Bismillahi 'r-rahmani 'r-raheem
A Glimpse at Our Beloved Mawlana Shaykh Nazim's
Life and Teachings
Dr. G.F. Haddad
12 Rabi' al-Awwal 1425 - 1 May 2004
Glory and thanks to You, our Lord, for guiding us to the mercy oceans of Your truth and Your light. Allahumma! Send blessings and salutations of peace to our liege-lord Muhammad, the Seal of Your Prophets and Messengers who brought the Last Testament - the Qur'an - and upon his Family and all his Companions, and his inheritors past and present, especially his chief successor and representative in our time. The weak servant Gibril ibn Fouad was asked to "write a biography and article on our Beloved Mawlana Shaykh Nazim in your own few words about his life and teachings and your experience with him." This month of Rabi' al-Awwal 1425 (May 2004) is most appropriate for this. May Allah inspire both the writer and the reader about Mawlana Shaykh Nazim to render justice to this high subject. There is no power nor help except in Him. Just as He encompasses our ignorance with His knowledge, so may He encompass it with His mercy, Amin! ( Al-Hamdu lillah, permission was secured from Mawlana to release this text today.)
Mawlana's full name is Muhammad Nazim 'Adil ibn al-Sayyid Ahmad ibn Hasan Yashil Bash al-Haqqani al-Qubrusi al-Salihi al-Hanafi, may Allah sanctify his soul and have mercy on his foreparents. His kunya is Abu Muhammad - after his oldest son - and he is also the father of Baha' al-Din, Naziha, and Ruqayya.
He was born in 1341 (1922) in the city of Larnaca, Cyprus (Qubrus) to a family of Arab origin with Tatar roots. He told me that his father descended from Shaykh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani. I was also told that his mother descends from Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi. This makes him a son of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, upon him blessings and peace, on his father's side and a son of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, Allah be well pleased with him, on his mother's side.
After finishing school in Cyprus, Mawlana went to college in Istanbul and graduated in chemical engineering. There, he studied Arabic and fiqh under Shaykh Jamal al-Din al-Alsuni (d. 1375/1955) and received ijaza from him. He took tasawwuf and the Naqshbandi Tariqa from Shaykh Sulayman Arzarumi (d. 1368/1948) who eventually sent him to Sham (Syria).
Mawlana continued his Shari'a studies in Halab (Aleppo), Hama, and especially Hims. He studied at the shrine and mosque school of the great Companion Khalid ibn al-Walid (may Allah be well pleased with him) in Hims under its great Ulema and obtained ijaza in Hanafi fiqh from Shaykh Muhammad 'Ali 'Uyun al-Sud and Shaykh 'Abd al-Jalil Murad, and ijaza in hadith from the Muhaddith Shaykh 'Abd al-'Aziz ibn Muhammad 'Ali 'Uyun al-Sud al-Hanafi.
Note that the latter is one of the ten great hadith teachers of the late Rifa'i Hafiz of Aleppo, Shaykh al-Islam 'Abd Allah Siraj al-Din (1924- 2002 CE) who sat on his knees for two hours at the feet of Mawlana Shaykh 'Abd Allah when the latter visited Aleppo in 1959 and who gave bay'a in the Naqshbandi Tariqa to Mawlana Shaykh Nazim during the latter's last visit to him in Aleppo in 2001 as narrated to me by Ustadh Muhammad 'Ali ibn Mawlana al-Shaykh Husayn 'Ali from Shaykh Muhammad Faruq 'Itqi al-Halabi who was present at the latter event.
Mawlana also studied under Shaykh Sa'id al-Siba'i who sent him to Damascus after receiving a sign related to the coming of Mawlana Shaykh 'Abd Allah al-Daghistani to Syria. After his initial arrival in Syria from Daghistan in the late thirties, Mawlana Shaykh 'Abd Allah lived mostly in Damascus but often visited Aleppo and Hims. In the latter city he got to know Shaykh Sa'id al-Siba'i who was director of the Khalid ibn Walid School. Shaykh Sa'id wrote him, "We have a remarkable student from Turkey studying with us." Mawlana Shaykh 'Abd Allah replied to him, "That student belongs to us; send him over!" That student was our teacher Mawlana Shaykh Nazim who came to Damascus and gave his bay'a to our Grandshaykh between 1941 and 1943.
