Chishti, Khwaja Moinuddin

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Chishti, Khawaja Moinuddin

The Times of India

A patron saint of the poor

By S. Iftikhar Ahmed

THE British Viceroy to India, Lord Curzon, used to say that he knew two persons who, even after their temporal death, ruled the hearts of Indians. They were the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti. As far as Auranzeb is concerned, the words of Lord Curzon may not be wholly true but they are certainly true for Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti who is highly respected and both Muslims and non-Muslims pay homage at his shrine in Ajmer.

With his motto ‘Love towards all, malice towards none’, he won the hearts of millions of oppressed people by sheer love, sympathy and service. That changed the course of Indian history. While preaching his message, Khawaja studied the culture and customs of the Indians. Realizing that Indians loved music, he established the custom of mehfil-e-sama in which the message of Islam was given through poetry which later took the form of Qawwali.

This great saint, popularly known as Khawaja Gharib Nawaz (patron of the poor), the title he earned for helping the poor, was born in a small village called Sanjar, near Seestan (a city in Southern Iran), on 14th of Rajab in 536 Hijra. His lineage can be traced back to Hazrat Imam Hussain. After his primary education he was sent to Nishapur. He had not finished his studies when the Ghaznavis invaded Nishapur in 549 Hijra. All his friends and colleagues were killed in the attack, but he was able to escape. No sooner had he returned that his father died and all the responsibility of the house fell upon him. Khawaja was only 15 years old at the time. His father had left him a garden, which was the only source of income. Soon after, his mother also died which grieved him a lot and he lost all interest in life.

One day a pious man, Ibrahim Qandoozi, came to his garden. Moin offered him a bunch of grapes to eat. Instead of eating, he chewed the stem and then asked Moin to chew it.

After this, Moin’s heart completely changed. He reviewed his life and thought that the purpose of life was not to earn, eat and sleep but to find the truth, to help others and to remove evil form people’s hearts. He immediately sold his garden and went to Bukhara and Samarkand to learn the Holy Quran, Ahadith, Fiqah (Islamic Jurisdiction), logic and other branches of knowledge. Soon he became a scholar of repute.

He returned to Baghdad and became the disciple of Khawaja Usman Harooni. After completing his training in mysticism, his murshid (teacher) asked him to go round to meet people. He met almost all the contemporary saints and mystics such as Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani and Shahabuddin Suherwardi. In 567 Hijra, when he returned, his murshid gave him his kharqa (cloak), stick, slippers and the prayer mat, as a gesture to make him his deputy.

Then Khawaja Moin left for Hajj and in the Holy land he had the honour of seeing the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in his dream saying: “Moin, go to Hindustan (India) and make Ajmer your seat for spreading Islam.”

India, at the time, had become the centre of idolatry. Although Mahmood Ghaznavi, by breaking the idols at Somnat, had established Islamic rule but his progeny could not keep the grip on the rule. Idolatry restarted. Khawaja came to Lahore in 586 Hijra, at the age of 50, with no soldiers and no weapons but only a few companions.

After spending 40 days at the shrine of Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh, he moved to Multan where he stayed for five years and learned Sanskrit. Learning Sanskrit was important to him because he was to invite the Hindus to Islamic teachings. From there he migrated to Ajmer (India) where he stayed till his temporal life ended.

Prithvi Raj Chohan ruled Delhi and Ajmir when Khawaja reached there. Chohan placed a lot of resistance to Khawaja’s stay in Ajmer but was helpless before the saint’s spiritual powers. Instead, his own men started coming into the folds of Islam. Seeing him a threat to his rule, Chohan asked him to leave the area.

Smiling, Khawaja replied: “Just wait for a few days.”

Soon Sultan Shahabuddin Ghauri from Afghanistan attacked Delhi and killed Chohan. This opened a new era of the Muslims rule.

Khawaja Moinuddin was blessed with amazing spiritual powers. In 633 Hijra, when the saint was about 97 years old, he saw Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki in his dream, looking very upset. Qutbuddin, a young man who had accompanied him while coming to India and had become his favourite disciple, was sent to Delhi. Khawaja asked him why he was upset, to which he said: “A young beautiful woman has alleged that he is the father of her new born baby. The matter is in the Sultan’s court and people are demanding justice.” Saying this, Qutbuddin started crying. Khawaja asked him to tell the Sultan to wait for him.

The next morning, the upset saint set out for Delhi despite his very old age. Sultan Shamsuddin Altmash, himself a disciple of Qutbuddin, was also very upset and preferred to wait for Khawaja. When he reached Delhi the court was convened. The woman repeated her allegation.

Khawaja affirmed the piety and innocence of Qutbuddin but that was not enough to satisfy the court. Then he asked the woman to tell the truth and save herself from disgrace. She stood firm on her allegation. At last Khawaja asked the Qazi: “Would you accept the witness of the child if he himself tells the truth?”

“How is it possible?” asked Qazi, “However, if it does happen then no room would be left for any doubt.” The Sultan also agreed.

Khawaja went closer to the woman carrying the child. He placed his finger on the lips of the child and said: “O innocent soul, forgive me for giving you the trouble but this has become necessary to show the people who want to defame a servant of Allah. Tell us who your father is.”

The lips of the child moved: “Assalam Alaikum Sultan-e-Hind. My father is one of the prominent Hindu sardars sitting beside the Sultan.”

The entire court was stunned at this unusual feat of Khawaja. The sardar fell at the feet of Khawaja and sought his forgiveness. No one could raise a finger anymore toward Qutbuddin.

As Khawaja approached the end of his life, he had completed his mission by enlightening millions of Hindus. On 6th of Rajab, 633 Hijra, after Isha prayers, he passed on to his next life.

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