The Holy Prophet of Islam (peace be on him) was born in 570 AD. The divine call of Islam came in the first decade of the seventh century. In the early years, the Muslims had to suffer persecutions of the worst type at Mecca. In 622 AD the Muslims migrated to Medina. That was the turning point in the history of Islam. The flight marked the birth of Islam as a temporal power. The Islamic state was established at Medina. The Holy Prophet of Islam (peace be on him) was a statesman, a soldier, an administrator, a thinker, a king a leader, in short the perfect man.
At the death of the Holy prophet (peace be on him0 in 632 AD, the influence of Islam extended up to the borders of the Arabian Peninsula. Across the border to the west was the ancient Byzantine Empire and to the east the great Iranian empire. When Islam appeared on the world stage, these empires stood exhausted by mutual wars and conflicts extending over several centuries.
KHULFAI RASHIDIN.—On the death of the Holy Prophet (peace be on him), Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (RA) became the Khalifa. Under his Khilafat the Muslims under the generalship of Khalid bin Walid won an astounding victory against the Byzantine army and the Muslims became the masters of Syria. Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) died in 634 and was succeeded by Hazrat Omar (RA) as the Khalif. It was under Hazrat Omar that Islam burst across the horizon both to the west and the east.
At the battle of Qadisiya in 637 AD the Muslims gained a decisive victory over the Persians. In 641 AD at the battle of Nihavand, the Persians were completely crushed by the Muslims and Persia once a mighty empire became a province of the Muslims. Within ten years of the Holy Prophets (Peace be on him) death, the Muslims became the masters of all the lands extending from Egypt to Khurasan.
Hazrat Omar (RA) was assassinated in 644 AD. He was succeeded by Hazrat Osman (RA) who also fell victim to the knife of an Assassin in 656 AD. Then he was followed by Hazrat Ali (RA) as the fourth Khalifa of Islam. He shifted the capital from Medina to Kufa in Iraq, and here he was assassinated in 661 AD. Out of the four `rightly guided Khaki’s, three were assassinated at the hands of those who professed to be Muslims.
THE OMAYADS—On the death of Hazrat Ali (RA), Imam Hasan, the son of Hazrat Ali became the Khalifa. Amir Muawiya (RA) who was related to Hazrat Osman (RA) and belonged to the house of the Omayads, refused to accept Imam Hasan (RA) as the Khalifa and declared himself as the Khalipha. In order to avoid a war, Hazrat Imam Hasan (RA) withdrew as a khalifa and Amir Muawiya became the Khalifa of Islam.
Hazrat Muawiyah (RA) died in 680 Ad and was succeeded by his son Yazid. This was against the pact agreed between Hazrat Imam Hasan and Amir Muawiyah. Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA), the brother of Imam Hasan (RA) challenged Yazid. Hazrat Imam Hussein (RA) was betrayed and martyred at the field of Karbala.
It was during the corrupt and repressive rule of Yazid and after the martyrdom of Hazrat Hasan (RA) and the martyrdom of Hazrat Husein (RA) at Karbala that the Bani Fatima household (progeny of Hazrat Bibi Fatima (Rad.Anhu) and the other children of Hazrat Ali (Rad.Anhu) from his other wives, were all arrested and exiled to Damascus. The rest of them who did not accompany Imam Husein (Rad.Anhu) to Karbala lived and spent their time around the precincts of the tomb of the Prophet of Islam (Peace be on him). After some time those exiled to Damascus returned to Medina and some went to Egypt.
So it was during the rule of Yazeed that the Prophet’s (Peace be on him) household had to migrate to other lands. The rest of the descendants of Bani Fatima (Rad.Anhu) and Hazrat Ali (Rad.Anhu) who lived in Egypt and nearby lands had to leave for Turkistan and Iran due to the persecution of Hujjaj bin Yusuf Safaqi, a corrupt and tyrannical ruler, under whose rule thousands were killed or massacred. In Iran the tomb of Hazrat Imam Ali Musa Raza (Rad.Anhu), who was martyred, still stands as a reminder that they had migrated to and lived in the plains of Iran.
As time went by the descendeds of Hazrat Ali (Rad.Anhu) migrated and resettled in other lands such as Bukhara and Hamadhan in Turkistan, Baghdad in Iraq – a border between Turkistan and Iran. Some migrated to Khurasan and others to Herat in the mountainous regions of present day Afghanistan.
After the heartbreaking events of Karbala, the descendents of Hazrat Bibi Fatima (Rad.Anhu) passed the rest of their lives in seclusion and solitude in the remembrance of Allah. And the rest of the offspring of Hazrat Ali (Rad.Anhu) from the Aloewi/Hashimi clan, showing off their valor, passed onto Herat and other cities, subduing and overcoming the highlands and mountainous country further south in the Indo-Pak subcontinent.
As we have stated earlier, the father of Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA), Hazrat Bazid Muhammed (RA) was from this A’wan tribe. He was a titleholder and an office bearer in the court of the Mughals. He was a pious and devout scholar and a strict follower of the Shariat. He later married Hazrat Bibi Rasti (RA) who belonged to the same social class of the same family.
Hazrat Bibi Rasti (RA) was a devout, pious and saintly wife. Her piety had a marked influence on her husband, so much so, that the love of Allah kindled in his heart. This fire of love forced and compelled him to give up his government service, and passed the rest of his life in the service of Allah. He settled in Multan.
Hazrat Bibi Rasti (RA) joined her husband in Multan. In the mean time, as a recognition of his services, the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, conferred on Hazrat Bazid Muhammed (RA) an estate in the vicinity of the small town of Shorkhote in District Jung, Punjab Province.
Hazrat Bazid Muhammed (RA) and Hazrat Bibi Rasti (RA) settled and spend the rest of their lives in Shorkhote.
According to some sources Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) was born in the village of Shorkhote in Punjab Province in the year 1039 AD, during the reign of the great Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.
