Advice from the Khwajagan: Masters of Wisdom

According to the author of the Rashahat:  The venerable Khwaja [Ubaidu’llah] taught this poor creature bonding [rabita], and he said: “You must expel outsiders from your heart, and occupy a place in the heart of the guide! Let the purpose of your Shaikh be yours, and let yours be his!  From him you must learn the path of becoming extinct, so that you may attain the bliss of being extinct in Allah!


According to the author of the Rashahat: I used to gaze intently at the venerable Khwaja’s blessed face.  One day, when he noticed that I was doing this, he said: “A certain person would gaze intently at the blessed face of Khwaja Baha ad-Din Naqshband, whom he held in high esteem.  To avoid upsetting this admirer’s heart, the venerable Khwaja warned him not to keep looking at his face, and he told him where his gaze ought to be focussed.  It is on the point between the Shaikh’s eyebrows that the disciple should focus his gaze, and he is obliged to preserve his conviction that his every state is visible and comprehensible to the Shaikh.  In this manner, by drawing the dignity and majesty of the Shaikh upon himself, he must purify his inner being.” [Rashahat ain al-hayat, p.303-304].

Mawlana ‘Abd-al Rahman Jami’s meeting with Khwaja Muhammad Parsa

The venerable Khwaja Muhammad Para was the first great Shaikh and spiritual guide encountered by the venerable Mawlana Jami.  In the Nafahat, one of his greatest works on Sufism, Mawlana Jami has this to say about Shaikh Muhammad Parsa:

“In the year A.H. 822/1419 C.E., while the venerable Khwaja Muhammad Parsa  was passing through Damascus on the Pilgrim journey, my father went out to meet him, together with a caravan of his companions.  At that time, I had not completed my fifth year of age.  My father took me along with him, on the shoulder of one of his friends.  They introduced me to the venerable Khwaja, who treated me with kind attention and tender care.  He presented me with a flower.  Sixty years have passed between that day and this, but my heart still contains the joy of his radiant face, and the thrill of his blessed form.  In my attachment and love for the dynasty of the Masters of Wisdom, I hope that I have the means to assure my acceptance in their circles, and that I shall be resurrected in their company.” (Rashahat ain al-hayat, p.166).

Re: Inconsistencies in the published Naqshbandi transmission of initiation (Silsilat)

Q.  How do you explain the historical inconsistencies in the published Naqshbandi transmission of initiation called the “unbroken” Golden Chain (silsilat adh-Dahab) tracing back to the Prophet Muhammad (S), when in fact, it appears to be historically impossible and broken?

A. There is more than one line of transmission to the Naqshbandi Golden Chain. In the Qudsiyya, the book of dicta by the spiritual master Khwaja Baha al-Din Shah Naqshband (1318-1389), Khwaja Muhammad Parsa (d. 1460) traced the spiritual genealogy of the Tariqat i-Khwajagan through three parallel lines known as the silsilat adh-dhahab (golden chain)-one leading through Abu Bakr Siddiq, another through ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, and a third through ‘Ali and his descendents, the biological progeny of the Prophet Muhammad.

According to “Hacegan Hanedani”, by H. L. Shushud, Istanbul 1958, originally published in “Systematics”Volume 6, No. 4 March 1969 by J. G. Bennett, Sultan al-Arifin Bayaid al-Bistami (804-874, 77/78 CE) was initiated by Imam ‘Ali ibn Musa al-Rida (765-818).   “The Darvishes: Or Oriental Spiritualism” By John Pair Brown, confirms on p. 141, that Bayazid al-Bistami lived until the year 874/877/878, placing him as an authorized deputy of Imam ‘Ali ibn Musa al-Rida during the life times of the succeeding Imams from the biological progeny of the Prophet Muhammad, namely Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (d.835 CE), Imam ‘Ali al-Hadi (d.868 CE), Imam Hasan al-Askari (846–874 CE), and Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi (869-), whose birth was documented by Khwaja Muhammad Parsa in Fasl al-Khitab [Arabic]: Fadhail Khulafa wa Ahlul Bayt, on p. 592.

