Friday 2 June 2023 \


Biography of Tatar Sheikh Muhammad-Zakir al-Chistawi (Kamalov) in the Arabic-language manuscripts

 هدايات الزمان في طبقات الخواجكان النقشبندية و سادات المشايخ الخالدية المحمودية. دمشق: دار النعمان للعلوم،٢٠٠٣
For many centuries Tatar literature grew and developed within the framework of a single common Islamic culture in close relations with the Arab, Persian and Turkish cultures.
The Muslims of the Volga and the Urals were closely included in the orbit of the Muslim life of the Middle East, which also affected the genre composition of Tatar Muslim literature, absorbing the best features of the Arab-Muslim literary tradition.
It should be noted that Tatar Muslim literature developed not in isolation within the region, but in close contact with other Muslim regions of Russia, in particular the Northern Caucasus. Muslims of the Urals and the Volga region developed centuries-old historical, cultural and religious ties with the Muslims of the North Caucasus. Especially close contacts of the Muslims of the North Caucasus and the Volga region were at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, when some Dagestanis, due to certain historical conditions, improved their education in the Tatar madrasas.
A vivid example of the religious ties between the Muslims of the Volga-Ural region and Dagestan is the activity of the Dagestani Sufi sheikh Sayfullah-qadi Bashlarov, who received the permission in mentoring (ijazah) from three Tatar sheikhs - Muhammad Zakir from Chistopol, Zainullah Rasulev from Troitsk and Muhammad Salih from the Tatar village Asimov (4. pp. 72-73). It is interesting that the biographical information about the above-mentioned Tatar sheikhs is contained in the Dagestani Arabic-language manuscripts.
Of particular interest to the researchers is the biography of the first Sheikh of Sayfullah qadi Bashlarov - Muhammad-Zakir al-Chistawi (Muhammad Zakir son of Abdul-Wahab Kamalov, 1804-1893). There is little information about this Sheikh. It is known that for almost half a century he served as an imam-khatib in the town of Chistopol in the Kazan province, containing a very large Kamalya madrasah for those times, whose graduates were such outstanding representatives of the Tatar people as R.Fahreddin, F.Karimi, G.Gafurov- Chigtai, G. Iskhaki and others. Sheikh Muhammad Zakir Kamalov was the leader of the Sufi brotherhood of Naqshbandiyya in the central part of Russia. The biography of this sheikh is described in more details in some Arabic-language works in Dagestan.
One of these works, which contains the biography of Muhammad-Zakir al-Chistawi, is the work of Tatar scholar and Sufi sheikh Muradullah (Muhammad Murad) bin Bahadirshah Abdullah bin Adelshah ar-Ramzi al-Manzalawi al-Kazani (1855-1934), particularly his little-known work "Nafais as-salihat fi tazyil al-baqiyat as-salihat" (Jewels of good deeds in addition to other virtuous deeds). This work was included in the general work of the Dagestani Sufi sheikh Shuaib bin Idris al-Baghini (1853-1912) Tabaqat al-Khwadjakan an-Naqshbandiyya (The Lives of the Naqshbandi Mentors), recently introduced by Dagestani researchers (2. pp 37-43), and published from the handwritten list, which was handed over to the editor of the Dagestan Alim Council Chairman Arslan Ali through the Deputy Mufti of Dagestan. It should be noted that the work of Muhammad Murad ar-Ramzi only currently became known because of the work of Dagestani Sheikh Shuaib al-Baghini, which consists of several sections. According to what the author himself writes, two books are based on his work: "al-Baqiyat as-salihat fi taqrib ar-rashahat" (Other good deeds in the approach to drops), authored by Ali bin al-Hussein al-Qashifi. Here the biographies of the sheikhs of the Naqshbandi tariqat are mentioned, beginning with Abu Bakr al-Siddiq and ending with `Ubaidullah Ahrar. The second chapter is an essay "Nafais as-Salihat fi tazyil al-Baqiyat as-Salihat" (Precious good deeds in addition to other good deeds), written by the Tatar scholar Muhammad Murad al-Ramzi al-Kazani al-Manzalawi. This second chapter examines the biographies of the Naqshbandi sheikhs, beginning with Muhammad Zahid and ending with Khalid al-Baghdadi. In the third section (this is the original part written by Shuaib al-Bagini himself), biographies of the other Naqshbandi sheikhs are given. In conclusion, some explanations are given regarding certain rules, features and ethics of the Naqshbandi tariqa.
Brief information about Sheikh Muhammad Zakir al-Chistawi is contained in the second chapter written by Muhammad Murad ar-Ramzi and included in his work by the Dagestani sheikh Shuaib al-Baghini: "Mawlana Sheikh Muhammad Zakir Afandi al-Kazani al-Chistawi, may Allah prolong his days and show mercy to him and to us. He is the renowned successor (caliph) of the Khalidi branch (Naqshbandi tariqah) ​​in our lands, serves as a model for us all. There was not a single corner in Kazan, where the great scholars of this city and its noble representatives would not follow him. He was also a scholar in all sciences: rationalistic and traditional. He studied fiqh from a great scholar, the late sheikh Abdullah al-Muchaskarawi, may Allah grant His mercy to him and to us. 
Then Muhammad Zakir-Afandi was engaged in teaching, deriving benefits from the sciences in his country for many years, the knowledge he used for the benefit of many of his contemporaries. Then he took the path of the Khalidian branch of the Naqshbandi tariqah and learned the zikr from Sheikh Mahmud-afandi al-Dagistani al-Almali, may his soul be sanctified. Mahmud Afandi al-Almali learned this zikr from Sheikh Yunus al-Khalidi, and he, in turn, had Sheikh Abdullah al-Arzanjani. What was mentioned (regarding this zikr), I copied from the letter written by the sheikh (Muhammad) Zakir Afandi himself. But we heard from Sheikh Khalil Bash that Yunus Afandi joined the Tariqah (under the direction of) Sheikh Yahya Bek, and he did not meet with Sheikh Abdullah al-Makki. Allah Almighty is more knowledgeable about this "... all people have learned where they should drink from."
Mahmud-afandi ad-Dagestani joined the tariqa under the leadership of Sheikh Hashim-afandi al-Yamshani, and the latter was led by Sheikh Ziyaaddin Zubayhullah al-Shirwani. The latter was the successor of Mawlana Khalid al-Baghdadi - may Allah sanctify their supreme secrets. The author of these lines has many times been honored to be familiar with him.
I completed what I came across and summarised (from the composition) the scholar who knew Allah (`arif), who is holding on the rope of Allah, Sheikh Muhammad Murad bin Abdullah al-Kazani ... " (5. pp.346-347).
In the same collection, Shuaib al-Bagini also has his own Arabic-language work by Muhammad-Zakir al-Chistawi, entitled "Tabsirat al-murshidin" (Clarification of Mentors). In this work, in addition to the foreword from the publisher, a brief biographical information about Muhammad-Zakir and detailed explanations of some issues of the Naqshbandi ritual practice, explanation of some Sufi terms are given. 
Information about Muhammad Zakir al-Chistawi is also found in another Arabic-language work "Siraj as-Sa`adat" (The Candle of Happiness), which belongs to the pen of Dagestani Naqshbandi Sheikh Hasan al-Kahibi. In the section dealing with the biography of his sheikh Saifulla-qadi Bashlarov, Hassan al-Kahibi remembers and recalls from his teacher's words: "We were closely connected with the famous scholar Khasbulat al-Kustaki. I studied with him and read under his guidance the book Silk al-'ain. Then I told him that I wanted to become his murid. He said: "The soul of my sheikh Mahmud al-Almali appeared to me and said that your mentor will be Sheikh Muhammad-Zakir al-Chistawi, who occupies a high position (in Sufism), and that you will be in his spring." I was confused by this. And he told me again: "I was hoping that you would become my son, but the command is from Allah, and it will happen that you meet Muhammad Zakir, may his secret be sanctified" ... Then in the spring I bid farewell to him and went to Muhammad-Zakir al-Chistawi." Soon Sayfulla-Qadi met with the Naqshbandi Sheikh Muhammad Zakir. Here is how he describes his meeting with him: "He was a great sheikh, possessing a number of virtues. I've never seen him talk to anyone about this world, even once. One day, when I came to him, he performed a muraqaba (one of the techniques in Sufi ritual practice, as self-control). When I met him, he was glad to see me. Together with him at our meeting there were about one and a half thousand of his murids. Muhammad Zakir asked me to sit next to him, and while I was with him, none of his murids sat down. He instructed me to perform the Sultan Zikr (the main zikr in the Naqshbandi ritual practice) for forty days. Soon, with the permission of his sheikh, he left us and returned to his homeland ... I said that I would return to him a second time, to which he smiled and said: "You will not see me again ...". Afterwards they really did not meet. After the death of al-Chistawi Saifulla-qadi took up the guidance of Sheikh Zaynullah Rasulev and received from him the ijazah" (3. pp.242-243).
In his memoirs Abulkhalil al-Ata al-Bakri writes about the reasons that prompted Muhammad Zakir al-Chistawi to stand under the guidance of the Shaykh Mahmud Afandi al-Dagistani: "Our learned scholar, Haji Habibullah al-Qahi, told me that Shaykh Muhammad Zakir, the author of "Tabsirat al-murshidin" (Guide to Mentors), was an enlightened, wealthy man of a large build; he did not recognize Shaykh Mahmud Afandi. One night, while he was sleeping, Mahmoud-Afandi came to him and struck him with a stick. He woke up from a dream, then fell asleep again. After that the shaykh again approached him and struck with a stick. He woke up a second time ... This was repeated seven times. After that the shaykh came to him and stood beside him silently. And Mahmud-afandi told him words explaining what happened to him that night in a dream. After that he accepted from him the tariqah and became perfect (Kamil) shaykh.
Our pious brother Sayfulla al-Nitsubri also said about him: "I saw a letter written by Shaykh Mahmud Afandi's hand to Shaykh Muhammad Zakir. There were the words addressed to him: "You have surpassed us in degrees (darajat). The end". May Allah be pleased with them both, by us, and also by all Muslims" (5. pp. 7-8).
Thus, the hagiography genre, which includes both the spiritual genealogical branch (shajarah), and works devoted to biographies of prominent representatives of the Muslim spiritual elite (tabaqat), occupied a certain place in the Tatar Arabic-language literature. The above material shows that Tatar Muslim literature developed not in isolation, but in close connection with the literature of other Muslim regions of Russia. Despite the difference in the religious-legal schools of the Muslims of the Volga-Ural region and the Northeast Caucasus, the sources revealed show not only the multifaceted cultural ties between these regions, but also some commonality in the genre of Muslim literature. The discovered Arabic-language sources help to take a fresh look at the close literary connections between these two regions. Talking separately about the Tatar Arabic-language and Arabic literature, it should be noted that many works of representatives of the Tatar Muslim spiritual elite, spread in various regions of Russia, unfortunately, are still not fully understood. The search work reveals more and more works of Tatar theologians, both repeating the traditions of Arabic literature, and those created with regard to the peculiarities of the religious culture of the Muslims of the Volga-Ural region. Today in our country there is hardly anything that requires more attention than the legacy of our ancestors: our great Sheikhs and Imams. Studying their works, their way of life - we strengthen the connection of our generation with our spiritual roots.
1. The Koran: 2; 60.
2. Musaev M.A., Shikhaliev Sh.Sh. Miracles of saints in the Dagestani Arabic-speaking Sufi biographical composition "Tabaqat al-Khawadjakan an-Naqshbandiya wa sadat al-Mashaikh al-Khalidiya al-Mahmudiyyah" // Islamology. № 4. 2011. pp. 37 - 43.
3. Hasan b. Muhammad Hilmi al-Kahi. Siraj as-sa`adat fi siyar as-sadat (in Arabic). Makhachkala, 2011.
4. Shikhaliev Sh.Sh. Saipulla-kadi // Islam in the territory of the former Russian Empire: Encyclopedic Dictionary / Ed. CM. Prozorov. Moscow. v.4, 2003.
5. Shuaib bin Idris al-Baghini. Tabaqat al-Khawajagan al-Naqshbandiyya wa sadat mashaih al-Khalidiyya al-Mahmudiyya (in Arabic). Damascus, 1999.
 هدايات الزمان في طبقات الخواجكان النقشبندية و سادات المشايخ الخالدية المحمودية. دمشق: دار النعمان للعلوم،٢٠٠٣. – ص. ١ – ٧٨
Hasavneh Alsu Ahmadullovna, Candidate of Philology. 

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