Uniting hearts or healing souls

Word For Peace

By; Dr. Hafeezur Rahman

A sufi scholar, teaching persian in School of Language JNU.

Founder: Sufi peace foundation new Delhi.

Author: Rumi The Guide And Philosopher.

Bareilly city in Ruhelkhand region of UP which is also known as Bans Bareilly or the city of jhumka  (ear ring) and surma ( black eye paint) is also famous for two shrines of well known mystic and scholar; one is the Dargah of reverend Aala Hazrat Ahmad Raza Khan Braelvi a renowned islamic scholar and theologian (The founder of Barelvi sect who follows his dictum on Islamic way of life) . The other holy shrine is the Khanqah Niazia of Shah Niyaz be Niaz ( Agreat Sufi saint, poet and founder of Niaziya order within the broad spectrum of Chisti order). His Khanqah was built by Hazrat Hafiz Shah Niaz Ahmed Chishti in 1773 AD. Both the shrines are visited by devotees belonging to all faiths, casts and creeds but the Dargah Aala Hazrat is more popular amongst clrergies and common muslim while Khanqah Niazia is meeting point of common men and women to elite Hindu and Muslims across the section of society.

The Sufi saints of India had opened the doors of their hospices to all and welcomed the men and women to work for universal brotherhood. Maulana Rumi a well known 13th century mystic poet had elaborated the aims and objectives of this universal brotherhood mission in the following words:

Tu bara-i wasl kardan amadi,

Ne bara-i fasl kardan amadi.

You, (the sufi saints) came to this world to unite the people, not to divide.

The message of universal fraternity, harmony and brotherhood spread by the Sufi saints was so loud and inclusive that even after their union with God, their hospices remain abuzz with the people of all walk of life. Just like other shrines, the Khanqah of Shah Niaz in the heart of Bareilly is one of the shining examples of such love, unity. and fraternity just like Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin auliya Delhi.

Maulana Rumi gives an emphatic call to all human being to come around him to spread love and brotherhood. He calls the people::

Come, come whoever you are, Wanderers, worshipers, lovers, whatever you are. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a Caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come yet again, come and come.

The great Rumi went on to say:

Bring your heart in your hand; your soothing is more important than a pilgrimage. A single heart is better than a thousand of kaabas.  The kaba was built by Allah’s khalil Hazrat Abraham, while heart, in contrast, is created and tested by the Majestic God.

William Shakespeare also said similar to Rumi;

One beautiful heart is better than thousand beautiful faces; so choose people having beautiful hearts rather than beautiful faces.

An English translation of famous mystic poet Sheikh Saadi’s following couplet on the universal brotherhood and fraternity has been scripted on the front of UN building in New York::

The sons of Adam are limbs of each other, having been created of one essence.

If any calamity befalls on one limb, the other limbs cannot remain at rest. If you do not show sympathy for the troubles of others, you have no worth to be called a human being.

The great sufi saint of India Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti who is also known as Gharib Nawaz of Ajmer often told the people: love for all and malice for non. His disciples and successors held this message of their mentor by tooth and their hospices became the centre for spreading the universal love and affinity. His disciple Khaja Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi often recited the following couplets of Persian poet Abu said Abul khair:

If people spread thorn in your path, you just put flowers in their way; otherwise the entire path would become thorny.

The famous urdu poet Jigar moradabadi has said;

Unka jo farz hai wo ahle syasat janein,

Mera paigham mohabbat hai jahan tak pohnche. (They are more into power and politics but my message is love.)

The abundant love, fraternity and affection shown by the Sufi saints to the common people won their hearts and their hospices (khanqahs were the center of love where the people from all walks of life began to flock to seek succor for their miseries. These Sufi saints respected the local customs and culture to the extent that even many of them became vegetarian due to respect of their non Muslim brothers. khwaja Gharib Nawaz, Khawaja Nizamuddin Aulia, Sarmad shaheed, Bu Ali shah Qalandar and many others had become vegetarian in respect of their non- Muslim brethren to visit their shrines in large these sufis served vegetarian food in their lunger for all visitors. Their philosophy was simple live and let live, love and compassion to all, no hate or discrimination on the ground of cast religion and gender.

