The Ni’matullāhī Order or Ne’matollāhī Order (نعمتاللهی) (also spelled as “Nimatollahi”, “Nematollahi” or “Ni’matallahi) is a Sufi order (or tariqa) originating in Iran. According to Moojan Momen, the number of Ni’matullāhī in Iran in 1980 was estimated to be between 50,000 and 350,000. Following the emigration of Javad Nurbakhsh and other dervishes after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the tariqa has attracted numerous followers outside Iran, mostly in Europe, West Africa and North America, although the first khaniqa outside Iran was formed in San Francisco, California, United States in 1975, a few years before the revolution in Iran.
The order is named after its 14th century CE founder Shah Nimatullah (Nūr ad-Din Ni’matullāh Wali), who settled in and is buried in Mahan, Kerman Province, Iran, where his tomb is still an important pilgrimage site. Shah Ni’matallāhī was a disciple of the Qadiri Sufi ʿAbd-Allah Yefâ’î: a chain of succession of masters (silsilah) has been claimed that extends back to Maruf Karkhi.
Javad Nurbakhsh took the lead of the Ni’matullāhī Order in 1953 upon the death of his predecessor Mūnis ʿAli Shad Dhu al-Riyasetin. Javad Nurbakhsh undertook a major expansion of the order in Iran. In the 1970s visitors from the joined the order while in Iran. In 1974, Javad Nurbakhsh went to the United States and decided that there was a need to establish regular khaniqas there. In 1979, Nurbakhsh left Iran to flee the repressive government that did not appreciate alternate religious authorities. He lived in the United States until he moved to England in 1983. By the early 1990s there were nine Ni’matullāhī khaniqas in the United States. The ones in the East Coast such as Boston, New York and Washington were almost completely attended by Americans, while the ones in California were about half American and half Iranian, with members coming from diverse religious backgrounds, not restricted to Shi’i Islam.
Today, the Order has expanded to places such as Mexico, Russia, Western Africa, Spain, and Australia.
The numerous publications of the order include the bi-annual SUFI Journal. The Khaniqahi Nimatullahi also publish, in Persian, English and other languages, Dr. Nurbakhsh’s seven-volume treatment of the states and stations the Sufi path, his twelve-volume explanation of the meanings of Sufi mystical terminology and his many annotated biographies of the great historic masters of the path. Social activities of the present-day order include the establishment of clinics and medical centers in impoverished regions of West Africa, where the order has attracted numerous adherents.
- Momen, Moojan, An Introduction to Shi’i Islam, Yale University Press, 1985, p. 215
- Liyakat Nathani Takim. Shi’ism in America. (New York: New York University Press, 2009) p. 43
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