Sufism -- Sufis -- Sufi Orders
Sufi Orders and Their Shaykhs
a Mogul Miniature of Four Great Sufi Shaykhs by the renowned painter
Rembrandt (1606-69 CE).
Yasawiya - Ahmet Yasawi
Kubrawiya (and Oveyssi)- Najm
Qadiriya - 'Abd al-Qadir Jilani
Rifa'iya - Ahmet Rifa'i
Mevleviye - Jalal al-Din Rumi
Bektashiye - Haji Bektash
Veli (As of Dec. 4, 2004, all of the links for the
preceding orders have been fixed and are current.)
Naqshbandiya - Baha' al-Din
Ni'matallahiya - Shah
Bayramiye - Haji Bayram Veli
Chishtiya - Mu'in al-Din Chishti
Shadhiliya - Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili
Khalwatiya - 'Umar al-Khalwati
Tijaniya - Ahmad al-Tijani
Muridiyya - Ahmadu Bamba
Orders in North Africa
Orders in East Africa
Orders in West Africa
Orders in South Africa
Orders in Indonesia and Malaysia
Orders in Afghanistan
Orders in Bangladesh and India
Orders in Pakistan
Orders in Kurdistan
Orders in Russia
Orders in Turkmenistan
Orders in the Balkans
The Malamatiya (the blameworthy) can be considered a proto-Sufi order that
arose in the 3rd century AH / 9th century CE before the crystallization
of the Sufi orders. Malamati principles became integrated into later Sufism.
The scholarly article Hakim
Tirmidhi and the Malamati Movement of Early Sufism by Prof. Sara Sviri
provides a number of foundational ideas as well as important historical
data for understanding the Malamatiya.
Sufi orders (turuq) crystallized as institutions beginning around
the 6th century AH/ 12th century CE. One of the first orders was the Yasawi
order, named after Khwajah Ahmad Yasavi (d. 562 AH/ 1166 AD), from
the city of Yasi, where his tomb is located. Today it is called Turkestan
and is situated in Kazakhstan, about a six hour drive northwest from Tashkent,
the capital of Uzbekistan. His shrine
underwent multi-million dollar
renovations, which were scheduled to have been completed in 1998. (See also the shrine from beyond its outer
walls and another view of the back of the shrine.) A few
generations after Khwajah Ahmad, an important Yasavi shaykh
was Isma'il Ata. He was from a village in the vicinity of Tashkent. One
of his sayings to his disciples was as follows: "Accept this advice from
me: Imagine that the world is a green dome in which there is nothing but
God and you, and remember God until the overwhelming theophany (al-tajalli
al-qahri) overcomes you and frees you from yourself, and nothing remains
but God" (Al-Khani,Hada'iq al-wardiya, p. 109). Prof. Devin DeWeese has written various articles on the Yasavi
Sufi order (such as "The Masha'ikh-i Turk and the Khojagan: Rethinking the Links between the Yasavi and Naqshbandi Sufi
Traditions," Journal of Islamic Studies (Oxford), 7/2 (July 1996), 180-207; accessible from UGA at Journal of Islamic Studies and has been
writing a book on the Yasavi order for a number of years.
The Kubrawiya Sufi Order--originating, like the Yasawiya, in Central Asia--
was named after Najm al-Din Kubra (d. 618/1221) (Abu al-Jannab Ahmad
ibn 'Umar ibn Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Khiwaqi al-Khwarazmi), known as
the "saint-producing (lit. "sculpting or chiseling") shaykh" (shaykh-e
vali tarash), since a number of his disciples became great shaykhs themselves.
Although originally from Khiva, located today in western
moved nearby to the capital city, Khwarazm. Shaykh Najm al-Din was killed
defending Khwarazm, which was completely destroyed during the Mongol holocaust.
tomb (and here as well is another image of Shaykh Najm
al-Din Kubra's tomb)is in the town of Konya Urgench, which was
built in the
area of the ruins of Khwarazm. Apparently, he is known there as Kebir Ata.
Konya Urgench is located in Turkmenistan and is about an hour's drive over
the border from the city of Nukus in the Karakalpak region of Uzbekistan.
(If you intend to visit Shaykh Najm al-Din's shrine from Uzbekistan, you
must have a Turkmen visa--if you are not Uzbek.)
Some of the more historically significant Kubrawi shaykhs were 'Ala
al-Dawla Simnani (d. 736/1336) and Sayyid Muhammad Nurbakhsh (d. 869/1464).
