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),

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Shaykh Muhammad `Uthmān Sirāj al-Dīn al-Naqshbandī R.A (1896-1997)


Shaykh Muhammad `Uthmān Sirāj al-Dīn al-Naqshbandī(1896-1997)

Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education
Muhammad `Uthmān Sirāj al-Dīn ibn Shaykh Muhammad `Alā al-Dīn al-Husaynī was the Shaykh of the Naqshbandī and Qadirī Sufi Orders.
He was born in the village of Bayāra in the Halabja region of Iraq in 1896(1314).
He was raised into a home with an environment of `ilm, piety and `ibāda. His father had taken special care in training him with both the outward and inner branches of `ilm more so after he had observed the boys zeal and readiness and after some karāmāt were witnessed. He was known for his exemplary behaviour and conduct with the `ulama and the awliyā. From a young age he was inclined to the pristine teachings of Islam and he loved the recitation of the Qurān.
He studied Tajwīd under the renowned Egyptian Qārī, Shaykh Mustafā Ismā`īl. In addition he studied the art of public speaking  and learnt the essentials with regard to leading a congregation in Salāt. He studied the various Islamic Sciences in the way the `ulama did. In addition he had also studied the various Arabic Sciences and Persian at the Bayāra and Durūd Schools.
After his father’s demise in 1953 (1373) he took over his duties and engaged in advising and guiding the people. He was very familiar with Prophetic and Herbal Medicine and thus treated many people. He was familiar with the herbal names in Kurdish, Arabic, Persian and Latin.
He remained in Bayāra until 1958 when he travelled to Iran where he found an environment and an atmosphere more conducive to the Islamic teachings and advising people in matters of Islam. Here many `ulama gathered around him.
He established a school that accommodated 450 students who all studied the Islamic sciences at his expense. Under his supervision more than 100 such schools were established in the region and during his stay in the area more than one million Muslims had attached themselves to him. These people adhered to the recitation of the Qurān and the litanies of the Naqshbandī Order.
After the revolution of 1979 he returned to Bayāra but after the war between Iraq and Iran had erupted he moved to Baghdad. In 1988(1409) he moved to Turkey where he settled in the village of Jamshet in Istanbul where he remained until his demise in 1997(21 Ramadān 1417). He is buried in the Naqshbandī Zāwiya in Istanbul.
He was known for his adherence to the Qurān and the Sunna and his compassion and service to all Muslims. Sometimes as many as three hundred people would visit him and every one would leave with some gift be it some honey, fruit or something else. He assisted the poor and destitute and regarded himself as a servant of the poor.
His nephew mentioned that in 1989 he was blessed with a daughter and after one month she developed a growth at the back of her neck. This growth increased and the doctors were certain that she would require an operation once she is about two years old and able to bear the anaesthetic. The father was concerned when this continued to increase in size and he went to his uncle, Shaykh `Uthmān Sirāj al-Dīn to request him to supplicate to Allah for the young girl. The Shaykh advised him to change her name and he mentioned some of the negative effects associated with the name. the name was changed to Māriya al-Baghdādiyya and gradually within five days it disappeared.
Some of the books authored by him are:
Tafsīr Sūra Wa al-Tīn
Sirāj al-Qulūb
Risāla al-Shihāb al-Thāqib
Al-`Itiqād al-Rasīn wal-Yaqīn billah
Hajj Gibril Haddad
Notes
Translated by Shoayb Ahmed from Nathr al-Jawāhir wa al-Durar fī ‘Ulama al-Qarn al-Rābi’ ‘Ashar by Dr Yusuf al-Mar’ashlī 2/2091 .
Dr Yusuf al-Mar’ashlī mentions that the Shaykh passed away in 1418
Source: https://seekerofthesacredknowledge.wordpress.com/biographies-of-awliya-allah/shaykh-osman-sirajuddin/

