The Naqshbandi Sufi Order is a distinctive exalted and sublime Sufi order, with many qualities that distinguish it from other methods of Sufism. I will list some of them here, narrated from authentic sources.
Superior Nisbat (Reference)
The foremost distinctive quality of this exalted path is that the Naqshbandi order is connected to the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, through the first caliph of Islam, the best of humans after the prophets, the greatest companion, Sayyidina Abu Bark as-Siddīq, may Allah be pleased with him. Note that all other Sufi orders connect to the Holy Prophet peace be upon him, through other companions, mainly Imam Ali al-Murtada, may Allah be pleased with him. Since Hadrat Abū Bakr is the greatest among all Sahābā (companions of the Prophet) and this fact is accepted unanimously by all Ahl as-Sunnah, the greatness of the Naqshbandi order over others is similar to the greatness of Sayyidina Abū Bakr over other Sahaba.
(See the golden chain for full genealogy of the masters of this order.)
Registration of the End into the Beginning
(Indirāj an-Nihāyah fi al-Bidāyah)
The journey of the Naqshbandi Path begins with the Latā’if (subtleties, components of the creation of human being) of the Command-World. The first lesson taught to a new seeker in this golden path is the zikr of Latifa Qalb (the heart) which belongs to the Command-World (Ãlam al-Amr). This creates a passion (Jazbah) in the beginner which attracts him/her to the eternal love of Allah Almighty and the seeker forgets the hardships and sufferings of his journey, drowned in this sweet love and passion.
The other Sufi orders, in contrast, train the beginner to purify his Nafs which belongs to the Created-World (Ãlam al-khalq) which is the lower world. Thus, a beginner in other paths has to train hard and endure all the hardships of the journey in order to purify his Nafs. The hidden zikr of Qalb is taught at the end of their journey.
This explains the beautiful words of the founder of the Naqshbandi Order Khwāja Bahā’uddīn Naqshband Bukhari, who said: “I have registered the end into the beginning”. This means a beginner tastes from the end at the beginning stages of the journey.
The Hidden Zikr
The Naqshbandi tariqah is based on khafi (hidden) zikr whereas most other orders teach jahri (loud) zikr. The hidden zikr is not only easier but also greater in reward and spiritual effects as proved from the many Ahadith of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him.
Nisbat of Ahl al-Bayt
One Nisbat (Reference) of the Naqshbandi tariqah is towards Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddiq (r.a) through Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (r.a), but Imam Ja’far also has received spiritual blessings from Sayyidina Imam Ali (r.a) through his fathers. Thus this noble Path is directly attached to the Imams of Ahl al-Bayt and receives their blessings and Fayd.
Moreover, the Imam of this tariqah, Hadrat Khwaja Bahā al-Dīn Naqshband Bukhāri was a great grandson of Imam Hasan al-Askari, the eleventh Imam in the golden chain of Ahl al-Bayt. He was a Sayyid from the best line, a descendant of the Final Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. Hence this sublime Path receives the Fayd of the Ahl al-Bayt in its entirety.
Fayd of all Orders
The Imam of this noble tariqah, the great Mujaddid Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, may Allah be pleased with him, not only learned this noble Path but was also authorized in all other major Sufi orders including Qadri, Chishti, Suhrawardi, Kibravi, Qalandari and others. He was the ultimate guide in every Sufi order prevalent during his times. And he also authorized his deputies in all those orders. Thus a master of this Path is a master of all those orders and receives the blessings of the masters of all those orders, including the Ghaus al-Thaqalain Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani, Khwaja Gharib-Nawaz Moinuddin Ajmeri, Khwaja Suhrawardi and other great masters.
Naqshbandi Mujaddidi Order is the main river joined by all streams of the Fayd of those orders.
The masters of this Path, specially Khwajā Muhammad Pārsā and Imam Rabbāni Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi have reported that Sayyidina Imam Mahdi, the twelfth Imam of the Ahl al-Bayt and the ultimate leader of Muslims in the end of times, will also belong to this tariqah and will benefit from the Fayd of its masters.
Thus, the beginning of this sublime tariqah is the greatest of Sahaba and the end of this exalted order is the great Imam Mahdi, peace be upon them.