The Nurbakhshi Kubrawi lineage embraced Shi'ism. One continuation of this
lineage today is the Oveysi (Uwaysi) Shahmaghsoudi order, known as the
Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi
Shahmaghsoudi. (Link fixed, Dec. 4, 2004)
The Qadiriya Sufi Order--branches of which are found throughout the Muslim
world-- was named after'Abd
al-Qadir al-Jilani (d. 1166 CE). Here you can read Qala'id
al-jawahir (Necklaces of Gems)a book length hagiography of 'Abd al-Qadir
written by Muhammad ibn Yahya al-Tadifi al-Hanbali. You can also virtually
of Shaykh 'Abd al-Qadir in Baghdad. The
website devoted to Shaykh 'Abd al-Qadir Jilani (Link fixed,
Dec. 4, 2004) is the most comprehensive
site on the web concerning a particular shaykh and his writings. A representative
example of the works attributed to Shaykh 'Abd al-Qadir is On
Removing the Cares of the Heart, which is the seventh discourse in
Futuh al-ghayb (Revelations of the Unseen). Another source for
works attributed to him is the website devoted to his
discourses. A later Punjabi (Pakistani) Qadiri Sufi Poet was
(The previous link contains a substantial article on his life and
poetry as well as links to a number of his poems in both English
and the original Punjabi.) A short paragraphy about him as well as
two translated poems can be find at
Bulleh Shah. (Link fixed, 22 September 2005.) One of the most significant
Qadiri shaykhs in West African was
Fodio (from Wikipedia). See Usman
dan Fodio and the Sokoto Caliphate (Link fixed 22 September 2005) (a short but useful
article from the Library of Congress Country Study of Nigeria).
In Northern Nigeria in recent years the Qadiriyya tariqah was continued
Sheikh Muhammad al-Nasir Kabara and his successor, Sheikh Qaribullah
of the Qadiriya
in Senegal utilizes drums in their
gatherings. Released fully in CD format as Tabala
Wolof: Sufi Drumming of Senegal, (Link fixed, Dec. 4, 2004)
you can listen here to a brief cut
Qadiriya drumming. (Link fixed, Dec. 4, 2004.)
has links to the Shadhiliyah. It is headed by Shaykh
el Qadiri el Boutchichi and centered in Oujda (Madagh) in the
Northeast of Morocco, although numerous zawiyahs exist throughout
Morocco. The order is certainly the most significant tariqah in
Morocco today and is rapidly expanding. It
also has zawiyas and representatives in
France, England, Italy, Spain, Canada, Finland, and the United
rich web site
on the Qadiriya Boutchichiyya is called The Sufi Way.
One branch of the Qadiriya active in Turkey and the United
the Qadiri-Rifai Tariqa
(link fixed Dec. 04, 2004)
headed by Shaykh Taner Ansari and now centered in Northern
(d. 1182 CE) (link fixed, Dec. 4, 2004) is the shaykh from whom
the Rifa'i order is derived. In some
cases, such as that of Shaykh Taner (noted above), the Rifa'i and Qadiri
orders have united.
Rumi and the Mevleviye This comprises links
to Rumi's poetry, discourses, biographical essays, the history of his tarikat
(Sufi order), and the Sama. Although many American readers are surprised
to hear that Rumi was a devout and committed Muslim, nevertheless his writing
is so "Islamic" that his
mathnawi was refered to by the great Naqshbandi
poet Jami as "the Qur'an in Persian." (Additions as of 2/28/98)
The Bektashiya, which originally derived from the Yasaviya (mentioned above),
took its name fromHaji
Bektash Veli (link fixed, Dec. 4, 2004) This site consists of
a biography of Haji Bektash and
a number of images, including a painting of him and an image of his shrine.
The following site also contains biographical material that complements
the previous site.
Bektash Veli is one of the most significant Anatolian (Turkish) Sufi
saints. Here you can visit the
Shrine of Haji Bektash, (link fixed, Dec. 4, 2004) which is
located in the town of Haji
Bektash Koy. (link fixed, Dec. 4, 2004) (At the previous
link there is a picture of small Sama in
See also the
Alevilik- Bektashilik Research Site,(link fixed, Dec. 4, 2004)
a very rich scholarly and comprehensive website
containing numerous articles in both English and Turkish.
In addition, The
Bektashi Order of Dervishes website (link fixed, Dec. 4,
2004) gives an useful
introduction to the history and
principles of the order. An Albanian branch of the Bektashi order was established
in the USA by Baba Rexheb. See the obituary for him written by
Prof. Frances Trix, Baba
Rexheb: Albanian Bektashi Leader (link fixed, Dec. 4, 2004).
