I am restless now; my state destroyed – With the burden of sin is my record blackened;
I cannot trace the path leading to your door. Salutations to you,
look upon me now with eyes of mercy Oh Nizamudeen! Beloved of the Lord.
Hazrat Nizamudeen Auliya (rahmatullahi alaihi) is known by many titles, and deservedly so, for he is one of the greatest saints that India has produced. It was this widely renowned and universally respected saint who continued the sterling work of Hazrat Baba Faridudeen (rahmatullahi alaihi) as the acknowledged head of the Chishtiyya silsila. Hazrat Nizamudeen Auliya (rahmatullahi alaihi) founded the Nizamiyya branch of the order just as Hazrat Sabir Paak (rahmatullahi alaihi) had founded the Sabriyya branch.
Hazrat Nizamudeen Auliya (rahmatullahi alaihi) was born in Baduan in 636 a.h. to Hazrat Sayyid Ahmed Bukhari (rahmatullahi alaihi) a wali and noted jurist; but as with all the Big Five, he lost his father at a young age. His pious and highly intelligent mother ensured that he received spiritual and religious education from the foremost masters of the time. Due to his extraordinary intellect, he became an alim whilst still a child, but the fire in his heart soon turned him towards the path of the spirit. Hearing of the resounding reputation of Hazrat Baba Faridudeen (rahmatullahi alaihi), he became enamoured of the great saint and decided to meet him. Stopping for a time in Delhi, he heard the muezzin call out one night,
Has not the time come for the hearts of the faithful To remember Allah and bend by His love?
The words proved a divine call and only inflamed his love for Hazrat Baba Faridudeen (rahmatullahi alaihi). He set out immediately and arrived in Ajodhan to be welcomed by the great saint with open arms. One of his most famous titles, ‘Mahboob e Elahi’, or ‘beloved of God,’ comes from his meeting with the great saint. Baba Faridudeen (rahmatullahi alaihi) declared that those words were written upon his forehead in letters of light. After his spiritual training, he was afforded the khilafat-e-azam and sent back to Delhi. Baba Faridudeen (rahmatullahi alaihi) prophesied, “You will be a spacious tree under which oppressed humanity will take shelter and find comfort.”
Thus Nizamudeen Auliya (rahmatullahi alaihi) moved to Delhi with his mureeds and settled in Ghyaspur, a secluded township where he could avoid the bustle of the huge city. This village soon became as busy as Delhi itself, and eventually he thought of leaving. Then however, he received a divine message through the tongue of a young sufi who said, “true courage lies in finding peace and seclusion amidst the bustle of the worldly crowd.” Thus warned, he remained in Ghyaspur until his last breath. A khanqah was built for him by one of his mureeds, and soon became a mighty centre of learning.
Courtiers, princes and the rich, who had previously led lives of debauchery, drinking and sin were so powerfully influenced by the austere, moral life and spiritual lessons of Nizamudeen Auliya (rahmatullahi alaihi) that they adopted in their thousands a new and clean style of living. Most devoted themselves to the service of the great shaykh for the rest of their lives.
Under Hazrat Nizamudeen Auliya (rahmatullahi alaihi), the sun of the Chishtiyya silsila reached the zenith, and its power and influence attained heights that it has never equalled. In addition to being a spiritual master and distinguished alim, Nizamudeen Auliya (rahmatullahi alaihi) was also an administrative genius. Throughout India, he established literally thousands of khanqahs after the model of Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani’s (rahmatullahi alaihi); he sent his khulafa across the length and breadth of the great nation, especially to the hitherto unexplored south. His primary khanqah in Delhi became a veritable fountain of divine wisdom and knowledge, and the centre of religious, moral and social education for hundreds of thousands of aspirants throughout the eastern Islamic world.
Nizamudeen Auliya (rahmatullahi alaihi) lived for near a century, during which time Delhi witnessed the rise and fall of no less than seven kingdoms. Some of the sultans were the great saints devoted followers, others his avowed enemies. Despite many rich and influential men wishing to meet and pay homage to him, Nizamudeen Auliya (rahmatullahi alaihi) never entertained them, remembering Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti’s (rahmatullahi alaihi) warning never to mix with the worldly. He used to say, “My khanqah has two doors. When they enter one, I will leave through the other.” Because of his great generosity and influence, Nizamudeen Auliya (rahmatullahi alaihi) was extremely popular amongst the people of Delhi, and this naturally aroused the ire of kings and courtiers.
However, though his strongly held principles often led him to open conflict with the rulers, he absolutely refused to compromise the commandments of Shariah and traditions of Sufism.Once sultan Qutbuddin Khilji issued an edict that forbade anyone from donating any money to him; the saint responded by doubling his khanqah’s expenses and increasing its beneficiaries to 16,000 every day. The royal order thus had no effect whatsoever, and the sultan who persecuted Nizamudeen Auliya (rahmatullahi alaihi) came to a miserable end.
As with all sufis and the pious, the lessons we learn from the life of Nizamudeen Auliya (rahmatullahi alaihi) are myriad. A sufi teaches not only through words, but also in the lofty moral standards he or she sets. Love for Allah, Rasulallah (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) and Islam is radiated not only through their sermons, but in the very purity of their lives wherein can be found the highest principles of Islam. In the very simplicity of their material existences we learn the true meaning of tawakkul, or absolute trust in Allah. And through observing their actions and deeds, we discover exactly how we should lead our lives.
Rivers of wealth flowed daily into the khanqah, and was given out even more freely to the poor and the destitute, but the attire of Nizamudeen Auliya (rahmatullahi alaihi) consisted of a cloak and some badly torn clothes. Banquets were prepared every day, but Nizamudeen Auliya (rahmatullahi alaihi) subsisted on a piece of barley bread and some water for sehri – and sometimes he would not even eat that much, thinking of all the needy who could not even afford this. He loved even his most staunch enemies; once when they scattered thorns in his path, he walked over them uncaringly. Then, with his bare feet bleeding, he prayed that every thorn that had pierced him might become a rose in the grave of the thrower.
He used to recite 300 rakats of nafil salaah in twenty four hours, fast every day, and spend the entire night in worship. His mujaheda only increased with age; at eighty years, his only rest would be the nap that is sunnah for a short while after zuhr. Even so, he used to instruct his mureeds that should anyone come to see him during this time, he should be woken immediately.
Hazrat Nizamudeen Auliya (rahmatullahi alaihi) had twenty four khulafa who were sent to every part of India, though his khalifa-e-azam, Khwaja Nasirudeen Chiragh e Dehlawi (rahmatullahi alaihi), remained in the capital on his orders. Hazrat Amir Khusro (rahmatullahi alaihi), the near legendary poet, composer, inventor, linguist, historian and scholar, one of the intellectual giants of Indian history, was his most loved and devoted mureed.
Hazrat Nizamudeen Auliya (rahmatullahi alaihi) died at the age of eighty nine, after Rasulullah (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) himself visited him in a dream and told him, “I am very eager to meet you.” With almost his last breath, he ordered that all the food and money remaining in the khanqah be distributed amongst the poor and needy. After more than sixty years of heading the Chishtiyya silsila, as the sun rose during his ishraaq salaah, this great spiritual sun of India set. The whole of Delhi and the lands beyond were plunged into deepest mourning at his passing away, and his like has rarely been seen ever since. As the grief-stricken Amir Khusro (rahmatullahi alaihi) himself said upon arriving at his pir-o-murshid’s tomb,
The beloved sleeps, covering her face with the beautiful locks of her hair.
Khusro, go home! The darkness of evening has engulfed the whole world.