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Hadrath Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani رضي الله عنه (d. 583\1208)

Islamic society is essentially dynamic and not static. The work of reform within, has all along been undertaken by the saints, and the work of reform from without has been performed by the Ulemas, the learned people.

Hadrath Sheikh Abdul Qadir رضي الله عنه of Jilan, better known as Ghousal Azam, Piran-e-Pir, occupied a unique position. He successfully combined in himself, the two roles. He was the outstanding saint and the leading learned man of unquestioned greatness. He was not only an outstanding saint, sage, scholar and a reformer, but also Defender of Faith. He achieved immortality by dint of his strength and nobility of character, modesty, humbleness, pursuit of truth, self-discipline, renunciation, sacrifice, service, faith, hope and belief.

He was born on the 1st of Ramadan 491 AH in the city of Jilan(Iraq). He was a direct descendent of Hadrath Imam Hasan رضي الله عنه and Hadrath Imam Husain رضي الله عنه, the two distinguished sons of Hadrath Ali رضي الله عنه and Bibi Fathima رضي الله عنه, and maternal grandsons of Holy Prophet ﷺ. He was also related to Hadrath Khwaja Garib Nawaaz رضي الله عنه of Ajmer both maternally and paternally, and whom he met twice in his lifetime.

After receiving his early education at home and at a school in Jilan he proceeded to Baghdad in pursuit of knowledge and learning there. After completing his education, he became a teacher in the school of his teacher-Hadrath Qazi Abu Said رضي الله عنه. He proved a very successful teacher and students came from far off to attend his classes. Not long afterwards, he entered the mystic order by becoming a disciple of Hadrath Qazi Abu Said Al Mubarak رضي الله عنه. He passed his days in spiritual exercises, rigours and self-discipline. In this condition of absorption he wandered for full twenty five years in Iraq . He was known as Mehboob-e-Subhani (Beloved of Allah).

After great trials, tribulations, privations, hardships and rigours he obtained fame, following respect, prestige and above all, the crown of immortality.

Throughout his life he exhibited very many supernatural powers. He had to exhibit those powers in order to fulfil his mission in life, which was the propagation of Truth. Society was at its lowest ebb spiritually and he assigned to himself the task of reconstruction, renovation, regeneration and reorientation of society in order to re-establish a new social order based on love, righteousness, truth and justice. He breathed his last at the age of ninety two years on 11 Rabi-Us-Sani 583 AH.

The Qadri Order of the Sufis, now spread throughout the world, owes its very existence to him. The Order now claims myriads of people in its fold, in different countries and climates, having different names and nomenclatures, belonging to different nations and guided and inspired by, and devoted to the great guide and leader – Ghousal Azam, Piran-e-Pir.

Hadrath Ghousal Azam رضي الله عنه was an outstanding scholar of eminence and repute. His preachings and discourses swayed the masses and the classes. There can be no doubt that the world can still learn much from his writing, teachings, sayings and preachings. His message is a sacred trust. His life is a shining example of victory of truth and righteousness over the forces of darkness and deception.

Hadrath Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti رضي الله عنه (d. 633\1236)

Hadrath Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chisti Sanjari رضي الله عنه, popularly known as “Khwaja Gharib Nawaaz” (the Benefactor of the Poor), was the founder of the Chistiya Order of Sufis in India . He is one of the most outstanding figures in the history of Islamic mysticism.

He was born in 536 AH (1141 AC) in Sijistan ( Persia ) to parents directly descended from the Holy Prophet of Islam. He received his early education and training from his father. At an early age he renounced the world and became a devoted mureed (disciple) of Hadrath Khwaja Usman Harooni رضي الله عنه, a great sufi mystic of his time.

During 20 years of hard training in Islamic mysticism under this great religious master, the young seeker of Truth had the opportunity of meeting Khwaja Abu Ali Ishaq Shami رضي الله عنه (of Chist), the founder of the ChistiyaOrder, Sheikh Abdul Qader Jilani رضي الله عنه (of Baghdad), the founder of the Qadiriya Order, Sheikh ShahabuddinSuhrawardi رضي الله عنه, the founder of the Suhrawardi Order, Khwaja Auhaduddin Kirmani رضي الله عنه and Khwaja MahmudIsfani رضي الله عنه – great names in the illustrious galaxy of Muslim saints.

