Khawājah Bāqī Billāh Shaykh ʻAbd al-Bāqī

By ‘Allamah Sayyid Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali al-Nadawi
Translated by Mohiuddin Ahmad

Before we proceed further it seems proper to give here a resume of the spiritual attainments of Khwaja Baqi Billah as described in the Nuzhatu! Khwatir2.- His name was Razl-uddin ‘Abul Mowayyad ‘Abdul Baqi b. ‘Abdus Salam of Badakhshan. Popularly known as Khwaja Baqi Billah of Kabul, he had migrated to Delhi and was a profound sage presenting the picture of the Quranic verse : “We have not crtatcd the jinn and man save for Our worship”. Excelling in devotion, piety and holy endeavour, he was the very crucible of devotion to God emitting the brilliance of love divine. Born about 971-72 A.H.,3 at Kabul-, he took Maulana Muhammad Sadiq Halwa’i as his teachcr and accompanied him in his tour to Transoxania. There he set his heart on betaking the path of spirit and terminaied his education to call upon the mystic Shaikhs of the area. First of all, he enlisted himself as a disciple of Shaikh Khwaja ‘Ubaid, a spiritual successor to Maulana Lutf Ullah. Aspiring to attain the highest reaches of divine truth, he took Shaikh Iflikhar and then Amir ‘Abdullah of Balakh as his spiritual guides but was not satisfied till he was drawn in a mysterious manner to Khwaja Baha’ud-dln Naqshband, who created in him an inclination to follow the path of mysticism requiring strict observance of the holy law. After some time he came to Kashmir and mei Shaikh Baba Kubrawi in whose company he acquired excellence and perfection of spirit. It is reported that during this period of his complete absorption in God, the unveiling of an stage that the mystics call fans, or extinction was experienced by him. Khwaja Baqi Billah again took to scouring the country for another spiritual mentor after the death of Shaikh Baba Kubrawi. During his travels he had a vision of Khwaja ‘Ubaid Ullah Ahrar from whom he learnt the secrets of the Naqshbandiyah order. Thereafter Khwaja Baqi Billah took the road to the region of Transoxania where he was granted leave by Shaikh Muhammad AmkankI to practice the Naqshbandiyah discipline and also to enlist disciples in that order only after three days’ stay with him. Khwaja Baqi Billah returned to India, stayed for a year at Lahore where he met the scholars of the town, then he came down to Delhi and took up residence in the fort of Flroz Shah. The fort had, in those days, a spacious mosque and a wide canal running besides it. Khwaja Baqi Billah continued to live at this place until the end of his life’s journey.

Being inflamed with the love of God, Khwaja Baqi Billah often gave way to transports of ecstatic raptures but he always tried to conceal his spiritual excellence from others owing to his temperamental modesty. If any one asked him to act as his spiritual guide, he normally advised him to seek someone else perfect in spirit since he was himself devoid of it, and also to let him know about that attracted soul. Even if he agreed to guide anyone on the path of spiritual perfection he did so quietly without letting the novice know about it. On occasions when he had to explain an abstruse point, he gave a most eloquent dissertation on it. He insisted on his friends not to stand up in his honour, always treated them as his equals and often seated himself with others on the ground out of courteous humility.

The Khwaja had been endowed with a mysterious spirituality. On whomsoever he cast a momentary look, the man felt himself attracted to God. He had a tender heart which melted at the slightest sight of misery to a sentient being. Once in a wintery night he left his bed for a short while and found on return a cat sleeping under his quilt. Instead of making the cat leave his bed, he remained sitting for the whole night. Similarly, once he happend to be present in Lahore during a period of drought. He could hardly eat anything during that period and distributed whatever victuals were brought to him among the poor. Once on his return journey from Lahore to Delhi, he got down from his horse on coming across a handicapped man who was not able to walk. The Khwaja got him seated on his horse and took him to his destination before resuming his journey. At the same time, he put a cloth across his face so that nobody could recognise him. He never hesitated in owning his mistake nor ever pretended to be superior to anyone whether be was a friend or a stranger.

The Khwaja had been endowed with a mysterious spirituality. On whomsoever he cast a momentary look, the man felt himself attracted to God. He had a tender heart which melted at the slightest sight of misery to a sentient being. Once in a wintery night he left his bed for a short while and found on return a cat sleeping under his quilt. Instead of making the cat leave his bed, he remained sitting for the whole night. Similarly, once he happend to be present in Lahore during a period of drought. He could hardly eat anything during that period and distributed whatever victuals were brought to him among the poor. Once on his return journey from Lahore to Delhi, he got down from his horse on coming across a handicapped man who was not able to walk. The Khwaja got him seated on his horse and took him to his destination before resuming his journey. At the same time, he put a cloth across his face so that nobody could recognise him. He never hesitated in owning his mistake nor ever pretended to be superior to anyone whether be was a friend or a stranger.

