Hadhrat Khwāja Mahmūd Anjīr-Faghnawī, may Allah be pleased with him, was born in a village called Anjīr-Faghnī, located near Wābakna, close to Bukhārā (now Uzbekistān) circa 628 AH. He was the deputy and spiritual successor of Khwāja Ārif Riwgarī quddisa sirruhū, who ordered him to lead his followers after him.
He was responsible for introducing the audible dhikr, whereas his masters had only practiced hidden dhikr. One of the great saints of his times, Khwāja Awliyā Kabīr quddisa sirruhū objected to it and asked him why have you adopted the audible dhikr? He replied that my venerable master had commanded me in his last moments to practice audible dhikr.
The scholars of Bukhārā came to him under the leadership of Mawlānā Hāfiz ad-Dīn Bukhārī, who was a great scholar and great-grandfather of Khwāja Pārsā. They asked him: “With what intention are you practicing audible dhikr?” He replied: “So that the sleepers may awake, so that the heedless may hear, and so that they may incline towards the path of Truth, towards the goal of the Sacred Law and the Spiritual Path.” Mawlānā Hāfiz ad-Dīn Bukhārī replied: “Your intention is correct and this practice (of audible dhikr) is lawful for you. But you should set some conditions for the audible dhikr.” Khwāja Mahmūd replied: “Audible dhikr is appropriate for that person whose tongue is preserved from lying and backbiting, his throat from unlawful and dubious food, his heart from ostentation and frivolity, and his innermost being from indulgence in things apart from the Truth.”
His chief deputy Khwāja Alī Rāmītanī reported: “A dervish saw Hadhrat Khidr in the time of Khwāja Mahmūd, and he asked him: ‘In this day and age, who is the spiritual master to whom allegiance should be paid, and who is firmly established on the highway of righteousness?’ Khidr replied: ‘He is Khwāja Mahmūd Anjīr-Faghnawī.'”
The companions of Khwāja Alī Rāmītanī said that it was indeed Khwāja Alī Rāmītanī himself, but he told this incidence in a style that would avoid the pretentious claim of having seen Khidr.
One day Khwāja Alī Rāmītanī was engaged in dhikr in the town of Rāmītan, together with Khwāja Mahmūd’s companions. A large white bird passed over their heads, and when it came over Khwāja Alī’s head, it said in a clear voice: “O Alī! do not abandon manliness! Be courageous!” Those present in the circle of dhikr were so affected by these words that they lost consciousness. When they recovered, they asked Khwāja Alī: “What is the reality of what we saw and heard?” He replied: “This bird is Hadhrat Khwāja Mahmūd. Allah has granted him a charismatic gift that makes him fly, in the manner discussed in so many thousand words with the Prophet Mūsā alaih as-Salām. Today, he had gone to visit Khwāja Dihqān, the deputy of Khwāja Awliyā Kabīr, who is in the state of dying. Khwāja Dihqān had begged Allāh to send him one of His friends, and to let that friend hold his hand at the time of his passing away.”
The venerable grave of Hadhrat Khwāja Mahmūd quddisa sirruhū is located close to Wābakna, today called Vabkent, thirty five kilometers north of Bukhārā (Uzbekistan), where it is visited by many people for receiving blessings.
Among his deputies were the following dignitaries:
- Khwāja Azīzān Alī Rāmītanī. The chief deputy of Khwāja Mahmūd, from whom the Naqshbandi Order continued.
- Khwāja Amīr Hasan Wābaknī
- Khwāja Amīr Husain Wābaknī
- Khwāja Alī Arghundānī. He was from the village of Arghundān, about sixteen miles from Bukhārā.
The next in the Naqshbandī Mujaddidī Tāhirī spiritual golden chain is Khwāja Azīzān Alī ar-Rāmītanī.
- Hadhrāt al-Quds, by Shaykh Badr ad-Din Sirhindī
- Rashahāt Ain al-Hayāt, by Mawlānā Alī ibn Husain Safī
- Āgāhī Sayyid Amīr Kulāl, by Mawlānā Shahāb ad-Dīn, Urdu translation by Muhammad Nazīr Rānjhā, Al-Fateh Publications, Rawalpindi, 2010