The Golden Chain

7. Shaykh Abul Hasan al-Kharqani

Shaykh Abul Hasan al-Kharqani (may God sanctify his innermost being) is the seventh Shaykh in the Naqshbandi Golden Chain, receiving his spiritual secret from Abu Yazid al-Bistami, also known as Bayazid. He was born in 963 in Kharaqan, a small village near Bistam, in Persia.

He would later come to say, “In the whole world, only one person could understand me, and it was Bayazid.”

The following great Sufi Saints wrote glowing poems about Abul Hasan – Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, Abdur Rahman Jami and Khwajah Abdullah Ansari. Farid al-Din Attar, another great Sufi Shaykh, devoted much of his book, ‘Biography of Saints’ to Abul Hasan, saying that he was the ‘King of the Kings of Sufi Masters, Ocean of Spiritual Knowledge, Sun of the Lord, Mystery of the Lord and the Qibla of his people’.

He had an intimate knowledge of the Quran and Hadith, following the Shafi school of Islamic jurisprudence.

Shaykh Abul Hasan taught the following famous Sufis:-

  • Shaykh Abu Ali al-Farmadi, to whom he passed the secret of the Golden Chain.
  • Shaykh Abu Said Abul Khair, a brilliant and flamboyant Sufi Master who acquired widespread fame – he wrote beautiful poetry, including the poem ‘Beloved’, found in the ‘Sufi Poetry’ section.
  • Khwajah Abdullah Ansari, spiritual Master known as the ‘Sage of Herat’, polymath and poet, who said, “Abdullah was a hidden treasure, and its key was in the hands of Abul Hassan al-Kharqani.”
  • Avicenna (Ibn Sina), one of the most significant philosophers, physicians, astronomers, thinkers and writers of the Islamic Golden Age, described as the father of early modern medicine.

The book, ‘The Light of Sciences’ is dedicated to Shaykh Abul Hasan, believed to be written by his students after his death. Its single copy is held in the British Museum.

When asked about the number of ruinous traits in the human character, Abul Hasan replied there are seventeen, about which then explained. Mawlana Shaykh Hisham maintains these are still as relevant now to the development of seeker as they were over a thousand years ago, stating, “Each of these traits resemble a great tree, for each trunk, which is deeply rooted; and each has primary branches, smaller off shooting branches, leaves and so on. Each tree is laden with various kinds of bad manners. Here we will examine these seventeen negative characteristics, which the Sufi master Abul Hasan al-Kharqani categorized by the measure of their impact on the overall human character.”

Abul Hasan wrote above the door of his teaching centre, “Whoever comes to this house, feed him and do not question him about his faith. For whoever is given life by Allah, deserves to eat from the table of Abul Hasan.”

Abul Hasan al-Kharqani died on the 10th of Muharram in 1033 A.D. and was buried in the village of Kharaqan, near the city of Bistam in Iran.

May God be pleased with him.

A Poem by Abul Hasan:-

Finding God
Whoever falls in love

a radical love
that spills over

Finds God.


Sources:- “The Naqshbandi Way – History and Guidebook of the Saints of the Golden Chain”, by Mawlana Shaykh Hisham.
Poem translated by Omid Safi, in his book ‘Radical Love – Teachings from the Islamic Mystical Tradition’.