The Brief History of Hazrat Syed Sharafuddin Shahwilayat

Let this scribe make a confession: He is no authority upon the subject – ‘Life and Events of Syed Hussain Sharafuddin Shahwilayat’. He is neither a historian nor a scholar chronicler or a very strong devotee of any cult or tradition. This article is simply based upon some folk stories, magazines, books, stray observations, cluttered thoughts and last but not least – some figments of unintended imagination. The reader is free to accept, reject, condemn and challenge any content of it at his own standards of merit and knowledge.

Before I describe the brief history of the Saint Sharafuddin Shahwilayat I feel it would be justified if I share few thoughts about Tasawwuf which could be simply described as the traditional Islamic science of self-improvement and spirituality. It is related to Sufism and defines our relationship with Allah. According to Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi – Many people have misunderstandings about tasawwuf. Many think that it is something beyond the Qur’an and Sunnah. Errant Sufis as well as the superficial ulema, although on the opposite ends of the spectrum, are together in holding this mistaken notion.

Consequently the first group has shunned the Qur’an and Hadith while the second group has shunned tasawwuf. Actually, although the term tasawwuf, like many other religious terms in use today, evolved later, the discipline is very much part of the Shariah. The department of the Shariah relating to external deeds like salat and zakat is called fiqh while the one dealing with the internal feelings and states of the heart is called tasawwuf. Both are commanded in the Qur’an. Thus while commanding Salat and Zakat, the Qur’an also commands gratefulness and love of Allah and condemns the evil of pride and vanity. Similarly, in the books of hadith, along with the chapters on Ibadat, trade and commerce, marriage and divorce, are to be found the chapters on riya’ (show off) takabbur, akhlaq, etc. These commands are as much a mandatory requirement as the ones dealing with external deeds. Its focus is tahzeebe akhlaq or the adornment of character; its motive is the attainment of Divine pleasure; its method is total obedience to the commands of the Shariah.

Sufism traces its origin precepts to Hazarat Mohammed (PBUH) through his cousin and son-in-law, first Imam and 4th Caliph of Islam Hazrat Ali (KAW). There is only one connection ‘Naqshbandiya’ which claims its origin to Hazrat Abu Bakar, the 1st Caliph of Islam. According to great Iranian scholar Abu Rayhan Albiruni, the ‘Sufi’ word is derived from the Greek word ‘Sofia’ meaning wisdom. The Sufi practiced asceticism and shunned the pomp and pursuit of pleasure flouted by Umayyad, Abbasi, Khilji and Toughlaq dynasties. They never preferred the company of feudal aristocrats for pleasure.

Today the picture of gun-totting terrorists, bombs and preachers-of-hate is in absolute contrast to the cool, inspiring, loving, smiling and reassuring images that conjure up when we remember Nund Reshi, Lalleshwar or Dehat Bibi, the saints of Kashmir Valley.

Pass through a cent per cent Non-Muslim locality and hark the melodious renditions of folk singers reciting:

“Chap tilak sab cheeni, baat ajab keh dini, mohe suhagan keenhi, monse nayna milayke…….”

(The eyes met and I gave up all the symbols of faith, my beloved spoke some enchanted words and made me a bride). You instantly knew the creator of these words – Ameer Khusrau.

Visit any dargah in your town when you feel exhausted and need some urgent peace of mind and the sacred ambience, the Qawaals will be there to welcome you with “Haideriyam Qalandram mastam, banda-ey Murtaza Ali hastam, Peshway tammam rindanam, ke sag-e-kooye-Yazdanam” (I’m a mendicant of Haider’s order, I’m a pure disciple of Ali Murtaza, who is the leader of all the Universe. I’m the dog of the lane of Mustafa (PBUH).)

Tasawwuf is the soul of Islam. Its function is to purify the heart from the lowly bestial attributes of lust, calamities of the tongue, anger, malice, jealousy, love of the world, love of fame, niggardliness, greed, ostentation, vanity, deception, etc. At the same time it aims at the adornment of the heart with the lofty attributes of repentance, perseverance and.

In India the concept of Tasawwuf is followed and practiced in different forms and different schools. They are not radically different from each and a subtle nuance of names categorizes them as beautiful branches of the same spiritual plant that shades over the schism that prevails  in basics of belief. I am giving below the most popular schools of Tasawwuf.

