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.
Finally, when he was perfected in the Path, his master awarded him deputyship and ordered him to go back, establish a khāniqāh in Sindh and teach this exalted Path to the seekers there. Makhdūm Ādam replied that Sindh is already full of Sufi shaikhs, who would want to learn from me? The Imām replied: even if it is full, our Path is higher than all others.
Thus, he returned to Thattā in approximately 1077 AH, established a khāniqāh (Sufi sanctuary) and started training the pupils and seekers in the exalted Naqshbandī Mujaddidī order. Soon the khāniqāh was filled with people from near and far, rich and poor, learned and illiterate, who were seeking spiritual guidance from him. He was highly venerated even by the commons, and people would stand up wherever he passed by, and would put their shawls under his feet to get blessings.
There was a Sufi shaikh in Thattā living at the same time, named Makhdūm Ādam ibn Iṣḥāq. Makhdūm Ādam, out of extreme humbleness, once said: call me Ādū, as there cannot be two Ādams in the same city. This made him popular with his nickname Makhdūm Ādū.
He used to communicate with his master with letters, and also received replies from his shaikh. Four of the letters of Imām Ma‘ṣūm were addressed to him that are also included in the Imām’s collection of letters (Maktūbāt).
Ḥaḍrat Shaikh Muḥammad Ma‘ṣūm passed away in 1079 AH. After this, Makhdūm Ādam again traveled to Sirhind and lived there in the service and spiritual guidance of his shaikh’s son Ḥaḍrat Khwāja Saif ad-Dīn Sirhindī quddisa-sirruhū for almost four years. After returning, he lived the rest of his life in Thattā, training the pupils in the Naqshbandī order.
A miracle: Once, the ruler and the Qāḍī (chief judge) of Thattā both stored large amounts of grain and created an artificial shortage to raise the prices and earn more money. People were frustrated as there were poor who could no more afford bread for their children. They complained to the ruler, but he ignored their requests as he was himself an accomplice in the plan. Then, the people complained about it in the court of Makhdūm Ādam, who sent a message of advice to the ruler, but with no effect. Thus, he told people they must wait for a single night, and everything will be fine the next morning. Everyone was wondering how this could be possible; but they know the spiritual powers of the Makhdūm. During the night, both the ruler and the qāḍī could not relieve themselves and so called upon the doctors to treat them. But the morning arrived and the doctors could do nothing, so out of sever pain and suffering, they contacted the Makhdūm who told them to open the doors of grain and food upon the people. This obeyed him and thus the people were relieved of the artificial food shortage by the miraculous powers of Makhdūm Ādam.
Demise: This great sun of spirituality and sainthood left this mortal world one day and was buried in the famous graveyard of Maklī near Thattā, where his grave is still visited by thousands of people. The exact date and year of his death are not known, however he died during the early years of twelfth century (1100’s) of the Hijri calendar (end of the seventeenth century). He once said that his grave is (going to be) an estate from the estates of Paradise.
A miracle: Ḥāfidh Raḥim-Dinū was a disciple of the well-known Naqshbandī master of Sindh Ḥaḍrat Makhdūm Muḥammad Zamān. He reported that when the Afghan general Madad Khān Pathān attacked Sindh and wreaked havoc, there was chaos and famine everywhere. I took refuge in the khāniqāh of Ḥaḍrat Makhdūm Ādam in Thattā (long after his demise) and lived there for six months without eating anything. I didn’t even get hungry, rather used to belch once or twice after Ishā (early night) and felt as if I had eaten a lot.
Ḥaḍrat Makhdūm Ādam had four sons, two of them grew up and became Sufi masters of their times.
- Ḥaḍrat Shaikh Faiḍ-Allāh Thattvī Naqshbandī
- Ḥaḍrat Shaikh Muḥammad ’Ashraf Thattvī Naqshbandī. His son Shaikh Muḥammad alias Abul-Masākīn Thattvī was one of the most prominent Naqshbandī shaikhs in Sindh.
Among the qualified deputies and disciples of Makhdūm Ādam, following are well-known:
- Ḥaḍrat Makhdūm Abul-Qāsim Naqshbandī Thattvī (d. 1138 AH)
- Ḥaḍrat Makhdūm Shaikh Ibrāhīm of Rohrī
- Ḥaḍrat Shaikh Fatiḥ Muḥammad Naqshbandī
- Ḥaḍrat Shaikh ’Anas Naqshbandī
- Ḥaḍrat Makhdūm Ṣabir Wilhārī