Hazrat Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlavi
Nasiruddin Mahmud Chirag-e-Delhi (or Chiragh-e-Delhi) was a prominent saint of the Chishti Order. He was a mureed (disciple) of the great saint, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and later his khalifa (successor). He was the last recognised khalifa of the Chishti Order from Delhi and was given the title, "Roshan Chirag-e-Delhi", which in Urdu means "Illuminated Lamp of Delhi".
In his lifetime Khwaja Nasiruddeen Chiragh witnessed the final ruin of the kingdom of Delhi and the fragmentation of the Chishtia silsila. Under his guidance, the sacred order managed to stay true to its principles of remaining above politics and the whims of kings, even though in his haste to combat the popularity of the silsila, the reigning sultan destroyed Delhi itself.
Hazrat Khwaja Nasiruddin, like his predecessors, also belonged to a noble heritage although historians differ in their points of view regarding his lineage. "Khazinat-ul-Aulia" states that he is a descendant the illustrious Hazrat Imam Husain Ra.gif while others state that he is a descendant of Hazrat Umar ibn Khatab Ra.gif, the second Caliph of the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
His grandfather, Sheikh Abdul Latif Yazdi, first migrated from Khorasan, northeastern Iran, to Lahore where Hazrat Khwaja Nasiruddin's father, Sheikh Mahmud Yahya was born. Thereafter, the family settled in Ayodhya, in Awadh where they flourished in the trade of woollen goods and were considered to be a well-to-do family.
Hazrat Nasiruddin lost his father at the age of 9 and the responsibility of his education devolved upon his mother. From a very young age, he was fired with religious devotion, and was very particular about punctuality in congregational salaat.
According to Khair-ul-Majalis, he is reported to have studied Bazoodi (the famous book on Islamic Jurisprudence) from Qazi Mohiuddin Kashani but according to Siar-ul-Aulia, he is said to have studied Bazoodi and Hadaya under Maulana Abdul Karim Sherwani. After the death of the Maulana Abdul Karim, he was sent to Maulana Iftikharuddin of Gilan, who was well-versed in the various branches of Islamic knowledge.
Hazrat Nasiruddin renounced the world at the age of 25 and began mujahedas (strivings) against the Nafs and for a period of 8 years, it is reported that he lived in the surrounding mountains and jungles of Awadh with a fellow dervish. During this period, he always observed fasting and would break his fasts with leaves and herbs found in the area.
According to Siar-ul-Aulia and Mirat-ul-Asrar, Hazrat Nasiruddin came to Delhi at the age of 43 and joined a circle of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya's mureeds.
One day, when Hazrat Nizamuddin was descending from his hujra at the top of his Khanqah. he noticed Sheikh Nasiruddin Mahmud standing despondently in the shade of a nearby tree. He called him over and after briefly introducing himself, Hazrat Nasiruddin said that he had come to help dervishes in "putting on their shoes". This demonstration of humility was enough to win the affection of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya who honoured him by accepting him as a mureed. Hazrat Nasiruddin devoted himself wholeheartedly to the service of his Pir.
His love and devotion to his Pir was such that on one occasion, Khwaja Mohammed Gaazrooni, a mureed of Hazrat Khwaja Bahauddin Zakariya of Multan, was at Hazrat Nizamuddin's Khanqah. During the night, Khwaja Gaazrooni woke up for Tahajjud (the late night prayer) and went to perform wudhu (ablution). Upon returning, he could not find his clothes and began to complain loudly. Hazrat Nasiruddin was upset by the noise as he thought it would disturb Hazrat Nizamuddin who was engaged in prayer at the time. In order to pacify Khwaja Mohammed's anger, he at once took off his own clothes and gave them to him. The next morning, when news of this was conveyed to Hazrat Nizamuddin, he presented Hazrat Nasiruddin with new garments and prayed for his success.
After his initiation, Hazrat Nasiruddin devoted all his time to spiritual training or mujahedas denying himself food and water for days on end. Sometimes he consumed lime juice when afflicted by intense thirst.