In addition the following
brief biography contains a
picture of his tomb (which is near Detroit, Michigan,US) Baba Rexheb
(link fixed, Dec. 4, 2004).
Kurds, Turks and the Alevi revival in Turkey
At times, both in history and today, Sufi elements are found in political
movements. One such contemporary mixture is in the leftist Alevi-Kurdish
movement in Turkey, in which Haji Bektash and Pir Sultan Abdal are considered
to be saints. This article, by Professor Martin van Bruinessen, one of
the chief authorities on Kurdish religious groups, clarifies the facts
of this issue. (Back on-line 5/18/98)
Yunus Emre (link fixed,
Dec. 04, 2004) is the most significant Bektashi poet.
(As of Dec. 04, 2004 all of the links to the preceding orders have
been fixed and are current.)**
The Naqshbandiya, named after Baha
al-Din Naqshband (d. 791/1389) (Link fixed 22 September 2005) is a
tariqah that is widely active
throughout the world today and that even has a strong presence on the Web.
You can read about all of the shaykhs of one of its main lineages at this
link The Golden Chain
(Link fixed 22 September 2005). The
Naqshbandiya further developed basic Islamic practices and principles into
the eleven principles of the Naqshbandi Order.
One of Khwajah Baha al-Din's successors was Khwajah Muhammad-e Parsa. The
tomb and mosque of his son, Khwajah Abu Nasr-e Parsa (fixed 22 Sept. 2005) is in Balkh, in Afghanistan. Another of Khwajah Baha al-Din's successors was Ya'qub-e Charkhi
(d. 1447), whose most significant disciple and successor was
'Ubayd Allah Ahrar (d. 895/1490) (fixed 22 Sept. 2005). Read here a Qur'anic
commentary of Khwajah Ahrar's on Guide us on the straight path (Qur'an
1:5). One of the most highly regarded Naqshbandi Shaykhs is Ahmad Sirhindi.
See a Biography of Shaykh
Ahmad al-Faruqi al-Sirhindi (link fixed 22 Sept. 2005) and another Biography
of Imam-i Rabbani, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, (a PDF document; link fixed 22 Sept. 2005)
known as the Mujaddid-i Alf-i Thani (Renewer of the Second Millenium)(d.
1034/1624). This is an on-line translation of the Manaqib ve Maqamat-i
written by Muhammad Mazhar, a son of Ahmad Said
One of the most important Afghan / Uzbek shaykhs of the late
18th and early 19th centuries was a Naqshbandi in the lineage of the Mujaddid,
a shaykh whose name was Sufi Islam, or, as he was also known, Shaykh al-Islam
khaniqah (Sufi hospice) at Karrukh, near Herat (in
Afghanistan), is apparently still functioning. In the Summer of 1997, while
travelling in Uzbekistan, I obtained a copy in Persian of his life story
and teachings. If any readers have any information about Afghans or others
who may be connected to Sufi Islam's lineage, please
send me (Dr. Godlas) email by this link.
One branch of the Naqshbandi Mujadiddi to take root in the United States
is that of Shaykh
Ahmed Rashid, who is a khalifa of Hazrat
The most significant Nasqshbandi shaykh in Syria until his passing in 2004 was Shaykh
Ahmad Kuftaro. Born in 1915, Shaykh Kuftaro was particularly
important because not only was he a Naqshbandi shaykh since 1938,
but he since he was Syria's Grand Mufti (the chief scholar of Islamic
law) since 1964.
The shaykh of the Naqshbandi-Haqqani order is Shaykh Nazim. His representative
for the United States is Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, who is the author of the
The Fundamentals of Tasawwuf (Sufism) (link fixed 22 Sept. 2005). See their extensive website The
Naqshbandi Homepage. Another branch of the Naqshbandiya is theNaqshbandiya of Shaykh Mahmud Es'ad Cosan (link fixed 22 Sept. 2005) (pronounced "Jo'shan"). This
branch is centered in Istanbul, Turkey. A branch of the Naqshbandiyah now
centered in Manchester, England, is that of Shaykh Asif Hussain Farooqui (link fixed 22 Sept. 2005). An organization centered in the United States
and having as its purpose the education of both Muslims and non-Muslims
about the holistic nature of Islam--which includes spirituality as an essential
dimension--is the Naqshbandiya Foundation
for Islamic Education. See the website devoted to Suleyman
Hilmi Tunahan (Turkish only; link fixed 22 Sept. 2005), a twentieth century Turkish Naqshbandi scholar and Sufi.
