Hazrate Mahboub Ali Shah


On the sixth of Ramadan, 1417, the sixteenth of January, 1997, the twenty-seventh of Daymah, 1375, the beloved (mahbub) master of the Ni‘matullahi Gunabadi Order of Sufis passed away. He was buried beside his father in Gunabad, in accordance with his last will and testament.

In sufi books, it is said that the friends (awliya’) of God are of two sorts: first, the salik-e majdhub (the attracted wayfarer), and second, the majdhub-e salik (the wayfaring attracted one). By definition, the salik-e majdhub is one who first begins to travel the path, i.e., is a wayfarer (salik), and is then captured by God, while the majdhub-e salik is one who is captured (majdhub) by God prior to his travelling the path (suluk). Both are in love with God, but for the salik-e majdhub love increases along the path, while for the majdhub-e salik, the intensity of love carries him along the path. Based on these definitions, Moses, peace be with him, was among the former, and Jesus Christ, peace be with him, was among the latter.  Among the early sufi masters, Shaykh Junayd Baghdadi (c. 820-910) was of the former, and Bayazid Bastami (d. 874) was of the latter.  Among the modern sufi masters, Sultan Alishah Gunabadi was of the former, and his viceregent and son, Nur Alishah II, was of the latter.  There is a hadith qudsi called hadith al-nawafil according to which God says: “Unceasingly My servant approaches Me by supererogatory deeds (nawafil) and worship, until I love him, …”[1] This hadith refers to the salik-e majdhub, for it is subsequent to his works that he is captured by God. On the other hand, since the majdhub-e salik is drunk with the love of God, he is unable to pay detailed attention to his works. This is why in the Mathnavi of Jalal al-Din Rumi, Moses angrily scolds the illiterate shepherd who speaks of God in a familiar manner. Mawlavi says, “O Moses, they that know the conventions are of one sort, they whose souls and spirits burn are of another sort.”[2]

The lovers of God (muhibbin) are the salikin-e majdhub. Those who have become beloved by God (mahbubin) are the majdhubin-e salik. The Qur’an refers to the latter in the following verse:( He shall love them and they shall love Him) (5:54).

Those who are majdhub-e salik do not live to be very old, for the divine call is always beckoning them, drawing them by the attraction of divine love away from this world, so that they are killed in the way of God, as it is stated in the hadith qudsi “Whoever seeks Me, finds Me; whoever finds Me, knows Me; whoever knows Me, loves Me; whoever loves Me, I love him; and whomever I love, I kill; and whomever I kill, I Myself am his compensation (diah).”[3]

Hazrat Hajj ‘Ali Tabandeh was a majdhub-e salik, for which reason his title in the tariqah is Mahbub Alishah. He died on Thursday, January 16, 1997. He was the qutb of the Ni‘matullahi Gunabadi sufi order. The chain of authorization of this order goes through his great great great grandfather, the well known ‘arif (gnostic) and ‘alim (Muslim religious scholar) of the nineteenth century (A.H. 14th century), Hajj Mulla Sultan Muhammad Gunabadi, titled Sultan Alishah (A.H. 1251-1327/1835-1909 C.E.),[4] to Shah Ni‘matullahi Wali (A.H. 731-831/1338-1428 C.E.), and through him via Junayd Baghdadi, Sari Saqati (d. 867) and Ma‘ruf Kharkhi (d. 815) to the Shii Imams. Of the Twelve Imam Shii sufi orders, this order has the most adherents, the majority of whom are Iranian.