Already as a child his Saintly qualities became apparent. He too, like Sheikh Abdul Qadir Gilani (RA), refuses to drink his mothers milk from Sehri to Iftaar
(before sunrise to sunset). Despite showing inherent spiritual qualities his training responsibility fell in the lap of his pious, devout and saintly mother, Ma Rasti (RA). In his childhood and early days, she was responsible for both his inward and outward training, colouring his personality in the Prophetic light. In many of his writings, Sultan Bahu (RA.) refers to his saintly mothers piety and spiritual station. In one of his Persian couplets, he refers to her devotion to truth as follows :
` Bliss of God for Rasti be
For with truth is gifted she ‘
Interestingly ` Rasti ‘ itself in Persian means
`Truth’. At another place he writes :
`Mercy of Allah be on Rasti who named me Bad – Hu ‘
Ma Rasti (RA) saw a vision that soon she will be blessed with a child with inherent spiritual qualities whose light of Faqr will benefit many a seeker till the end of time. She was instructed to name the child `Ba Hu’ – meaning – `With Allah’. This name, most certainly suited this holy personality, for he was always drowned in the Love of Allah. Hazrat Sultan Bahu’s (RA) name is incomparable and has no parallel. His very name reflects his lofty spiritual station, pure qualities and attributes. We will, very briefly, attempt to examine and elucidate further on the characteristics and the quality of the saints name Bahu. This would help to absolve the fallacy and misunderstanding concerning the disposition of the Saints name.
True meaning and implication of the name BAHU.
The characteristic of the name has a multidimensional qualitative feature, which identifies itself with the personality of the Saint himself. In one of his poems
he says :
`With one dot Ba-Hu becomes Ya-Hu….
and Bahu is always steeped in the
remembrance of Ya-Hu’.
At another place he says:
`Whatever you want, ask Bahu…….
for conversely Ba-Hu is Wah-hab ‘
In the morphology and syntax of the language used by the Saint to express his thoughts and ideas a mere change in the movement of a dot alters the meaning of a word. So by adding a dot to the first letter of the name Ba-hu, it becomes Ya-Hu and conversely Ba-Hu becomes Wah-hab (Gods attributive Name-The Giver of abundance). Here the Saint refers to his total personality being annihilated, colored and imbued with divine attributes, a goal of a Sufi and has nothing to do with the concept of `Hama- oest’ i.e. God incarnate.
In the science of numerology the sum total of the name Ba-Hu is 14, the date of the full moon and the start of adolescence. It is a symbol of completion and perfection. There are so many qualities of the name Ba-Hu, that it would require a research of its own. In short, Sultan Bahu (RA.) himself says in one of his writings :
`Qualitatively my name (in its effects) is like Isme-Azam ‘ and at another place he says; ` My name brings light to the oblivious heart ‘.
It has been seen and experienced by many a true seeker that by simply mentioning or hearing his name, the seeker has gone into ecstasy proclaiming `Ya Hu Haqq Bahu’. Many a doubtful and acrimonious mind will think that because of our strong belief we have overestimated the experience of true seekers regarding the above. But even a person who is completely objective and impartial will have to acknowledge that the name `Bahu’ has a unique and distinctive accentuation and intonation with multi- dimensional meanings and even a critical analysis of the experience will reveal the inherent blessings of the name Ba-Hu.
Critics will take offence at the maxim `Haqq-Bahu’ and might object that it is a proclamation of Kufr (Ma-aaz-Allah -God forbid). Indeed this is only THEIR misconception due to their ignorance, unawareness and heard heartedness. We find it necessary to explain this further. In the maxim ` Haqq-Bahu’, the word `Haqq’ is not used in the sense alluding to the Person (Zaat) of Allah. But instead it signifies righteousness, pureness truthfulness, virtuousness and words of similar import, terms which are opposite of falsehood (`baatil’). So the epigram indicates and signifies that Sultan Bahu (RA.) is truthful, genuinely connected, submerged and annihilated in the Name and Love of Allah the Supreme. In fact he foretells in one of his works :
` the maxim of `Haqq’ will be adjoined to Ba-Hu …… this attachment will manifest even from Ba-Hus grave ‘
and of course nearly 300 years have passed, this prophesy has proved to be true to the latter. What a blessed name that it penetrates into the reaches of the heart. For a conscious hearted Gnostic this name is a glimpse through which he perceives the higher levels of realisation and reality. This condition has to be experienced before one can reject the said effects.
It is narrated that in the early years of his life , whenever Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) ventured out of his house, he caused consternation and alarm because whenever his blessed sight fell onto non-believers, they (the non-believers) would involuntarily recite the Kalima – Shahaadah ( declaration of Faith ). The townsfolk sent a delegation to the parents of the Saint( may Allah be pleased with them), requesting that a guard or sentry be posted near their house, so that whenever `little’ Bahu would venture out a siren would be sounded so that the people would take shelter from the penetrating gaze of `little’ Sultan Bahu. This trait in his personality remained with him till the very end of his life. As he says in one of his works”
` Half gaze of Bahu is better than one hundred suns’
The above stated fact is true. Three centuries later, the tomb of Sultan Bahu (RA) is like a beacon of light, attracting thousands of true seekers, radiating their inward with his spiritual attraction. Many a dead hearted persons first sight of the Saints tomb produces in him an involuntary and spontaneous outburst of zikr (remembrance) of Allah.
Sultan Bahu (RA) tomb is situated in a village near the banks of the river Chenub situated not far from the town of Shirkot in the district of Jung – Punjab Province. In this age of forgetfulness and materialism, the tomb serves as an elixir to the immoral and corrupt hearts and souls of people. Millions of pilgrims from far and wide visit the tomb to receive blessings and benefits. This can be observed during the first 10 days of Muharram (Muslim New Year) when over 2 million people gather to celebrate the annual anniversary – Urs – of this renowned Saint. The pilgrims receive countless inward and outward blessings. Often it has been experienced by many a seeker that in one to three nights their hearts desire is fulfilled. Ordinary people receive guidance in their dreams, the elite in Muraqaba (meditation), and the elite of the elite `in a waking state’.
The tomb of Sultan Bahu (RA) is unique in this case. He gives attention to true seekers in such a fashion that the entire personality of the seeker is spiritualized …… dancing in ecstasy they reach their hearts desire. This holy personality’s generosity and blessings is immeasurable because for a true Faqir (Spiritual Master), life and death, inward and outward is the same. It has been experienced many a time that a thought would pass in one’s mind and `supra-rationally it would be answered and made clear. His grave is not a tomb but a furnace from where one’s soul is purified.
