BOḴĀRĪ ʿALĀʾ-AL-DĪN MOḤAMMAD b. Moḥammad (also known as ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār), close associate and primary successor of Bahāʾ-al-Dīn Naqšband (q.v.), the eponym of the Naqšbandī Sufi order. He was the youngest of three sons of a migrant from Ḵᵛārazm who had made his home in Bukhara. When the father died, ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn renounced his share in the inheritance and took up residence in a madrasa, living a severe and ascetic life. It was there that Bahāʾ-al-Dīn Naqšband first met him. Impressed by the sparseness of the furnishings in ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn’s cell—a worn mat, a brick to serve as a pillow, and a broken water pot—he offered him the hand of his daughter in marriage, without any preliminary, and also adopted him as his spiritual son. The marriage took place the same day; one son was to be born of it, Ḵᵛāja Ḥasan ʿAṭṭār. Bahāʾ-al-Dīn did not initiate ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn immediately, but instead told him to spend his days gathering firewood and hawking apples, barefoot, in the markets of Bukhara. This he did joyfully, much to the chagrin of his two brothers who were both respectable shopkeepers. After these pursuits had wrought the necessary purgation in ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn, he was formally initiated by Bahāʾ-al-Dīn, and he swiftly advanced to the position of chief disciple. Bahāʾ-al-Dīn assigned to him the training of numerous less advanced adepts, remarking of him, “he has greatly lessened our burden.” When Bahāʾ-al-Dīn died in 791/1389, ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn received the bayʿa (allegiance) of all his other disciples, including even Ḵᵛāja Moḥammad Pārsā, whom Bahāʾ-al-Dīn had seemed to favor at one point for the succession.
ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn’s leadership of the Naqšbandī community lasted for ten years. On 2 Rajab 802/29 February 1400, he fell sick, and predicted he would soon die. He enjoined his followers to follow the sonna of the Prophet, to observe the principles of the Naqšbandī path, and not to grieve his passing. He died eighteen days later and was buried in the village of Čaḡānīān (or Nowčaḡānīān) near Bukhara.
He appointed ten successors, each of whom seems to have had responsibility for a particular region, and it was their dispersion in fact that enabled the Naqšbandī path to spread beyond the immediate environs of Bukhara; Ḵᵛāja ʿAbd-Allāh Emāmī Eṣfahānī, for example, created a Naqšbandī presence in Shiraz. The best-known of his successors was the celebrated theologian and scholar, Sayyed Šarīf Jorjānī, who is said to have remarked, “until I attained the company of Ḵᵛāja ʿAṭṭār (i.e. Boḵārī), I did not truly know God.” The most important of them for the perpetuation of the Naqšbandī order was, however, Mawlānā Neẓām-al-Dīn Ḵāmūš, the initiator of Saʿd-al-Dīn Kāšḡarī (d. 860/1455), who was in turn the preceptor of the poets Jāmī, and ʿAlī-Šīr Navāʾī and other luminaries of Timurid Herāt.
ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn Boḵārī was the first person to collect the dicta and biography of Bahāʾ-al-Dīn Naqšband, and composed a brief work on the subject, Maqāmāt-e Bahāʾ-al-Dīn Naqšband. Many other early accounts of Bahāʾ-al-Dīn’s life (notably Ṣalāḥ b. Mobārak’s Anīs al-ṭālebīn wa ʿoddat al-sālekīn) also draw on material supplied orally by ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn. Numerous of his sayings concerning the principles and terminology of the Naqšbandī path have also been preserved in contemporary or near-contemporary texts.
Jāmī, Nafaḥāt, pp. 389-92.
Ḵᵛāja Moḥammad Pārsā, Qodsīya, ed. M.-Ṭ. ʿErāqī, Tehran, 1354 Š./1975, p. 7.
Moḥammad b. Ḥosayn Qazvīnī, Selsela-nāma-ye ḵᵛājagān-e Naqšband, ms. Laleli (Süleymaniye) 1381, fol. 9a.
Faḵr-al-Dīn ʿAlī Ṣafī, Rašaḥāt ʿayn al-ḥayāt, Tashkent, 1329/1911, pp. 81-92.
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: December 15, 1989
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Vol. IV, Fasc. 3, p. 330