Hazrat Mahbub Alishah[5] was born on November 13, 1947 in Tehran, the third of five children. He attended elementary school in Gunabad, and at the same time pursued elementary Islamic studies under the local religious scholars, although his primary teacher was his father. He moved to Tehran to attend high school, then to Mashhad for a year at the university there before completing his university education at the University of Tehran, where he studied Persian literature under Prof. Sayyid Ja‘far Shahidi with an emphasis on sufi texts. His B.A. thesis is entitled The Course of Sufism through the Literature of the Sixth and Seventh Centuries A.H.. During his university study he taught Persian literature in high schools, and after graduating from the university, in accordance with the instructions of the Order to be gainfully employed, he began working as director of public relations for the Ministry of Oil, where he was employed until 1989, when he was granted retirement at his request, in accordance with his father’s orders. He married in 1977, and has two sons, Reza and Rahmatullah.

During this entire period, he was under the spiritual tutelage of his father, who gave him instructions prior to his initiation in the tariqah, such as the manner of observance of prayer, supererogatory fasting, daily reading of the Qur’an, maintanence of ritual purity, vigils, etc…

It was at the age of eighteen, prior to entering the university of Mashhad, while he was in Gunabad for the summer, that he asked his grandfather, Hajj Muhammad Hasan Salih Alishah, then qutb, to be initiated into the order. His grandfather cast him away with a stern look which so affected him that after the usual Thursday night sufi session, majlis, he told his mother what had happened and asked her to intervene on his behalf. She went to her father-in-law, who responded that it was not an appropriate time because the boy’s father was away sick in Mashhad, and because he was too young.

During his year of university studies in Mashhad, Hazrat ‘Ali Tabandeh made frequent trips to Gunabad to ask for initiation (bay‘at). Each time he was rebuked. The following summer, he asked Hajj Shaykh Sayyid Hibbatullah Jazbi[6] to intercede, to whom the qutb responded with silence. At this point, the young aspirant decided that he would stop making requests. At noon the next day, when Hazrat Salih Alishah went to make wudu,[7] he spotted the youth, who said nothing. “Why don’t you say something?” he asked him. This sentence moved the young man so deeply that he fell at the feet of his grandfather in tears and fainted. When he came to, he found himself in the company of his mother and grandmother who were crying with the profound emotion that charged the hours prior to his initiation, which took place later that night. Both his father and Shaykh Jazbi were asked by the qutb to be present in the room of initiation.

After his initiation, he went to Tehran, to continue his university studies, and he was placed in the charge of Shaykh Jazbi who was instructed to train him in Islamic studiesand spiritual wayfaring. After graduating from the university, his father ordered Shaykh Jazbi to provide him with further training in the religious sciences and in spiritual discipline. Shaykh Jazbi died in 1985, and until that time, he was under his guidance.

In A.H. 1386/1966 C.E., he made his obligatory Hajj, and in the following years he had the good fortune to make other pilgimages to Mecca. Also in 1966, his grandfather passed away, and with the succession of his father to the position of qutb, his spiritual training became more strenuous. After fifteen years of this intensive spiritual discipline, his father intended to give him permission to lead congregational prayers, but the qutb hesitated until in a dream he was told by his father, Hazrat Salih Alishah, to grant the permission to his grandson. In the dream, they were at majlis, and Hazrat Salih Alishah asked where ‘Ali was. They called him, and Hazrat Salih Alishah gave ‘Ali an aba (cloak) and told him to lead the prayer and that they would pray behind him.[8] The authorization reads as follows:

In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds, and blessings and peace with the best of His creatures, and the most noble of His people, Muhammad, the seal of the prophets, and with his twelve successors, the pleasing [to God].

The brethren in faith should beware that the dear light of my eyes, إajj ‘Ali Tabandeh—may Allah grant him success in his journey on the path of Allah and God-wariness, and may Allah keep him from calamities—is authorized from this date to convene congregational prayers, and it is appropriate for the fuqara, may Allah grant them success, everywhere to follow him [in prayer]. I beg the kind Allah to grant him and all the brethren in faith success in obedience. It is hoped that the light of my eyes will increase his own inability and need toward the throne of God, and that he will maintain his humility and modesty toward his brethren, especially the authorized ones.