Being a Persian scholar I came across the anthology of Hazrat Niaz be Niaz Bareilvi in both Urdu and Persian languages. His metaphysical and mystic poems were very impressive, moving and touching. This has increased my curiosity to know more about his personality and his shrine in Bareilly which was only 65 km away from my native place of Rampur. In the mean time, I got a chance to attend a 3 days long Sufi music concert in Delhi, organized by famous music composer and film director Muzaffar Ali with the title of Jahan-e khusrau at Humayun tomb. This concert is organized by him every year and attended by the world famous sufi musicians and vocals from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and many other countries. However, every year the well known vocalist Abida Parveen of Pakistan steals the show.  As soon as she starts her melody in most fascinating and moving voice, the people begins crying by hearts. It seems as she is on the direct hotline with the Almighty God. Though more than a decades have passed, I still remember the rhythm of her voice and her selection of poems from the anthologies of Amir Khausrau, Baba Bulle Shah, Shah Zaheen Taji and Shah Niaz Bareilvi. The following metaphysical mystic poems of Shah Niaz Bareilvi recited by Abida Perveen attracted my special attention:

Yaar ko hum ne ja baja dekha, kahin zahir kahin chupa dekha…

I saw my beloved everywhere, somewhere apparent and somewhere hidden.

Kahin mumkin hua kahin wajib, Kahin fani kahin baqa dekha.

Somewhere He was mere a possibility and somewhere He was an imperative

Somewhere I saw Him ephemeral, and somewhere I found him eternal.

Kahin wo badshah takht nashin, Kahin kasa liye gada dekha.

Somewhere I saw Him a king sitting on His throne and sometimes I saw Him mendicant with begging bowl..

Kahin wo dar libas e mashooqan, Bar sare naz aur ada dekha.

Somewhere He was in most beutiful attire, displaying His unique charm and attraction.

Kahin ashiq Niaz ki surat, Seena giryan to dil jala dekha.

Somewhere He was like a lover Niaz, beating his chest and heart was in flame.

This unique hymn of God had almost mesmerized the entire audience. There was a pin drop silence as the people felt that a divine light is pervading from all the sides. After hearing this fabulous hymn I decided to pay my personal obeisance in his shrine built about 300 year ago in Bareilly.

Though he associated himself with both Chishti and Qadri orders of the Sufis, he favored the Chishti order in which the saints were encouraged to reach the maximum number of people whoever they may be. On the footsteps of his predecessors he also followed the local customs and traditions to win the hearts of people from all creeds and castes. His main emphasis was to clean the heart instead of cleaning the apparent body and clothes.

Hazrat Shah Niaz be Niaz was a leading Sufi saint of his time and was also a great poet with the rank of Amir Khusrau, Baba Bulle Shah, Shah Zaheen Taji and Bedam Shah Warsi. Being in easy chaste Urdu his eulogies were assimilated in qawaali and Sufi singing being performed today. His hymns and eulogies are moving and touch the core of the hearts. Therefore his poems were very popular and a source of console for the people of broken hearts.

Surprisingly the Indian Kathak dancers too regard him as their mentor and spiritual master. The Kathan maestro Briju Maharaj and his disciples pay regularly their obeisance to Shah Niaz Be Niaz and they believe that he is their spiritual guru. The real secret behind the success and immense popularity of the Sufi saints was that they were totally assimilated with the local people and adopted their culture and custom. The care takers of Daragah Khwaja Gharib nawaz tie a saffron thread on the Neck or hand just like their Hindus brethren tie  kalawa or molli in their hands. In Dargah of Deva sharif of Haji Waris Ali Shah, his disciples wear saffron dress like Hindu Sadhu Sants…in Dargah Hazrat Bu Ali shah Qalandar’s visitors  locked a lock for their wish and in Dargah Satmad Shaheed and Nizamuddin Auliya devotees write a letter or application regarding their problems…some where people offer matkas and lautas etc as per different local tradition.

