The Golden Chain

The Heroes of the Interior

Khwaja Yaqub al-Charkhi (may God sanctify his innermost being), the nineteenth Shaykh in the Naqshbandi Golden Chain and at the same time, the tenth Khwaja of the ‘Khwajagan’ – the Masters of Wisdom of Central Asia, said the following:-

“One day in Fathabad, where my home was situated, I had sat down facing the tomb of Shaykh Saifuddin Bukharazi. Such a storm broke out in my inner being, that I was obliged to run at once to the venerable Khwaja Shah Naqshband. I found the venerable Khwaja waiting for me at the edge of the road. He greeted his servant most kindly. After the ritual prayer, he engaged in friendly conversation with this poor creature. His awesome dignity was so pervasive, however, that I was quite incapable of giving any response.

He then said, ‘Knowledge consists of two parts. One is the knowledge of the heart, and this is the most useful form of knowledge. This is the knowledge taught by the Messengers and the Prophets. It is the literary language. This knowledge is also Allah’s proof for the human being. I hope that you may acquire a share of this inner knowledge!’

To this he added, ‘You must live with the people of truthfulness, and confide in them. Truthfulness depends entirely on your living with them and confiding in them, for they are the spies of the heart. They enter your heart and examine your aspiration. We must not accept anyone by ourselves, by our own decision. The commandment we have received requires this. Let us see what sign is shown to us tonight. If they accept you, we shall also accept you.’

In all my life until that night, I had never found it so hard to breathe. While hoping that the door of felicity would be opened, I feared that this door might be shut in my face. Until the morning came, I was writhing in doubt and confusion. After the dawn prayer, the venerable Shah Naqshband said, ‘The news is good, for the sign of acceptance has arrived. We accept people very seldom. Even if we do accept, we do so with difficulty. We must wait till it is clear how the newcomer has come, and what is the nature of this moment (‘waqt’).”

To the Masters of exoteric and esoteric knowledge, and to those who experience rapture and ecstasy, it is no secret that, in accordance with the Prophetic Tradition, ‘The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets’ – just as religious scholars on the external plane are obliged to protect the rules of the Sacred Law (which Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, has brought), in the case of the great Saints, who have penetrated the secrets of the Muhammadan reality, they own a share in the treasury of the heart, filled with the love of Allah, the Lord of that religion and this world. They are endowed with spiritual influence over the effects of the moment and from this point of view, they are the heirs of Allah’s Messenger.

The masters of the exterior are charged with the ordering of the external world, whereas the heroes of the interior are responsible for the good order of the inner realm and the world of the angelic dominion (‘malakut’). The times experienced by these heroes, from instant to instant, are such that no tongue can describe those states, however forceful it may be in penetrating their depths. Such powers are manifested in these heroes, time after time, that no mind can grasp them. The people of the heart have uttered many words in the effort to explain this peculiarity.

There is an instant at that moment, Allah rejects the rejection of the wish of His friends and cause the arrow of their desire to reach its target always. However, just as this quality is confined to the superior Saints, and is not accessible to everyone, those who can mirror this secret are not always to be found.

As for the duty incumbent on the Masters of understanding, it is to acknowledge the blessing of adherence to the people of the heart, to turn to the spiritual Guide with true devotion, to bring one’s heart to the state of assisting the flow of benefit and you watch for the gracious Divine favour. For this degree of perfection to be realized, there are two preconditions:

One is the value of the seeker’s dedication and his yearning, while the other is the strength of the seeker’s control and possession of the moment (‘waqt’). This is why, at the pupil’s initiation, the venerable Shah Naqshband would describe the meaning and benefit of that moment as being of the utmost importance.

After that, the venerable Shah Naqshband traced his Chain of Connection as far as Khwaja Adbul Khaliq al-Gijdivoniy, and urged this poor creature to practice numerical awareness in the course of remembrance (‘dhikr’). He also said, ‘Esoteric knowledge is in fact, the knowledge taught by Khidr to the venerable Khwaja Abdul Khaliq al-Gijdivoniy.”