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Najm al-Din Kubra

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  • dblakeross
    Najm al-Din Kubra and the Kubrawiyyah Order by Atosa Aria Abedini Part I Five to seven hundred years after the Hijrat of the Prophet Mohammad (swa), the Muslim
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 9, 2002
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      Najm al-Din Kubra and the Kubrawiyyah Order
      by Atosa Aria Abedini
      Part I

      Five to seven hundred years after the Hijrat of the Prophet Mohammad
      (swa), the Muslim world experienced an extremely turbulent period.
      However, Sufism blossomed and spread its roots even further. Between
      550-700 A.H. the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the chaotic
      disruption of the Mongol invasion reached as far as Baghdad and
      destroyed the caliphate along with numerous concurrent disasters.
      Regardless, the faithful Muslim saints and scholars flourished at a
      greater rate than previously recorded. Many Sufi Orders were founded
      in this period; and those who had dissipated were once again revived.

      Among the saintly scholars, Najm al-Din Kubra, founder of the
      Kubrawiyyah Order, began teaching in Khwarazm; a region in NW
      Uzbekistan, which, in the past, was part of the great Persian Empire,
      under the rule of Cyres, the Great. The Kubrawiyyah Order soon
      expanded its wings and spread its teachings to Persia, Afghanistan,
      India and China. The Kubrawiyyah, throughout their long history,
      produced masters of great stature who taught and produced numerous,
      elaborate writings and doctrines of the Sufis. In 540/1145, in
      Khwarazm, South of the Aral Sea, Abu'l-Jannab Najm al-Din ibn Umar al-
      Kubra was born. From a very young age, he displayed a surpassing
      intelligence. In school he received the nickname Kubra, which
      literally means "the greatest." It is the abbreviated form of the
      Koranic phrase al-tammat al-Kubra, "the Greatest Calamity"(LXXIX: 34,
      Holy Qur'an). After completing his studies in Islamic religious
      sciences, Najm al-Din left his birthplace to pursue studies in other
      lands. He went to Persia to study the science of the Hadith then onto
      Egypt. In his early thirties, his thirst for esoteric matters
      attracted him to the Suhrawardiyyah order, where he was initiated by
      Shaykh Ruzbihan al-Wazzan al-Misri. According to Sheikh Kubra's
      writings, it is known that he had at least one profoundly moving
      spiritual experience in his childhood. Some believe that Najm al-
      Din's direction in spirituality may have been greatly affected by
      Baba Faraj Tabrizi due to his impressive mannerisms and advice to
      pursue the esoteric sciences.

      His first experience as a salek was in Dizful, in western Persia,
      under the supervision of Ismail al-Qasri. After a short while, Ismail
      advised him to become an apprentice with Ammar ibn Yasir al-Bidlisi,
      who was a disciple of Abu'l-Najib al-Suhrawardi. After the passing of
      his teacher, Sheikh Ammar, Najm al-Din returned to Egypt where Sheikh
      al-Misri helped him to continue his training until he was permitted
      to instruct disciples of his own. While under the instruction of
      Sheikh al-Misri, he married his master's daughter. Upon receiving
      permission to teach, he was instructed to return to his birthplace,
      Khwarasm.

      Najm al-Din returned to Khwarazm sometime between 582/1185 and 586/
      1190 where he remained the rest of his life, devoting himself to the
      spiritual path and to teaching disciples. Although he had few
      disciples, he earned an epithet for his success rate of producing
      masters of high stature. The epithet was: Wali-tarash, "Sculptor of
      Saints." He wrote a number of discourses; Fawa'ih al-jamal wa fawatih
      al-jalal (Aromas of Beauty and Preambles of Majesty), being the most
      important of his works. In this text he included records of his
      personal, visionary experiences and guidance for practicing the path;
      a detailed theory of the Sufi path for initiates.

      After a fruitful, spiritual life, Najm al-Din passed away in Urgench,
      near Khwarazm, in the year 618/1221, during the Mongol invasion. He
      was offered protection if he had accepted to take refuge with the
      Mongols; instead, he chose to fight and defend the City for it would
      result in a glorified martyr's death in battle.