Bayazid al-Bistami was a follower of the school of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (702–765), not his direct student.  The book ‘Religion and Identity in South Asia and Beyond: Essays in Honor of Patrick Olivelle’ lists the historical transmission of spiritual knowledge tracing back to Sultan al-Arifin Abu Yazid al-Bistami through Khwaja Abul Hasan ‘Ali al-Kharqani as the following on p. 292,

1.Abu Yazid al-Bistami (804-877/78)
2.Khwaja Muhammad al-Maghrabi (864-)
3.Khwaja al-’Araabi Abu Yazid al-‘Ishqi Iraqi (917-)
4.Khwaja Abul Mudhaffar at-Turk at-Tusi (938-)
5.Khwaja Abul Hasan ‘Ali ibn Ja’far ibn Salman al-Kharqani (963-1034)

Among other books, in the Maqamat Mazhari, Shah Ghulam ‘Ali Mawlana ‘Abd Allah ad-Dahlawi (1743–1824), the teacher of Mawlana Khalid al-Baghdadi (1779–1827), documented Khwaja Abul Qasim al-Jurgani (-1058) as the link connecting Khwaja Abu ‘Ali al-Farmadhi (1042/3-1085) to Khwaja Abul Hasan al-Kharqani (d. 1034).

The following is a more historically accurate transmission of the Golden Chain down to the venerable Khwaja Baha al-Din Naqshband Bukhari:

1.Abu Yazid al-Bistami (804-877/78)
2.Khwaja Muhammad al-Maghrabi (864-)
3.Khwaja al-‘Araabi Abu Yazid al-‘Ishqi Iraqi (917-)
4.Khwaja Abul Mudhaffar at-Turk at-Tusi (938-)
5.Khwaja Abul Hasan ‘Ali ibn Ja’far ibn Salman al-Kharqani (963-1034)
6.Khwaja Abul Qasim al-Gurgani (-1058)
7.Khwaja Abu ‘Ali al-Farmadi (1042/3-1085)
8.Khwaja Abu Yaqub Yusuf al-Hamadani (1048/49-1141)
9.Abul Abbas, al-Khidr (-present)
10.Khwaja ‘Abdul Khaliq al-Ghujdawani (-1180)
11.Khwaja ‘Arif ar-Riwakri (-1219)
12.Khwaja Mahmud al-Anjir al-Faghnawi (-1315)
13.Khwaja ‘Ali ar-Ramitani (1198-1315/1321)
14.Khwaja Muhammad Baba as-Samasi (-1354) Amir Kulal (-1370) Khwaja Baha al-Din Shah Naqshband Bukhari (1318-1389)

And Allah Knows Best!

Sayyid Ahmed Amiruddin

Visualizing the Shaykh [Tasawwur-i Shaykh] in the Baha al-Din Naqshband Bukhari school

The inner spiritual authority passed down from the Prophet to our Grandsheikh and then to us remains intact. That spiritual authority for the guidance of people has come down to me, has been given to me-Mawlana Shaykh Nazim Adil al-Qubrusi

“Most Awliya’ had the excellences of Wilaya. For example, Qutbs, Awtad and Abdal were so. They are able to bring up the youth with ‘Ali’s (radi-Allahu ta’ala ‘anh) help.”-Maktubat i-Rabbani, Mujadid Alf Thani

In the Risala Qudsiyya, Khwaja Parsa writes while on his second trip to the Hijaz, the venerable Khwaja Baha al-Din Shah Naqshband ordered him to fix his blessed face in his imagination. 

The venerable Mujaddid Alf Thani Ahmad Sirhindi stated in his Maktubat: “Tabarani and Hakim narrated from Ibn Mas’ud (radiyallahu anh) that our Prophet (sallallahu ’alaihi wa sallam) said: ‘Looking at ‘Ali is worship.’” The sanad of this hadith is hasan.(Maktubat, volume 2, letter 36).

Muhammad Umar Birbali writes, “When a person reaches a certain station, people’s astral bodies can appear.  Someone with a connection (nisba) to the Prophet can manifest as if he were physically present”.  A disciple of Khwaja Hasan ‘Attar, the eldest son of ‘Ala’uddin ‘Attar (d. 803/1400), showed signs of spiritual attraction (jadhba) when visualizing the face of his shaykh. If the disciple could not be in the presence of the master, the venerable Mawlana ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami recommended that the disciple visualize the pir’s face in the heart while eliminating any distracting thoughts. The venerable Khwaja ‘Ubaydullah Ahrar, interpreting the Qur’anic verse “Be with those who are sincere and true” (kunu ma’ as-sadiqin [9:119]), indicated that one should outwardly be in the guide’s physical presence and inwardly have a bond with him (rabita). One unites sincerely with the shaykh’s face to develop continuous companionship with the lights of his lofty attributes and beautiful character, creating continual rabita, independent of physical proximity. In this way a person can develop an affinity (munasabat) with the mentor and arrive at the goal.

