ČARḴĪ, Mawlānā Yaʿqūb


ČARḴĪ, Mawlānā Yaʿqūb b. ʿOṯmān b. Maḥmūd (d. 851/1447), an early shaikh of the Naqšbandī order and author of several works in Persian. Born in the Čarḵ area of the Lōgar district near Ḡazna, he studied first in Herat, where he drew a stipendium from the endowments attached to the ḵānaqāh of Ḵᵛāja ʿAbd-Allāh Anṣārī, and then in Cairo, where he was a classmate of Ḵᵛāja Zayn-al-Dīn Ḵᵛāfī, founder of the Zaynī order, and studied under Šehāb-al-Dīn Sayrāmī. It was the desire to pursue formal learning that, in 782/1380-81, first drew Čarḵī to Bukhara, where he earned a license to deliver fatwās. Shortly before leaving Bukhara with the intention of returning to Čarḵ, he met Ḵᵛāja Bahāʾ-al-Dīn Naqšband and expressed the wish to join his circle. Bahāʾ-al-Dīn gave a temporizing answer but presented him with a skullcap (ṭāqīya) as a mark of favor. Čarḵī thereupon proceeded to Balḵ where he found it necessary, as Bahāʾ-al-Dīn had foretold, to make an unexpected sidetrip to the Dašt-e Kūlāk. Čarḵī renounced all plans of returning to Čarḵ and made his way back to Bukhara. Fortified by a number of omens and a period of meditation at the tomb of the Kobrawī saint Sayf-al-Dīn Bāḵarzī, Čarḵī again presented himself to Bahāʾ-al-Dīn to seek initiation. After an anxious night in which Bahāʾ-al-Dīn sought divine guidance on the matter, Čarḵī was informed that he had been accepted and was assigned for his formal training to Ḵᵛāj¡a ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār Boḵārī, a senior companion of Bahāʾ-al-Dīn. Although Čarḵī was thus initiated into the order by Bahāʾ-al-Dīn himself, his name generally comes after that of ʿAṭṭār in enumerations of Naqšbandī genealogy.

After the death of Bahāʾ-al-Dīn in 791/1389, Čarḵī left Bukhara first for Keš and then for Badaḵšān. There he received a letter from ʿAṭṭār, now established in the village of Čaḡānīān, reminding him of Bahāʾ-al-Dīn’s wish that Čarḵī keep his company. He accordingly joined ʿAṭṭār in Čaḡānīān, remaining there until the latter’s death in 802/1400. Čarḵī next moved to the region of Ḥeṣār-e Šādmān in what is now Soviet Tajikistan. He spent almost half a century there, dying in the village of Halḡatū in 851/1447, evidently at a quite advanced age. He left behind a son, Yūsof, and more significantly a spiritual successor, Ḵᵛāja ʿObayd-Allāh Aḥrār (q.v.), who with his manifold accomplishments came to overshadow Čarḵī in the development of the Naqšbandī order.

Best known among the writings of Čarḵī is, perhaps, the commentary he wrote on the opening chapter of the Koran and its last two sections (jozʾ). Based on a wide variety of earlier commentaries it also includes quotations from Rūmī and Sanāʾī and some autobiographical references. Čarḵī’s next most substantial work is Nay-nāma, a commentary on the prologue to Rūmī’s Maṯnawī and two of the stories contained in its first book. This is the second most ancient piece of writing in explication of the Maṯnawī. A shorter work, the Resāla-ye onsīya, offers an account of early Naqšbandī practices; another, the Resāla-ye abdālīya, concerns itself with questions relating to sainthood (welāyat); and yet another, Šarḥ al-Asmāʾ al-Ḥosnā, is a brief discussion of the Ninety-Nine Names of God. Finally we can mention Ḥawrāʾīya or Jamālīya, an extended commentary on a quatrain attributed to Abū Saʿīd b. Abi’l-Ḵayr; and a few quatrains, of considerable quality, composed by Čarḵī himself.

The fame of Čarḵī continues down to the present. His tomb, now situated on the lands of the Lenin kolkhoz outside Dushanbe, is still an object of pilgrimage, being indeed the principal “holy place” of Tajikistan. His native village still contains a number of sites associated with him and his ancestors, and, at least until fairly recently, the people of Lōgar would gather there on the occasion of the mulberry harvest to celebrate his memory with both prayer and picnicking.



Works. Tafsīr-e Yaʿqūb Čarḵī, Bombay, 1386/1966 (for mss. and earlier editions see Storey-Bregel, I, pp. 120-22); Nay-nāma, ed. Ḵ. Ḵalīlī, Kabul, 1352 Š./1973; Resāla-ye onsīya, in Setta-ye żarūrīya (a collection of six Naqšbandī treatises), Delhi, 1343/1924, pp. 12-28 (repr. with Urdu tr. by M.-N. Rānjhā, Islamabad, 1983); Resāla-ye abdālīya, ed. M.-N. Rānjhā, Islamabad, 1978; “Do aṯar-e ḡayr-e čāpī-e Mawlānā Yaʿqūb Čarḵī” (Šarḥ al-Asmāʾ al-Ḥosnā and Ḥawrāʾīya), ed. M.-N. Rānjhā, Dāneš (Islamabad) 1/1, spring, 1364 Š./1985, pp. 12-47.

Other sources. A. Bennigsen and C. Lemercier-Quelquejay, Le soufi et le commissaire, Paris, 1986, pp. 194, 210.

Dārā Šokūh, Safīnat al-awlīāʾ, Kanpur, 1884, p. 80.

Jāmī, Nafaḥāt, pp. 398-99.

M.-E. Ḵalīl, “Mawlānā Yaʿqūb Čarḵī,” Āryānā 2/2, 1323 Š./1944, pp. 11­-14.

Ḡolām Sarvar Lāhūrī, Ḵazīnat al-aṣfīāʾ, Lucknow, 1290/1873, I, pp. 566-67.

Nafīsī, Naẓm o naṯr I, p. 264; II, p. 778.

Amīn Aḥmad Rāzī, Haft eqlīm, ed. M. Esḥāq, Calcutta, 1963, II, pp. 435-36.

Faḵr-al-Dīn ʿAlī Ṣafī, Rašaḥat ʿayn al-ḥayāt, Tashkent, 1329/1911, pp. 66-69.

(Hamid Algar)

Originally Published: December 15, 1990

Last Updated: December 15, 1990

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Vol. IV, Fasc. 7, pp. 819-820