In his lifetime the Sheikh use to bless people without revealing himself. His love for anonymity was such that before his death, he predicted that his resting place would be unknown. But Allah Willed otherwise. The resting place of this great Saint was made famous for the benefit of mankind. The discovery of his resting place itself is a miracle. In `Munaqabi-Sultanie’ it is documented that the Chenub river flooded and its waters reached an old mud fort where a few old graves were situated. One very pious Sayed from a neighboring village saw in a vision Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) indicating to him the location of his grave, which was being threatened by the flood. He asked the Sayed to remove his body and take for burial to a safer place. Sayed Sahib together with a few friends did as instructed but was disappointed not to find the body in its grave. The following evening he was again instructed to bring along a casket and leave it overnight at the graveside and to return the next day when he would find the casket heavy with the body inside. The following day, with the help of his friends Sayed Sahib loaded the casket onto a camel and proceeded towards a graveyard (known as Hazrat Peer Abdur Rehan Qureishi’s graveyard), when on the way they came across an enclosure, which was famous for its macabre and uncanny surroundings. This surrounding was screened and preserved with a fencelike structure so that no man or animal could venture therein. On reaching the place the she camel sat down, despite being goaded to move on. Witnessing the camel�s strange behaviour, they deduced that Allah must have reserved this sanctuary as the resting place for Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA). Spontaneously, the camel rose and entered the enclosure and sat on a neat clean clearing. Taking this as divine approval, they buried the casket.
From this chosen site started a spring of blessings and instructions, which turned into an ocean of benefit and guidance as time passed on. Later his great Persian and Punjabi works in prose and poetry, which lay hidden in the guise of anonymity became available. Scholars and seekers after truth travelled far and wide to acquire the invaluable treasures of Hazrat Sultan Bahu’s(RA) writings. These were copied, distributed and studied. As the saint himself says that when he did not find any true seeker to impart his spiritual wealth and blessings, he decided to transform this esoteric wealth into writing and thus made it available for generations to come.
For 150 years, the tomb of the great saint illuminated the hearts and minds of the people. The river Chenub once again raised its waters, coming dangerously close to the shrine. This time it was Hazrat Sultan Noor Ahmed (RA) who was instructed to once again shift the tomb to where it stands today.
Hazrat Sultan Bahu(RA) did not acquire the worldly sciences. Due to immense spiritual attractions and ecstasy it became difficult to attain to formal education. Yet his own person was luminous with Divine Light. In one of his writings the saint refers to this when he says that: ` I did not have time to spare for formal education but spiritual experiences, divine favour and guidance and esoteric conquests has enabled me to acquire such vast knowledge that it would require many files of paper to record. Spiritual realities has so enlightened my inward that both the esoteric and exoteric sciences have been revealed to me….neither did I have the time to perform daily litanies (wird) because since the beginning I have been immersed in the ocean of Unity (Tauheed) ‘. He was a strict upholder of the Shari’a and did not in his entire life forego even one Mustahab.
According to Sufi practice, one who seeks to traverse the “Spiritual Path�, has to become the disciple of some Sheikh of ripe experience and profound knowledge who could guide the seeker in attaining the goal. If one intends to save himself from the sickness of the soul than the remedy suggested by all saints is to search for some noble spiritual guide and be attached to him. The company of pious and saintly people is very essential to acquire and maintain sound spiritual health, because the Sufi Sheikhs are physicians of men’s souls.
Sultan Bahu(RA) belonged to the Qaderi school of Sufis. At the bottom rung of the Sufi ladder of all schools stand the mystic himself. Immediately above him stands his Murshid (Sheikh) or master, who is more than a philosopher, guide and friend to him. Next higher is the Murshid of the mystic’s Murshid and so on. At the top stands the Prophet (Peace BE UPON HIM) of Islam who is the fountain – head of all mystic experiences and orders. In his Abyat Sultan Bahu(RA) refers to the Spiritual Masters when he says :
` Joys of Union with your Allah
If you wish, your master serve
Kindly glance of his, on a rose-bud
Turns it into flowery curve
Transforms you so fully, truly
Head and heart, and bone and nerve
Here and There win success, Bahu
Serve your Murshid with full verve.’
Sultan Bahu’s(RA) initiation into the spiritual world was both esoteric and exoteric. In his book ` Amirul Kaunain ‘ he writes that `for thirty years I have travelled far and wide in search of a Perfect Murshid (Spiritual Master) ‘.During this period he met innumerable spiritual guides and spent time with many of them, serving them in every respect and receiving spiritual light and blessings from them.
Esoterically, Hazrat Sultan Bahu(RA) was initiated by the Prophet Muhammed (Peace BE UPON HIM ) himself. He received instructions and spiritual guidance from the fountain -head of all lights himself (PBUH) and was accepted as a child of light in the court of Hazrat Bibi Fatima (Rad.Anhu.), the lady of light and her husband Hazrat Ali (Rad.Anhu).
In one of his treatise,` Risala Ruh Shareef’ Hazrat Sultan Bahu(RA) refers to this esoteric initiation when he says:
`Bahu, on whom Prophet(PBUH) bent
Initiate Bahu in lovers way Accepting Bahu in families tent’
Esoteric initiation in the life of the saint was experienced on two occasions.