The next year Mawlana al-Shaykh 'Abd Allah moved into the house bought for him by his first Syrian Murid and presently-living caliph, Mawlana al-Shaykh Husayn ibn 'Ali ibn Muhammad 'Ifrini al-Kurkani al-Rabbani al-Kurdi al-Shaykhani al-Husayni (b. 1336/1917) - Allah sanctify his soul and have mercy on his foreparents - in Qasyoun, the mount overlooking Damascus to which Allah Most High alluded: "By the Fig and the Olive! By Mount Sina!" (95:1-2) Qatada and al-Hasan al-Basri said: "The Fig is the Mount on which Damascus sits [Jabal Qasyun] and the Olive is the Mount on which Jerusalem sits." Narrated by 'Abd al-Razzaq, al-Tabari, al-Wahidi, al-Bayzawi, Ibn al-Jawzi, al-Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, al-Suyuti, al-Shawkani, etc., all in their Tafsirs.
Mawlana Shaykh Nazim also bought a house near Grandshaykh's house and, together with Mawlana Shaykh Husayn, helped build Masjid al- Mahdi, Grandshaykh's Mosque, which was recently enlarged into a Jami' in the back of which is Grandshaykh's illumined grave and shrine and where, to this day, delicious cereal and chicken soup is prepared in huge vats and continues to be distributed to the poor twice a week.
Thus, Mawlana Shaykh Nazim lived in Damascus from the mid-forties to the early eighties, travelling at times to study or on behalf of Grandshaykh, until the latter left this life in 1973, after which Mawlana remained in Damascus for several years then moved to Cyprus.
So Mawlana, who is originally Cypriot, and Grandshaykh, who is originally Daghistani, both became Damascene "Shamiyyun" and lived in the district of the righteous (al-salihin) called Salihiyya! No doubt, the reason for the importance of Damascus for Mawlana and GrandShaykh is because Sham is blessed and protected through the Prophets and Saints.
Imam Ahmad and his student Abu Dawud narrated with sahih chains that our Holy Prophet said, upon him blessings and peace: "You must go to Sham. It is Divinely chosen by Allah in all His earth. In it He protects His chosen servants; and Allah Almighty has given me a Guarantee concerning Sham and its people!" Imam al-Nawawi said in his book Irshad Tullab al-Haqa'iq ila Ma'rifati Sunan Khayr al-Khala'iq (s): "This hadith is among the huge merits of Sham and is an observable fact!"
The director of Dar al-Ifta' in Beirut, Lebanon, Shaykh Salah al-Din Fakhri told me in his house in Beirut and wrote to me by hand: On the morning of al-Ahad 20 Rabi' al-Akhir 1386 corresponding to Sunday 7 August, 1966, we were granted the privilege of visiting Shaykh 'Abd Allah al-Daghistani - Allah have mercy on him - in Mount Qasyun in Damascus on the initiative and in the company of Mawlana al-Shaykh Mukhtar al-'Alayli - Allah have mercy on him - the Mufti of the Republic of Lebanon at the time; [and uncle of Shaykh Hisham Kabbani], Shaykh Husayn Khalid the imam of Nawqara Mosque; Hajj Khalid Bashir - may Allah have mercy on both of them; Shaykh Husayn Sa'biyya [the present director of Dar al-Hadith al-Ashrafiyya in Damascus]; Shaykh Mahmud Sa'd; Shaykh Zakariyya Sha'r; and Hajj Mahmud Sha'r. The Shaykh received us most kindly, with a warm welcome full of happiness and mirth. This was in the presence of Shaykh Nazim al-Qubrusi - Allah save and keep him! We sat from nine o'clock in the morning until the zuhr call to prayer while the Shaykh - Allah have mercy on him - explained and spoke about Sham, its excellence, its extraordinary merits, and the fact that it is the site of the Resurrection and that Allah will gather all human beings in it for the final Reckoning. He mentioned things that moved our hearts and minds, imbued with the glorious spirit of the Salihiyya district, and he spoke about the indissoluble link - in practice as well as discourse - between tasawwuf and the Shari'a.... May Allah lead and keep us upon guidance in the company of the righteous Saints. Amin, ya Rabb al-'alamin! There are many more