Imam Ahmad Sirhindi incorporated this practice of visualization into the Mujaddidi system, especially when he perceived that persons had not controlled their egos sufficiently. He would order them to engage in rabita and visualize his face in their hearts, causing them to show visible signs of spiritual attraction: “Khwaja Burhan, one of the shaykhs of Dahbid who had already been initiated and received permission to teach (ijazat) from the notables of his locale, asked Imam Ahmad Sirhindi for spiritual guidance. Khwaja Burhan was surprised when Ahmad Sirhindi said for him to visualize his [Sirhindi’s] blessed face. His trusted companion informed him [Khwaja Burhan] that this exercise is suitable for beginners so that they can be taught the advanced contemplations (muraqabat). … After being convinced, he practiced this exercise for a day and became overpowered with a connection (nisba) with God to the point that he showed signs of extreme spiritual intoxication (jadhba).”

Naqshbandi elders have praised visualization of the shaykh as an effective technique for concentration, since humans cannot follow two directions at once or meditate with distracting thoughts. Keeping the picture of the shaykh in the state of recollection of God (dhikr) is the essence of causing recollection (tadhkir) because the remembered One exists in the presence of one [the shaykh] who does not heedlessly leave God for an instant.

It is much easier for beginners to concentrate on the face of the shaykh than on God. There is synergistic effect between the visualization of the shaykh and love of the shaykh which allows the seeker to open him-or herself to a transformative process activated by the pir’s character and actions. This in turn strengthens the seeker’s connection to God. Eventually the pir’s astral body (jism i-mithali) can be summoned. Source:

Shaykh Nazim: Imam Mahdi’s Helpers believe he is the son of Imam Hasan al-Askari-Jan 16th, 2011

Mawlana Shaykh Mehmet Nazim al-Qubrusi: The Helpers of Imam Mahdi (as) are from Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jam’ah, the non-Arabs (Ajam) await him as well, but their beliefs are not like ours, they believe he is the son of Imam Hasan al-Askari, but they say he disappeared in the well.  We say he did not disappear into a well, rather that he was raised to the heavens (until he returns)-Jan 16th, 2011

This was also the belief of Ghawth al-Adham Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani as highlighted by his grandsons in the book Mishkaat an-Nubuwat, and also that of Shaykh al-Akbar Muhiuddin Ibn Arabi, Hadrat Ihsan Khwaja Ubaydullah al-Ahrar and the venerable Khwaja Baha al-Din Shah Naqshband as mentioned by his caliph and biographer Khwaja Muhammad Parsa, who wrote in his Fasl al-Khitab, in the chapter “Ahwal al-Aqtab: Fadhail Khulafa wa Ahlul Bayt”:

“Imam Hasan al-Askari (rad) is the father of Abul Qasim Muhammad al-Muntadhar (rad)…the birth of al-Muntadhar (rad) was on the night of the 15th of Sha’ban, 255…his mother’s name is Narjis”[Fasl al-Khitab [Arabic]: Fadhail Khulafa wa Ahlul Bayt, p. 592, Khwaja Muhammad Parsa].

Sayings of Mawlana ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami regarding the Order of the Masters of Wisdom [Khwajagan]

Excerpted from Rahshahat ‘Ain al Hayat: Beads of Dew from the Source of Life, translated by Muhtar Holland, p. 181-182:

When asked why he seldom adhered to the technical terms and topics of Sufism, he responded  by saying,

-That would be all very well, if we merely wished to deceive one another, turning a subject of real importance in a verbal plaything.  The real meaning of Sufism is not expressed in speech. Nevertheless, in order to understand each other’s method, two masters of the heart must join in conversation.

-The sacred words of the saints are gathered from the light of the Muhammadan Reality.  The speech of the saints deserves to be treated with the same respect as the Qur’an and the Prophetic tradition [hadith].  If someone seeks good fortune for himself, he must accord due reverence to the speech of the saints. 

-If anyone experiences the slightest fear and tribulation in his spirit with regard to the path of the Masters of Wisdom, that person has attained to protective fellowship.  In cases like this, I have seen very few individuals denied access to the Order [Tariqa].  Novices in this Order are equal to those who have reached the final destination of the other Orders.  Of those accepted into this Order, few have been seen to be abandoned, however great their addiction to the lower self and its passionate desire.  In dealing with such an offender, they pull him out of the circle and drag him into the central arena.

-This is one of the special features of the path of the Masters of Wisdom: Unless the great saints of this path are inclined to address the spiritual state of those  who come to receive their bounty and unless they are disposed to grant them attention and support, nothing can be gained from this path.

