Who is Muhammad Baqi Billah?

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Who is Muhammad Baqi Billah? What kind of person Muhammad Baqi Billah? When did Muhammad Baqi Billah live?

Muhammad Baqi Billah [1564 – 1603]

Muhammad Baqi Billah (may Allah have mercy on him) was born in the hijri year 971 in Kabul[1].  He began to study at a young age at the foot of his teacher, Mawlana Sadiq Hilwahi. Then he went to Samarkand together with his teacher to continue his studies in the madrasahs there.

Baqi Billah benefited from the company of many of the Sufis. He dedicated himself completely to tasawwuf and to reading its works. He received his ijaza from many tariqahs. He saw himself as a disciple of Bahauddin Naqshiband in his dream. This dream increased his connection with the Naqshibandiyya even more[2]. A short time later he saw Ubaydullah Ahrar in his dream. Taking his advice he aligned himself with Khwajagi Muhammad Imkenegi[3] who spent three days in seclusion with him. After this time spent conversing, Khawaji Imkenegi saw that he had reached a state of spiritual perfection. He gave him his ijaza and advised him to go to India to guide the people there.

Since he did not consider himself worthy of this elevated duty, Muhammad Baqi Billah did not want to accept it. He then performed the prayer of istikhara on the advice of his shaykh. In his dream, he saw a parrot perched on a branch and thought to himself: “If this parrot comes down from the branch and lands on my hand, then this trip to India will be the means of much good”. As he was thinking such, the parrot flew down and landed on his hand. He dribbled his saliva into the beak of the parrot and the parrot began to speak and placed sugar in the mouth of Baqi Billah. When he awoke he related his dream to his shaykh. Khwajagi said:

“The parrot is a bird from India, so go there immediately. With the blessing of your being there, a great saint will appear who will proclaim the truth, and blessings will reach us through him”[4].

Accepting the advice of his Shaykh he went to India and spent a year in Lahore. He then set up a Sufi lodge in Firuzabad in Delhi and continued to guide people from there[5].

At that time Imam Rabbani (may Allah have mercy on him) had arrived in Delhi. On the advice of his friend Mawlana Hasan Kashmiri, he went to see Baqi Billah. Baqi Billah immediately recognised the great potential within him and despite him never suggesting to anyone that they become his disciple, he requested that he align himself with him and stay for a while in his lodge and in his company. Imam Rabbani accepted and aligned himself with the Naqshibandiyya.

A short time later Baqi Billah gave Imam Rabbani his ijaza to guide the people and he began to refer his students to him.

He called each of them, one by one, and bade them farewell and then sent them to Imam Rabbani[6].

His Virtues

Muhammad Baqi Billah was extremely devoted to the commands and prohibitions of Islam. He would frequently turn to the pious faqihs. He gave great importance to lawful provision, in fact he even desired that the one cooking a meal should be in a state of ihsan during its preparation, that is, he should be in a state of awareness of the presence of Allah, and not heedless.

He shunned ostentation and strove to hide his miracles. Whenever an ill person was brought to him, he cured him by the permission of Allah but in order to hide this wonder-working of his, he would look in the books of medicine as if he was treating the patient using these[7].

Muhammad Baqi Billah was extremely kind and compassionate towards other human beings and animals. When there was a famine in Lahore he said to those who brought him his meal:

“It is not apt for us to eat whilst the people are dying from hunger”. He would then have the food sent to the poor[8].

He made great efforts so that his disciples could advance spiritually. Imam Rabbani says about this matter:

“…During our teacher’s talks, the seekers would receive such benefits that could not be obtained even through difficult acts of abstention and striving…”[9]

His Humility

Khwaja Baqi Billah (may Allah have mercy on him) was extremely humble and gentle. He would try to hide his elevated state from the people and did not consider himself worthy of the state of guiding others. He would put forth many excuses to those seekers who came to benefit from him:

“This poor man before you is not as you think. Therefore go elsewhere. If you find a true guide, then come back and tell me so that I can go to him and serve him. Maybe then I can find a cure for the ails of my heart”.

Thus he would occupy himself with serving those who came to him and uniting their hearts, distancing himself from the claim of being a guide.

Overall he preferred silence and speaking little. He only spoke when he had to or when it was necessary to explain a subtle matter. Then he would explain clearly in order to enlighten the one he was addressing[10].

On his travels from Lahore to Delhi, without having gone one or two kilometres, he would often see a poor man and he would descend from his mount and put him on it and he himself would walk. He would cover his face with his turban so nobody would recognise him and see his generosity and act of selflessness. When he approached the city, he would get back on his mount in order to hide what he did[11].