Sufis in Afghanistan The forgotten mystics of the Hindu Kush - Marian Brehmer

Sufis in Afghanistan: The forgotten mystics of the Hindu Kush ...
Sufis in Afghanistan
The forgotten mystics of the Hindu Kush
Sufism has shaped Afghan society and politics for much of the country's history. Today, very few are aware of this legacy. Might the Sufis now provide an important contribution to the stability of the country?
 By Marian Brehmer 
For many, the thought of Afghanistan evokes associations with implacable fundamentalism and hopelessly backward and belligerent tribal cultures. Very few people would associate this country in the Hindu Kush with Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam that has long played a significant role in the countries of central and southern Asia. Even fewer observers today would regard Afghanistan as the cradle of a moderate and sensitive Islamic culture that has made significant contributions to poetry and music.
Nonetheless, Afghanistan is inseparably linked to the history of Sufism. The country is the birthplace of great Islamic mystics such as the Persian poets Khwaja Abdullah Ansari, Hakim Sana'i, Jalaluddin Rumi and Abdulrahman Jami. The city of Herat, which became famous as a centre of Sufi poetry, still bears the epithet "Land of the Holy."
Why is nothing written about the Sufis?
One might ask why the public discussion on Islam and Afghanistan hardly, if ever, mentions the topic of Sufism, especially as the majority of Muslims in southern Asia are linked in one way or another to a Sufi order. Is it due, perhaps, to the fact that outsiders generally perceive Sufism, and for that matter all mystical traditions, as unworldly and anachronistic?
The book "Embattled Saints" sheds light on the long spiritual tradition of Afghanistan. In it, the American anthropologist and Sufi-specialist Kenneth Lizzio provides an account of his research into an Afghan Sufi order in the 1990s, anchoring his narrative in the history of Sufism and Afghanistan
In the autumn of 2014, the year when international troops withdrew from the Hindu Kush, a book entitled "Embattled Saints" was published, shedding light on Afghanistan's long spiritual tradition. The author, Kenneth Lizzio, an American anthropologist and expert on Sufism, offers an account of his research into an Afghan Sufi order during the 1990s. He anchors his narrative in the history of Afghanistan and Sufism.
In 1990, Lizzio was sent to Afghanistan by the American government as part of a project to quell the production of opium. Disillusioned with American academia, which ignored Sufism or, at most, only regarded it in connection with political or economic factors, Lizzio began his search for living Sufi communities in the country.
He found what he was looking for in the tribal areas on the Afghan-Pakistani border. There, he discovered a Sufi order that had existed for centuries. Its master, Pir Saif ur-Rahman, was a Shaykh of the Naqshbandi tradition, which emerged in 14th century Afghanistan. Lizzio encountered warm-hearted and educated people in the order, which, despite threats from fundamentalists, has managed to maintain its traditions. His book is a unique report on his year living together with Afghan Sufis.
Spread of Islam through Sufism
The spread of Islam in southern Asia can, for the most part, be attributed to Sufism. For a long time, Sufism very much characterized Islam as practiced in Afghanistan. The development of fundamentalism, by contrast, is a relatively modern phenomenon, which can be traced back to the war against the Soviets in the 1980s.
Sufism is tightly bound to the history of Afghanistan in many respects. While its formative years were marked by the ascetic lifestyle of the Sufis, its adherents soon assumed important positions in both the spiritual and worldly spheres of life in Afghanistan. In particular, Sufis from the Naqshbandi order became the advisors of kings and princes and oversaw the religious and spiritual education of hundreds of thousands of Muslims.
Afghan kings were traditionally crowned in the presence of a great Sufi master. The Sufis, however, were also involved in revolts against political rulers. In 1919, as King Amanullah rose to power under colonialism, the Sufis felt their position in society under threat. Amanullah decreed that Afghanistan undergo a radical programme of modernization, which would diminish the influence of religion and tribal law. In a rare act of consensus, orthodox Muslims and Sufis united against his plans. Following the overthrow of Amanullah, it would be decades before any ruler again attempted to displace the role of Sufism and tribalism in Afghan society.
In contrast to other Islamic nations, Sufism in Afghanistan is not an elite phenomenon, but instead permeates all social strata. The majority of the population, even if they do not formally belong to an order, view Islam through the glasses of Sufism
During the 10-year war against the Soviets, two Sufi masters, Ahmad Gailani and Sibghatullah Mojaddidi, the spiritual leader of the Naqshbandi, were among the most important leaders of the mujahideen fighters. In 1992, after the mujahideen seized control of Kabul, Mojaddidi was named interim president of Afghanistan.
Sufis as peace brokers
Although, since the mid-1990s, some Sufis have joined forces with the Taliban, most of the mystics were frequently suppressed under Taliban rule. In particular the Chishtiyya order, known for its love of music, was rigorously persecuted by the Taliban. The role of the Sufis as actors in the history of their country suffered a decline.
Even so, the Sufis continue to play a central role in the religious life of Afghanistan. In contrast to other Islamic countries, Sufism in Afghanistan is not an elite phenomenon, but instead permeates all social strata. The majority of the population, even if they do not formally belong to an order, view Islam through the glasses of Sufism.
This assessment, combined with knowledge of the historical strength of Sufism in Afghan politics, led the Afghan historian Helena Malikyar to recommend in a commentary for "Al Jazeera" that the Sufis be granted a greater role as peace brokers in the country.
Malikyar has criticized the international community for not recognizing the potential of the Sufis. With their focused advocacy of a mystical Islam, she sees an effective approach to fighting extremism. This would also save the West a great deal of effort. And, more importantly, it could lead war-torn Afghanistan back towards its rich cultural roots.
Marian Brehmer
© Qantara.de 2015

The Naqshbandi Sufis of Delhi in the first half of the Eighteenth Century (PDF)

