The venerable master Khwāja Mullā ʿAbdullāh Ilāhī Simāvī Naqshbandī Aḥrārī qaddas-Allāhu sirrahū (may Allah sanctify his secret) was a celebrated master of the Naqshbandī Ṣūfī Path, an illustrious saint, a distinguished Gnostic, and was a distinguished deputy of Khwāja ʿUbaydu’llāh Aḥrār raḍiyAllāhu ʿanhu (Allah be pleased with him).
He was born in a town called Simāv, in the Kütahya province of modern Turkey. He acquired his exoteric learning at the Zeyrek madrasa in Instanbul. After completing his education, he traveled to Khurāsān and Transoxania in search of a perfect Ṣūfī master. After passing through Herat (Afghanistan), he arrived at Samarqand where he met the celebrated master Khwāja ʿUbayu’llāh Aḥrār, who initiated him in the Naqshbandī Path and trained him in the spiritual path. He also spent about one year at the tomb of the founder of the Naqshbandī order Khwāja Bahāʾ ad-Dīn Naqshband in Bukhārā and received spiritual guidance from this master of saints (by Uwaysī method). It is however not certain whether he did this after meeting his shaykh or before.
After acquiring the perfections and excellences of this blessed Path, he was made a deputy by Khwāja Aḥrār who sent him back to Turkey to spread the order there.
He first settled in his home place Simāv, where numerous seekers encircled him and he soon earned a renown in being a qualified and exceptional Ṣūfī master.
Later, he migrated to Istanbul and made a simple place in the same madrasa where he had earlier studied, called the Zeyrek madrasa. There he had numerous disciples who received spiritual training from him. Being overwhelmed by the task of spiritual mentoring, he accepted the invitation of Ahmed Beg, a descendant of Ghāzī Evrenos Beg (d.820H), to settle under his protection in the town of Vardar Yenicesi (Giannitsa) in Rumelia (present-day Greece). For Istanbul, he left behind a deputy named Shaykh Aḥmad Bukhārī and assigned him the task of training the spiritual pupils in Istanbul, and only took a few select pupils with him to Rumelia. There, he devoted himself to writing and contemplation.
He died in 896 AH (1490-1) in Giannitsa, Greece, and was buried in his tekke. Evliya Celebi, who visited this city about two hundred years after the death of Shaykh Ilāhī, remarks about the city in the following words:
“The whole city was colored in the spirituality of the master, most of the people were followers of the spiritual path, and the women were full of piety.”
Among his deputies in the Sufi path was Amīr Ahmad Bukhārī, who established his own Sufi lodge in Istanbul, called Amīr Bukhārī Tekke.
He wrote a number of books and treatises, both in Turkish and Persian. Among them are the following:
- “Najāt al-Arwāh min damas al-ashbāh”, written in Persian, dealing with the subjects of following the permitted (rukhsah) or decisive (ʻazīmah), malāmat, tawhīd (unity), khawātir and murāqbah (contemplation). This work is yet unpublished.
- “Maslak aṭ-Ṭālibīn”, written in Turkish, discussing various issues of Taṣawwuf and ṭarīqah
- “Manāzil al-Qulūb”, written in Persian in 889 AH (1284) is a commentary of Rūzbihān Baqlī Shīrāzī’s “Risāla al-Quds”. It has been published by M. Taqī Dānishpijūh, inside the book entitled Rūzbihānnāma (Shiraz, 1347/1968, pp. 387-421).