There were many signs that preceded the birth of the Grand Master which illustrated their spiritual rank amongst the Awliya.
Born into wilayat on the 28th of Saffar 1319 (Hijri Calendar), the Grand Master, Khwaja Sufi Nawabuddin was an important figure in terms of Tasawwuf in Pakistan, and it is due to his efforts and teachings that the Naqshbandi Tareeqah made its way to Europe. He was a man of great stature, immense beauty, and character that reflected the Prophetic tradition.
Even before the birth of the Grand Master , miracles were happening to signify the coming of a Great Wali of Allah ﷻ.
His birth was significant in the sense that it was predicted he was to be born, and will grow up to be amongst the Awliya. His honourable father Baba Ahmad Deen Sahib was working in the forest as usual when from out of the tall bushes creeped a lion slowly walking up to them which lowered its head at his feet and then went off in the opposite direction. This showed that even the animals were beginning to show their respect and understanding of the man who was about to come into the world.
In another account closer to the time of the Grand Master’s birth, his father, Baba Ahmad Deen Sahib , had crossed the path of a Majzoob wanderer (a wayfarer, someone who has no interest in worldly/material affairs whatsoever) passing through the forest giving glad tidings of the arrival of Baba Ahmad Deen’s son, and had said that the son will change the lives of millions of people through his spiritual teachings.
The Majzoob said:
نواب آ رہا ہے ,نواب آ رہا ہے , نواب آ رہا ہے
“Nawab is coming, Nawab is coming, Nawab is coming!”
(Nawab: A nobleman, or person of high status. Typically a male, that can also be regarded as a highly regarded prince)
As a child the Grand Master would only drink his mother’s milk before sunrise and after sunset during the months of Ramadan.
His father, Baba Ahmad Deen Sahib recognised the outstanding characteristics of the Grand Master while he was growing up. From an early age he was a beacon of Prophetic qualities, and piety. Everyone who knew of him had commented on his conduct and character, the way he carried himself had captured the hearts of many, and this had continued throughout his life as he spread the religion. He would often spend his time, even in childhood, performing extra acts of worship (Nawaafil) and Dhikr. He became known for his Dhikr of Allah ﷻ, the Most High, and it has often been said that they had planted the seeds for Dhikr to spread across Pakistan, and eventually Europe through his deputies.
When the Grand Master was 21 years of age, he joined the army and took up a role in Poona, India. After 3 years of service, he transferred to the engineering department. Whilst he was there, he met a priest who used to preach at the army camp in Quetta. The Grand Master would often engage in discussion about the two religions, and would try to invite the priest towards the way of Islam. The discussion came to the final decision that whoever could make a follower of the other religion see his own respective Prophet would be the representative of the true religion of God. The Grand Master had to take a Christian, and make him see RasoolAllah , and the priest had to take a Muslim and make him see `Isa .
The priest had sat the Muslim down, and began walking around him whilst reciting passages from the Bible. After half an hour or so, nothing had happened, so the Grand Master took his turn. He had asked the Christian man to take a bath according to Islamic guidelines, and to sit in front of the Shaykh with his eyes closed. The Grand Master began reciting verses from the Qur’an, which saw the Christian fall unconscious. After he had come round, the spectators had gathered around the Christian and began asking him what he had seen. His response was that he had been graced with the illuminated vision of Prophet Muhammad , which had led him to accept Islam. After seeing these events the priest had no choice but to accept the invitation of Khwaja Nawabuddin , and he, along with his congregation, became Muslim. The Grand Master changed his name from William Great, to Nawabuddin, naming the priest after himself.
In 1929 the Grand Master met Hazrat Hafiz Muhammad Abdul Kareem Sahib , who is commonly known as Hafiz Jee, in Rawalpindi and accepted him as his spiritual teacher. Hafiz Jee had asked the Grand Master what he did for a living, after saying he worked in the engineering department as an employee of the army, Hafiz Jee had said,
“My son, you were not born to be an employee, you were born to supervise and lead others.”
As of that point, he resigned from his duties within the army and spent the majority of his time serving Hafiz Jee . On one occasion, whilst in servitude of his blessed Shaykh, the Grand Master had received a letter from his family informing him that his son, Muhammad Zubair , had been afflicted with a serious illness, and that Khwaja Nawabuddin must return home. After reading the letter he had placed it into his pocket.
After a short amount of time, Hafiz Jee had asked the Grand Master , “Is everything okay, my son?”. Khwaja Nawabuddin knew that if he was to tell his Shaykh about the content of the letter he had received, he would have been ordered to leave, and make the journey home. But in the Grand Master’s eyes, he had left everything for the sake of serving his Shaykh, and he would continue to do so regardless of what happens. He told Hafiz Jee , “By the Grace of Allah, The Majestic, all is well.”
Sometime after the first letter, a second letter arrived for Khwaja Nawabuddin informing him that Muhammad Zubair’s illness had unfortunately worsened. Again, he had read the letter, and then placed it into his pocket.
Hafiz Jee , a second time, asked Khwaja Nawabuddin the same question, to which the same reply was given.
A matter of few days had passed, and a third letter had arrived informing the Grand Master that Muhammad Zubair had unfortunately passed away. The Shaykh had read the letter, and placed it into his pocket knowing that he would not be able to make the journey back in time to reach the funeral prayer. He would get back to Mohri only to find his son’s grave.
Hafiz Jee , for a third time, had asked the same question, to which the reply was exactly same. However, on this occasion, Hafiz Jee had asked Khwaja Nawabuddin to reveal the letters and their contents. This wasn’t to say that Hafiz Jee was not aware of what was going on, but it was so that Hafiz Jee could ask the Grand Master in regards to his reasons for staying, and not tending to the family’s needs when asked to.
In response, Khwaja Nawabuddin had said,
“O Shaykh, had I left I would have reached Mohri to find my son’s grave at which I would have made Du`a and Fatihah. If I were to leave now, or in the future, it would be exactly the same. But the building of Eidgah Sharif (the Masjid, and resting place of Hafiz Jee), and the service of the Shaykh only comes once in a lifetime.” Upon hearing this, Hafiz Jee were happy with the loyalty of Khwaja Nawabuddin, and they had informed the Grand Master, “Allah, ﷻ. the Most Generous, will favour you by bestowing you with another son. When he is born, bring him to me.”
That son of Khwaja Nawabuddin was Khwaja Muhammad Masoom , who is considered to be the 5th Qayyum of the Naqshbandi Order. A Qayyum is someone who the Naqshbandi Tareeqah relies upon for its existence at that particular time.
The Grand Master were given khilafat (permission in the Spiritual Order to train students) and was told to return to Mohri and spread the Dhikr of Allah ﷻ. When he returned to Mohri sharif he spent 10 years in the cave doing the Dhikr of Allah ﷻ in solitude. When he emerged from that cave their countenance became such, that people had the desire to repent to Allah ﷻ simply by gazing at the illuminated, and radiant face of the Grand Master .
He left this temporary abode on 12th Rabi` ul Awwal 1385AH, the 12th of July 1965 on a Monday at the age of 63 years old.