Shaykh Nazim

Shaykh Nazim from his Facebook page.

News out of Cyprus indicate that one of the most prominent Sufi leaders of the past century, Shaykh Nazim, has passed away at age 92.  

Muhammad Nazim Adil al-Qubrusi al-Haqqani, known simply as Shaykh Nazim, was part of the resurgence of Islamic mysticism (Sufism) in the 20th century.    He spent decades organizing Sufi activities and initiating people into his Naqshbandi Sufi order.

Shaykh Nazim was a charismatic presence, to his followers nothing shy of the “Pole of Saints.”  His followers recount tales of his miraculous presence, and the Baraka (grace/ “Force”) that surrounded him.

Historically, it can be said that Shaykh Nazim played an important role in spreading Sufi teachings in the West.   The Ramadan gatherings in the Peckham Mosque in London (which I attended back in the 1990s) were an important part of Sufi revival.

Shaykh Nazim became one of the most ardent critics of Wahhabism.   In fact, I picked up an Arabic copy of the Sawa’iq al-ilahiya fi radd ‘ala ‘l-wahhabiyya (“Divine Lightning Bolts in the Refutation of the Wahhabi Doctrine) in Shaykh Nazim’s gatherings.    Shaykh Nazim’s son-in-law and deputy, Shaykh Hisham, who represents him in the United States, famously warned against Wahhabi presence in America. 

To some of his critics, Shaykh Nazim’s teachings took on an alarming messianic tone, starting in the 1980s.   Furthermore, some critics objected to organizing his followers based on ethnic lines, and occasional anti-Shi’i tirades.    Shaykh Nazim’s fondness for Prince Charles has been well-documented.   Lesser known though no less significant has been his appreciation and support for George Bush and Tony Blair in the “War on Terror.”

Shaykh Nazim al-haqqani

Shaykh Nazim al-haqqani from Wikipedia.

To be transparent about my own relationship with Shaykh Nazim: It was in the early 1990s that reading his “Mercy Oceans” volumes helped transform my understanding of Sufism from one primarily rooted in ancient Persian and Arabic texts to one that also has a contemporary manifestation.    His dhikr and Qur’an recitations  became a powerful part of my own spiritual life.    And many of my own friends continue to be active members of the Naqshbandi community.

In time, my own discomfort with the anti-Shi’ism perspectives and messianic predictions led me to pursue a spiritual community elsewhere.   But at the time of his passing, it is perhaps appropriate to pause and honor someone whose life and teachings overlapped with the majority of this past century, and who has helped elevate Sufism to a powerful and popular contemporary manifestation.

To honor him, here are a few links:

Cat Stevens visiting Shaykh Nazim and singing Tala’a al-badru ‘alayna.  

Habib Ali al-Jifri meeting Shaykh Nazim.

Shaykh Nazim reciting al-Rahman.

Shaykh Nazim reciting al-Asr.

Shaykh Nazim reciting al-Fatiha.

As it is said in the Islamic tradition, may God receive him into the highest abode of Heaven, into God’s own supreme pleasure (Ridwan).    May God sanctify him, forgive him any errors, and illuminate his heart.


Inna lilah wa inna ilayhi raji’un.








  1. Mulla Nasrudien

    This is a great loss to me personally as Shaykh Nazim has been my teacher for over 10 years. Good article but your claims of messianic and anti-shia tendencies are off. In our local Naqshbandi tariqa we have Shia followers – the only rule is that they do not disparge any of the Sahaba. Secondly, the messianic aspect was mostly promoted by certain mureeds, when Shaykh Nazim visited us in 2000 he did not mention anything of that nature in all his sohbas.
    All sufi shayks create ‘situations’ in the sufi order of various degrees so that they can test the sincerity of the seeker (in seeking Allah) and to ‘shake’ the tariqa and allow those to leave who have not formed muhaba (love) with the teacher and sincerity to that specific turuq.
    One of Shaykh Nazim’s greatest mercies is that he allowed his mureeds a lot in terms of expressing their opinion and often we learnt the errors of of ways and correct adab through this process.
    He guided us (me) in the most subtle and amazing ways, he caused hundreds of people to enter Islam in my country with the simple instructions he told us to follow.
    May Allah continue to raise his station and forgive me for failing to appreciate and keep the required respect of him when he was alive……

  2. Like Mr. Nusrudine mentioned, the Naqshbandi Way is not at all against Shia. They accept all and are extremely tolerant, specially Sheikh Nazim and Sheikh Hisham. Writing this kind of thing for one of the greatest living personalities without verifying and having knowledge reflects bad on the writer and creates Fitna.

  3. “Lesser known though no less significant has been his appreciation and support for George Bush and Tony Blair in the “War on Terror.” ”

    I checked the link you posted and it’s thoroughly disturbing. I quote Sheikh Nazim: “Their time finishing and Allah sending Saint George Bush and Saint Tony Blair and their supporters to take over those tyrants through East and West. They have been granted a sword from Heavens and they are never going to be failed through their fightings and they should finish it and then they are going to bring their sword to give to Jesus Christ when he is coming down. Reaching everywhere where there is a tyrant: Turkey, China, Russia, Arabia, Egypt, Libya and other countries also. Everywhere going to be open.”

    I’m not sure whether to cry or laugh.

