The Naqshbandi order stems from the Silsilah Khwajagan, which originally developed in Turkestan. The best known Shaykhs of the Khwajagan were Khwajah Ahmed Yasawi (r.a.) (d. about 1167 C.E.), a native of Sayram in Kazakhstan and Khwajah ‘Abdul al-Khaliq Ghujdawani of Bukhara (r.a) (d. 1179). The latter was responsible for coining certain terms with technical and spiritual meanings which are still in active use within the Naqshbandi tariqah to this day. He also made the teachings of the order accessible and relevant to the people of his era.
The Naqshbandi tariqa takes its name from Khwaja Baha’uddin Naqshband Bukhari (r.a.) (d. 1389 C.E.), a very prominent Sufi Shaykh who continued the tradition of making the spiritual teachings and practices of Sufism more applicable to the changing times in which he lived. Khwaja Baha’uddin Naqshband was the student, and later the khalifa (successor) of Amir Kulal. However, he also received instruction from the ruhaniya (or spiritual being) of Khwajah Abdul Khaliq Ghujdawani, who gave Baha’uddin Naqshband the practise of silent dhikr.
The Naqshbandi tariqah is notable in being the only Sufi tariqah which traces its lineage to Prophet Muhammad (saw) through Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (ra), the first Caliph. All other sufi tariqahs trace their lineage through Ali ibn Abu-Talib (ra), who became the fourth Caliph of Islam.