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What does Silsila-i ‘Aliyya mean?

Question: What does Silsila-i ‘Aliyya mean?
The word silsila means a series, line, or chain that is constituted by mutually connected and closely related things. After murshîd-i kâmils, that is, those who double as an Islamic scholar and a spiritual guide, educate their disciples and their disciples have gained the competence to educate other people as well, they give them khilâfah ([certificate of] authority to instruct others) and a written warrant (called ijâzah) certifying that they have the qualifications. Afterwards, they, too, start to educate disciples and give them a written warrant when they reach such a stage. This chain of connection goes back up to our master the Prophet.

The silsila (chain) which includes such religious superiors as Bahaaddîn-i Bukhârî, Imâm-i Rabbânî, and Mawlâna Khâlid-i Baghdâdî is termed Silsila-i ‘Aliyya, which means the Exalted Chain. It is also termed Silsilat-uz-Zahab, which means the Golden Chain.

An Islamic scholar does not grow like grass or mushrooms sprouting in the earth. One who does not have a master and a written warrant cannot be an Islamic scholar. Having a silsila that can be traced back to the Messenger of Allah is a sine qua non. For example, each Islamic scholar, such as Hadrat Imâm-i Rabbânî and Hadrat ‘Abdul Qadir al-Ghaylânî, has a certain chain of masters until this chain reaches back to our master the Prophet. Only such a person should be followed, and only such a person’s books should be read. We must not read the books of all writers indiscriminately even if what they write may be correct. Those who cannot find a person of this sort must read the books of an Islamic scholar who is authorized in the above-mentioned manner, that is, whose chain of masters is known and who has a written warrant. Reading his books, they must accept him a spiritual guide for themselves.

The reason why different silsilas exist today is because disciples took on different courses even though their masters had not given them caliphate or a written certification. Hadrat Imâm-i Rabbânî declared the following four centuries ago: “Travelers of this exalted way have become lonely, desolate, and they have decreased in number. Heresies having been mixed with the paths of today’s men of tarîqah (Sufi order), and thus, they having been corrupted, the great men who have been holding fast to Allah’s Messenger’s sunnah are no longer recognized. On account of this unawareness and because the majority of the travelers of this way are short-sighted, they have mixed this exalted way with heresies. Through these heresies, they have tried to win the hearts of the people. By doing so, they thought that they would mature the Islamic religion. They have been trying to demolish, lose this exalted path” (Vol. II, Letter 62).

Placing the end of the path at its beginning
What does the meaning of the statement, “In the Silsila-i ‘Aliyya, the end of the path has been placed at its beginning”?
Hadrat Imâm-i Rabbânî declared:
This path is the very path of the Ashâb-i Kirâm because those superiors, only on the first day of the suhba of our master Rasûlullah, attained to such things that the greatest Walî who would come at later times attained at the end only to a piece from those things. For this very reason, when Hadrat Wahshî, even though he previously martyred Hadrat Hamza, converted to Islam, as he was honored with the suhba of the Messenger of Allah once, he became superior to Waysal Qarânî, the highest of the Tâbi’în. Waysal Qarânî, despite having such a superior position, could not obtain, even at the last station, what fell to the lot of Hadrat Wahshî at the beginning of the suhba of Allah’s Messenger. This means to say that the best of times and centuries is the century of the Ashâb-i Kirâm. The path of our superiors is the Golden Chain. The superiority of this path over the other paths is like the superiority of the time of Ashâb-i Kirâm over the times to succeed. The superiors of this path is such people that Allahu ta’âlâ, out of His excellence and mercy, had them taste the end at the very beginning. Others cannot comprehend their degrees. The stations they have reached are considerably higher than the stations others have reached. (Vol, I, Letter 66)

Reading (reciting) Silsila-i ‘Aliyya
Is it beneficial to recite the names of the great Islamic scholars called Silsila-i ‘Aliyya?
It is highly beneficial. It provides these three benefits in particular:
1. It enables us to receive faid (the outpouring that flows from the murshid’s heart to the disciple’s heart which thus attains motion, purity, and exaltation).
2. It relieves us of our distress and anxiety. It sets us at ease.
3. It causes our needs to be met and our wishes to be granted.

The names of the superiors of Silsila-i ‘Aliyya
What are the names of the superiors of Silsila-i ‘Aliyya in order?
Their names are as follows:
1. Our master the Prophet
2. Abû Bakr-i Siddîq
3. Salmân-i Fârisî
4. Qâsim bin Muhammad
5. Jâ’far-i Sâdiq
6. Bâyazîd-i Bistâmî
7. Abul Hasan Harqânî
8. Abû Ali Farmadî
9. Yûsuf-i Hamadânî
10. Abdul Khâliq-i Gunjduwânî
11. ‘Arif-i Riwagharî
12. Mahmud-i Anjîrfaghnawî
13. ‘Ali Râmitanî
14. Muhammad Bâbâ Sammâsî
15. Sayyid Amir Ghilâl
16. Sayyid Muhammad Bahaaddîn Bukhârî
17. Alâuddîn-i Attâr
18. Ya’qub-i Charhî
19. Ubaydullah-i Ahrâr
20. Qâdi Muhammad Zâhid
21. Darwish Muhammad
22. Khâwajaghi Muhammad Amkanaghî
23. Muhammad Bâqibillah
24. Imâm-i Ahmad Rabbânî
25. Muhammad Ma’thûm Fâruqî
26. Sayfaddîn Fâruqî
27. Sayyid Nur Muhammad
28. Sayyid Mazhâr-i Jan-i Jânân
29. Sayyid ‘Abdullah Dahlawî
30. Mawlânâ Khâlid-i Baghdâdî
31. Sayyid ‘Abdullah Shamdînî
32. Sayyid Tâhâ-yi Hakkârî
33. Sayyid Muhammad Sâlih
34. Sayyid Sibghatullah-i Hizânî
35. Sayyid Fahim-i Arwâsî
36. Sayyid ‘Abdulhakîm-i Arwâsî
37. Hüseyin Hilmi Işık Effendi

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