Hazrat Nizamuddin Awlia{Ra}

INTRODUCTION

“In Allah’s garden you gather roses,
Being drunk with divine mysteries:
Hazrat Mehboob-e-Elahi — the beloved of Allah,
O, how I long for the attar of your company

Hazrat Nizamuddin Awlia {ra}(d. 1325 A.D.) represents in many ways the pinnacle of the Chishti Order of the Sufis. Hazrat Baba Farid{ra}, his spiritual guide, said to him on appointing him as his successor: “Be like a big tree, so that Allah’s creation, the human beings in their vast multitudes, may find rest and solace under your shadow.” This partly explains why he admitted so many (according to some, including Barani, too many) men into the Chishti order as his disciples. Another reason has been clearly formulated in this way: “History, nonetheless, bears out the wisdom of his open-ended policy . . . To far-flung areas of Uttar Pradesh, Rajastan, Gujarat, Bihar, Bengal and the Deccan, Hazrat Nizamuddin Awlia{ra} sent able disciples well versed in the Chishti practices, yet sensitive to the needs of the local populace.”

With regard to the Sufi path, Hazrat Nizamuddin Awlia{ra} taught the following: “For a dervish, three things are necessary. They all begin with an ‘ain’ (an Arabic letter), i.e., Ishq (love), Aql (intelligence) and Ilm (knowledge). Let us discuss these three qualities one by one.

Sufism is, in its essence, the way of love. Love is considered to be a spiritual alchemy by means of which the baser qualities of a human being are transformed into higher ones. In this respect it suffices to say that Hazrat Nizamuddin Awlia{ra} is known as Mehboob-e-Elahi, the beloved of Allah. Of course the spiritual status of a beloved is much higher than that of a lover.

‘Intelligence’ changed in the hands of Hazrat Nizamuddin Awlia {ra} into wisdom. His wisdom manifested itself in the shape of service to humanity. About him it has been said: “He was not a miracle-monger of the ordinary sort. He never flew in the air or walked on water with dry and motionless feet. His greatness was the greatness of a loving heart; his miracles were the miracles of a deeply sympathetic soul. He could read a man’s inner heart by a glance at his face and spoke the words that brought consolation to a tortured heart.”

About ‘knowledge’, the third faculty of a dervish, it can be said that Hazrat Nizamuddin Awlia{ra} was one of the greatest scholars
of his day. He wanted to become a Qazi, but gave it all up in his pursuit of inner knowledge. After becoming a Mureed (spiritual disciple) of Hazrat Baba Farid, he lived in extremely poor circumstances. Seeing him, a former friend expressed great surprise as he remembered Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia{ra} as one who had begun a very promising career as a scholar. When Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia told all of this to Hazrat Baba Farid, his murshid (spiritual guide) suggested that he should recite the following couplet to his friend:

You are not my fellow traveller.
Tread your own path
May you be affluent.
And I downtrodden.

Then Hazrat Baba Farid ordered him to take a tray of food from the kitchen and carry it on his head to his friend. After doing so, he recited the verse. This deeply moved his friend.

One day, someone told a story of a certain saint who expired while slowly repeating the name of Allah. The eyes of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia, who was listening to this story, filled with tears and he recited this quatrain:

I come running to the end of Your street,
Tears are washing and washing my cheek.
Union with You — what else can I seek?
My soul I surrender as Your name I repeat.

Early Years

After leaving their homeland the city of Bokhara, the paternal grandfather of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia — Khwaja Ali — and the maternal grandfather of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia — Khwaja Arab — along with their family, came to India. At first they lived in Lahore, but later they took up their residence in Badayun (East of Delhi). Khwaja Arab married his daughter Bibi Zulaitaikha to Khwaja Ali’s son Khwaja Ahmad.

The birth of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia{ra} took place on the last Wednesday of the month of Safar, i.e., the 27th of Safar 636 A.H. (1238 A.D.) Up to this day, his birthday celebration takes place. His shrine is bathed and the water thereof is distributed among the visitors.

Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia’s father expired when Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia was five years old. His mother brought him to a school where he learned to recite the holy Qur’an. In a short time he mastered the seven ways of recitation of the holy Qur’an. Then he studied Arabic grammar, Ahadith (traditions of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him), commentary of the Qur’an and logic. At the age of twelve, he received the “turban of excellency.” He was so sharp-witted, wise and understanding that he was given the title “Debater, capable of defeating the congregation.” He became distinguished in the science of Tafsir (commentary on the Qur’an), in the knowledge of Ahadith, in Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), mathematics and astronomy. Khwaja Shamsul Malik was among his most learned teachers. He received a testimony of knowledge of Ahadith from Maulana Kamaluddin. (2)

Although in that period, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia used to sit among the ulama (the scholars of Islam), he was more interested in the inner life. He often used to say: “In the days of youth, I used to live in the company of the ulama, but in my heart the thought used to come that I should go away from their company and turn my face to the Divine Teacher.” (3)

Baba Farid{ra}

One day a certain Qawwal (Sufi musician), with the name of Abu Bakr, came from Multan (Pakistan) to Hazrat Nizamuddin’s teacher. The teacher asked for information about the Sufi Sheikhs of Multan. Abu Bakr answered thus: “I have lived in the company of Hazrat Sheikh Bahauddin Zakaria of Multan and I have sung mystical couplets for him. In his Khanqah (Sufi monastery) the worship of Allah is very devoted, so much so that even the girls who knead the flour, while doing so, are occupied with the Zikr (remembrance of Allah). From there I went to Ajodhan (the present Pak Pattan in Pakistan). There I got the privilege of meeting Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Gang-e-Shakar,” That sovereign of love of God has conquered the world and the light of his moon has illuminated that area.”

