He was born in 1599 AD in Sirhind, India, the third son of the Nashbandi Master, Shaykh Ahmed al-Faruqi as-Sirhindi, the the ‘Renewer of the Second Islamic Millennium’. A few months after his birth, Shaykh Ahmed met Shaykh Baqibillah. Shaykh Muhammad Masum was a Saint from his childhood. He refused to nurse during the days in Ramadan, spoke of the knowledge of Oneness at the age of three and memorized the complete Quran in three months. He was educated by his father, his elder brother, Muhammad Sadiq and Maulana Tahir and had completed his education in the intellectual and traditional branches of Islamic and Sufi knowledge by the age of sixteen, when he began to teach disciples. At the age of seventeen, he was considered to be one of the greatest scholars of his time. He also gave legal rulings, in which he was known for his honesty and fairness.
Shaykh Ahmed said of his son, “You have been moulded from the residue of my residue, which was the residue of the Prophet’s clay (peace & blessings be upon him).” Shaykh Ahmed also said, “I have poured into my son, Muhammad Masum, everything that I have been given.”
In 1623 AD, Shaykh Ahmed declared Muhammad Masum, at the age of twenty four to be his successor, saying, “My attachment to this world was due to my duty as the Qutb. Now you have been given this duty. All of the whole world has turned their faces in full enthusiasm towards you. The time of my transition to the Hereafter is close by.” Shaykh Muhammad visited his father in Ajmer, when the robe of this exalted position was conferred upon him. Within the year, Shaykh Ahmed had passed away, leaving Shaykh Muhammad Masum as the living embodiment of the Naqshbandi Golden Chain. He became famous everywhere, both amongst Kings and common folk. People flocked to him from around the world.
After the Moghul Emperor, Shah Jahan’s death in 1666 AD, Prince Aurangzeb visited Shaykh Muhammad Masum in Sirhind, becoming his formal disciple. It can be seen from the collected letters of Shaykh Muhammad Masum and his son, Hujjatullah Naqshband, that Aurangzeb was a practicing Naqshbandi. When the war for succession to the Moghul throne broke out between Aurangzeb and Dara Shikuh, Aurangzeb looked to Shaykh Muhammad Masum for support, who sent his nephew, Shaykh Saduddin, and his son, Muhammad Ashraf, to be at Aurengzeb’s side, whilst Shaykh Muhammad Masum went to Mecca to mobilize spiritual support. His eldest son, Sibghatullah, was dispatched to Baghdad to appeal to Shaykh Abdul Qadr al-Jilani to abandon support for Dara Shikuh, as the Naqshbandis no longer considered him worthy of being in the Qadri Order.
With Aurengzeb’s subsequent victory and his becoming the Moghul Emperor, support for an amalgamated idea of religions and the oppression of Islam in India came to an end, being replaced by mainstream Islam, as taught and supported by the Naqshbandis.
Shaykh Muhammad Masum wrote letters that were compiled into three books, in which he explained those parts of his exalted father’s letters that were too difficult to understand, in its original language, Persian. His account of the people that he met, experiences and miracles that occurred are included in another book titled, ‘Al-Yawakit’.
It is related that he gave initiation into the Naqshbandi Way to more than nine hundred thousand people and that he had seven thousand deputies, each of them a Saint. That is because in one weeks association, he could bring his followers to the state of annihilation and, in one month, to the state of subsistence.
Shaykh Muhammad Masum died in 1668 AD in Sirhind and is buried near to his father’s grave. He had six sons, all of whom became Shaykhs and five daughters. He passed the secret of the Order to his fifth son, Shaykh Sayfuddin al-Faruqi al-Mujaddidi.
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.
‘Revealed Grace. The Juristic Sufism of Ahmed Sirhindi (1564-1624) by Arthur f. Buehler.
‘Sufi Heirs of the Prophets. The Indian Naqshbandiyya and the Rise of the Mediating Sufi Shaykh’ by Arthur f. Buehler.
‘Maktubat Masoomiya – Exerpts from the Letters of Imam Muhammad Masum Faruqi.’ Edited by Abdul Rahim Nizamani.
‘A History of Sufism in India’ by Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi.