'One of the Four Great Spiritual Orders'
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The Naqshbandiya Tariqah is named after Hadrat Baha al-Din Naqshband (Radi Allahu Ta'ala anhu) (d. 791/1389)and is a tariqah that is widely active throughout the world today. It is described as the 'Mother of all Tariqah's' by Shaykh Ahmad al-Faruqi al-Sirhindi (Rehmatullahi alaih) and it also has a very strong presence on the Web.
Together with the Spiritual Order's of the Qadiriya, Chistiya and Suhrawardiya, they are considered as the four main Silsila's of the Ahl as-Sunnah wa'l Jama'at.
The designation of the Naqshbandi Golden Chain has changed from century to century. From the time of Hadrat Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (radi Allahu ta'ala anhu) to the time of Hadrat Bayazid al-Bistami (radi Allahu ta'ala anhu) it was called as-Siddiqiyya. From the time of Hadrat Bayazid al-Bistami (radi Allahu ta'ala anhu) to the time of Sayyadina Abdul Khaliq al-Ghujdawani (radi Allahu anhu) it was called at-Tayfuriyya. From the time of Sayyadina 'Abdul Khaliq al-Ghujdawan (radi Allahu anhu) to the time of Hadrat Shah Naqshband (radi Allahu ta'ala anhu) it was called the Khwajaganiyya. From the time of Hadrat Shah Naqshband (radi Allahu ta'ala anhu) through the time of Sayyadina Ubaidullah al-Ahrar (radi Allahu
anhu) and Sayyidina Ahmad Faruqi (radi Allahu anhu), it was called Naqshbandiyya.
Naqshbandiyya means to "tie the Naqsh very well." The Naqsh is the perfect engraving of Allah's Name in the heart of the murid. From the time of Sayyadina Ahmad al-Faruqi (radi Allahu anhu) to the time of Shaykh Khalid al-Baghdadi (radi Allahu anhu) it was called Naqshbandi-Mujaddidiyya. From the time of Sayyidina Khalid al-Baghdadi (radi Allahu anhu) until the time of Sayyadina Shaykh Ismail Shirwani (radi Allahu anhu) it was called the Naqshbandiyya-Khalidiyya. Today there is the Aslamiya, Haqqaniya amongst others who are keeping the spiritual chain going.
The most distinguished Naqshbandi Way is a school of thought and practice that stood in the vanguard of those groups which disseminated truth and fought against evil and injustice, especially in Central Asia and India in the past, in China and the Soviet Union in modern times, and in Europe and North America today. Naqshbandi Shaykhs who took up political, social, educational and spiritual roles in their communities, acting according to the Noble Quran and the Sunnah of the Beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him).
The most distinguished Naqshbandiya Order is the way of the Noble Companions of the Beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him) and those who follow them. This Way consists of continuous worship in every action, both external and internal, with complete and perfect discipline according to the Sunnah of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him). It consists in maintaining the highest level of conduct and leaving absolutely all innovations and all free interpretations in public customs and private behavior. It consists in keeping awareness of the Presence of God, Almighty and Exalted, on the way to self-effacement and complete experience of the Divine Presence. It is the Way of complete reflection of the highest degree of perfection. It is the Way of sanctifying the self by means of the most difficult struggle, the struggle against the self. It begins where the other orders end, in the attraction of complete Divine Love, which was granted to the first friend of the Most Beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him), Sayyadina Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (Radi Allahu Ta'ala anhu).
Historically speaking, the Naqshbandi tariqat can be traced back to the first of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, Sayyadina Hadrat Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu), who succeeds the Beloved Prophet (Salla Allahu Ta'ala 'alayhi wa aalihi wa Sallam) in his knowledge and in his role of guiding the Muslim community. Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) said in the Noble Qur'an al-kareem "He was the second of two in the cave, and he said to his friend: 'do not be sad, for God is with us'" [9:40]. Of him the Beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, "If I had taken to myself a beloved friend, I would have taken Abu Bakr as my beloved friend; but he is my brother and my companion."
What distinguishes the Naqshbandi school from other Sufi orders was the fact that it took its foundations and principles from the teachings and example of six bright stars in the firmament of the Beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him). These great figures were: Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, Salman al-Farisi, Ja'far as-Sadiq, Bayazid Tayfur al-Bistami, Abdul Khaliq al-Ghujdawani, and Muhammad Baha'uddin Uwaysi al-Bukhari, known as Shah Naqshband--the eponymous Imam of the tariqat (May Allah Bless them and keep them in peace).
Behind the word "Naqshband" stand two ideas: naqsh which means "engraving" and suggests engraving the name of Allah in the heart, and band which means "bond" and indicates the link between the individual and his Creator. This means that the Naqshbandi follower has to practice his prayers and obligations according to the Noble Qur'an al-kareem and the Sunnah of the Most Beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him) and to keep the presence and love of Allah alive in his heart through a personal experience of the link between himself and his Lord.
Besides Sayyadina Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu), who are these stars in the firmament of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him) ? One of them was Hadrat Salman al-Farisi (Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu). His origin was Isfahan in Persia and he was the one who advised the Muslims to dig a trench in the battle of Ahzab. After the Muslims seized al-Mada'in, the capital city of Persia, he was made Prince and governor of that city and remained there until his death.
Another star was Hadrat Ja'far as-Sadiq(Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu). A descendant of the Beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him) on his father's side and of Hadrat Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu) on his mother's, he rejected all positions of honour in favour of retreat and spiritual learning and practice. He was called "The Inheritor of the Prophetic Station (Maqam an-Nubuwwa) and the Inheritor of the Truthful Station (Maqam as-Siddiqiyya).
The oldest recorded occurrence of the term safa was in reference to his student, Jabir ibn ayyan, in the middle of the second Hijri century. He was a mufassir al-Qur'an or master in exegesis, a scholar of hadith, and one of the greatest mujtahids (qualified to give legal decisions) in Madinah. His Tafsir is partially preserved in Sulami's haqa'iq at-tafsir. Layth ibn Sa'd, one of the most reliable transmitters of prophetic traditions, witnessed Hadrat Ja'far's (Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu) miraculous powers as the latter was able to ask for anything, and God would grant it to him on the spot.
Another star was Hadrat Bayazid Tayfur al-Bistami (Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu) whose grandfather was a Zoroastrian. Bayazid made a detailed study of the statutes of Islamic law (sharica) and practiced a strict regimen of self-denial. All his life he was assiduous in the practice of his religious obligations. He urged his students (murids) to put their efforts in the hands of God and he encouraged them to accept a sincere and pure doctrine of tawhid, knowledge of the Oneness of God. This doctrine, he said, imposes five obligations on the sincere:
Bayazid (Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu), said that the ultimate goal of the Sufis is to know God in this world, to reach His Divine Presence, and to see Him in the Hereafter. To that effect he added: "There are special servants of Allah who, if Allah veiled them from His vision in Paradise, would have implored Him to bring them out of Paradise as the inhabitants of the Fire implore Him to escape from Hell."
Yet another star in the firmament of the Beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him) was 'Abdul Khaliq al-Ghujdawani (Radi Allahu anhu), who was born in the village of Ghujdawan, near Bukhara in present-day Uzbekistan. He was raised and buried there. He studied al-Qur'an and the Islamic sciences of both external and internal knowledge until he reached a high station of purity. He then traveled to Damascus where he established a school from which many students graduated and went on to become masters of fiqh and hadith as well as spirituality in their time, both in the regions of Central Asia and in the Middle East.
'Abdul Khaliq (Radi Allahu anhu), continued the work of his predecessors by formulating the dhikr (remembrance of God) passed down from the Beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him) according to the Sunnah. In his letters he set down the code of conduct (adab) that the students of the Naqshbandiyya were expected to follow.
In this constellation, we come finally to Muhammad Bahauddan Uways al-Bukhari (Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu), known as Shah Naqshband, the Imam of the Naqshbandi Tariqat without peer. He was born in the year 1317 C.E. in the village of Qasr al-'arifan, near Bukhara. After he mastered the shari'ah sciences at the tender age of 18, he kept company with the Shaykh Muhammad Baba as-Samasi (Radi Allahu anhu), who was an authority in hadith in Central Asia. After the latter's death, he followed Shaykh Amir Kulal (Radi Allahu anhu) who continued and perfected his training in the external and the internal knowledge.
The students of Shaykh Amir Kulal (Radi Allahu anhu) used to make dhikr aloud when sitting together in association, and silent dhikr when alone. Hadrat Shah Naqshband (Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu), however, although he never criticized nor objected to the loud dhikr, preferred the silent dhikr. Concerning this he says, "There are two methods of dhikr; one is silent and one is loud. I chose the silent one because it is stronger and therefore more preferable." The silent dhikr thus became the distinguishing feature of the Naqshbandiyya among other tariqats.
Shah Naqshband (Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu) performed Hajj (Pilgrimage) three times, after which he resided in Merv and Bukhara. Towards the end of his life he went back to settle in his native city of Qasr al-'Arifan. His teachings became quoted everywhere and his name was on every tongue. Visitors from far and wide came to see him and to seek his advice. They received teaching in his school and mosque, a complex which at one time accommodated more than five thousand people. This school is the largest Islamic center of learning in Central Asia and still exists in our day. It was recently renovated and reopened after surviving seventy years of Communist rule.