      All schools of Sufism are known for their strict rules and discipline
      of the self and the Kubrawiyyah's methods were not different from the
      rest. As a Sufi master, Najm al-Din insisted on certain prerequisites
      before he would consider anyone as a potential salek (student). In
      order to be considered as a candidate and accepted as a student, one
      was required to have solid knowledge of Islamic laws and Islamic
      theological doctrines. The disciplinary rules of the school are eight
      principles of Junayd (third/ninth centuries). A salek must constantly
      observe the following: 1. Ritual purity (wudu, aprocess of cleansing
      prior to prayer), 2. Fasting, 3. Silence, 4. Seclusion, 5.
      Innvocation or recollection of Allah, using the formula La Ilaha Illa
      Allah (zekr), 6. Heart to heart connection with his/her Sheikh at all
      times, 7. Impure thoughts and impulses are to be put aside as they
      occur, 8. Surrender him/herself to the will of Allah and never refuse
      or question what Allah has imposed upon him. In addition to the
      mentioned eight rules, Najm al-Din also highly recommended two
      additional rules: moderation in eating and drinking when breaking a
      fast, and maintaining a bare minimum of sleep.

      Sheikh Kubra's description and theory of the Sufi path was that the
      journey towards Allah was none but an inward journey. He believed
      that whatever Allah put in the macrocosm, also existed within every
      individual on the microcosmic level. "Know that the lower soul, the
      devil, and the angels are realities that are not external to you. You
      are they. So, too, Heaven, Earth and the Divine throne are not
      located outside of you; nor are Paradise, Hell, Life, or death."
      VXVII:32, Holy Koran. He often told people to pray because Allah is
      praiseworthy; not for fear of hell or in wishing for paradise.

      What set Sheikh Kubra's school aside from others and gave it a
      distinctive feature were his teachings on Photisms; objective
      realities such as auras and other information obtained by faculties
      of the spirit, known as suprasensory senses, rather than the five
      physical senses. Suprasensory senses are considered to be more
      informative than those of our sensory perceptions, for the
      suprasensory perception, belonging to the higher Order of existence,
      is wide enough to observe both realms. It is said that when a salek
      begins his inward journey, he will first discover darkness. He then
      may receive visions of light. As he progresses, he will see beauty
      and lucidity. Soon after, spiritual visions will begin and gain
      strength as the salek becomes more pure. As the salek achieves
      further purity, his centers (various points in the body called
      Latifah, comparable to Chakras) gain strength. Kubra mentioned many
      times: "Our method (or path, tarighat) is the method of alchemy."The
      mystical experience will cause a transmutation and transforms the
      being, the spirit, and the five senses into senses that have further
      reach than that of the corporeal realm.

      Sheikh Kubra described love (eshgh) as being the necessary, essential
      ingredient for the union of the lover and the Beloved. Sheikh Kubra
      also taught that the mutual love between the lover and the Beloved
      would bring forth the mundus imaginalis, "the person of light". The
      form of this person of light appears to the salek and is an
      indication of his later spiritual state. It is said that, initially,
      the person of light will appear in black form, which represents the
      darkness of the individual's existence. When the salek attains the
      state of purity, his visions of light will be green. The person of
      light will appear in an extraordinary luminous form;sunlike in
      intensity. Sheikh Kubra went on to describe the face as the face of
      the salek and that the sunlike form, the "sun of the spirit"would be
      that which would oscillate with one's body. The moment one is able to
      see the person of light, "the entire body is immersed in purity." The
      physical body then generates light due to the falling of the veil.
      That is when the faculties of inner vision are accessible by the
      physical body and the chest is a receiver, wide open.

      Najm al-Din Kubra successfully passed on his teachings and spiritual
      discoveries to his disciples who went on to spread the teachings of
      their master and offered the knowledge to unlock doors and reach the
      treasures that lie within. One of Sheikh Kubra's outstanding
      successors was Majd al-Din Baghdadi from a village in Khorasan, a
      Province in Persia.

      Very little is known about his life. Najm al-Din predicted that the
      death of his student would be by the hands of the Mongols and that he
      would be drowned in a river. Majd al-Din was also responsible for
      bringing together and producing praiseworthy disciples. Among his
      disciples was Najm al-Din Dayah. Although Baghdadi passed away before
      Sheikh Kubra, it seemed peculiar that Dayah did not acknowledge Kubra
      as his Sheikh. He regarded Baghdadi as his only Sheikh. Another
      follower of Majd al-Din was Farid al-Din 'Attar of Nayshapur, a great
      Persian Sufi writer and scholar.

      reprinted from Sufism Journal
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