40 steps to Shakhi Zinda

Mawlana Shaykh Mohammed Adil q in het Shah-i-Zinda Complex in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Legend about Uzbekistan

By the ancient legend, the Lord allotted lands of the created world to all nations. Being kind and friendly, Uzbek made the way for everyone in the crowd: “Please, pass. Markhamat.”

When, finally, it was his turn, the Lord said to him: “My son, you came too late. I have already finished the allotment of lands. Where were you before?” Uzbek bowed to the Heavenly Father and, laying his hand on his chest, said,” Oh, our Creator! You taught me to be always merciful and to love neighbors. And I, the servant of God, gave the way to everyone who wished to go forward and therefore I am the last who appeared before your eyes”.

Face of God brightened up and pure smile lit up his face. He said: “My son, Uzbek! You turned out a truly generous person with pure soul. And now I am going to give you land that I left for myself and which is like a paradise.”

So the Creator of Heaven and Earth gave Uzbek the land which was between two large rivers, flowing from the mountains. The name of this land is Uzbekistan.

Legend of Leopard: The Samarkand Symbol

“By a legend, when Samarkand was built, a palyang-leopard came down from the Zerafshan mountains. The leopard roamed about the streets, approved buildings and came back to the mountains. Since that time Samarkand residents were called leopards. And all Samarkand’s flags and arms had an image of the leopard.” This legend is told by Abu-Sand Abdu-Rakhman Ibn Muhammad Idris.

Indeed, in Samarkand there are a lot of monuments featuring images of leopard or lion as a symbol of the greatness and power of Samarkand people. The symbol of leopard can be found not only in the architecture, but also in the handicrafts and national currency.

The most famous images of leopards are made on the portal of the Sherdor Madrassah. “Sher” in Persian means “a lion”. They say that the symbol of the lion was brought by Iranians, but during the Arab and Turkic periods it was changed to the leopard. Since that time it represents the power and strength of Great Samarkand.

40 steps to Shakhi Zinda

When one passes under the entrance portal of Shakhi Zinda, he finds himself in the world of legends and mysteries. The complex of Shakhi Zinda starts with stairs consisting of 40 steps, which represent the path of repentance and prayer. These stairs are cloaked in many legends and myths, which are still alive in the hearts of people. Every visitor of Shakhi Zinda, whether believer or tourist, always starts counting stairs both on the way up and way down. The legend says when the number of stairs matches on the both ways, the person can be considered free from sin. Therefore today you can see here many visitors, diligently counting stairs. But not many people know that this spiritual tradition has deeper roots.

In the Middle Ages the Mashad of Kussama was a place of pilgrimage, a kind of Central-Asian Mecca. During this period, the stairs appeared in the mausoleum. It was a symbol of the great transformation of the human spirit. Pilgrims had to recite verses from the Koran and think about God at each step of the stairs. Someone made the same way in his heart, sitting under the roof of aivan at the foot of the stairs. And only on the 40th day, the believer climbed the stairs, leading to the top mosque and the main mausoleum of the complex.

All this happened at the daytime. At night, the pilgrims were replaced by Muslim mystics, the Sufis, who sang their songs concentrated on the mentioning of Allah. Depending on the theological school, which they followed, these rites were silent or loud.

There is a legend about the 40-day prayer service held by the spiritual leader of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order Bahauddin Naqshbandi. Every day, praying for God and rising up step by step, he soon reached the upper step. At the same moment he saw a rider on a white horse, rapidly approaching him. For a moment the Sufi thought that he would be trampled to death by the horse but the rider, peering at the face of the master, suddenly stopped his horse and asked the Great Sufi about something.

Amazed pilgrims, who watched the incident from downstairs, saw that after ending the conversation the unknown rider turned his horse around and disappeared as suddenly as appeared. According to the legend, the rider was Kussama Ibn Abbas himself, who decided to test the great master at the peak of his Travel.