According to Siar-ul-Aulia, after remaining with his Pir for some time, Hazrat Nasiruddin went to stay with his mother in Awadh but due to his increasing popularity, he did not get privacy or freedom to carry out his devotional duties. He therefore asked permission from Hazrat Nizamuddin, through Hazrat Amir Khusro, to seclude himself in the jungle to which the saint replied:
“ You must stay among the people of God, suffering their intrusion with patience and toleration and you will be rewarded for this sacrifice. Different people are suitable for different tasks. I instruct some of my mureeds to observe silence and to close their door to the world, while others are ordered to stay among the people, tolerate their persecution and deal with them affectionately because this has been the way of the great prophets and saints. ”
On reading this instruction, Hazrat Nasiruddin abandoned the idea of retiring into the jungle and continued his riyazat (strivings) in the midst of the population.
In order to benefit from his Pir-o-Murshid's teaching, Hazrat Nasiruddin used to visit Delhi from time to time. However, after the death of his mother, he left Awadh and stayed with his Pir-o-Murshid permanently in a separate hujra (cell) at his Khanqah.
Towards the end of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya's life, when he saw that his mureed had accomplished all that was required to become the perfect dervish, he appointed him as his Khalifa (spiritual successor) in accordance with the divine will and handed him over the traditional Tabarrukaat (sacred relics) of the Chishtia Order.
Though all possible qualifications for the successorship rested with Hazrat Nizamuddin's brilliant and devoted mureed Amir Khusro, the khilafat was given to Khwaja Nasiruddin. As Hazrat Nizamudeen Auliya himself said, "my heart desires Amir, but Allah desires Nasiruddin." Khwaja Nasiruddin took up the mantle of the order and acquitted himself brilliantly as the head of the silsila.
Hazrat Nasiruddin Mahmud maintained the traditions of his silsila most honourably and spread the teachings of his mission in all parts of India after the demise of his Pir-o-Murshid with great diligence and foresight. His popularity as a leading sufi and scholar of his time spread far and wide, reaching as far as Persia, Arabia and Egypt.
During the early period of his Khilafat, Hazrat Nasiruddin, like his Pir-o-Murshid, had to contend with difficult situations. He gives an account of one of his experiences:
“ Once, while fasting, I could not get anything to eat for two consecutive days. There was an old acquaintance of mine who brought two rotis (bread) and some vegetables for me. In this state of extreme hunger, the food was extremely delicious — a sumptuous taste which I cannot describe. Often, during the nights, I had no light in the house. For several days on end, my oven remained cold. When some of my relatives offered me provisions, I refused and since they had understood my renouncement, they had to reluctantly give up their efforts. When someone came to see me I used to wear my Pir's jubba (cloak) and after he had gone I would change into my tattered clothing. I liked to conceal my poverty from the world by wearing my Pir's jubba. ”
After a while, his situation later improved and although he himself used to fast daily, he ordered delicious food to be prepared and served to his guests and mureeds. The great master used to take pleasure in serving his guests and mureeds himself, all the while giving them short sermons on Islam and Sufism. He used to say, "Eat for the sake of Allah, and expend whatever energy you get in devotion of Allah."
There are several stories as to how he obtained the title of Chiragh, or 'lamp'. One states that at the time of his building a water reservoir for his pir, sultan Ghiyasuddin ordered all oil supplies to the khanqah to be stopped, so that the night work could not be carried out. However, Khwaja Nasiruddin performed a miracle by transforming water into oil for the lamps, and the reservoir was built on schedule.
Another tells that once he entered the mehfil of his murshid and other sufis, he did not want to sit where he was shown, as it would mean facing his back to some of those gathered. But Nizamuddin Auliya told him, "a chiragh has no back; it sheds its light in all directions."
During the Khilafat period of Hazrat Nasiruddin Chiragh (725-757 A. H.), Sultan Mohammed Tughlaq and his son ruled a large part of India from Delhi. The great popularity and influence of the Chishtia silsila aroused the ire and suspicion of the sultan.
