The Naqshbandi Haqqani Principle of Nazar bar Qadam

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The second principle of the Naqshbandi Haqqani Sufi Order is “Watching the Step”, Nazar bar Qadam.  By this, the seeker must keep his eyes on his feet while walking.  Wherever he is about to place his feet, his eyes must be there.  He is not allowed to cast his glance about because unnecessary sights will veil the heart.  Most veils on the heart are created by the pictures which are transmitted from our eyes to our mind during our daily living.  These may disturb our heart with turbulence because of the different kinds of desire which have been imprinted on our mind.  These images are like veils on the heart.  They block the Light of the Divine Presence.  Thus, the awliya’ do not allow their muridun with hearts through constant dzikr to look at other than their feet.  Their hearts are like mirrors, reflecting and receiving every image easily.  This might distract them and bring impurities to their hearts.  The seeker is ordered to lower his gaze in order not to be assailed by the arrows of devils.

Lowering the gaze is also a sign of humility; proud and arrogant people never look at their feet.  It is also an indication that one is following the footsteps of the Prophet (s.a.w.), who when he walked never used to look right or left, but used to look only at his feet, moving steadfastly towards his destination.  It is a sign of piety when the seeker looks nowhere except towards his Lord.  Like one who intends to reach a destination quickly, so too the seeker of Allah’s (s.w.t.) Divine Presence seeks to move quickly to the Divine Presence.

Imam ar-Rabbani, Imam Ahmad Faruqi as-Sirhindi (q.s.) said, in the 295th letter of his Maktubat, “The gaze precedes the step and the step follows the gaze.  The Ascension to the high state is first by the Vision, followed by the Step.  When the Step reaches the level of the Ascension of the Gaze, then the Gaze will be lifted up to another state, to which the Step follows in its turn.  Then the Gaze will be lifted even higher and the Step will follow in its turn.  And so on until the Gaze reaches a state of Perfection to which it will pull the Step.  We say, ‘When the Step follows the Gaze, the murid has reached the state of Readiness in approaching the footsteps of the Prophet (s.a.w.).  So, the footsteps of the Prophet (s.a.w.) are considered the Origin of all steps.’”

Shaykh Sa’d ad-Din al-Kashghari (q.s.) added, “Looking upon the steps means that the seeker in coming and going looks upon the top of his feet and thereby his attention is not scattered by looking at what he should not look at.”  When the beginner's attention is taken by shapes and colours outside of himself, his state of remembering leaves him and is ruined, and he is kept from his objective.  This is because the beginner seeker does not have the power of the remembrance of the heart, so when his sight falls upon things, his heart loses its collectedness, and his mind becomes scattered.

Shah an-Naqshband (q.s.) said, “If we look at the mistakes of our friends, we will be left friendless, because no one is perfect.”

Watching our step also refers to watching circumstances, feeling when the right time for action or inaction is, and when is the right time to pause.  Some have said that Nazar bar Qadam is an expression which refers to the wisdom inherent in one’s natural disposition.  Shaykh Fakhr ad-Din al-Kashifi (q.s.) added, “Nazar bar Qadam may allude to the seekers travelling through the stages of breaking from existence and putting behind self-love.”

Of the three interpretations, the first refers to beginners’ use of this aphorism; the second refers to those in mid-progress on the Path, and the third to the Attainers.


  1. Another important principle hither ke kuther.


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