who reaches this state lives forever, he will never succeed at being grateful for the bounty of his Master’s spiritual education[98].

  • Shah Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) would frequently read the following lines about hiding one’s spiritual state:

 “On the inside be acquainted with Allah but on the outside (act as if you are) unaware. Such a beautiful way is rare in this world”[99].

  • “A person who is in the house of a generous man will be offered many things. The state of the one who serves the servants of Allah by touching their hearts is like this”[100].

[1]. Nasiruddin Bukhari, Tuhfatu al Zairin, p. 54; Sadriddin Selim Bukhari, Bahauddin Naqshiband Yaki Yetti Pir, s. 13; a. mlf., Teberruk Ziyâretgâhlar, Tashkent 1993, p. 25.[2]. Shirazi, Taraiqu al Haqaiq, II, 351.

[3]. Salahaddin ibn Mubaraq al Bukhari, the author of Anisu al Talibin affiliated himself with Shah Naqshiband through Alauddin Attar in the year 785 (1383). Whilst he was alive, Shah Naqshiband did not give permission for such a work to be published, however after his death, they began to publish it after performing various prayers of istikhara and having received a spiritual indication. The author has compiled the statements heard personally by his closest khilafahs and murids after attending his talks, and the spiritual states that they witnessed. Thus it contains information about Shah Naqshiband from the original sources. This is why it was the most important reference for such famous books as Rashahat and Nafahat.[4]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 35.[5]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 37.[6]. Gaybat: Is a state in which one’s heart loses all ties with the physical world.[7]. Uways al Qarani, from Yemen, was subject to the prophetic compliment of the Messenger of Allah, and benefited from his spirit, even though he never saw him. On account of this, in tasawwuf, a person who does not physically see their perfect guide but benefits from their spirit and blessings in the spiritual realm is called ‘Uwaysi’ and this method is called ‘the method of Uways’.

Ubaydullah Ahrar said:“Before Islam there was a group of righteous people who would set up of spiritual assemblies, without using language, and communicate with each other. They were called Burhiyan. From the time of the appearance of the religion of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), people with these traits began to be known as Uways”.

Burhiyan means to be connected to Burh-i Aswad. According to narrations, Burh-i Aswad was a black slave who had reached the state of muhabbatullah in the time of the prophet Musa. He was the equivalent of Uways al Qarani in the time of the Bani Israil. (Rashahat, p. 127)

[8]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 41-42; Parsa, Qudsiyya, p. 8-10, 14; Abu al Qasim, al Risalatu al Bahaiyya, vr. 13b-14b; Muhammad Bakir, Makamat, p. 11-12; Muhammad Qadi, Silsilat al Arifin, vr. 43b-44b; Ali Asgar Mu‘iniyan, “Aya Khwaja Bahauddin Muhammad Naqshiband-i Bukhari al Majzuban-i Salikast”, Gevher, II/8 (1353 hş./1974), p. 740-742.[9]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 43; Abu al Qasim, ibid, vr. 15a-b; Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 14.

[10]. Muhammed Bakir, ibid, p. 41; Rashahat, p. 139.[11]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 53.[12]. Jami, Nafahat, p. 387-388.[13]. Abu al Qasim, ibid, vr. 42a; Jami, Nafahat, p. 387; Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 34; Rashahat, p. 121-122.[14]. Abu al Qasim, ibid, vr. 123a, 104a, 108a-109a, 127b, 130b, 131a; Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 141, 158, 173.[15]. Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 157-158.[16]. See Abu al Qasim, ibid, vr. 75a-b; Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 79-81.[17]. See Abu al Qasim, ibid, vr. vr. 62b; Rashahat p. 113; Hani al Hadaiq, p. 404.[18]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 194; Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 36; Rashahat, p. 122.[19]. Rashahat, p. 473.[20]. Daylami, Musnad al Firdaws, III, 107/4062.[21]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 63.[22]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 64; Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 37, 112, 138; Rashahat, p. 159, 184.[23]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 65, 67.[24]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 84.[25]. Heyet, Encyclopaedia of Awliya, III, 441.[26]. Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 70.[27]. We should take note of the following matter: These states and others seen in Shah Naqshiband and other ahl ul ullah are the states of discernment, insight and unveilings reached by them on account of the state of their heart.