Of the various pages at the site, one focuses on his Sufi activities (archived link). A Turkish Naqshbandi shaykh who recently passed away was Ahmet Kayhan. A biographical
sketch of Ahmet Kayhan (link fixed 22 Sept. 2005) has been written by a disciple of his, Henry Bayman. See also a picture
of Ahmet Kayhan. For a concise overview of a number of branches of
the Naqshbandi order in Turkey today, see the article titled Concerning
the Naqshbandiyya in Turkey (link fixed 22 Sept. 2005).
Anyone interested in researching the Naqshbandi order will find the
of the Naqshbandiyya by Vika Gardner, a Ph.D. student at the University
of Michigan, to be very useful.
Haji Bayram Veli (d. 833 AH/ 1429-30 CE), a great Anatolian shaykh and
disciple of the Khalwati shaykh, Hamid al-Din or Hamid Aksaray (d. 805
AH/ 1402 CE), was the founder of the Bayramiye order. Three of his disciples
each founded or were at the root of separate orders: Ak Shams al-Din founded
the Shemsiye order, Hizir Dede was the ancestor of the Celvetiye (Jalwatiya),
and Bursali Omer Dede was the founder of the Melamiye (Malamiya) order.
and Mosque of Haji Bayram (link fixed Jan. 2005) in Ankara can be viewed here. More
about the interior of the mosque
of Haci Bayram (as it is spelled in Turkish) is found at
the website of the Turkish Ministry of Culture. The Ottoman
Melami Sufi order became interconnected with the Bayramiye order.
Moinuddin Chishti (from Chisht or Chesht-e sharif, due East of Herat on the Hari
Afghanistan, although his tomb is in Ajmer, India) is the most well-known of the early
saints of the Chistiya order,
which is prominent
in India and Pakistan and has spread (in various forms) to the West. The first of
the Chishti saints was Abu Ishaq Shami Chishti (d. 329/940-41), whose
shaykh was a
well-known Sufi shaykh, Mimshad (or Mumshadh, after al-Dhahabi in Tarikh al-islam)
al-Dinawari (d. 299/911-12) (from Dinawar, which was a city in Iranian
Kurdistan northeast of Kermanshah, that was later completely destroyed by Timur). See
Introduction to Sufism, is an article written by a recently deceased
shaykh of the Chistiya who had resided for many years in Toronto. Read
about Khwaja Moinuddin's shrine (dargah) at two sites:The Dargah (link fixed 22 Sept. 2005) and Ajmer
Sharif; and virtually visit the
Dargah of Khwaja Mu'in al-Din in Ajmer, India. Visit also
the Shrine of Nizam al-Din Awliya (d. 725/3125), (fixed Sept. 22, 2005)
a Sufi shaykh of the Chisti order who is buried in New Delhi, India. One
of disciples of Nizam al-Din Awliya was the great Sufi poet Amir
Khusraw Dihlawi (d. 725/1325), who was buried at the feet of his master.
Chishti Sufi Order in the
Indian Subcontinent and Beyondby Raziuddin Aquil (Center for Studies in Social
Sciences, Calcutta), published in Studies in History, vol. 21, #1, n.s. 2005.
Chishti orders with websites include the following:
Chishti-Habibi Soofie Islamic Order
website was constructed by a South African branch of the Chishti order
deriving from Sayed Khwaja Habib Ali Shah from Hyderabad (India) (d. 1326/1906).
Chisti Order of Sufis, (link fixed Sept. 22, 2005)
which is affiliated with Shaykh Hakim Abu Abdullah Moinuddin, the author
of the Book
of Sufi Healing. This is an excellent, comprehensive site covering
topics such as the history and literature of the Chisti Order and including
pages on actual Sufi practice and Sufi healing.
Shahi Branch of the Chishti Order (link fixed Sept. 22, 2005) established by Dr. M. Qadeer Shah Baig in Toronto, Canada. The current khalifa in Toronto is Syed
Shahi/Zahuri Branch of the Chishti Order previously headed by Hz. Zahurul
Hasan Sharib (d. 1996) and currently headed by Inaaam Hasan of Ajmer, India.
This branch now has a presence in England, the Americas, and other regions
of the world. Jamiluddin Morris Zahuri (a devotee of Hz. Zahurul Hasan
and the webmaster of the Zahuri website), notes that the Gudri Shahi order
actually has two lineages, one deriving in this material world from the
Qadiriya and the other being an "Uwaysi" transmission (occuring in the
non-material world of the spirit) from Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti to Hazrat
Saeen Gudri Shah Baba (Saeenji Sahib), who is the founder of the Gudri
Shahi order. In addition, some members use the appellation "Zahuri" to
refer to their affiliation with Hz. Zahurul Hasan Sharib. For more information
letter to Dr. Godlas (links fixed 22 Sept. 2005).
