Born in 1640 AD, Shaykh Sayfuddin was the fifth son of Shaykh Muhammad Masum, the twenty sixth Shaykh in the Naqshbandi Golden Chain. He was raised in his father’s house and was consequently taught Islam and Sufism to a very high degree, from a young age.
Shaykh Muhammad Masum sent him to the Court of the Moghul Emperor, Aurengzeb, to care for the Emperor’s spiritual welfare. The Emperor provided a house for the Shaykh’s use, where Aurengzeb would visit for spiritual instruction. The Emperor became Shaykh Sayfuddin’s student, as did the Princes, Princesses and Ministers of the Court. With the support of Aurengzeb, it wasn’t long before Shaykh Sayfuddin was accepted as a leading spiritual figure throughout India and beyond.
Shaykh Sayfuddin embodied and exemplified the ‘Sunnah’ of the Prophet, which inspired those around him. He endeavored to eliminate misery and tyranny from the kingdom through his connection to the Emperor. Following the Shaykh’s encouragement, Aurengzeb was able to memorize the Quran, who also spent the early hours of the morning in prayer and doing Naqshbandi spiritual practices, whilst during the day, he looked after the affairs of his kingdom.
The Shaykh also taught the sister of Aurengzeb, Princess Roshan Ara Begum, who became his disciple and who reached a high station on the Naqshbandi Sufi path. Shaykh Sayfuddin allowed her to train other women in this noble way. She funded the grave and shrine of Shaykh Muhammad Masum.
Shaykh Sayfuddin had a huge number of followers and many Caliphs. Every day, around six thousand seekers slept in his Lodge, eating from the food he provided. He wrote letters to many prominent people, including his deputies, deputies of his father, members of the royal family and to his disciples, including eighteen letters to Aurengzeb. His eldest son, Shaykh Muhammad Azam, collected one hundred and ninety of these letters which are included in his ‘Maktub’.
One day a man was standing with the Princes and Sultans in the presence of Shaykh Sayfuddin. An insinuating whisper came to the man’s heart, saying, “That Shaykh is so arrogant.”
The Shaykh looked at him and said, “You are right, because my pride is from God’s Pride.”
The Shaykh one day heard the sound of the reed flute coming from his neighbour’s house. He was so enchanted with the sound of it that he fainted. When he came to, he said, “Do you think that I am empty of compassion and emotion? No, those who listen to the reed flute and feel no compassion and emotion are empty. But when we hear something beautiful, we are so touched that we are immediately transported to the Divine Presence.” To the Saints, God’s call is heard without mixing ‘the dust of sorrows’ with it and that is why they faint when they hear it.
One day a leper came to the Shaykh and asked for his supplication, to be healed. The Shaykh blew on him and the disease immediately disappeared.
Shaykh Sayfuddin completed the reformation of Islam and Sufism that his grandfather started. In the reign of Akbar, Shaykh Ahmed al-Faruqi as-Sirhindi found Islam being oppressed and altered from its original message and was sent by God to rectify this situation. Shaykh Muhammad Masum continued his father’s mission, which included training Shaykh Sayfuddin and sending him to Aurangzeb’s Court. Shaykh Sayfuddin then presided over the spread of the original and correct teachings of Islam and Sufism throughout India and beyond.
Shaykh Muhammad Sayfuddin died in 1683 AD in Sirhind and is buried near to his father’s grave. He had eight sons (many of whom were Shaykhs) and six daughters. He passed the secret of the Order to his fifth son, Shaykh Sayyid Nur Muhammad al-Badawani.
May Allah be well pleased with him.
Sources:- ‘The Naqshbandi Way – History and Guidebook of the Saints of the Golden Chain’ by Mawlana Shaykh Hisham.
‘A History of Sufism in India’ by Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi.