Sufism -- Sufis -- Sufi Orders

Sufi Orders and Their Shaykhs

Depiction of a Mogul Miniature of Four Great Sufi Shaykhs by the renowned painter Rembrandt (1606-69 CE). 

Malamatiya
Yasawiya - Ahmet Yasawi
Kubrawiya (and Oveyssi)- Najm al-Din Kubra 
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 Naqshband
Ni'matallahiya - Shah Ni'matallah Vali
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
Qalandariya
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 Uzbekistan, he moved nearby to the capital city, Khwarazm. Shaykh Najm al-Din was killed defending Khwarazm, which was completely destroyed during the Mongol holocaust. Today, his 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 visit the tomb 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 his 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 Bulleh Shah (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 Osman Dan 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 by Maulana Dr. Sheikh Muhammad al-Nasir Kabara and his successor, Sheikh Qaribullah al-Nasir Kabara. One branch 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 of this Senegalese Qadiriya drumming. (Link fixed, Dec. 4, 2004.)
    The Moroccan-based Qadiriya-Butshishiyya, has links to the Shadhiliyah.
  • It is headed by Shaykh Sidi Hamza 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 States. Another rich web site on the Qadiriya Boutchichiyya is called The Sufi Way.

    One branch of the Qadiriya active in Turkey and the United States is the Qadiri-Rifai Tariqa (link fixed Dec. 04, 2004) headed by Shaykh Taner Ansari and now centered in Northern California.

  • Shaykh Ahmad al-Rifa'i (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. Haji 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 progress.)

    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 Khwajah '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 Ahmadiya-yi Saidiya written by Muhammad Mazhar, a son of Ahmad Said Faruqi.

  •  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 Karrukhi. His 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 Azad Rasool.

    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 on-line book, 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 Bibliography 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. The Tomb and Mosque of Haji Bayram (link fixed Jan. 2005) in Ankara can be viewed here. More information, especially 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.

  • Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (from Chisht or Chesht-e sharif, due East of Herat on the Hari Rud in 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 An 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. (PDF format)


    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.

    Gudri 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 Mumtaz Ali.

    Gudri 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 see Jamiluddin Morris' 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, dealing with 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 Order, 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 'Alawi Order is the 'Attasiyah Order. Their 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.

    'Abd al-Salam ibn 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 The 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 Centre.

  • Possessing many branches with distinct names, the Khalwatiya order 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 Jerrahi-Halveti 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: dome 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. 

  • The Muridiyya, 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 listed here.

  • 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, of Kashmir. 
  • Orders in North Africa

  • Sudanic Africa is an online scholarly journal containing, among other things, numerous articles on Sufism in Islamic Africa.
  • Ibriziana a 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. 
  • Somali-Ethiopian Sufis and Shrines, part of a scholarly article by Ulrich BraukŠmper. (requires authorization 12/21/05)
  • The Tomb 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 Virginia.
  • 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-Zawiyahthe 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). 
  • Shaykh 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

  • Sufi Orders in Afghanistan is a short but informative article on Afghan Sufi orders after the fall of the Taliban. 
  • Orders in Bangladesh and India

  • Sufism in India: Its origin, history and politics an article R.Upadhyay, published by the South Asia Analysis Group. (Link fixed, 24 August 2008.)
  • Sufi 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 2008.)
  • 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, Pakistan.

    Orders in Kurdistan

  • Sufi Orders 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

  • Sufism 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. 
  • A 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. 
  • Return to Sufism, Sufis, Sufi Orders


    Go to Islamic Studies, Islam, Arabic, and Religion page of Dr. Godlas.