After having completed his mission in the Middle East , he was divinely inspired from Mecca and Medina to go to Ajmer ( India ) to preach the gospel of Universal Truth and Brotherhood through Sufism. He made his first stop at Lahore where the great scholar and saint, Shaikh Al-Hajwari رضي الله عنه (Hadrath Data Ganj Baksh) lies buried. After receiving spiritual illumination he went to Multan , a rendezvous of saints and scholars from the Middle East . It was from here that he settled in Ajmer at the age of 52 in the teeth of staunch opposition and conducted his sacred mission all over the sub continent for 44 years before passing away in 633AH (1236 AC).

His Khalifas (spiritual descendants) carried on his grand mission with amazing success throughout India for over 300 years, among whom were the following:-

1.       Hadrath Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki رضي الله عنه ( Delhi )

2.       Hadrath Khwaja Fariduddin Masood “Ganj Shakar” رضي الله عنه (Pak Patan)

3.       Hadrath Makhdoom Allauddin Ali Ahmed “Sabir” رضي الله عنه (Kalyar)

4.       Hadrath Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia “Mehboob Elahi” رضي الله عنه ( Delhi )

5.       Hadrath Khwaja Naseeruddin Mahmood “Roshan Chirag” رضي الله عنه ( Delhi )

Hadrath Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki رضي الله عنه (d. 634/1237)

He was the first spiritual successor of Hadrath Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti رضي الله عنه. He was a picture of patience and forbearance. He suffered extreme hardships and privations during his mujahedas (devotional practices) and riyazat (strivings). He offered 3000 darood o salaams every night in praise of the Holy Prophet ﷺ, Zikr of Almighty Allah and 95 rakaats of namaaz daily (including nights). In the concluding years of his life he used to recite and complete the Holy Quraan twice every day. He has written a masterpiece in “Fawaid-us-Salikin” which contains all those delicate points, instructions and life-long experiences which are necessary for a Sufi to achieve perfection in this divine creed. He had 27 Khalifas (spiritual successors) who carried on his teachings in Sufism in different parts of India . He is sometimes referred to as Shaheed-e-Mohabbat (Martyr of Allah’s love) because he died in a state of wajd (ecstasy). He is buried in Delhi , India .

Hadrath Baba Fariduddin Ganj Shakar رضي الله عنه (d. 661/1263)

After the untimely demise of Hadrath Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki رضي الله عنه, the mantle of India ’s spiritual leadership in the illustrious Order of Sufis fell upon the shoulders of Hadrath Baba Fariduddin رضي الله عنه. He was one of the most brilliant stars of the Chistiya Order of Sufism, In addition to his spiritual attainment, he was also a flowing river of knowledge that quenched the thirst of millions of eager aspirants. His spiritual knowledge and knowledge of the Prophet’s Islamic laws were perfect in every respect. He placed great emphasis on the acquiring of knowledge, which he regarded as higher than all kinds of devotions in the name of Allah.

Because of the political upheavals in Delhi , he moved the centre of the Chistiya mission to the peaceful seclusion of Ajodhan which became the fountainhead for divine knowledge and blessings. His Khanqahbecame a university of Islamic teaching and spiritualism, where thousands of aspirants, scholars and dervishes flocked to receive training and guidance under the patronage of the great saint. It came as no surprise when Emperor Akbar later changed the name of Ajodhan to Pak Patan (the holy town).

Hadrath Baba Fariduddin رضي الله عنه is held in high esteem for his arduous mujahedas which enabled him to reach the pinnacle of perfection and glory in the realism of Sufism. He enjoys 21 titles of which Ganj Shakar became the most popular. He also made mureeds in the Qadiriya Silsila of Sufis. He is buried in Pak Patan , Pakistan .

Hadrath Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia رضي الله عنه (d. 725/1323)

He was also known as “Sultan-ul-Mashaikh” (distinguished leader of the Sufi Saints of his time in India ) and “Mehboob-e-Elahi” (Beloved of Allah). He succeeded Hadrath Baba Fariduddin رضي الله عنه as the highest spiritual leader in India . In addition to his spiritual attainments and perfection, he was a most distinguished scholar and an administrative genius. His Khanqah in Delhi became the reservoir of Divine Wisdom and Knowledge, religious learning and moral and social training for over 50 years.

He founded Khanqahs all over India , and sent his trained Khulafas who acquitted themselves most brilliantly in their missionary duties especially in imparting lessons in Truth and Love. He saw seven kingdoms of Delhi rising and falling. He never visited the courts of any of the ruling monarchs, neither did he permit them to come near him all his life, thus observing one of the most important principles of Sufism in this respect.

Charity and piety were deeply ingrained in his life because he himself had tasted the bitter pills of poverty and privations in his childhood and youth. He lived and died for the welfare of the poor of India . He is buried in Delhi , India .

