Wheresoever you look, there is the Face of God;
Everything is perishing except the One face.
Born in Daghestan in Central Asia, in 1891, Shaykh Abdullah was raised and trained by Shaykh Sharifuddin ad-Daghestani, the master of the Naqshbandi Order at that time, who took special care of him from his early youth. Shaykh Abdullah’s father was a doctor and his brother was the surgeon general of the Russian Army. Shaykh Sharifuddin told his sister during her pregnancy that the baby she was carrying would be the ‘Sultan al-Awliya’ of his time.
Shaykh Abdullah could speak at the age of seven months. He was learned in the Quran by the age of seven and would sit with Shaykh Sharifuddin and answer the question of the many people that would visit for advice. He soon became famous for his spiritual and religious knowledge, attracting large numbers of visitors. He was also well known for healing people.
In the late 1890’s, due to the oppression of the occupying Russian army, Shaykh Sharifuddin decided to leave Daghestan for Turkey, together with everyone from his village. The emigration was full of potential difficulties caused by the Russian Army and highwaymen that killed without provocation. All the inhabitants of the village miraculously travelled through a forest full of Russian soldiers, as if invisible, to emerge without being seen and cross the Turkish border.
After initially stopping at Bursa for a year, the emigrants moved to Rashadiya (now Gunekoy) to join Shaykh Sharufiddin’s uncle, Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Madani, where they built a mosque and established a Sufi community.
Shaykh Abdullah’s father passed away when he was thirteen, so he then worked to support his mother. He married when he was fifteen and six months after his marriage, he was ordered by Shaykh Sharifuddin to enter into seclusion for five years. This seclusion was in a cave, deep in a large forest, high on a snow covered mountain, where one person served him seven olives and two ounces of bread each day.
When Shaykh Abdullah emerged from this seclusion, at the age of twenty, he was conscripted into the Turkish Army. He was sent to the Battle of Safar Barlik in the Dardanelles, where he was shot through the heart but miraculously survived, experiencing elevated spiritual states while close to death. Shaykh Abdullah entered another five year seclusion when he was thirty years old.
Among the many people that visited him, was Gurdjieff, after he had recently arrived in Turkey after an arduous escape from Russia, at the time of the Communist Revolution. Shaykh Abdullah taught Gurdieff about the knowledge of the nine points, for which he later became well known. He also met John Bennett, the Englishman, who favourably recounted these meetings in his book, ‘Concerning Subud and Witness’.
Shaykh Abdullah had two daughters to his wife Halima. After Shaykh Sharifuddin passed away, a delegation came from King Faruq of Egypt to convey the condolences of the King, as Shaykh Sharifuddin had many followers in Egypt. One of the princes who came with the delegation asked for the hand of Shaykh Abdullah’s younger daughter in marriage, which was accepted and the marriage took place. Shaykh Abdullah moved from Turkey to Egypt and later to Alleppo in Syria.
Afterwards Shaykh Abdullah moved from Alleppo to Homs and then to Damascus. He established an initial Centre in Damascus, bringing the Golden Chain of the Naqshbandi Order back to Damascus where Shaykh Khalid al-Baghdadi had previously had such a profound effect In the early 1800’s. Soon people of all walks of life began to crowd into this Centre with food being served to hundreds of people.
Shaykh Abdullah then moved his Centre to the Mountain of Qasiyun, the highest point in Damascus, near to the Mosque where Muhiyiddin Ibn Arabi is buried and also where Shaykh Khalid is buried. His two senior disciples, Shakyh Nazim and Shaykh Husayn helped him to build a house there. This house and the mosque next to it formed his new Centre, that can still be seen today, with Shaykh Abdullah’s grave being located in the mosque. Shaykh Abdullah received hundreds of thousands of visitors for healing, prayers, education and training at this Centre.
After his earlier long seclusions, Shaykh Abdullah went into over twenty seclusions, that varied in length from forty days to one year. Some of these seclusions were made in Madinah, Damascus, Jordan and in Baghdad at the tomb of Abdul Qadir Gilani. With each seclusion, his spiritual power and rank were raised.
He predicted the day he would die in 1973 and after passing away on this day, a doctor tried to revive him after he was clinically dead. He shocked and amazed the doctors and relatives present when he opened his eyes, put up his hand and asked for the doctor to stop. Four hundred thousand people came to his funeral prayers, as he laid in state at the Mosque of Muhiyiddin Ibn Arabi. His successor, Mawlana Shaykh Nazim prayed the funeral prayer and buried Shaykh Abdullah.
Shaykh Abdullah’s life was full of beneficial activity. He was always smiling and was never angry. He had no income, yet food was always abundant in his house, feeding up to two hundred people at a time, who often showed up unannounced. He helped the needy and sheltered many homeless in his mosque – he served humanity.