According to Akhbar-ul-Akhyar, it is reported that Sultan Mohammed Tughlaq appointed Hazrat Nasiruddin as his attendant and would persecute him despite his devout and righteous nature. Neverthless, the saint had to tolerate this treatment gracefully because of the teachings of his Pir-o-Murshid. On one occasion, the Sultan provided for Hazrat Nasiruddin in gold and silverware in order to test his Sufi principles with the underlying intention of entangling him in the rules of Shariat. However, when the food was served, the saint simply poured out some soup from the golden bowl into his palm and consumed it.
According to Persian historian, Mohammed Qaism Ferishta, Mohammed Tughlaq was a murderer and was prejudiced against dervishes. He ordered that all the dervishes must work for him. Sheikh Nasiruddin was given the job of the caretaker of the king's apparel but the saint refused and the Sultan imprisoned him. The Sheikh, in order to carry out the last wish of his Pir, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, agreed to serve the king which secured his freedom. However, during this period, the Sultan faced a host of problems which led to his premature death and relieved the people from his tyrannical clutches.
Khwaja Syed Mubarak, author of Siar-ul-Aulia" and a mureed of Hazrat Khwaja Nasiruddin Chiragh says:
“ Sultan Mohammed Tughlaq, who had established his sovereignty all over India, persecuted Hazrat Nasiruddin Mahmud who was a universally respected Sufi dervish of his time, and who had a vast number of mureeds. But the saint, in order to carry out the traditions of his great predecessors, always suffered this persecution with great restrain. In the concluding years of his life, the Sultan went on a campaign to Thath, about 1000 miles from Delhi. There he invited Hazrat Sheikh Nasiruddin along with other Ulema and Sheikhs to pray for his success although he did not treat them honourably. Nevertheless, they were patient and the Sultan later died. When questioned as to why the Sultan persecuted him for no particular reason, Hazrat Nasiruddin replied: "This was a matter between me and God. I therefore refrained as I did". ”
Shams Siraj Afif's Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi sheds more light on the situation:
When Sultan Mohammed Tughlaq went to Thath to quell the rebellion, he died there and Prince Feroze succeeded him. Hazrat Nasiruddin, who was present, demanded a promise from the Prince to administer due justice to the oppressed people of God. When the prince assured him that he would treat them with love and sympathy and rule them with justice and honesty, Hazrat Nasiruddin predicted that he will be granted a 40-year rule - a prediction which came true.
According to Professor Khaliq Ahmad Nizami in Tarikh Mashaikh-e-Chisht, The Chishtia silsila which had begun with Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in 587 AH came to its end with the demise of Hazrat Nasiruddin Chiragh of Delhi (his 5th Spiritual Successor). The two basic principles of this "golden period" for the Chishtia silsila were:
There was a central organisation of the silsila which had provided spiritual and cultural development of its adherents. The Khalifas and mureeds of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, Hazrat Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and Hazrat Nasiruddin Chiragh had been working in remote parts of the country, but their guidance was always provided at their centres in Ajmer, Ajodhan and Delhi.
It was against their creed to have any relations whatsoever with the kings and their courtiers.
Whilst Sultan Mohammed Tughlaq was harassing the sufis, he ordered the entire Muslim population of the city to emigrate to the city of Devgir. With this decision Delhi, the centre of Islamic learning, which was the envy of Baghdad, Jerusalem and Constantinople, where at every corner was a madressa or khanqah, became deserted; a ghost town entombed in its own dust. This dislocation, at the very headquarters of the Chishtia silsila, also disrupted the highly integrated organisation of the order. After the death of Khwaja Nasiruddin, the many provincial khanqahs such as Ajodhan, Multan and Gujarat could no longer look towards the central point of Delhi for instruction. Although the Chistiya silsila's work carried on throughout India and new Khanqahs were established in provincial areas, it lost a lot of its cohesion.
In addition, many of the silsila's younger generation joined hands with the ruling elite and spent most of their time in frivolous engagements contrary to Hazrat Baba Farid's warning, "If you wish to prosper spiritually, then do not pay any attention to the progeny of the kings." Therefore, the two basic principles of the Chishti creed became a story of the past.
Hazrat Khwaja Bande Nawaz Gaisu Daraz, the beloved mureed and Khalifa of Hazrat Nasiruddin Chiragh, performed his ghusal (bathing of the body). After the ghusal, Hazrat Bande Nawaz cut off the strings of the charpoy (traditional woven bed) upon which the ghusal was performed and preserved them as a sacred relic of his Pir-o-Murshid.