15 Sha‘ban al-Mu‘azzam 1401

28 Khordad 1360

[18 June 1981]

Faqir Sultan Husayn Tabandeh Reza Alishah

[signed and signeted]

Four years later, in Ramadan 1405/1985, he was authorized by his father as shaykh, to serve through the guidance and initiation of novices. The letter of authorization is translated here:

In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Peace and blessings to our master and our prophet, Muhammad and to his pure folk .

To the honorable brethren of Ni‘matullahi Sultan Alishahi Order. The light of my eye, my dear, Hajj ‘Ali Tabandeh, God protect him and grant him success in wayfaring and in godwariness, who, according to my orders has been under the guidance of my honorable brother, Hajj Sayyid Hibatullah Jazbi, may Allah grant him pardon and grant him a central place in His paradise, to practice the training and disciplining of the soul, and for some time has been authorized to conduct congregational prayer, from this date is authorized in the initiation of the aspirants and guidance of the seekers. He should act according to the oral instructions given to him, and guide them, and consider the guidance of one of them as an act of worship. Of course, he should increase his feeling of incapability and need toward the threshold of God, and he should have perfect kindness toward his brethren, and not neglect humility and modesty. He should give priority to the previously authorized shaykhs. I have given him the title Mahbub ‘Ali. I hope that he will be granted and profit by grace through the love of ‘Ali and his great progeny, which love is our pride. Of course, the brethren should obey him and consider obedience to him as obedience to this faqir. Wa al-salam ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh.

21 Ramadan 1405 coinciding with the day of the martyrdom of Hazrat Mawla [‘Ali], peace be with him,

[corresponding to 10 June 1985].

Signed and signeted:   Faqir Sultan Husayn Tabandeh Gunabadi Reza Alishah.

 After his appointment as Shaykh he began looking after the affairs of the fuqara as required by his decree. He began to visit various cities both in and out of Iran for the purpose of the guidance of the fuqara and seekers of the path, until he gradually attained the capacity to serve as his father’s vicegerent. In a letter to Shaykh Jazbi, Hazrat Reza Alishah mentions his decision about the appointment. His father was apprehensive about appointing him as his nominated successor. One night, in Indian Kashmir, Hazrat Reza Alishah had a dream in which he saw his father and master, Hazrat Salih Alishah, asking him why he would not write the decree to nominate his son as his successor. In the dream he answered that perhaps some would oppose him, and endanger his life. His father responded that God and the Pure Imams, peace be with them, and the awliya’ and we will preserve him. This dream was like an inspiration, but still he hesitated. So, he decided to make istikharah (bibliomancy) with the Qur’an, and the following ayah was read: “And the king said, ‘Bring him to me that he may be released into my presence’ andwhen he had talked with him, he said, ‘Indeed, today you are in our presence, established and trusted.’” (12:54). Thus, after heartfelt inspirations and divine reaffirmations, he wrote the decree for his son to be his successor on the holiday of ‘Ayd al-Ghadir 1406/1986, as follows:

In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate

And He is the Guide to the Straight Path and the Upright Way

And I salute and wish peace to the aim of His creation and His most noble creature, the seal of the prophets, the best of those who have ascended to heaven to the position of dignity and selection (istifa’), our master and our prophet Muhammad Mustafa[9] (s) and to his folk and companions, the guiding Imams, lanterns in the gloom, especially to his trustee and immediate viceregent, our guardian the Commander of the Faithful, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib and the eleven Imams of his progeny, peace be with them.

