Ḥājī Khair Muḥammad ʿAbbāsī Naqshbandī Bakhshī Ṭāhirī (d. 2011)

Ḥaḍrat Ḥājī Khair Muḥammad ʿAbbāsī Naqshbandī Bakhshī Ṭāhirī raḥmatu’llāhi ʿalayhi was a venerable saint and Ṣūfī of the Naqshbandī Mujaddidī Order in Hyderabad, Sindh, Pakistan.

Haji Khair Muhammad Abbasi

Haji Khair Muhammad Abbasi

He was born in a town called Abrāl, Thatta district, Sindh, Pakistan. At young age, he was initiated into the Naqshbandī Order by Shaykh ʿAbd al-Ghaffār Faḍlī Naqshbandī Mujaddidī, mostly renowned as Pīr Mitthā, of Raḥmatpur, Lārkānū, Sindh. Lārkānū is in Northern Sindh, so Ḥājī Khair Muḥammad often visited and stayed with his shaykh from his home town Abrāl, situated in Southern Sindh. He received spiritual training and blessings from his shaykh for some years.

His first encounter with the Naqshbandī Sufism was his meeting with a renowned deputy of his shaykh, named Ḥājī Muḥammad ʿAlī Bozdār, who passed through his village while preaching the spiritual path in the rural Sindh. Ḥājī Bozdār was himself a renowned saint who spread his masters’ brotherhood into far flung areas of Southern Sindh, to places where no other preacher had ever gone before. He was a simplistic man, yet full of spiritual powers. Ḥājī Bozdār took him to his shaykh, and he soon became one of the beloved disciples of his shaykh Pīr Mitthā.

A strange miracle

He was engaged to his cousin. However, his uncle refused to marry his daughter with him because of him becoming a follower of Pīr Mitthā. Being sad and agitated, he left for Lārkānū and reached there by train, considering not to return to his home town ever again. The very next day, his uncle arrived there, seemingly in a rush, and asked him to return and marry his daughter. When asked why had he travelled so far in such a short time, his uncle told that the day you left, I was asleep in the night that Pīr Mitthā came to me (in dream). He started beating me with a stick very harshly, and said: Why have you refused to marry your daughter with my disciple? When I woke up, all my body was swollen and signs of beating were evident all over it. I could not even lie down and felt pain in all the limbs. So I rushed to you and did not sleep on my way, fearing to be beaten up again.

After the death of his shaykh in December 1964, he renewed his initiation with his shaykh’s chief deputy and successor Khwāja Allāh-Bakhsh ʿAbbāsī Ghaffārī and continued his spiritual journey. Because of his extraordinary spiritual aptitude, he was soon made a deputy by the shaykh (approximately in 1967). Continue reading

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Shaykh Shahab ad-Din Dimyati Shafii Misri

The great scholar, jurist, author, Qārī and master of the Naqshbandī Order, Shaykh Shahāb ad-Dīn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad Dimyāṭī Shāfiʿī Miṣrī, popular as Bannā, was probably the first shaykh of the Naqshbandī Path in Egypt.

He was born in the town of Dimyāṭ, Egypt, where he learned Islamic sciences from the eminent scholars and memorized the Holy Qurʾān. He traveled to Cairo where he learned from many distinguished scholars there.

Then he traveled to the Holy Cities and performed Ḥajj. He met many scholars there and learned from them as well. These include Shaykh Ibrāhīm ibn Ḥasan al-Shahrazūrī al-Kūrānī Shāfiʿī (1101H).

In his second journey to Makkah, he performed the Ḥajj again, and then traveled on to Yemen, where he met a great Naqshbandī master named Shaykh Abu’l-Wafā Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿIjīl al-Yamanī (983-1074H), who taught him the Spiritual Path of the Naqshbandī Order and authorized him as deputy. Ibn ʿIjīl was probably a deputy of Shaykh Tāj ad-Dīn ʿUthmānī Dahlawī, deputy of Khwāja Bāqī Billāh Dahlawī. Continue reading

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Sharīf Ismāʿīl Sinnārī Ḥusaynī Mālikī Sūdānī

Sharīf Sayyid Ismāʿīl ibn Taqādim Jaʿfarī Sinnārī Mālikī Naqshbandī Mujaddidī was the first master who brought the Naqshbandī Order into Sudan and from there it also spread to Egypt.