This is how the venerable Mawlana clarified a characteristic peculiar to the path of the Masters of Wisdom [Khwajagan]:

One day, a spiritual pauper [faqir] comes along, asking Mawlana to set him on a task to perform on this path.  Mawlana teaches him the practice of remembrance by way of negation [nafy] and affirmation [ithbat].  He also instructs the seeker, while doing so, to envisage his blessed face (the principle of bonding [rabita] with one’s spiritual guide).  The man complies with these instructions.  Meanwhile, in himself, signs peculiar to this path start appearing.  he sees himself in a radiant space, where he feels that he is swimming in the light, and that his inner being is filled with limitless joy and delight.  When he describes this state of his to the venerable Mawlana, he receives the reply: “This is the spiritual state of our path.  It is such a secret that it must be kept hidden even from one’s closest friend.  Keep it up!”

The man duly continues, and his spiritual state becomes more profound at every moment.  He frequently experiences states that cause him to lose his ordinary self.  He is so happy in this condition, that he complains to Mawlana about the fact that external interests distract him.   At this point, he receives from the venerable Mawlana the instruction peculiar to the special character of the path of the Masters of Wisdom: “There is no remedy! It is necessary for you to combine this state with one of those external interests and occupations.  You must not part from the fellowship of the person from whom you have received this spiritual connection [nisbah], whoever he may be, and you will need to camouflage your state with one of those external occupations. You will be obliged to materialize in yourself, by making full use of your own resources, the bounty you have obtained by means of reflection [in’ikas] from your spiritual guide.  You must also conceal yourself from the world!  You need to hide yourself behind a veil of external business.  You need to be seen among the people as no different from the rest.  As a matter of fact, one of the seekers of Truth, someone just like you, having consulted his guide and accepted his instruction to engage in some external business, has now become a dealer in secondhand wares.  You must know that, for a member of this Sufi community, there can be no spiritual progress without an external occupation.”


The Truth in the Matter of the Father of Jinn By Mawlana ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami an-Naqshbandi

An Islamic rendering of Iblees, Satan, from Kitab al-Bulhan

The author of Rashahat writes, “One day, the subject of the jinn was being discussed. The venerable Mawlana [Jami] quoted a saying of the venerable Shaykh Muhyi-d-Din ‘Arabi: “Is Satan the father of the jinn, or is he not? There is disagreement on this question.” Mawlana [Jami] also said:

“The truth of the matter is that the father of the jinn is other than Satan, although Satan does belong to the species of the jinn. The father of the jinn is a hermaphrodite [khuntha]…There is no benefit in spending time with them, and their company is positively harmful. Since they are created of fire and air, their principal attributes are pride and rebelliousness. Those who frequent them are thereby infected with arrogance and conceit…Warfare amongst them is not rare, since their essential attributes are boastfulness, asserting superiority over one another, arrogance and overbearing tyranny…On the Day of resurrection, those of them who deserve punishment are thrown in to the cold hell, since they are not affected by fire.”

Insight from the Masters of Wisdom on the Manifestation of Reality By Mawlana ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami

Excerpted from: Rashahat ‘Ain al-Hayat [Beads of Dew from the Source of Life: Histories of the Khwajagan: The Masters of Wisdom]. Translated by Muhtar Holland. Al-Baz Publishing. P. 174,208.

[The venerable Mawlana ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami said],

-“Today I recieved an insight that I had not seen anywhere before. The manifestation of Reality [Haqiqah] is the form seen in the mirror, not the mirror itself. This quality does not exist in the mirror…

[The venerable Mawlana ‘Ala ad-Din said],

-“When Husain ibn Mansur [al-Hallaj] said: “I am the Truth [ana’l Haqq],” he was referring to his own reality. When Pharaoh said: “I am your Lord [ana Rubu-ka],” he was describing his own apparent form. If Pharaoh had understood his own reality, his saying “I” would also have been acceptable”.

Tomb of Husain ibn Mansur al-Hallaj, Baghdad, Iraq

Understanding the Saying of the Masters of Wisdom: “We Cannot Know Allah, But We Do Know You!” By Khwaja Ala’ ad-Din Abizi, Affiliate of Mawlana ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami

Excerpted from: Rashahat ‘Ain al-Hayat [Beads of Dew from the Source of Life: Histories of the Khwajagan: The Masters of Wisdom]. Translated by Muhtar Holland. Al-Baz Publishing. P.194-5, 201-2.

“Mawlana Ala’ ad-Din Abizi was also one of Mawlana Sa’d ad-Din Kashghari’s companions. He came from a village called Abiz in the vicinity of Kuhistan. After the death of the venerable Mawalana Sa’d ad-Din, he continued in the service of the venerable Mawlana Jami, who treated him with great care and attention, and likened his character to fresh and pure soil.

