Hadhrat Khwāja Mahmūd Anjīr-Faghnawī, may Allah be pleased with him, was born in a village called Anjīr-Faghnī, located near Wābakna, close to Bukhārā (now Uzbekistān) circa 628 AH. He was the deputy and spiritual successor of Khwāja Ārif Riwgarī quddisa sirruhū, who ordered him to lead his followers after him.
He was responsible for introducing the audible dhikr, whereas his masters had only practiced hidden dhikr. One of the great saints of his times, Khwāja Awliyā Kabīr quddisa sirruhū objected to it and asked him why have you adopted the audible dhikr? He replied that my venerable master had commanded me in his last moments to practice audible dhikr.
The scholars of Bukhārā came to him under the leadership of Mawlānā Hāfiz ad-Dīn Bukhārī, who was a great scholar and great-grandfather of Khwāja Pārsā. They asked him: “With what intention are you practicing audible dhikr?” He replied: “So that the sleepers may awake, so that the heedless may hear, and so that they may incline towards the path of Truth, towards the goal of the Sacred Law and the Spiritual Path.” Mawlānā Hāfiz ad-Dīn Bukhārī replied: “Your intention is correct and this practice (of audible dhikr) is lawful for you. But you should set some conditions for the audible dhikr.” Khwāja Mahmūd replied: “Audible dhikr is appropriate for that person whose tongue is preserved from lying and backbiting, his throat from unlawful and dubious food, his heart from ostentation and frivolity, and his innermost being from indulgence in things apart from the Truth.”
His chief deputy Khwāja Alī Rāmītanī reported: “A dervish saw Hadhrat Khidr in the time of Khwāja Mahmūd, and he asked him: ‘In this day and age, who is the spiritual master to whom allegiance should be paid, and who is firmly established on the highway of righteousness?’ Khidr replied: ‘He is Khwāja Mahmūd Anjīr-Faghnawī.’”
The companions of Khwāja Alī Rāmītanī said that it was indeed Khwāja Alī Rāmītanī himself, but he told this incidence in a style that would avoid the pretentious claim of having seen Khidr.
One day Khwāja Alī Rāmītanī was engaged in dhikr in the town of Rāmītan, together with Khwāja Mahmūd’s companions. A large white bird passed over their heads, and when it came over Khwāja Alī’s head, it said in a clear voice: “O Alī! do not abandon manliness! Be courageous!” Those present in the circle of dhikr were so affected by these words that they lost consciousness. When they recovered, they asked Khwāja Alī: “What is the reality of what we saw and heard?” He replied: “This bird is Hadhrat Khwāja Mahmūd. Allah has granted him a charismatic gift that makes him fly, in the manner discussed in so many thousand words with the Prophet Mūsā alaih as-Salām. Today, he had gone to visit Khwāja Dihqān, the deputy of Khwāja Awliyā Kabīr, who is in the state of dying. Khwāja Dihqān had begged Allāh to send him one of His friends, and to let that friend hold his hand at the time of his passing away.”
The venerable grave of Hadhrat Khwāja Mahmūd quddisa sirruhū is located close to Wābakna, today called Vabkent, thirty five kilometers north of Bukhārā (Uzbekistan), where it is visited by many people for receiving blessings.
Among his deputies were the following dignitaries:
- Khwāja Azīzān Alī Rāmītanī. The chief deputy of Khwāja Mahmūd, from whom the Naqshbandi Order continued.
- Khwāja Amīr Hasan Wābaknī
- Khwāja Amīr Husain Wābaknī
- Khwāja Alī Arghundānī. He was from the village of Arghundān, about sixteen miles from Bukhārā.
The next in the Naqshbandī Mujaddidī Tāhirī spiritual golden chain is Khwāja Azīzān Alī ar-Rāmītanī.
Hadhrāt al-Quds, by Shaykh Badr ad-Din Sirhindī
Rashahāt Ain al-Hayāt, by Mawlānā Alī ibn Husain Safī
Āgāhī Sayyid Amīr Kulāl, by Mawlānā Shahāb ad-Dīn, Urdu translation by Muhammad Nazīr Rānjhā, Al-Fateh Publications, Rawalpindi, 2010
Khwaja Mahmoud al-Anjir al-Faghnawi
May Allah Sanctify His Soul
“If I repeat Your Name, it is not because I fear forgetfulness,
But the mention of it on my tongue is the happiness of dhikr.”
He was a Master from whose heart the Water of Knowledge and Wisdom gushed forth. His heart was polished by the Divine Effulgence, making him one of the best of the Chosen Ones, purified from all darkness and misery, and translucent as crystal.
He was born in the village of Anjir Faghna, three miles from Bukhara. In his youth he used to work in construction. He devoted his life to the guidance of people to Allah’s Presence. He was the first in the line of the Masters of Wisdom (Khwajagan) to introduce the method of loud dhikr in accordance with the needs of the time and as required by the conditions of the seekers. When he was asked why he used the loud dhikr, he replied, “To awaken the sleeper.”
The Controversy on Loud Dhikr
One day Khwaja Mahmoud attended a scholarly gathering and Shaikh Shams al-Halwani said to the Shaikh Hafiz ad-Din, an authority in external knowledge, to ask Shaikh Mahmad Faghnawi why he was doing loud dhikr. Shaikh Mahmoud Faghnawi said, “it is the best dhikr to awaken an outsider from his state of slumber and to attract the attention of the heedless so that he direct himself towards Allah following the shaikh who is making dhikr, straighten himself on the Way, and make his repentance to Allah a pure one, which is the key to all good and happiness. If your intention is correct you will find the authority to use the loud dhikr.”
Shaikh Hafiz ad-Din asked him to clarify to him just who is permitted and allowed to practice the loud dhikr, in order to justify the practice to those who opposed it. He said “the loud dhikr is for anyone who wishes to reach the state of purifying his tongue from lying and backbiting, and free his private actions from committing what is forbidden, and clean his heart from pride and the love of fame.”
One day the Shaikh Ali Ramitani (q), said that a man saw Khidr and asked him, “Tell me where I can find someone that is keeping the sharica of the Prophet and the Straight Path, in order that I may follow him.” He said, “that one whom you are seeking is Shaikh Mahmad al-Anjir al-Faghnawi.”
It is said that Shaikh Mahmoud walked on the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad in the station of Knowledge of God (macrifa) and he was also on the footsteps of Sayiddina Musa in the station of Kalimullah, the station of One who Speaks with Allah.
Shaikh Mahmoud radiated his knowledge from his masjid, which he built in the village of Wabiqni, close to Bukhara. He passed away in the village of Qilit, near Bukhara, on the 17th of Rabi’ul Awwal, in the year 717 H. He passed the secret of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order to his khalif, Ali ar-Ramitani (q).