prestigious names of the Ulema and Awliya' of Sham that loved and associated with our Shuyukh during that golden period such as Shaykh Muhammad Bahjat al-Baytar (1311-1396), Shaykh Sulayman Ghawji al-Albani (d. 1378) the father of our teacher Shaykh Wahbi, Shaykh Tawfiq al-Hibri, Shaykh Muhammad al-'Arabi al-'Azzuzi (1308-1382) the Mufti of Lebanon and principal Shaykh of our teacher Shaykh Husayn 'Usayran, al-'Arif Shaykh Shahid al-Halabi, al-'Arif Shaykh Rajab al-Ta'i, Shaykh al-Qurra' Shaykh Najib Khayyata al-Farazi al-Halabi, al-'Arif Shaykh Muhammad al-Nabhan, Shaykh Ahmad 'Izz al-Din al-Bayanuni, al-'Arif Shaykh Ahmad al-Harun (1315-1382), Shaykh Muhammad Zayn al-'Abidin al-Jadhba, and others - Allah have mercy
on all of them!
From that blessed thirty-year suhba between Mawlana and GrandShaykh came those unparalleled Mercy Oceans that are still lavishing on every seeker their Endless Horizons, their Pink Pearls, their Rising Suns. No doubt, those early transcriptions are milestones of the greatest singlehanded call to Islam the US and Europe had seen in the twentieth century, by the grace of Allah!
May Allah bless Mawlana Shaykh Nazim ever more and grant him the highest stations He ever granted to His Friends, near our glorious liegelord Muhammad who said, upon him blessings and peace:
If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, Allah will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise, the angels will lower their wings from pleasure with one who seeks knowledge, and the dwellers of the heavens and the earth and the fish in the depth of the sea will ask forgiveness for the person of learning!
The superiority of the person of learning over the ordinary believer is like that of the moon on the night when it is full over the rest of the stars! The Ulema are the inheritors of the Prophets, and the Prophets have neither dinar nor dirham, they leave only knowledge; and he who takes it takes an abundant portion! The first place I ever travelled in search of this Prophetic Knowledge was London in the month of Ramadan 1411 following my shahadat an la ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadun Rasulullah. There, I took Mawlana's noble hand for the first time and made bay'a after having been introduced to Tariqa by his son-in-law and American deputy, Shaykh Hisham Kabbani - may Allah guide him and all Mawlana's friends!
I visited Mawlana several times in his home in Cyprus and saw him in Damascus as well. Among the gifts of suhba Mawlana gave were the last two weeks of Rajab in the year 1422 - October 2001 - in his house and zawiya in the Turkish Cypriot town of Lefke. A memento of this experience was written in Arabic and English and published under the title Qubrus al-Tarab fi Suhbati Rajab or The Joy of Cyprus in the Association of Rajab.
At that time and also later, during his last two trips to the US, in England,
Cyprus, and Damascus, I took from Mawlana the same great directive for every seeker of truth:
OUR GOAL IS THE DEFENSE AND ILLUSTRATION OF THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD AND HIS LOFTY ATTRIBUTES, upon him and his House and Companions blessings and peace;
to which Allah support us!
I understood from this that the true Murid in the Naqshbandi-Haqqani Tariqa is the friend and helper of every defender of Sayyidina Muhammad (s) and it is his duty to associate with such defenders because they are on Mawlana's path whether they are Naqshbandi or not.
When the octogenarian Friend of Allah in Johore, Malaysia, al-Habib 'Ali ibn Ja'far ibn 'Abd Allah al-'Aydarus received us in his home in May 2003, wearing clothes that had not changed since the 1940s, he looked like Mawlana in all respects and even seemed to mimick him when he said to pardon his broken Arabic. To our begging his du'a for our injured lands and people he replied, "The Umma is protected and in good hands and you have in Shaykh Nazim Sufficiency!"