The Naqshbandi Sufis of Delhi in the first half of the Eighteenth Century


The Naqshbandi1 silsila is one of the major spiritual orders of Sufism. The order is over one thousand three hundred years old and was the only Sufi order that traced its direct spiritual lineage to Prophet Muhammad through Abu Bakr al-Sadiq (d.634). The Naqshbandi order, also known as Silsila-i-khwajgan2 or Tariqa-i-Khwajagan3 was established in Central Asia. The Silsila-i-khwajgan was founded by Ya'qub Yu'suf alHamadani (d.1140) who belonged to Baghdad and lived in Herat but finally he settled in Marv. 4 Later, it was reorganized by Khwaja Bahau'd-Din Naqshband (1318- 1389) after whom the silsila came to be called the Naqshbandi or Tariqa-i-Naqshbandiyya. His disciples and followers established a network of Naqshbandiyya
1 The word Naqshband literally means an embroiderer. H.A. Rose expressed the meaning of Naqshband, is painter in his book entitled The Darvishes (page- 142). 2 S.A.A. Rizvi, A History of Sufism in India, Vol-I, New Delhi, 1978, this Edition 2003, p-95-97 3 J.A. Subhan, Sufism : Its Saints and Shrines, Cosmo Publication Company, New Delhi, 1999, p-190 4 S.A.A. Rizvi, A History of Sufism in India, Vol-1, New Delhi, 1978, this edition, 2003, p-95 
centers throughout Central Asia, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt and India. The Indian Naqshbandi Sufi saints traced their spiritual descent from Khwaja Nasiru'd-Din Ubaidu'l-lah Ahrar (1404-1490).1 The Naqshbandi order made rapid progress in the subcontinent after the foundation of Mughal Empire in the early sixteenth century. Because Zahiru’d-Din Babur (r.1526-1530), founder of Mughal Empire, and his amirs had great faith in the Naqshbandi order and the Emperor himself had respect for Khwaja Khwajat and Khwaja Kalan, who were the spiritual successors of Shaikh Nasiru'd-din Ubaidu'l-lah Ahrar (1404-1489).2 After its advent in India, the Naqshbandi order spread rapidly and several centers of Naqshbandi order were established in the northern India. Many Naqshbandi Sufis migrated from Transoxiana and enriched the Naqshbandi tradition here. The Naqshbandi order gradually gained popularity among the members of the royal family, nobles and common Muslims
1 H.A. Rose, The Darvishes, 1927, Oxford University Press, p-438 2 Zahiru’d-Din Muhammad Babur, Babur-Nama, English tr by. A.S. Beveridge, Leiden and London, 1921, reprint, Delhi, 1972, p-631
In India, Khwaja Muhammad Baki Billah Berang (1563-1603) introduced the Naqshbandi tradition at a very broad level. He migrated from Kabul1 and started propagating Naqshbandi teachings in Delhi.2 His premier khalifa Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi ‘Mujaddid Alif Sani’ (d.1624) was an outstanding jurist, philosopher, theologian and Sufi of Naqshbandi order. He traced his descent from the second Caliph of Islam, Umar Faruq.3 Sirhind was the centre of his spiritual and religious activities. He believed in traditions of Islam and opposed superstitions and other practices which he thought were at variance with the real spirit of religion. His growing influence coupled with his views on religion and mysticism brought about a storm of opposition. He dedicated himself to uphold the dignity of the orthodoxy and orthodox view points.4 As a Sufi he had spread the Naqshbandi tradition but also succeeded in reconciling controversial Sufi doctrines with formal framework of Islam
1 Qabul or Kabul is the capital of Afghanistan. 2 Z.H. Sharib, The Sufi Saints of the Indian Subcontinent, New Delhi, 2006, p-180, J.A. Subhan, Sufism ; Its Saints and Shrines, Cosmo Publication Company, New Delhi, 1999, p-286 3 I.H. Ansari and H.A. Qureshi, Sufis of Naqshbandia Mujaddidiya Order, English tr of Maulvi Muhammad Hasan Naqshbandi Mujaddadi’s, Masha’ikh Naqshbania Mujaddidya, Idarah-i Adabiyat-i Delli, Delhi, 2010, p-140 4 Ibid, p-141-145
Shah Waliu'l-lah of Delhi - Islam was facing sectarian conflicts, poor understanding of the Islamic jurisprudence, low moral tone of society and general ignorance of the teachings of Islam in the first half of the eighteenth century. In these circumstances Shah Waliu'l-lah Dehlawi started his reform movement and worked hard to save the Islam, its traditions and the Muslim society at large.(Read rest in PDF Link)
Mirza Mazhar Jan-i-Janan - Another prominent Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiya of the eighteenth century was Mirza Mazhar Jan-i-Janan. He was born on 11 Ramadan 1110/13 March 1699.3 His father Mirza Jaan was an imperial noble. When he was in Deccan in 1698-1699, Mirza Mazhar Jan-i-Janan was born in the imperial camp route to the north India and
1 Z.H. Sharib, The Sufi Saints of the Indian Subcontinent, New Delhi, p-260, 2 M.Y.M. Sidiqui, Shah Waliullah Dehlavi - An Introductio of His Personality and Achievements, Institute of Islamic Studies, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, 2001, p18 3 S.A.A. Rizvi, Shah Wali-Allah and His Times, Canberra, Australia, p-318
Emperor Aurangzeb (r.1658-1707) named the boy Jan-iJanan.1 Later he became famous as Mirza Mazhar Jan-iJanan in the Indian Sufi circle. His forefathers had migrated from Taif of Turkistan in 800/1398 AD2 and belonged to the Qaqshal tribe of Turkestan. In 1555, Emperor Humayun brought along with him two brothers Majnun Khan and Baba Khan. They both belonged to Qaqshal tribe. Mirza Jaan, the father of Mirza Mazhar Jan-i-Janam, belonged to the fourth generation of Indian Qaqshal and served in imperial army. 3 After resigning from government service, he left Deccan for Agra. Mirza Mazhar Jan-i-Janan acquired formal, military and religious education during his father's lifetime. Haji Mohammad Afzal of Sialkot taught him hadiths and Haji Abdu'r Rasool of Delhi taught him the holy Quran.
 4 1 S.A.A. Rizvi, Shah Wali-Allah and His Times, Canberra, Australia, 1980, p-318 2 Z.H. Sharib, The Sufi Saints of Indian Subcontinent, New Delhi, 2006, p-245 3 S.A.A. Rizvi, Shah Wali-Allah and His Times, Canberra, Ma’rifat Publishing House, Australia, 1980, p-318, Thomas Dahnhardt, Change and Continuity in Indian Sufism, D.K. Printworld Ltd, New Delhi, 2002, p-15 4 Z.H. Sharib, The Sufi Saints of Indian Subcontinent, New Delhi, 2006, p-246
(Read rest in PDF link)
Shah Ghulam Ali - Shah Ghulam Ali succeeded Mirza Mazhar Jan-iJanan at Delhi. His real name was Shah Abdu'l-lah. He was born in 1156 or 1158/1743 or 1745 in Batala, Punjab6. At the age of thirteen, he came to Delhi with his parents and after completing his education he became the disciple of Mirza Mazhar jan-i-Janan, in 1180/1767, who initiated him into Naqshbandi order.
7 1 Shahjahanpur is a district of Uttar Pradesh, India. 2 Rampur is a district of Uttar Pradesh, India. 3 Theneshwar is situated in Kurushetra district of Haryana, India. 4 M. Umar, Islam in Northern India During the Eighteenth Century, New Delhi, 1993, p-81-83 5 I.H. Ansari and H.A. Qureshi, Sufis of Naqshbandia Mujaddidya order,English translation of Maulvi Muhammad Hasan Naqshbandi Mujaddadi, Masha’ikh Naqshbandia Mujaddidya, Idarah-i Adabiyat-i Dilli, Delhi, 2010, p-305 6 Ibid, p-305, Thomas Danhardt, Change and Continuity of Indian Sufism, D.K. Printworld Ltd, New Delhi, 2002, p-107 7 S.A.A. Rizvi, A History of Sufism in India, Vol-II, New Delhi, this edition, 2002, p-248
(Read rest in PDF link)
Khwaja Muhammad Nasir Andalib - Khwaja Muhammad Nasir ‘Andalib’4 was a prominent Sufi saint of the first half of the eighteenth century. He was the disciple of Shaikh Muhammad Zubair
 (d.1740).5 Khwaja Muhammad Nasir was born on 1 I.H. Ansari and H.A. Qureshi, Sufis of Naqshbandia Mujaddidya Order, English translation of Maulvi Muhammad Hasan Naqshbandi Mujaddadi, Masha’ikh Naqshbandia Mujaddidya, Idarah-I Adabiyat-I Dilli, Delhi, 2010, p-329 2 Ibid, p-329 3 Ibid, p-332 4 Literally Andalib means nightingale. 5 Shaikh Muhammad Zubair (d.1740) the fourth qayyum was the grandson of Shaikh Muhammad Hujjatu’l-lah (d.1703) the third qayyum of the Naqshbandiyya Mujaddidiyya branch. The second qayyum was his father Shaikh Muhammad Ma’sum (d.1668) and the first qayyum was Shaikh Ma’sum’s father Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi “Mujaddid Alif Sani” (d.1624).
25 Shaban 1105/20 April 1694.1 His forefathers had migrated to India from Transoxiana in the seventeenth century. After completing his religious and secular education, he was strongly attracted to Sufism and was initiated into Naqshbandi order by Shaikh Muhammad Zubair (d.1740) who belonged to the NaqshbanddiyaMujaddidiya branch. He was also closely associated with Shah Gulshan, who was a great poet of his days. As a Sufi saint, Khwaja Muhammad Nasir strictly followed the Naqshbandiyya tradition. He was totally dedicated to the Sharia and Sunna. In the eighteenth century the moral tone of Muslim society was very low. Under these circumstances Khwaja Muhammad Nasir took the responsibility to reform the customs of the Muslim society. Khwaja Muhammad Nasir introduced a new branch within the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiya path, named tariqa-i-Muhammadiyya
(Read rest in PDF Link)
Khwaja Mir Dard - Khwaja Mir Dard was a gem amongst the Sufi saints of the Indian Subcontinent. He was born on 19 Dhu'l-qa'da 1133/11 September 1721 in Delhi.5 Like 1 M. Umar, Islam in Northern India During the Eighteenth Century, New Delhi, 1993, p-245. 2 Literally Nala-i-Andalib means Lament of the nightingale. 3 In Risala-I Hush Afza, Khwaja Muhammad Nasir thoroughly disapproved the chess and alcohol and tried his best to divert the interest of Muslims.
 4 S.A.A. Rizvi, A History of Sufism in India, Vol-2, New Delhi, this edition, 2007, p-245 5 Ibid, p-245
other youth of his age, Khwaja Mir ‘Dard’ 1 also completed his military training but he was not interested in government services. He started his spiritual journey in right earnest and composed poetry. He tried to popularize a mystic stream which was termed as tariqa-i-Muhammadiyya which had already been introduced by his father Khawja Muhammad Nasir (d. 1759). The objective of tariqa-i-Muhammadiyya was to follow only the Prophet Muhammad besides God.2 A Muslim should be dedicated to the holy Quran and should adopt only the traditions of Islam. In his book Ilmu’l-Kitab, he explained that tariqa-i-Muhammadiyya that it was not a new sect but was a new form of Mujaddid's teachings.