It is narrated in ` Muraqaba Sultani ‘ that the first esoteric initiation took place in the vicinity of Shorkhote when the saint was in his adolescence. In his own words the saint describes this experience. He says:
` Once in my youth a very handsome and awe -inspiring person on horseback approached me. He held my hand and asked me to accompany him. I asked him who he was. He replied `I am Ali IBM Abu Talib and I have come to take and escort you to the exalted and holy court of the Prophet Muhammed Sallallahu -Alaihi-Wasallam. Suddenly I found myself in the august court of the Prophet (PEACE BE ON HIM). All the Prophets (Peace BE ON THEM), Companions of the Prophet (PEACE BE ON THEM) including the four Khalifa – RASHIDIN (Hazrat Abu baker Siddiq, Hazrat Omar, Hazrat Othman Gani, Hazrat Ali (Peace BE ON THEM) together with Panjaten Paak (i.e. Hazrat Bibi Fatima, Hazrat Imam Hasan, and Hazrat Imam Hussein (PEACE BE ON THEM) were present in the assembly. Also present in the court were Hazrat Sheikh Sayyid Abdul Qadir Gilani (Rah. lay) and many more Sufi Saints. This was a most illustrious court, heavenly in nature, full of light and tranquility. The Holy Prophet (PEACE BE ON HIM) was seated above all the others bestowing light and blessings like a shining star. The Holy Prophet PEACE BE ON HIM) was very much pleased to see me and putting me on his lap initiated me as his spiritual son. Thereafter all the Holy Personalities present in the assembly did likewise putting me on their laps. Especially the four Khulifa-e-Rashideen, Panjaten Paak, and Hazrat Gauthe Azam Sheikh Abdul Qadir Gilani (PEACE BE ON THEM), who blessed and graced me with love, special care and spiritual attention ‘.
The second initiation took place in the years of maturity. Hazrat Sultan Hamid (RA),the son of Hazrat Sheikh Ghulam Bahu(RA) writes about this incident in `Munaqabi Sultani’ that he heard his father say that this discourse has been passed on from generation to generation that Hazrat Sultan Bahu(RA) use to often talk about this second esoteric initiation. Sultan Bahu(RA) use to say ` The second time too, I was presented in the court of the Holy Prophet(PBUH) by
Hazrat Ali (RA). The Holy Prophet(PBUH) asked me to stretch forth my hands. Taking both my hands into his(PBUH),he initiated me and I was blessed with his special spiritual attention, love, care and barakah.
Thereafter the Holy Prophet(PBUH) gave my hands into the hands of Sheikh Abdul Qadir(RA) and instructed him to train his spiritual son, Sultan Bahu (RA), in the Qaderi Tariqa (order). After being blessed by the greatest Saint, all the holy personalities in the assembly blessed me with their spiritual light and barakah. The Prophet PEACE BE ON HIM) than addressed me that I should guide the true seekers to the path of Allah ‘.Accordingly up to the end of time Hazrat Sultan Bahu’s(RA) teachings have been preserved in the form of his books, which are a beacon of light in this dark age we live in. As mentioned earlier, a mere perusal of his works opens for the seeker the doors of Marifat (spiritual knowledge).
Despite being initiated on the esoteric level and being a born saint it was important that Hazrat Sultan Bahu attach himself to a Kaamil (perfect) Sheikh. All the saints in Islam had to undergo practical training in the company and guidance of Murshid’s or Sheikhs. Hazrat Abu Saeed Abul Chair (RA) was the Sheikh (teacher) of Sayed Abdul Qadir Gilani (RA),Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi (RA) was the Sheikh of Hazrat Shelby (RA), Hazrat Kwaja Hasan Basri(RA) was the Sheikh of Hazrat Habib Jamie (RA), Hazrat Kwaja Uthman Harooni(RA) was the Sheikh of Hazrat Kwaja Gharib Nawaaz ( RA) and so on.
Invocations to his Murshid have been addressed by Sultan Bahu(RA) in many of his `Abyat'(Punjabi Poems) as will be found. In one stanza he says:
` Murshid should be like a goldsmith
Roasting dross in crucible
Taking out the wholesome metal
Shape rings irresistible
Polish them for ladies’ ears
Who will look adorable
Through true Murshid, every moment
Bahu’s Fate is changeable ‘.
At another place he says:
` Mystic ways without a Murshid
Try to tread and, sure, get lost….. Murshid perfect keeps you happy
In this life and life to come
Rids you of the pangs of hunger
Turns to silver pure and shining….’
So exoterically, Sultan Bahu’s(RA) request to his mother to be his Murshid, in the mystical sense, was not granted. She directed him to seek spiritual guidance and initiation from a Sufi named Hazrat Shah Habibullah Qadir (RA). Sultan Bahu’s(RA) search took him to the east. On reaching a town called `Baghdad�, he presented himself to Sheikh Habibullah Qadir(RA).
It was the habit of Sheikh Habibullah (RA) that he always kept hot water on the ready. Any new seeker that arrived in his Khanqah, was asked to put his hand in the water and on doing so the seeker would reach a state of `Kashf'(clairvoyance). Hazrat Sultan Bahu(RA) sat on the perimeter observing the phenomenon and the spiritual advancements attained by the other new seekers. After the happenings were concluded Sultan Bahu(RA) presented his petition and request to the Sheikh, who asked him why he never put his hand in the water, for then he would have reached his hearts desire. Sultan Bahu(RA) answered that on perceiving the states of the novice seekers, putting his hands in the water would not have quenched his spiritual thirst and aspirations. Sheikh Habibullah Qadir (RA) then entreated that Sultan Bahu(RA) perform `mujaahida’ (struggle for spiritual purification ) and to attend to certain duties, one of which was to assist in brining water to the mosque for ablution.
Hazrat Sultan Bahu(RA) requested for a leather bag to carry the water to fill the fountain, pond and ablution block, which was empty at the time. As the other dervishes looked on, one bagful of water brought by the new aspirant was enough to fill the entire pond and ablution block. This miracle was immediately reported to Sheikh Habibulla(RA), who commanded Sultan Bahu(RA) to free himself from any worldly attachment that he might still possess, as two different responsibilities cannot be shouldered at the same time.
Hearing this the young Sultan Bahu(RA) took leave and started his journey back home. Through intuition Saintly Ma Rasti (RA), the mother of Sultan Bahu(RA), became aware of his intentions and instructed his wives that they hide their valuables for use in times of need. The wives obeyed, burying their valuables. On arrival, the young Sultan Bahu(RA) made known his intentions saying that it was the instruction of Hazrat Sha Habibulla(RA). Agreeing with him, his Saintly mother said that he should carry out the instructions.
