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Hazrat Safī ‘Alī Shāh II

 

Hazrat Moulānā Mahdi Sheikhbahaei Safī ‘Alī Shāh II was born as Mahdi Sheikhbahaei on the 22nd April 1947 in Isfahan, Iran. His esteemed father, Haji Agha Ali Sheikhbahaei, was a direct descendant of the mathematician, engineer and prominent Sufi Shaykh Bahā’uddīn Jabal ‘Āmilī. (Lebanon, 1532 CE – Isfahan, 1610 CE).

 

His respected mother, also originating from a distinguished Sufi family, is the granddaughter of the famous Sufis Khatun Abadi and Rozati. Five children were born of the marriage, four sons and one daughter. Hazrat Pīr is the eldest son. He grew up in the intellectual circles of Isfahan, a city famous since many centuries for its art and culture, but also as a centre of science. In world history however, the city of Isfahan has chiefly made a name as Persia’s centre of Sufism.

 

In the years 1967 and 1968, Mahdi Sheikhbahaei became acquainted with Meher Baba’s writings. The thoughts of this spritual teacher, living in India, impressed him deeply. A short time later, he met Shaykh Abbas Hadizadeh – better known as Abbas Halgheh Begush {“Abbas with the ring in his ear”}. This Shaykh of the Ne‘matollāhī Safī‘alīshāhī Sufi Order proved, at a later stage, to have played a major role in the life of our ‘God-thirsty’ murīd.

 

Shaykh Abbas Hadizadeh guided his first steps on the Sufi Path and in 1970 introduced him to Hazrat Manzūr ‘Alī Shāh, who then held the position of Shaykh of Shaykhs – Shaykh-ul-Mashāyikh – in the Order.

 

In Hazrat Manzūr, young Mahdi found the Murshid {“Spiritual Guide”} he had always been looking for, one who proved to be able to quench his spiritual thirst in a loving manner. Hazrat Manzūr introduced him to various Sufi Orders. For 15 years, his murīd followed him in total surrender. They were inseparable, and through Hazrat Manzūr’s mastership and inspiring leadership, he attained to the level of Shaykh. Their deep and loving relationship ended with Hazrat Manzūr ‘Alī Shāh’s death on 5th October 1985.

 

This was the beginning of a very sad period, during which he had to come to terms with the loss of his beloved Murshid. But in other respects too, it was a very disturbing time.

 

Hazrat Mūnes ‘Alī Shāh Isfahānī, Supreme Master of the Ne‘matollāhi Safī‘alīshāhī Sufi Order, had closed the doors of his Khāneghāh {“Sufi Gathering House”} in 1981 and had withdrawn from public life.

 

In 1988, Shaykh Sayyid ‘Alī Ashraf Sādeqī of the Qādirī Sufi Order proposed Shaykh Mahdi to open a common Khāneghāhin Isfahan. Shaykh Mahdi agreed, thus making it possible to establish a joint Khāneghāhof the Qādirī and the Ne‘matollāhī Safī‘alīshāhī Sufi Orders. The Qādirī Order authorized Shaykh Mahdi to represent their Order as well. This fruitful cooperation lasted for two years.

 

In 1989, Shaykh Mahdi travelled to America. Here, for the very first time, he guided murīds outside his native country. In 1990, he came back to Iran.

 

In 1991, after 10 years, Hazrat Mūnes ‘Alī Shāh Isfahānī broke silence and reopened his Khāneghāhin Isfahan. In 1994, in the presence of all the dervishes, Hazrat Mūnes received the inner order from Hazrat Safī ‘Alī Shāh I (1835-1899) to appoint Shaykh Mahdi as his successor and Pīr of the Ne‘matollāhī Safī‘alīshāhī Sufi Order, and name him “Safī ‘Alī Shāh II”. Everyone was requested to come to the Khāneghāh immediately, because Hazrat Mūnis had a very important announcement to make. In the presence of thousands of dervishes, Hazrat Mūnes asked Shaykh Mahdi to step forward. Then, in a loud voice, so that everyone present could hear it, he spoke about the inner order he had received from Hazrat Safī ‘Alī Shāh I the previous night. He embraced Shaykh Mahdi and said that he passed on to Shaykh Mahdi’s heart everything that was present in his own. Next, Hazrat Mūnes showed all persons present a document, written with his own hand, stating the Pīr’s qualifications. He then handed over this document to Hazrat Pīr. From that moment on, Hazrat Pīr was commissioned to head the Ne‘matollāhī Safī‘alīshāhī Sufi Order as Supreme Master under the name Hazrat Moulānā Mahdi Sheikhbahaei Safī ‘Alī Shāh II. Subsequently, the ceremony was ratified by handing over the ‘abbā’, the special cloak of succession, which the resigning Pīr hangs around the shoulders of his successor.

 

In 1997, Hazrat Pīr came to the West and in the Netherlands he established the European headquarters of the Ne‘matollāhī Safī‘alīshāhī Sufi Order. In 1998, Hazrat Pīr was invited by the late Professor Annemarie Schimmel to give a lecture at the Bonn University on the occasion of a conference on Sufism. Once a week since the beginning of 2000, Hazrat Pīr gives classes on the Mathnawī of Hazrat Moulānā Jalāluddīn Rūmī in his Khāneghāhin Rotterdam, both in Fārsī (Persian) and in Dutch. Apart from that, Hazrat Pīr is currently working on the English, Dutch and German translations of – among other things – various published, but also unpublished works of Hazrat Safī ‘Alī Shāh I.

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