In Dargah of Hazrat Shah Niaz be Niaz one may find here Athar miyan remaind busy whole day in removing the sorceries and other satanic effects from the people by cutting lemons and other healing rituals…On the other hand, Bade sarkar Hazrat Hasani Miyan, the Sajjada Nashin of the Khanqah leads the closing Dua after sun set prayer and perform other important rituals.

Just like his predecessors Khawaja Gharib Nawaz, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, Baba Farid,  Amir Khusrau, Bedam Shah Warsi, Sarmad Shaheed and Bu Ali Shah Qalandar, Shah Niaz was also a role model of Ganga jamuni tehzeeb and a symbol of India’s composite culture. Following the footsteps of his mentors, he also demonstrated extreme flexibility in adopting the culture and social values of the local people. He followed the Khwaja Gharib Nawaz’s  “love for all and malice for none” policy to brought thousands of people from every walk of life around him seeking his blessing to cure their malice. Unlike pure Islamic or Arabic traditions, Amir Khusrau, Bedam Shah Warsi and Shah Niaz focused mainly on local vernacular, custom and tradition and that was the secret of their immense popularity amongst the people.

About 5 years ago, I visited the Khanqah 2nd time after almost 25 years ( I visited 1st time during my childhood with few friends just to have lunch in Khanqah’s Lunger served to every visitor)to pay my personal obeisance to the great mystic poet Shah Niaz Be Niaz in Bareilly and met with the descendents of Shah Niaz Hazrat Shabboo miyan who is the caretaker of the khanqah. He gave me very warmth welcome and wonderful hospitality as per old tradition of the Khanqah. In reply to my quarry about the annual Urs, he told me that we celebrate the two annual ceremonies one is the urs of Shah Niaz in the islamic month of Jamadi-us-sani and another one is  Jashn e cheraghan or festival of light in the Islamic month  of Rabi-us-sani since last 300 years. Hazrat Shah Niaz had himself started this Jashn e cheraghan  by lighting hundreds of earthen lamps in memory of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Geelani of Baghdad, the chief of all Sufi saints in the world. This cheraghan festival is held every year according to the lunar Islamic calendar. There is a common belief that lighting an earthen lamp in the Jashn e cheraghan is very auspicious and a mean to fulfil his or her wishes. Therefore, every year, hundreds of people carrying earthen lamps in their hands stand patiently for many hours in the long queues to reach the sanctum sanctorum of the holy shrine. In view of the growing crowd the foot fall of the shrine is increased every year. It is no surprise that number of non- Muslims taking part in Jashn e cheraghan is far more than the Muslims.

Shabbo Miyan told me further that main function of Cheraghan in the Khanqah will held on Dec,15 Sunday, but for the women and elderly people will held on Dec,14 Saturday in this year 2019. It is a beautiful co-incident that annual URS ceremony of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Delhi and Jashn-e Cheraghan of the Khanqah-e Niazia Bareilly always celebrates in same days and co related with each others since last 300 years.

Dr Neetu Sharma is also one of the devotees of Khanqah Niazia and regularly participates in Jashne cheraghan and other functions. She says that lanes of Biharipur in downtown leading to Khanqah Niazia become chocked on every year on this evening as thousands of people stood in queues to enter the shrine. According to the tradition, the person who has a wish carries a lighted earthen lamp for few steps. But the person whose wish has been fulfilled last year lights up 11 earthen lamps. Some devotees carried with them silver lamp for Dargah. Dr. Sharma, is an academic by profession attends every function being held at the shrine with her family.

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