Mawlana Shaykh Khalid al-Baghdadi (Q)
Qaddas Allahu Sirru (May Allah Sanctify His Soul’s secret)
1193 H – 13th Dhul Qi’da 1242 H
1779 CE – 1827 CE
“He praises me, and I praise Him;
He serves me, and I serve Him;
By my existence I affirm Him;
And by my determination I deny Him;
It is He who knows me, when I deny Him;
Then I discover Him and contemplate Him.”
Ibn ‘Arabi, Fusus al-Hikam.
He was the Scholar of Scholars and the Saint of Saints and the Knower of Knowers and the Light and the Full Moon of this Order in his time. He was the Keeper of the Secrets of Realities and the Realities of the Secrets. His secrets moved into every human being just as the soul moves into the body. If the Prophet ﷺ had not been the Seal of Prophecy his words would have been revelation. He spread the knowledge of both Islamic law and Ta awwuf. He was a mujtahid (authority) in Divine Law (shari`a) and in Divine Reality (Haqiqat). He was the Scholar of the Perfect Saints and He was the Saint of the Perfect Scholars. He achieved all the spiritual and the worldly knowledge. He learned the branches and the trunk. He was the Center of the Circle of Qutbs in his time and he was the means of merging the ends with the beginnings and the beginnings with the ends.
He was the Reviver of the 13th Century of the Hijra. The Universe was proud of his existence. He was born in the year 1193 H./1779 CE. in the village of Karada of the city of Sulaymaniyyah in Iraq. He was raised and trained in that city, where there were many schools and many mosques and which was considered the primary educational city of his time. His grandfather was Pir Mika’il Chis Anchit, which means Mika’il the Saint of the six fingers. His title is `Uthmani because he is a descendant of Sayyidina `Uthman ibn `Affan (as), the third khalif of the Prophet ﷺ. He studied the Qur’an and the explanation of Imam Rafica according to the Shafi`i school. He was famous in poetry. When he was fifteen years of age he took asceticism as his creed, hunger as his horse, wakefulness as his means, seclusion as his friend, and energy as his light.
His Journey of Seeking Knowledge
He was a traveler in Allah’s World and he achieved all the kinds of knowledge available in his time. He studied with the two great scholars of his time, Shaykh `Abdul Karam al-Barzinji and Shaykh Abdur Rahim al-Barzinji, and he read with Mullah Muhammad `Ali . He returned to Sulaymaniyyah and there studied the Sciences of mathematics, philosophy, and logic. Then he came to Baghdad and studied the Mukhtasar al-Muntaha fil-Usul, an encyclopedia of the Principles of Jurisprudence.
Then he studied the works of Ibn Hajar, Suyuti, and Haythami. He memorized the commentary of the Qur’an of Baydawi. He was able to find solutions for even the most difficult questions in jurisprudence. He memorized the Qur’an according to the fourteen different ways of recitation, and became very famous everywhere for this. The Prince Ihsan Ibrahim Pasha, the governor of Baban, tried to persuade him to look after the schools in his kingdom. However, he refused and moved to the city of Sanandaj, where he studied the Sciences of mathematics, engineering, astronomy, and chemistry. His teacher in these disciplines was Muhammad al-Qasim as-Sanandaji. After completing the study of the secular sciences he returned to the city of Sulaymaniyyah. Following the plague of 1213 H/1798 AD., he took over the school of his Shaykh `Abdul Karam Barzinji. He taught the modern sciences, verifying the most delicate equations of astronomy and chemistry.
He then entered seclusion, leaving everything he had studied behind, coming to Allah’s door with all kinds of pious actions and much dhikr, both loud and silent. He no longer visited the sultans, but kept to himself and to his murids, until the year 1220 H./1806 AD. when he decided to make the Pilgrimage and to visit the Prophet ﷺ. He left everything and went to Hijaz through the cities of Mosul and Yarbikir and ar-Raha and Aleppo and Damascus, where he met its scholars and followed its Shaykh, the master of both the ancient and the modern knowledge and the teacher of hadith, ash-Shaykh Muhammad al-Kuzbara. He received authorization in the Qadiri Tariqat from Shaykh al-Kuzbari and his deputy, Shaykh Mustafa al-Kurdi, who travelled with him until he reached the city of the Prophet ﷺ.