He was born 1216 AH in the region of Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan.

He traveled to Jerusalem where he met Sayyid Aḥmad Mullā al-Kurdī in 1246 AH, who was a deputy of Shāh Ghulām ʿAlī Dahlawī. Sayyid Aḥmad initiated him in the Order and taught him the first lessons of Laṭāʾf up to Laṭīfa Nafs.

Then he traveled to Makkah where he met Shaykh of the Ḥaram Mawlānā Muḥammad Jān Sulaymānī, also a deputy of Shāh Ghulām ʿAlī Dahlawī, who taught him the complete Mujaddidī Path and authorized him to teach the Spiritual Path to the seekers. He lived with Mawlānā Muḥammad Jān for two years, then he traveled to Madīnah, where he met the great master and successor Shāh Ghulām ʿAlī, Shāh Abū-Saʿīd Mujaddidī Fārūqī Dahlawī. He received the tawajjuhāt of all the spiritual stations again from Shāh Abū-Saʿīd and also received his deputyship in the Order. Continue reading

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Shaykh Uthman Jalandhari

Ḥaḍrat Shaykh ʿUthmān Jālandharī was one of the perfected deputies of Khwāja Bāqī Billāh Dahlawī quddisa-sirruhū.

Shaykh ʿUthmān is rather an obscure figure in the biographies of Khwāja Bāqī Billāh and other historical works. Ḥaḍrāt al-Quds and Zubdat al-Maqāmāt do not mention him among the deputies of the Khwāja.

Among his writings are his letters which were translated in Urdu by Mawlānā Muḥammad Ilāh-Dīn Ḥanafī Naqshbandī Mujaddidī and published in Lahore. The letters, published under the title Chahal Maktūb (forty letters), contains beautiful spiritual advices and admonitions and provide guidance to the new and old seekers alike.

Eight of the letters are written to Mirzā Bāqī Khān Beg who seems to be one of the his disciples and a government official associated with the king.

One letter is written to the Mughal emperor Shāhjahān, counseling him about maintaining justice and righteousness. Continue reading

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Pir Sayyid Muhammad Rashid Qadri Naqshbandi Sindhi (1171-1234 AH)

Ḥaḍrat Pīr Sayyid Muḥammad Rāshid Qādrī Naqshbandī Sindhī qaddas-Allāhu sirrahū (may Allah sanctify his secret) was one of the most celebrated Sufi masters in Sindh (now Pakistan). He was the founder of the Rāshidī Sufi order that spread to Sindh, Punjāb, Balochistān, Rājasthān, Gujarāt and eventually to many far and wide areas.

He is often known with his alias Pīr Roze Dhanī (Sindhi: روضي ڌڻي, Urdu: روضے دھنی), meaning “master of the shrine”.

He was a Sayyid, a descendant of the Master of Prophets ṣall-Allāhu ʿalaihi wa-sallam through Imām Mūsā al-Kāẓim. His father Sayyid Muḥammad Baqā Lakiyārī (1135-1198 AH) ibn Sayyid Imām Alī was a Sufi shaikh and a solitary dervish.

