The greatness of Ali (rahmatullahi alaihi) is really great!
Do blossom the bud of my aspirations;
With the pains of separation is there great restlessness.
Salutations to you, Oh comfort to the soul of Ali (rahmatullahi alaihi)
Shah Kalimullah – the saint of Shah Jehanabaad
Hazrat Shah Kalimullah Jehanabaad (rahmatullahi alaihi) occupies a very prominent place in the history of Islam and the Chishtia silsila. The golden era of the Chishtia silsila ended with the passing of Khwaja Nasirudeen Chiragh Dehlawi (rahmatullahi alaihi); for though his successors such as Hazrat Kamaludeen (rahmatullahi alaihi) carried on his work ably, the saints of the silsila became outnumbered by numerous false sufis who claimed the rank of sainthood to try and emulate the great power, reverence and influence that the Chishtia order held. Thus despite the utmost attempts of the true mashaaikh, the lofty principles and noble aims of the Chishtia silsila became drowned in a sea of false mystics searching only to increase their own prestige, and their popularity dwindled. It was Shah Kalimullah Jehanabaad (rahmatullahi alaihi) who was responsible for revitalising and restoring the silsila to its former glory. He recreated the infrastructure of the organisation, and reasserted its primary aims as they had been in the time of Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti (rahmatullahi alaihi) and his great successors, which were the propagation of Islam and Sufism.
Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) was born on the 24th Jamaad-us-Saani 1060 AH to a noble and well-renowned family of artisans, mathematicians and engineers. His lineage is directly linked to H Abu Bakr Siddiq (rahmatullahi alaihi). His father had been specifically invited to Delhi by the Emperor Shah Jehan to oversee the construction of the Taj Mahal. Hazrat Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) once remarked that “my family’s task was to build palaces and edifices; my responsibility is to build a nation, and the hearts of a people.” He studied religious knowledge under such great ulema as Shaikh Burhani and Shaikh Abu Waida al-Hindi, the uncle of Hazrat Shah Waliullah (rahmatullahi alaihi ajma’een). Along with his families knowledge of mathematics, engineering, astronomy, philosophy and poetry, he was thus afforded an education of unparalleled breadth and depth.
The story of his attraction to Sufism is an interesting one. After becoming a learned alim he fell head over heels in love with a very beautiful girl. So enraptured was he by her that he passed his days in a madness of unrequited love, and wandered eventually into the company of a great majzoob. The majzoob made dua for him to Allah, and the very next day Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) found his love returned by the girl. However, at that very moment, Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) realised how limited his love for this mortal being was, and how much greater and deeper his love for the inner, eternal beauty of the majzoob was. Immediately he returned to the majzoob and begged to study under him. But the saint, realising that Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) was already burning up with Allah’s love, replied that all he had was fire; rather Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) should go to Shaykh Yahya Madini (rahmatullahi alaihi), for he was a sea of knowledge who would be able to cool his fire and guide him along the path. So inspired was Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) by this statement that he immediately left for Madinatul Munawwarah. Coming into the company of Shaykh Yahya Madini (rahmatullahi alaihi), he realised that there was another, deeper aspect of Islam that even he, a learned professor of deen, knew nothing of. Accepted as a mureed, he underwent strict trials and mujahedas for six years before being given the Khalifa-e-azam of Shaykh Yahya Madini (rahmatullahi alaihi). Then he was ordered to return to India and given the heavy task of restoring the Chishtia silsila in India to its former greatness.
Arriving in Delhi, he founded not only a famous Darul Uloom, but also a great Khanqah near the Jaami Mosque which his family had built. This khanqah was to become the nerve centre of a revitalised Chistiyya silsila as it once again blossomed and sent its seedlings out over India. His aim in life was to propagate the deen of Islam, and his university served this end very well. Not only did people receive outward knowledge of deen and sciences such as mathematics and astronomy, but also the inward knowledge of sufism. From here missionaries were sent out across the whole of India, such as for example his khalifa Khwaja Nizamudeen Aurungabaadi (rahmatullahi alaihi).
Hazrat Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) lived a life of complete tawakkul or reliance in Allah. His manner and teachings, both outward and inward, were exactly in accordance with the sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). He renewed the original principles of Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti (rahmatullahi alaihi) of never accepting gifts or having anything to do with the rulers of the time, a practice that had slipped into disuse after Khwaja Nasirudeen Chiragh (rahmatullahi alaihi). Such was the power of his holy presence that even the King of Delhi used to be awestruck by him, and never spoke in his company without permission. From his khanqah in Delhi, Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) would organise the Chishtia silsila across India via a great network of missionaries and khulafa. In this way the great internal cohesion that was the hallmark of the Golden Era of the Chishtis was re-established. He was so adamant about the pre-eminence of propagating Islam that he ordered every mureed of his to make it their aim in life to spread the religion. He wished to ensure that all men and women entered and progressed in Islam through love, rather than by any compulsion.
Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) wrote many books in his time as well which have been received by international acclaim. Among these were a tafseer or commentary on the Holy Quran and books of hadith. His most famous work, Kashkhol e Kaleemi, is regarded by the mashaaikh of past and present as the foremost work on the training of a spiritual disciple. Ruqqa, another book of his, prepares a beginner to enter the path to Allah. Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) saw no difference between men and women on the spiritual path, training and urging both genders equally to propagate Islam amongst others of their sex. He stressed that women are the mothers of the nation, and that they were the first and most important teachers of their children.
Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) passed away at the age of 79 after a lifetime spent in the propagation of Islam. He left behind twenty khulafa, all of whom became great walis of their times. Because of his great services to Islam and sufism he has rightly been called the Reviver of Islam in India. So influential were his teachings and methods of propagation that they have been copied and referred to by all the shaikhs from his time onwards. Khwaja Habib Ali Shah used to keep copies of Kashkhol-e-Kaleemi with him all the time, and used the great wali’s methods in his own great Khanqah in Hyderabad. May Allah give us the ability to follow the practice of this great shaikh and servant of Islam with our actions, thoughts and hearts.
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.