Thus has it been for the humble murid of Mawlana in every encounter with the Awliya' of this Umma. They invariably show the highest respect and most fearsome humbleness to Mawlana and his silsila even when they are ostensibly on a different path such as al-Habib 'Ali al-'Aydarus in Malaysia; Sayyid Muhammad ibn 'Alawi al-Maliki in Makka; al-Habib 'Umar ibn Hafiz of Tarim; Sayyid Yusuf al-Rifa'i of Kuwait; Shaykh 'Isa al-Himyari in Dubai; Sayyid 'Afif al-Din al-Jilani and Shaykh Bakr al- Samarra'i of Baghdad; al-Sharif Mustafa ibn al-Sayyid Ibrahim al-Basir in central Morocco; the Grandmufti of Syria Shaykh Ahmad Kuftaro ibn Mawlana al-Shaykh Amin and his friends Shaykh Bashir al-Bani, Shaykh Rajab Dib, and Shaykh Ramazan Dib; the Kattani Shuyukh of Damascus; the late Shaykh 'Abd Allah Siraj al-Din and his nephew Dr. Nur al-Din 'Itr; Mawlana al-Shaykh 'Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghuri; Dr. Samer al- Nass; and the remainder of our teachers and brethren in Damascus - may Allah always protect her and have mercy on them and us! I have met each of the above-named except for Shaykh Siraj al-Din and they all invoked tarazzi on Mawlana al-Shaykh Nazim, expressing belief in the loftiness of his wilaya and asking for his du'a or that of his followers; "And Allah suffices as Witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of
It is an agreed-upon rule among the Men of Allah that multiplicity of paths is the theme (dandana) of the unconnected while those that are mawsul are all on one path and in one circle and they know each other and love one another. They will be on pulpits of light on the Day of Resurrection. Therefore, we Murids of those respective paths must also know and love one another for the sake of Allah and His Prophet and His friends so that we may enter that blessed light and belong in the highest circle of suhba and jama'a away from furqa and arrogance.
As Allah Most High said: "O Believers! Beware of Allah and keep [company and loyalty] with the Truthful ones!" and our Holy Prophet said (s): "I charge you with following my Companions then those that follow them then those that follow; after that, lying will spread... But you must keep to the Jama'a and beware of separation!"
This Jama'a is described in the mutawatir hadith: "He for whom Allah desires great good, He grants him true understanding in the Religion. I only distribute and it is Allah Who gives! That group shall remain in charge of the Order of Allah, unharmed by those who oppose them, until the coming of the Order of Allah." O Allah, make us thankful forever for what You gave and Your Rasul and Habib distributed!
I heard Mawlana Shaykh Nazim say many times on behalf of his teacher, Sultan al-Awliya' Mawlana al-Shaykh 'Abd Allah ibn Muhammad 'Ali ibn Husayn al-Fa'iz al-Daghistani thumma al-Shami al-Salihi (ca.1294-1393),1 - from Shaykh Sharaf al-Din Zayn al-'Abidin al-Daghistani al- Rashadi (d. 1354), - from his maternal uncle Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Madani al- Daghistani al-Rashadi,2 - from Shaykh Abu Muhammad Abu Ahmad Hajj 'Abd al-Rahman Effendi al-Daghistani al-Thughuri (d. 1299),3 - from Shaykh Jamal al-Din Effendi al-Ghazi al-Ghumuqi al-Husayni (d. 1292),4 - also (both al-Thughuri and al-Ghumuqi) from Muhammad Effendi ibn Ishaq al-Yaraghi al-Kawrali (d. 1260),5 - from Khass Muhammad Effendi al-Shirwani al-Daghistani (d. 1254),6 - from Shaykh Diya' al-Din Isma'il Effendi Dhabih Allah al-Qafqazi al-Shirwani al-Kurdamiri al-Daghistani (d. ?) - from Shaykh Isma'il al-Anarani (d. 1242), - from Mawlana Diya' al-Din Khalid Dhul-Janahayn ibn Ahmad ibn Husayn al-Shahrazuri al-Sulaymani al-Baghdadi al-Dimashqi al- Naqshbandi al-'Uthmani ibn 'Uthman ibn 'Affan Dhul-Nurayn (1190-1242) with his well-known chain up to Shah Naqshband Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Uwaysi al-Bukhari who said: "Our Tariqa is companionship and goodness is in the group!"
