Hazrat Makhdoom Jahanian Jahangasht
Hazrat Syed Jalaluddin Husain Bukhari Makhdoom Jahanian Jahangasht was a famous fourteenth century Sufi saint from South Asia who is known to have belonged to fourteen different Sufi orders. He believed that every order was endowed with inherent spiritual greatness and therefore joined every order that then existed. He was a much-travelled person which earned him the title of Jahangasht (World Traveller).
Hazrat Jahanian was the son of Hazrat Syed Ahmad Kabir and grandson of Syed Jalaluddin Surkh-Posh Bukhari, a disciple of Sheikh Bahauddin Zakariya. His father migrated to South Asia in 630 AH / 1232 AD from Bukhara in Persia. Like his grandfather, his actual name was Jalaluddin, but he later acquired the title of Jahangasht. He also had a brother, Sheikh Sadruddin, better known as Raju Qattal who later became his spiritual disciple and khalifa.
He initially took lessons from Qazi Bahauddin of Uch, an outstanding scholar of his time. However, his teacher passed away before he could complete his education. He thus made the decision to move to Multan, which was then a renowned centre for learning and education. In Multan, he stayed at the madrasa of Hazrat Sheikh Ruknuddin Abul Fath, grandson of Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya where he was fortunate enough to be taught by eminent scholars as Sheikh Musa and Maulana Mujadduddin. During his one year stay in Multan, he studied Hidaya and Bazoodi among various other books.
Upon completion of his education, he was ordered by Hazrat Ruknuddin to return to Uch to act as an intermediary between Hazrat Jahanian's father and Hazrat Jamaluddin Khandan of Uch who were not on good terms. When he reached Uch, he conveyed the Sheikh's message to his father, who accordingly apologised to Hazrat Sheikh Jamaluddin Khandan and reconciled with him.
Hazrat Jahanian did not confine himself to a single order or to a single person. He derived spiritual ecstasy from the company of all the religious men that he met, seeking out and receiving blessings from many. He was initiated as a spiritual disciple and was conferred khilafat from 14 different Sufi orders. He first became his father's spiritual disciple and thereafter Sheikh Ruknuddin Abul Fath initiated him into the Suhrawardi order.
According to him, every Sufi order derives its inherent strength from the precepts and practice of those belonging to that order who have attained spiritual perfection. Every order and every saint has something to offer in the nature of spiritual ecstasy, spiritual blessings, spiritual exaltation, inner purification and inward illumination. Therefore, there is nothing wrong in being the spiritual disciple of more than one person and there is absolutely no harm in being affiliated with or attached to more than one Sufi order. There is not and cannot be any question of a clash of loyalty for the simple reason that every saint or order must convey something different.
During the reign of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq, he was appointed as the Sheikh-ul-Islam of Siwistan (Sehwan) and its adjoining areas. However, as directed by Hazrat Sheikh Ruknuddin Abul Fath he resigned from his post and left for Mecca to perform the pilgrimage. During his extensive travels in most parts of the Muslim world, he interacted with many Sufis. He is said to have spent twelve years travelling.
During his seven-year stay in Mecca he would study during the day and earn his living by writing copies of the Qur'an at night. After performing the pilgrimage in Mecca, he arrived in Medina where he went to offer his respects at the tomb of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. It is said that when he reached the tomb, he addressed the Holy Prophet ﷺ as follows: "Peace be upon you, O, My forefather!" A voice from the tomb acknowledged the greeting and replied: "Peace be upon you also, O my son." He spent time in Medina studying, spending about two years with Hazrat Sheikh Afifuddin Abdullah Al-Mutri, who taught him Awarif Al-Ma'arif among other books. After Hazrat Jahanian performed the pre-dawn prayers, Hazrat Abdullah would come to him with food in one hand and a lamp in the other and impart lessons on Sufism and divine philosophy. He later received khilafat from Hazrat Abdullah Al-Mutri.
