Image: "Rumi tomb in Konya" by Rahal Eks.
The Sufi Tradition has many important and impactful Sufi personalities. In the context here, we will, of course, not be able to talk about all of them and can only mention some. Who are these Sufi personalities? When did they live, and where? And what was their gig?
As a very general statement – but an important one to catch the drift – they were very diverse people who lived at different times and in different locations. In other words, Sufi personalities were not limited to a certain era, a certain ethnic background, and a certain location.
And Sufi personalities continue to exist up to our contemporary times, but of course, let us first start with the historical ones who shaped the Sufi Tradition – here I am referring to the period of the revelation of Islam, i.e., the Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, and onwards.
Even though we mustn’t forget that the esoteric tradition existed prior to Islam under different names, as already mentioned.
So let’s start with the very Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, whose position is very special. He was born in 567 CE in Mecca on the Arabian Peninsular and chosen by God as the Prophet of Islam and as the seal of Prophets of all revealed religions.
The door of general prophecy is, of course, still open, but there shall be no more new revealed religion.
As such, Islam was the ultimate khatm, the final seal of revelation. Muhammad was predestined and given the highest maqam, the highest station of nearness.
By Sufi seekers and Sufis, Muhammad is seen as three different things: 1) As the Prophet of Islam. 2) As a symbol of Al-Insan Al-Kamil, a perfected human being. 3) As a Sufi Master. He passed away in 632 CE in Medina.
Another very special “case” was Uways Al-Qarni, who died in 657 CE. He was born in Yemen and was a contemporary of the Prophet Muhammad, whom he never met in person.
However, they were in direct spiritual contact. And this was clearly acknowledged by Muhammad. Uways founded one of the early ascetic Sufi Orders.
His name became a label for a certain type of Sufi seekers – “Uwaysis” – who are in spiritual contact with Sufi Masters over distance and even time, including cases of spiritual connection with those Sufi Masters who have passed on.
This “Uwaysi” category is not very common, but it does happen, and it is real, not some wishful thinking or deluded fantasy. The tombs of Uwais Al-Qarni and Ammar Ibn Yassir (a companion of the Prophet Muhammad) are located in Ar-Raqqah, Syria.
Unfortunately, contemporary fanatical extremists destroyed the shrines with these tombs. However, the Baraka will remain alive at that site, even when everything has been flattened to the ground by barbaric haters who only know how to throw around bombs and spread death.
Then we have the Prophet’s cousin, ‘Ali, who in the eyes of the Sufi Tradition was the first to reach the spiritual goal of perfection – to become Al-Insan Al-Kamil, a perfected human being – through his own efforts and of course God’s Will. ‘Ali is highly esteemed by all the Sufi Tradition.
He married Muhammad’s daughter Fatima and also became the Khalifa, the ruling Caliph, after Muhammad’s death, alas, not right away.
‘Ali was the fourth in turn and considered to be one of the four rightly guided Caliphs. People often also refer to him as Imam ‘Ali. During his reign as Caliph he ‘Ali changed the seat of government and settled 170 km south of Baghdad, in Kufa, Iraq.
Unfortunately, he was murdered for political reasons while performing his prayers in a mosque. For this reason, even contemporary Turkish Alevites still don’t go to mosques but gather in special places called Cemevi in Turkish.
We will discuss Alevism with more detail and also its Arabic counterpart in Syria at a later stage, as well as the Bektashi Sufi Order, together with information on Ahl Al-Haqq, the Yazidis, and the Druze and their respective links with Sufism at large.
And we will also address in due time the issue of Sunni Islam and Shia Islam and its variations.
Coming back to ‘Ali, he was nicknamed by Mohammad, “Asadullah”, the Lion of God. ‘Ali is seen as the holder of esoteric knowledge and secrets, which were transmitted to him by his cousin Muhammad.
The Prophet has been reported to have said: “I am the city of knowledge, ‘Ali is its gate.” Most Sufi Orders trace their silsila, their chain of transmission, back to Muhammad via ‘Ali.
An exception is the Naqshbandiyya Tariqa, whose silsila goes back to Abu Bakr. He was a friend of the Prophet and among the early companions, and became as well his father-in-law.
The silent transmission, one of the Naqshbandi specialties, goes back to the historical event when Muhammad and Abu Bakr were fleeing from the enemy and came upon a cave that they entered to hide.
