ABU’L-FAYŻ KAMĀL-AL-DĪN SERHENDĪ, MOḤAMMAD EḤSĀN B. ḤASAN AḤMAD B. MOḤAMMAD HĀDĪ B. ʿOBAYDALLĀH B. MOḤAMMAD MAʿṢŪM B. AḤMAD, author of Rawżat al-qayyūmīya, a still unpublished taḏkera of the Naqšbandīya-Moǰaddedīya order in India. References in the text indicate that Abu’l-Fayż was born on 27 1121/2 October 1709 in Sirhind. In 1131/1718-19 he became a morīd of Moḥammad Zobayr, the fourth qayyūm (see below), who subsequently sent him in 1145/1732-33 as his ḵalīfa from Shahjahanabad to the eastern districts. He began writing Rawżat al-qayyūmīya in about 1148/1735-36, but grief over the death of Moḥammad Zobayr in 1152/1740 compelled him to interrupt his work for two years. While no date of completion is provided, in the concluding lines, Moḥammad Shah (d. 1161/1748) is mentioned as the reigning sultan, though a later date is suggested in the work itself, viz. 1164/1751, the year in which the author’s son was born.

Rawżat al-qayyūmīya is a very detailed biography (divided into four rokns) of Aḥmad Serhendī (971-1034/1564-1624); his son Moḥammad Maʿṣūm (1007-79/1599-1668); Moḥammad Naqšband, son of Moḥammad Maʿṣūm (1034-1114/1625-1702); and Moḥammad Zobayr, grandson of Moḥammad Naqšband (1093-1152/1682-1740), each one described as a qayyūm. Each rokn begins with a description of the birth and childhood of the qayyūm, with considerable attention allocated (especially in the case of Aḥmad Serhend) to prophecies concerning his future activities; from the initial year of his career as qayyūm, all major events are narrated year by year; next comes an account of his miracles, mystical experiences, daily routine, and special qualities, after which the story of his death and burial, together with short biographical notices on children, disciples, and ḵalīfas, is given. Each rokn concludes with an account of contemporary ʿolamāʾ, shaikhs, poets, and sultans.

Rawżat al-qayyūmīya is useful also for historical study (particularly the detailed account of Nāder Shah’s invasion in 1151-52/1738-39) and of great value for an understanding of the Naqšbandīya-Moǰaddedīya tradition in India. At the beginning of the text Abu’l-Fayż enumerates all the sources which he had consulted, especially in compiling the first rokn. For the second and third rokns he gleaned his material from conversations with the grandchildren of Moḥammad Maʿṣūm, while he himself was an eyewitness to most of the major events of Moḥammad Zobayr’s life.

In Rawżat al-qayyūmīya the qayyūm theory is fully elaborated. Elements of the theory are implicit in the teachings of Aḥmad Serhendī and Moḥammad Maʿṣūm, but here they are detailed on a cosmic scale: The qayyūm is God’s perfect vicar, on whom the whole order of existence depends; nothing happens without his knowledge and approval. Abu’l-Fayż was aware that the qayyūm theory had become a contested matter. The qayyūmīya of Moḥammad Naqšband was not—at least for a certain period—generally accepted, and Moḥammad Zobayr had to leave Sirhind for Shahjanahabad because he did not find sufficient support and acknowledgement in his native city. The author concludes, however, that the four qayyūms had a great influence on the religious policies of Mughal emperors and materially as well as ideologically contributed to the successful expansion of the Indian Naqšbandīya-Moǰaddedīya order.


For the sole extant Persian ms. of Rawżat al-qayyūmīya, see Ivanov, Cat. ASB, pp. 84-87.

Storey I/2, p. 1023; Urdu tr., Lahore, n.d. (Note, however, that Abu’l-Fayż was a great-great-grandson of Aḥmad Sehendī’s son, Moḥammad Maʿṣūm, and not of Aḥmad Serhendī, as Ivanov and Storey state.)

A. Schimmel, Islamic Literatures of India, Wiesbaden, 1973, p. 39.

(J. G. J. ter Harr)

Originally Published: December 15, 1983

Last Updated: July 21, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 3, p. 287

Cite this entry:

J. G. J. ter Harr, “ABU’L-FAYŻ KAMĀL-AL-DĪN SERHENDĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/3, p. 287; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abul-fayz-kamal-al-din-serhendi-mohammad-ehsan-b (accessed on 31 January 2014).