The Golden Chain

18. Khwaja Alauddin al-Attar

Khwaja Alauddin al-Attar (may God sanctify his innermost being), is the eighteenth Shaykh in the Naqshbandi Golden Chain and at the same time, the ninth Khwaja of the ‘Khwajagan’ – the Masters of Wisdom of Central Asia.

Born in Bukhara, his personal name was Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Bukhari, but he became known as Khwaja Alauddin Attar. He left everything that he had inherited from his father to his two brothers, and devoted himself to study in the Sufi and Islamic Schools in his home city. He consequently became a leading authority in both Islamic and Sufi knowledge.

He asked his Master, Khwaja Shah Naqshband, for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The answer came to Shah Naqshband after midnight, while he was sleeping in the village of Qasr al-Arifin. On awakening, he went to the School in Bukhara, where Khwaja Alauddin was studying and living. Shah Naqshband found everyone sleeping except Khwaja Alauddin, who was reading the Holy Quran by the light of a small oil lamp. Coming up behind him, he tapped him on the shoulder but Alauddin did not respond. He tapped him again but he still did not respond. Then through his spiritual vision, Khwaja Shah Naqshband perceived that Khwaja Alauddin was not present but was in the Divine Presence. He then called him spiritually and Khwaja Alauddin immediately looked up and said, “O my Shaykh”.
Shah Naqshband said, “I’ve had a dream in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) accepted your proposal for my daughter. This is the reason that I have come to you so late at night – to inform you of the good news.”
Khwaja Alauddin responded, “O my Shaykh, I have nothing to spend on your daughter nor myself, because I am poor, having given my inheritance to my brothers.”
Shah Naqshband replied, “O my son, whatever God has written for you on the Day of Promises will accrue to you. So do not worry, God will provide.”

Like Joseph was close to the heart of his father, Jacob, Khwaja Alauddin was very dear and special to Shah Naqshband, who took full responsibility for Khwaja Alauddin, raising him from one level to another until he was ready to appear in the Divine Presence. Khwaja Alauddin became unique among the many followers of Shah Naqshband, with the Shaykh ordering him during his lifetime, to enlighten some of the Shaykh’s followers. Consequently, Khwaja Alauddin became the Shaykh of Khwaja Muhammad Parsa, who said he heard Khwaja Alauddin say, “I was given a power by my Shaykh, Shah Naqshabnd, such that if I were to focus on everyone in this universe, I would raise them to the state of perfection. “

Khwaja Alauddin was very dear and special to Shah Naqshband, just as Joseph had been dear to the heart of his father, Jacob.

Two weeks before his death, Khwaja Alauddin Attar advised those close to him, “I am going to leave you, to go to the other life.” He died in 1400 AD and was buried in Denau, in the Surkhandaya region of south-east Uzbekistan, near the Afghan border.

He passed the secret of the Naqshbandi order onto his foremost Deputy, Khwaja Yaqub al-Charkhi.
His other Deputies, that continued the Naqshbandi teaching were:-
– Khwaja Nizamuddin Khamush, a man of numerous miracles. Shaykh Sa’d al-Din Kashghari was one of his deputies.
– His noble son, Khwaja Hasan Attar, who was a prominent Naqshbandi Shaykh, having many Deputies.
– Shaykh Sayyid Sharif al-Jurani, the author of the Books, ‘The Unity of Being’ and ‘Definitions’.


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.