He never saw himself above his friends or even the common people. A youth who lived in the house next to him used to drink alcohol and commit all manner of sins. One day his disciple, Husameddin Dahlawi, complained to the government officials about this young man. They then came and imprisoned him. When Baqi Billah learned of this, he called his disciple and told him that he was offended by this act of his. His disciple said:

“Master, that man is such a sinner, such a worthless person that I cannot enumerate all of his evils. He kept bringing harm to those around him”. Baqi sighed deeply and said:

“We never see ourselves being so superior to him so that we can censure him!” He then went to the rulers and requested that that youth be sent free. The youth then repented and became righteous.

The method of tasawwuf is to refrain from the hate of the sin carrying over to hate of the sinner and looking upon the sinner as being in need of a cure and of compassion like an injured bird. They need to be guided with a sweet tongue.

Baqi Billah was so affected with having a broken heart and seeing his own faults that if one of his disciples were to make a mistake he would say:

“This is a reflection of our own vile traits. The vileness in us is reflected in them. What can they do?” He would then immediately take account of himself and look to see whether there was any form of neglect on his own part.

If he saw a person openly act contrary to the commands of the religion, he would not directly and harshly warn them, but rather bring up the topic gently, using analogies and allegorical stories, not wanting to offend him. Since he did not consider himself superior or different to other people, he did not openly warn or advise them. Nobody would be censured by his blessed tongue or in his assemblies. Whenever there was someone in his presence who was thinking belittling thoughts about another Muslim, Baqi Billah would immediately sense this and begin to talk about that Muslim’s good qualities and praise him[12].

One time when he learned that he was being censured by certain people, he taught the student that brought him this news the following beautiful method of training:

“…Whenever we are attributed something bad or rebuked we immediately look to ourselves and find a vile trait of some sort. We see such signs as counsel. After you informed me of this news I found in myself a flaw and defect. I sought refuge in the grace of Allah. By His permission I will be freed of it also”[13].

One day, one of the righteous men sent a letter filled with desires and requests to one of his sincere students. This letter was presented to Muhammad Baqi Billah. In great humility he wrote the following on the back of that letter:

“Unfortunately there is no strength to act within this powerless one. If Allah, Most High, bestows on me, this wretched man, who is mourning his days of the past, a few more days of life, he will pursue this aim with great effort and dedicate his life to this path. May Allah, Most High, allow me to submit my affairs of both worlds to His divine power and free me from all other occupations. Amen o Lord of the worlds…”

I request from this brother of mine, that he wipe his face over the ground in order that this desire of mine comes about and he prays to Allah for my desire to be fulfilled. Allah Most High immediately accepts prayers that are made in the absence of the other. My prayers are with you sir…”[14].

His Death

When Muhammad Baqi Billah (may Allah have mercy on him) was 40 years old he fell ill. During his last moments he gave his farewells to everyone with his glance and his students and friends began to weep. Muhammad Baqi Billah was smiling and looking at them in amazement as if to say:

“What sort of dervishes are you that you do not show contentment for fate and you weep?”

At that point one of his disciples said with a broken heart:

“O, Lord of the worlds”. Muhammad Baqi Billah immediately turned his blessed face that way. When one of the people there said:

“This act of turning of our teacher is due to his enthusiasm to hear the noble name of the True Beloved”, his blessed eyes filled with tears. The time for the afternoon prayer was approaching. He began to proclaim loudly “Allah, Allah…” and saying so, he finally passed away[15].

The date was the 25th of Jamadhi al akhir 1012 (November 30, 1603). He was buried in a place called Kademgah in Delhi[16], where the blessed footprint of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was found and Muhammad Baqi Billah very much desired to be buried there. Today this place is known as the Karim Nabi district[17].

Most of the poems and prose of Baqi Billah (may Allah have  mercy on him) and some of his letters written to his disciples were published in a work called Kulliyat Baqi Billah.

