The Golden Chain

Shaykh Muhammad Effendi al-Yaraghi

Shaykh Muhammad Effendi al-Yaraghi (may God sanctify his innermost being) is the thirty fourth Shaykh in the Naqshbandi Golden Chain.

He was born in Kural, in Shirwan, Caucasia in 1777 AD. He was tall, of fair complexion, his beard was white and his eyes were green. His voice was soft. He lived during the time of the Russian occupation of Daghestan, which resulted in the oppression of their religion, heavy taxation, expropriation of local land and estates and the construction of forts throughout the area. The uprising against this resulted in the Caucasian War.

Shaykh Muhammad Effendi was a scholar of the Holy Quran and Traditions, and was an expert in Islamic Jurisprudence. He was also learned in chemistry and astronomy. He was known as a great Sufi throughout Daghestan, the Caucasus, Turkey, Persia and the countries of the Arab world. He trained his disciples, who numbered in their thousands, spirituality at night and how to struggle against their Russian oppressors during the day. He rarely slept more than two hours a night; his food was often only water; and his clothes consisted of a single woollen robe.

His custom was to put his disciples into seclusion in stages, putting the experienced disciples, who had already undergone many seclusions, in a very intense seclusion in an underground room. He accepted both men and women as disciples, both of whom were to be able come to him for advice. Shaykh Muhammad Effendi often predicted the future of his followers, which always came true. When the blind and handicapped came to him and he prayed for them, they would be healed. If the poor came and he prayed for them, they would often become rich.

Shaykh Abdullah ad-Daghestani related that Shaykh Muhammad Effendi said, “One time after the prescribed dawn prayer, I lay down for a nap in my mosque. I saw Shaykh Ismail ash-Shirwani coming to me, accompanied by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and Salman al-Farsi (may God be pleased with him). Salman al-Farsi said to me, ‘Be to your Shaykh as I was to the Prophet. I was digging the trench for the battle of Khandaq, which saved the inhabitants of Mecca from the attack of the unbelievers and oppressors.’ He pointed to Shaykh Ismael ash-Shirwani and said, ‘For a long time Ismail ash-Shirwani encouraged you and Shaykh Khas Muhammad to establish a front against the invader. So now is the time.’ Then Shaykh Ismail looked at me and said, ‘My son, you now have my permission to go ahead and you will be supported. Declare the ‘jihad.”

Shaykh Abdullh continued, “When Shaykh Muhammad Effendi received permission for ‘jihad’ in that vision, he was ordered to raise the ‘mujahidin’ and to support them. One day in his supplication, he said, ‘O God, as You sent to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) one of the two Umars, send to me Imams for the ‘mujahidin’, to train them in the spirituality of the Naqshbandi Sufi Way, and to support them through the Shaykhs of the Golden Chain, especially the living Shaykh of their time.”

The first Imam of Daghestan and the first leader of the ‘jihad’ against the Russian occupation, was Ghazi Muhammad, also known as Kazi Mulla. He took initiation into the Naqshbandi Order from Shaykh Jamaluddin al-Ghumuqi, the Caliph of Shaykh Muhammad Effendi. When Ghazi Muhammad was martyred in a Russian attack in 1832, he was succeeded by the second Imam of Daghestan, Hamza Bek ibn Ali al-Hutsali, who was appointed by Shaykh Muhammad Effendi.

After the assissination of Hamza Bek, Imam Shamil, the third Imam of Daghestan, continued the struggle against the Russians for twenty seven years. In ‘Muslim Resistance to the Tsar, Shamil and the Conquest of Chechnia and Daghestan’, Gammer says, “Shamil followed his elder friend, the first Imam of Daghestan, Ghazi Muhammad, . . to be initiated into the Naqshbandiyya by Shaykh al-Sayyid Jamaluddin and to be ordained as a Khalifa by Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaraghi.” Shaykh Muhammad Effendi was the Shaykh of Imam Shamil, directing him in strategy and tactics against the Russians, as did Shaykh Jamaluddin al-Ghumuqi after him.

Shaykh Abdullah related about Imam Shamil, “The success of Imam Shamil against the oppressor was due to the spiritual support that he received from Shaykh Khas Muhammad, Shaykh Muhammad Effendi al-Yaraghi and Shaykh Sayyid Jamamluddin al-Ghumuqi through the support of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). No single force was able to defeat him as long as he was granted that spiritual support. One time Shaykh Muhammad Effendi sent a message to Imam Shamil via Shaykh Jamaluddin al-Ghumuqi, ‘Always keep your connection with us; you will defeat everyone. Otherwise, you will be defeated.”

During his time as leader, Imam Shamil transformed the bickering villages of the region into a united country. He continued to rule until 1859, when the Emperor of Russia offered Imam Shamil a peaceful surrender. Whereas previous enemies of the Empire had been imprisoned, killed or exiled, Shamil became a national celebrity in Russia.

In ‘The Russian Conquest of the Caucasus’, J.F.Baddeley writes, “While the glittering circle of Russian bayonets closed in on every side, Mulla Muhammad al-Yaraghi’s influence had been growing steadily, year by year. Intangible, immaterial, it passed surely and silently through the hedge of bristling steel as a mirage ship through opposing cliffs, or as a moss-bog fire creeps up against the wind. The two forces, material and moral, moving in concentric rings of opposite direction, kept equal pace, and just when to outward seeming the last spark of liberty was trampled under foot in Central Daghestan by the soldiers of the Tsar; the sacred flame was ready to burst forth and illuminate the land on every side, even to its outermost borders.”

Shaykh Muhammad Effendi al-Yaraghi died in 1848 AD. He authorized Shaykh Sayyid Jamaluddin al-Ghumuqi al-Husayni to be the Master of the Naqshbandi Order, with the secret he had been given by their common Shaykh, Shaykh Ismail ash-Shirwani.

May God be well pleased with him.


Source:- ‘The Naqshbandi Way – History and Guidebook of the Saints of the Golden Chain’ by Mawlana Shaykh Hisham.