To the wayfarers of the right path of Murtada[10] and the fuqara of the Ni‘matullahi Gunabadi Order, may Allah grant them success, may it no longer remain hidden and covered from them that my honorable offspring, Hajj ‘Ali Tabandeh—may Allah grant him success in wayfaring and God-wariness (taqwa) and help him—for some years now has taken several steps forward in wayfaring, and observes the manners of the pure shari‘ah and has good character, and according to some orders given by this faqir has been occupied with the spiritual jihad and meditation (muraqibah). He has satisfied this faqir, and has been authorized to lead congregational prayers and to initiate the seekers. After the spirit of this sinful faqir, Sultan Husayn Tabandeh Reza Alishah quits the bodily frame, leaves the world to join his Beloved, this dear offspring will be obligated to the service of the fuqara of the Ni‘matullahi Order, the looking after the wayfarers and the guidance of the seekers. It is hoped that this offspring will keep in mind the pleasure of God under all conditions and that his weakness and brokenness [before Allah] will grow. May he also be well mannered, humble, kind and forgiving, with the public, and with those who are bad to him, may he be forgiving, ignore their faults, and pardon them. And if someone intends to inquire and understand the truth, he should intend to remove their doubts and encourage them in accordancewith the noble verse: “and dispute with them in the best way” (16:125). He should have complete kindness and respect for the shaykhs and those authorized to lead prayers, and for each of them who renews his covenant, he should renew their authorizations. With the fuqara, also, he is to be as a father with the utmost caring, tolerance and forbearance.  In relation to the family and relatives, he is to be completely kind and well mannered, and to treat the elders with respect. Of course, I expect that the family and relatives will swiftly hurry to renew their covenants with him, and that they will not fall short in this, and also the fuqara should make their renewals as soon as possible and not fall short in this. Especially the relatives and family who have a fondness for and firm faith in their religious path should quickly make their renewals and maintain unity and agreement, and endeavor in heart and conduct to uphold the banner of faqr. I gave him, the light of my eyes, the honor of the title Mahbub Alishah. I hope that the love of the awliya’[11] and their satisfaction will be kept in mind through all situations, and that he will give directions to others to combine the precepts of the sacred shari‘ah and the manners of the tariqat of ‘Ali, which must be observed completely by the fuqara of our Order. I bid you farewell, my brethren, and I wish you peace, and I request your supplications.

And He is the Guide to the Straight Path and the Upright Way

Hazrat Reza Alishah on different occasions has reconfirmed his appointment. In the summer of 1989, when he became very ill, suffering from different ailment, at the request of the fuqara, he travelled to Sweden and Germany. In Hanover, he was confined to the hospital and was going to have an serious operation. Thus, he wrote a telegram to his successor, as follows:



To my son, Hajj ‘Ali Tabandeh, Mahbub Alishah, may Allah grant him success, God has invited me to meet him, and so, I leave you with God; after me, the guardianship of the fuqara of the Ni‘matullahi [Order] and the guidance of the seekers will be with you. The decree and further instructions will be given to you by your mother. Do not neglect the previous instructions regarding matters of the heart, good social relations, respect and kindness to the family, humility and good behavior toward the brethren and others. In all situations, observe the satisfaction of God, the great personages of the religion, and my satisfaction. Be careful about patience, tolerance and forgiveness. Give my regards to the entire family and to the fuqara in the majlis. I beg the prayers of each of them.

25 Muharram 1410,

6 Shahrivar 1368,

28 August 1989,

Faqir Sultan Husayn Tabandeh.

But before sending this telegram, his son, having heard of his father’s poor condition in the hospital, anxiously travelled to GermanyAfter he recovered from the operation, they returned to Iran, but Hazrat Reza Alishah remained very ill, and, much to his chagrin, he was not able to participate fully in all the sessions of the Order.

From the spring of 1992, the physical condition of Hazrat Reza Alishah became critical. In the following summer, his condition deteriorated to the point that he was taken against his will to the hospital. After spending a few weeks in the hospital, one day he apologized to the nurse for having caused so much trouble, and mentioned that he would be leaving the next day. The nurse was suprised to hear that a patient in such poor condition would be released from the hospital. She asked the doctor about it, but he professed complete ignorance of the matter. That night his son, Hajj ‘Ali Tabandeh, came to look after him. After the Morning Prayer, the father’s condition worsened and he began to bid his son farewell. Before the sun shines in all its glory, the sun must set and the sky darken.[13] He passed away in his beloved son’s arms. When the sun rose, Hajj ‘Ali Tabandeh remarked to it, “You have never risen on my father when he was asleep. ”[14] On Wednesday 11 Rabi‘ al-Awwal 1413, 18 September 1992, his spirit left his body and joined the Beloved.

