Sayf ad-Din Boharzi

“Shaikh al-Alam” - Sayf ad-Din Boharzi

Abu-l-Mali Saiyd ben-al-Mutahhir, more known under nickname of Sayf ad-Din Boharzi was a head of khanaqah (of caliph) of Fathabad, he managed the khanaqah and lived there nearly 40 years. After his death in 1261, the shaikh was buried in a shrine specially built in the territory of the khanaqa which was an ideological centre of spiritual basis of the Sufi fratry in Fathabad, the main Bukhara sanctuary, esteemed over many centuries.

Sayf ad-Din Boharzi, called by people as “shaikh al-alam” (the sheikh of the world), a famous Sufi shaikh, poet-mystic and theologist in the Muslim East was born at the end of the XII century (1190) in Bokharz of Khorasan region. According to Khamidallah Kazvini, he studied in Herat and Nishapur where he received a religious and legal education, traditional for that time and very soon he became a Sufi. According to some data Sayf ad-Din Boharzi pilgrimaged to Mecca and Medina and studied “al-Khidaya” – the masterpiece of Muslim law science.

Upon moving to Khorezm he was adopted to the group of few murids (disciples) of popular shaikh Nadjm ad-Din Kubro (1145-1221) – a founder of the Sufi fratry (tariqah) Kurbawiya in Central Asia, killed during the Mongolian conquest of Khorezm in 1221.

The Sufi fratry Kurbawiya represented a Central Asian school of mysticism, being traditionally a Sunni one, adopted a chain of spiritual succession (sanad) to Abu Bakr or Ali b Abi Talib.

Various sources inform on the nature of Sufi hermitage of Sayf ad-Din Boharzi. Abdurakhman Jami, a poet of the XV century, in particular, stated that Sayf ad-Din Bokharzi was sent by his counselor Nadjm ad-Din Kubra to Bukhara, where the sheikh lived about 40 years.

The sheikh held an outstanding position in Bukhara, enjoyed popularity in the community and great influence among the Mongolian rulers, was a mudarris and mutavvali (manager of vakuf funds) of one of the largest spiritual school – the Khaniye madrasah destroyed in 1273-1276 by a regular violence in Bukhara during local war among the Gengizides.

Sayf ad-Din Boharzi reacted actively to all events connected with the Mongolian conquests. The Sufis were known to have stimulated the people to desperate resistance harder than the others at that difficult period. Sayf ad-Din Boharzi watched all this painful process of the Mongolian conquest and saw cruelty and spiritual dissolution of the community and appealed to restoration of the true values. The Shaikh tried to interfere with the Mongolian government policy, fought for strengthening a sheikhs’ role, expressed sharply his discontent to the Mongolian government, governors and ministers who favored more the inexperienced youth trying to interfere with the religious affairs rather than the wise monks famous for their scholarship and sainthood of life.

Certain part of Mongols under the influence of Sayf ad-Din Boharzi began adopting Islam, philanthropizing the construction of madrasahs and mosques. The rulers who adopted Islam considered it an honor to be blessed by Sayf ad-Din Boharzi. Berkekhan, a Batyi younger bother adopted Islam and having chosen a Sufi path arrived specially to Bukhara from the lower reaches of Volga to adopt Islam from the great sheikh’s hands.

Sayf ad-Din Boharzi was an author of several classic works which he wrote in the Arab and Persian language. “Sharkh”, “al-Asma al-Husna” , “Risola dar ishk” (Mystic Love Tractate), “Ruboyat”, “Vokeai Khilvat” (Events in Quiet Time), “Vasiyatnoma”, “Ruznoma” survived up to date.