The purity of the message of Islam and the tradition of the Holy Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) were kept intact through an unbroken chain of transmission by the great masters of Shahmaghsoudi School of Sufism®. While mainstream Islam fell into the hands of the clerics and jurists, these masters passed on the inner message of Islam through their teachings, writings, and students. The truth of Islam would not have survived had it not been for the selfless sacrifices of these great spiritual teachers, known as the forty lanterns of Sufism.
From the time of Hazrat Oveys Gharani, the founder of the Oveyssi School of Sufism, to the time of Hazrat Salaheddin Ali Nader Angha, Sufism has driven the expansion of the truth of Islam to many lands. A brief summary about the lives of a selected number of previous masters of the M.T.O.School of Islamic Sufism® is presented in this section:
Salman Farsi (1 A.H./7 A.D.) the first Persian Muslim, is known as a pioneer of Sufism. He spread the teachings of Sufism in Iran during the early years of Islam. Salman sought a path which would quench his thirst and make his heart content. He embarked on a path different from the various religions of the time, such as Christianity and Zoroastrianism, the prominent faiths during the reign of the Sassanid dynasty. During his lifetime, he rose to such great heights that the Prophet initiated him as one of the “Ahl Beit” (his Family), and he was given the title of Abu Abdullah (God’s servant).
Ibrahim Adham, (161 A.H. /777 A.D.) a prince, gave up his family and his kingdom to find the Truth and stepped in the path of Sufism and the world of love. Hazrat Abu Ali Shaghigh Balkhi (194 A.H. /809 A.D.), who succeeded him, illuminated the path of Sufism. After encountering Hazrat Ibrahim Adham in Mecca, he began his journey on the path of love and Irfan.
Hazrat Abu Abdullah Mohammad Ibn Khafif Shirazi (4 A.H. /9 A.D.) was also known as Sheikh Kabir and Sheikh al-Islam. He was given many titles, all reflecting his immense abilities and knowledge of the physical and metaphysical, as well as his vast knowledge of Islam. Sheikh Khafif lived in the same era as Mansour Hallaj, the renowned Sufi, who was executed for blasphemy charges of uttering, “I am the truth.” In this horrific climate, Sheikh Kabir stood to preserve Islam, his Sufi order was known as Khafifieh Oveyssieh.
In the twelfth century, Sheikh Ruzbihan (522 A.H. /1128 A.D.) produced more than 100 works on Sufism. Sheikh Najmeddin Kobra (540 A.H. /1145 A.D.) trained twelve noble disciples, among them Ali Lala Ghaznavi, Farid-ud-Din Attar, and Seyfeddin Bakharzi. Annemarie Schimmel in her book entitled Mystical Dimensions of Islam, states, “There is no doubt that Kobra himself experienced these heavenly journeys and traversed the cosmic ranks in his visions. He agrees with other Sufi theoreticians insofar as he sees man as a microcosmos, containing everything that exists in the macrocosmos.” (255)
The most widely read Sufi poet in the West is the great Jalaleddin Rumi (603 A.H. /1207A.D.), also known as Molavi. A conventional religious teacher, he was transformed at age 37 by the unexpected appearance of a wandering dervish named Shams Tabrizi. He found in Shams a mirror of the Divine Beloved. Rumi joins Oveyssi’s school from two different sides: on his father’s side Baha al-Din Valad, who was a disciple of the famous Sufi Najmedin Kobra, and his beloved master Shams Tabrizi, who himself was a disciple of Baba-Kamal Jondi, who, in turn was the disciple of Sheikh Najmedin Kobra Oveyssi.
Hazrat Sheikh Semnani (659 A.H./1261A.D.) was from a noble family. At the age of 25, he left the court to devote his life to God. He donated his wealth to the Khaneghah of Sakakieh, followed all the instructions and spent his entire time to reading books on Sufism, prayer and devotion. However, he did not get the intended results until he met a disciple of Hazrat Abdolrahman Esfarayeni, and from this encounter he wrote, “The light of Islam shone from his face, and the fragrance of the beloved came from his soul. He taught me how to do the four stroke Zikr of La ilaha illa Allah. I had many discoveries at the time of Zikr. With my eyes, I saw the flares of light from my chest ascending to the sky. I asked him about his Sufi lineage; he said my Pir is Hazrat Esfarayeni, disciple of Hazrat Sheikh Jozjani, who was the disciple of Hazrat Sheikh Lala.”
Amir Seyyed Ali Hamedani (713 A.H. /1313A.D.), known as “the second Ali” for his greatness of rank, migrated to Kashmir with 700 followers. India owes its Islamic heritage to Hazrat Hamedani. His teachings had such an influence on the people of the region that they turned their temples into mosques and Khaneghahs. One of the original Khaneghahs which he had built in Srinagar, north of Delhi, is still standing and is famous for being the Khaneghah and mosque of the Shah (king) of Hamedan.
Shamseddin Hafiz Shirazi (d.791A.H./1389 A.D.), another Persian Sufi poet with a worldwide reputation, was also a member of the Oveyssi School of Sufism®. He has inspired great philosophers and poets all over the world and has been much admired, notably by the German philosopher Goethe. He was the disciple of Pir Golrang, who, in turn, through three connections is a disciple of Hazrat Sheikh Ruzbihan Baghli (Baqli), the 14th Sufi Master of the Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi .
From the fifteenth century to the present time, great Sufis have continued to emerge, such as Hazrat Sheikh Abu Es’hagh Khatlani (740 A.H. /1339 A.D.) and his successor Hazrat Seyed Mohammad Noorbakhsh (795 A.H./1392 A.D.) They were out of favor with the ruler of that time, Sultan Shahrokh Mirza Teymouri, and were imprisoned and sent into exile many times. Hazrat Khatlani and his brother were eventually executed, while Hazrat Noorbakhsh, after spending twenty five years of his life in prison and exile, upon the death of Sultan Shahrokh Mirza, was free to travel. Despite obstacles, difficulties, and oppositions, these eminent Sufi Masters struggled and endeavored with great efforts to teach and to spread the truth of Islam.
On the other hand, Hazrat Shah Ghasem Feiz-Bakhsh, the great Arif of the 9th century A.H. /14th century A.D., the physical and spiritual son of Hazrat Seyed Mohammad Noorbaksh, was accepted by all classes of people, and King Esmaeil Safavid paid great consideration and respect to his rank and to the grandeur of his spiritual level.
The great Arifs of the 17th to 19th A.D (11th and 13th A.H.) were Seyyed Abdolvahab Naini (1212 A.H./ 1798 A.D.), Haj Mohammad Hasan Kouzeh-kanani (1250 A.H./ 1834 A.D.), and Hazrat Agha Abdolghader Jahromi (1301 A.H./ 1884 A.D.)
The man of great knowledge, Master of the time, Pir Agha Abdolghader, the Pir of Oveyssi, was the caliph of Haj Mohammad Hassan Naini Kozehkanani. The author of Taraegh writes: “Agha Abdolghader was a merchant from Jahrom of Shiraz and resided in Esfahan for business. When the divine love caught him, the love of amassing wealth went thoroughly out of his heart, and whatever he had he gave up for the sake of his way to God. There have been many miracles related to Hazrat Pir Agha Abdolghader, which have been narrated by his devotee and caliph, Hazrat Jalaleddin Ali Mir Abolfazl Angha.”
Mohammad Mohebbi, Aghtab Oveyssi (Düsseldorf, Germany: M.T.O. Publications, editions I- IX, 1998-2008, Print.)
Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975, Print.) p.255