Naqshbandi Order in Bosnia and Herzegovina

An Education of the Heart”: Revival of Sufism in Bosnia ...Naqshbandi Order in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The country that is now called Bosnia and Herzegovina, informally called Bosnia, is located in the Balkan region of Europe. The modern state became independent in 1992. The capital and the largest city of Bosnia is Sarajevo.
The history of the Naqshbandi Order in Bosnia and other Balkan states is quite old. Many tekkes (khānqāh in Persian) of the Naqshbandi Order are still functional in Bosnia, and followers frequent them for receiving spiritual training and performing dhikr. However, many such tekkes have lost the original methods and teachings of the Naqshbandī masters, and adopted methods of dhikr and other practices over time.
Bosnia was conquered by Ottoman Empire in 1463. Very soon, the Ottomans sent scholars and shaykhs of different tarīqas to the newly conquered Balkan lands to spread Islam and Sufism in the local population. The first Naqshbandī tekke in Bosnia was constructed very soon after the conquest, in the same year 1463, by Iskandar Pāshā, who was the governor of Bosnia. It was built in a village near a river bank, on the site where the modern city Sarajevo stands. It was called the Tekke of Shaykh Musāfir.
Probably the first Naqshbandi Sufi master who entered the Balkan states and firmly established the Order there was Haḍrat Mullā ʻAbdullāh Ilāhī (d.896 AH), who was a khalīfa of Khwāja ʻUbaydullāh Aḥrār qaddas-Allāhu sirrahū. After learning the tarīqa from Khwāja Aḥrār, who came to Istanbul where he established a tekke and had many followers, including some from the ruling elites. Soon, he moved on to Greece where he lived and died in Vardar Yenicesi in northern Greece, where his tomb was a place of pilgrimage for the next two centuries (until Greece was recaptured by the Christians).
Mujaddidī Order
One of the most important Naqshbandī masters in Bosnia was Shaykh Husayn Bābā, who founded the Zijcic tekke, about seven kilometers north of the town Fojnica. Shaykh Husayn learned the Naqshbandī Path from Shaykh Ḥāfiẓ Muhammad Ḥisārī (d.1199/1785), who was the then head of the Murdiye tekke in Istanbul. The Murdiye tekke was founded by Shaykh Sayyid Muhammad Murād Bukhārī, who was one of the most reputed deputies of Imām Muhammad Maʻṣūm Sirhindī Fārūqī raḍiyAllāhu ʻanhu, son of the Great Mujadd Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindī raḍiyAllāhu ʻanhu.
Shaykh Ḥusayn Bābā learned the tarīqah and then traveled to Turkistan and to Bukhārā, where he lived at the noble shrine of Khwāja Bahāʼ ad-Dīn Naqshband Bukhārī raḍiyAllāhu ʻanhu, founder of the tarīqah. He returned first to Sarajevo, and then to his village Zivcic. He only took one disciple, but that disciple was to become the great shaykh and master of this Path in Bosnia. That disciple was Shaykh ʻAbd ar-Raḥmān Sirrī Bābā (d.1263/1846-7).
Shaykh Sirri Baba also established another tekke at Oglavak. He is considered to be the greatest Naqshbandī saint in Bosnia, past and present. His poetry is still famous today and sung widely in spiritual sessions. One of his reputed khalīfas was Shaykh Maylī Bābā who took over Zivcic tekke as resident shaykh, where he died in 1270 AH (1853-54). Shaykh Maylī Bābā was succeeded by his son Shaykh Ḥasan Efendi (d.1316/1888-9).
The Zivcic tekke still serves as one of the well reputed spiritual centers in Bosnia, and regular dhikr sessions are held there. Annual Mawlid celebrations are also held there attended by many.
Khālidī Order
In the mid-nineteenth century, the Khālidī Order (a branch of the Mujaddidī Order) spread far and wide in the Arabic countries and to Turkey and neighboring regions. One of the Khālidī shaykhs established a tekke in Sarajevo. This Khālidī tekke was headed by seven shaykhs consecutively, the last of them was Ḥājī Ṣāliḥ Efendī, who was Mufti of Sarajevo.
Another Khālidī branch was established by Muftī Shaykh Husnī Efendī Numanagic (d.1931) before the first world war, who founded a tekke in Visoko.
References
Algar, H. (1971). Some notes on the Naqshbandī tarīqat in Bosnia. Die Welt des Islams, 168-203.
Hazen, J. M. (2008). Contemporary Bosnian Sufism: Bridging the East and West. ProQuest.
Ahmed Kulanic (2014). Sufi Orders in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Oxford Islamic Studies Online.

The Contributions of Sufism in Promoting Religious Harmony in Bangladesh

Sufism Journal: Community: Sufism in BangladeshThe Contributions of Sufism in Promoting Religious Harmony in Bangladesh

International Islamic University of Malaysia
Abstract
Sufism in Bangladesh is directly connected to the faith, history and culture of Bangladeshi Muslims. Sufis contributed by reducing religious hatred, fanaticism and fundamentalism of any kind among the people of Bangladesh. It has social and economic impacts as well on the people. The paper investigates the influence of Sufism in promoting religious harmony in Bangladesh from 11 th to 20 th century. It also focuses on the evolution of Sufism in Bangladesh and the history of famous Sufis who were involved in establishing coexistence and peaceful societies there. This study is an attempt to find a way to unite all people of different religions and movements in the world.
PDF Available: Journal of Usuluddin 45(2) 2017:105:121

Hazrat Shah Jalal (RA), Shah Jalal ad-Din al-Naqshbandi -Biography


Shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal (R) - Isshh.com - Search your ...Hazrat Shah Jalal (Arabicشيخ المشايخ‎, Bengaliশাহ জালাল, full name: Shāh Jalāl ad-Dīn al-Mujarrad al-Turk al Naqshbandi) is a celebrated Sufi Muslim figure in Bengal. Jalal's name is associated with the Muslim movement into northeastern Bengal. Also he is associated with the spread of Islam in Bangladesh through Sufism. Jalal was originally a Turkestani.[1] He arrived at Sylhet in 1303.[2] This is according to a tablet inscription found in Amber Khana, Sylhet.[3] Dhaka renamed Zia International Airport to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. Dhaka and Sylhet had named a University known as Hazrat Shahjalal University of Science and Technology. The Mazarin is located at Chittagong.