The teachings of another Chishti branch that also has a Qadiri lineage
can be found at the site Islam
and the Sufi Tradition of Chishti Qadhiri. The current shaykh is FaizeeShah. (Link fixed, Dec. 11, 2009)
The Chishti Website is a
nicely designed general website, in both English and Russian,
the Chishti order, although there does not appear to be any
information on the connection of the site to any particular
Chishti lineage or shaykh. The focus of the site is teachings
rather than history, although there is some information on early
Chishti shaykhs. Of particular interest to me is one of is main
articles, Sufi Symbols, a treatise
on the symbolism of
the letters of the alphabet.
The Shadhiliya Order, named after Abu al-Hasan
al-Shadhili (d. 656
AH/1258 CE), whose tomb
is at Humaythra on Egypt's Red Sea coast, has branches throughout North
Africa and the Arab world. It has also become established in Europe and
the United States. One shaykh who has brought the Shadhiliya to the U.S.
is Sidi Shaykh Muhammad
al-Jamal ar-Rifa'i as-Shadhili, (links fixed 21 December 2005) whose
organization has established
the Sidi Muhammad
Press website, which contains information about the principles of
Sidi Shaykh al-Jamal's teachings concerning the Shadhili order (link
fixed 13 June 2002).
The Shadhiliya derives from the tariqat of Abu Madyan Shu'ayb (d.
594 AH/1198 CE), whose tomb is in Tlemcen, Algeria. A recent book, The
Way of Abu Madyan, by the scholar Vincent Cornell, provides his biography,
a discussion of his teachings, and a number of texts written by Abu Madyan
and translated into English along with the original Arabic.
One of Abu Madyan's disciples was Muhammad 'Ali Ba-'Alawi, from
whom the 'Alawiya
also known as the Ba'Alawiya Order, derives. See a brief
summary of The Way
of the Bani Alawiyah - At-Tariqah al-'Alawiyah. A
branch of the
new official website is Attasia Tarikah but only the
Arabic is currently functional, the English being under
construction. The order is centered in
Yemen but also has zawiyas (hospices) in Pakistan, India, and Myanmar.
The 'Alawiya order in the Yemen has recently been studied by the anthropologist,
David Buchman. In his article titled The
Underground Friends of God and Their Adversaries: A Case Study and Survey
of Sufism in Contemporary Yemen, Professor Buchman summarizes the results
of his six month period of fieldwork in Yemen. The article was originally
published in the journal Yemen Update, vol. 39 (1997), pp. 21-24.
Mashish (fixed Nov. 27, 2005) (d. 625 AH/1228 CE), another
disciple of Abu
Madyan, transmitted his teachings to Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili. One of al-Shadhili's
most prominent disciples was Abu-l-'Abbas
al-Mursi (d. 686 AH/1287 CE), whose shrine is in Alexandria, Egypt.
From another angle, visit the
Mosque and Tomb of al-Mursi. (Fixed Nov. 2005.) His
murid (disciple) and successor
was Ibn 'Ata' Allah Iskandari (d. 709/1309 in Cairo), who wrote the text
Key to Salvation: A Sufi Manual of Invocation (Miftah al-falah (link fixed 21 December 2005)). See
also the chapter on dhikr (remembrance of God) from Miftah
al-falah translated by the scholar Ayesha Bewley. Another of Ibn 'Ata
Allah's works is the Hikam
(maxims or aphorisms), partially translated here by Ayesha Bewley, fully translated into Spanish and English elsewhere. An important
Shadhili shaykh in Morocco was al-Jazuli
(d. between 869/1465 and 875/1461), whose fame was spread throughout the
Muslim world by his collection of prayers titled Dala'il
al-khayrat. The order founded by him, the Jazuliya, as well as other
Moroccan Sufi orders and saints, are discussed by Prof. Vincent Cornell
in his recent book Realm
of the Saint: Power and Authority in Moroccan Sufism.
Another Moroccan branch of the Shadhili order is the Darqawiya, founded
in the late 18th century (CE) by Mawlay al-'Arbi al-Darqawi. Selections
from the Letters
of Shaykh al-Darqawi have been translated by the scholar Ayesha Bewley.
