|Hazrat Muhammad Bahauddin Shah Naqshband|
Hazrat Bahauddin Naqshband's mausoleum in Qasr al-Arifan, Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Muhurram 717 AH / March 1389 AD|
Qasr al-Arifan, Bukhara (present-day Uzbekistan)
|Passed away||791 AH/1391 AD|
|Resting place||Qasr al-Arifan|
|Predecessor||Hazrat Sayyid Amir Kulal|
|Successor||Hazrat Alauddin al-Bukhari al-Attar|
Hazrat Muhammad Bahauddin Shah Naqshband is a 14th century Central Asian Sufi saint after whom the Naqshbandi order takes its name. The name Naqshband is sometimes understood in connection with the craft of embroidering, and Hazrat Bahauddin is said to have in fact assisted his father in weaving cloaks (kimkha) in Bukhara. More commonly, however, it is taken to refer to the fixing of the divine name of God to the heart by means of dhikr.
To the people of Bukhara, whose patron saint he became, he was known posthumoulsy as khwadja-yi bala-gardan ("the averter of disaster"), referring to protective powers bestowed on him during his training period. Elsewhere, especially in Turkey, he is popularly called Shahi Naqshband.
In his youth he experienced visionary revelations and before the age of 20 was recognized as a brilliant Islamic scholar. He is said to have received training through the spirit (ruhaniyat) of earlier masters of the lineage including Hazrat Abdul Khaliq al-Ghujdawani, the well known khalifa of Hazrat Yusuf al-Hamadani and by Hazrat Khidr (alaihis salam).
Hazrat Bahauddin was born in the month of Muharram in 717 AH/ 1317 AD, in the village of Qasr al-Hinduwan (later renamed Qasr al-Arifan) near Bukhara in what is today Uzbekistan. From a young age, he was gifted with spiritual abilities.
Hazrat Muhammad Baba as-Samasi, the fifth descendant of Hazrat Yusuf al-Hamadani and a great shaykh in his own right, once passed the village of Qasr al-Arifan and said, "I sense the scent of a Spiritual Knower who will appear here and after whose name this entire Order will be known." After passing the village on another occasion, he said, "I sense the scent so strongly that it is as if the Knower has now been born."
Three days passed, and the grandfather of the child came to the shaykh and presented him his grandson. The shaykh announced to his followers:
|“||This child is the knower that I told you about. I see that he is to be a guide of all humanity. His secrets are going to reach every sincere and pious person. The heavenly knowledge that God is going to shower upon him will reach every house in Central Asia. God's name shall be engraved (Naqsh) on his heart. And the Order will take its name from this engraving.||”|
At the age of 18, Hazrat Bahauddin was sent by his grandfather to the village of Samas to serve the shaykh. Of his initial noviciate under Hazrat as-Samasi, he relates:
|“|| I would arise early, three hours before the prescribed dawn prayer, make ablution, and after performing the Sunnah (customary) prayers, I would go into prostration, supplicating to God with the following prayer: "O my Lord, give me the power to carry the difficulties and the pain of Your love." Then I would pray the dawn prescribed prayer with the shaykh.
On his way out one day he looked at me and said, as if he had been with me when I made that supplication, "O my son, you have to change the method of your supplication. Instead say, 'O God, grant Your pleasure to this weak servant.' God does not like His servants to be in difficulties. Although God in His Wisdom might give some difficulties to His servants to test them, the servant must not ask to be in difficulties. This would not be respectful to your Lord.'
Hazrat as-Samasi assigned Hazrat Bahauddin's future spiritual training to his own principal murid, Khwaja Amir Kulal. Hazrat Kulal was Hazrat Bahauddin's immediate predecessor in the silsila, for it was he who transmitted to him the essentials of the Sufi Path. Of this, Hazrat Bahauddin narrates:
When Shaykh Muhammad Baba as-Samasi died, my grandfather took me to Bukhara and I married there. I lived in Qasr al-Arifan, which was God's special care to me because I was near Sayyid Amir Kulal. I stayed in his service and he told me that Shaykh Muhammad Baba as-Samasi had told him a long time ago that he would not be happy with him if was not to take good care of me.
One day, I was sitting with a friend in seclusion when the heavens opened and a grand vision came to me, and I heard a voice saying, "Is it not enough for you to leave everyone and to come to Our Presence Alone?" This voice reduced me to a state of trembling, causing me to run away from that house. I ran to a river. I threw myself in it. I washed my clothes and prayed two rakats in a way that I had never prayed before, feeling as if I was praying in the Divine Presence. Everything was opened to my heart in a state of unveiling. The entire universe disappeared and I was not aware of anything other than praying in His Presence.