Shah Naqshband's (Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu) teachings changed the hearts of seekers from darkness to light. He continued to teach his students the knowledge of the Oneness of God in which his precedessors had specialized, emphasizing the realization of the state of ihsan (excellence) for his followers according to the hadith of the Beloved Prophet (Salla Allahu Ta'ala 'alyhi wa Sallam), "Ihsan is to worship God as if you see Him."
When Shah Naqshband (Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu) died he was buried in his garden as he requested. The succeeding Kings of Bukhara took care of his school and mosque, expanding them and increasing their religious endowments (awqaf).
Succeeding Shaykhs of the Naqshbandi Tariqat wrote many biographies of Shah Naqshband (Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu). Among them are Mascud al-Bukhari and Sharif al-Jarjani, who composed the Awrad Baha' uddan which describes him and his life's works including his fatawa (legal decisions). Shaykh Muhammad Parsa, who died in Madinah in 822 H. (1419 C.E.) wrote Risala Qudsiyya in which he talks of Shah Naqshband's (Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu) life, his virtues, and his teachings.
Shah Naqshband's (Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu) literary legacy included many books. Among them are Awrad an-Naqshbandiyyah, the Devotions of Shah Naqshband. Another book is Tanbih al-Ghafilin. A third book is Maslakul Anwar. A fourth is Hadiyyatu-s-Salikan wa Tuhfat at-Talibin. He left many noble expressions praising the Beloved Prophet (Salla Allahu Ta'ala 'alyhi wa Sallam) and he wrote many legal rulings. One of his opinions was that all the different acts and kinds of worship, whether obligatory or voluntary, were permitted for the seeker in order to reach reality. Prayer, fasting, zakat (paying the poor-tax), mujahadat (striving) and zuhd (self-denial) were emphasized as ways to reach Allah Almighty.
Shah Naqshband (Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu) built his school on the renewal of the teachings of the Islamic religion. He insisted on the necessity of keeping the Qur'an al-kareem and the teachings of the Sunnah. When they asked him, "What are the requirements of one who follows your way?" he said, "To follow the Sunnah of the Beloved Prophet (Salla Allahu Ta'ala 'alyhi wa Sallam)." He continued saying: "Our way is a rare one. It keeps the cUrwat ul-Wuthqa, the Unbreakable Bond, and it asks nothing else of its followers but to take hold of the Pure Sunnah of the Prophet (s) and follow the way of the Sahaba (Companions of the Beloved Prophet (Salla Allahu Ta'ala 'alyhi wa Sallam) in their ijtihad (efforts for Allah).
"The Naqshbandi School is the easiest and simplest way for the student to understand tawhid. It urges its followers to seek a state of complete worship of Allah both publicly and privately by keeping the complete code of conduct of the Prophetic Sunnah. It encourages people to keep to the strictest modes of worship ('azima) and to abandon exemptions (rukhsa). It is also free from all innovations and deviations. It does not demand of its followers perpetual hunger or wakefulness. That is how the Naqshbandiyya has managed to remain free from the excesses of the ignorant and the charlatans (mushacwazan). In sum we say that our way is the mother of all tariqats and the guardian of all spiritual trusts. It is the safest, wisest, and clearest way. It is the purest drinking-station, the most distilled essence. The Naqshbandiyya is innocent from any attack because it keeps the sunnah of the beloved Beloved Prophet (Salla Allahu Ta'ala 'alyhi wa Sallam)."
This is a presentation to the general public, by order of Shaykh Muhammad Nazim al-Haqqani, fortieth in that Golden Chain of the Naqshbandi Masters, an all-too-brief book filled with the light of these Pure Masters, their aphorisms, their teachings, their way of life, and their examplary saintliness. We hope that it will bring the reader a taste of the lives of these Shaykhs, who light our way to the knowledge of Reality and Truth, to the Love of the Most Beloved Prophet (Salla Allahu Ta'ala 'alyhi wa Sallam), and to the ultimate goal of all, which is to reach the Divine Presence of our Creator.
"My work is to weep at night in remembering my Beloved;
my sleep is to remain absorbed in thoughts of my Beloved."
"In vain do eyes stay awake if not to behold You.
In vain do tears flow for another than You."
"The lovers die at every moment,
for their dying is not of one kind.
The lover has received two hundred spirits
from the Spirit of Guidance,
and he sacrifices them all at every instant.
For every spirit he receives ten in return
--read the Qur'an al-kareem: Ten the like of it [6:160]."