Hazrat Sultan Bahu(RA) recognized a ring on the finger of his son Nur Muhammad (RA), which belonged to one of his wives. Getting rid of the ring he looked around if there were any more valuables in the house. Through intuition Hazrat Sultan Bahu(RA) found the hidden valuables and disposed of it.
Taking leave of his mother he once again proceeded to Hazrat Sha Habibullah Qadir (RA). On arrival the Sheikh told him that although he has got rid of his worldly valuables, what about the obligations to his wives for they were still his responsibility. Thus once again Hazrat Sultan Bahu(RA) made the journey back home to set his wives free from wedlock. Saintly Ma Basri(RA) came to know of her son’s intentions and assured his wives her protection. When Hazrat Sultan Bahu(RA) arrived home Saintly Ma Rasti(RA) and her daughter-in-laws absolved him of his responsibilities and obligations towards them, allowing the wives to remain in wedlock. However she exhorted that he return home to his wives after he reached the state of `realisation (Maarifat-Gnosis of God), and if not, he need not worry of his obligations towards them.
As Hazrat Sultan Bahu(RA) upheld the Sharia (Islamic Law) very strictly he heeded his mother’s counsel. Taking leave of his mother and his wives he journeyed back to Hazrat Sha Habibullah
Qadiri(RA) and remained with him for some time. When it was time the Sheikh gave his full spiritual attention (Tawajju) to him and kept on enquiring about the experiences and revelations achieved. The young saint replied, �The states experienced during your Tawajju have been accomplished by me in my childhood.”
To test his claim Hazrat Sha Habibullah Qadiri(RA) miraculously vanished. Using the same metamorphic powers Sultan Bahu(RA) also
vanished and met the Sheikh in a distant land. Recognising him the Sheikh again disappeared and Sultan Bahu(RA) followed suit. For a third time the Sheikh disappeared to a distend land, where Sultan Bahu(RA) found him teaching Quran to children in the mosque.
Being satisfied and Recognising Sultan Bahu’s(RA) claim and spiritual status, the Sheikh took him back to his Khanqah.
Seated in his retreat Hazrat Sheik Habibullah Qadiri(RA) said:
“What you are seeking is beyond me, however, I will guide you to a place where you can achieve your heart’s desire. Go and present yourself to my Spiritual Master Hazrat Pir Abdur-Rehman Sha Dehlvi Qadiri(RA), who is the master of his time. He will guide you to stages of higher knowledge.” Taking leave of his teacher he proceeded east towards Delhi.
On his way to Delhi, Hazrat Sultan Bahoo(RA) met many a dervishes, Sufis and saints who received spiritual blessings and baraka from him.
Describing him through intuition, Hazrat Pir Sayyid Abdur- Rehman Delvi Qadiri(RA) send one of his mureeds (disciples) to receive the Faqir Sultan Bahoo(RA) at the outskirts of the city. On arrival, he was immediately ushered to the presence of the Sheikh, who was expecting him in his retreat (place of seclusion). In utter silence and respect, one glance of spiritual attention from the Sheikh fulfilled Sultan Bahu�s(RA) hearts desire and he obtained his quest of higher knowledge.
His aspirations and needs fulfilled, he was given leave to depart by Hazrat Pir Sayyid Abdur -Rehman (RA). It was a Friday. Full of Spiritual Joy and confidence he proceeded to the marketplace, conferring in one gaze, to one and all, his newly acquired spiritual wealth and attention. Its effects became apparent manifesting in ecstasy, thereby causing great consternation. He was immediately summoned to the presence of Hazrat Pir Abdur Rahman(RA) who enquired of him his strange behaviour.
Sultan Bahoo(RA) replied “I have only experimented and tested out what I have been given by your Holiness. To experience, perceive and sense what is the reality of the spiritual wealth you have blessed me with. However, I have also been instructed by the Prophet (PEACE BE UPON HIM ) to give spiritual benefit and blessings to the creation of Allah. This has also been your instructions and teaching.” So saying he took leave of his Teacher, benefiting and realizing ever so more. The ocean of blessings and pearls of light overflowed from the heart of Sultan Bahu (RA), as he proceeded once again towards the marketplace. It was time for Juma (Friday) prayers. The King Aurangzeb was also present at the Delhi Jaame Masjid, which was overflowing with worshippers. As the mosque was packed to capacity, Sultan Bahoo(RA) stood right at the rear end of the mosque. Standing there he opened the doors of his inner light, giving his spiritual attention to one and all. The congregation went into a state of heavenly bliss, rapture and ecstasy, accept for three people who were not touched by this extraordinary display of spiritual power, the King Aurangzeb, his Prime Minister and the Mayor of Delhi. Witnessing this phenomenon, the King and his retinue stood respectfully, with hands folded, in the presence of Sultan Bahoo(RA) and queried why they were not influenced by the Saints inner light. His Holiness replied:” It was due to the hard hearted condition of your inner selves.” The King implored and begged the Saint to bless him with inner light. His holiness agreed on one condition that the King will not meet him or any member of his family in the future and also not visit his home, thus keeping his family free from getting involved in matters of state. The King Aurangzeb agreed to this request. Hazrat Sultan Bahoo(RA) attended to the King blessing him with inner light and baraka. The King entreated the Saint to leave him with something by which he could be remembered. Standing there his Holiness began to relate his teachings, which was immediately written down by the Kings scribe. This teaching became known as ” Aurang – Shahi ” and this treatise is one of the many books of Sultan Bahoo(RA), which is still existent. It contains in its very brief form the teachings, advise and philosophy of the great Saint. If available, it should be studied by would be seekers, as a means to understand this great mystic – saint of Islam. After this encounter with the king, Hazrat Sultan Bahoo(RA) departed homewards to return to his own familiar surroundings. It was during this journey back home that a group of Hindu sanyasies accepted Islam at the hands of the saint. It is narrated that one of the sanyasies had disturbed a resting Bahoo asking for the right way .The saint replied ” La Ilaha Illallah Muhammedur Rasululla is the way” .On hearing this the group went into a state of rapture, embraced Islam and through the blessings of the Saint, all of them reached the stage of being an `Abdal’ (hierarchy of Muslim saints). This famous and renown happening, has been narrated from generation to generation.