Source: Wikipedia

Shah Jalal (R) a major sufi saint of Bengal. His full name is Shaikh Jalaluddin. Shah Jalal (R) commands great respect of Muslims of the subcontinent. He lies buried at sylhet.
Shah Jalal's name is associated with the Muslim conquest of Sylhet. Tradition goes that a Hindu king named Gaur Govinda ruled the Sylhet area. Burhanuddin, a Muslim who lived in the territory under his control once sacrificed a cow to celebrate the birth of his son. But a kite snatched a piece of flesh of the slaughtered cow and it fell from its beak on the house of a Brahmin. According to another tradition, the piece of flesh fell on the temple of the king himself, which he took as a great offence. At the order of the king, Burhanuddin's hands were said to have been cut off and his son killed. Burhanuddin went to gaur and submitted a prayer to Sultan shamsuddin firuz shah for justice from him. The sultan accordingly sent an army under the command of his nephew Sikandar Khan Ghazi, who was however, defeated twice by Gaur Govinda. The sultan then ordered his sipahxalar (armed forces chief) Nasiruddin to lead the war. During the same time Shah Jalal (R) with his 360 followers reached Bengal and joined the Muslim army in the Sylhet campaign. This time the Muslim army won, Gaur Govinda fled the country and Sylhet came under Muslim rule.
Though based on folk tales, historic evidences support the truth of the war event. King Gaur Govinda, Sultan Shamsuddin Firuz Shah, Skiandar Khan Ghazi, Nasiruddin, Shah Jalal are all historical persons; there might be some imaginary accounts in illustrating the story, but the main event, ie, the conquest of Sylhet, is a historical fact. Sultan Shamsuddin Firuz Shah ruled Bengal during the period from 1301 to 1322 AD and expanded the territory under his rule in all directions. Epigraphic and literary sources also attest the fact of the conquest of Sylhet during Shamsuddin Firuz Shah's rule and of the involvement of Shah Jalal (R) in the process.
ibn batuta visited Bengal when Sultan fakhruddin mubarak shah was ruling at Sonargaon (1338-1349 AD). He met Shah Jalal (R) in the latter's khanqah and stayed three days there in 1346 AD. Ibn Batuta, however, wrongly recorded the name of the saint as Shaikh Jalaluddin Tabrizi (R). Scholars have established that Ibn Batuta's 'Tabrizi' is a mistake for 'Kuniyayi', the epithet for Shah Jalal (R).
The earliest and most acceptable source of information about the first Muslim conquest of Sylhet and the advent of Islam in the area is a Persian inscription of 918 AH/1512 AD issued in the reign of Sultan Alauddin husain shah (1494-1519 AD). According to the inscription, Sylhet was first conquered by Sikandar Shah Ghazi in 703 AH/1303 AD in the reign of Shamsuddin Firuz Shah. The inscription was dedicated to the sacred memory of Shaikh Jalal Mujarrad ibn Muhammad. Though the inscription was issued after a little more than two hundred years of the event, it seems to have the accurate historical dates.
An account of the conquest of Sylhet by Shah Jalal (R) and his companions is found in the Gulzar-i-Abrar of Ghausi, written in 1613 AD. It is based on the earlier work Sharh-i-Nuzhat-ul-Arwah by Shaikh Ali Sher, a descendant of Shaikh Nurul Huda Abul Karamat, who was a companion of Shah Jalal (R) who took part in the conquest of Sylhet. According to this source, Shaikh Jalaluddin Mujarrad, a khalifah of Sultan Syed Ahmed Yesvi, was born in Turkistan and had settled in Sylhet. With the permission of the Pir, he came to India with 700 companions to take part in jihad (holy war). He reached Bengal with 360 of his companions. They fought against Raja Gaur Govinda of Sylhet who fled and the country around Sylhet fell into the hands of the victors. Shah Jalal (R) divided the conquered lands among his followers, permitted them to get married, but he himself, however, remained a celibate. This source gives the credit for conquering Sylhet to Shah Jalal (R) and his followers, and has no reference to any reigning king or his generals.
Nasiruddin Haidar wrote a biography of Shah Jalal (R) in Persian in 1860. The author claims that in writing the book titled Suhail-i-Yaman, he used two Persian manuscripts such as Risalat written by Muhiuddim Khadim in 1711 AD and Rauzat-us-Salatin written by an unknown author in 1721 AD. Both the manuscripts were kept preserved in the dargah of the saint. Shah Jalal's father, Muhammad, was a sufi of Yamen. Shah Jalal (R) lost his parents in his childhood and was brought up by his maternal uncle Sayyid Ahamd Kabir Suhrawardy, a great saint. After completion of formal education, Shah Jalal (R) received spiritual lessons from his uncle. It is said that Kabir gave him a handful of earth and instructed him to go to India for preaching Islam. Shah Jalal (R) was told to find the sacred place of India where the earth was of the colour and smell similar to the earth given to him and should pass the rest of his life there in prayer and meditation. On his way to India, Shah Jalal (R) met Shakh Nizamuddin Auliya at Delhi who gave him a pair of pigeons of a special species, which, according to folk belief is found still today in the dargah of Shah Jalal (R) in Sylhet and some other places of Bengal. So advised, Shah Jalal (R) moved to Bengal. It so happened that during this time, the army of Sultan Shamsuddin Firuz Shah was fighting against King Gaur Govinda of Sylhet. Shah Jalal (R) and his followers joined the battle. The biography of Shah Jalal (R) gives description of how Sylhet was conquered, as well as of some miraculous events that demonstrate the spiritual powers of the saint, which were considered for the victory more important than the prowess of the army.
Although Suhail-i-Yaman is a relatively recent book written by using both facts and hearsay, it was for sometime looked upon as a standard biography of Hazrat Shah Jalal (R). The book says that the saint came from Yemen (of the Arab peninsula), but this has been proved wrong. An inscription discovered in Sylhet in 1873 categorically indicates that Shah Jalal (R) was a Kuniyayi, ie, he came from Kuniya, a township in Turkey. In the Gulzar-i-Abrar of Ghausi he is called Turkistani. There are every reasons to believe that Shah Jalal (R) came from Turkey and not from Yemen. Another inscription issued in honour of Shaikh-ul-Mashaikh Makhdum Shaikh Jalal Mujarrad bin Muhammad records that Sylhet was first conquered by Sikandar Khan Ghazi in the reign of Sultan Firuz Shah in 703 AH/1303 AD. This is also supported by Gulzar-i-Abrar.
In his travel accounts, Ibn Batuta described that Shah Jalal (R) was a great saint of hoary age and a dervish with exceptional spiritual powers. Ibn Batuta learnt that the saint had met Caliph al-Mustasim Billah at Baghdad, and that he was there at the time of the Caliph's assassination. The companions of Shah Jalal (R) later told Ibn Batuta that the saint died at the age of one hundred and fifty and that he observed fasting in almost all the days of a year. He also performed namaz throughout the night. He was thin, tall and scantily bearded.
Ibn Batuta also described some events that demonstrate the spiritual powers of the saint and noted that he had got the message of his death in the following year at Beijing. Recent studies show that Ibn Batuta visited Bengal in 1345-46 AD, which means, Shah Jalal (R) died in 1347.
Shah Jalal (R) was a disciple of Sayyid Ahmad Yesvi and belonged to the Naqshbandiya order of the sufis. His preceptor and fellow friends lived in agony and suspense in the days of turmoil following the Mongol invasion in Turkey.
Ibn Batuta's statement that he had met Shaikh Jalaluddin Tabrizi (R) has become a subject of controversy. Some modern scholars believe that both the Jalals (Shaikh Jalaluddin Tabrizi (R) and Shah Jalal (R) of Sylhet) are one and the same person, which they were not, according to recent studies. However, both of them were great saints, and had great influence on the people of Bengal. They lived and worked at different places and different times. Shaikh Jalaluddin Tabrizi (R) lived in Pandua and Deotala of Maldah (West Bengal), but Shah Jalal (R) lived in Sylhet (East Bengal). Tabrizi's period was at least a century earlier than that of Shah Jalal (R) of Sylhet. The former was a contemporary of Sultan Shamsuddin iltutmish (died 1236 AD), Shaikh Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki of Delhi (died 1235 AD) and Shaikh Bahauddin Zakariya of Multan (died 1262). According to Hagiologists, Jalaluddin Tabrizi (R) died in 1226, or 1244 AD and, even if the later date is considered correct, he died one hundred three years before the death of Shah Jalal (R) of Sylhet.
The tomb of Shah Jalal (R) is visited daily by a large number of devotees. His grave is unusually large, which indicates his tall physique as described by Ibn Batuta. [Abdul Karim]
Bibliography HAR Gibb, Ibn Battuta: Travels in Asia and Africa, London 1928; 'Gulzar-i-Abrar of Ghausi', Journal of the Asiatic Society of Pakistan, II, 1959; ME Haq, A History of Sufism in Bengal, Dhaka 1975; A Karim, Social History of the Muslim in Bengal, (2nd ed), Chittagong 1985.
Source: Banglapedia

