The Establishment of the Golden Chain


As previously mentioned, the true friends of Allah, the Perfect Guides, are the heirs of the prophets who continue the prophetic duty of spiritual training, cleansing of the heart and purification of the nafs. Their greatest source of prosperity and blessings is the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him)who, with the blessed life that he lived was like a living Qur’an.

The Holy Qur’an states:

‘Say (o My Messenger), ‘Anyone who is the enemy of Jibril should know that it was he who brought it down upon your heart, by Allah’s authority, confirming what came before, and as guidance and good news for the believers’ (Baqara, 2:97).

That is, having been revealed to the heart of the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), the Qur’an was reflected in his every state; and etched itself in his words, his actions, his conscience and his consciousness, that is into every atom of his being.

Thus, the entire life of the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) manifests itself as a living exposition of the Qur’an. Almighty Allah displayed the divine truths and virtues in his model personality.

Through the zuhd and taqwa that he inspired in his Companions, and under his spiritual guidance and training, he allowed them to live a life within the spiritual atmosphere of the Qur’an. In this way the hearts of the Companions were softened and made gentle, and they would become as if people of Paradise, living as if they could see with the eye of truth both Paradise and Hell. They were enveloped in strong spiritual vitality and unique state of mind[1].

Harith ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him), one of the Companions said:

“As I withdrew from the worldly and carnal pleasures of my nafs, my days passed in thirst and my nights became sleepless. It was as if I could clearly see the throne of my Lord. It was as if I could see the people of Paradise visiting each other and the people of Hell enemies to each other” (Haysami, Majmau al-Zawaid, I, 57).

With their state the Blessed Companions transferred these lofty feelings, excitement, love, passion, rapture and energy that they received from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him) to later generations and this state of the heart has reached us today through this chain. However since it is not possible to completely describe or explain with the limited nature of words, both written or spoken, this state of the heart and of the spirit, it was instead transferred from heart to heart.

In addition, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him) bestowed special and wise knowledge on certain persons of his Companions with elevated potential. This knowledge passed from generation to generation of certain individuals, with a high degree of spirituality and it has reached us today[2].

One day when Muadh ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him) mounted the animal of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him), the prophet Muhammad told him something but did not allow him to share it with everyone[3].

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:

“I memorised two pieces of knowledge from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him). One of them I shared with the people. If I had have spread the other I would have gotten my neck broken” (Bukhari, Ilim, 42)[4].

Without a doubt the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him) openly informed all of his Companions about the fundamental religious commands and prohibitions.

However it is not possible for every person to comprehend to the same degree certain secret knowledge of the metaphysical aspects of the religion. Just as human beings vary in their outer potential and capabilities so too they are not at the same level in the inner potential of their heart. That is, their level of comprehension and perception is not the same. This situation is true for the Companions also.

Thus, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him) shared some special knowledge with his Companions in accordance with their capacity and sometimes with their curiosity or interest. This knowledge was then passed on by the Companions to the Tabi’een, in accordance with their ability to perceive it, and then onto later generations. Moreover, this knowledge will continue to be transferred to those competent individuals able to comprehend it until the end of time.

The transfer of state and feelings between the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) took place on account of their outer and inner union (the oneness of their hearts) as a result of reflection. This is why Sufi training takes place more often through keeping company with the righteous, and listening to their discourse.

A sincere and hard-working murid can perceive the state of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him)and his Sunnah, by personally observing the state and lifestyle of his guide. As time passed, this flow between the hearts resulted in the natural establishment of a chain.

Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him) is the centre and peak of the outer and inner virtues in worship, human transactions and character. After spending 13 years in Mecca struggling to spread the truth of Islam and purify those around him he migrated to Madina. On the way there he was shown the cave of Thawr. Here certain phenomena were observed. This cave became like a school in which one could be enveloped in a kind of divine wisdom and in which one’s heart could open up.

The stay here lasted for three days and three nights. His friend and the most virtuous of all people after the prophets was Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with his). Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) served the prophet with great loyalty and devotion. In this time in which they were together, which no other person ever experienced, there occurred a transaction of the spirits between the two. In this transaction, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was honoured with becoming, in the words of the prophet, ‘the second of the two of which Allah is the third’[5].

