Khwaja Abdul Khaliq was born in the town of Gijduvon, located about forty kilometres from Bukhara in Uzbekistan. His father was Shaykh Abdul Jamil, one of the most famous scholars in Byzantine times, being an expert in both external and internal Islamic knowledge. He is reputed to have been on intimate terms with Khidr (peace be upon him), who told him that he would father a boy and that he should give him the name, Abdul Khaliq. After living in the Anatolian region of Malatya, Abdul Jamil migrated to Gijduvon, where he married Abdul Khaliq’s mother, a princess – the daughter of the King of Seljuk Anatolia.
Abdul Khaliq spent his childhood in his native town, where he studied the Quran, Hadith – the Science of the Holy Traditions, the Arabic language and jurisprudence. One day, whilst studying Quranic commentary, he asked his teacher about the Quranic verse, “Call on your Lord humbly and privately – He does not like those who exceed (His bounds). “ (7:55).
Abdul Khaliq then asked the question, “In loud Dhikr you have to use your tongue – people might listen to you and see you, whereas in the silent Dhikr of the heart, satan might listen to you and hear you, since the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, ‘Satan moves freely in the veins and arteries of the children of Adam.’ What must one do?”
His teacher replied, “This is the subject of esoteric science. If God wishes, He will put you in touch with one of His friends to inspire on your tongue and in your heart the reality of the secret Dhikr.”
The venerable Khwaja Abdul Khaliq waited for this friend of God, who would teach him the divine mysteries, until the day came when Khidr appeared to him. Khidr taught him heavenly knowledge, including how to perform the silent Dhikr.
Abdul Khaliq then moved to Bukhara, where he met Khwaja Yusef al-Hamadani. In one of his writings, Khwaja Abdul Khaliq notes, “I was barely twenty two years of age when Khidr commended me to the venerable Yusef al-Hamadani. I was never separated from the Khwaja’s side, as long as he remained in the region of Bukhara, I spent all my time in his service.”
He noticed that Khwaja Yusef was engaged, like himself, in the remembrance of the heart. Thus, while his guide in fellowship was Khwaja Yusef, Khidr was also his guide in practice. Although Khwaja Yusef practiced audible remembrance, he did not condemn Khwaja Abdul Khaliq’s silent remembrance, saying, “Since you have been commanded by Khidr, you must continue”.
Khwaja Abdul Khaliq was the first one in the Naqshbandi Order to practice silent Dhikr, of which he became a Master. One of the exercises that Khidr ordered him to do, was to submerge himself under water, whilst making Dhikr, which he did every day until the Light, Wisdom, Love and Attraction of the Divine were opened to his heart.
The Naqshbandi Shaykh and Poet, Jami, noted that Abdul Khaliq was able to keep good relationships with all classes and parties. At that time, life was very difficult in Turkestan. The Sultan Muhammad Khwarazmshah was on bad terms with the Muslim clergy, who were supported by his mother, Turkan Khatun. However, by their completely impartial attitude, the Khwajagan were able to prevent gross injustice and even halt massacres. When Sultan Muhammad besieged and sacked Samarkand, it was due to the Khwajagan that the ensuing massacre of the inhabitants was ordered to cease by the Sultan. Jami also notes that Khwaja Abdul Khaliq was the first of the Masters to introduce the prayer of the heart, Dhikr Qalbi, which had been revealed to him by Khidr.
Khwaja Abdul Khaliq formulated, introduced and taught the Eight Principles of the Naqshbandi Order, which became the cornerstone of the Naqshbandi Path from then till this day. He became the spiritual Master of his time. His reputation as an accomplished spiritual Master became widespread, attracting sincere disciples to gather around him and many visitors to attend his gatherings. A group of his followers was formed in Damascus. It was through this group that Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi made his first contact with the Masters of Wisdom. This School of Damascus survived until the time of the Ottoman Turks.
Khwaja Abdul Khaliq had four Deputies:-
– Khwaja Ahmed as-Siddiq, originally from Bukhara.
– Khwaja Kabir al-Awliya, was a great saint and scholar.
– Khwaja Sulayman al-Kirmani.
– Khwaja Arif ar-Riwakri, to whom he passed the secret of the Golden Chain.
Khwaja Abdul Khaliq al-Gijduvoniy died in 1179 CE and is buried in Gijduvon, which is located 35kms to the north of Bukhara in Uzbekistan.
May God be well pleased with him.
Sources:- ‘The Naqshbandi Way – History and Guidebook of the Saints of the Golden Chain’ by Mawlana Shaykh Hisham.
‘Rashahat Ain al-Hayat – Beads of Dew from the Source of Life. Histories of the Khwajagan The Masters of Wisdom’ by Mawlana Ali ibn Husain Safi.
‘Masters of Wisdom of Central Asia’ by Hasan Shushud.
‘The Masters of Wisdom’ by John G. Bennett.