The Golden Chain


Assalamualykum Wa Rahmatullah,

Please help me understand the shajrah of the Naqshbandiyyatul Aliyya when the secret passes from Salman al-Farisi (r). (passed away in 33 A.H. during the reign of `Uthman) to Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr (q).

Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr states:
When Qasim (r) passed away the year was 108 (or 109) AH/726 CE, and he was seventy years old. He passed the secret of the Naqshbandi Golden Chain to his successor, his grandson, Imam Jafar as-Sadiq .

Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr (r) was born then in 38 AH. So there now is a gap of five years after the passing of Syedna Salman Al Farsi (r) and the birth of Mawlana Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr. Is there a misprint in the dates? Or is it something else that I need to understand.

Thank you for your efforts.


Wa `alaykum as-Salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

It is important to study history; more especially, it is important to study history in the light of spirituality, and to learn something of the lives of the prophets and saints, peace be upon them all. However, be careful not to subject spiritual matters to the mundane constraints of history. The understanding of the lesser does not encompass the greater. What can historians make of the Night Journey and Ascension, for example, when the bed of the Holy Prophet was still warm upon his return through the celestial spheres, peace and blessings be upon him?

Of course, the history of the Last Prophet and his community has been fully and very carefully recorded, in accordance with Divinely Wisdom. So while the history of his political successors may be examined, the Golden Chain belongs to another reality entirely. We have not learned of the transmissions within that chain from ordinary sources. With the luminous links in the silsilah revealed, we must accept the order of succession regardless of historical conditions. The lesson of Uwaysi transmission is an obvious reminder of this.

Concerning Sayyidina Salman al-Farsi (r) in particular – may Allah be pleased with him – and assuming that the dates you are considering are correct, it is perhaps instructive to consider something which your source does not mention: his longevity. The lifespan of Sayyidina Salman has been variously given as 200, 300, 350, and even 553 years! In the light of a life so extraordinary, do not doubt that his spiritual secret could reach his inheritor, no matter the worldly circumstances.

Mahmoud Shelton

About Ustadh Mahmoud Shelton

Mahmoud Shelton studied at the University of Edinburgh before taking a degree in Medieval Studies at Stanford University. Shelton is the author of Alchemy in Middle Earth: The Significance of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, The Balance of George Lucas' Star Wars, and numerous articles. He is also a contributor to The Royal Book of Spiritual Chivalry and The Sufi Science of Self-Realization. Contributions by Mahmoud Shelton * Chivalry of the Night and Day * Alchemy in Middle Earth * contributor, The Royal Book of Spiritual Chivalry
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