The prophet said to his dear friend:

“…Do not grieve. Allah is surely with us.[6] In making this statement he disclosed the nature of the secret of being with Allah. The Sufis consider this moment, that is the state of the heart finding peace and contentment with Allah, as being the beginning of the inculcation of khafi dhikr, that is secret or private dhikr.

It was through the blessing of such transactions of the heart that Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was able to perceive with a deep capacity, the words, actions, states and behaviour of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him), that many of the other Companions were incapable of perceiving. As a result Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), the prophet’s inner and outer heir, became the first link after the Messenger of Allah, in the Golden Chain that would continue until the end of time.

After that, Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) became the haven of that lofty wisdom and sea of mystery. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him)taught ‘jahri dhikr’ to Ali as well as to some other of the Companions.[7] In time, the chains of those Companions came to an end. Only the chains that go back to Abu Bakr and to Ali have continued until our day. From time to time these too have diverged into different branches.

In this book we will be concerned with only one of the Noble Chains that has reached us today from the Naqshi Khalidi branch of the tariqat.

Yusuf Hamdani (may Allah have mercy on him) has said: 

“The inculcation of dhikr first occurred in the heart of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) and found its form there. Then it passed onto Salman Farisi (may Allah be pleased with him), then to Ja’far Sadiq (may Allah have mercy on him), then to Bayazid Bistami (ay Allah’s mercy be upon him), then to Abu al-Hasan Harakani (may Allah have mercy on him) and then to the great shaykh Abu Ali Farmadi (may Allah have mercy on him) and from there it reached me[8].

Salah ibn Mubarak Bukhari, who was present in the talks of Bahauddin Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him) lists Qasim ibn Muhammad (may Allah have mercy on him) between Ja’far Sadiq and Salman Farisi[9].

Some of the friends of Allah, at the head of which is Bahauddin Naqshiband (may Allah have mercy on him), have, in addition to benefitting from their own shaykhs, also benefitted from the state of being an uwaysi, that is, benefitting from the spirits of those shaykhs who lived before them.

Throughout history many books have been written to identify the chains in tasawwuf and these have been called ‘silsile’i name’. Those that have included in them a friend of Allah from the ahl al-bayt have, out of respect and reverence, been called ‘silsilat al-dhahab’ or Golden Chain.

[1]. See Muslim, Tawbah, 12; Tirmidhi, Jannah, 2/2526.

[2]. See Abu al-Qasim Muhammad ibn Mas’ud al-Bukhari, al-Risalat al-Bahaiyya, Kayseri Rashid Efendi Library,  pub. 1110, issue. 22b.

[3]. See Bukhari, Ilim, 49.

[4]. When Abu Ayyub al-Ansari was about to pass away he said: “I hid something that I heard from the Messenger of Allah from you” and then he told those around him” (Muslim, Tawbah, 9)

Abdullah ibn Ja’far (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:

“One day the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him) mounted me on his animal and told me a secret. I will never tell that secret to any one” (Muslim, Hayz, 79).

Anas (MAY Allah be pleased with) narrates:

“…One day I was late in returning to my mother. When I arrived she asked me:

“Why are you late?” I replied:

“The Messenger of Allah sent me to do some chore”. My mother asked me:

“What was it?” I replied:

“It is a secret of the Messenger of Allah”. My mother then said:

“In that case keep the secret of the Messenger of Allah”.

Sabit, who narrated this hadith said:

“Anas said to me: If I were ever to tell that secret to someone I would tell it to you o Sabit” (Ahmad,

III, 195).

The special knowledge that was given to Huzayfa, his confidante, by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him) can also be analysed. (See Bukhari, Manakib, 25, (IV, 178); Muslim, Fitan, 28; Ibn Majah, Fitan, 26).

In some cases the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him) never disclosed certain information to anyone and said:

“If you knew what I knew you would weep much and laugh little”  (Bukhari, Qusuf, 2; Muslim, Salat, 112).

[5]. See Bukhari, Tafsir, 9/9; Muslim, Fadail al-Sahaba, 1.

[6]. Tawbah, 9:40.

[7]. See Ahmad, IV, 124.

[8]. Abdulkhaliq Ghujdawani, Risale-i Sahibiyya (Makamat-i Yusuf  Hamdani), (pub. Said Nafisi), Farhang Iran-zemin, I/1 (1332 hijri solar.,/1953), p. 81.

[9]. Salahaddin ibn Mubarak al-Bukhari, ibid, p. 60.

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

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