His corpse was taken to Baydukht where an elaborate funeral was held, and he was buried in the shrine of his great grandfather beside the grave of his father, in accordance with his last will and testament. With the authorization (izn) that had been given by Hazrat Reza Alishah, Hajj ‘Ali Tabandeh became Hazrat Mahbub Alishah, the qutb and master of the Order.

Despite the short period during which he provided guidance, a period not lasting more than four years, in harmony with “the names sent down from the heavens,”[15] he became the beloved (mahbub) of the fuqara, and of his friends and enemies alike. He was so fond of God, that his body could not bear the burden of his spirit, and he anxiously awaited union with Him. He repeatedly mentioned to his intimates that his period of guidance would be short, and that in this respect he resembled his great grandfather, Hazrat NurAlishah II. The death of his father and master made him so sad that never fully recovered from it. In this way, he was like Mawlana Rumi after the murder of Shams.he was most fond of the following quatrain by Baba Tahir:

I see you in the desert when I look there,

When I gaze at the sea, I see you there,

Wherever I look, in the mountains or plains,

It is your graceful figure at which I stare

He observed the rules of shari‘ah with precision, even though he was a majdhub-e salik, which demands full attention to the love of God rather than the external aspects of religion, as was the case with Jesus (‘a) in contrast to Moses (‘a). In sessions, he used to remind the fuqara of the need to combine the rules (ahkam) of shari‘ah with the manners (adab) of tariqat, and he also emphasized this in his proclamations. However, the main topic of his discourses in the sessions with the fuqara was love. For example, when he spoke of the tragedy of Karbala, he would emphasized that Imam Husayn (‘a) was the most exalted manifestation of love;[16] and when he commented on the Qur’an, he usually spoke of the story of the love between Joseph and Zulaykha;[17] and when he requested that someone recite poetry, he preferred poetry about Layli and Majnên.[18]

He concerned himself with the problems of the furara, and would visit them often in their homes, even after the morning prayer if there were no other opportunity. In accordance with his father’s decree, he sought to uphold the banner of faqr.

Despite lack of free time for this purpose, he was especially fond of studying the works of the sufis. He himself has written books and delivered lectures in the sessions and on occassions such as the memorial services of ‘Ashura for the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (‘a), some of which have been published. The most important of his works are the following.

         {   Khorshid-e Tabandeh (The Radient Sun: A Biography of Hazrat Reza Alishah) (Tehran: Haqiqat, 1373/1994).

      { Zuhur al-Ishq al-A‘la (The Most Exalted Manifestation of Love: A lecture given on the occasion of Ashura a.H. 1416) (Tehran: Haqiqat, 1374/1995).

         {   ‘Ahd Ilahi (The Divine Covenant: Two lectures given on the occasion of ‘Ashura a.H. 1414, 1417) (Tehran: Haqiqat, 1376/1997).

         {   Hudur-e Qalb (Presence of the Heart: On the rememberance of God in the heart), (unpublished).

         {   Risaleh dar Jabr wa Tafwid (An Essay on Determinism and Free Will) (unpublished).

Since he knew that his life would not last long, at the very start of his vicegerency, he appointed his uncle, Hajj Dr. Nur ‘Ali Tabandeh to be his successor, with the spiritual title Majdhub Alishah. Hajj Dr. Nur ‘Ali Tabandeh was known to be advanced in both the exterior and interior aspects of the way and he was the constant consultant of his father and himself. Therefore, he wrote the decree of appointment on the fortieth day after the passing away of Hazrat Reza Alishah, although he did not make it public at that time. The text of the decree is as follows:

In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate, and He is the Guide to the upright religion and the straight path.