When inside the cave, a spider wove his web across the entrance, thus preventing the enemy from bothering to look inside the cave, and they moved on while Muhammad and Abu Bakr were meditating and doing silent dhikr.
After the death of the Prophet Muhammad, Abu Bakr also became the Caliph, before it was ‘Ali’s turn.
Salman Al-Farsi, the Persian, was another important 7th century Sufi.
As his name indicates, he was of Persian background, born in Kazerun, Iran, and originally a Zoroastrian, who, during his travels, was attracted to Nestorian Christians in Syria and then continued going south to the Arabian Peninsular.
During his journey, he was betrayed and sold into slavery.
The Prophet himself freed Salman. He was the first Persian who converted to Islam and joined Muhammad and his companions in the Hijaz. Salman Al-Farsi translated part of the Qur’an.
His person and work had a great impact on various levels. He is also considered to belong to the early Hanifs, those mystics who believed in the One God. Muhammad the Prophet – according to popular Shia views – considered Salman Al-Farsi as part of his household, Ahl Al-Bayt.
After the Prophet’s death, Salman was a faithful follower of ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib, Muhammad’s cousin, who appointed him at the age of 88 as governor of Mada’in, in Iraq.
His tomb is said to be in Mada’in – while some sources claim Jerusalem, Isfahan, and other locations. Salman Al-Farsi figures as a prominent Sufi in the silsila, the chain of transmission, of various later Sufi Orders, such as the Qadiris, Naqshbandis, Bektashis, and Ovessi-Shahmaghsoudis.
In the 8th century of the Common Era, we also have a number of important Sufis, among them the famous Sufi woman, Rabi’a Al-Adawia of Basra, Iraq, who passed away in 802 CE.
Rabi’a could be called with all love and respect a Sufi performance artist who taught by action. She is said to have walked through the bazaar of Basra with a lit torch and a bucket of water in her hands.
When asked by the people what she was up to, her reply was straight-forward: “With the torch, I want to set fire to paradise, and with the bucket of water I want to extinguish the fire of hell because we ought to love God for himself, not because of the promise of paradise or fear of hell…”
Then we have Thuban Abdu’l-Faiz Dhu’n-Nun Al-Misri, the Egyptian who passed away in 860 CE. His tomb is located in Cairo’s City of the Dead. Dhu’n-Nun Al-Misri was a black Nubian from Akhmim in Egypt and became the Sufi Patron Saint of the physicians.
It has been said that he was also an alchemist and the link between the ancient pharaonic esoteric tradition and early Islamic Marifah, Gnosticism, with a focus on knowledge. It is believed he understood the hieroglyphs.
Dhu’n-Nun traveled widely and had many Sufi teachers. In Baghdad, he was accused of heresy and sent to prison, but in the end, the ruler released him and let him return to Cairo.
He is considered to be the founder of the Malamati Order, a very special type of Sufis. Malamatis walk the Path of Blame (and we shall talk about that later in more detail).
Hussein Ibn Mansur Al-Hallaj was a Persian Sufi mystic born in Fars, Iran, around 858 CE. His grandfather was a Zoroastrian, and he a Sunni Muslim. His Arabic name means cotton-carder.
As a child, Al-Hallaj began to memorize the Qur’an, and later, he spent time with other mystics to study and go on silent retreats. He got married and performed the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, where he spent an entire year.
Al-Hallaj had various Sufi teachers, and after his period in Mecca, he traveled widely and taught along his way. It is known that he went to Central Asia and even as far as India, where he gained numerous followers.
Some of them went with him on his second and third pilgrimages to Mecca. After that, he settled down in Baghdad, Iraq, at the time it was the Abbasid capital.
Al-Hallaj is known as an ecstatic Sufi, a revolutionary writer of poetry and prose, and a Sufi teacher who exclusively wrote in Arabic.
He was publicly executed on March 27, 922 CE, by the inquisition of the Abbasid Caliph Al-Muqtadir for the utterance of his mystic statement: “Ana Al-Haqq!” – “I am the Truth!” – spoken in public in an intoxicated state of mind and deeply entranced by God’s presence.
Such mystical utterance is known as shath in Arabic, meaning ecstatic expression, while the seeker experiences divine intoxication.
Orthodox Muslims saw and see Al-Hallaj as a blasphemous heretic, but even among other Sufis, he was, at times, perceived as a deviant anomaly.
