Nizam-ud-din Auliya

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Khawaja Nizamuddin Aulia, the founder of Silsila-e-Nizamia, a branch of Chistiya order, was born in 1238. His real name was Muhammad but his father called him Ahmed. His birthplace was Badaun, an important political and cultural center in the eastern provinces. His ancestors belonged to Bukhara who came to India in order to be secure from the Mongol invasions. He was orphaned in a young age of five. His mother took care of his education and sent him to the ablest teachers of Badaun and Delhi. He was a good debater and acquired education of Quran, Hadis and jurisprudence to be duly qualified for the post of a Qazi. But despite the fact that he lived in abject poverty, his passion was knowledge through lectures and books. Having no fondness for worldly career he left Delhi for Ajodhan in1257 and received his spiritual training from Baba Farid. After a few visits he became one of the most favorite disciples of Baba Farid and within four years he became his caliph. He visited Ajodhan ten times, three in the life of his mentor and seven after his death. He settled down in Delhi, which was prone to suffer a setback since Baba Farid, the successor of Khwaja Qutb-ud-din Bakhtiar Kaki had chosen the distant Pakpattan for his devotions and spiritual labors. Initially he lived from hand to mouth in seclusion. Later he devoted himself to the people. He possessed great influence in the political domain of the capital and was immensely popular among the people and elite.

Hazrat Nizam-ud-din Aulia, a man of great ability and strength of character, was also called as Sultan-ul-Hind as well as Sultan-ul-Mashaikh (king of the saints). He was well organized in sending a number of disciples to Gujarat, Bengal and the Deccan where they became centers of missionalry and sufi activities. In Bengal, his disciple Ala-ul-Haque, the father of even more famous Nur Qutb-i-Alam, acquired great influence and was held in awe even by the kings. His devotees comprised some of the most notable personalities of Delhi. Khizr Khan, son of Ala-ud-din was on of his disciples. When Mubarak Shah ascended the throne in place of Khizar, Nizam did support him. The celebrated poets Amir Hasan and Amir Khusrau, and the celebrated historian Zia-ud-din Barani were also among his favorite disciples. The most important document about the versatile personality of Sultan-ul-Mashaikh is Fawaid-ul-fu’ad written by Amir Hasan Al Sijzi. It is not only a mirror of highly intellectual, ethical and spiritual attributes of Sultan-ul-Mashaikh but also an important source book for the cultural history of the early period. An important figure was his principal caliph, Naseer-ud-din, well known as Chiragh-i-Delhi. He was advised to stay on in Delhi. Even if he had to suffer hardships and tribulations. Another well known disciple was a leading sufi, Maulana Shams-ud-din Yaha with whom Sultan Muhammad Tughluq became angry and said to him: “What a learned man like you doing in Delhi? You should go to Kashmir and preach Islam to the idolaters of the Valley.”

Sultan Ghiyas ud Din Tughluq was antagonistic to him and the conflict between the Sultan and Nizam-ud-din Aulia on the issue of Sama continued till the end of their lives. The Sultan prosecuted him on instigation of Nizam’s opponent Qazi Jalal-ud-din. However, after a good deal of debate the Nizam was allowed to listen to Sama but the other sects such as Haidri and Qalandari were banned to listen to Sama. The Qazi was dismissed by the Sultan after the incident. It is not surprising to see both Hindus and Muslim praying at his shrine because he was a mystic who transcended all barriers off religion, race and language in dealing with human beings. When God himself made no discrimination in distributing the bounties of nature to people of different faiths and nationalities, he argued then who we are to slot them into compartments. It is said that while he frequently interacted with both Muslims and Hindus, he kept away from the rulers of the day. Not even once did he visit the court of the thirteen sultans who ascended the throne while he was living in Delhi. Once he said whilst other mystics were busy in God, Nizamuddin was engaged in creating a sense of security for the people in turmoil. Amir Khusro had once described him as the “the healer of the heart”.

Human sufferings left deep impact upon him. Despite his belief in time as the most precious thing with a mystic, he didn’t hesitate to deviate from a meticulously planned routine whenever a needy person approached him for help. Even petty episodes affecting the common man moved him to tears. He was a firm believer in non-violence, and used to say: “If a man places a thorn in your way and you place another in his way there will be thorns everywhere.” Blessed with great spiritual powers he preferred to interact with the people on one-to-one basis. Because of this attitude, the needy and the depressed cutting across religious and social divides came to him with their problems. He believed that no spiritual exercise, no penitence, no prayer and no vigil had greater value in the eyes of God than bringing consolation to distressed hearts.

He died in 1325 in Delhi after a period of illness. He lies buried in Delhi whose tomb is visited by millions of Muslims, Hindus and people of others faiths round the year, even to this day.

This article was last updated on Monday, Jan 03, 2005