He praised the Prophet in Persian poetry in such a way that people were astonished at his eloquence. He spent a long time in the City of the Prophet ﷺ. He reported:
“I was looking for someone of rare piety in order to take some advice when I saw a Shaykh on the right-hand side of the Blessed Gravesite (Rawdatu-sh-Sharifa). I asked him to give me advice, counsel from a wise scholar to an ignorant person. He advised me not to object when I enter Makkah to matters which might appear to be counter to the shari`a, but to keep quiet. I reached Makkah, and keeping in my heart that advice, I went to the Holy Mosque early on the morning of Friday. I sat near the Ka’ba reading Dala’il al-Khayrat, when I saw a man with a black beard leaning on a pillar and looking at me. It came to my heart that the man was not showing the proper respect to the Ka`ba, but I didn’t say anything to him about the matter.” [Shaykh Khalid al-Baghdadi]
“He looked at me and scolded me, saying, ‘O ignorant one, don’t you know that the honor of the heart of a believer is far more than the privilege of the Ka`ba? Why do you criticize me in your heart for standing with my back to the Ka`ba and my face to you. Didn’t you hear the advice of my Shaykh in Madinah who told you not to criticise?’ I ran to him and asked his forgiveness, kissing his hands and feet and asking him for his guidance to Allah. He told me, ‘O my son, your treasures and the keys to your heart are not in these parts, but in India. Your Shaykh is there. Go there and he will show you what you have to do.’ I didn’t see anyone better than him in all the Haram. He didn’t tell me where to go in India, so I went back to Sham and associated with its scholars.” [Shaykh Khalid al-Baghdadi]
He then returned to Sulaymaniyyah and continued his teachings of self-denial. He was always looking for someone to show him the way. Finally, there came to Sulaymaniyyah the Shaykh Mawlana Mirza Rahimullah Beg al-M`aruf, known by the name of Muhammad ad-Darwish `Abdul `Azim al-Abadi, one of the khalifs of the spiritual pole, Qutb al-A`zam, `Abdullah ad-Dehlawi (q). He met with him and gave him respect and asked him about the perfect guide to show him the way. He told him, “There is one perfect Shaykh, a Scholar and a Knower, showing the seeker the way to the King of Kings, expert in this delicate matter, following the Naqshbandi Way, carrying the Character of the Prophet ﷺ, a guide in the Knowledge of Spirituality. Come back with me to his service in Jehanabad. He had told me before I left, ‘You are going to meet someone, bring him back with you.'”
Shaykh Khalid moved to India in 1224 H./1809 AD. through the city of Ray, then Tehran, and then some provinces of Iran where he met the great scholar Isma`il al-Kashi. Then he travelled to Kharqan, Samnan, and Nisapur. He visited the Master of the Mother of all Tariqats in Bistam, Shaykh Bayazid al-Bistami, and he praised him in his grave with a very eloquent poem in Persian. Then he moved on to Tus, where he visited as-Sayyid al-Jalal al-Ma’nas al-Imam `Ali Rida, and he praised him with another Persian poem that made all the poets of Tus accept him. Then he entered the city of Jam and he visited ash-Shaykh Ahmad an-Namiqi al-Jami and praised him with another Persian poem. He then entered the city of Herat in Afghanistan, then Kandahar, Kabul, and Peshawar. In all these cities the great scholars with whom he met would test his knowledge in the sciences of Divine Law (shari`a) and Divine Awareness (ma`rifat), and those of logic, mathematics, and astronomy. They found him like a wide river, flowing with knowledge, or like an ocean without shore.
His Meeting and Initiation with Shaykh Abdullah Dahlawi (Q)
Then he moved on to Lahore, where he met with Shaykh Thana’ullah an-Naqshbandi and asked for his prayers and his du`a. He recalled:
“That night I slept in Lahore and I had a dream in which Shaykh Thana’ullah an-Naqshbandi pulled me with his teeth. When I awoke I wanted to tell him the dream but he said, ‘Do not tell me the dream, we know it already. That is a sign to move on to my brother and Shaykh, Sayyidina `Abdullah ad-Dahlawi. The opening of your heart will be by his hands. You will take initiation in the Naqshbandi Order.’ Then I began to feel the Shaykh’s spiritual attraction. I left Lahore, crossing mountains and valleys, forests and deserts until I reached the Sultanate of Delhi known as Jehanabad. It took me one year to reach his city. Forty days before I arrived he told his followers, ‘My successor is coming.'” [Shaykh Khalid al-Baghdadi]
The night he entered the city of Jehanabad he wrote a poem in Arabic, recounting his year of travel and praising his Shaykh. Then he praised him with a Persian poem which surprised everyone with its eloquence. He gave everything that he was carrying with him and all that was in his pocket to the poor. Then he was initiated by his Shaykh, `Abdullah ad-Dahlawi (q). He served in the zawiya (mosque-school) of the Shaykh and made rapid progress in the struggle against his self. Five months had not passed when he became one of the People of the Divine Presence and the Divine Vision.
His Ijaza (Authorization) from different Tariqas
He took permission from Shaykh `Abdullah to return to Iraq. The Shaykh gave him written authority in five tariqats.
The first was the Naqshbandi Order, or the Golden Chain, the subject of this book.