At the beginning of my state of attraction, I had been asked, "Why are you going to enter on this Path?"
Then I was left alone for fifteen days, until I was overwhelmed with a tremendous depression.
His spiritual chain is traced back to the Holy Prophet ﷺ as follows:
- Hazrat Bahauddin Naqshband, disciple of
- Hazrat Amir Kulal, disciple of
- Hazrat Muhammad as-Samasi, disciple of
- Hazrat Ali ar-Ramitani, disciple of
- Hazrat Mahmoud al-Anjir al-Faghnawi, disciple of
- Hazrat Arif ar-Riwakri, disciple of
- Hazrat Abdul Khaliq al-Ghujdawani, disciple of
- Hazrat Abul Abbas al-Khidr, disciple of
- Hazrat Yusuf al-Hamadani, disciple of
- Hazrat Abu Ali al-Farmadi, disciple of
- Hazrat Abul Hassan al-Kharqani, disciple of
- Hazrat Bayazid Bastami, disciple of
- Hazrat Jafar as-Sadiq , disciple of
- Hazrat Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr , disciple of
- Hazrat Salman al-Farsi , disciple of
- Hazrat Abu Bakr as-Siddiq , disciple of
- Holy Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
Love for his Shaykh
He goes on to narrate:
|“|| Once I was in a state of Divine attraction and in a state of absent-mindedness, moving from here to there, not aware of what I was doing. My feet were torn and bleeding from thorns when darkness fell. I felt myself attracted to the house of my shaykh, Sayyid Amir Kulal. It was a pitch black night with no moon or stars showing. The air was very cold and I had nothing on but an old leather cloak. When I arrived at his house, I found him sitting with his followers. When he saw me he told them, "Take him out; I do not want him in my house."
They put me out, and I felt that my ego was trying to overcome me and that it was taking over my heart and my feelings, trying to poison my trust in my shaykh. At that point, God's Divine Care and His Mercy were my only support in carrying this humiliation in the cause of God and the cause of my shaykh. I said to my ego, "I will not allow you to poison my trust in my shaykh."
I felt so tired and so depressed that I put the state of humbleness at the door of pride, placed my head on the threshold of the door of my teacher, and took an oath that I would not remove it until he accepted me again. The snow was beginning to fall and the frigid air penetrated my bones causing me to tremble in the dark night. There was not even the warmth of the moon to comfort me. I remained in that state until I nearly froze. But the love that was inside my heart, the love for the Divine and the love for the door of the Divine, my shaykh, kept me warm.
Dawn came and my shaykh stepped out of his door without seeing me physically. He put his foot on my head, which was still on his threshold. On sensing my head, he immediately withdrew his foot, took me inside his house and said to me, "O my son you have been adorned with the dress of happiness. You have been adorned with the dress of Divine Love. You have been adorned with a dress with which neither my shaykh nor myself has been adorned. God is happy with you. The Prophet ﷺ is happy with you. All the shaykhs of the Golden Chain are happy with you."
Then, with great care and delicacy, he pulled the thorns from my feet and washed my wounds. At the same time he poured into my heart such knowledge that I had never experienced before. This opened for me a vision in which I saw myself entering into the secret of "Muhammadun Rasul Allah" I saw myself entering into the secret of the verse that is the Reality of Muhammad ﷺ. This led me to enter the secret of "La ilaha il-Allah" which is the secret of the Uniqueness of God. This then led me to enter the secrets of God's Names and Attributes that are expressed by the secret of Oneness of God. Those states cannot be put into words, but can only be known through taste that is experienced in the heart.
Meeting with Hazrat Abdul Khaliq al-Ghujdawani
During his discipleship with Hazrat Amir Kulal, Hazrat Bahauddin had a vision in which he saw his six predecessors in the silsila, beginning with Hazrat Abdul Khaliq al-Ghujdawani. This vision amounted to a second initiation, as Hazrat al-Ghujdawani enjoined on Hazrat Bahauddin, among other things, the exclusive practice of silent dhikr, as opposed to the vocal dhikr in which Hazrat Amir Kulal and his circle customarily engaged in.
