Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil al-Haqqani is the leader of the worldwide Naqshbandi movement. He was born in Larnaca, Cyprus, on the 23rd of April 1922, a Sunday, the 28th of Shaban, 1340 AH. His lineage on his father’s side traces its roots to Abd al-Qadir Jilani, founder of the Qadiri order. His lineage on his mother’s side goes back to Jalal al-Din Rumi, founder of the Mevlevi order. In addition to being the current Grandshaykh of the Naqshbandi order, he is a shaykh and murshid (guide) of the Qadiri, Chishti, Kubrawi and Suhrawardi orders. The Naqshbandi Sufi Order is the largest and most widespread in the world. It strictly adheres to the Shariah and traces its transmission through the first caliph Abu Bakr Siddiq (r). It is the strongest of the main Sufi Orders in North America, England, Germany and the rest of Europe.
Shaykh Nazim grew up in Cyprus where he was known from a young age for holding an unusually high spiritual station. He learned Hanafi fiqh, hadith and tafsir until he was able to give legal rulings on a number of issues pertinent to his time. He completed his studies in jurisprudence in the Hanafi school of law at the Fahri Effendi Madressa. He had a gift for explaining difficult realities in clear and easy aphorisms.
In 1940, after completing school in Cyprus, he moved to Istanbul and studied under Shaykhs Jamal al-Din al-Lasuni (d. 1955) and Shaykh Sulayman Arzumi (d. 1946). He obtained a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Istanbul. Then, in 1944, he moved to Tripoli, Lebanon, where he was hosted by the mufti of Tripoli Shaykh Munir al-Malek. The next year he was in Damascus where he met Shaykh Abdullah Faiz al-Daghestani, thirty-ninth shaykh of the Naqshbandi chain of shaykhs, who made him his successor when he left this world in 1973.
Shaykh Nazim returned to Cyprus where he began a campaign to revive Islam in the face of intense pressure from the secularist Turkish government. He was jailed many times and at one point there were 114 cases brought by the state against him. During that time he spread the Naqshbandi tariqat over Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. He moved back to Damascus in 1952 and married there.
Shaykh Nazim is known in Arab countries as Muhyi al-Sunna al-Nabawiyya [Reviver of the Way of the Prophet] and as Muayyid al-Din [Support of Religion]. He holds the middle course that is true Islam, between the batinyyat [permissiveness] of some groups and the tashhaddud [harshness] of others. He returns home overland through the Netherlands, Germany and Turkey teaching on the way.
Shaykh Nazim began to spread the teachings of Islam and the spiritual path of the Naqshbandiyyah to the West starting in 1974 when he took to traveling to London every year and spending the month of Ramadan there, until now. In 1986 he was called to travel to India-Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore. His followers among the rank and file of the Indian and Malay peoples number in hundreds of thousands. In 1991, he made his first journey to America. In this first trip he visited over fifteen states. He met many people of different beliefs and religions: Muslims, Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus and New Age believers. Twenty-three mosques and centers were established for the Naqshbandi Order in North America in the wake of his visit. He made a second visit in 1993. Through him tens of thousands of people have entered Islam and taken initiation in the Naqshbandi order in America.
Many educated people come to America and Europe from the Muslim countries to take doctorates in Islam. They do not know that these universities cannot give them the knowledge and true spirit of Islam. These scholars are against Shaykhs and tariqah. They do not understand the profound contribution of tariqah to Islam. Large numbers of Muslims in India, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines. Bosnia, Chechnia, Daghestan and many other places have come to Islam through the sincere work of tariqah Shaykhs and spiritual leaders. Now, under Shaykh Nazim’s leadership, thousands of western people are coming to Islam. His followers include many thousands of Germans, Dutch, English, French, Spanish, Italians, Americans and Canadians.
In October, 1993, Shaykh Nazim attended the rededication of the mosque and school of Imam Bukhari in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. He was the first in many generations of shaykhs in that line to be able to return to the heartland of the great Central Asian masters. His khalifa and representative in North America is his son-in-law, Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani.
In 1994 Shaykh Nazim visited Bosnia during the war. In 1996 Shaykh Nazim visited Russia and the following year visited Daghestan, Moldova and other former republics.
[for further reading see “Shaykh Muhammad Nazim al-Haqqani“]
© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America