One of the first tariqas to become established in the West was the
'Alawiya branch of the Darqawiya,
(link fixed 21 Dec 2005) which became named after Shaykh Ahmad ibn Mustafa
al-'Alawi al-Mustaghanimi, popularly known as Shaykh
al-Alawi (link fixed Nov. 23, 2001) A significant book about him, written
by Martin Lings, is titled A
Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century. (link fixed 21 December 2005). A Shadhili
shaykh who has established centers in the West has been Shaykh
Abdalqadir al-Murabit, a Scottish convert to Islam, whose lineage is
Shadhili-Darqawi. Currently his order is known as the Murabitun.
At other times his order has been known as the Darqawiya and Habibiya.
One of the first books that Shaykh Abdalqadir wrote was The Book of
Strangers, which he authored under the name Ian Dallas. For a brief
anecdote of Shaykh Abdalqadir in the early 1970's, go to the chapter "Forgiveness
and Maturation of the Heart" from the book Recovery of the Sacred,
by the psychiatrist Carlos Warter, and scroll down to " A few weeks later,
I was walking down Telegraph Avenue...", which begins after about two-thirds
of the chapter.
A contemporary order deriving, in part, from Shaykh Abdalqadir is the
al-Haydariyah al-Shadhiliyah (link fixed 21 Dec 2005),
headed by Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri. Of Shi'ite descent, Shaykh Fadhlalla,
nevertheless, neither teaches within a Shi'i nor a Sunni framework.
Between October 17-26, 1999, the First
International Shadholian Festival occured in Egypt. It concluded with a pilgrimage
to the tomb of Abu 'l-Hasan al-Shadhili and involved Sufi gatherings
of dhikr and chanting. (Offline, Feb. 2004.)
The Burhaniya or Burhamiya, named after Shaykh Burhan al-Din Ibrahim
al-Dasuqi (d. 687/1288), sometimes regarded as derived from the Shadhili
order and sometimes from the Rifa'i order, is an order active today in
Egypt. A branch in Australia is led by Murshid
F. A. Ali ElSenossi. (Link fixed, February, 2004.) whose organization is called
the the Almiraj Sufi and Islamic Study
Possessing many branches with distinct names, the
regards its founder to be 'Umar al-Khalwati (d. 800/1397) and traces itself
back to Abu Najib Suhrawardi (d. 563/1168) founder of the Suhrawardiya
order. Among the Khalwati branches with links on the web are the following:
--Sammaniya order (link fixed 21 Dec 2005)
of the Sudan, the current shaykh of which is Hasan As-Shaykh Qaribullah,
located in Um Durman. Current site has only Arabic text.
--Halveti-Jerrahi order of Turkey.
Until recently, the shaykh of the Jerrahi order was Safer
Efendi (also known as al-Iqtida Efendi), who was based in Istanbul.
He passed away on February 21, 1999. There are a number of Jerrahi
centers throughout the world, many of which were established through
the efforts of a former shaykh, Muzaffer Ozak, known as Muzaffer Efendi,
whose pen name was Ashki. The Italian center of the order also maintains
a website titled
Order of Italy (link fixed 21 Dec 2005) the shaykh of which, Gabriel Mandel Khan, was a representative
of Sefer Efendi.
The Nimatullahi Sufi Order --named after its founder, Nur al-Din
Ni'matallah Vali, known as Shah Ni'matallah-- although originally a Sunni
order, became Shi'i in the 16th century. Four primary branches are 1) the
Khaniqahi Ni'matullahi, (link fixed Sept. 2011)
also called the Ni'matullahi Sufi order, which is more precisely the Dhu'r-riyasateyn
(Munis 'Ali Shah) Ni'matullahiya; this branch is the most well-known in
the West, primarily on account of the publishing and institution
building efforts of its previous shaykh,
Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh (who passed away in 2008); 2) Nematolahi
Safialishahi Sufi order, named after its chief figure, Safi
'Ali Shah Isfahani (d. 1316/1899) (link fixed Dec 2008 and Sept. 2011); 3) the
Khaneghah Maleknia Naseralishah,
named after its former shaykh, Pir Malikniya, who was also known as Nasiralishah
and who passed away in 1998. I was informed by a member of this order that
they carefully observe Shari'ah (Islamic law); and 4)Nimatollahi Gonabadi Sufi
Order which is also called Bonyad Erfan Gonabadi. See also their webpage Bonyad-e Erfani-ye Ni'matullahi-ye
Gonabadi. Another website belongs to the
Nimatollahi Gonabadi Sufi Order, (link fixed 21 Dec, 2005). The order is centered in Iran in the city of Gonabad,
whose primary 20th century shaykh was Sultan Husayn Tabandah. A characteristic
of this order (according to Pourjavady and Wilson's book on the history
and poetry of the Ni'matullahi order called Kings of Love, p. 252)
was careful observance of the Shari'ah (Islamic law). (The preceding material
on the Ni'matullahiya was revised on 6 Nov. 2000 and then on 27 Dec. 2000)
The shrine of Shah Ni'matallah
Vali, (who had been a disciple of the well-known but little-studied
Qaderi Sufi author, 'Abdallah Yafi'i) in Mahan, Iran, is still an important
pilgrimage site. Here you can look heavenward
from the tomb area within the shrine of Shah Ni'matallah (or Ni'matullah
and Nematollah, as it is sometimes written). The following image is a fine
view of the dome
of Shah Ni'matullah's shrine, along with a minaret. Here is the dome of Shah Ni'matullah's shrine (link fixed 21 Dec 2005), including two minarets. The following picture shows the courtyard
pool of the shrine. Inside the shrine is a room where Sufis could spend
a period of time in seclusion, meditating, praying, and fasting. Such retreats
often lasted for forty (chehel) days. Hence such rooms were called
cheleh'khanah (a forty room). One such cheleh'khanah
at the shrine can be seen on the same page. You can also see the:
of Shah Ni'matullah's shrine, and a minaret. See also a view from the
ground level of the shrine
of Shah Ni'matullah (links fixed 21 December 2005).
