The Golden Chain

Khwaja Yaqub Charki

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

He was born in the city of Charkh, a suburb of Ghazni, between the cities of Kandahar and Kabul, in Transoxiana, in modern day Afghanistan. As a young man, he was initially educated in Herat and then Bukhara. During his time in Herat, he stayed in the Sufi Convent that was administered by the famous Sufi, Khwaja Abdullah Ansari, which was considered to be the best in that city.

Khwaja Yaqub related, “I felt a great love and affection for the venerable Khwaja Shah Naqshband, even before I entered his service. I happened to meet him when I was on my way home, after receiving my diploma from the religious scholars of Bukhara. ‘Do not cease to remember me’, I implored him. Shah Naqshband replied. ‘Will you join me in due course?’ The following conversation ensued:
‘Most certainly. My heart is filled with longing for you.’
‘What is the cause of this longing?’
‘You are a great man, respected by everyone.’
‘That is not enough. You must give me a better reason, for people’s acceptance of me can be satanic.’

Khwaja Yaqub replied, ‘In the words of an authentic Prophetic Tradition, ‘If God (Exalted & Mighty is He) makes someone His friend, He sows affection for that person in the hearts of His other creatures.’
Shah Naqshband smiled at this and said, ‘We are among God’s loved ones.’
I was utterly amazed on hearing this, for I recalled a dream from a month before, in which he had told me, ‘Become a disciple of God’s loved ones.’
He then presented me with his prayer hat, and said, ‘You have nothing to give to me. Take this skullcap, keep it by your side and remember us whenever you see and touch it.”

Khwaja Yaqub then travelled to Egypt, where he learned the sciences of the Quran, the Holy Traditions, the Divine Law and Egyptian astronomy. He became an Hafiz of the Quran (he could recite the complete Quran from memory). He also memorized 500,000 of the Holy Traditions of the life of the Prophet Muhammad. One of his teachers was Shihabuddin ash-Shirwani, known as the ‘Encyclopedia of the Age’. Khwaja Ubayd Allah al-Ahrar related that, “Khwaja Yaqub and Shaykh Zainuddin al-Khawafi were like brother when they studied together in Egypt under the teaching of the scholar, Shaykh Shihabuddin. Shaykh Zainuddin said that Khwaja Yaqub used to disappear and re-appear during his lectures. This miracle was a result of the state of complete self-effacement in the Presence of God Almighty. This was his state in Egypt, until he came to follow Shah Naqshband and Khwaja Alauddin, when he then reached a state of perfection.”

He continued his education until he reached the level where he could give legal decisions on any matter that concerned Muslims. He then returned to Bukhara, where he took Khwaja Shah Bahauddin Naqshbandi as his spiritual Master, until his death. Khwaja Yaqub said, ”With Divine grace as my guide, I had the good fortune to join the venerable Khwaja Bahauddin Naqshband in Bukhara. His kindness and benevolence immersed me in felicity, and I saw that my spiritual Guide was complete and perfect, and a member of the highest class of Saints. He was the answer to my search for good omens in the Quran, the verifier of my feelings, and the reinforcer of my affiliation.”

Khwaja Ubayd Allah al-Ahrar reported that Khwaja Yaqub had said to him, “I received an order from Shah Naqshband to accompany Khwaja Alauddin al-Attar. By the order of my Shaykh, I was in his company, as his disciple until Khwaja Alauddin’s death. By the blessing of his companionship, my state was elevated and my training completed.”

He died in 1447 AD in the village of Khuluftu, near Osh in present day Kryistan. He had many Deputies, passing the secret of the Naqshbandi Order to Khwaja Ubayd Allah al-Ahrar.

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.