The second was the Qadiri Order through Sayyidina Ahmad al-Faruqi’s Shaykh Shah as-Sakandar and thence to Sayyidina `Abdul Qadir Jilani, al-Junayd, as-Sirra as-Saqati, Musa al-Kazim (as), Ja`far as-Sadiq (as), Imam al-Baqir (as), Zain al-`Abideen (as), al-Husayn (as), al-Hasan (as), `Ali ibn Abi Talib (as), and Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ.
The third Tariqat, as-Suhrawardiyya, traced its silsila (chain) similarly to the Qadiriyya until al-Junayd, who went back to Hasan al-Basri and thence to Sayyidina `Ali (as) and the Prophet ﷺ.
He also gave him authority in the Kubrawiyya Tariqat, which had the same lineage as the Qadiriyya but through Shaykh Najmuddin al-Kubra.
Finally, he was granted authority in the Chishti Tariqat through a line that went back from `Abdullah ad-Dahlawi and Jan Janan to Sayyidina Ahmad al-Faruqi and then through many Shaykhs to Shaykh Mawrad Chishti, Nasir Chishti, Muhammad Chishti, and Ahmad Chishti to Ibraham ibn Adham, Fudayl ibn al-`Iyad , Hasan al-Basri, Sayyidina `Ali (as), and the Prophet ﷺ.
He gave him authorization to teach all the Sciences of Hadith, Tafsir, Sufism, and the Daily Practices (awrad). He memorized the Books of the Ithna `Ashari (Twelve Imams), the source-books for the knowledge of the descendants of Sayyidina `Ali (as).
His Traveling and Teaching
He moved to Baghdad in the year 1228 H./1813 AD. for the second time and he stayed in the school of Ahsa’iyya Isfahaniyyah. He filled it up with the knowledge of Allah and His Remembrance. Then some of the jealous people wrote against him to the Sultan, Sa`id Pasha, governor of Baghdad, criticizing him. They accused him of unbelief and other things that cannot be repeated. When the governor read the letter, he said, “If Shaykh Khalid al-Baghdadi is not a believer, then who is a believer?” He had his envious enemies thrown out of his presence and jailed.
The Shaykh left Baghdad for some time and then returned again for a third time. He returned to the same school, which had been renovated to welcome him. He began anew to spread all kinds of spiritual and heavenly knowledge. He unveiled the secrets of the Divine Presence, illuminating the hearts of the people with the lights that Allah gave to his heart, until the governor, the scholars, the teachers, the workers, and people from every walk of life counted themselves among his followers. Baghdad in his time was so famous for his knowledge, that it was called, “the Place of the Two Knowledges,” and “the Place of the Two Suns.” Similarly, he came to be known as “He of the Two Wings” (dhu-l-janahayn), an allusion to his complete mastery of the external and the internal knowledge. He sent his khalifs everywhere, from Hijaz to Iraq, from Sham (Syria) to Turkey, from Iran to India and Transoxania, to spread the way of his forerunners in the Naqshbandi Order.
Wherever he went people would invite him to their homes, and whatever home he entered that home would become prosperous. One day he visited the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem with many of his followers. He reached the Dome of the Rock and his khalif, `Abdullah al-Fardi, came out to meet him with a large crowd of people. Some of the Christians asked him to enter the Church of Kumama to bless it with his presence. Then he continued on his way to al-Khalil (Hebron), the City of Ibrahim the Father of all Prophets (as), and he was welcomed by all people. He entered the Mosque of Ibrahim al-Khalil and he took the blessings of its walls.
Getting the Key to two Holy Cities (Haramayn)
He went again to Hijaz to visit Baitullah (the Holy Ka`ba) in the year 1241 H/1826 AD. A large crowd of his khalifs and murids accompanied him. The city of the Holy Mosque with all its scholars and saints came out to meet him and all took initiation from him. They gave him the keys of the two Holy Cities and they considered him to be the Spiritual Shaykh of the Two Holy Cities. He circled around the House, but in Reality the Ka`ba was circling him.
After his pilgrimage and visit to the Holy Prophet ﷺ, he went back to Sham ash-Sharif (Blessed Syria). He was so well-respected by the Ottoman Sultan, Mahmud Khan, that when he entered Sham a huge celebration was held and 250,000 people welcomed him at the gate of the city. All the scholars, ministers, and Shaykhs, the poor and the rich came to take his baraka (blessing) and to ask for his prayers. It was a celebrated day. The poets sang its praises and the rich fed the poor. Everyone was equal before him when he entered the city. He revived the Spiritual knowledge and the external knowledge and spread that light for which people, both Arabs and non-Arabs, came and accepted the Naqshbandi Order at his hand.