The Tijaniya, named after Shaykh
Ahmad al-Tijani (1737-1815 CE) is an important Sufi order primarily in
Africa. See a short biographical sketch, Shaykh
Ahmed al-Tijani (link fixed 21 Dec 2005) by Baruti M. Kamau, who is affiliated with the Tijani
order. One of the most significant Tijani shaykhs was Hajj 'Umar Tal al-Futi.
For him, a useful starting point is this Biography
of Hajj 'Umar Tal al-Futi (1794-1863) (link fixed 21 Dec 2005), written by the African-American
Muslim writer Baruti Muhammadu D.S. Kamau. (Added, January 14, 2001.) Centers
of activity are in West Africa, Morocco (where Shaykh al-Tijani's tomb
is located), and Egypt. While there are a number of Tijani shaykhs today,
one of the most significant is Hassan
Cisse (link fixed 15 January 2002). See this Introduction
to the Tariqa Tijaniyya (link fixed 15 January 2002) for a summary
of the principles of the Tijani path, the most important of which are 1)
Asking God for forgiveness, 2) Saying La ilaha illa 'llah (There
is no god but God), and 3) Offering prayers of blessing upon the Prophet
Muhammad. The Tijaniya has a significant following among African-Americans
in the United States. The article The
Tijaniyya, a Tariqa of the 20th century (link fixed 21 December 2005) contains a short biography
of Shaykh Ahmad al-Tijani and brief discussions of a few of the more important
20th century and contemoporary shaykhs. The author of the article, Muhammad
‘Isa Mavongou, is a French convert to Islam and a disciple of a Mauritanian
Tijani shaykh, Sheikh El Haj ‘Abdallah ould Michry. The
African American Islamic Institute, (link fixed 15 January 2002) is
a Tijani institution which publishes a newsletter
A center has also been established in Trieste, Italy.
established by Shaykh Ahmadu Bamba
(d. 1927) is an order of major importance
in Senegal and has a presence in various other countries, including France,
England, and the U.S. The tomb
of Ahmadu Bamba (link fixed 21 December 2005) in Touba, in Western Senegal, is a major pilgrimage
site. There are a large number of various Muridiya websites
Qalandariya as a term is used in two ways: 1) it may refer to any
wandering Sufi, who may be called a Qalandar, or 2) it may refer to a specific
Qalandar tariqat. One such tariqat is the Qalandariya
of Sheikh Baba Sultan, or Sheikh Muhammad Sultan, as he was also known,
Orders in North Africa
Sudanic Africa is
an online scholarly journal containing, among other things, numerous articles
on Sufism in Islamic Africa.
PDF file (which you can read if you have Adobe Acrobat) by Dr. Bernd Radtke
from the online journal Sudanic Africa, concerns one of the most important
Sufi texts, the Ibriz of Ibn Dabbagh. The Ibriz is of great
significance in the development of the Tariqa Muhammadiya, a Sufi orientation
emphasizing the cosmic importance of the Prophet Muhammad, and was an important
work for a few North African Sufi orders.
Orders in East Africa
Sufism in the Somaliland (link fixed 21 December 2005) is an academic article written by one of the chief authorities of East
African Islam, I.M. Lewis. This article comes from London's Bulletin of
the School of Oriental and African Studies (BSOAS), v. 17, 1955. I would
be interested in an update, however, since it is over forty years old.
