Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education

The Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education (NFIE) is a non-profit, tax exempt, religious and educational organization dedicated to serve Islam with a special focus on Tasawwuf(Sufism),

Saturday, April 17, 2010

In Memory of Shaykh Muhammad Masum Naqshbandi (R.A)


In Memory of Shaykh Muhammad Masum Naqqshbandi (R.A)

By Rauf Naqishbendi - Kurdish Media - UK
Thursday, February 22, 2007

Naqshbandiyah which has been the most influential and wide-spread order in Sufism’s (Tasawwuf) long history is named after Khwaja Baha al-Din Muhammad Naqshband. Naqshbandiyah’s spiritual leadership rendered a significant transition from Shah “Abd Allah” Dehlawi to one of his splendid foreign disciples, Shaykh Mawlana Khalid Kurdi, and subsequently to the great Shaykh Othman Serajaddin and later to his son Shaykh Omar Zia’addin, in Kurdistan of Iraq.

It was Shaykh Omar Zia’addin who founded the famous Madrassa (school) of Biara. This in turn transformed Biara,Kurdistan,Iraq into a gigantic fountain of spiritual wisdom flowing to the neighboring regions. Since then, three generations of descendants with their utmost discipline have granted miraculous growth within Kurdistan and beyond, leaving no corner of the Muslim World untouched.

Millions of faithful followers have found spiritual comfort in this order not for the inducement to perform Karamat, but for the elation of the soul through the adherence to the true essence of teachings of Quran and close following of true Islamic principles (Sharia and Sunnah). The success and world-wide endorsement of the Naqshbandi order were engendered by their revival of the essence of Islam with an emphasis on the rules of Sharia.

Naqshbandi leaders have been spiritual guides to many, providing much needed hope to the hopeless, comfort to the troubled and kindness to the desolate. They fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless and gave medicine to the sick; they were emphatic about inclusion, implying that no one should be forsaken. They possessed nothing of their own. When these elders were redeemed, there was very little wealth to be bequeathed to their descendants, yet they left great respectability and the admiration of their followers to perpetuate and enshrine their names thereafter.

Shaykh Muhammad Masum, the grandson of Shaykh Omar Zia’addin and the last of this spiritual lineage, was born in Biara. He studied the Islamic sciences under the supervision of the most distinguished scholars of his time. Upon the completion of his studies, he was granted a “Certificate of Muddarres of Islamic Sciences” in 1942.

Shaykh Masum Naqshbandi left this world a short time ago at the age of ninety two, leaving his loved ones and his followers with a vacant seat that cannot be filled. He was living in Iran, in the small town of Mahabad in the western part of the country. He was not a politician but a spiritual figure, as his forefathers were, and he trod in their path faithfully.

In 1991, Shaykh Masum migrated to the United States where as an esteemed spiritual guide he continued to inspire, educate, and inform people about the universal message of Islam. Advanced in age, he continued in the path of his saintly life, very frustrated by what his country, Kurdistan, and his people had become.

Although illness had limited his public appearances during his final years in the United States, it did not prevent him from continuing his mission. Serving as a genuine source of guidance to many renowned Islamic scholars, he continued to comment with great insight on projected scholarly issues, reflecting his depth of spiritual wisdom.

When I last saw him, he expressed his profound desire to be buried amongst his forefathers upon his redemption. Thanks are due to his children, as they accommodated for his final resting place in the serenity of the crowd of his beloved ones.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

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Gai Eaton: Remembering UK's Eloquent Voice of Islam


Gai Eaton,Martin Lings,Hamza Yusuf

Gai Eaton: Remembering the UK's Eloquent Voice of Islam ---- HA Hellyer, The National, April 7, 2010

In retrospect, it was a little bit peculiar to call his house after his passing. I was hoping to give my condolences to his family – instead, I got a chance to hear his voice one last time. On his answering machine, he still came through as the distinguished gentleman I had always known him to be. With the passing of Charles Le Gai Eaton, also known as Hassan Abdul-Hakeem, the last of a particular generation of remarkable western Muslims left this world – and certainly, he was one of the more influential of them, as attested by the numerous condolence messages from across the spectrum of British society and Anglophones everywhere.

