The first of the great reformers, Sheikh Ahmad Sarhindi al-Farooqi an-Naqshbandi, was born in Sarhind on June 26, 1564. He belonged to a devout Muslim family that claimed descent from Hazrat Umar Farooq (RA). His father Sheikh Abdul Ahad was a well-known sufi of his times. Sheikh Ahmad received his basic education at home. His initial instructions in the Holy Quran, Hadith and theology were rendered in Sarhind and Sialkot. Later, he devoted most of his time to the study of Hadith, Tafseer and philosophy. He worked for some time in Lahore as well. But the greater part of his life was spent in Sarhind, where he was to become the champion of Islamic values. It was not until he was 36 years old that he went to Delhi and joined the Naqshbandiya Silsilah under the discipleship of Khawaja Baqi Billah.

During this period the Muslims in India had become so deficient in the knowledge of true Islam that they had more belief in Karamat or miracles of the saints than Islamic teachings. The Ulema and theologians of the time had ceased to refer to the Quran and Hadith in their commentaries, and considered jurisprudence the only religious knowledge. Akbar, the Mughal king had started a series of experiments with Islam, propagating his own religion Din-i-Ilahi, an amalgamation of Hindu and Muslim beliefs. In these circumstances, Sheikh Ahmad set upon himself the task of purifying the Muslim society. His aim was to rid Islam of the accretions of Hindu Pantheism. He was highly critical of the philosophy of Wahdat-ul Wujud, against which he gave his philosophy of Wahdat-ush-Shuhud.

He entered into correspondence with Muslim scholars and clerics and laid stress on following the true contours of Islam. To him, mysticism without Shariah was misleading. He stressed the importance of Namaz and fasting. Through preaching, discussions and his maktubat addressed to important nobles and leaders of religious thought, he spread his message amongst the elite in particular. As he and his followers also worked in the imperial camp and army, he was soon noticed by Jehangir. Jehangir, unlike his father, was a more orthodox Muslim. But he still insisted on full prostration by all his subjects. Sheikh Ahmad refused to prostrate before him, as result of which he was imprisoned at Gwalior Fort for two years until the Emperor realized his mistake. Jehangir then not only released Sheikh Ahmad, but also recalled him to Agra. Jehangir thereafter retracted all un-Islamic laws implemented by Akbar.

Sheikh Ahmad’s greatest contribution was undoubtedly the task of countering unorthodox Sufism and mystic beliefs. He organized the Naqshbandiya order to reform the society and spread the Shariah among the people. He wrote many books, including his famous works, Isbat-ul-Nabat and Risal-i-Nabuwat. His greatest work on Islamic philosophy was the Tauheed-i-Shuhudi. Sheikh Ahmad continued preaching Islam till the end of his days. He urged people to adhere to the accepted and clearly laid down path of Islam. He passed away in 1624.

Sufi lineage: Naqshbandi chain

  1. Muhammad, d.11AH, buried Medina Saudi Arabia (570/571 – 632 CE)
  2. Abu Bakr, d.13AH, buried Medina, Saudi Arabia
  3. Salman al-Farsi, d.35AH buried Madaa’in, Saudi Arabia
  4. Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, d.107AH buried Medina, Saudi Arabia.
  5. Jafar Sadiq 148AH buried Medina, Saudi Arabia.
  6. Bayazid Bastami, d 261AH buried Bastaam, Iran (804 – 874 CE).
  7. Abu al-Hassan al-Kharaqani, d 425AH buried Kharqaan, Iran.
  8. Abul Qasim Gurgani, d.450AH buried Gurgan, Iran.
  9. Abu Ali Farmadi, (after which moves to Turkmenistan) d 477AH buried Tous, Khorasan, Iran.
  10. Abu Yaqub Yusuf Hamadani, d 535AH buried Maru, Khorosan, Iran.
  11. Abdul Khaliq Ghujdawani, d 575AH buried Ghajdawan, Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
  12. Arif Reogari, d 616AH buried Reogar, Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
  13. Mahmood Anjir-Faghnawi, d 715AH buried Waabakni, Mawarannahr, Uzbekistan.
  14. Azizan Ali Ramitani, d 715AH buried Khwarezm, Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
  15. Muhammad Baba Samasi, d 755AH buried Samaas, Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
  16. Amir Kulal, d 772AH buried Saukhaar, Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
  17. Muhammad Baha’uddin Naqshband, d 791AH buried Qasr-e-Aarifan, Bukhara, Uzbekistan (1318–1389 CE).
  18. Ala’uddin Attar Bukhari, buried Jafaaniyan, Mawranahar, Uzbekistan.
  19. Yaqub Charkhi, d 851AH buried in Tajikistan
  20. Ubaidullah Ahrar, d 895AH buried Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
  21. Muhammad Zahid Wakhshi, d 936AH buried Wakhsh, Malk Hasaar buried in Tajikistan.
  22. Durwesh Muhammad, d 970AH buried Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
  23. Muhammad Amkanagi, (after which moves to India) d 1008AH buried Akang, Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
  24. Razi ūd-Dīn Muhammad Baqī Billah, d 1012AH buried Delhi, India.
  25. Ahmad al-Farūqī al-Sirhindī, d 1034AH buried Sarhand, India (1564–1624 CE)

His pious ancestors

The family lineage of Imam-i Rabbani is as follows:

  1. Imām Rabbānī Shaikh Aḥmad Sirhindī (971-1034H)
  2. Shaikh ʿAbd al-Aḥad Fārūqī (d.1007H)
  3. Shaikh Zain al-ʿĀbidīn Fārūqī
  4. Shaikh ʿAbd al-Ḥayy Fārūqī
  5. Shaikh Muḥammad Fārūqī
  6. Shaikh Ḥabīb-Allāh Fārūqī
  7. Imām Rafīʿ ad-Dīn Fārūqī. He was a great scholar and Sufi, and a murīd of Makhdūm Sayyid Jalāl ad-Dīn Bukhārī.
  8. Shaikh Naṣīr ad-Dīn Fārūqī
  9. Shaikh Sulaimān Fārūqī
  10. Shaikh Yūsuf Fārūqī
  11. Shaikh Isḥāq Fārūqī
  12. Shaikh ʿAbd-Allāh Fārūqī
  13. Shaikh Shuʿaib Fārūqī
  14. Shaikh Aḥmad Fārūqī, martyred in a war against the forces of Genghiz Khan
  15. Shaikh Yūsuf Fārūqī
  16. Shaikh Shahāb ad-Dīn ʿAlī alias Farrukh Shāh Kābulī. He was a well reputed leader and minister of the then sultān. He is also a great-grandfather of Shaikh Farīd ad-Dīn Ganjshakar Chishtī.
  17. Shaikh Naṣīr ad-Dīn Fārūqī
  18. Shaikh Maḥmūd Fārūqī
  19. Shaikh Sulaimān Fārūqī
  20. Shaikh Masʿūd Fārūqī
  21. Shaikh ʿAbd-Allāh Wāʿiẓ Asghar Fārūqī
  22. Shaikh ʿAbd-Allāh Wāʿiz Akbar Fārūqī
  23. Shaikh Abul-Fatḥ Fārūqī
  24. Shaikh Isḥāq Fārūqī
  25. Shaikh Ibrāhīm Fārūqī
  26. Shaikh Nāṣir Fārūqī
  27. Sayyidinā ʿAbd-Allāh ibn ʿUmar (d.73H)
  28. Sayyidinā Amīr al-Muʾminīn ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (d.23H)

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