It is related that one of his neighbours, a young man, – was a malefactor but the Khwaja always bore patiently with him. After some time Khwaja Hosam-ud-din, one of the Khwaja’s disciples, lodged a complaint against that rascal with the authorities and he was put behind the bars. When Khwaja Baqi Billah came to know of the incident, he chided Khwaja Hosamud-din who submitted, “Sire, he is a wicked trouble-maker.” The Khwaja replied with a sigh, “Why not, you are all virtuous fellows who perceived this vileness but I do not find myself better than him. That is why I never lodged any complaint against him.” Thereafter the Khwaja used his good offices to get the man released from gaol who repented of his sins and left his evil ways.

If one of the Khwaja’s disciples committed a mistake, he always attributed it to himself saying that it was really his weakness which found an expression through his disciple.

In matters relating to worship of God and the dealings with his fellow-beings, the Khwaja used to exercise every possible precaution. It is related that he was accustomed to recite the surah Fatiha during the congregational prayers, since there were several ahadxth enjoining its recital even behind the Imam, until he was convinced that it was not necessary.

These instances present just a glimpse of the Khwaja’s sterling virtues since his greatness can really be measured from the number of persons who got spiritual enlightenment through him within the extremely short period of his stay in India. The Naqshbandiyah order was propagated and made popular by him in this country. There were hardly few persons in India who knew anything about it prior to him.4

Shaikh Muhammad b. Fazl Ullah of Burhanpar says that the Khwaja was incomparable in the effectiveness of his exhortations and sermons inasmuch as he succeeded in spreading his mystical order within a short period of three or four years throughout the length and breadth of the land. MuIJa Hashim Kashmi writes in the Zubdatul Muqamat that the Khwaja died at an early age of forty years. He remained in India only for four years but he guided, within this short period, his friends and disciples to the acme of spiritual perfection who made the Naqshbandiyah order so popular that it overcame all other mystical orders prevalent in the country.

Muhammad b. Fazl Ullah MuhibbI writes in the Khulasatul’ Athar that the Shaikh was a sign and a light and a prince of the knowers of God, endowed with both inward and outward perfection and a worker of miracles.5 He was so unassuming and courteous that he never tried to take precedence over others. He even forbade his colleagues to stand up in deference to him and asked them to treat him as one of their equals.

MuhibbI further says that the Khwaja was a worker of miracles and wonders. Even if someone was disinterested in the ways of the spirit, no sooner did ihe Khwaja lay his eyes upon him than he felt irresistibly attracted towards him and entered in his fold of discipleship. Very often persons distracted with the grief of a longing after God seated themselves at his door. Many among his disciples were blessed with the vision of divine truths, in a mysterious way, soon after pledging spiritual allegiance to him.

Khwaja Baqi B’llah’s disciples included such illustrious men of God as the Mujaddid, Shaikh Taj-ud-din b. Sultan Uthmani of Sambhal, Shaikh Hosam-ud-din b. Shaikh Nizamud-dln of Badakhshan and Shaikh Alladad of Delhi.

His writings consist of several tracts on mysticism, letters and poetic compositions. In the Silsilatul Ahrar be has given an exposition of his mystical quatrains.

The Khwaja died on 14th Jamada-ul-Akhir, 1014 A.H.1 at the age of forty years and four months and was buried at Qadam Rasul in western Delhi where his grave is still visited by people in large numbers.

(Saviours of Islamic Spirit Volume 3, Lucknow: Academy of Islamic Research and Publications, 1994, p. 114-9)

———————–

2. ef., Vol. V. Shah Wali Ullah Dehlawi’s Al-Intibahfi Salasil Awliya’ Allah and the Ham’at may be seen for the biographical accounts of Khwaja Baha’-ud-din Naqshband, the founder of Naqshbandiyah order.

3. 1563-64 A. D.

4. The Naqshbandiyah order reached India through two mystics. One of these was Amir Abul ‘Ala of Akbarabad, nephew and spiritual successor of Abdullah Ahrari, who had permission of his uncle to take disciples, but his method combined the disciplines o f the Naqshbandiyah and Chishtiyah orders. Its centres were Kalpi, Marehra, Danapur and a few other places. The second mystic was Khwaja Baqi Billah. From India it spread to other countries of the Muslim world through the efforts of his disciples. (Maulana ‘Abdul Ha’I, As-Thaqafal-uUlslamiyahfil Hind.)

5. M’ujiza is the miracle worked by a prophet of God while the miraculous acts of the saints and illuminated souls aro known as kartimat and tasarrufat. Both are worked by the leave of God but the latter have a place definitely inferior to that brought about by the apostles of God. In English thtre are, however, no words to express the difference between the two.

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