Minach Chaitwan nir rajim.
Speech for Zahurmian’ 'Urs April 8th and 9th 2012
You may have heard these words – ‘Without a vision the people perish!’
Today I want to talk about someone who had a vision – that Divine Love
could unite people from different backgrounds, cultures, religions, colours
and classes in such a way that the quality of life of each and all could be
greatly enhanced. Further than that, that the vision incorporated the belief that
what had held good for so many centuries in the countries of East could be
applied to the cosmopolitan world of today. In fact, that by means of Divine
Love that both individuals and society could progress to achieve their
potential – a potential that was given to man by Allah and which man has so
often failed to realise; the potential to be fully human in the highest sense of
that world. The word used in Arabic is Insaan but to realise Insaan is not a
small task in a world of so many different cultures and conflicting views and
So this was not a mean ambition it was a great one. To maintain that vision
in the modern world full of division, of mutual distrust, enmity, prejudice,
narrow mindedness, materialism, selfishness and all the other ills of the
modern world - required someone of great character, fortitude, patience and
insight and above all a man imbued with the spirit of love for all and hatred
for none. ‘
‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man’. Dr Zahurul Hasan Sharib rose to that
task but he was not a lone figure, behind him stood the souls of his spiritual
ancestors, whose bodies were at rest but whose souls remained very much
alive. They held that service to mankind was the best expression of service
to Allah and their guidance to and concern for mankind remains their undying
Those ancestors can be traced back to the blessed messenger of Allah
himself, great Mohammed (saw) and to the Baraka or blessings bestowed on
the incomparably lion hearted Hazrat Ali Murtaza (ra).
Today is dedicated to Dr Zahurul Hasan Sharib Gudri Shah Baba IV who
passed into the Mercy of Allah on this day in 1996 (how quickly flows the
stream of time).
Zahurmian, as he was usually known belonged to the Gudri Shah Order of
Sufis, which, as you know, is based in Ajmer, Rajasthan. Ajmer is world
famous as the resting place of the great mystic and Saint Khawaja Muinuddin
Hasan of Sanjar, better known as Khawaja Gharib Nawaz (ra). It is the awe
inspiring influence of the great saint Khawaja Muinuddin Hasan Chishti that
so permeated Zahurmian that he was able to overcome disappointments and
obstacles placed in his way by the vile lower nature of man – man’s ‘Nafs al
Amarah’, and to emerge like a swimmer from the sea of confusion, chaos and
doubt, to realise the vision.
Khawaja Saheb was in himself evidence enough that one man can make a
difference. He himself had to overcome great difficulties to fulfil the mission
entrusted to him by Rasul Allah. He arrived in a subcontinent full of feuding
petty dynasties. People in that country had many beliefs, many competitor
gods, many languages, and a lot of superstition as well. The fabulous wealth
of the country was held by a very few and long hard labour under a cruel
caste system was the lot of the common man and woman.
Khawaja Saheb was charged with a great mission, to bring light into the
darkness to convey Truth to the struggling people. This could not be done by
philosophy alone, (India was rich with philosophers), or even by preaching
his very presence could change the minds and the thinking and the actions of
people for the better.
Khawaja Saheb, after many years of training by his guide Khawaja Uthman
Harooni (ra) was just such a person. To convey the spiritual realities to the
people he used the music which was a popular means of expression and
established the Sama as a way to bring people closer to the Truth. He is a
towering figure in the spiritual world – so much so that if you or I were
compared to a small house he would appear as a great skyscraper.
It so happened at the end of the 19th century that a saint living in Baghdad
called Hazrat Mustapha, who belonged to the Qadiri Order of Ghaus Pak
(ra), sent one of his disciples to Ajmer. He was a man of great asceticism
who was used to living in the wilderness. Saeenji Saheb, as he is popularly
known, settled there and became greatly enamoured of Khawaja Saheb; so
much so that by means of this connection, which is known as ‘Uwaisi’, he
founded a branch of the Chishti shilsilla which became known as Gudri
Shahi, after the patched coat that he wore.
During the 20th century this order grew in number and influence under Hazrat
Qazi Saheb and then Hz Muhammed Khadim Hasan. In 1973 when he passed
the succession of the Order to Zahurmian the world had become a very
changed place and ordinary people from around the world were beginning to
explore the subcontinent and its fascinating cultures. Nawob Saheb gave
Zahurmian a task - to ensure that the Order was made available to people
from very many and very different cultures.
Few, if any visitors, from abroad had been received in Ajmer at that point
and Zahurmian must have wondered, as to how the mission was to be
accomplished. Nevertheless people from various countries and cultures did
begin to arrive at his door, and a trickle fast became a flowing stream.
The same question faced by Khawaja Saheb arises again. How to give
access to the deep knowledge of Truth to the people? The desire to do this
springs from having true charity of heart, in this life and in the world unseen.
Music was a most potent tool that had been established by the Khawaja
Khawajagan to enable the people to gain immediate insight into the divine
realities. This was an example of the Sufi ability to adapt to new situations.
As was the open door philosophy of Khawaja Saheb which did not preclude
people of any background – ‘Come one, come all’.
Zahurmian translated this for the modern world by focusing on the idea of
‘quality of life’ as his central theme. Quality of life is a human potential
available to everyone.