After that, the mausoleum had attracted much more pilgrims who performed their prayers in the night from Thursday to Friday. They chanted prayers that echoed through the ancient domes and arches.

Maqam Prophet Muhammad’s uncle, Kussama ibn Abbas

Legends of Shahi-Zinda

History of Shakhi Zinda has always raised a lot of questions. This monument is cloaked in mysteries and legends, most of which belong to the name of the complex: “The Living King”. All this is related with the name of the Prophet Muhammad’s uncle, Kussama ibn Abbas. There are several legends about his death.

Maqam of Hadrat Qussam ibn Abbas

The most popular legend states that during the battle with the heathens Kussama Ibn Abbas was mortally wounded. Some legends say he was beheaded, others say it was a wound by an arrow. But they all agree on the fact that during the battle the spirit of the Saint Hazrat Hyzr came down to the mortally wounded Kussama ibn Abbas and helped him escape from the battlefield. Hazrat Hyzr placed Kussama ibn Abbas in the well of Shaaban, where he, having drunk the water of life, recovered and became immortal. Hence the name Shakhi Zinda: “The Living King”.

After seven centuries, Tamerlane decided to visit the holy places in Samarkand, returning from a trip. When he came to the well, in which Shakhi Zinda had disappeared, he was overcome by doubts. He turned to his suite and said: “I’ve read in history books, and all people know that Shahi-Zinda has hidden in the well, when he was pursued by insurgent Samarkand people, and that he is alive and resides in the well. I want to know whether it is true or Shakhi Zinda has already dead.”

And his suite told him:
-Sir, no one but God can know this secret. It is impossible to say whether Shakhi Zinda is alive or dead at the present time, not seeing him with your own eyes.

Then a nobleman said:
– Great sir, I’ve read in a book that Shakhi Zinda will be in prayer in this well until a new messiah comes back to the Earth. Then Shakhi Zinda would come out of the well and appear to the people. But Timur did not believe to his suite. He called volunteers and promised a reward to those who would go down into the well and check whether the Living King resided in the well. He promised vast wealth those who would go down into the well, but no one wanted to risk his life, as the legends talked about a fire-breathing dragon that guarded the entrance to the well. Only one person whose name was Hida offered to go down. Hida was a brave soldier and had a tremendous force. He was tempted by the great wealth and honors, appeared before the emperor and said that he would come down into the well.

Hida tied a rope around his waist and began to descend into the well. At first he saw nothing at the bottom, but Hida was a clever soldier and had seen a lot in his life. He sat down and closed his eyes and then suddenly opened them and saw the light in the well. In the depths of the well he saw the cave and without hesitation went in. He saw an extraordinary picture: a palace faced with precious stones. The palace had sufas on each four sides and its facade looked like it was plastered with molten gold. On each side of the palace there were thrones in each sufa, adorned with precious stones. Hida was fascinated with incomparable beauty of the palace.

He had gone all over many countries, had seen a lot of different rarities, had heard many wonders, but nothing like this palace he had not even dreamed of. However, much as he went around and looked everywhere, nobody came and there was no sign of a man. Hida entered the palace, but it was also empty. Hida went through the palace, and, finally, opening a door, entered into a huge beautiful garden. It was the Garden of Eden. Hida decided to try the fruit on the trees, but suddenly a terrible voice stopped him and Hida ran like a deer away. He found himself in the meadow and saw three old men. They were surrounded by a crowd of people in white and green robes. Hida asked a man, standing next to him: Taksyr (Mister), who is this great man, shedding the light around him and those two noble old men, who sit with him?

The man replied: You should know, the servant of God, that the man, sitting in the center is Shakhi Zinda Kussam ibn Abbas with the Prophet Hyzr on the right and the Prophet Ilias on the left. People, whom you see here, are the souls of future people and the souls of dead sinless people. The first people are in white clothes, others in green. All of them come here every day to worship and serve the Hazrat (holy) Shakhi Zinda, and then fly away on those horses that you see to the right and left, to the east and west, around the world.