Shaykh Ramadan Deeb Khalidi Naqshbandi (RA)- Biography in Arabic -Mohamed Haj Yousef PhD


Biography of Sheikh Ramadan Deeb: Enduring Life and Perpetual ...
Biography of Sheikh Ramadan Deeb: Enduring Life and Perpetual Death (Sufi Masters) (Volume 2) (Arabic Edition) (Arabic) Paperback – January 20, 2013


Mohamed Haj Yousef, PhD, studied physics in Syria and at Cambridge and had an academic career teaching the subject, but has had a second career as a scholar of Ibn 'Arabi and has written several books including: Ibn 'Arabi: Time and Cosmology and Shams al-Magreb (in Arabic). In addition he runs a website about Ibn 'Arabi (www.ibnalarabi.com), and teaches at United Arab Emirates University.

This book is about the biography of a prominent contemporary Sufi mystic Sheikh Ramadan Deeb al-Dimashqi who is a Sea that minds are incapable of sailing in his horizons, and imagination is unable to dive into his depths; yet I want people to know him, though I realize that my depiction cannot satisfy some of the least of his attributes, and my words shall no doubt fail to reach the first degree of high principle, because he combines between the most decent dignities and simplicity and humility, even many people around him probably do not pay attention to his presence, while among the righteous knowledgeable Gnostics he is a shining full moon and bright light, whose gesture is worth the most precious gems, and whose Secret is always surrounded by sanctification. When I met him for the first time, I was confronted with a myriad of surprises; when I entered the guest room in his home in the Mosque of Abu-l-Nour, where he meets students and answers questions from the general people who seek him every day in dozens, so when I entered I thought to a good degree of certainty that I am in the workshop of an electrical engineer, and then I said to myself: No, he must be an electronics engineer, but then I saw other types of different tools that filled the corners of the small room whose walls are also filled with books which includes varieties of books in different languages. Yet I was told that he conducts all such crafts and reads in all these books and references! Then after he welcomed us and exchange some talking, I began to realize as if he knows me very well, no but he seemed to really know me more than I know myself; and he was wisely and ingeniously able to diagnose my complications and explain them to me without letting anybody feel that he was speaking personally about me! I definitely felt, without the slightest doubt, that I was an open book in front of him, and for the first time in my life I realized in practical concrete terms the divine narration that says: "watch the insight of the believer since he looks with the light of God". Thus, not only his shirt and cap are white and his beard is white, but his heart is a white polished mirror in which reflected the light of God which allows him to see. He filled his time with teaching and learning the Koran and hadith, and dedicated himself to the service of people who come to him from all over the cities and countries, for their slight affairs and complicated problems, and they find in him the compassionate Father and Brother, both in worldly matters or in matters of religion; since he is knowledgeable in various sciences of jurisprudence and general affairs of religion, and in medical sciences, as he used to work as physician, and he is expert in electrical engineering and electronics, construction, mechanics, agriculture, and even in the Culinary Arts and foods; he simply does not waste a glimpse of his time but only in science, either learning and teaching. Yet, although he is prominent mystic and expert master in the spiritual sciences, he relies mainly on usual discipline and normal causes. As he was born in 1921, just after the first world war, when Syria was occupied by France, he was unable to follow the usual education program, thus he was illiterate, but he started to take make-up courses at the age of 20 and he took the BSc at the age of 65, and the PhD at the age of 89. Despite his advanced age, he still carries on all his work by his hands, driving every day before dawn from his family house in the countryside to the town center in Damascus to the Mosque of Abu-l-Nour where he performs the prayers and gives many of his weekly preaching sessions and meet all the people who come to seek his advice or help. He has been following this same program for decades, allowing himself only few hours for sleep. Yet he only sleeps by the phone and answers his many students and others who call him from all over the world sometimes not observing the time difference

