Back to
Sufi Islam

Naqshbandiyyah

Doctrines Like most Sufi orders, Naqshbandiyyah does not identify itself in terms of distinctive doctrines but in terms of spiritual practice. Naqshbandiyyah understands the development of the mystical awareness of God to consist of four successive stages. Firstly, the purification of one's outer life through the shar'iah (law). Secondly, the purification of one's inner life through the tariqah (mystical path). Thirdly, the attainment of a state of closeness to God in one's everyday life (haqiqah). Fourthly, the realisation of God's presence through ma'rifah (interior knowledge).
One of the means used by Islamic mystical orders to progress to a deeper awareness of God is through ritual prayer (dhikr, which means "remembrance") and derives from the Qur'anic injunction "And remember God often" (62:10). This consists of a repetition of one or all of the beautiful names of God, or of certain religious formula such as the Islamic profession of faith: There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet." It is believed that such activities will transform the practitioners' being into one characterized solely by a remembrance of God. Unlike other orders, which tend to repeat such formulae aloud, the Naqshbandis emphasise the silent remembrance of God.

History Naqshbandiyyah is the most widespread Sufi order after the Qadiriyyah. The founder of the order was Baha al-din Naqshband (d.1389), who was from a village near Bukhara in what was until recently part of Soviet Central Asia. He was a follower of the Hanafite school of jurisprudence.
The order was introduced to India during the closing years of the sixteenth century. Under Imam Rabbani the movement penetrated further into India, becoming an important factor in Indo-Muslim life. Imam Rabbani was given the title 'Mudjaddid' (renewer), from which his branch of the order acquired its name Mudjaddidiyyah. The order became involved in the political struggle against British colonialism in India in the nineteenth century. In addition to its political involvement, the main characteristic of Naqshbandiyyah in India has been its rejection of all forms of innovation and an emphasis on the importance of training oneself for the spiritual life.
In the seventeenth century Naqshbandiyyah spread into Turkey. This expansion proved to be highly fortuitous for the order, for its emphatically Sunni identity and respect for the shari'ah put it in a position in which it was well placed to gain the loyalty of the Ottoman Turks.
The first Ottoman Naqshbandi was Molla Ilahi (d.1419) who travelled to Samarkhand where he became a disciple of a Naqshbandi shaikh, and then returned to Turkey. In Istanbul he established the first Naqshbandi centre at the Zayrak mosque and acquired a large number of devotees. From there the Naqshbandi spread throughout Ottoman Turkey as well as drawing Naqshbandis from Central Asia to Istanbul and other parts of Turkey.
In the nineteenth century a new branch called the khalidi arose within the order under the leadership of Mawlana Khalid Baghdad (d. 1827). This branch acquired a large following, and by the close of the nineteenth century they had more tekkes in Istanbul than any other order. Like other Sufi orders, Naqshbandiyyah was banned in 1925 as a result of government policy to secularise the Turkish state. In spite of the ban the Khalidi tradition remains active to the present day.

Symbols The movement has no distinctive symbol system.

Adherents There is no statistical information which identifies the number of members belonging to Naqshbandiyyah. The order is widespread in Turkey and India, and is active in Germany, France and Great Britain.

Headquarters/
Main Centre
 Istanbul.