The Saint had four wives. The first wife was from the family of Hazrat Makhdoom Bahu (RA), who was one of the `Khalifas of the great Sufi, Hazrat Sheikh-ul Islam, Sheikh Bahauddin Muhammed Zakarya Multani (RA). His second and third wife was from his own tribe and family. His fourth wife belonged to a Hindu family of Multan and was given in `niaaz’ (marriage) to the saint by Hazrat Sheikh Bahauddin Zakaria(RA). Sultan Bahoo(RA) had renounced all worldly pleasures in his early years, yet he was obliged to marry more than one time ,to honour the `Sunna’ of the Holy Prophet Muhammed(PEACE BE UPON HIM). The permission for having more than one wife is based not on conditions of lust, nor on any benefit accruing to the marrying male, but on the principle of sacrifice. The permission is conditioned by ones ability to deal equitably with his wives, which even at the formal level is an extremely difficult condition to fulfill except for those who are thoroughly disciplined, stick to spiritual and moral values above everything else and enter into marriage for spiritual considerations – for the sake of obtaining Devine Pleasure. So in Islam the institution of marriage is a religious matter rather than a worldly matter only and is based on the principle of interdependence of man and woman in ensuring fullness of life for each other through mutual affection, mutual confidence and mutual protection as husband and wife. As the Quran says by using a metaphor of profound beauty:
` They are a garment unto you, and ye are a garment unto them ‘. (11:187)
Hazrat Sultan Bahoo(RA) had eight children, all boys. They are in order of eldest to youngest: Hazrat Sultan Nur Muhammedur) Hazrat Sheikh Sultan Wali Muhammed (RA)
Hazrat Sultan Lateen Muhammed (RA)
Hazrat Sheikh Sultan Saleh Muhammed (RA)
Hazrat Sheikh Sultan Ishaaq Muhammed (RA)
Hazrat Sheikh Sultan Fateh Muhammed(RA)
Hazrat Sheikh Sultan Shareef Muhammed(RA)
Hazrat Sheikh Sultan Hayaat Muhammed(RA)
The last son passed away in his infancy. All the children were educated in the than institutions of learning.
He is said to have been of medium height. His round shaped head was often shaven showing off a wide and broad forehead. The eyebrows were thick and black. His beautiful black eyes had a look of majestic grandeur and always looked as if they were steeped in divine intoxication. The nose was not very long but was slightly pointed upwards. His cheeks and chin were appropriately shaped, set on a beautiful face, which was neither round nor long. Hazrat Sultan Bahu’s (RA) beard was thick and he often dyed it with henna, which enhanced his beauty even more. His chest, which was always filled with divine light, was covered with hair, which was not in excess. His hands, thicker than normal looked very strong. His bone structure was sturdy and strong, covered by flesh appropriate to his structure. His fair and ruddy complexion gave off a piercing brilliance, which was easily recognizable wherever he went. In short his beauty was so luminous that wherever he went people were attracted to his radiant beauty and personality.
It is not clear with reference to the Saint whether he adopted or assumed any worldly trade or business or for that matter any other worldly occupation. Yes, this much is known, that on two occasions he sponsored himself by purchasing two bullocks each time to help cultivate the land. Even this he could not sustain because on both occasions the Saint abandoned his notion of cultivating the land. This was due to the intense luster of Divine Light, which perfumed his inward and outward personality and a strong yearning for Allah the Beloved. He was a wandering dervish and sometimes passed his time in jungles in remembrance of Allah.
As mentioned earlier, the then Mogul Emperor had conferred on the saint�s forefathers an estate in the vicinity of Shorkhote. Hazrat sultan Bahu (RA) had inherited this estate. It was a vast estate comprising a well-built brick fort and hundreds of acres of well developed agricultural land. In the vicissitude of life he remained indifferent to the demands of this huge estate and did not concern himself or even inclined towards its responsibility. He chose and concerned himself with the pure and unalloyed state of `Faqri-Muhammadi’ (SAW) (a spiritual state of renunciation and contentment given to a few selected and noble souls).
Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) is of the opinion that a Faqir should imitate the Prophet Muhammed (peace be on him) and the ahle-bait in matters of worldly attachments.
He is of the view that a Faqir’s poverty and wants are the building blocks of a spiritual mi’raj and that this ‘Faqr’ projects him to the proximity of Allah.
Hazrat Sultan Bahu(RA) obeyed, followed and copied the `Faqiri lifestyle of the Prophet of Islam (Peace be on him) and his household. He kept his person clean from the slothfulness of the world. His dislike and aversion
to `worldly attachments is well documented. He refers to this dislike in his famous book of prose, the `Abyat’ were he says:
` Ah! This worldly life polluted
Washing, bathing all in vain
For its sake the doctors, scholars,
Crouch in corners, cry in pain
For its sake these worldly people
rest not, sleep not. Ah! their bane!
Hermits, mystics, ascetics, Bahu!
Burn their boats-the wise, the sane! ‘
The Sufis do not enjoin celibacy or withdrawal from the world. The attitude of a true Sufi regarding `worldly attachments’ — is detachment from sence pleasures; attachment is only to the One reality. The Sufis maxim is `Be in the world but not of the world .The Saints philosophy on `Faqr will be discussed separately in the second section of the book.
The Tariqa of the Saint is Sarwari Qadiri. He records in his book `Ainul Faqr’ that there are two categories of Qadiri mureeds. One is referred to as `Qadiri Zahidi’ and the other as Sarwari-Qadiri. The first way of the Zahidi Qadiri is that the Sheikh places the seeker into established practices and techniques of spiritual exercises and strivings. The seeker is ordered to devote much time to mystic struggles including to spend a certain period of time in seclusion to attain to mystic communion and mystic union. Then according to the seekers labors and efforts and the seekers own ethereal capacity, he reaches his spiritual goal and metaphysical purpose. This journey takes some aspirants ten years to complete. Some complete it in twelve years and others up to fourty years before they are introduced in the court of Hazrat Sheikh Sayyid Abdul Qadir Gilani (RA) by their Sheikh (Murshid). It is from this court then that the Saint of Gilani (RA) presents the seeker into the exalted and sublime court of his Holiness, the Prophet of Islam (Peace be on him).