One day it so happened that when he went to offer prayers at Masjid al-Nabawi, the Imam was not present at the mosque. He was thus given the honour of leading the prayers at the blessed mosque. Acting as Imam, out of love and respect for the Holy Prophet ﷺ, he stood a row back from where the Holy Prophet ﷺ would lead prayer. This act of deference evoked a great deal of praise from Sheikh Abdullah Al-Mutri.
From Medina he returned to Mecca where he met Hazrat Imam Abdullah Yafa'ee al-Yamani, the most revered Sufi in Mecca. Hazrat Yafa'ee made Hazrat Jahanian his khalifa and informed him about the status of Sheikh Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlavi, khalifa of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. On his return to Uch, Hazrat Jahanian went to Delhi to meet Sheikh Nasiruddin from whom he obtained initiation in to the Chisti order. During his time in Uch Sharif, he also met Hazrat Ashraf Jahangir Simnani and initiated him as a spiritual disciple.
Hazrat Jahanian earned the title of the Jahangasht (World Traveller) as he visited many countries including Yemen, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Transjordan, Khorasan as well as various places within the Indian subcontinent. He is also to have travelled to China, Mongolia and Ceylon. During the course of his extensive travels he came into contact with over 300 saints alone. The Book of Travels of Makhdoom Jahanian Jahangasht (Safarnama-e Makhdoom Jahanian Jahangasht), collated by Yusufi or Najmuddin Yusuf ibn Ruknuddin Muhammad Niamullah Gardizi, testifies to his extensive travels, distribution of gifts to qalandars and conversion of yogis. He made a great impact on the evolution of the South Asian Muslim society.
He firmly believed that travel was necessary for an individual's spiritual development, as it allows the individual to come into close proximity with nature and to appreciate the creation of God. He also believed difficulties encountered during the course of a journey make an individual indifferent towards the tribulations of life, while also strengthening his belief and faith.
Most of the journeys undertaken by Hazrat Jahanian took place during the reign of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq. Hazrat Jahanian spent a considerable amount of time in Uch during the reign of Sultan Firoz Shah Tughluq, cousin and successor of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq, and influenced the religious policy of the Sultan. He visited Delhi several times, and one of his important visits to the capital, in 1379-80, was marked by the compilation of his many sayings by his disciple, Abu Abdullah Alauddin Sa'd bin Ashraf into a book called the Khulasat al-Alfaz-i Jami al-Ulum.
Hazrat Jahanian was extremely devoted to prayers and ascetic practices. He would prostrate five hundred times during the course of a day and would regularly be engaged in zikr (remembrance of God). He was familiar with the seven rhythmic methods (qirat) of reciting the Quran and recited the holy book on a daily basis. He was often deeply absorbed in muraqaba (contemplation), particularly during the final years of his life.
He showed great respect and love for his sheikh, Hazrat Ruknuddin Abul Fath. On one occassion, when Hazrat Ruknuddin was descending down a staircase, he lay down next to one of the steps so that his sheikh would place his foot on him. Hazrat Ruknuddin was naturally very pleased with his devotion and humility. On another occassion, in a similar manner that the Sahaba gained blessings through using the same water that the Holy Prophet ﷺ performed wudhu with, Hazrat Jahanian used some of the water that his sheikh had taken a bath with to clean himself.
He laid great emphasis on charity and believed in the total distribution of all of one's possessions to the poor after the adoption of asceticism, rather than bequeathing the same to ones' sons. Such was his concern for the poor that he urged Sufis and the ulama to visit rulers, government officials and the rich for the benefit of the deprived. He justified his visits to Sultan Firoz Shah on these grounds. Although he did not favour the visit of the rich and the ruling class to the khanqahs, he urged Sufis to bring home to such visitors the significance of following the Shari'ah.
He also advised beginners on the Sufi path not to make attempts to understand the philosophy of the Wahdat al-Wujud as it was the domain of experts.
He passed away on 10 Zul-Hijja 785 AH / 3 February 1384 after a prolonged illness and was buried in Uch Sharif. His mausoleum is still an attraction for thousands of devotees today.