The tomb of Sayyid Muhammad Rashid Qadri Naqshbandi (right), and the mosque of the tomb (left)

The tomb of Sayyid Muhammad Rashid Qadri Naqshbandi (right), and the mosque of the tomb (left)

Sayyid Muḥammad Rāshid was born on 6 Ramaḍān 1171 AH (1758). He was educated in the prevalent curriculum of Persian and Arabic, and Islamic sciences including jurisprudence, Ḥadīth and Quranic Tafsīr. Among his teachers were his father, Ḥāfidh Muḥammad Akram, Ḥāfidh Zain ad-Dīn Mahesar, Makhdūm Ṭayyib Panhwar, Makhdūm Yār Muḥammad (Kotrī Kabīr), and Makhdūm Muḥammad Ārejwī (near Lārkānā). The latest had a connection of studentship going to Mawlānā ʿAbd al-Ḥakīm Siyālkotī, who is a renowned scholar and author.

The Sufi Path

During his studies, once his father visited him and his brother Sayyid Ghulām Murtaḍā when they were studying in Kotrī Kabīr, and initiated them in the Sufi Path. He engaged in the spiritual practices and soon traversed the Path. His father authorized him in both the Qādrī and the Naqshbandī orders, though his primary Path was in the Qādrī order. Continue reading

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The Noble Five (Aal al-Aba / Panjtan) and the Naqshbandi masters

Āl al-ʿabā (آل العبا) or Ahl al-Kisāʾ (اهل الكساء), in Persian/Urdu: Panjtan Pāk (پنجتن پاک) is a Islamic term, literally meaning the people of the cloak, that refers to the five purified and exalted souls that include the excellencies the Messenger of Allah ṣall-Allāhu ʿalaihi wa-sallam, Sayyidunā Imām ʿAlī al-Murtaḍā, Sayyidah Fātimah az-Zahrāʾ, and their two sons Imām Ḥasan and Imām Ḥusain raḍiyAllāhu ʿanhum.

Although the household of the Prophet includes many other dignitaries, these five figures are given special regards by virtue of the following Ḥadīth:

قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ خَرَجَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم غَدَاةً وَعَلَيْهِ مِرْطٌ مُرَحَّلٌ مِنْ شَعْرٍ أَسْوَدَ فَجَاءَ الْحَسَنُ بْنُ عَلِيٍّ فَأَدْخَلَهُ ثُمَّ جَاءَ الْحُسَيْنُ فَدَخَلَ مَعَهُ ثُمَّ جَاءَتْ فَاطِمَةُ فَأَدْخَلَهَا ثُمَّ جَاءَ عَلِيٌّ فَأَدْخَلَهُ ثُمَّ قَالَ ‏{‏ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا‏}

ʿAʾisha reported that Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) went out one norning wearing a striped cloak of the black camel’s hair that there came Ḥasan bin ʿAlī. He wrapped him under it; then came Ḥusain and he wrapped him under it along with the other one (Ḥasan). Then came Fatima and he took her under it, then came ʿAlī and he also took him under it and then said:
“Allah only desires to take away any uncleanliness from you, O people of the household, and purify you (thorough purifying).” [Ṣaḥīḥ al-Muslim, chapter on merits of Ahl al-Bayt]

There are other Ḥadīth as well in the Sunni literature that refer specifically to these five noble souls. Following Ḥadīth mentions their virtues.

عَنْ زَيْدِ بْنِ أَرْقَمَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ لِعَلِيٍّ وَفَاطِمَةَ وَالْحَسَنِ وَالْحُسَيْنِ ‏ “‏أَنَا حَرْبٌ لِمَنْ حَارَبْتُمْ وَسَلْمٌ لِمَنْ سَالَمْتُمْ”‏.‏

Narrated Zaid bin Arqam that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said to ʿAlī, Fātimah, Al-Ḥasan and Al-Ḥusain: “I am at war with whoever makes war with you, and peace for whoever makes peace with you.” [Jāmiʿ at-Tirmidhī, Kitāb al-Manāqib]

There are numerous other Ḥadīths about the merits of Ahl al-Bayt and specifically the four mentioned ones. However, this short article is about the devotion of the Naqshbandi masters to The Five, so below I present short epistles from history and teachings of the masters of this noble order.

