KĀŠḠARI, SAʿD-AL-DIN (d. 860/1456), propagator of the Naqšbandi order in Timurid Herat (qq.v.), noteworthy primarily as the initiator of ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Jāmi into the path.

In a manner typical for many a Sufi, he is said to have displayed a precocious degree of piety as a child. Thus one day, he reacted with a flood of tears to the spectacle of his father, a merchant of Kashghar (q.v.) claiming descent from the Prophet Moḥammad, haggling over the price of some goods for a whole morning. After completing the madrasa curriculum, perhaps in his native Kashghar, Saʿdal- Din conceived the aspiration of embarking on the Sufi path and he came to Samarqand, where he joined the following of Neẓām-al-Din Ḵāmuš (d. circa 853/1449). This sheikh, separated from Bahāʾ-al-Din Naqšband, eponym of the order, by only one link in the initiatic chain, ʿAlāʾ- al-Din ʿAṭṭār (d. 802/1400), earned the sobriquet Ḵāmuš (silent) by his frequent immersion in ecstatic states that rendered him incapable of speech; he was far from regarding this as an impediment, for he believed silence to be better than speech, inasmuch as speech is liable to arise from the ego and interrupt the flow of divine grace. Much the same is reported of Kāšḡari, although he was somewhat more inclined than his master to active propagation of the Naqšbandi path, and it was appropriate that he should emerge as his principal successor.

After an indeterminate number of years in Samarqand, Saʿd-al-Din set out on the Hajj pilgrimage, but, in accordance with a prediction by Ḵāmuš, he was unable to proceed beyond Khorasan; precisely why, is unclear. Arriving in Herat, he went to meet Zayn-al-Din Ḵᵛāfi (d. 838/1435), eponym of the nascent Zayni order (ṭariqat), whom Ḵāmuš had recommended to him for his expertise in dream interpretation. When, however, Zayn-al-Din sought to draw him into his own following, Saʿd-al-Din demurred, given his prior initiation into the Naqšbandiya. Zayn-al-Din nonetheless recommended that he perform the divinatory prayer known as esteḵāra (see DIVINATION) before making a firm decision. When he complied, he had a vision of his immediate predecessors in the Naqšbandi initiatic chain angrily uprooting trees and demolishing the walls of Herat, and he decided not to accept Zayn-al-Din’s invitation. Informed of his decision, Zayn-al-Din still proclaimed himself ready to help Saʿd-al-Din whenever he wished, particularly in the interpretation of his dreams. Among other prominent Sufis gathered in Herat at the time, Saʿd-al-Din also made the acquaintance of Qāsem-e Anwār, Mawlānā Abu Yazid Purāni, and Sheikh Bahāʾ-al- Din ʿOmar. In 844/1440, he was finally able to make the Hajj; this, apart from a few shorter journeys, was the only occasion on which he absented himself from Herat for the rest of his life.

The unwilling beneficiary of his father’s mercantile zeal, Saʿd-al-Din was evidently quite wealthy, but in accord with his ascetic preferences, he took up residence in the Madrasa-ye Ḡiāṯiya near the Masjed-e Jāmeʿ, and it was in that mosque, hyperbolically compared by him with the Masjed-al-Ḥarām in Mecca, that he met and discoursed with his followers. His primary emphases were the necessity for the ceaseless practice of silent ḏekr and banishing from the mind all stray thoughts (naf-ye ḵawāṭer); the awareness that God is closer to one at all times than any measurable proximity, resulting in the need for meticulous observation of adab (q.v.) in all states and conditions; and the knowledge that each breath taken is a divinely bestowed treasure (the Naqšbandi principle of huš dar dam). Insofar as an aim can be conceived, it is closeness to God (qorb), but closeness does not consist in saying “I have come close to Him,” or any similar expression; “it is rather that you are lost in Him, that you do not know where you were or whence you came, and reach a state that you are utterly incapable of describing” (Kāšefi, 1977, I, p. 214). The outward manifestation of that state in Saʿdal- Din was, to the uninformed observer, indistinguishable from sleep; indeed, he proclaimed, certain dervishes are themselves unaware whether they are awake or asleep, because the nature of their devotional practice (kayfiyat-e mašḡuli) is one and the same in both cases (Jāmi, p. 409).