Some accused him of, in their eyes, inappropriate teaching of mysticism to the masses. Others, in contrast, see in him the archetype of a perfected lover of the Beloved.
Sayyed Abu Ishaq Shami Chishti, the Syrian, lived in the 10th century of the Common Era and was a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad, a Hashemite. He was directed by another Sufi to go to the town Chisht, nowadays also known as Chisht-e Sharif, located some 177 km east of Herat in present-day Afghanistan.
Chisht became the birthplace and name-giver of the Chishti Sufi Order, an offshoot of the Khwajagan, the line of Masters. Abu Ishaq Shami Chishti died in Damascus in 940 CE and is buried on Mount Qasiyun.
Already the early Chishtis focused on the use of sama’, listening to music as a means to teach, and also when doing Sufi exercises. They also went from town to town, performed music in public, and told jokes and Sufi tales.
There is a definite parallel to the medieval court jesters in the West, even in terms of colorful patched up dress. And also, the similarity of the sound “Chishti” and “jester” is suspiciously striking to draw certain hints and even jump to conclusions regarding a potentially same source of origin.
Some people wrongly believe that Sayyed Mo’inuddin Chishti, also known as Gharib Nawaz, the Benefactor of the Poor, whose tomb can be found in the Sufi Dargah in Ajmer, Rajasthan, India, is the founder of the Chishti Order – this is definitely not the case. However, Mo’inuddin was the one who was guided to Ajmer and established the Tariqa on the Indian subcontinent.
He was born in 1141 CE in the Sistan region between present-day Iran and Afghanistan. And he passed away in Ajmer in 1236 CE.
Coming back to the 10th century, we have the Sufi Ibn Masarrah of Córdoba, who was born in 883 CE and died in 931 CE.
He founded the Illuminist Sufi School in Córdoba, Al-Andalus, or Moorish Spain. This Sufi impulse had a wide-reaching impact in the Occident, bringing the love theme into western literature and poetry.
Ibn Masarrah and his school are the link to the Sufi created project of the Troubadours, who suddenly appeared fully formed in Provence, southern France. At the same time – what a coincidence – the already mentioned court jesters also showed up.
The original “sponsor” of troubadour activities was Eleonor of Aquitaine, mother of Richard Coeur de Lion, the Lion Heart, or in Arabic: Qalb Al-Nimr, a man of the Way! That is a classical Sufi term.
Abu Hamid Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Al-Ghazali, the spinner, was born around 1058 CE and died in 1111 CE. He was a Sunni Muslim theologian, jurist, writer, and philosopher of Persian origin, who later in his life became a Sufi.
Al-Ghazali mainly wrote in Arabic, but also in Persian. It was him who managed in front of the ulema, the orthodox doctors of Islamic law, to reconcile Islam with rational intellectualism and the mystic Sufi Path.
Among his books are THE ALCHEMY OF HAPPINESS and THE NICHE OF LIGHTS, a commentary on a certain part of the Light Surah in the Qur’an.
Al-Ghazali is one among the most influential Muslims, whose ideas impacted beyond the Islamic world of his day, and that far as to reach St. Thomas Aquinas, the Dominican, and St. Francisco of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscans.
Abu’l-Walid Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Rushd, in the West known as Averroes, was born 1126 CE in Córdoba, Al-Andalus, now Spain – and he dies in 1198 CE in Marrakesh in present-day Morocco.
Ibn Rushd was a brilliant medieval Andalusian polymath, who wrote on logic, Plato, Aristotelian and Islamic philosophy, theology and jurisprudence, psychology, political theory, music theory, geography, mathematics, medicine, astronomy, metaphysics, and physics.
He was buried in Córdoba and can be seen as the founding father of secular thought in Europe.
Al-Ghazali and Ibn Rushd are seen in the Sufi Tradition context as one impulse, alas working from opposing viewpoints, yet having a common aim. One could define it as a double Sufi current.
Later, Maulana Rumi commented on this issue with his illuminating line: “It is necessary to note that opposite things work together, even though nominally opposed.” This is another example that from a Sufi perception the coin has more than two sides.
Between the negation in the shahada (the Arabic Islamic faith confession: La ilaha ila Allah – there is no God but God), and its affirmation, there is a special space, a field between rejection and belief, where a deep breath and thus tasting can take place.