Now most people take quality of life to mean how much money or
possessions a person owns, but Zahurmian thought differently. For him
quality of life came in the form of the richness of human interactions when
they are coloured by divine love. He often called it humanism, because it
regards man as the vice-regent of God and values above all the quality of
being fully human, irrespective of creed, religion, class or caste or colour or
The holy Qur’an talks of ‘Laqad Khalqnal fii ahsani Insanu Takwim’ and
goes on to say that man was abased to be the lowest of the low. To aspire to
return to that state in which man was first made, (in other words to be to be
truly human), must be regarded as the most important thing we can do with
The values espoused by Zahurmian’s humanism, or you could say by his
sense of humanity or Insaan, are those common to all religions and even held
by those who profess no particular religion. They include, brotherhood,
tolerance, mutual respect, charity of heart, compassion, purity of intention,
morality, and above all love which is panacea for the ills of man like no other.
Zahurmian did not seek to make converts, nor did he see things in the light of
some sort of fanatical Jihad. He merely allowed the power of the love that
was in him, which he had been blessed with by the saints, to have its effect
on people who met him.
His son and successor Hz Inaam Hasan, runs a Sufi school for poorer
children from all backgrounds and religions, and he told me recently that the
teaching of religion was not carried on in the school at all; only the nurturing
of universal values. One might say the children along with their skills are
encouraged in the development of good manners and a sense of morality
based on the teachings of Khawaja Saheb and emphasising tolerance towards
all. Inaam said that the children would learn religion and make their choices
when they were old enough to understand the issues.
You know, when a person is focused on the love of God, profoundly and
wholeheartedly, it is impossible that people in contact with that person will
not be influenced and benefited in some way. The way that it manifest in any
particular individual depends on their circumstances – the Shaykh is like a
gardener who waters, feeds, and cultivates the plants, he does not try to make
a daffodil into a rose.
The saints are like mirrors. When the sun shines on a clear mirror it is
reflected; only a fool thinks the mirror is the sun. So it is with the Light of
God. When the individual’s heart becomes clean it begins to reflect the light
of divine truth. Those who look on the mirror see themselves in that light.
Each understands it a little differently according to their nature, culture and
background - but the light is One. In the light of the sun things which were
hidden by darkness become visible. Thus each individual sees in his own
way his need to submit the individual will to the Divine Will.
We are each given a will though our will is circumscribed and limited by
circumstance. The Will of Allah is not so circumscribed. The highest
achievement of man is to unite his will with the Divine Will. This is Islam at
its most pure and it is True Religion that has no colouring of sectarianism in
it. It applies to all mankind not merely to those brought up learning Namaz
or fasting. It is the fundamental need of all mankind and each man woman
and child to acknowledge in their deepest soul their Creator. It is a great
challenge to everyone irrespective of their culture or background or
Khawaja Saheb is like a great mirror of immense dimensions and those who
live close to him in their heart are like many smaller mirrors surrounding a
The holy Qur’an speaks of those whose ‘love of God is overflowing’. This
light we speak of is the gift of Divine love to us.
Zahurmian became one such mirror showing people their own nature and how
to improve it. Those who really knew and loved him did so because he
reflected that divine light into the darkness in their hearts and thus they came
to know themselves, not by thought or intellect or speculative fancy or
imagination, but in a way that can only really be known by direct experience.
To truly know oneself in the divine light is to change one’s self from within.
Now the vision that Zahurmian had of a better quality of life provides a
framework for enabling people from many different backgrounds and cultures
to mature, to be fully human, in that light.
It enables them to be flowers of different kinds who share the same garden. It
does not seek to change people from outside by changing how they think or
their religion or their values by argument or discussion, but from inside –
thus the change involves them finding themselves changing from within. God
guides those he loves to His light.
In Zahurmian’s heart his followers became his family; a family that has many
different personalities within it, as it should; a family with people of different
qualities, but a family nevertheless; and founded on the purest and deepest
kind of love, which surpasses the understanding of that word in most peoples
experience like the sun surpasses the moon and stars.
The saints are a gift of Allah to man.
Thus it is with Zahurmian’s tolerant and accepting approach of the ways of
people in the modern world. He saw deeply into the hearts of people he did
not regard what they said, or thought, but their potential to realise their
humanity. To realise the potential of life to be lived as it should be lived,
which is to say, well.
Zahurmian wrote a poem which goes:
Let love in, around, and above you grow,
Let kindness and generosity from you flow,
Patience and courage, in all situations, ever show,
In forgiving and forgetting do not be slow.
When love enters our heart truly and deeply it flows from us to others around
us – we cannot help it. We just cannot stop loving.
Here is part of a short poem I wrote trying to explain what I believe to be ‘the
Zahuri way’ - as I like to call it. It is addressed to Zahurmian and one verse
goes like this -
.... that worshipping is not just declaring,
And fasting, and praying, and giving -
It is living each day like you, with grace,
Wisely and well, a member of the human race,
The Unseen world where Zahurmian now lives permanently is a reality! The
world we think we know, the material universe, is its shadow, so I am sure by
the Grace of God, he is here with us now; but don’t look round, you won’t
see him with these eyes – look with the eye of the heart, listen with the ear of
Our real salaam to him on the occasion of his ‘'Urs must also come from the
heart, but I will give voice to it here and now and say:-
Salaam Aleikum Zahurmian, Salaam Aleikum my dear master. ‘Urs Mubarak.
Give your blessings I pray,
On all in our company today.
Turn your mirror in this way
That each may receive a divine ray.
Link to full poem