Historically speaking, there exists a view that the Naqshbandi Order is one of only three orders that trace its origin or silsila to the first of the rightly-guided Caliphs, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (RA), the other two being the Bistāmiyya and Bektāshiyya orders.
Abū Bakr al-Siddiq (RA) succeeded our Holy Prophet Muhammad (may Allah Almighty send prayers and salutations upon him) in his knowledge and his role in guiding the Muslim community. Of him, our Holy Prophet Muhammad (may Allah Almighty send prayers and salutations upon him) said, “Abū Bakr does not precede you because of much prayer or fasting, but by virtue of secret that took root in his heart”. The Prophet (may Allah Almighty send prayers and salutations upon him) alluded to this secret when he said: “Whatever God poured into my breast, I have poured into the breast of Abū Bakr As-Siddiq”.
The Naqshbandi Order takes its foundations from the teachings and example of six bright stars in the firmament of the Prophet (may Allah Almighty send prayers and salutations upon him). These great figures were: Abū Bakr As-Siddiq, Salman al-Farsi, Jafar-as-Sadiq, Bayazid Tayfur al-Bistami, Abdul Khaliq al-Ghujdawani and Shaykh Muhammad Bahā’ud-Dīn Uwaysi al-Bukhari, known as Shah Naqshbandi from whose name the Order takes its title.
Behind the word “Naqshband” stands two ideas: “naqsh” which means engraving and suggests engraving the name of ALLAH (SWT) in the heart, and “band” which means bond and indicates the link between the individual and his Creator. This means that the Naqshbandi followers have to practice their prayers and obligations according to the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah and to keep the presence and love of ALLAH (SWT) alive in their heart through a personal experience of the link and his Lord.
NAQSHBANDI SOUTH AFRICA: 1694 TO 1998 TO PRESENT
1694 TO 1998
The common view is that we have to go back to Shaykh Yusuf of Macassar to trace the beginnings of the Naqshbandi Order in South Africa. Shaykh Yusuf travelled widely and it was in Yemen in about 1649 that he was initiated into the Naqshbandi Order by Shaykh Abd al-Bāqīal-Mizjāji al Naqshbandi, who was associated with the Indian Shaykh, Shaykh Tājudīn Zakariyyah.
He arrived in Cape Town as a political exile on 2 April 1694 at the age of 68 years. He died in 1699, and thus only stayed in South Africa for five years, and it is not sure whether he initiated any slaves into the Naqshbandi Order.
Although it is unclear whether and to what extent Shaykh Yusuf brought any Naqshbandi teachings and practices to the Cape, there is a view that he must have done so, particularly in the light of the fact that he was initiated into the order and adopted a personal preference for the Naqshbandi silent dhikr. Shaykh Yusuf da Costa maintains that some Naqshbandi teachings and practices must also have come to the Cape in the early 1900s through Sufi Saheb and Maulana Abdul Latīf of the Habibiyyah College.
The Chistiyyah Habibiyyah Order, to which they belonged, absorbed a number of Naqshbandi practices through their Shaykh, Khwaja Habib Ali Shah, whose family up to his father had been in the Naqshbandi Order. The Chishtiyyah Habibiyyah Order is in fact a combination of the Qadiriyyah, Chishtiyyah and Naqshbandi Orders.
In addition to being inducted into other Tariqahs, Shaykh Muĥammad Śāliĥ of the Azzawia Masjid (1871-1945) was also inducted into the Naqshbandi order in 1934, at a formal ceremony conducted by a Naqshbandi delegation from Madinah at the shrine of Tuan Ja’far. Shaykh Śāliĥ is credited with having made of the greatest contributions to Islamic religious education in the history of Cape Town and possibly the whole of South Africa. It is also reported that Shaykh Śāliĥ performed both the Qadiri and Naqshbandi versions of the Khatme Khwajagan.
Further Naqshbandi influence was brought to the Cape by Sayyid Abdul-Qadir al-Naqshbandi, a Syrian who arrived in the Cape in 1950 and lived near Shaykh Yusuf’s shrine in Faure. Again there is no evidence of him establishing the Naqshbandi Order in the Cape, but we know that he spent most of his time teaching. He passed away in November 1985.