There is another remarkable group of influential Sufis, the slightly earlier rather secret Sufi group called the Ikhwan Al-Safa, the Brethren of Sincerity or Purity.
It was an anonymous group whose goal was the recollection and publication of the entire body of knowledge of that time. They published around 52 treatises at Basra, Iraq, in 980 CE.
This group is also credited with the implantation of the original Qabbalah with the Jewish mystical tradition, consisting of 8 spheres on the Tree of Life, not 10, as it is known nowadays.
In the RASA’IL of the Ikhwan Al-Safa, we can find their symbolic definition of the morally perfected and ideal human being expressed as follows: “...of East Persian derivation, Arabic in faith, of Iraqi, that is, Babylonian education, a Hebrew in astuteness, a disciple of Christ in conduct, as pious as a Syrian monk, a Greek in the individual sciences, an Indian in the interpretation of all mysteries, but lastly and especially, a Sufi in his whole spiritual life...”
Further east, we have Data Ganj Baksh, as he was known in India, or Ali Al-Hujwiri, an Afghan originally from Ghazna. He passed away in 1063.
It was Al-Hujwiri who wrote in Lahore in his KASHF AL-MAHJUB (THE REVELATION OF THE VEILED): “Anyone who says that he finds no pleasure in sounds and melodies and music is either a liar and a hypocrite or he is not in his right senses, and is outside the category of men and beasts.”
The above should settle the silly question if, in Islam, music is haram, forbidden. Those who believe so are clearly not in their right senses.
The Persian astronomer, poet, and Sufi Omar Khayyam, who lived in Nishapur, must not be forgotten in this list. He is the author of the RUBAIYAT. His quatrains in Persian were still used as Sufi teaching material in Afghanistan by a 19th century Master, as mentioned by Idries Shah in his book THE SUFIS.
A Jewish Sufi sage of the Córdoba School in Moorish Spain was Solomon Ben Gabirol, who explained the Qabbalah to European thinkers. He was born in 1021 CE and passed away in 1058 CE. One of his works is called THE FOUNT OF LIFE, he wrote in Arabic, but a Latin translation of his teachings had an impact later with the Franciscans.
The author of the WALLED GARDEN OF TRUTH is the Afghan Hakim Sanai, who focused on the Sufi’s love theme. Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi later credited him with being a source of inspiration, and he also had an influence on Fariduddin ‘Attar. Hakim Sanai lived between the 11th and 12th centuries in Ghazna and was an important Sufi poet who wrote in Persian.
Sayyed Muhyiddin Abu Muhammad Abdulqadr Al-Jilani Al-Hassani Wal-Hussaini, called the Sultan Al-Awliya, Ghaus-e-Aazam and Jangi Dust, was born 11 Rabi al-Thani 470 A.H. or 1078 C.E. in Gilan in Persia.
From his father’s side, he was ‘Hassani’ and from his mother’s side ‘Hussaini’, meaning he was a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad – PBUH – via Ali and Fatima and both their children Hassan and Hussain.
His first name ‘Muhyiddin’ means ‘Reviver of Religion,’ and ‘Abdulqadr’ means ‘Servant of the Able.’
Abdulqadr was educated in Baghdad, where he studied Law and Hadith, as well as being trained in Tasawwuf, the Sufi Tradition.
After the completion of his education, he left Baghdad and spent 25 years as a reclusive wandering dervish in the desert regions of Iraq. He returned to Baghdad in 1127 C.E. and began to teach: in the mornings, Hadith and Tafsir, and in the afternoons Sufism, the Path of the Heart.
Abdulqadr was one of the rare teachers who reconciled exoteric religion with esoteric mysticism. His books include FUTUH AL-GHAIB (Revelations of the Unseen), which are 78 powerful and to the point discourses – AL-FATH AR-RABBANI (The Sublime Revelations), 62 somewhat longer discourses given in Baghdad between 545-546 A.H. - KITAB SIRR AL-ASRAR WA MAZHAR AL-ANWAR (The Book of the Secret of the Secrets and the Manifestation of Light), as well as numerous other works.
Maulana Abdulqadr Jilani passed away – aged 89 years, according to the Islamic lunar calendar – in 561 A.H. (1166 C.E.). His shrine is located in Baghdad on the East bank of the Tigris.
