This summer I was blessed to visit the seven pirs of Bukhara in Uzbekistan. It is proper adab to visit the eldest first, so the first of these Naqshbandi saints to visit was Hazrat ‘Abdul Khaliq al-GHudjwani (r.a.). His shrine is beautifully restored and has a busy flow of wedding parties, locals paying their respects, and people making pilgrimage from further afield. There is a mosque nearby and a madrassa, restored but unused. Helping us with the August heat, we were blessed with a cooling breeze and a shaded bench from which to offer our salams and sit in muraqabah.
Hazrat ‘Abdul Khaliq (r.a.) was born to an Anatolian princess, a descendant of Imam Malik, and Shaykh ‘Abdul Jamil, (r.a.), one of the most famous scholars of Byzantine times. He was a master of silent dhikr and the first in the silsila to use it. He studied the traditional Islamic sciences throughout his childhood, then jihad an-nafs (the spiritual struggle) under Shaikh Yusuf al-Hamadani (r.a.). He established a school in Damascus where his students mastered fiqh and hadith alongside spiritual practices.
The book al-Hada’iq al-Wardiyya describes how he was inspired by the ayat, “Call unto your Sustainer humbly, and in the secrecy of your hearts. Verily, He loves not those who transgress the bounds of what is right,” [7:55], to ask his teacher Shaykh Sadruddin about the nature of silent dhikr. He asked: “In loud dhikr you have to use your tongue and people might listen to you and see you, whereas in the silent dhikr of the heart Shaytan might listen to you and hear you, since the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said in his holy hadith: ‘Shaytan moves freely in the veins and arteries of the Sons of Adam.’ What, then, O my Shaykh Sadruddin, is the reality of ‘call in the secrecy of your hearts’?” His Shaykh replied, “O my son, this is a hidden, heavenly knowledge, and I wish that Allah Exalted and Almighty send you one of his saints to inspire on your tongue and in your heart the reality of secret dhikr.” Hazrat ‘Abdul Khaliq (r.a.) waited for the prayer to be fulfilled until one day he met Khidr who told him, “Now, my son, I have permission from the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) to inspire on your tongue and in your heart the hidden dhikr with its numbers.” He ordered him to submerge himself under water and to begin making dhikr in his heart (la ilaha illa Llah muhammadur rasul Allah). He did this form of dhikr every day, until the Light of the Divine, the Wisdom of the Divine, the Love of the Divine and the Attraction of the Divine were opened to his heart. Because of those gifts people began to be drawn to Hazrat ‘Abdul Khaliq (r.a.) and sought to follow in his footsteps, and he took them to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.).
May Allah (s.w.t.) inspire in us such understanding and advancement.