The second category is referred to as Sarwari-Qadiri. In this Tariqa the Sheikh guides and presents the seeker directly into the sublime and celestial court of his holiness the Prophet of Islam (peace be on him) without having to undergo undue spiritual hardships and strivings. The seeker is nourished by the Prophetic light in that he receives directly from his Holiness his bounty, favour and beneficence. After receiving guidance, direction and religious instructions from this exalted court, he is then handed and advanced to the Saint of Jilan, Sheikh Abdul Qadir-al- Jilan (RA) for further polish. Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) own testimony to this effect is found in many of his writings where he records his esoteric initiation at the hands of His Holiness, Prophet Muhammed (peace be on him) himself and his own life is full of such wonders where he elevates many a seeker in one instant to the court of Allah and the Prophet (peace be on him). The wonder and excellence of his bounty is that it manifests itself in the form of a spiritual perfection of the highest order. He makes the seeker attain to his goal in a very short time without having to undergo the burden of difficult spiritual strivings.
Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) was born during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan. The emperor�s rule, known as the golden period of the Mughal’s, lasted for 31 years beginning from1036/1628.Historians agree that Shah Jahan was kind and benevolent and held the shari’a in reverence. He was a great builder, especially of beautiful and magnificent mosques. His personal life was blameless and he used to place reliance on the advice of the scholars and the pious around him. His Prime Minister S’ad Ullah Khan `Allami (d 1066/1656) was a noted scholar and educator.
Whatever the view of the personal character of Sha Jahan, his rule was a marked difference from the rule of Amber who had brought about a policy of promoting concepts and rules which were alien to Islam With the liberty and freedom of Akbar’s religious beliefs and practices, Sha Jahan only object was to restore the shari’a rather than to persecute believers of other religions. His personal conduct showed as much reverence for religion as his state policy demonstrated
his desire to restore the tenets of Islam. Sha Jahan had conferred on the father of Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) an estate in the proximity of the small town of Shorkhote in Punjab Province. The Saint was born in this town in 1039/1631.However,it was during the rule of Aurangzeb, the son of Sha Jahan that Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) lived most of his life.
Prince Dara Shikoh, the son of Sha Jahan began to lean towards the ideas and beliefs of Akbar causing serious misgivings to the Muslim community, for they had been a witness to the indignities heaped on Islam and the muslims during Akbar’s rule. So the Muslims were in a way sympathetic to the Prince Aurangzeb, who was God fearing and the defender of the orthodox faith. This provided a golden opportunity to the practical and intelligent Aurangzeb to take advantage of the situation. The final outcome of the war of succession is too well known to be recounted here. Aurangzeb ascended to the throne in 1068/1659 and ruled over the country for almost half a century.
We need not give any detailed account of the personal character and conduct of Aurangzeb who was acclaimed by his contemporary historians as a believing, pious ruler free from vice. He used to sleep for three hours only, and on awakening use to offer his usual prayers. In the words of a historian….”Every year he goes into a forty days retirement, during which he sleeps on the ground. He fasts and gives alms….Thus in twenty-four hours his rule is to eat once and sleep three hours. His cloths are plain and he wears few ornaments….nothing but a small plume……He wears no strings of pearls ……. and his coats are of a very moderately priced material.” Aurangzeb had displayed a concern for the faith from the very beginning. There was not a field of activity– political ,social and moral in which he did not try to bring about improvements. He passed a number of ordinances for restoring the rules of Islam in his administration and bringing the lives of the people into closer accord with the moral teachings of the Quran. These steps earned him the title of `Muhyiuddin’. Allama Iqbal deemed Aurangzeb to be one of the protectors of the true faith in India.
The book `Aurang-Shahi’, written by Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) alludes to the meeting between himself and the King Aurangzeb. This incident took place in Delhi during the saint�s days of wandering. His Holiness related his teachings to the King, which were written down by a scribe immediately. The teaching became known as `Aurang-Shahi’ and this treatise is still extant today. It contains in its very brief form the teachings, advice and philosophy of the great Saint.
Sheikh Abdul Haqq Muhaddith Delvi Qadiri (RA) was a contemporary of the Saint. He was a scholar of great repute. From the Shuhrawardi Silsila Sheikh Muhammed Ismail (RA) was his contemporary. From the Chisti Silsila Hazrat Kwaja Gesu Deraz (RA) and from the Naqshabandi Silsila Kwaja Muhammed Masum (RA), son of Hazrat Mujaddid Alphi-Thani Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi (RA). There is no record of Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) meeting any of them.
The present Darbar is situated in such a demographic location that it is surrounded and encompassed by a well populated area all round. two miles from here is a village called `Gharmaharaj’. To the south is `Ahmedpur’. To the east is the river Chenub. Crossing the river is the town of Shorkhote and two and a half miles further west is the main road to Multan.
The Mausoleum contains the grave of the saint and his children. A beautiful mosque stands on the right hand side of the Mausoleum. The area in front of the mosque is very wide and spacious, large enough to hold hundreds of worshippers. In the same open area towards the east and opposite the mosque and the shrine is a very large ablution block. The inside of the mosque is covered by beautiful marble enhancing the interior of the mosque considerably.
An open section stands between the tomb and the mosque. This space is usually used by the pilgrims for the recitation of the Quran-the recitation of which carries on till late at night. There are two entrances to the Mausoleum of the Saint. The main entrance is from the east and the other from the west. Entering from the eastern side, on the right hand side is the tomb of Hazrat Sultan Noor Ahmed (RA) and on entering from the west, also near the door on the left hand side is the tomb of Hazrat Sheikh Ameer Sultan. Hazrat Sultan Bahu’s (RA) tomb stands in the centre of the Mausoleum, covered on top by a beautiful covering and surrounded on all sides by a beautiful woodwork giving it an appearance of a fencelike-design. Altogether fifteen tombs make up the number of graves in the Mausoleum.