Praise be to Allah, the Maker of a vicegerent on the earth,[19] and blessing and pleace to the best of His creatures and His beloved, Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah (s), and to His vicegerents and inheritors until the raising of the Day of Judgment.

This is to inform all the brethren in faith and seekers of the way (may Allah grant them success) that in these days of the time of the occultation (ghaybah)[20] in which the affair of guidance toward the clear religion and initiation of the novices (dastgiri-ye talibin) into the true Radawiyyah Ni‘matullahiyyah Sultan Alishahi Way, has reached this faqir ila Allah (poor unto God), Hajj ‘Ali Tabandeh, Mahbub Alishah (may Allah forgive his sins and cover his faults) from hand to hand, from soul to soul, and I have been appointed to be in the service of the fuqara and to guide the servants of God by the great Mawlana, my physical and spiritual father, Hazrat Aqa-ye Hajj Sultan Husayn Tabandeh Gunabadi, Reza Alishah (may his grave be purified), according to his testament and decree. Since this firm divine chain and rope is unbreakable, and will not be cut off until the day of resurrection, after this faqir, the guiding and leading of the wayfarers should be entrusted to my honorable uncle, Hajj Dr. Nur ‘Ali Tabandeh, who has been struggling in wayfaring toward Allah for some time now, and has reached the stages of poverty (faqr) and annihilation (fana), has pleased my exalted grandfather, Hazrat Aqa-ye Salih Alishah and my high ranking father Aqa-ye Reza Alishah (may Allah sanctify their spirits), and has found a pure breast and ample heart. I honored this great man (may Allah extend His hand to him) in tariqat with the title Majdhub Alishah, and since this was through divine inspiration, I did not consider it permissible to delay it. When this faqir has been freed from the bounds and troubles of the corporeal body, and I have submitted my spirit (jan) to the Beloved (janan), the shaykhs should renew their covenant and obey him. The fuqara, too, are to renew their covenants, should not consider it permissible to delay this, and should obey him. In all matter, his pleasure should be considered as that of this faqir. And peace be with those who follow the guidance,[21] and avoid transgression and ruin.

Dated Tuesday, 22 Rabi‘ al-Thani 1413,

equivalent to 28 Mehr 1371,  (1992) corresponding to the fortieth day after the passing away of the great Mawlana, Hazrat Aqa-ye Reza Alishah, may his spirit be sanctified,

Faqir Hajj ‘Ali Tabandeh, Mahbub Alishah

[signed and signeted]

During the period while Hazrat Mahbub Alishah was qutb, he taught the fuqara to value their faqr and to put it into practice in their daily lives. For this reason, he wrote various proclamations on different occasions, including the previously mentioned proclamation of twelve points on the occassion of ‘Ashura in 1995. He considered this day to be exemplary, because on this day Imam Husayn and his followers, as perfect wayfarers, gave their lives to Allah.[22]

Four years passed since the passing away of his beloved father, and day after day the pain of separation and keeness for union increased.

Listen to this reed, for it complains.

It tells of separations.

I want a breast torn asunder by partings,

So that I can tell it of the pain of longing.[23]

In the beginning of the winter of 1996, because of his illnesses, and at the request of the fuqara outside Iran, he went to Germany for treatment. This journey took three weeks, and in the last meeting with the fuqara in Germany he said good-bye to them in a strange way, which seemed to signify his leaving Germany and returning to his homeland in Iran, but really meant much more.

This homeland is not Egypt, Syria nor Iraq,

This homeland is a place without a name.[24]

He returned to Tehran before the beginning of Ramadan. In the last Friday morning session before Ramadan, he said to the fuqara, “This is the last Friday that I am coming to the session.” Those present thought that he was referring to the fact that there are no Friday morning sessions during Ramadan.

