A Short Visit to India
Khawaja Gharib Nawaz, Hazrat Muinuddin Hasan Chishti, is the living heart of the
extraordinary sub-continent of India. His death anniversary is fast approaching so it
seemed timely to make pilgrimage to Ajmer, where his mortal remains are buried, in
order to get blessings for our celebration of this important event in Southampton.
Accordingly, in Delhi I met up with my wife, Farhana who had been visiting her family in
India. After a visit to Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia’s shrine in Delhi we took a taxi to Ajmer.
Before describing this a little should be said about Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia who is
known as Mehboob Illahi, the beloved of God. He was the successor to Hazrat Baba
Farid who is buried in Pak Patan, in modern day Pakistan. Baba Farid’s spiritual guide
was Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki who was in turn the successor to Khawja Gharib Nawaz.
Mehboob Illahi’s shrine is in what is now New Delhi, situated in an area known as
Buried in the same enclosure is Hazrat Amir Khusroe, the greatest of the Indian poets.
He was also a devotee of Hazrat Nizamuddin. It is obligatory to visit his shrine before
Hazrat Nizamuddin’s as this was the wish of Hazrat Nizamuddin himself – so great was
the love they had.
One story of Amir Khusro is that one day in a caravansary he got the scent of his
master and inquired as to who had visited Hz Nizamuddin. One traveller said he had
been given a pair of his shoes by Hz Nizamuddin – so Amir Khusro offered him all the
money he had to buy the shoes. Then he took those shoes on his head and took them
like that all the way to Hz Nizamuddin.
We were very fortunate in that we arrived at Mehboob Ilaahi’s shrine at the time when
the monthly Fatiha (service of remembrance) for Khawaja Gharib Nawaz was being
I was carrying very heavy luggage of many books of Zahurmian, printed by Sharib
Press, to be sold in Ajmer, so we took a taxi there. We were surprised at how much the
route had been modernised with fast 3 lane motorway style roads.
In Ajmer were happy to meet Inaam Hasan Saheb – the successor and son of
Zahurmian and other family members such Meher, Zahurmian’s daughter, Inaams wife
and son. After visiting Khawaja Saheb we also went to Chilla and paid our respects to
all the saints buried there. Chilla is a hill about half a mile or so from Khawaja Saheb’s
shrine. There is a cave on it where Khawaja Saheb first lived when arriving in Ajmer.
On the same hill and very close to the Chilla is the shrine of Saeenji Saheb who
founded the Gudri Shahi Order. Near to that is the tomb of his successor known as
Proceeding further up the hill we find the resting place of Nawob Saheb, Zahurmian’s
Murshid and uncle. There is a small mosque and Imam Bara nearby – and of course the
resting place of our beloved guide Zahurmian - now a beautiful clean marble shrine.
Going down the hill by a different route we find the Sufi Saint School built by Inaam
Saheb. The school continues to grow in scale and now has over 400 pupils from all
backgrounds; it has ever expanding extensive facilities.
Back at the house we were very pleased to meet Linda from Italy. Inaam tells me she
had been visiting Ajmer many times over the years though we had not met her before.
We had some nice talks.
The stay in Ajmer was only three days due to the need to incorporate in a short stay a
visit to a sick relative in Rampur and to visit again some of the many shrines in Delhi so
we took our leave of the saints in that blessed place, Ajmer.
Rampur is a town which was once a princely state. There are some wonderful shrines
there also – including that of Dergai Saheb, Baghdadi Saheb, Hafiz Jamal Saheb, and
Maulvi Shah Saheb. Many qwaalis come from Rampur.
By good fortune on a second visit to Dergai Saheb we found ourselves in the midst of a
very crowded Urs – which we had not expected. We were able to offer our Dua
(personal prayer) at that time.
We returned to Delhi after a few days in Rampur. I was able by the blessing of the
saints to visit Hazrat Sarmad, Hz Haree Baree Saheb and Hz Kalim Ullah in old Delhi.
The underground Metro service in Delhi now makes this much easier than in previous
years. I also visited Hz Shah Wali Ullah which is about a mile from the old Jama Masjid
of Delhi. The same afternoon Farhana accompanied me to Mehrauli where we spent
some time in the shrine of Hz Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki the successor of Khawaja
Saheb. There we listened to some excellent Qwaali. We were also able to visit
Maqdum Samauddin Suhrewardy's shrine nearby.
Finally we visited Nasiruddin Chirag’s tomb a few miles away. He was the last in the
direct line of descendents of the Chishti tradition. With him are buried the relics passed
down from Hz Abu Ishaq Chishti. After Hz Nasiruddin’s demise the order continued to
spread through the various branches such as the Nizami Order of Hz Nizamuddin Aulia
and the Sabri order of Hz Sabir Saheb.
Zariah Sabeen who lives in Delhi joined our order shortly before we left to catch our
plane from Delhi airport.
We will just add a note here to say that in the increasingly sectarian divisions within
Islam have, in our view, no part to play in the Way of Love which the Sufi Saints have
taught and demonstrated. It was predicted that Islam would become riven by sectarian
divisions just as Christianity had been. That has proved to be the case. There is an
hadith concerning 72 sects who will be in hell whilst one only is in paradise. It is our
view that to take any part in sectarian divisions of Islam is to be diverted from what
really counts – which is the sincere love of the Beloved. Is that not enough to occupy us
that we should be concerned with sectarian differences?
‘Isms’ in general seem to us to be like buildings from which the owner has departed, the
building stands but no welcoming fire of love to warm our hearts and no cool shade to
shelter from the midday sun. How should the house matter to the one who loves the
Owner. Sufism itself, like all the other ‘isms’, suffers from this malaise too. A saint
famously said; “Once Sufism was a reality without a name, now it is a name without a
reality”. People follow different rituals – let them! We know there is a Just Judge who
will explain all these things to our satisfaction one day. The holy book tells us not to
even criticise the idols how should we be involved in criticising other believer’s
practises. Our concern to purify our own nature is work enough is it not? It is the work
for each human soul during its short stay in this world irrespective of caste, class,
gender, religion colour or sect.