Allah be well-pleased with them, have mercy on them, reward them, and benefit us with them through our ears, our hearts and our entire beings, Amin!
Certain would-be Sufi critics of the Haqqani Tariqa expressed criticism of our path for what they term "lack of knowledge." A prudent Sufi would be the last person to utter such deluded criticism! They should be the first of people to know that knowledge by itself is not only useless but may be a mortal trap that leads to Satanic pride. Neither the proud nor the ignorant are excused; yet the loving, sincere, and repentent Sufi who suffers even severe gaps in his knowledge and adab is closer to Allah Most High and to knowledge of Allah than the knowledgeable Sufi who harbors a speck of pride in his heart. May Allah protect you and us!
Ibrahim al-Khawwass said knowledge is not to know much but to obey the Sunna and practice what one knows even if a little. Imam Malik said knowledge is not to know many things but is a light Allah casts in the heart.
Imam al-Shafi'i said knowledge is not to know proofs but to know what is beneficial.
And when someone said of Ma'ruf al-Karkhi, "He is not very knowledgeable," Imam Ahmad said: " Mah! Allah forgive you! Is anything meant by Knowledge other than what Ma'ruf attained?!"
Other critics object to Rabita or "connection," a particular characteristic of the Naqshbandi Tariqa. More precisely, they object to the element of tasawwur or "picturing" in Rabita which requires of the Murid to picture the image of the Shaykh in the heart at the beginning and during dhikr. But Allah Most High said, "Truly in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example" (33:21) and He said to "enter the houses through their doors" (2:189) and so we come to the Prophet (s) through the Siddiq (may Allah be well pleased with him) , and to the latter through
Salman (may Allah be well pleased with him) , and to the latter through Qasim (may Allah be well pleased with him) , and to the latter through the Sayyid (may Allah be well pleased with him) , etc. Since "the Ulema are the inheritors of the Prophets" it follows that the Murshid is our example of that example. He must be one of those of whom the Prophet said (s): "When you see them, you remember Allah!" This is narrated from Ibn 'Abbas, Asma' bint Zayd, and Anas (may Allah be well pleased with them) , and also from the Tabi'in Sa'id ibn Jubayr, 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Ghanam, and Muslim ibn Subayh.
Some even object to the Murid's self-effacement in the Shaykh or fana' fil-Shaykh. They say, "Your Shaykh is just a man; let your fana' be in Rasulullah!" But it is false that the guiding Shaykh is just like any other. Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi said - Allah sanctify his soul: Know that wayfaring (suluk) in this Most Distinguished Path is by connection (rabita) and love for the Shaykh we follow. Such a Shaykh trod this Path steadfastly and was dyed (insabagha) with all kinds of perfections through the strength of Divine attraction (jadhba). His gaze cures the diseases of the heart and his Concentration (tawajjuh) lifts away spiritual defects. The owner of these perfections is the Imam of the period and the Khalifa of that time.... Thus our connection is love and our relationship (nisba) is mirroring and dyeing regardless of being near or far. Then the murid gets dyed in this Path by the connection of love for the Shaykh, hour by hour, and gets enlightened through the reflection of his lights. In this pattern, knowledge of the process is not a precondition for the giving or receiving of benefit. The watermelon ripens through the heat of the sun hour by hour and warms with the passage of days. It matures, yet what knowledge does it have of this? Does the sun even know that it ripens and warms it? As mentioned above, objecting to fana' fil-Shaykh is also like Objecting to love of the Shaykh. We aim to love our Shaykh and know that he is the worthiest object of love and respect in this world.
As the poet said:
Out of pure and sincere faithfulness to you I say:
Love of you is written inside my heart of hearts,
a patent engraving [NAQSH], an ancient writ.
Nor do I have any will [IRADA] except your love,
Nor can I say anything to you but that I love you.