Sufis and Shrines, part of a scholarly article by Ulrich BraukŠmper.
(requires authorization 12/21/05)
of Shaykh Abadir (link fixed 21 December 2005), the patron saint of Harer Ethiopia.
Orders in West Africa
Sufi Orders in Mauritania
Orders in South Africa
"Some Religion He Must
Have": Slaves, Sufism, and Conversion to Islam at the Cape a
lengthy and well-documented
scholarly paper written by Dr. John Edwin Mason, professor of History, University of
Turning to the core: Sufism on
the Rise? (link fixed 21 December 2005) by Dr. Abdulkader Tayob, professor of Religious Studies, University of
Cape Town, is a short survey of contemporary Sufi activity in South Africa.
al-Zawiyah Mosque, situated on the slopes of Table Mountain, in
Walmer Estate, Cape Town.
Orders in Indonesia and Malaysia
Sufism in Indonesia, the page of Haji
Michael Roland, consists of good background information on the history
of Sufism in Indonesia and on the living tradition as well.
Javanese Mystical Movements
is a well-designed page with an anthropologically informed article on the
major characteristics of mystically oriented groups in Java, some of which
are traditionally Sufi Muslim, while others are syncretic (blending beliefs
and practices deriving from a variety of sources).
Ahmad Qusyasi's Symbols, a stunningly illustrated Malay Sufi manuscript
with a scholarly discussion of the manuscript. (The illustrations may take
a while to load [100-120k].)
Orders in Afghanistan
Orders in Afghanistan is a short but informative article on Afghan
Sufi orders after the fall of the Taliban.
Orders in Bangladesh and India
India: Its origin,
history and politics an article R.Upadhyay, published by the South Asia Analysis
Group. (Link fixed, 24 August 2008.)
Orders of Tamil Nadu by
Khaja Khan from his "Sufi Orders in the Deccan", originally published in The Philosophy
of Islam (1903), and reprinted in Studies in Tasawwuf (1923) (Link fixed, 24 August
Sufism in Bangladesh a
short but useful article from the Banglapedia. (Link fixed, 24 August 2008.)
Khwaja Enayetpuri a great Bangladeshi
Sufi shaykh. Dargahs of India
a website listing of Sufi shrines in India, which often are connected to Sufi centers.
Dargahs of Hyderabad
lists 65 shrines. Included are a few pictures, districts in which they are located, a
few links, and even the phone numbers of a few shrine custodians and shaykhs, including
that of a Sufi shaykh (Shaykh Rasheed al-Hasan Kaleemi Jeeli) to whom two recent books
in English on Sufism have been dedicated (Scott Kugle, Rebel Between Spirit and Law:
Ahmad Zarruq, Sainthood, and Authority in Islam and Kugle's Sufis and Saints
Bodies: Mysticism, Corporeality, and Sacred Power in Islam).
Orders in Pakistan Imagining
Sufism: Reconstituting the Chishti Sabiri Silsila in Contemporary Pakistan (link
fixed 21 December 2005) by Robert Rozehnal, Assistant Professor of Islam and South Asian
Religions at Lehigh University. Sufi Movement in Pakistan a
non-scholarly article that is nevertheless a useful starting point for those interested
in Sufism in Pakistan.(Author not indicated.) Shah Darazi Order and Khaniqah of Sachal
Sarmast (link fixed 21 December 2005). The Shah Darazi order is a branch of the
Kubrawiya order. This Khaniqah is located in the district of Khairpur, in Sindh,
Orders in Kurdistan
Among the Kurdish People (link fixed 21 December 2005) is a brief article taken from The Kurds,
A Concise Handbook, by Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady of Harvard University.
This article has a detailed bibliography.
Orders in Russia
in Russia Today (link fixed 21 Decemeber 2005) a paper presented in March 2000 at the University of
Birmingham by Robert G. Landa of the Oriental Institute of Moscow.
Study of Sufism in post-Soviet Dagestan of the Russian Federation (link fixed 21 December 2005) by
Galina M.Yemelianova, Ph.D., a Research Fellow at the Centre for Russian
and East European Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK.
Orders in Turkmenistan
Shrine Pilgrimage in Turkmenistan as a Means to
Understand Islam among the Turkmen a scholarly article published in
the Central Asia Monitor (1997) and written by David Tyson, M.A., formerly
of the University of Indiana. (Back online May 6, 2002)
Orders in the Balkans
A Glimpse at Sufism in the
Balkans (link fixed 21 December 2005) by the Muslim scholar Huseyin Abiva, is a useful historical
survey of Sufism in the Balkan countries.