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).
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.
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 ofRisala 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.