Once, Hazrat Nasiruddin Chiragh, after his Zohar prayer was engrossed in devotion in his hujra (cell) when a qalandar entered his cell and began to attack him to such an extent that blood flowed out of the door, although the attack did not disturb the great saints devotions. When Khwaja Nasiruddin's mureeds captured the man, the saint emerged from his cell and ordered them not to harm him. Hazrat Nasiruddin addressed the man apologetically and said, "If on attacking me you have experienced any pain, please forgive me." Furthermore, the great saint gave him some money and sent him on his way.
The following narrative illustrates Hazrat Nasiruddin's love of sama (music). When Hazrat Nasiruddin was returning from Thath with Sultan Feroz Shah Tughlaq, the saint parted with the king's party in order to go to Hansi to meet Hazrat Qutbuddin Munawwar. Hazrat Nasiruddin Chiragh and Hazrat Qutbuddin Munawwar had received their Khilafat from Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya on the same day and remained very close throughout their lives.
On hearing that Hazrat Chiragh had come to Hansi, Hazrat Qutbuddin ran out of his Khanqah bare-footed to meet him and received him with a most affectionate embrace. Reminiscing about the days at their Pir's Khanqah in Delhi, the dervishes could not resist their tears. A sama mehfil (gathering) was arranged in which they reached a state of wajd (ecstasy) and sukr (intoxication). After the mehfil, both dervishes insisted upon each other to lead the Asr prayer and it was finally agreed that Hazrat Qutbuddin Munawwar would led the prayer since he was the host and it was within his right under shariat. According to Shams Siraj Afeef's description of the prayer," it was a divine scene to watch the two great spiritual leaders of India offering their homage to God together after many years of separation."
Regarding sama, Hazrat Nasiruddin's says: "It is a consoling remedy for the sick. Enjoyment in sama is produced by love and not by musical instruments."
Like his Pir-o-Murshid, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, Hazrat Chiragh did not and remained celibate. In terms of wisdom and knowledge the author of Khair-ul-Majaalis compares him to Hazrat Imam Abu Hanifa Ra.gif and in terms of devotion and abstention, he is compared to Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya whom he followed scrupulously.
Once a dervish came to Hazrat Nasiruddin and complained that he was the victim of Zulm(persecution). The saint advised him:
“ You must restrain and if the oppressor still persists, you must forgive him because this is what the great dervishes have done. You will see that in the long run that the persecutor will be punished by the Divine Power. ”
According to Khair-ul-Majaalis, a king's official, who was a Syed, became a mureed of Hazrat Nasiruddin. The saint gave him a brief lecture regarding materialism:—
"You must remember that your horses in your mansion, your servants and your money will all be taken away from you one day. It is pointless to be preoccupied by such things. You should instead worry about those things that are eternal."
Afterwards, the saint asked the man's profession to which he replied he taught Quran and was also a Hafiz, (one who memorised the Quran). The saint remarked:
“ If anybody recites Quran at home or while on the move at work, then any service or profession for him is no obstruction. Such a person is a Sufi. ”
Khwaja Nasiruddin Chiragh died on 18 Ramadan 757 AH. Due to his foresight, he realised the inevitable fragmentation of the silsila after his death, and thus appointed no khilafa-e-azam, or foremost successor. At the time of his death, he said that none of his mureeds would be able to carry the weight of leadership of so mighty a silsila on their shoulders, especially since Delhi had been ruined by Muhammad Tughlaq.
He ordered the tabarrukat (sacred relics) of the silsila to be buried with him. He ordered the following:
The khirqa of his Pir-o-Murshid, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, must be put upon his chest
The asa (staff) by his side
The tasbih (rosary) on the finger of 'shahadat' (the right forefinger),
The kaasa (a special wooden bowl which dervishes carry with them to serve as their only utensil for food, water etc.) under his head
A pair of his Pir-o-Murshid's shoes under his arm.
After his death, his mausoleum was built by Feroz Shah Tughluq, the Sultan of Delhi in 1358, and later two gateways were added on either side of mausoleum.