Master Ismail Chogle was granted khilāfat in the Naqshbandi Order by his Shaykh, Shaykh Abdul-Gaffoor Shah alQadiri al-Naqshbandi Allahabadi of India. He did not initiate anyone into the Naqshbandi Order. In 1981 his son, Abdul-Hay Chogle of Athlone, took bay’ah with Shaykh Abdul-Gaffoor, who also granted him khilāfat into the Naqshbandi Order in 1986. Although he holds the weekly Naqshbandi dhikr with his family, he also did not initiate anyone into the Naqshbandi Order. We thus see very little known evidence of the growth of the Naqshbandi Order in South Africa, under the khilāfats of Shaykh Abdul-Qadir, Master Ismail Chogle.
Shaykh Yusuf of Macassar
Shaykh Muhammad Salih of the Azzawia Masjid
1998 TO PRESENT
The real growth in the Naqshbandi Order has been experienced in the period from 1998 onwards, commencing with the establishment in that year, of the Haqqani Foundation of South Africa in Cape Town by Shaykh Hishām Kabbani, a Khalifah of Mawlāna Shaykh Muhammad Nāzim Al-Haqqani of Cyprus, the head of the worldwide Naqshbandi Order. Shaykh Nāzim is considered to be the qutub and mujjaddid, i.e. a reviver of Islam of this age.
Through Shaykh Hishām, Shaykh Nāzim appointed Shaykh Yusuf da Costa as his khalīfah in Southern Africa, in 1998.
A major impetus was provided by the nationwide visit to South Africa in 2000 by Shaykh Nāzim, accompanied by Shaykh Hishām and a host of other murids from all over the world. During his stay, Shaykh Nāzim:
– Lectured in all the main centres in SA;
– Delivered up to three daily talks at the residence of Shaykh Yusuf da Costa;
– Gave bay’ah to hundreds of people;
– Gave individual spiritual guidance to many; and
– Inspired his murids and others to give Allah Almighty priority in their lives.
The khilāfat of Shaykh Yusuf da Costa and the visit by Shaykh Nāzim sparked decades of remarkable growth of the Naqshbandi Order and its contribution to the promotion of Islam in Southern Africa. More than 600 people attended the first public Naqshbandi dhikr in the Habibia Soofi Masjid in November.
Practices and Activities
The Naqshbandi Order practices and activities are based on three pillars, viz.:
(i) The remembrance of Allah (dhikr).
(ii) Being for Allah.
(iii) Being for Allah’s cause, i.e. the deen of Islam.
In relation to these pillars, the following practices activities are conducted:
(i) Dhikr (the remembrance of Allah)
There has been a phenomenal growth in the number of congregational Naqshbandi dhikrs conducted in
Southern Africa from Thursdays to Sundays:
In Cape Town we have a weekly congregational dhikr in a different Masjid every week. There are approximately 25 weekly congregational dhikrs taking place either on a weekly or monthly basis in South Africa.
In verse 45 of Surah Al ‘Ankabūt, Allah (SWT) says ‘wala dhikrullahi akbar’, meaning ‘and the remembrance of Allah is the greatest’. In Bayhaqi it is narrated that Abd Allah ibn Umar (ra) said that the Prophet (SAWS) said that dhikr is the polish of the heart, and that the most calculated to rescue from Allah’s punishment is dhikr, even more so than jihād. In Bayhaqi, Hakim, Tabarani and a few others it is narrated that Jabir (ra) said that the Prophet (may Allah Almighty send prayers and salutations upon him) encouraged participation in the gardens of paradise, which he (may Allah Almighty send prayers and salutations upon him) described as being the gatherings of dhikrullah.
It is on the basis of these Quranic and Prophetic injunctions that the Naqshbandi tariqah promotes the deen of Islam primarily through the medium of dhikr.
A combined youth dhikr was initiated with other Tariqahs in Cape Town and is held on a monthly basis. Thus far 8 other Tariqahs attend this youth dhikr. Our youth are kept steadfast on the way of the Naqshbandi.
Joint programs are attended on significant nights in the Islamic Calendar such as Moulood and Muharram.
(ii) Being for Allah
There are a number of murids who give tirelessly and unselfishly of their time and resources to the activities of the Naqshbandi Order. In addition to the dhikr activities outlined above, there is also the An-Nisā subcommittee that sees to the spiritual and educational upliftment of women, and other subcommittees that attend to issues including da’wah, media, fundraising, finance, and advertising and website affairs.
(iii) Being for Allah’s cause
Our efforts are intended solely for the cause of Almighty Allah (SWT), to spreading the deen of Islam amongst the poor, through particularly the remembrance of Allah (dhikr), the building and maintaining of masjids and salaah khaanas, the provision of Islamic education, food, clothing and ablution facilities, and other general social welfare assistance that we are able to provide. True worship requires not only Imaan and the rituals such as salaah, etc, but the practical and helpful love and assistance to those in need. In Surah Al-Ma’oon, for example, Almighty Allah (SWT) cautions against those worshippers who do not feed the indigent and to supply neighbourly assistance, to those in need.
On a monthly basis, about 27 groups go out to spread the message of Islam amongst the disadvantaged and sub-economic areas in the Western Cape. On a bi-annual basis our Dawah program is extended into South Africa. On an annual basis an international Dawah program is held into Southern Africa. Countries visited to date include Malawi, Botswana, Namibia. To date over 100,000 reversions have been recorded. In support of continuing to support Islam in these areas, 20 masjids have been constructed across Southern Africa. In Malawi alone, 12 six mosques have been constructed.
Feeding schemes are operated throughout the year in the 55 areas where we are active through soup kitchens that we have established. During the month of Ramadaan, about 2700 are fed. We also assist two of other Tariqahs with their feeding schemes.
In 2020, the feeding scheme has been expanded as a result of the Covd-19 pandemic. Over 10,000 poor people are fed a nutritious meal on a daily basis since April 2020 at over 60 food kitchens in South Africa and Malawi.
Mawlana Shaykh Nazim & Shaykh Hisham Kabbani
Mawlana Shaykh Nazim & Shaykh Yusuf da Costa
The Naqshbandi Order has, in its short history in South Africa, made some significant achievements, achievements that are not what we claim, but rather what Almighty Allah (SWT) has granted us through His infinite mercy.
These achievements include inter alia the following:
- We are, quantitatively, possibly the largest tariqah in SA.
- We have operational offices in Cape Town (which functions as the head office), the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal and Malawi.
- Conduct and teach congregational dhikr in all the areas we are operative in.
- Our approach to promoting Islam extends beyond the making of dhikr, to following the Prophetic model of actively working for Islam.
- We are very mindful of the Prophetic example, and our focus is to work amongst the poor.
- In the Western Cape we have built masjids/salaah khaanas in Mfuleni, Harare, Burundi, Driftsands and have upgraded various others.
- In Malawi, we have built 12 masjids. These are concentrated in rural villages.
- We provide ablution facilities at the masjids and salaah khaanas.
- We formally teach Islam to adults and children in the impoverished areas.
- We regularly provide food to adults (via soup kitchens and servings at our dhikrs), as well as to the children attending madrassah.
- Since we have focused our work amongst the poor in the townships, more than 100,000 people have recited the shahadah and reverted to Islam, including two mute people. We do not claim credit for these reversions, as it is Allah (SWT) alone that changes the hearts of people. We are very privileged to have been chosen by Allah (SWT) to be associated with these reversions.
- We have significantly helped with the integration of Muslims from the suburbs and the impoverished areas – we do our utmost to treat the people from the impoverished areas as our fellow creation, our fellow Muslims. We do not only assist them and make dhikr with them, but we also socialise with them, and they with us. We do this on the basis of our practical belief that we are one ummah, not divided by race, colour, wealth, status or any other measure.
- Shaykh Yusuf da Costa, with the assistance of others, has published various books to assist us with our work, dealing with Islam and spirituality.