He narrates his experience:
|“|| In the beginning of my travel on the Way, I wandered at night from one place to another in the suburbs of Bukhara. I visited cemeteries by myself in the darkness of the night, especially in the wintertime, to learn a lesson from the dead. One night I was led to visit the grave of Shaykh Ahmad al-Kashghari and to recite Surah al-Fatiha for him. When I arrived, I found two men, whom I had never met before, waiting for me with a horse. They put me on the horse and they tied two swords on my belt. They directed the horse to the grave of Shaykh Mazdakhin.
When we arrived, we all dismounted and entered the tomb and mosque of the shaykh. I sat facing the qiblah, meditating and connecting my heart to the heart of that shaykh. During this meditation, a vision was opened to me and I saw the wall facing qiblah come tumbling down. A huge throne appeared. A gigantic man, whom no words can describe, was sitting on that throne. I felt that I knew him. Wherever I turned my face in this universe I saw that man. Around him was a large crowd in which were my shaykhs, Shaykh Muhammad Baba as-Samasi and Sayyid Amir Kulal. I felt afraid of the gigantic man while at the same time I felt love for him. I had fear of his exalted presence and love for his beauty and attraction. I said to myself, "Who is that great man?"
I heard a voice among the people in the crowd saying, "This great man who nurtured you on your spiritual path is your shaykh. He looked at your soul when it was still an atom in the Divine Presence. You have been under his training. He is Shaykh Abdul Khaliq al-Ghujdawani, and the crowd you see are the caliphs who carry his great secret, the secret of the Golden Chain."
Then the shaykh began to point to each shaykh and say, "This is Shaykh Ahmad. This is Kabir al-Awliya. This is Arif Riwakri. This is Shaykh Ali Ramitani. This is your shaykh, Muhammad Baba as- Samasi, who in his life gave you his cloak. Do you know him?" I said, "Yes."
Then he said to me, "That cloak which he gave you such a long time ago is still in your house, and with its blessing God has removed from your life many afflictions." Then another voice came and said, "The shaykh who is on the throne is going to teach you something you need while traveling on this way." I asked if they would allow me to shake hands with him. They allowed this and took the veil away and I took his hand. Then he began to tell me about wayfaring, its beginning, middle and end. He said, "You have to adjust the wick of your self in order that the light of the unseen can be strengthened in you and its secrets can be seen. You have to show constancy, and you have to be firm in the Divine Law of the Prophet ﷺ in all your states. You have to enjoin the right and forbid the wrong (3:110, 114) and keep to the highest standard of the Divine Law."
He continued, "You have to leave the dispensations of ease, throw away innovation in all its forms, and make your qiblah the Prophet's ﷺ Traditions. You have to investigate his life and the life of his Companions. Urge people to follow and to read the Quran both day and night, and to perform the prescribed prayers with all their supererogatory worship. Do not ignore even the smallest thing from what the Prophet ﷺ has shown us of deeds and good works."
Hazrat Abdul Khaliq al-Ghujdawani urged him strictly to follow the sharia and instructed him in the method of the silent dhikr. Hence his epithet al-Uwaysi, namely a Sufi "who has attained illumination outside the regular mystical path and without the mediation and guidance of a living shaykh."
Following this vision, Hazrat Bahauddin added three principles of his own to the eight of the great master, Hazrat Abdul Khaliq, all relating to the dhikr. He established the silent dhikr as the normative practice of the Naqshbandis and formulated three additional principles of the tariqa:
- Wuquf Zaniani (awareness of time): The salik must check how he spends his time and how well he concentrates his attention during the silent dhikr.
- Wuquf Qalbi (concentration [presence] of the heart): According to one interpretation, the salik must examine his heart to make sure that it is in the state of muraqaba (surveillance) or mushahada (perception of God). This principle is almost identical to that of yad dasht (recollection).
- Wuquf Adadi (awareness of number): The salik must be aware of how many times he has performed dhikr (although he stressed that it was not the number that counts, but rather al-wuquf al-qalbi (concentration [presence] of the heart [on God]).
Despite the resentment of other disciples, he did not leave the circle of Hazrat Amir Kulal but only absented himself whenever the vocal dhikr was practiced.
Concerning this he said: "There are two methods of dhikr; one is silent and one is loud. I preferred the silent one because it is stronger and therefore more advisable."
Regarding permission to lead a communal gathering for dhikr, he says:
|“||The perfected one must give the permission for the dhikr, in order to influence the one who is using it, just as the arrow from a master of archery is better than the arrow thrown from the bow of an ordinary person.||”|
Though he never criticised nor objected to the loud dhikr, he preferred the silent dhikr.
Hazrat Kulal, for his part is said to have continued to hold his disciple in high esteem and ultimately to free him to pursue other masters:
|“||He [Amir Kulal] pointed to his noble chest and said: I have emptied the breasts of gnosis (irfan) for you so that the bird of your spirituality was delivered from the egg of humanity. But, the falcon of your aspiration (himma) is flying high. Therefore I give you now the permission to wander around in the land, and if the smell of gnosis reaches your nose from a Turk or a Tajik, seek it from him.||”|
Subsequently, Hazrat Bahauddin spent seven months in the company of Mawlana Arif ad-Din Karrani, perfecting the practice of the silent dhikr underneath his guidance. He next spent two or three months with Hazrat Kutham Shaikh, a Yasawi master resident in Nakhshab.
At a later stage of his venture, he came into contact with another Yasawi dervish, Hazrat Khalil Ata, whom he had first seen in a dream and stayed in his circle for six years. Regarding his association with Hazrat Khalil, Hazrat Bahauddin relates:
|“||He ordered me to help the needy, and to serve the weak, and to motivate the heart of the broken-hearted. He ordered me to keep humbleness and humility and tolerance. I kept his orders and I spent many days of my life in that manner. Then he ordered me to take care of animals, to cure their sicknesses, to clean their wounds, and to assist them in finding their provision. I kept on that way until I reached the state that, when I saw an animal in the street, I would stop and make way for it.||”|
It is said that Hazrat Khalil gained political power and became the ruler of Transoxiania for a time in 1340 AD. Later however he lost his power and was removed from his ruling position. After the fall of Hazrat Khalil, Hazrat Bahauddin experienced a revulsion against worldly success and he retired to his birthplace, resuming his spiritual career and training his own disciples, most of who came from Bukhara and its surroundings.
He left the region only three times, twice to perform the hajj pilgrimage and once to visit Herat. There he met with the Sultan, Mu'izz al-Din Husayn, and explained the principles of his path to him.
During his final days, he confined himself to his room. Multitudes of his disciples came to visit him and receive his final advice. On Monday 3 Rabi-al-Awwal, 791 AH/1389 AD, prior to his demise, he ordered them to recite Surah Yasin (Chapter 36, often referred to as "the Heart of the Quran") and upon reciting the shahada (testification of faith), he passed away.
At his request, he was buried in his own garden. Through the endowments of successive rulers of Bukhara, a khanqah, madrasa, and mosque were added to his tomb site, quickly making the area a major learning and pilgrimage centre.
Hazrat Abd al-Wahhab ash-Shaarani, the spiritual pole of his time said:
|“||When the shaykh was buried in his grave, a window to Paradise was opened for him, making his grave a Paradise from Heaven. Two beautiful spiritual beings entered his presence and greeted him and said, 'From the time that God created us until now, we have waited for this moment to serve you.' He replied, 'I do not look to anything other than Him. I do not need you, but I need my Lord.'||”|
Surrounded by a continually expanding complex of buildings, his mausoleum in Bukhara, Uzbekistan has become a place of pilgrimage for Muslims from all over Asia.
His principal successors were:
- Hazrat Alauddin al-Bukhari al-Attar (d. 802/1393), whom he had honoured with marriage to his daughter.
- Hazrat Muhammad ibn Mahmud al-Hafizi, known as Muhammad Parsa (d. 822/1419), a prolific writer and author of Risala Qudsiyya, founder of many traditions of the Naqshbandi order.
- Hazrat Yaqub al-Carkhi (d. 851/1447), from the region of Ghazni.
It was Hazrat Alauddin al-Attar who was the leading figure among these three, although it was Hazrat Yaqub al-Carkhi who proved the most important for the continuation of the Naqshbandi line. He was the shaykh of Hazrat Ubaydullah Al-Ahrar (d. 896/1490), under whose auspices the Naqshbandiyya both established its supremacy in Central Asia and began its expansion in the wider Muslim world.
Quotes & Sayings
- Classical Islam and the Naqshbandi Sufi Tradition - Shaykh Hisham Kabbani
- 101 Great Mystics of Islam - Muhammad Riaz Qadiri
- The Naqshbandiyya: Orthodoxy and Activism in a Worldwide Sufi Tradition - Itzch Weisman