Shah Naqshband and the Āl al-ʿAbā

The great Sufi master and founder of the Naqshbandī order, Sayyidunā Khwāja Bahāʾ ad-Dīn Naqshband al-Bukhārī quddisa sirruhū was a true lover  of these pure five souls. He has expressed his devotion to them in a number of verses in which he lauds and supplicates them and seeks their intermediation in the spiritual and material issues. Following verses show his utmost faithfulness to the Āl al-ʿAbā specifically.

يا رب بمحمد و علی و زهرا
يا رب بحسین و حسن و آل عبا
از لطف برآر حاجتم در دو سرا
بی منت مخلوق ما علی الاعلی

“O Lord! By the sake of Muḥammad and ʿAlī and Zahrā,
O Lord! By the sake of Ḥusain and Ḥasan, the people of the cloak,

By (your) grace, fulfill my needs in the two worlds,
Without (my) pleading to the creatures, (provide me) from the best of the best.” [3]

Continue reading

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Sayyid Adam Bannuri: a great wali in the Naqshbandi Order

Ḥaḍrat Sayyid Ādam Ḥusainī Bannūrī quddisa-sirruhū was one of the well known deputies of Imām Rabbānī Shaykh Aḥmad Fārūqī Sirhindī. His spiritual legacy still lives on in the form of many active branches of his Order spread across the world.

He first became a disciple of Ḥājī Khiḍr Afghān who was a deputy of Imān Rabbānī, and learned the dhikr from him. Later, by the permissionof Ḥājī Khiḍr, he entered the service of Imām Rabbānī and received tawwajuh and training in the Naqshbandi Order. Within months, he was granted deputyship and ordered to teach this noble Path to the new seekers.

He was known for his steadfastness on following the noble Sunnah and curbing the anti-Sunnah acts (Bidʿah). His generosity was unparalleled, and every poor and rich, young and old was offered equal free food at his place.

He had numerous followers and his spiritual order spread far and wide within his lifetime. According to Shaykh Badruddīn Sirhindī, he had approximately one hundred deputies and close to one hundred thousand disciples [2]. Later, he went for pilgrimage (Hajj) and visited the noble city of Madinah, where he was ordered by the Best of Creations, the Final Prophet ṣall-Allāhu ʿalaihi wa-sallam, to stay in that noble city. Thus he settled there, and died there on 13 Shawwāl 1054 AH and was buried very close to the tomb of Sayyidunā ʿUthmān al-Ghanī raḍiy-Allāhu ʿanhu, such that the shadow of the tomb would fall over his grave. [2]

A list of deputies of Sayyid Ādam Bannūrī follows.

  1. Sayyid Mīr ʿAlīmullāh (d. 1081 AH) [1]
  2. Shaykh Sulṭān [1]
  3. Ḥājī ʿAbdullāh Kohātī [1]
  4. Ḥājī Yār Muḥammad Pāīnī (near Kābul) [1]
  5. Shaykh Saʿdī Lāhorī [1]
  6. Ḥāfiẓ Saʿdullāh Wazīrābādī [1]
  7. Shaykh Ummīd Alī [1]
  8. Shaykh Nūr [1]
  9. Shaykh Fatiḥ Muḥammad [1]
  10. Shaykh ʿUthmān Shāhjahānpurī [1]
  11. Ḥājī Sharīf [1]
  12. Shaykh Bāyazīd [1]
  13. Khwāja Muḥammad Amīn Makkī [1]

Continue reading

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Muraqabah and tawajjuh

Murāqabah and tawajjuh [1]

In the pre-Mujaddidī Naqshbandī Order, tawajjuḥ (facing) and murāqabah (controlling) were nearly used as identical terms. ʿAlā al-Dīn al-ʿAṭṭār told his student ʿAbdullāh Imām-ī Iṣfahānī, that tawajjuh is an issue of the heart and that everyone experiences different unveilings/manifestations (ẕuhūrāt) according to their abilities. Then he mentioned five methods of tawajjuh:

  1. The seeker reflects about Allah, Him watching the seeker at every moment, so the seeker avoids all bad deeds with his limbs and even all kinds of bad thoughts.
  2. The seeker reflects about Allah, Him knowing everything occurring to the seeker’s heart and so the seeker protects his heart from all evil thoughts and all that which is not Allah.
  3. The seeker reflects about himself and the world as non-existent and ponders about Allah as the one and only real existence,
  4. The seeker reflects about the existence of everything which is inside and outside the cosmos and that all existence coming forth in both realms is in reality the existence of Allah himself.
  5. He only sees the Essence of only the real existing and nothing else. [2]

Aḥmad Kāsānī describes tawajjuh as “that you do see God in every place existing and present and watching you.” [3]

Some of the Sufis mentioned how tawajjuh is done and said:

“Seekers ready their hearts for God’s manifestations and reflect about Him, that He is nearer to them then their own jugular veins. This then overcomes them and they resemble people falling into a sea, drowning in the sea, not being capable of thinking something else.” [4]

According to ʿUbaydullāh al-Aḥrār quddisa sirruhū, tawajjuh and murāqabah are both means for the Seeker to get ready for clothing himself with the character of God. So all those who already do have a naturally good character, are automatically ascribed to the dervishes. [5]

In Naqshbandī sources we find four different forms of Tawajjuh:

  1. Tawajjuh to God (with the heart),
  2. Tawajjuh to the heart
  3. The Murīd facing (tawajjuh) his Shaykh,
  4. The Shaykh facing (tawajjuh) his Murīd.

Continue reading

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Laṭāʾif [1]

Sahl b. ʿAbdullāh at-Ṭūstarī (d. 273/886 or 283/896), one of the first Ṣūfīs, relates that his maternal uncle taught him a litany while he was still a  young child and that, while continuing this litany, he felt in his heart and then in his ‘secret’ (sirr) delight [2]. This narration shows us that the dimensions of the soul [or the stages of consciousness (marāṭib al-ʾidrāk)] called ‘heart’ and ‘secret’ were known to the Ṣūfīs since ancient times and were known through spiritual experiences. Ḥakīm Tirmidhī (d. 320/932) discussed in his Bayān al-Farq bayna al-ṣadr wa al-qalb wa al-fuʾād wa al-lub the different dimensions of the soul and their attributes in detail. According to Tirmidhī,  ṣadr, qalb, fuʾād and lub are intertwine rings of a whole. Ṣadr is like the white of the eye, the qalb the colours of the eye, fuʾād the pupil and lub as the light of the eye. The outer ring, ṣadr, is Islam, the qalb is īmān, fuʾād is maʿrifah and lub is the source for the lights of Unicity (tawḥīd). The more these stages are deepened, the more the understanding and consciousness is gained. Ṣadr is the nafs al-ammarah, qalb the nafs al-mulhimah, fuʾād the nafs al-lawwāmah and the lub the nafs al-muṭmaʾinnah. [3]

Some of the Masters of the Kubrawī Order gave detailed information about the dimensions of the soul (also called: the stages of the nafs or the acts of the heart) and the lights, which are manifesting themselves. Najm al-Dīn Dāyā (d. 654/1256) said about these lights: “On the stage of nafs al-lawwamah blue light is manifested, because the light of the soul or the dhikr is mixed with the darkness of the nafs. Through the brightness of the rūḥ and the darkness of the nafs blue light becomes manifest. When the darkness of the carnal self is lessened and the light of the soul strengthened, red light becomes manifest. When the soul overcomes, yellow light becomes manifest. When the darkness of the carnal self vanishes completely, white light becomes manifest. Intermixed with the purity of the heart it becomes green. When the heart reaches totally purity, a light like the sun starts to shine.” [4]