A few weeks before his death he gave a sealed envelope to one of the fuqara to be opened upon the event of his death. The envelope contained six telegrams with instructions that they be sent to his shaykhs, in which he informs them of his death and tells them to renew their covenants with Hazrat Majdhub Alishah. Among these telegrams are the following:

Hu Allah

Dubay, the United Arab Emirates


Honorable Brother, Aqa-ye Hajj Mir Mutalib Mirza’i Mushtaq ‘Ali,

He [God] has summoned this faqir, so, the guardianship of the fuqara is being turned over by Allah to my honorable uncle, respected scholar (‘alim), the great ‘arif, Hajj Dr. Nur ‘Ali Tabandeh, Majdhub Alishah. Your duty is to renew your covenant with him and to obey him. His rejection and acceptance is to be considered as that of this faqir. I bid farewell to you and to all the fuqara, and insist on your obedience to Hazrat Majdhub Alishah.

Wa al-salam.

Faqir ‘Ali Tabandeh, Mahbub Alishah





Honorable brother, Shams al-Din Ha’iri, Irshad ‘Ali,

God has sought me to meet Him. Your duty is to turn to this faqir’s vicegerent and successor, my honorable uncle, Dr. Nur ‘Ali Tabandeh, may Allah keep him. Renew your covenant and obey him. His rejection and acceptance is to be considered as that of this faqir. Send my regards to all the fuqara and ask their pardon. Finally, I insist on your obedience to Dr. Nur ‘Ali Tabandeh, Majdhub Alishah.

Faqir ‘Ali Tabandeh, Mahbub Alishah

Hu Allah



Honorable brother, Sayyid Ahmad Shari‘at, Fayd ‘Ali, may Allah keep him,

I have chosen the companionship of my high ranking father and ancestors. Since this chain is unbreakable, by divine inspiration I am turning over the trouble of the guardianship of the fuqara to my learned uncle, the ‘arif, Dr. Nur ‘Ali Tabandeh, Majdhub Alishah, may Allah lengthen his noble shadow. You are to renew your covenant immediately. Turning away from the command of that great man is arrogance before God. I leave you and the rest of the fuqara to the Exalted God and Hazrat Majdhub Alishah. Of course, in this regard, a separate decree has been written, which will be announced at the required time.

Faqir ‘Ali Tabandeh, Mahbub Alishah, may Allah forgive him.

From the beginning of Ramadan, his physical condition deteriorated. The day before his death, he said that he had been unable to sleep for a few days, yet he was fasting. During the sahar[25] of the sixth of Ramadan, he phoned his aunt in Baydukht and said to her that he was coming there. During these days he was like a guest invited to a feast and was waiting to go there. He was invited to the feast of Allah. According to the sufis, fasting has various stages the highest stage of which is fasting from one’s being, and the breaking of this fast is the divine encounter at the feast of Allah.

He passed away on the morning of Thursday, 6 Ramadan A.H.L. 1417, 16 January 1997. He died when his corporeal heart stopped, and the dove of his spirit was released from the cage of his body.

I am the dove from the garden of heaven, I do not come from the world of earth.

For several days a cage was made of my body.

Happy the day that I take flight to the bosom of the Friend,

Now I beat my wings in hope of reaching His lane.[26]

[1] This hadith has been narrated in various sources, including the Shii, ‘Awili al-La’ali, by Ibn Abi Jumhur Ahsa’i (A.H. 838-c. 901)Vol. 4, p. 103:  “Unceasingly My servant approaches Me by supererogatory deeds (nawifil) and worship, until I love him, and when I love him, I become his ear by which he hears, and his eye by which he sees, and his tongue by which he speaks, and his hand by which he seizes, and his foot by which he walks.”

[2] The Mathnawi of Jalilu’ddin Rumi, tr. Reynold A. Nicholson (London: Gibb Memorial Trust, 1977), translation volume 1, II/1764, p. 312.