Foremost among Saʿd-al-Din’s disciples was, of course, ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Jāmi, the great poet, mystic, and polymath. Seeing him pass in front of the Madrasa-ye Ḡiāṯiya, he declared himself enchanted by him and desirous of “ensnaring him.” The opportunity arose when he insinuated himself into the dreams of Jāmi, tormented at the time by the pangs of separation from an object of his affections, and instructed him to take God as his sole, indispensable companion. (see JĀMI II. AND SUFISM). Jāmi’s closeness to Kāšḡari was reinforced by marriage to one of his granddaughters, but taking into account his aversion to assuming the burdens of preceptorship, Kāšḡari advised his followers to gather instead around Mawlānā Šams-al-Din Moḥammad Ruji (d. circa 960/1553) after his passing. He died suddenly, while performing the midday prayer on Jomādā’l-oḵrā 7, 860/12 May 1456, and was buried in the Ḵiābān suburb of Herat. His grave became the nucleus of a cemetery where other luminaries of late Timurid Herat came to be buried: ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Jāmi and his brother, Mawlāna Moḥammad (d. 872/1467); Mawlānā ʿAbd-al-Ḡafur Lāri, a student of Jāmi (d. 912/1506); and Jāmi’s nephew, the poet Hātefi (927/1521). Kāšḡari’s original tombstone was lost in the wars over Herat that attended the rise of the Safavids (perhaps at the same time that the tomb of Jāmi, viewed as a convinced adversary of Shiʿism, was desecrated). Handsomely calligraphed stones were installed at the head and foot of his tomb by Aḥmad Shah Dorrāni in the eighteenth century, and further improvements to the site were made in the late 1950s by Moḥammad-Ẓāher Shah; these appear to have survived more recent vicissitudes in Afghan history.

A pious man in attendance on Kāšḡari as he lay dying had a vision of the Prophet proclaiming that Kāšḡari had advanced thirty-two people to the rank of saintship (welāyat). His recorded initiatic descendants are, however, far fewer in number. In addition to Mawlānā Šamsal- Din Ruji, they include Kāšḡari’s own two sons, Ḵᵛāja Moḥammad Akbar (d. 914/1508), also known as Ḵᵛāja Kalān, and Ḵᵛāja Moḥammad Aṣḡar (d. 906/1500), also known as Ḵᵛāja Ḵord; Jāmi, who despite his reluctance to act as preceptor passed the ṭariqat on to perhaps six people; Jāmi’s brother, Mawlāna Moḥammad; Mawlānā Aḥmad Kārizi; Esmāʿil Ruji; Mawlānā Moḥammad Ṣalāḥ Heravi; Mawlāna Šehāb-al-Din Aḥmad (d. 857/1453); Mawlānā ʿAlāʾ-al-Din Kermāni, who migrated to Mecca and spent the rest of his life there as a mojāwer; and Ḵᵛāja ʿAbd-al-ʿAziz Jāmi, a descendant of the celebrated Aḥmad Nāmeqi Jāmi (d. 536/1141). The activity of all these successors was limited to Herat and its immediate environs, and in the case of Mawlānā Šams-al-Din Ruji, Kāšḡari’s nominee as his principal successor, it was cut short by the Safavid conquest of Khorasan; he fled to Bukhara and sought refuge with ʿObayd-Allāh Khan the Uzbek.

