Ertan Karpazli / World Bulletin
On Wednesday, May 7, the Muslim world lost one of its most influential and widely followed spiritual leaders of this era. Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil al-Qubrusi al-Haqqani, otherwise simply known as Shaykh Nazim for short, passed away in the midday hours at the Near-East University hospital in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) capital Lefkosa (Nicosia).
In accordance with Islamic custom, no time was wasted in arranging his burial. Dozens of his followers, including both native Turkish Cypriots and followers from abroad, gathered in front of the hospital doors chanting peace and blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad as they waited eagerly to catch one last glimpse of their spiritual leader before his body was rushed to the Selimiye Mosque to perform his funeral prayer.
Emotional scenes were seen once again as hundreds of his followers gathered at the historic mosque in Lefkosa's ancient walled district to bid farewell to him. After performing the funeral prayer, his body was taken to his hometown Lefke where hundreds of his followers grieved as they buried their 92-year-old leader.
Shaykh Nazim was born in the south-eastern Cyprus in city of Iskele (Larnaca) to Turkish Cypriot parents on April 21, 1922. He was a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad on both his mother's side and his father's side. Through his father, he was also a descendent of the great 11th century saint Abdulqadir Jilani. Through his mother, he was a descendent of 13th century mystic saint Jalaluddin Rumi. Therefore, through his parents, he inherited the traditions of both the Qadiriyya and Mevlevi Sufi Orders.
Being brought up in Larnaca, he was close to the tomb of his anscentor Umm Haram, an elderly female companion of the Prophet Muhammad who passed away and was buried in the city. He would often visit and spend time with his grandfather, who was the Imam at the Hala Sultan Mosque, which was built nearby the tomb. His grandfather, Kaytazzade Mehmed Nazim Efendi, was also a famous Turkish Cypriot poet and spiritual leader.
After finishing his secondary education at the age of 18, the young Shaykh Nazim moved to Istanbul to study chemical engineering at Istanbul University. He also studied Islamic theology and Arabic with is teacher Cemalettin Elassonli. While in Istanbul, he met Shaykh Suleyman Erzurumi, who introduced Shaykh Nazim to the Naqshibandi Sufi Order. After graduating from university, Shaykh Nazim decided to go to Syria to meet Naqshibandi leader Shaykh Abdullah Fa'izi ad-Daghestani in 1945.
While in Syria, he stayed in Damascus, Aleppo and Homs, where he would continue to study the Islamic sciences under the likes of Shaykh-ul-Islam Abdul Aziz Uyun As-Suud. He remained in Syria studying under his spiritual master until 1973, when Shaykh Abdullah Fa'izi ad-Daghestani instructed him to return to Cyprus. He immediately caught the first boat back to the eastern Mediterranean island from Tripoli, Lebanon.
Prior to resettling in his homeland, Shaykh Nazim would visit Cyprus on an annual basis as of 1952, where he would stay for up to three months at a time. Cyprus, which was at that time under British occupation, was witnessing a secularization process among the Turkish Cypriots as leader Dr. Fazil Kucuk was mimicking the Kemalist reforms in Turkey.
One of the most obvious acts in the seperation of state and mosque was the banning of the Adhaan (call to prayer) in Arabic. Shaykh Nazim, unable to stand this clear violation of Islam, would defy the authorities and travel from town to town reciting the Adhaan in Arabic from the top of minarets. This resulted in his arrest and the launching of 114 cases against him. However, after Adnan Menderes came to power in Turkey, the ban on the Arabic Adhaan was lifted and Shaykh Nazim was allowed to walk free.
After Shaykh ad-Daghestani passed away in 1973, Shaykh Nazim took over as leader of the Naqshibandi Sufi Order and began to travel the world, visiting western Europe, the United States, South Africa, central Asia and the Caucasus. During his travels, he set up numerous Dergahs (lodges) and appointed Khalifahs (guardians) to help guide his followers with spiritual teachings and rituals.
Due to the 1974 war between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, which saw the island divided into the Turkish Cypriot north and the Greek Cypriot south, he was unable to return to his city of birth as Larnaca fell on the Greek side of the border. Instead, in his later years when he decided to resettle in Cyprus, he moved to the town of Lefke where he remained based at the Order's main lodge.
There he would receive visitors from all four corners of the world who would come to benefit from his insight, experience and wisdom. One of his most esteemed guests was Pope Benedict, who met with Shaykh Nazim in the UN-controlled border zone. In 2010 after the Chile mine disaster, four Chilean miners who were rescued from the collapsed mine after spending days in darkness came to visit Shaykh Nazim to embrace Islam and be initiated into the Order.
Shaykh Nazim fathered four children from his wife, the late Emine Hanim, who he married in 1941. His son Mehmet, who was based in Istanbul, is likely to take over the duty of Naqshibandi leader after his father's death. Among those praying behind the Turkish Cypriot grand mufti Talip Atalay at Shaykh Nazim's funeral prayer was Turkish Cypriot president Dervis Erdoglu, who said that Shaykh Nazim's legacy will never be forgotten.
Last Mod: 26 Haziran 2014, 11:10