ʿAlā al-Dawla Simnānī (d. 736/1336) talked about seven Laṭāʾif and their lights, like laṭīfah al-kālabī, laṭīfah al-nafs, laṭīfah al-qalb, laṭīfah al-sirrī, laṭīfah al-rūḥī, laṭīfah al-khāfī, and laṭīfah al-ḥaqqī. [5] He also discussed that there are several forms of dhikr, like the dhikr of the sirr, the rūḥ and the ḫāfī and that one can feel the dhikr of it and that the other gives more delight and pleasure then the one before. [6]

In the literature of pre-Mujaddidi Naqshibandis the topic of Laṭāʾif seems not to be of great importance. So it is Aḥmad Sirhindī (d. 1034/1624) who is the first to introduce a systematic approach to the Laṭāʾif in this Ṭarīqah, and one of the Successors of Sirhindī, Mīr Muḥammad Nuʿmān (d. 1060/1650 ?) adds to the system of his Shaykh a certain location for every Laṭīfah in the body of man[7]  and the way of making dhikr with these certain areas and with focus on them has become the first step in the Mujaddidī way of spiritual education and its important element. In the Pre-Mujaddidī Naqshibandi literature we can’t find a systematic approach to the Laṭāʾif, but we see discussions about them based on spiritual experiences and upon the books of the Kubrawī Shaykhs, which were mentioned before. Continue reading

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Makhdum Adam Thattvi Sindhi Naqshbandi Mujaddidi

Ḥaḍrat Shaikh Makhdūm Ādam Thattvī Sindhī Naqshbandī Mujaddidī qaddas-Allāhu sirrahū (may Allah sanctify his secret) was the first Sufi master of the Naqshbandī order who spread this sacred order in Sindh. Before him, there had been a few Naqshbandī Sufi masters but the Qādrī and Suhrawardī orders were the most widespread and followed Sufi orders in Sindh.

The word Makhdūm is an honorific used for Islamic scholars in pre-colonial Sindh. Makhdūm Ādam was a dignified scholar, lived in Thatta (Sindh) and had an ancestry going back to the first caliph of Islam Sayyidinā ’Abū Bakr aṣ-Ṣiddīq raḍiy-Allāhu ‘anhu. His family lineage is as follows:

Makhdūm Ādam son of Makhdūm ‘Abd al-’Aḥad son of ‘Abd ar-Raḥmān son of ‘Abd al-Bāqī son of Muḥammad son of ’Aḥmad son of Ādam son of ‘Abd al-Hādī son of Muḥsin son of ‘Alī son of Muḥammad son of ‘Abd al-Khāliq son of Muḥammad son of ‘Abd al-Hādī.

Makhdūm Ādam was a great scholar and used to teach in Thattā. He heard that the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Ālamgīr used to honor the Islamic scholars and was hiring their services. So he traveled to Delhi to meet with the emperor, intending that he may also get a good living there.

During the journey, he traveled via Sirhind, where he met the great Naqshbandī master Ḥaḍrat Imām Muḥammad Ma‘ṣūm Fārūqī (1007-1079 AH) quddisa-sirruhū, who was impressed by his scholarly excellence and requested him to stay there and teach his sons. He accepted this offer and started teaching the noble sons of this great Sufi master. This was in approximately the year 1070 AH, while Aurangzeb was crowned in the year 1069 AH.

For some time, he remained unimpressed with the exceedingly larger numbers of people and scholars who came to Imām Ma‘ṣūm to seek the spiritual path. After all, he was himself a highly learned scholar with vast knowledge of Islamic sciences. One day, while sitting together, he asked the great master to explain a verse of the Holy Qur’ān (verses 52:1-4). The Imām started explaining to him the spiritual secrets associated with these verses, and simultaneously started filling his heart with spiritual blessings. When he was bestowed with this opening of the heart to the higher spiritual realities, he immediately begged the master to accept him as a disciple and take him to the alleviated spiritual realities.

He stayed under the spiritual training of Imām Muḥammad Ma‘ṣūm for seven years, busying himself in nothing other than dhikr and meditation. He would not even read letters received from his family back in Thattā, fearing that they might affect his steadfastness and disturb his spiritual progress. Continue reading

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