Once in the Mausoleum one is greeted by pilgrims from all walks of life, poor and rich, busy in the remembrance of Allah and the recitation of the Quran. Outwardly the mausoleum and the mosque is covered by beautiful decorated tiles. The inner boundary of the complex is surrounded on all four sides by `hujras’ or small rooms (for the use of dervishes and other visitors). Close by to the mosque, on the northern side is the shrine of Hazrat Nur-ul-Hassen. In some of the small rooms and also outside the perimeters of the boundary walls of this complex are found the graves of some of the Saints khalifas.
There is a large `langarkhana’ or public kitchen for the poor, which serves the daily needs of the pilgrims. During the Urs celebration, which takes place on the first ten days of Muharram, the public-kitchen serves thousands of people. The natural surroundings outside the boundary walls of the complex is decorated by loosely scattered trees and sandy patches of roadwork, which is sometimes covered by thinly, veiled grass. This land area is so vast that during the Urs celebration of the saint over two million people gather here. Those who visit every year and others who frequent the shrine often have built for themselves their own little units or small rooms. After the open tract of land surrounding the complex is a large dam protected by an embankment. Towards the east of the dam is the area called Atthara Hazarie from where passes the road to Ahmedpur.
Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) was not only a Saint but also a scholar of great repute. His works carries the impress of his scholarly exposition on Sufism. The spiritualism, which such expositions unfold, has the precision of a treatise and the coherence of a system and methodology.
In his writings we come across flashes of faith, wisdom, insight (into the mysteries of the self), knowledge and wisdom when the Saint pours forth what is in his innermost being. If we dive deep into the depths of his writings, we come across sparkling gems of wisdom and spirituality in the shape of `maxims’ of Sultan Bahu (RA). Some of the expressions, which emerge from his, works `Huq-nu-Ma’ and Aql-e- Baidaar’are:
Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA.) belonged to the Qaderi order of the Sufis, that is, those who owe spiritual allegiance to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) of Islam through Muhiyuddin Abdul Qadir Al Jilani (RA.), one of the most revered mystics, scholars and saints of Islam who lies buried in Baghdad. In the shaping of the life and thoughts of Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA.) the saints of this order, especially Sheikh Abdul Qadir AL Jilani (RA.) played a very constructive and creative role. The sublime lives of these saints enriched with love and knowledge of God, lit the spiritual path that Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) chose to tread in his search for the Truth. The spiritual genealogy of Sultan Bahu (RA) is as follows:
Sultan Bahu (R.A.) is acknowledged as one of the most prominent Sufi poets of the Indo Pak subcontinent. He is known to be the author of over 140 books in Persian and Arabic dealing with a variety of religious and mystic subjects.
The poems of Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA.) are coloured by the consciousness of Faqr and mystical leanings. He is the leader amongst Punjabi Sufi Poets. For centuries now, the people of the Indo Pak sub continent have been captivated by his poems and books on Spiritual Knowledge. His Poems contain extreme impressions of spiritual reality and facts of life rooted in human existence.
To class the poetry of Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA.) within the boundary of normal poetry is a great error for it sinks into the depths of the heart and soul. Whosoever listens or studies his works is effected and transported into higher realms of spiritual truths. The joy and ecstasy is such that even a casual reading produces spiritual attraction.
Visualize dervishes sitting around a fire, the light of which giving an occasional glimpse of those sitting around it. The Abyat of Sultan Bahu (RA) is being recited. Suddenly, the hearts of the dervishes is effected by a resounding ` HU ‘. That ` HU ‘ extinguishes the awareness of the surroundings and the listener and reciter is transported to higher levels of reality going back to his ` original ‘ homeland. The effects of the journey are so profound that the lesson learned is not obtainable at any university or madresssa. There is so much dept in his teachings that it distinguishes him from other Sufi poets.
In the opinion of Hazrat Faqir Nur Muhammad Sarwari Qaderi (RA.) Quote : I have myself collected around 40 – forty handwritten Persian Books of Sultan Bahu (RA.). I have read many a book by well known scholars and sufis – past and present – but the effects, barakah and esoteric knowledge which I have found in the writings of Sultan Bahu (RA.) is not to be found in any other works. Allah is my witness. It seems that the soul and spirituality of Sultan Bahu (RA.) is running through the pages of his works. Just by mere perusal, he is elevated to a state of ecstasy. Sometimes the reader without any effort or spiritual exercise reaches the stage of revelation and witnessing. Unquote Sultan Bahu�s (RA.) entire life has been purposely one of travel and secrecy, in order to avoid fame and fortune which was and is one of the norms of society. He would dress in the clothing of a beggar with a begging bowl in his hand to hide his true condition. Precious little is known about his early life and education. It is only through his writings that one is able to deduce the patterns of his life. However, his miracles and spiritual attractions are well documented (reference : Sultanul Awrad and Munaqabee Sultanee). He was a peace loving quiet boy with inherent spiritual qualities.
Sultan Bahu (RA) works is a true guide to the lost soul. It influences the seeker so much so that he is strengthened in his resolve for higher knowledge. His message is clear…… spend your Life for Allah, His Prophet (PBUH) and Truth. Your living and dying should be for Allah alone. Sultan Bahu�s (RA) philosophy or original idea is the Zaat of Allah. To him attainment to Allah is the `goal’ and `reality’. His works should be widely translated and distributed to make people aware of this great soul, so that his works Heal the hearts of man. It is a most Urgent need especially in the English language. It should be noted that Hazrat Sultan Bahu’s (RA.) works is couched in simple language, making it easily understandable. It is for this reason that some so-called learned persons do not regard these works as of high literary status. We should note that it was customary for the writers of that time to decorate their prose and poetry, in an incomprehensible fashion. Thus, unfortunately these so-called scholars are unable to see, and experience the practical effects of Hazrat Sultan Bahu’s (RA) works.
Due to simplicity, and effectiveness of these works, one is almost obliged to think that this great holy personality knew through intuition that there will be a time like the present, when it will be difficult to find a perfect spiritual master. This is the reason why Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) clothed his spiritual treasure & Barakah, in the shape of his books. The master himself says in `Nurul Huda’ that `for many years a true seeker has not passed my path to whom I could impart my spiritual wealth which is given to me as a trust. Thus he put his esoteric knowledge and spiritual wisdom and teachings in writing and in this way has forever made its benefit available for generations to come.