Losing his family in Shaam Sharif
In the last ten days of Ramadan of the year 1242 H./1827 AD. he decided to visit Quds (Jerusalem) from Damascus. His followers were very happy and he said, “Alhamdulillah, we will do it if Allah gives us life, after Ramadan, in the beginning of Shawwal.” That was an indication that he might be leaving this world.
In the first days of Shawwal, the plague began to spread quickly in the city of Sham (Damascus). One of his followers asked him to pray for him to be saved from the plague, and added, “And for you also my Shaykh.” He said, “I feel shy before my Lord, because my intention in coming to Sham was to die in this Holy Land.”
The first one to die from the plague was his son, Bahauddin, on the night of Friday and he said, “Alhamdulillah, this is our way,” and he buried him on the Mount of Qasiyun. He was five years and some days old. That child was fluent in three languages, Persian, Arabic, and Kurdish, and he used to read Qur’an.
Then, on the 9th of Dhul-Qi`da, another son, Abdur Rahman, passed on. He was older than his brother by one year. Mawlana Khalid (q) ordered his murids to re-open the grave to bury his second son. He said, “From my followers so many are going to die.” He ordered them to dig many graves for the many followers, including his wife and his daughter, and he ordered them to water the area.
Chosing Shaykh Isma’il Ash Shirwani as His Deputy
Then he said, “I am giving the authority to succeed me in the Naqshbandi Tariqat to Shaykh Isma`il ash-Shirwani.” He said this the year of his death, 1242 H./1827 AD.
One day he said, “I had a great vision yesterday: I saw Sayyidina `Uthman Dhun-Nurayn (as) [fourth Khalifa of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)] as if he were dead and I was praying over him. He opened his eyes and said, ‘This one is from my children.’ He took me by the hand, brought me to the Prophet ﷺ, and told me to bring all the Naqshbandi followers of my time and after my time up to the time of the Mahdi (as), and he blessed them. Then I came out of that vision, and I prayed Maghrib with my followers and my children.
“Whatever I have of secrets I have given to my deputy Isma`il ash-Shirwani. Whoever does not accept him is not from me. Don’t argue but be of one mind and follow the opinion of Shaykh Isma`il. I guarantee that anyone of you who accepts and follows him will be with me and with the Prophet ﷺ.”
His Last Sacrifice for People of Shaam Sharif
He ordered them not to cry on his behalf, and he asked them to slaughter animals and feed the poor for the love of Allah and the honor of the Shaykh. He asked them to send him gifts of reading from Qur’an and recitations of prayers. He ordered them not to write anything on his grave except, “This is the grave of the stranger Khalid.”
After `Isha‘ he entered his house, called his family, and advised them, “I am going to pass on Friday.” They stayed with him all night. Before Fajr he got up, made ablution, and prayed for a while. Then he entered his room and said, “No one may enter my room except those I order to do so.” He lay on his right side, facing the Qiblah, and said, “I have been struck by the plague. I am carrying all the plague which has descended on Damascus.” He raised his hands and prayed, “Whoever the plague touches, let it strike me instead and spare everyone in Sham.”
Thursday came and all his khalifs entered. Sayyidina Isma`il ash-Shirwani asked him, “How are you feeling?” He said, “Allah has answered my prayer. I will take all the plague from the people of Sham and I alone will die on Friday.” They offered him water, but he refused and said, “I left that world behind to meet my Lord. I have accepted to carry the plague and relieve those in Sham who are infected. I will pass on Friday.”
Returning to His Lord in Peace
He opened his eyes and said, “Allahu haqq, Allahu haqq, Allahu haqq,” the oath of initiation into the Naqshbandi Tariqat, and he read ayats 27-30 from the Quranic Chapter al-Fajr: “O soul in complete rest and satisfaction! Come back to thy Lord–well pleased and well pleasing. Enter thou among My Devotees! Enter thou My Heaven!” (Quran 89:27-30) Then he gave his soul to His Lord and he passed on, as he had predicted, on the 13th of the Islamic month Dhul Qi’da, 1242 H./1827 AD. They carried him to his school and they washed him with water full of light. They shrouded him while all of them made Dhikr, especially Shaykh Isma`il ash-Shirwani, Shaykh Muhammad, and Shaykh Aman. They read Qur’an around him and in the morning they carried him to the masjid in Yulbagha.
Shaykh Isma`il ash-Shirwani asked Shaykh Aman `Abdin to pray the funeral prayer for him. The mosque was unable to accomadate all the people who attended. It is said that more than 300,000 people prayed behind him. Shaykh Isma`il promised those who could not pray in the mosque that he would pray janaza on him a second time at the grave. Those who washed him took him down into the grave. The next day, Saturday, it was as if a miracle had happened in Sham, the plague immediately stopped and there were no further deaths.
Mawlana Khalid al Baghdadi passed his Secret to his successor, Shaykh Isma`il ash-Shirwani. (May Allah Sanctify his secret)