The Qadiriyya Sufi Tariqa received its name from Abdulqadr. It is one of the big main Sufi Orders, next to the Chishtis and Naqshbandis, for example.
His spiritual impact went way beyond Tariqa borders and is still felt today on a global scale. For example, in Morocco, it is quite common among the syncretic Gnaoua Brotherhoods to invoke the Baraka of Abdulqadr Jilani before starting a Leila, a spiritual night with trance music and dance for cleaning and healing purposes.
Maulana Abdulqadr Jilani is one of the very important figures of the Sufi Tradition, respected and loved by many dervishes and Sufis worldwide. He was reported to have a tremendous Baraka and special spiritual powers that gave rise to numerous inspirational stories and tales.
Abu Hamid Ibn Abu Bakr Ibrahim was a Persian Sufi and author from Nishapur, in present-day Iran. He is really more known under his chosen Sufi pen-name Fariduddin ‘Attar, the pharmacist (or also the perfumer, the herbalist, the alchemist).
‘Attar was a Sunni Muslim who later in life became a Shia. He was born around 1110 CE and died around 1221 CE. His beautiful blue and turquoise-domed tomb is in his native Nishapur.
There is little information about his life. What is known is that he died a violent death at the age of 110 when the invading Mongols caused a massacre.
‘Attar wrote among other works the famous MANTIQ-UT-TAYR, THE PARLIAMENT OF THE BIRDS, also called THE CONFERENCE OF THE BIRDS. ‘Attar’s writing was influenced by Ferdowsi, Sanai, Khwaja Abdullah Ansari, Hallaj, and Bayazid Bistami, among others. And he, in turn, influenced later many other Sufis such as Rumi, Hafez, Jami et cetera.
Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Muhammad Ibn ‘Arabi Al-Hatimi At-Ta’i, or in short, more widely known as Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi, the Sheikh Al-Akbar, the greatest Master, was born 1165 CE in Murcia, Al-Andalus, present-day Spain.
As indicated by his name, he was of Arab origin from his father’s side, while his mother came from a noble Berber family in North Africa.
One of his early Sufi teachers was an over 90-year old woman who lived in the streets of Seville. Ibn ‘Arabi traveled all over Andalusia and what is now Portugal, as well as spending periods in North Africa.
During his stay in Marrakesh in the house of Sidi Bel Abbes, who would later become one of the 7 Sufi Patron Saints of the city, Ibn ‘Arabi had a vision to meet a certain man in Fes and head east. And so it happened, and he never returned to North Africa and Andalusia.
Instead, he settled for some time in Mecca, run into trouble with extremists in Egypt, and traveled across the Middle East, spending time living and teaching in Konya, and finally settling down in Damascus, Syria, where he spent his remaining years and where is tomb is located on Mount Qasiyun.
In spite of his many travels and wandering around he was a prolific writer, poet, philosopher, and Sufi Master who coined Sufi terms, influenced the entire Sufi Tradition across Tariqa borders, and who did not belong to any of the known legal Islamic Schools of interpretation.
Ibn ‘Arabi brought philosophy and mysticism together and created a fast body of works; not all of them have been translated. He was truly one of the giants of the Sufi Tradition, the Pole of Knowledge, and his teachings still impact seekers in East and West in contemporary times.
Some non-Sufis love to accuse him of a “strange untogether dense writing style” – while inside the Sufi Tradition, it is well known that he applied a special technique called “spreading,” and thus his style was done on purpose.
He is deeply disliked by conservative non-Sufi Muslims who wrongly think of him as a bad influence with dangerous heretical ideas against official orthodoxy. While in reality, those folks don’t have the capacity of mind and heart to truly understand this great man and his universal and timeless teachings.
Out of the “school,” which he and his followers helped to create the concept of Wahdat Al-Wujud was coined and developed, the Unicity of Being.
In the context of this list, it is impossible to do justice to Ibn ‘Arabi’s work and impact. Some of Ibn ‘Arabi’s numerous book titles are: AL-FUTUHAT AL-MAKKIYYA, THE MECCAN ILLUMINATIONS – FUSUS AL-HIKAM, THE BEZELS OF WISDOM – SUFIS OF ANDALUSIA – AL-TARJUMAN AL-ASHWAQ, THE INTERPRETER OF DESIRE…
And here, my reading recommendation: A book about his life, a spiritual biography. It was originally written in French but is also available in the English translation as QUEST FOR THE RED SULPHUR by Claude Addas.