His Words of Wisdom

  • “If a person loves another person due to his qualities of being knowledgeable or brave, this love will end once those qualities are lost. But loving someone for His sake is not like this. This is to love another without basing this love on certain reasons or qualities. Just as this love does not increase when these qualities increase, it also does not decrease when they decrease”[18].
  • “Do not keep the company of or befriend those who do not have the desire for knowledge of Allah with their heart. Flee from scholars who use their knowledge for rank, position or to be praised as you would flee from a lion”[19].
  • “The parts and stations of marifah are many. The truth of the matter is to be upon the uprightness informed by our religion”[20].
  • “To fast is to take up one of the attributes of Allah, Most High, for Allah, Most High, is free of the need for eating and drinking”[21].
  • “The great men of this path were extremely hard working and refined. Their path is without a doubt the path of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him)”[22].
  • “For the people of contentment, trials are not misfortunes. They do not rebel in the face of these trials for the One who sent them was Allah, Most High”[23].
  • “Following the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and being upon the creed of the ahl al sunnah wa jama and bearing in one’s heart devotion and love for the great Khwajagan is better than all of the bounties of this world”[24].
  • “The essence of the matter is this: One’s heart should be with Allah and one’s body should be at work”[25].
  • “Beware that you do not become one who eats whatever he finds in heedlessness of whether it is lawful or unlawful”[26].
  • “Never let go of the end of the rope of hope”[27].
  • “A life of tasawwuf which does not have its basis in the commands of the Holy Qur’an or the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) will not allow a person to reach Allah”.
  • “One should strive to read the Holy Qur’an and understand it the way it was understood by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him)”.
  • “When the heart is filled with love of this world or its pleasures, one’s bond to Almighty Allah is weakened. This is why one should break the bonds to this world and keep the heart upright and turned towards Allah, Most High”.
  • “It is very important to always be in a state of ablution and eat from what is lawful. One should shun all sins, such as backbiting, spreading rumours, belittling the believers, hostility towards the Muslims, holding a grudge, becoming angry with or treating harshly those who are under one’s care. This is the basis of our path. A task carried out in the absence of these is not in harmony with the pleasure of Allah. If there is any fault or neglect in what we have just mentioned, then one should immediately repent and ask for forgiveness and hold on ever more tightly to the duties given to one by the great men of this path so that the mystery of the following verse can become apparent “Good actions eradicate bad actions” (Hud, 11:114)[28].

[1].  Badraddin Sirhindi, Hazarat al Quds, I, vr. 206b; Muhammad Ikram, Rud-i Kawthar, Lahore 1996, p. 191-192.[2]. Kishmi, Zubdat al Makamat, p. 10; Badraddin Sirhindi, ibid, I, vr. 210a. Due to this affiliation in his dream he was known as Uwaysi.[3]. Badraddin Sirhindi, ibid, I, vr. 208b-209a.[4]. Kishmi, ibid, p. 140-141; Badraddin Sirhindi, ibid, II, 43-44; Muhammad Murad, Nafaisu al Sanihat, p. 12.[5]. Kishmi, ibid, p. 14.[6]. Kishmi, Barakat, p. 378.[7]. Rushdi, Malfuzat, p. 28, 31; Dahlawi, Kalimatu al Sadiqin, p. 179; Kishmi, Zubdat al Makamat, p. 15, 24-26; Muhammad Fazlullah, Umdat al Makamat, p. 89.[8]. Kishmi, ibid, p. 19-21.[9]. Imam Rabbani, Mukashafat-i Ghabiyya, 5th part.[10]. Kishmi, Barakat, p. 23, 37; Abu al-Hasan an Nadwi, Imam Rabbani, p. 143.[11]. Kishmi, Barakat, p. 29-30.[12]. Kishmi, Barakat, p.  31-32; Abu al Hasan an Nadwi, ibid, p. 144.[13]. Kishmi, Barakat, p. 62.[14]. Kishmi, Barakat, p. 37.[15]. Kishmi, Barakat, p. 43.[16]. Rushdi, Malfuzat, p. 65; Dahlawi, ibid, p. 162-3; Kishmi, Zubdat al Makamat, p. 31-33.[17]. Muhammad Murad, ibid, p. 18; Kawthari, Irgamu al Marid, p. 69; Necdet Tosun, Bahauddin Naqshiband, p. 202; Cebecioğlu, “Muhammed Bâkì Billâh-i Kabulî”, Allah Dostları, Şule Yay., İstanbul 1995, VIII, 191.[18]. Dahlawi, ibid, p. 168, 169.[19]. Encyclopaedia of Awliya, VIII, 359.[20]. Encyclopaedia of Awliya, VIII, 360.[21]. Encyclopaedia of Awliya, VIII, 360.[22]. Encyclopaedia of Awliya, VIII, 360.[23]. Encyclopaedia of Awliya, VIII, 360.[24]. Encyclopaedia of Awliya, VIII, 360.[25]. Encyclopaedia of Awliya, VIII, 360.[26]. Encyclopaedia of Awliya, VIII, 360.[27]. Encyclopaedia of Awliya, VIII, 361.[28]. Encyclopaedia of Awliya, VIII, 359.

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

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