“When I heard these words of praise in regard to Baba Fariduddin Ganj-e-Shakar,” Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia says, I developed a sudden and intense love for him and I began to repeat his name after every Namaz (prayer).”

The Qawwal had started his concert with this line: “The living serpent of love has bitten my heart.” But then Abu Bakr could not recollect the second line. Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia helped him to do so, and seeing this, the Qawwal became very attentive towards him. From that day, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia became very much attached to Baba Farid.

Coming to Delhi

“When my eighteenth year began,” Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia tells, “I travelled from Badayun to Delhi.” Musamma Ayuz accompanied him in this journey. Ayuz was a staunch believer in the spiritual greatness of Baba Farid. Whenever he saw the slightest danger because of robbers or wild beasts, he would cry out: “O, Pir! Come! I need your protection.” “I asked him the name of that Pir and Ayuz said: “It is the one who has caught your heart and got you enamoured,” meaning Baba Farid. Thus from that day my faith in the Sheikh increased.”

“When in Delhi, I stayed by chance near Hazrat Baba Fariduddin’s brother and caliph Hazrat Sheikh Najibuddin Mutawakkil. My mother and sister were also with me. We rented a house in the neighbourhood of the great Sheikh, whose company was very valuable to me. In his presence, the qualities of Baba Fariduddin Ganj-e-Shakar used to be described. On hearing them, I felt the desire of kissing his feet. For approximately three years I stayed in Delhi.” (4)

Death

After an illness of about four months he expired in 725 A.H. (1324 A.D.) and realized seclusion (i.e., was buried) in Ghiyaspur. The locality is named after him today.

Karamat

Once Sultan Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah asked Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia {ra}to come to him on the last day of every month. Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia responded: “It is against the tradition of my sheikhs. I will never go to meet the king.” His friends advised him to turn for help to his Sheikh Baba Farid{ra}, so that the problem would be solved. Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia refused to do so, saying: “The tasks of religion alone are many. I feel ashamed to give pain to the Sheikh for a worldly affair.” He then said: “The king will not be victorious over me for I have had a certain dream. I saw that an animal with horns was attacking me. Upon it coming closer, I took hold of its horns and threw the animal on the earth in such a way that it was killed.” That day, after the noon prayers, he declined to visit the king. When two hours of the day remained, he was asked again to visit the king. He gave no reply. But it so happened that upon that very night, the king was murdered by a certain Khusru Khan. (9)

Another Sultan by the name of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, wanted Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia{ra} to leave Ghiyaspur before the Sultan’s visit to Delhi. Hazrat Nizamuddin Awlia{ra}, was saddened by this and remarked: “Delhi is still far away.” Then just before the arrival of the king in Delhi, the palace of Tughlaqabad fell upon him and he was killed. (10)

Sultan Alauddin had the fear in his heart that Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia{ra} wished to rule the kingdom himself and that he was only waiting for the proper time and chance to overthrow him. As a test, he sent some complicated matters related to state affairs to Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia{ra} and asked for its solution. Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia reacted thus: “What have the dervishes, seated on rugs, to do with the affairs of kings seated on thrones? It is better that the time of the dervish is not wasted and conscience of the faqura is not put to test.” When the king respectfully invited Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia to visit him, the latter answered thus: “The affections of a dervish should be seen as a bird to which distress is caused by the hawk of kingly shows. It is better and enough to keep acquaintance through greetings.”

Khwaja Hasan, who had lived in the company of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia {ra} when he was much younger, along with all his friends, was involved in the drinking of wine. One day, near the mausoleum of Hazrat Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Khaki{ra} , they met again. Khwaja Hasan then recited this verse:

“For years we have been in each others’ company,
But your company did me no good.
Your piety could not correct my sinful life.
My sinful life is therefore stronger than your piety.”

After hearing this verse, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia {ra}simply said: “There are different effects of company on different men.” At once, Khwaja Hasan fell down at the feet of Hazrat Nizamuddin{ra} and along with his friends became mureed (spiritual disciples) of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia{ra}.Hazrat Sheikh Naseeruddin of Oudh related that he used to receive worldly knowledge from Qazi Muhiddin Kashani. He suddenly became ill and no hope of life remained. Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia visited Sheikh Naseeruddin when he was unconscious. Then Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia rubbed his hand over his face. Immediately Sheikh Naseeruddin regained consciousness and put his head on the feet of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia.

One day a mureed of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia prepared a feast for his Sheikh. Qawwals were also called and food was prepared. But when the same (music) started, thousands of people joined in. The host became worried because of the shortage of food. Feeling this, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia said to his khadim (servant): “Wash the hands of the people and let ten people sit at one place. Start giving the food after saying ‘Bismillah’ (In the Name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful).” It so happened that everyone had enough food and there was a great deal of food left over. (11)

It is narrated that a certain Shamsuddin was a very rich man and had no faith in the spirituality of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. Instead he used to speak ill of him in his absence. One day, he was drinking wine with his friends and suddenly he saw Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia {ra} appear in front of him, who made a prohibiting sign with his finger. Shamsuddin then threw the wine in the water and started towards the house of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia after performing the ritual ablutions. Seeing him, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia{ra} said: “Whoever is blessed by Allah, he abstains from sins like this.” Hearing this, Shamsuddin became very astonished and with complete faith became his mureed. He distributed all his money to the dervishes and in a short time became a Wali (saint) himself.