Indiraj al-nihayat fi’l-bidayat meaning “Where others end, there marks our beginning”, is used in the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi order to describe a distinctive sequencing of spiritual practices. Introduced by Shaykh Baha’uddin Naqshband (r.a.) in the fourteenth century, it is a technique designed to aid in overcoming the obstacles that keep human beings from drawing near to God.
Human beings forget their Creator for two reasons. The first is because human beings are drawn to the external world. The other reason involves the human being’s egoic self, and what is to be found within it. To obtain nearness with God (ma’iyyat), it is necessary to free oneself from the slavery of both the external world and the sense of being a separate self (I-ness, which is ego). Most shaykhs first focus on freeing the seeker from the external world.
They give priority to the purification of the subtle centers of consciousness of the world of creation: the self, and the four gross elements (air, fire, water, and earth) that compose the physical human body. This journey is accomplished through rigorous spiritual practices and takes a very long time. If someone follows this path, and if something goes wrong in the long period that it takes to complete it, the seeker is not able to reach the goal.
Hazrat Khwaja Baha’uddin Naqshband (r.a.) was aware of the significant risk seekers faced when undertaking this journey. He felt that as the distance from the period of prophethood increased, seekers’ capacity and ability to traverse the spiritual path had deteriorated. Seekers no longer had the same dedication, passion, and courage. Keeping this in view, Hazrat Khwaja Baha’uddin Naqshband (r.a.) with God’s help, discovered a shorter and easier method, the inverse of the method being practiced at that time.
He focused first on the purification of the heart and then went through activating the four other subtle centers of consciousness of the world of divine command. Only then did he deal with the subtle centers of the world of creation. This is principally why this method is known as “where others end, there marks our beginning”. With this method, as discussed previously, seekers are given just a taste of the final destination in the initial stages of the journey, with the seeker only fully understanding its reality at the end. Hazrat Khwaja Baha’uddin Naqshband (r.a.) said that this method was quick and it involved neither great austerities nor great hardships, but allowed seekers a brief but sufficient survey of the path. In this way the details of the path are left for later and every effort is made to reach the final destination as quickly as possible.
Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Faruqi Sirhindi (r.a.) appeared like a sun on the firmament of guidance. He made this path of reaching the highest station one that is of greatest benefit to the most people. In taking this path to its zenith, he illuminated the world. He described the details of the world of divine command and systematized the teachings. Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Faruqi Sirhindi (r.a.) said that if seekers are engaged in detail with God’s names and attributes, their path to God is obstructed because there is no end to the names and attributes of God. Practicing this method, only those seekers completing the journey in detail can reach the final destination.
In the light of a blessed hadith – that human beings should be treated with love, and that things should be made easy rather than difficult for them, Hazrat Sayyid ‘Abdul Bari Shah (r.a.) made a number of significant changes in Mujaddidi practices. Hazrat Sayyid ‘Abdul Bari Shah (r.a.) was the spiritual axis of his time and as a renewer of religion (mujaddid) was able to introduce the principle of “where others end, there marks our beginning” to the rest of the orders with the consent of their founders. Shaykhs of some other orders also wanted to introduce this principle to their own teaching, but were not in a position to make changes. The qualities, spiritual status, and miracles of a renewer of religion, through God’s help, facilitate the opening of new paths. There is no doubt that this was a historical feat of revival in the development of Sufi training and education.