Among his mureeds (followers) was one Hadrath Amir Khusro رضي الله عنه – a great Sufi, a wealthy merchant who gave up all, an intellectual giant of many languages, an artist, a prolific author, a genius musician (he invented the Sitar), a versatile composer, and above all a most dutiful and devoted mureed.

Hadrath Khwaja Nasiruddin Mahmood رضي الله عنه (d. 757/1358)

More popularly known as Roshan Chirag and Chirag-e-Delhi. He joined the circle of Hadrath Nizamuddin Aulia’s رضي الله عنه disciples and was initiated as a mureed and then as his spiritual successor. He was the last of the recognised Khulafas of the Golden Age of the Chistiya Order in India and rose to the occasion while playing his role brilliantly under the most trying circumstances by the will of Allah and the blessings of his predecessors. He kept up the traditions of the Chisti Order most honourably with great diligence and foresight and his popularity as a great scholar and spiritualist of his time reached as far as Iraq , Egypt , Arabia and Iran .

Delhi continued as before to be a great centre of Islamic learning and Sufism. Thousands of scholars attended his centre of Islamic learning for the perfection of their education and wisdom in spiritualism. His rare generosity and unheard of magnanimity enabled him to enjoy high esteem in the Sufi world. He is a unique symbol of Forbearance and Humility. He is buried in Delhi in India .

Hadrath Khwaja Makhdoom Ali Ahmed Sabir رضي الله عنه (d. 690/1291)

More popularly known as Hadrath Sabir Paak رضي الله عنه. He has a highly amazing life story in the history of Sufism in India . He was quite a different flower from the fragrant garden of the Chistiya Order. He was a direct descendent of Hadrath Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani رضي الله عنه and nephew of Hadrath Baba Fariduddin رضي الله عنه (who was his Pir o Murshid). He was a picture of “patience personified.”

At the age of 31, Hadrath Baba Fariduddin رضي الله عنه appointed him as the spiritual leader of Kalyar in Northern Indiawhere religious values were deteriorating. However, a mighty conflagration engulfed the city of Kalyar because the Imam and the Governor refused to accept him. He was compelled to show his wrath to uphold the glory of Divine Truth and its noble principles. He spent the rest of his life engrossed in an overwhelming contemplation (sukr). He is buried in Kalyar , India .

His only mureed and Khalifa was Hadrath Khwaja Shumsuddin Turk رضي الله عنه of Panipat, India .

Hadrath Khwaja Suleman Tawsawi رضي الله عنه (d. 1268/1851)

Hadrath Khwaja Suleman Tawsawi رضي الله عنه was born in 1184 AH (1770 AC) in Punjab , India . He was four years old when he received instructions in Quraanic studies. After studying Persian he left for the town of Kot Mihanwhere he learnt Arabic. Here he met Hadrath Khwaja Noor Mohamed Moharwi رضي الله عنه (a khalifa of Hadrath Shah Fakhruddin Dehlwi رضي الله عنه) and became his mureed at the Mazaar Shareef of Hadrath Sayed Jalal رضي الله عنه.

When he was 21 years old his Peer bestowed the Khilafath on him and later stationed him at Tawsa Shareef in Punjab . He spent 60 years here and spread the message of Islam to the masses. People came from far and wide to this humble village, 30 km from Ghazi Khan. Mosques and Madressas were built, some fifty ustaadswere teaching in his Madressas, each one equivalent to a Darul Uloom.

Hadrath Khwaja Suleman Tawsawi رضي الله عنه lived till the age of 84 and during this period he confirmed Khilafath on seventy of his mureeds. One of the most notable of these Khulafas was Hadrath Khwaja Hafez Mohamed Ali رضي الله عنه of Khairabad, near Lucknow in India .

Hadrath Hafiz Sayed Khwaja Mohamed Ali Shah Khairabadi رضي الله عنه (d. 1266/1849)

Hafiz Paak رضي الله عنه (as he was popularly known) is the direct descendant of the Holy Prophet ﷺ, following the lineage of Hadrath Ghausal Azam رضي الله عنه. He was one of the leading Khulafas of  the great illuminary of Punjab (India ), Hadrath Khwaja Suleman Tawsawi رضي الله عنه.

He was born in 1192 AH (1778AC). He committed the Holy Quran to memory and enrolled as a student in Khairabad, later proceeding to Shahjahanpur and finally to Delhi.

On the specific instructions of his Sheikh he started the process of Peeri Mureedi. Thousands of people pledged ba’it on his hand. He established his Khanqah in Khairabad. It proved to be the cradle of learning which later became famous as the Khairabadi school of thought. He was a very practical man who attracted a number of knowledge-thirsty and spiritual-hungry personalities from the length and breadth of India. He also spent ten years in the Haramain (Mecca and Medina).