Consequently for a person who has not reached such a state to make similar comments seeing themselves in his station, is completely wrong. One should shun such highly veiled words which are mixed with riya. Otherwise those who superficially imitate the words of stations that they have not reached will meet with spiritual harm.

[28]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 64-65; Rashahat, p. 513.[29]. Rashahat, p. 513.[30]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 44.[31]. See Anisu al Talibin, p.  52; Rashahat, p. 118; Mawlana Shihabaddin, Agahi-yi Sayyid Amir Kulal, p. 34-36.[32]. Anisual Talibin, p. 277-278.[33]. Jami, Nafahat, p. 539.[34]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 278-279.[35]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 106.[36]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 38, 54, 57, 77-113, 249-250; Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 168.[37]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 88.[38]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 26.[39]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 88; Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 57.[40]. Sulami, Haqaiqu al Tafsir, [Hud, 12]; Anisu al Talibin, p. 88.[41]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 112; Abu al Qasim, ibid, vr. 58a.[42]. Ahmad Qasani, Adabu al Saliqin, vr. 58a.[43]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 156.[44]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 103.[45]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 88.[46]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 64, 89-90, 93, 188, 198, 249, 277; Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 58.[47]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 261.[48]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 19.[49]. Ahmad, IV, 158.[50]. Yaqub Charkhi, Risale-i Unsiyya [in Ney-Name], p. 116.[51]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 40.[52]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 108.[53].Yaqub Charkhi, ibid, p. 95.[54]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 46.[55]. Anisu al Talibin, p.  47.[56]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 48.[57]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 80.[58]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 209.[59]. Rashahat, p. 139.[60]. Rashahat, p. 175-176.[61]. Parsa, Subhbah, p. 68-69.[62]. Anisu al Talibin, p.  20.[63]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 64.[64]. See. Anisu al Talibin, p. 49-50; Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 17-18.[65]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 52; Rashahat, p. 121.[66]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 70.[67]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 71; Abu al Qasim, ibid, vr. 46b; Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 38.[68]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 198; Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 153.[69]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 145.[70]. Kavak, Divan Mawlana Khalid-i Baghdadi, bayt: 136-137.[71]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 100.[72]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 291.[73]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 90; Rashahat, p. 68; Abu al Qasim, ibid, vr. 52a, 62a.[74]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 90; Abu al Qasim, ibid, vr. 63b; Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 59.[75]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 292.[76]. Rashahat, p. 124.[77]. Spiritual states of unveilings can never define an absolute ruling. Imam Rabbani said: “There are great mistakes to be made in unveilings. Who can truly know what a person of unveiling sees or understands?” (Maktubat, volume 1, 256th letter). The real measure in this matter are the rulings that have been accepted by the ahl al sunnah wa al jama’. That is, one can rely on such unveilings if they are in accordance with these rulings and if not, then one does not give them any worth.[78]. Tirmidhi, Qiyama, 26/2460.[79]. See. Anisu al Talibin, p. 293; Hani, al Hadaiq, p. 435.[80]. See Yaqub Charkhi, ibid, p. 93-94; Anisu al Talibin, p. 293.[81]. Shirazi, Taraiqu al Haqaia, III, 687.[82]. Abdullah Dahlawi, Makatib-i Sharifa, p. 232, no: 119.[83]. Rashahat, p. 126.[84]. Rashahat, p. 130.[85]. Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 62.[86]. Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 78.[87]. Muhammad Bakir, ibid, p. 68.[88]. Yaqub Charkhi, ibid, p. 104.[89]. Yaqub Charkhi, ibid, p. 97.[90]. Imam Rabbani, Maktubat, II, 200, no: 272.[91]. Anisu al Talibin p. 72.[92]. Anisu al Talibin p. 78.[93]. Parsa, Suhbah, p. 36.[94]. Parsa, Suhbah, p. 49.[95]. Heyet, Encyclopaedia of Awliya, III, 445.[96]. Yaqub Charkhi, ibid, p. 115.[97]. Anisu al Talibin, p. 90.[98]. Anisu al Talibin p.  97.[99]. Anisu al Talibin p. 67.[100]. Rashahat, p. 165.

Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş,The Golden Chain of Transmission Masters of the Naqshinandi Way, Erkam Publications

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