    So much for the so-called “non-violent” sufi Sheikh Nazim. Nothing can be more militant than supporting Bush and Blair whose fake war on terror lead to 1 million killed in Iraq.

    Thank you for exposing his hypocrisy.

    • I always respect all sects within Islam and advocate unity. If its true that he supported the so called war on terror, then I have little respect for such views and am saddened to see less people condemning the death of innocents amidst this war. How someone can conclude its Gods doing is mind boggling and worrying as he had millions followers who would agree without independent thought.
      This is why I find the answers to the Islamic world are with the spiritual political icons… Malcolm X, Allama Iqbal, Hassan Banna etc and not with apolitical icons as the late sheikh. Allah knows best.

      • The Shaykh’s posture against Islamist terror and Wahabbism is exactly what is needed. Muslim leaders need to disavow the political tenets of Islamic teachings that Islamists follow – IslamIST ideology, as articulated by Yusuf Qaradawi:

        “‘Alamiyya­­t al-Islam, the principle in fiqh al-aqalliyyat that declares Islam to be a global religion meant to encompass the entire world, provides the basis for answering these questions.

        The world is divided into two parts, separated only by time: the lands under Muslim rule and those which will eventually receive the Islamic dawa and come under Muslim rule. page 4

    • Mulla Nasrudien

      As salaam
      You will never understand the actions and statements of the saints – Hadrat Khidr (RA) ‘killed’ a person, destroyed property ect when Nabie Musa was with him – this is in the Quran – but what were the secrets behind it???
      In my younger days, I too had this immature view – only as I went (and still am) going on in the path, do the explanations for what I thought was absurd or wrong (from my limited ignorant knowledge) become clear.
      Allah destroys one corruption with another corruption – everything is good for the believer – ‘political Islam’ revealed its true nature through the past events and we see its fruit in what is happening in Syria and elsewhere ect.
      One of the things I only realised recently – is that these things are blessings by way of Allah’s name – Ya Lateef – the subtle – When Allah loves a nation, he sends trials and we have to observe taqwa in the good and bad times with adab.

      Can you say that hundreds entered Islam by your hand?
      Can you say hundreds learned adab at your hand?
      Can you say hundreds started following the Sunnah at your hand
      Cab you say that hundreds make salatul ishraq, duha, wudu, awabeen, tahajjud because they see that that is your habit?
      Can you say hundreds moisten their tongues with thikr everyday and week at your hand?
      Can you say Allah, the Generous will not reward him if for for the least of these actions that outweigh any ‘statement’ that in your limited understanding and interpretation he made??? Subhanallah, Allah is greater than our opinions..

      Ya Allah, we ask forgiveness for our numerous sins before casting aspersions on any believer- and if I am wrong, I ask you to take my hand on that day to the pond of our Prophet (Peace be upon him) and share the drink from his blessed hands.

      May Allah protect us.

    • Sufi sheikhs operate through a hidden reality. What appears on the surface can be and is misunderstood by those who not understand the wisdom behind such statements. What appears is not what is. A highly realised man can only effect change through the hearts of men. The inner eye must open and focus.

    • Oh how little you understand sufism…Mawlana Sheikh Nazim’s words cannot be understood this way. It is with a long companionship that you can pretend to barely grasp his wisdom. To take one quote taken out of context is a mistake. He was known for his humour and sarcasm :)

    But I never hate the religious people themselves.
    Nor do I hate the temples they build.

    I hate religion.

    Behave as humans! Jeeesh, only religion destroys for religion :-(

  5. I never heard anything said against Shia Muslims, Wahabies yes as they’re killing innocent people and destroying Islamic heritage. In fact I’ve heard Shaykh Nazim afew times saying that Imam Mehdi will have followers from both Sunni and Shia communities.
    The criticism regarding Bush and Blair is taken out of context as Shaykh Nazim always supported Muslim unity.

  6. Definately Shaykh Nazim changed history. He always wanted there to be peace and tolerance among humanity. God bless him and give him highest maqam. Amin.

    • Such narcissism and solipsistic nonsense coming from you.
      “We are in the times”….”worst thing are happening”

      Oh, really?
      Is the Plague killing 50% of humanity as in 1100 C.E.?
      You are living under slavery?
      Is your family being burned for witchcraft?
      Do you not have glasses for your poor vision?
      You do not have vaccination for smallpox?
      You do not have treatments for heart disease?

      Do you understand what ‘worst of times’ might look like?

  7. Sheila Zulfiqar Ahmed

    What I have learnt about Sufism from my Baba Jee (R.A) and having read the teachings of my Murshid Pak Hazrat Peer Siddique Akbar (R.A) and what we can see through history..why Auliya Kiram (Sufis) were respected by all irrespective of their religion was because they loved all equally as AllahSWT’s creatures …They didn’t prefer a Muslim over a Non-Muslim or a Sufi over a Non-Sufi….They do not interfere in whatever is dominant at their times ..whether it be khair(good ) or Shar (evil) I don’t know why Shaikh Nizam (R.A.) sided with one of the warring parties as usually Sufi’s never take sides in an ongoing war…To them the hearts of both the parties are more and equally important …They must remain neutral to hold the hand of God’s creatures and give it in God’s hands…They are mere facilitators of seekers of God and they do it only and only through the medium of unconditional love for all and rather than preaching through their self sacrifice

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