Hafiz Paak رضي الله عنه was referred to as the “Shibli of the Era” and “Sultan-ul-Mashaikh”. He kept away from kings and affluent arrogant people. He passed away on 19 Zil Qada 1266 AH at the age of 71. One of his most well known Khulafas is Hadrath Khwaja Habib Ali Shah رضي الله عنه, the Pir-O-Murshid of Hadrath Soofie Saheb رضي الله عنه.

Hadrath Khwaja Habib Ali Shah رضي الله عنه (d. 1322/1904)

Hadrath Habib Ali Shah رضي الله عنه was born at Hyderabad , Deccan , India . He was the fourth son of a philanthropic billionaire, Nawab Ahmad Yar Khan Muhyud Dawlah. His birth was the miraculous prediction made by Hadrath Khwaja Hafiz Muhammad Ali Shah رضي الله عنه of Khairabad, India , who made regular spiritual and educational visits to Hyderabad , that a “spiritual” child will be born in the Nawab’s house. Although the wife of the Nawab had passed child-bearing age, a child was born.

When this child grew up he renounced his title and an estate worth several billion rupees and entered the realms of true faqiri. He showed his ameeri in later life when he hardly had any material possessions and yet during his trips to the blessed city of Ajmer Shareef he was seen distributing countless rupees to the needy and indigent.

The city of Khairabad was a centre of learning and the Khanqah was a popular focal point for the training of ulema. He received his spiritual training here under Hadrath Khwaja Hafiz Mohamed Ali Shah رضي الله عنه who was the Shaikh and teacher at the centre. Before long, the Shaikh appointed him as a Kutub of Kokan and instructed him to serve the community of the cosmopolitan city of Mumbai ( Bombay ).

He left for Bombay where he established a centre in Dockyard Road , Majgown, which still exists today, perpetuating the legacy of selfless service for which its founder was famous. Hadrath Habib Ali’s entire life speaks of profound spirituality, unblemished service and countless miracles. His spiritual lineage or Silsila was the Chistia, Qadiria as well as various other orders. He not only made mureeds (disciples) but trained them to serve as khulafas (spiritual successors). He sent his renowned khulafas to the different parts of the world with the specific instructions that they provide selfless service to humanity and that they propagate Islam in its pristine purity, restraining from indulging in futile debates and vain arguments.

Hadrath Khwaja Habib Ali Shah رضي الله عنه visited the mazaars of Auli-Allah in India and it was during his meditation at the tomb of Hadrath Khwaja Nasiruddin Chiraag رضي الله عنه in Delhi that he was instructed to post his capable Khalifa, Hadrath Soofie Saheb رضي الله عنه to South Africa in 1895.

Hadrath Khwaja Habib Ali Shah رضي الله عنه passed away in Bombay on 6 Zil Haj 1322 (1904). It was decided that his body be taken to Hyderabad by train so that he could be buried there. The normally twenty-four hour train journey took three days because of the multitudes of people that gathered at every major station along the route and insisted on offering Janaza prayers. Eventually, on 10 Zil Haj, his body was laid to rest next to the mosque in the city of his birth.

But his spirit lives on, not only in Hyderabad but wherever he has sent his faithful Khulafas, including the southern tip of the distant continent of Africa through Hadrath Soofie Saheb رضي الله عنه. He also wrote twenty-five books on Tasawwuf.

His Khulafas among others are:-

Hadrath Hajee Shah Goolam Mohamed Soofie Saheb Siddique, Hadrath Sayed Hafiz Mohamed Ali Shah, Hadrath Shah Mohamed Ibrahim Soofie Siddiqui, Hadrath Shah Maqbool Ilahi, Hadrath Dawood Ali Shah. (May Allah’s blessings be upon them).

Tha Sajjada Nasheens of his Khanqah at Hyderabad were:-

Hadrath Sayed Hafiz Mohamed Ali Shah رضي الله عنه, Hadrath Habib Sani رضي الله عنه, Hadrath Shah Hafiz Pasha Habibi رضي الله عنه (1979-1989).

The present Sajjda Nasheen is:- Hadrath Jawaad Pasha Habibi (1989 to present).

Authors’ Note:  Hadrath Khwaja Suleman Tawsawi رضي الله عنه was the Pir O Murshid of Hadrath Khwaja Hafiz Muhammad Ali Shah رضي الله عنه, who was the Pir o Murshid of Hadrath Khwaja Habib Ali Shah رضي الله عنه, who was the Pir o Murshid of Hadrath Soofie Saheb رضي الله عنه.