Sufism is a spiritual teaching tradition that although based on centuries of wisdom, sits perfectly comfortably in our current times. This is because the beginning of Sufism is based in the divinely inspired message provided accurately from God, through the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. This message has then been nurtured by an unbroken succession of fully enlightened Sufi Masters, providing spiritual guidance over their centuries of teaching and guidance.
The Sufis know from this background, that although the external world has constantly changed, human nature and the spiritual core of people has essentially remained the same and that Sufi teaching methods are still very effective.
The Sufi Path, although well trodden, is kept fresh and vital by the uniqueness of each new day. This is the ‘Hero’s Journey’ that has formed the spiritual basis of so many societies. The hero faces the challenges of his or her quest, often being advised along the way with sage-like advice, leading to the transformation of the hero and a successful homecoming. It’s this kind of universality that is a hallmark of Sufism.
Its universality to mankind is displayed by the large number of countries and cultures that have drawn from and added to Sufism. Within these countries, there is a full spectrum of people that are inspired by Sufism, reinforcing its universality, appealing to men and women, rich and poor, the young and old.
There are different Sufi Orders, or ‘Tariqats’ or Ways, in Sufism. These Orders employ slightly different methods to bring their students to the same mystical reality.
One of the great Sufi Orders, is the Naqshbandi Order, which is based on ‘The Masters of the Golden Chain’, in which each Master is linked to his Master by a spiritual ‘heart-to heart’ connection.
The Golden Chain began with the Prophet Muhammad, who poured the essence of love from his divine and special being into the heart of his close follower Abu Bakr. This essence of love was then transmitted to the next Master or Shaykh in the Golden Chain, which has continued for 1400 years in an unbroken transmission to our present day Shaykhs.
There has been a total of forty Shaykhs in the Golden Chain, with their names, times they lived and their teachings still known today. Although they comprise different nationalities and countries of origin, they are linked by this transcending ‘heart-to heart’ connection.
A noteworthy period of the Chain was when it was being transmitted by the Masters of Wisdom of Central Asia, a brilliant group of mystics, known as the ‘Khwajagan’ (the Masters), that had a profound effect on the Order. The Order derived its name from one of these Shaykhs, Bahauddin Shah Naqshband.
The Naqshbandis include some of the greatest Masters, Guides and Saints the world has seen, with their teachings woven through different countries and different times, providing a rich spiritual heritage. Many of these Masters have advised the rulers of their times. This enduring wisdom continues to provide blessings and direction, to spiritual seekers, to this day.