Chishtiyyah:

The Chishtiyya order emerged out of Central Asia and Persia. The first saint was Abu Ishaq Shami (d.940–41 A.D.) establishing the Chishti order in Chisti Sharif within Afghanistan. The notable saint Moinuddin Chisti (d. 1236 A.D.) has championed this order within India, making it one of the largest orders in India today. Scholars also mentioned that he had been a part-time disciple of Abu Najib Suhrawardi. Khwaja Moiuddin Chishti was originally from Sistan (eastern Iran, southwest Afghanistan) and grew up as a well traveled scholar to Central Asia, Middle East, and South Asia.[He reached Delhi in 1193 A.D. during the end of Ghurid reign, then shortly settled in Ajmer-Rajasthan when the Delhi Sultanate formed. Moinuddin Chishti’s Sufi and social welfare activities dubbed Ajmer the “nucleus for the Islamization of central and southern India.” The Chishti order formed KHANQAH to reach the local communities, thus helping Islam spread with charity work. Islam in India grew with the efforts of dervishes, not with violent bloodshed or forced conversion. Until this day, both Muslims and non-Muslims visit the famous tomb of Moinuddin Chishti; it has become even a popular tourist and pilgrimage destination. Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar (d. 1605 A.D.), the 3rd Mughal ruler frequented Ajmer as a pilgrim, setting a tradition for his constituents. Successors of Khwaja Moinudden Chishti include eight additional saints; together, these names are considered the big eight of the medieval Chishtiyya order. Moinuddin Chisti (d. AD 1233 in Ajmer, India), Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (d. AD 1236 in Delhi, India), Fariduddin Ganjshakar (d. AD 1265 in Pakpattan,Pakistan), Nizamuddin Auliya (d. AD 1335 in Delhi), Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehalvi, Bande Nawaz (d. AD 1422 in Gulbarga, India), Akhi Siraj Aaine Hind (d. 1357 in Bengal India, Alaul Haq Pandavi and Ashraf Jahangir Semnani (d. AD 1386, Kichaucha India).

Suhrwardiyyah:

The founder of this order was Abdul-Wahir Abu Najib as-Suhrawardi (d. 1168 A.D.). He was actually a disciple of Ahmed Ghazali. The teachings of Ahmad Ghazali led to the formation of this order. This order was prominent in medieval Iran prior to Persian migrations into India during the Mongol Invasion. Consequently, it was Abu Najib as-Suhrawardi’s nephew that helped bring the Suhrawardiyyah to mainstream awareness.

Naqshbandiyyah

The origin of this order can be traced back to Khwaja Ya‘qub Yusuf al-Hamadani (d. 1390 A.D. ), who lived in Central Asia. It was later organized by Bahauddin Naqshband (b. 1318–1389 A.D.) of Tajik and Turkic background. He is widely referred to as the founder of the Naqshbandi order. Khwaja Muhammad al-Baqi Billah Berang (d. 1603 A.D.) introduced the Naqshbandiyyah to India. This order was particularly popular Mughal elites due to ancestral links to the founder, Khawja al-Hamadani. Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty in 1526 A.D., was already initiated in the Naqshbandi order prior to conquering India. This royal affiliation gave considerable impetus to the order.

Qadiriyyah

The Qadiriyyah order was founded by Abdul Qadir Gilani who was originally from Iran (d. 1166 A.D.).[ It is popular among the Muslims of South India. As a widespread order, the Qadiriyyah had a prominent sheikh in India. Muhammad Mayan Mir (d. 1635 A.D.) was a famous scholar known for significant non-Muslim tolerance and community service work. Worlds largest religious organisation Dawate-E-Islami also belongs to the Qadiriyyah order whose founder was Moulana Ilyas Qadri.

Sufism helped the assimilation of the Afghani Delhi Sultanate rulers within mainstream society. By building a syncretic medieval culture tolerant and appreciative of non-Muslims, they contributed to the growth of stability, vernacular literature, and devotional music in India. Literature related to monotheism and the Bhakti movement also formed syncretic influences in history during the Sultanate period. Sufi scholars traveling from all over continental Asia were instrumental in the social, economic, and philosophic development of India. Besides preaching in major cities and centers of intellectual thoughts, Sufis reached out to poor and marginalized rural communities and preached in local dialects such as Urdu, Sindhi, Panjabi versus Persian, Turkish, and Arabic. Their teachings of humanity, love for God and Prophet (PBUH) continue to be surrounded by mystical tales and folk songs today. Sufis were firm in abstaining from religious and communal conflict and strived to be peaceful elements of civil society. Furthermore, it is the attitude of accommodation, adaptation, piety, and charisma that continues to help Sufism remain as a pillar of mystical Islam in India.

The History of Hazarat Shahwilayat:

To begin with, very few history books are available in India now where he is mentioned in any form in relation to larger SUFI Movement of India. Perhaps, his father was shy of éclat and preferred the ascetic life of Amroha which was often referred as Qasba Azizpore in those days. He didn’t make Delhi or any royal city of his final abode. There is no provision of SAJJADA NASHEENI in his hierarchy that is so common and necessary in Sufi Schools. One can safely conclude that he had a limited spiritual domain and he loved the simple life of towns and villages.

He was the son of Mira Ali Buzurg who was a learned scholar. His mother’s name was ‘Umme Habeeba’ and she was the daughter of Syed Abdul Moueed Ali. Syed Jalaluddin Haider Surkh Posh, the famous saint of earlier Muslim Indian Sultanete, was the real brother of Bibi Umme Habiba.

The parents of Shahwilayat were direct descendents of Imam Ali al-Naqi al-Hadi (AS) – the 10 th Imam. Imam’s period coincides with the rule of Abbasids – AlWathiq and Al Mutawakkil. These rulers were jealous of Imam’s reverence, popularity an following among ordinary Muslims. He concocted excuses and called Imam from Medina and imprisoned him at Samrrah, Iraq. He achieved martyrdom on 3 rd Rajab 252 AH at the age of 42 years. He left behind five children:
1. Hazrat Imam Hasan (the 11 th Imam)
2. Hazrat Hussain
3. Hazrat Mohammed
4. Hazrat Jafar
5. Bibi Aisha

They migrated to the city of Sauda in Syria and from there to ‘Wasit’ a hamlet in Iraq. This town was established at the bank of River Dajla by Hajjaj Bin Yussuf in 83 AH. After a lapse of considerable time new designs of agriculture and water resources diverted water to other canals and waterways and it resulted in scarcity of water in the town. Political and Administrative frictions compounded and made life unbearable for the descending generations of Syeds of Abbasid Kingdom. Syed Mira Ali Buzurg had three sons and one daughter.
1. Syed Hasan
2. Syed Hussain Shahwilayat
3. Syed Mohammed
4. Bibi Umme Salema

Bibi Umme Salema and Syed Hasan died in childhood. In 662 AH, to avoid the persecution and tyranny of ruler they decided to leave their ancestral lands for the good and migrated to Bhakkar in Multan (now in Pakistan).

And according to many scholars, in the year of 670 AH, 2 nd Zil Hij (corresponding to Wed 29 th June 1272 AD) Hazrat Sharafuddin Shahwilayat, his father Syed Mira Ali Buzurg and his family along with many other members of his family group came to India via Multan and settled in Amroha. It was during the rule of Sultan Ghyasuddin Balban. However, some scholars disagree and claim that in 690 AH, during the rule of Sultan Jalaluddin Firoz Shah Khilji, the family landed in Amroha.

Boy Sharfuddin received his primary education Dars-e-Quarn and Hadith at home and his father was his mentor and tutor. As grown-up he was trained in spiritual disciplines by Syed Jalauddin, Syed Bahuddin – the father-in-law of Syed Jalauddin and Moulana Nasehuddin Suharwardi s / o Qazi Hameeduddin Nagori. The names of Saint Arif Suharwardi and Syed Usman Lal Shahbaz Qalander aka Jhulewala are included in the list of his teachers.

He was assigned the area between River Ganges and Kumayun Hills as his preaching spiritual domain by his spiritual guides. He followed the simple ascetic life and his message was universal love and respect. He was admired and received warmly by the people of all the faiths. The fame of his piety and erudition spread in all the four corners around Amroha.

The famous book of Amrohvi history ‘Tareekh-e-Wastiya’ describes Mohalla PACHDARA as the maiden nest for newly arrived family. He was married to Bibi Kaneez Fatima, the daughter of Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari and they had three children.
1. Syed Mir Ali Buzurg
2. Syed Abdul Aziz
3. Bibi Baqia-ut-tahirah aka Bibi Bakhuhi.

Bibi Bakhuhi was known for her piety,simplicity and devotion to prayers. The grave of Bibi comes your sight when you enter the gate of dargah.

There is no authentic record how long Hazrat Sharfuddin stayed in Amroha and then left for Kumyun Hills for meditation and prayers. His trip to Hills was meant to acquire knowledge and practice Riyazat, Chillakashi and special prayers. It was a sort of specialized spiritual training in splendid isolation. For this reason alone he was also called as PEER PAHARI – The Saint of Hills.

Some chronicles have mentioned about the trees he planted in the hills to support his place of meditation which was similar to MACHAN. He brought back those plants to Amroha when he returned. One of those plants survived and is still believed to be sheltering the shrine. He died on 21 Rajab 739 AH and was buried in Amroha.
He had also performed Haj and stayed in Mecca for 7 years. No dated of departure or arrival for Haj are available.

Syed Mohammed Abdal Dooda Dhari, a close relative of Shahwilayat was one of his appointed subordinate but Syed Sharafuddin instructed to discontinue the practice of baiyat and the system of succession was discarded forever in his lineage. Dooda Dhari Saheb died in 798 AH and all the sacred belongings of Hazrat Sharfuddin were buried with him.

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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