Jalaluddin Muhammad Balkhi was born 1207 CE in Balkh, Khorasan, in present-day Afghanistan and died December 17, 1273 CE in Konya, in present-day Turkey.
De facto, he was an Afghan, even though Iran and Turkey like to claim him as one of them. Not that it matters, like Ibn ‘Arabi and many other great Sufi figures, Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, as he would be known later, was a universal soul. His influence transcended all types of borders, national and ethnic.
All religious communities of his time loved and respected him. He was an Islamic scholar, theologian, Sufi mystic, and poet who mostly wrote in Persian, but sometimes also in Arabic, Greek, and Turkish.
Rumi is considered the Pole of Love. He is seen as the father of the Mevlevi Sufi Order of whirling dervishes, but it was actually after his death when his followers and his son, Sultan Walad, founded the Order.
His son ritualized the sama’ and organized the Order based on Rumi’s teachings and the practice to listen to music and whirl. But Rumi did not name his son as a successor.
This position went to Rumi’s companion Hazrat Husamuddin and only after his passing away did Sultan Walad become the next in line.
During his lifetime Rumi was “cooked” by the intense encounter and relationship with the wandering Malamati-like Sufi Master Shamsuddin Tabrizi. Shams taught Rumi to whirl, and this took place in a spontaneous way, not in the later choreographed manner that is nowadays known in Turkish as Mevlevi sema.
Some of Rumi’s works are: DIWAN-E KABIR or also called DIWAN-E SHAMS-E TABRIZI, a poem in honor of his beloved Shams – MATHNAWI, a 6-volume very unique poetic work with multiple levels, including fables, Qur’anic revelations, as well as metaphysics, all interwoven into a beautiful carpet of huge dimensions, so to speak – FIHI MA FIHI, prose lectures.
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was human.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as human, to soar
With angels blessed; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God does perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
I shall become what no mind ever conceived…”
Sayyed Muhammad Ibn Sayyed Ibrahim Ata, more commonly known as Haji Bektash Wali or Veli, lived in the 13th century. He was a contemporary of Rumi and migrated to Anatolia in present-day Turkey from Nishapur, Khorasan, Persia, or present-day Iran. Haji Bektash was a descendant of the 7th Shia Imam Musa Kasim.
The Bektashi silsila, or chain of transmission, is also connected back to Khwaja Ahmet Yasevi, a Sufi Master from Central Asia.
Haji Bekstash was a Sufi mystic, philosopher, and humanist who is revered by Alevis and Bekstashis for his esoteric spiritual and progressive understanding of Islam.
Among many other beautiful and wise things, he has said: “Science illuminates the paths of truth.”
Bahauddin Naqshband Bukhari, also known as the “Shah”, was born 1318 CE. He passed away in 1389 CE, and his mausoleum is in his native village Qasr-e Arifan near Bukhara and present-day Uzbekistan, a place of Sufi ziyarat, visitation, or pilgrimage.
Bahauddin belonged to the chain of the Khwajagan, the Masters, and after his death, the Order was known as Nashbandiyya, the Designers or Painters.
The typical Naqshbandi practice of silent dhikr goes back to Abu Bakr, the companion of the Prophet Muhammad, and the first Caliph. Bahauddin is the creator of the last 3 of the 11 Naqshbandi Rules or Principles.
It was Khwaja Abdul-Khaliq Gajadwani, who formulated the original 8 Rules. The Grand-Sheikh or Pir who guides the Naqshbandi Order is always a Sayyed, a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.
Traditionally the Naqshbandiyya is also known as the Mother Order and the Guardians of the Sufi Tradition. This Sufi Tariqa spread worldwide and has many different branches.
There are, of course, many more important historical Sufi personalities who were active in many parts of the world, including Africa, Europe, and North America, and reaching up to our more contemporary times.
However, that should be dealt with in another article in more detail. For now, we have a general overview of certain Sufi highlights, so to speak. But rest assured, there is more to come.
Saludos. May love and blessings be with you! Ishq bashad wa Baraka bashad!
Want to read more from "Sufism 101"? Here are the links, just click on the section you want to read: Sufi Origins, Sufi Beliefs, Sufi Practices, Sufi Spaces, and Sufi Personalities.
ولا غالب إلا الله
© 2020 Rahal Eks.