Naqshbandi Order in Syria

Mawlana Khalid Baghdadi Kurdi Naqshbandi (d.1242 AH) | Ghaffari
The Naqshbandī Order has been one of the most vibrant Sufi orders in Syria until today. There have been several prominent Naqshbandī Sufi masters in Syria.
Pre-Mujaddidi era
The earliest encounter of the Naqshbandī Sufi masters and Syria is probably the visit of Mawlānā ʻAbd ar-Raḥmān Jāmī quddisa-sirruhū (817-898 AH) to Syria. Mawlānā Jāmī is one of the most renowned Sufis of the Naqshbandī Order and a prominent poet of Persian language. He is author of several books on Sufism, jurisprudence and poetry. He visited Syria on his way back from performing Ḥajj, but stayed only a short while. The Sultan of the caliphate wanted to see him and had sent his envoys after Mawlānā Jāmī, who however did not want to see the Sultan and therefore left Syria after a short visit.
About the same time period, a khalīfa of Khwāja ʻUbaydullāh Aḥrār quddisa-sirruhū named Mawlānāzāda Utrārī settled in Damascus after returning from Ḥajj.
Another prominent master who visited Damascus for Shaykh Aḥmad Ṣādiq Tāshkandī. In the year 991 AH, he went on the Ḥajj pilgrimage, and visited many cities and areas on his return, including Damascus. There, he attended a grand Mawlid ceremony in the Ummayad masjid, attended by many local scholars and shaykhs. Shaykh Ahmad Sādiq was a khalīfa of Makhdūm-i Aʻzam Shaykh Ahmad Kāsānī.
Post-Mujaddidi era
Shaykh Sayyid Murād Bukhārī, a deputy of Khwāja Muhammad Maʻsūm Fārūqī Sirhindī quddisa-sirruhū, established the Naqshbandi Order in Damascus where he stayed for many years. He first entered Damascus in 1080 AH (1670). He later moved on to Istanbul where he died in 1132 AH (1720).
One of the earliest Naqshbandī masters originally from Syria was Shaykh ʿAbd al-Ghanī Nābulusī Naqshbandī Aḥrārī (d.1143 AH), who is still well known in the scholarly world as one of the greatest scholars of Syria. He was a non-Mujaddidi master and received the Naqshbandī Path from a khalīfa of Shaykh Tāj ad-Dīn Uthmānī Sambhalī (d.1051 AH) who was a khalīfa of Khwāja Muhmmad Bāqī Billāh Dahlawī (971-1012 AH). He is buried in Damascus.
Another very prominent Sufi master of the Naqshbandī Path in Syria was Mawlānā Khālid Baghdādī Kurdī ʿUthmānī (d.1242 AH), who spread this noble Path in not only Syria but in Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and many other places. His branch of the Naqshbandī order is called Khālidī Naqshbandī. He is buried in a suburb of Damascus.
Naqshbandī Khālidī tarīqah
Mawlānā Khālid left a number of khalīfas in Damascus, including the great Hanafi jurist Shaykh Ibn-ʻĀbidīn Hanafī (d.1252 AH), author of several large volumes in Islamic jurisprudence. Mawlānā Khālid’s successor in Damascus was his khalīfa Shaykh Ismāʻīl Anārānī, who died just after 3 weeks in the same plague. He was succeeded by another khalīfa of Mawlānā Khālid, Shaykh Khās Muhammad Shīrwānī.
From Mawlānā Khālid, a chain of Sufi masters issued that continued establishing and spreading this noble spiritual path in Syria. These include:
Shaykh ʿĪsā Kurdī Shāfiʻī Naqshbandī Khālidī (1831-1912), buried in the tomb of Mawlānā Khālid in Damascus. الشيخ عيسى الكردي
Shaykh Muhammad Amīn Kurdī Naqshbandī Khālidī (1852-1926), buried in the tomb of Mawlānā Khālid in Damascus.
Shaykh Muhammad Amīn Kuftāro Naqshbandī Khālidī (1875-1938)
Shaykh Ahmad Kuftāro Naqshbandī Khālidī (1915-2004), the grand Mufti of Syria
Shaykh Dr. Ramadān Dīb Dimashqī Naqshbandī Khālidī (born 1920), the present shaykh
In the North-Eastern Syria (close to Diyarbakir in Turkey), there is the great family of Khaznawī (Turkish: Haznavi) Sufi masters. The first and foremost of them was Shaykh Ahmad al-Khaznawī Naqshbandī Khālidī (d.1949), buried in a town called Til Maʿrūf. His blessed shrine was recently attacked and destroyed by the Wahhabi terrorists of ISIL

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Shaykh Muhammad Amin Kuftaro Naqshbandi Mujaddidi Khalidi (RA)- Biography

Sheikh Mohammed Amin Kuftaro (Arabicمحمد أمين كفتارو‎) (died 1938) was a noted Syrian-Kurdish Islamic scholar and head of the Naqshbandi Sufi tariqa. Before Sheikh Amin's death in 1938, it was clear he had designated his son, Sheikh Ahmed Kuftaro, to take over his office as sheikh of the tariqa; Ahmed later went on to become the official Grand Mufti of Syria. His grand brother, Sheikh Mohamed Saleh, was a very famous Muslim scholar and Sufi Nakshbandi Imam in Damascus, Syria. It was he who led Mohammed Amin to the field of Islamic theology and Sufism.
Source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammed_Amin_Kuftaro

Shaykh Ahmad Kuftaro Naqshbandi Mujaddidi (rahimahullah) by Gibril Fouad Haddad (Obituary originally written by request of Islamica Magazine)


Ahmad kuftaro | Journey of a Seeker of Sacred Knowledge

Shaykh Ahmad Kuftaro (rahimahullah)
by Gibril Fouad Haddad
(Obituary originally written by request of Islamica Magazine)

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

Samahat al-Mufti Ahmad ibn Shaykh Amin Kuftaro ibn Mulla Musa al-Kurdi al-Shafi`i (1912-2004) was born in Damascus the capital of Syria, on Mount Qasyoun, in the neighborhood of Abu al-Nur named after one of the officers of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (the great saintly and scholarly leader "Saladin"), Abu al-Nur Qaraja al-Salahi, in the district known as al-Salihiyya or "The Righteous District," in reference to the many friends of Allah that are buried there.