Raised as an agnostic, Eaton received his education at Charterhouse (a renowned school in England), before going to study at Cambridge University. After working for some time as a teacher and journalist in Jamaica and Egypt, he joined the British diplomatic service in 1949. In 1951, he became Muslim, which irrevocably changed his world view, enabling him to become one of the pre-eminent writers on Islam for a British audience in the contemporary age. He was deeply engaged with the challenges facing Britain’s Muslims, and later served them at the Islamic Cultural Centre at Regent’s Park in London with distinction for many years.

Many people in the UK have become Muslims since 1951 – but Eaton made a particular contribution to all English-speaking communities. As a young university student researching Islamic thought, I looked hard for contemporary authors in that area of study, even if they were not religious authorities themselves. Much of what was available at the time, particularly in the English language, was infused with political undertones, and aimed at an activist lifestyle. While the call to action through faith isn’t wrongheaded as such, it has its limitations. Eaton’s works, such as King and the Castle and Islam and the Destiny of Man, were completely different, aiming at reorientating the reader towards a God-centered life, rather than a life aimed at success in this world.

He was empowered by his deep attachment to living a faithful life in the contemporary world, combined with a profound suspicion of what modernity really had to offer in the advancement of the human being. He wrote as a Muslim, but those who read his works were from all faith backgrounds and none. He insisted that he was not a classically trained authority of the Islamic sciences, but he had a unique way with the English language that few writers on Islam could match. His admirers did not always share his philosophical perspectives, but few could deny his profound eloquence and high culture.

As a young student, I met Eaton at an academic conference, and took the opportunity to tell him how impressed and touched I had been by his books. He was so utterly humble – although I was much younger than him, he seemed incredibly embarrassed when I made the very suggestion that his works were of any worth. Recognizing him as one of the last great spiritual writers of his generation, and a reminder of high culture, I kept in touch with him, although it was certainly a one-sided relationship. When I last visited him in his home in Surrey with a friend, he was the epitome of a gentleman – he should never have exerted himself, considering his advanced years, but he nevertheless treated us with the highest hospitality.

My companion was incredibly grateful just for the opportunity to encounter him in the flesh – and that was entirely appropriate. For all those who read him, he was a deeply spiritual author who reminded us how the English idiom ought to be used when speaking of the highest spiritual matters. He was keen to jog our memory as to the importance of correct language, refusing to be swept away by current trends to overuse words like “tolerance” and “terrorism”, both of which he felt were utterly abused and bereft of their proper meaning. In the aftermath of the July 7 bombings, he warned many against curtailing civil liberties in response, and cared little for the fact it was an unpopular position to take.

In his last days, I received a message from a friend who had tended to him in his old age. At that time, Eaton was stable, but appeared as though he was wholly resigned to what he knew was inevitable for every soul. He saw his last days not in despair, but in hope for the mercy of God, displaying for his family and friends an elegant resignation. The Prophet of Islam said: “Death is the only preacher you need” – and Eaton himself was a preacher in the way he lived and the way he died.

His death, as his life, was fortuitous. He died on a Friday, which is noted as a special day in Islam – but he also died on the birthday of the Prophet. Eaton was particularly drawn to the Sufi experience within Islam, and within that experience, the celebration of the birth of the Prophet, as the “mercy to the worlds”, is especially important. That he passed away on that day is not something he would regard as coincidence – for indeed, he loved the Prophet with his heart and soul.

The school Eaton attended in Surrey had a Latin motto: Deo Dante Dedi – “God having given [to me], I gave”. His life is a testament to that adage – he felt so grateful to God, he made it incumbent upon himself to give to others in the books he wrote and the service he provided. With his passing, it truly is an end of an era for Britain.

Charles Le Gai Hassan Abdul-Hakeem Eaton was born in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1921. He passed away in London, England on February 26, 2010.

HA Hellyer is the author of “Muslims of Europe”, a Fellow of the University of Warwick and the director of the Visionary Consultants Group