Bahauddin Naqshbandi, a Sufi Teacher, is considered the founder of the most important Naqshbandiya Sufi Order. He was born on the 14th of Muharram in the year 717 according to the Hijri calendar (14 March 1318 AD) in a village called Qasr ul-Arifan near Bukhara.
His father was a weaver and chaser (‘nakshband’ – chaser). His first teacher was Sheikh Muhammad Baba Simasi.
According to the Naqshbandi tradition, Bahauddin received his spiritual initiation from Gijduwani. Naqshbandi saw Gijduwani in a dream and he advised him to become a disciple of Sheikh Sayyid Kulol of Bukhara. Bahauddin came to Said Kulol as an “uwaisi” – one who started his journey on his own, without the guidance of the Sheikh.
He was then educated by the famous Turkish Sheikhs Qusam and Khalil Ata. He made the pilgrimage three times. After returning from the Hajj, he visited Merv, after which he lived in Bukhara until his last days.
The basis of Naqshbandi tariqat is the knowledge of Allah, the pursuit of His satisfaction and the unconditional remembrance of Allah with the heart.
He was an advocate of simplicity and modesty to the point of asceticism and rejected rituals and pompous piety. He formulated 11 rules of meditation (mushahid). Naqshband preached “silent zikr” (communal ritual devotion) with certain breathing techniques. He was against demonstrative forty-day fasts, vagrancy, public celebrations (samas) with music and dance and loud zikr, and he considered the principle of silsilat al-baraka useless if baraka (‘mercy’) is conveyed to the shaykhs personally by transmission from the founder. In his view, Allah gives the barakah and not a shaykh or patron.
His principles were spiritual purity, renunciation of luxury and opulence, modesty, renunciation of contacts with the authorities and restraint in a cloister and a small circle. At the same time, a Sufi had to strictly follow the Sunna and observe all the commandments of the Sharia.
The Naqshbandiyya society initially relied on the urban population, but later spread among the nomads, and its activities contributed to the spread of Islam throughout Central Asia. Gradually, the Society extended its activities to Ottoman Turkey, India and finally to the Muslim Volga region.
The Society’s emblem is a heart inscribed with the word “Allah”.
The Sufi teacher Bahauddin Naqshbandi says: “Our path to Allah is not through seclusion, seclusion brings glory, and behind glory is death. Good deeds are found among people”.
After his death, Bahauddin was considered a benefactor of Bukhara. The people of Bukhara very often recited the following incantation: “Bahauddin bollo gordon” (Bahauddin, ward off mischief).
A mausoleum was built over his grave, which has become a place of pilgrimage for Muslims in Central Asia. It was believed that visiting Naqshband’s mausoleum three times was equivalent to visiting the shrines of Mecca and Medina.