[3] Hazrat Mahbub ‘Alishih liked this hadith very much, and mentioned it frequently in his speeches, for example in his book, Zuhur al-‘Ishq al-A‘li (Tehran: Haqiqat, 1374/1995), p. 24.

[4] His detailed biography, Nibiqah-ye ‘Ilm va ‘Irfin (The Genius of Knowledge and Gnosis), was written by his great grandson, Hazrat Ridi ‘Alishih, second edition, (Tehran: 1350/1971). The Order is called Gunibidi because Hazrat Sultin ‘Alishih was born in the city of Gunibid in northeast Iran’s Khurasin provence.

[5] There are two biographies of him in Farsi, one of which has been published as an appendix to Mahbub ‘Alishih’s Khorshid-e Tibandeh, second edition, (Tehran: Haqiqat, 1377/1998) by Muhammad Husayn Khubrahfarshchi. The other was published as an appendix to Mahbub ‘Alishih’s Ahd-e Ilihi (Tehran: Haqiqat, 1376/1997) by Shahrim Pizouki

[6] Hijj Shaykh Sayyid Hibbatullah Jazbi was one of the great scholars and shaykhs of the Order, born in 1895 in Isfahan, died in 1985 in Tehran. His biography is given in Risileh-ye Jazbiyeh, ed., Sayyid ‘Ali Reza Jazbi, 2nd ed., (Isfahan: 1999).

[7] The minor ablution prescribed by Islam is called wudu. It is required for the performance of the ritual prayer of Islam, and members of the Order are instructed to be constantly in a state of wudu.

[8] Haèrat Ridi ‘Alishih describes this dream in an unpublished miscellany called Kashkul-e Tibandeh, ms. p. 240.

[9] This title, from the same root as istifi’ means the chosen one, the one selected [by God].

[10] This is the spiritual title of the first Imim, it means one who is pleasing to God.

[11] The word awliyi’ is the plural of wali, friend or guardian, and it refers to the saintly personages of Islam, especially the Imams and the spiritual guides.

[12] Hu is the third person masculine singular pronoun in Arabic. It is used to refer to God. The number 121 below Hu, according to the abjad system of assigning numerical values to the letters of the Arabic alphabet, is the numerical value for “Yi ‘Ali!” (O ‘Ali!). The Shi‘ite Sufis, particularly the Gunibidis, put Hu, 121, at the head of their letters.

[13] The family name of Hazrat Reza Alishah, Tabandeh, is the Persian word for the shining of the sun.

[14] Similar words were spoken by Imam Hasan (‘a) when his father, Imam ‘Ali (‘a) was killed.

[15] This is a well-known saying in Islamic culture that may originate from a hadith.

[16] This is also the title of one of his published lectures, Zuhur al-Ishq al-A‘li.

[17] See the twelfth surah of the Qur’in.

[18] Two famous lovers about which a wealth of Persian poetry has been written, by Nizimi, Jimi and many others.

[19] See Qur’in (2:30).

[20] This refers to the major occultation of the Twelfth Imam (‘a).

[21] See Qur’in (20:47)

[22] According to the Glorious Qur’in: (Allah has raised the strivers with their wealth and lives in rank above those sitting) (4:95).

[23] These are the first two verses of the Mathnavi of Mawlini Rumi.

[24] This couplet is from Shaykh Bahi’i.

[25] This is the precious time prior to the dawn (on average about one and a half hours), about which the sufis say that the gates of heaven are opened for the effusion of God’s grace. The fuqari have been instructed to remain awake during this period.

[26] These lines have been attributed to Mawlavi Jalil al-Din Rumi, Jadhabit Illihiyyah: A Selection from the Ghaziliyit-e Shams, ed., Shaykh Asadallah Izadgoshasp, (Tehran: 1999), p. 240.




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