Shaykh Abu Ali was famous in his time, being described by another famous Shaykh, as-Simnani, as follows:-
“He was the tongue of Khorasan, its Shaykh and the Master in lifting up and raising the station of his followers. His groups were like gardens full of flowers in which knowledge flowed from his heart and took the hearts of his listeners into a state of joy and happiness.”
He was a scholar in the Shafi school of Islamic jurisprudence, an expert in the knowledge of the early Islamic scholars and a Master of Sufism.
Shaykh Abu Ali received the secrets of the Golden Chain from Shaykh Abul Hasan al-Kharqani. He also studied under the following Shaykhs:-
– Al-Ghazali al-Kabir, the father of Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, said about Abu Ali, “He was the Shaykh of his time. He had a unique way of reminding people. No one surpassed him in his eloquence, delicacy, ethics, good manners, morality, nor his ways of approaching people.”
– The great Shaykh Abu Said Abul-Khair. Shaykh Abu Ali related, ”I went to Shaykh Abu Said, who gave me the blessed sleeve of his shirt and told me to keep it safe. Thereafter, I received numerous benefits, lights and spiritual states in the service of the Shaykh.”
– The celebrated Sufi Master, Al-Qushayri. Shaykh Abu Ali said about him, “One time I entered behind my teacher, al-Qushayri, who was going to the public bath. I took a bucket of water for him from the well. When my teacher came he said, “Who brought the bucket of water?” I kept quiet, as I felt I had committed some disrespect. He asked a second time and when he asked the third time, I finally said, “I did, my teacher.” He said, “O my son, what I received in seventy years, I passed to you with one bucket of water.” That meant that the heavenly and Divine Knowledge which he had struggled for seventy years to acquire, he passed to my heart through one glance.”
Shaykh Abu Ali al-Farmadi was the teacher of two of the towering figures in Islam:-
– The great Shaykh, Abu Yusef al-Hamadani, the ninth Shaykh of the Naqshbandi Golden Chain, to whom he passed the secret of the Golden Chain.
– Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, known as ‘The Proof of Islam’ conveyed much from Shaykh Abu Ali, when he wrote his famous book, ‘Ihya Ulum ad-Din’. Imam al-Ghazali said, “I heard that Abu Ali al-Farmadi said, ‘The Ninety Nine Attributes of God will become the attributes and descriptions of the seekers in the way of God.”
Shaykh Abu Ali passed away in 1084 A.D. and was buried in the village of Farmad, near the city of Tus in Iran.
May God be pleased with him.
Source:- “The Naqshbandi Way – History and Guidebook of the Saints of the Golden Chain”, by Mawlana Shaykh Hisham.