The sole long-term and long-distance transmission of Kāšḡari’s initiatic line passed through Mawlānā ʿAlāʾ- al-Din Abizi Maktabdār (d. 892/1487). A man of high accomplishment in all branches of religious learning, his profession as supervisor of an elementary school (maktab) served for him, it is said, as a veil behind which he concealed his lofty spiritual rank (Qazvini, fol. 18a). One of his four successors was Mawlānā Ṣonʿ-Allāh Kuzakonāni (d. 929/1523) from Orunāq near Tabriz. Despite the difficulties posed by the rise of the Safavids, he was able to initiate in turn two successors, from one of whom a line of transmission went forth first to the rural hinterland of Tabriz, next to Urmia, and then on to Diyarbekir, Bursa, Van, and Erzurum (Algar, pp. 13-21). Another successor (ḵalifa) active in Anatolia was Ṣonʿ-Allāh Boḵāri, to whom is attributed the foundation, in 857/1453, of the Yavedûd Tekke (Yā Wadud Takiya) in the Anatolian city of Amasya (Hüsameddin, I, pp. 253-54). A number of treatises have been attributed to Kāšḡari. To date, only the Resāla-ye ḏekriya (ed. Sayyed ʿAli l-e Dāwud, in Maʿāref 14/3, 1988) has been published. Others include Resāla dar tawajjoh (ms. Millet Kütüphanesi, ʿAli Emiri Efendi, Fârsî, no. 1028), and Resāla dar kalemāt-e qodsiya (ms. Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Şehid Ali Paşa, no. 1387). It is probable that these were not formal compositions, but the record of his teachings as drawn up by his students. In addition, a representative selection of his dicta was included by Faḵr-al-Din Kāšefi (d. 939/1532) in the Rašaḥāt-e ʿAyn al-ḥayāt, a principal source on the early Naqšbandiya; like Jāmi, Kāšefi was married to a daughter of Ḵᵛāja Kalān.



Hamid Algar, “Naqshbandıs and Safavids: A Contribution to the Religious History of Iran and Her Neighbors,” in Michel Mazzaoui, ed., Safavid Iran and Her Neighbors, Salt Lake City, 2003, pp. 7-48.

Aṣil-al-Din Heravi, Mazārāt-e Herāt, ed. Fekri Saljuqi, Kabul, 1967, I, pp. 98-99; II, pp. 52-53.

ʿAbd al-Wāseʿ Bāḵarzi, Maqāmāt-e Jāmi, ed. Najib Māyel Heravi, Tehran, 1992, pp. 81, 87, 104, 110, 132, 194, 232.

Moʿin al-Din Esfezāri, Rawżāt al-jannāt fi awṣāf madinat Herāt, ed. Muhammad Ishaque, Aligarh, 1961, p. 26.

Hüseyin Hüsameddin, Amasya Tarihi, 4 vols., Istanbul, 1909-17.

ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Jāmi, Nafaḥāt al-ons men ḥażarāt al-qods, ed. Maḥmud ʿ bedi, Tehran, 1991, pp. 408-10.

Faḵr-al-Din ʿAli Kāšefi, Rašaḥāt-e ʿayn 205-32.

Idem Laṭāʾef al-ṭawāʾef, ed. Aḥmad Golčin-e Maʿāni, Tehran, 1957, pp. 231, 235.

ʿAbd-al-Ḡafur Lāri, Takmela-ye Nafaḥāt al-ons, ed. Bašir Heravi, Kabul, 1964, pp. 13-14.

Jürgen Paul, Die politische und soziale Bedeutung der Naqšbandiyya in Mittelasien im 15. Jahrhundert, Berlin and New York, 1991, pp. 24, 47, 58, 87.

Moḥammad b. Ḥosayn Qazvini, Selsela-nāmaye Ḵājagān-e Naqšband, ms. Bibliothèque Nationale, supplément persan, 1418, fols. 14b-18a.

Fekri Saljuqi, Ḵiābān, Kabul, 1964, pp. 95-97.

Necdet Tosun, Bahâeddîn Nakşbend: Hayatı, Görüşleri, Tarîkatı, Istanbul, 2002, pp. 133-35.

Idem, “Saʿdeddîn-i Kâşgarî,” Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı Islam Ansiklopedisi XXXV, pp. 391-92.

(Hamid Algar)

Originally Published: December 15, 2011

Last Updated: April 24, 2012

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Vol. XV, Fasc. 6, pp. 675-677