At that moment Shakhi Zinda noticed Hida. Hida frightened and fell to the ground. Shakhi Zinda said with anger in his voice: “Servant of God, you made ​​a daring attempt of going down into the well and appearing before the souls of sinless people. Aren’t you afraid to anger me with your visit? Don’t you know that on my order they can make you a member of the permanent world, bring in a primitive, pre-Earth form? If I do this, I will get rid of other impudent people who may also wish to descend into the well and to visit the kingdom of pure souls to satisfy their curiosity.”

Hida began justifying himself in fear: “Oh Hazrat, do not punish me. I descended into the well not of my free will. A great ruler Amir Temur came to the world. He has already won half of the world and wants to take over all the Earth. He sent me here by force. How could I disobey him?”

But Shakhi Zinda replied that Timur did not force him to descend into the well and that Hida came here only because of his own greed. And he added that he would let Hida go, but he had to keep mum about what he had seen, otherwise he would become blind, and all his descendants would also be blind. Timur would also pay for his impudence. He would never conquer China.

When Hida came back to Timur, he asked Hida about Shakhi Zinda. Hida fell to his knees and asked him not to demand the answer, otherwise he and his descendants would go blind. Temur promised to reward Hida and his descendants any lands and vast riches for life. Then Hida said Temur about what he saw, following which two tears rolled out of his eyes and he became blind. And all his descendants were born blind. So the first part of the prophecy came true. About Timur: it is known from history that during the trip to China, the great commander died in Otrar, and did not win that state. The second part of the prophecy of Shakhi Zinda came true too…

  • Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Adil ق visiting the resting place of Shaykh Ubaydullah al-Ahrar

Nassiruddin Ubaidullah Ahrar (1404-1490 AD) (in Persian: ناصرالدین عبیدالله احرار) more popularly known as Khwaja Ahrar (in Persian: خواجه احرار) was a HanafiMaturidi[1] member of the Golden Chain of the Naqshbandi Sufi spiritual order of Central Asia. He was born in Samarkand, a Persian city in Central Asia,[2] to a religious and devout muslim family. He was born to Khwaja Mehmood Shashi bin Khwaja Shihabuddin. His forefathers had migrated from Baghdad and his lineage connected to Abu Bakr Siddique from his paternal side and Umar Farooq from the maternal side.[3][4] Khwaja Ahrar was deeply involved in the social, political and economics activities of Transaxonia. He was a born into a relatively poor yet highly spiritual family and at the age of maturity he was probably the richest person in the kingdom.[5] He was a close associate of all the leading dervishes of the time. Maulana Abdur Rahman Jami was a disciple of his.[6][7] He learned and practiced the secrets of spirituality under his father and later under Khwaja Yaqub Charkhi. Read more here

Khwaja Ahrar took his spiritual bayah (spiritual oath) from Yaqub al-Charkh. He had many disciple but the most famous was the famous sufi poet Mawlana Abdur Rahman Jami. Maulana Jami wrote a book dedicated to Ahrar which is called Tuhfa tul Ahrar and Khwaja Ahrar is also mention in Jami’s most famous work Yusuf and Zulekha.[23] Khwaja Ahrar is also known to have negotiated peace many times.[24] His spiritual disciples are recorded to have shown extremely high etiquettes and morals in his presence.[25]

Famous quotes

“Everyone enters through a different door; I entered this Spiritual Order through the door of service.”[26]

“Love and follow Lovers. Then you will be like them and their love will reflect on you.”[27]

“Sufism requires you to carry everyone’s burdens and not to put yours on anyone.”[28]

Khawaja Ubaydullah Ahrar (Q.S)

Dastoor, yaa RijaalAllah! Don’t do anything without dastoor, permission. Ask for dastoor. Dastoor is the grant of those who possess spiritual power, it is Allah Almighty’s grant to them through our Prophet ﷺ. When we say “dastoor,” there is noor that we will receive from him.

Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Nazim al Haqqani (Q.S)

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