…The venerable Shaikh ‘Abd al-Kabir once asked Mawlana Ala’ ad-Din: “When your Shaikh was ill at ease, what did he say to you?” Mawlana replied: “When you come to my side, you collect yourself and remember Allah. Even if you are far away from me, you must not forget, so that you do not fall apart!”

The Shaikh then asked him: “And how did you respond?” He said: “With silence.” The Shaikh said: “That was very inconsiderate of you! You ought to have said: ‘We cannot know Allah, but we do know you!”

According to the author of the Rashahat:

One of the great saints has said: “The disciple sees himself in his own mirror, but he does not see himself in the mirror of his Shaikh.” In Samarqand, I heard the venerable Khwaja ‘Ubaidu ‘llah say: “Since you have not been able to see Allah while I am still alive, what will you do after I have died?” The saying of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Kabir must also be understood in this sense. What the venerable Shaikh sought to convey is not that one cannot recognize and know Allah from the fundamental standpoint, and that spiritual knowledge of the Divine [ma’rifa Ilahiyya] is of little importance. It is rather intended to show the seeker the method of concentration, and to establish him in this practice. The pilot of those who learn by direct experience, the venerable Amir Husain, says in his works: “The seeker must become annihilated [fani] in his concentration on his spiritual guide, so that inner knowledge may be revealed to him from the countenance of his Shaikh.”

If the seeker strives to reach his goal by ways of the Shaikh alone, he will reach his goal… the seeker must therefore remind himself, the one road to Allah’s good pleasure is the good pleasure of the Shaikh, and he must act accordingly The route to arrival at the Truth, and to contact with the Truth, passes through the heart of the Shaikh. In reality, the heart of the Shaikh is the home of Allah…This means that the wisdom contained in the saying of the venerable Shaikh ‘Abd al-Kabir -“We cannot know Allah, but we know you!”- is also related to this subtlety. It is tantamount to saying: “You are the door that leads to Allah! The house is entered through the door!” It shows the seeker the way to his goal.”

The Principle Rule of the Order of the Masters of Wisdom [Tariqat i-Khwajagan] By Khwaja ‘Abdu’llah Isfahani

Excerpted from: Rashahat ‘Ain al-Hayat [Beads of Dew from the Source of Life: Histories of the Khwajagan: The Masters of Wisdom]. Translated by Muhtar Holland. Al-Baz Publishing. P. 118-119.

Khwaja ‘Abdu’llah Isfahani was yet another of the venerable Khwaja Ala ad-Din’s affiliates. He said: When the venerable Khwaja first honoured me with his company, he recited these verses to me:

Let no trace of you remain;
In this alone perfection lies.
In Oneness make your being naught;
Communion lies in this alone.

Khwaja ‘Abdu’llah Isfahani wrote a very useful treatise on the Order of the Masters of Wisdom, under the patronage of a distinguished descendent of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). We shall now present some excerpts from this work:

“The principle rule of this Order [Tariqat i-Khwajagan] is the following: From whichever perfect guide the seeker receives initiation, he must preserve the guide’s image in the treasure of his heart, until the time when he begins to demonstrate how his heart has been affected by the warmth and quality of that connection. As for what is necessary after that, it is not to abandon that same image, but to embrace it much more tightly than ever. The seeker must rivet that image to his heart, with his eyes, his ears and all his faculties.

What is called the “heart” is the centre of the comprehensive human reality, of which all the higher and lower elements of the universe are detailed particulars. The seeker must exert himself to experience the substance of that lofty reality, by expressing the affirmation of Oneness in his heart, using the formula: “There is nothing in existence, other than Allah!” By making this effort, whatever temptation may be whispered, he will consider it as being from Allah and existing because of Allah. This is because that whispered temptation is also one of the mental entities, and also like so many things that are false and absurd, it actually represents a manifestation of the Truth. If this procedure is followed, an ardour will arise in the heart, putting an end to trouble and dispelling dangers.

Even when whispered temptation departs, it is essential to cling to the same relationship. If whispered temptation still refuses to go away, the seeker must pronounce the word “Allah” in a slowly drawn-out manner, while striving to establish the meaning of Oneness in the heart. He must continue to pronounce the word “Allah” until the moment when boredom and weariness overcome the lower self. If signs of tiredness and exhaustion appear, he must desist.

As the spiritual traveller is obliged to know and understand, while he is making progress in the state of detachment from himself, and in his relationship with the great saints, attention to other things amounts to something resembling unbelief [kufr].”

To be in oneself is unbelief [kufr],
while transcending oneself is true faith [iman].