On this topic Mawlana said recently:
"We have been ordered to love holy people. These are the Prophets and, after Prophets, their inheritors, the Awliya'. We have been ordered to believe in Prophets and belief gives us Love. Love makes people to follow that beloved one. ITTIBA' means to love and follow while ITAAT means [only] to follow. An obedient person may be obedient by force or by love but not always by love.
"Now, Allah Almighty is asking for His servants to love Him. And servants can't reach directly to love of their Lord. Therefore, Allah Almighty sends, on behalf of Himself, Prophets that represent Him among His servants. And everyone that loves Awliya and Anbiya, through Awliya are reaching love of Prophets. And through love of Prophets you are reaching to love of Allah Almighty.
"Therefore, without love, a person can't be a beloved one in the Divine presence. If you are not giving your love, how does Allah Almighty love you?
"But people that are like wood, dry, dry wood, are denying love. They are such dry ones - no life! A tree, with love, is opening through spring time. But dry ones, even if seventy springs came on them, never open. Love makes nature open and give its fruits, its beauty to people. Without love, it should never be opening, never flowering, never giving its fruits. "So love IS the most important pillar for faith. No love, no faith. I may speak on it up to next year, but you must understand, from a drop, an ocean!" (This is the end of Mawlana's talk.)
By Mawlana, Allah has made all difficult things easy. We are grateful to know him because he is our shortcut to the nur in this Religion. This nur is the goal of every sane person. It is described in the magnificent verse "He gives wisdom unto whom He will, and he unto whom wisdom is given, he truly has received abundant good! But none remember except people of understanding" (2:269). May Allah grant us
this wisdom and keep us on the path He commands and loves for us! May Allah grant Mawlana long life in health and grant us the rank of his true discipleship for the sake of the Most Honored Prophet Muhammad!
Damascus, 12 Rabi' al-Awwal 1425.
1 There is a variety of opinions over Mawlana al-Shaykh 'Abd Allah's date of birth ranging from 1284 (in Muhammad Darniqa's al-Tariqa al-Naqshbandiyya) to 1294 according to Shaykh 'Abd Allah's oldest student Mawlana al-Shaykh Husayn (in Muhammad 'Ali ibn al-Shaykh Husayn 'Ali, al-Tariqat al-Naqshbandiyya al-Khalidiyya al-Daghistaniyya) to 1303 in Shaykh 'Adnan Kabbani's al-Futuhat al- Haqqaniyya to 1309 in Shaykh Hisham Kabbani's The Naqshbandi Sufi Way.
2 He also received the Qadiri Tariqa from Shaykh Ibrahim al-Qadiri (as did Shaykh
Jamal al-Din) with whom he began his suluk until Shaykh Ibrahim directed him to Shaykh al-Thughuri cf. 'Ali, Tariqa Naqshbandiyya (p. 229).
3 Cf. Shu'ayb ibn Idris al-Bakini, Hadaya al-Zaman fi Tabaqat al-Khwajagan al- Naqshbandiyya (p. 375). He also took directly from al-Yaraghi cf. Ilyas al-Zadqari,
Sullam al-Wusul as quoted in Hadaya (p. 378 n.).
4 Cf. al-Bakini, Hadaya (p. 396). He received the Qadiri Tariqa from Shaykh Ibrahim al-Qadiri and introduced the loud dhikr into the Daghistani branch of the Naqshbandiyya through that authorization cf. al-Bakini, Hadaya (p. 396); 'Ali, Tariqa Naqshbandiyya (p. 229).
5 And not 1254 as erroneously mentioned in several sources. The correction is
thanks to 'Ali, Tariqa Naqshbandiyya (p. 214). Muhammad al-Yaraghi also took directly from Shaykh Isma'il al-Shirwani cf. al-Bakini, Hadaya (p. 350-351).
6 From present-day Shirvan in Azerbaijan. He died in Damascus and is buried in
Mount Qasyoun next to Mawlana Khalid and Mawlana Isma'il al-Anarani who is Mawlana Khalid's first successor who died seventeen days after the death of Mawlana Khalid, both of them from the plague - may Allah have mercy on them and all His shuhada'.