In 1927 Shaykh Ahmad's father, Shaykh Amin Kuftaro (d. 1938) succeeded Shaykh Amin al-Zamalkani as head of the Tariqa Naqshbandiyya in Damascus. The latter had succeeded the great Shaykh `Isa al-Kurdi (d. 1911). Shaykh Ahmad benefited from his father's guidance and was helped by a prodigious memory. He memorized the Qur'an at an early age and about ten thousand verses of poetry on the various sciences of the Shari`a according to the old mnemonic methods that put all the important mother-texts (ummahat al-mutun) into verse for easier memorization.

Shaykh Ahmad lived through the great upheavals of his country: the two world wars, the departure of the Turks from Damascus in the year 1920 and the coming of the French in the name of protectorate, followed by the Syrian insurgency against the French occupation - actively supported by the great Ulema of the time - until the last French soldier left in the year 1946, eleven years after the death of the great Sufi hadith Master Shaykh Badr al-Din al-Hasani who had been a key inspiration in the insurgency. Shaykh Ahmad no doubt viewed his own Fall, 2003 fatwa approving of any attacks on the American occupants in Iraq as a revival of that legacy.

Shaykh Ahmad's father married him with a Kurdish woman from a pious family when he turned 16. She was 14 and bore him all his children, nine boys and three girls. Shaykh Ahmad also took a second wife later in life.

In 1935, three years before Shaykh Amin died, when Ahmad was only 23, Shaykh Amin had alread chosen him to succeed him in the office of spiritual guide or Murshid in the Tariqa. Shaykh Ahmad climbed the echelons of leadership and not only succeeded his father but became in 1951 Mufti of Damascus then, in 1963, Grand Mufti of the Syrian Arab Republic. From its beginnings as a place of worship and retreat the mosque of Abu al-Nur developed into an institute for religious education in 1975 (the Ma`had for men and women), and a charity, Jam`iyyat al-Ansar al-Khayriyya.

Shaykh Ahmad played a lively advisory role at different levels of power in Syria and the Arab world, notably through his long-time friendship with the late President Hafiz al-Assad, without taking sides nor espousing particular views beyond the overriding imperative fostered by the Rabitat al-Ulama': to protect and strengthen Islam in the society and the individual. He summarized his political philosophy thus: "Islam and political authority are twins, neither of which thrives without the other. Islam is the foundation and power the guardian. What lacks foundation crumbles and what lacks a guardian gets waylaid." Thus it is both as a Muslim and an Arab that he reiterated time and again to his audiences at home and abroad, especially in the United States, the responsibility of the world to help the Palestinians in their plight.

In 1979 an assassination attempt against three of Shaykh Ahmad's sons took the life of one of them, his anticipated successor of accomplished learning, Shaykh Zahir. But the Shaykh's mettle was tested to the limit by the dark years of 1980-1982 during which he pleaded for moderation and strove to spare the religious institutions and symbols of his country the irrevocable damage caused by the fitna. After the Shaykh passed away he was succeeded by his youngest son, Shaykh Salah.

In his lifetime of weekly one-to-two-hour pre-Jumu`a lectures in commentary of the Qur'an at Abu al-Nur Mosque, Shaykh Ahmad concluded no less than four full commentaries of the Qur'an, broadcast to the four levels of the 15,000-capacity mosque by close-circuit TV and simulatenously translated into English, French, and Russian. This feat is recorded in audio and video in full. One of the students of the Shaykh published an anthology of these lessons under the title Min Hadyi al-Qur'an al-Karim, possibly the only book published under the name of the Shaykh. Shaykh Ahmad liberally shared the podium with various guests from all over the world whom he would have address the congregation, from the late Shaykh Ahmad Ya Sin to American televangelists and Louis Farrakhan to Sufi Shuyukh such as al-Habib `Ali al-Jafri and my own beloved teacher, Shaykh Nazim, whom Samahat al-Mufti affectionately nicknamed the Shaykh of Shaykhs.

Shaykh Amin's original didactic method had been summed up by one book in particular: Imam al-Sha`rani's al-Mizan al-Kubra, written as a defense and illustration of the Four Sunni Schools against fanatical allegiance to a particular school and a defense of sufism. Similarly Shaykh Ahmad de-emphasized Madhhabism as can be gleaned by Abu al-Nur's comparative approach to the teaching of Islamic law. To the President of Iran, al-Khatami, who had requested him to add the fifth, twelver-Imami School of law to the syllabus the Mufti reportedly replied, tongue in cheek, "I thought you were going to help me do away with differences and divisions but you are asking me to add to them instead!"

But Shaykh Ahmad's greatest innovation, no doubt, was his stand for inter-faith dialogue, "actively striving to unite the human family... [and] working to achieve better understanding and cooperation amongst the people of the heavenly religions" in the words of his website [http://www.kuftaro.org]. One day in the sixties, before his fifty-third year, he announced that his mosque would celebrate the birth of Christ and he invited the Christian religious leaders of Syria and Lebanon to the celebration. A scandal ensued, fanned by naysayers on both sides. When the dust settled Shaykh Ahmad had become the single most powerful interlocutor of the Christians in the Muslim world.

This rhetorical gift ultimately led to his official invitation to the Vatican where John Paul II received him in 1985, one in a series of historical meetings and travels to the United States, Eastern and Western Europe, Japan, and elsewhere. Shaykh Ahmad attended fifty-five international conferences out of a total of two hundred invitations, including a June, 1989, two-week lecture tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department to religious centers and leaders in Washington D.C., the Northeast, and Florida. In 1990 he gave two seminal talks at the United Nations-sponsored Assembly of World Religions in San Fransisco: "The Quran Extends its Hand to Mankind" and "Spirituality in the Twenty-First Century." [More at http://www.sunnah.org/history/Scholars/shaikh_ahmad_kuftaro.htm] His summation of this message can be seen in his address titled "Islam and Christianity: Two Religions, One God" [http://www.al-bushra.org/mos-chr/kuftaro.html].

Samahat al-Mufti often recalled that the Pope had said to him, "Every day I read the Qur'an." His repartee came in the form of an answer to an European ambassador that had asked him, "What is the Christian population of Syria?" "Fourteen million," the Mufti answered - meaning, its totality instead of the expected 14% of the country! He then explained: "Any Muslim that does not believe in our liege-lord the Christ, his Islam is nil." Sahih. May Allah have mercy on this extraordinary leader of wisdom, learning, and good humor in our time who strove to address each segment of humankind in the fittest way he saw for its advancement out of the darkness of disbelief and into the light of faith.