This world of multiplicity has an adverse effect,
Whereas in reality my origin is unity;
These days the garden of my heart is slowly withering.
Salutations to you, O beauty of Aurang Chist,
O Nizamudeen! May my garden be refreshed.
Hazrat Shah Nizamudeen Aurangabadi (rahmatullahi alaihi) was a leading saint of southern India. As the khalifa-e-azam of Hazrat Shah Kalimullah Jahanabaadi (rahmatullahi alaihi), the responsibility of propagating Islam, as well as the reformation of the Muslim community at large fell onto his able shoulders. The Mughal empire, the light-bearer of civilisation in India for three centuries and more, was on the wane, and political instability had created an all-time low in morale. In these trying times it was Hazrat Nizamudeen (rahmatullahi alaihi) who became the torchbearer for a struggling society.
Khwaja Nizamudeen Aurangabadi (rahmatullahi alaihi)’s birth and early history are somewhat vague, though it is known that he was a descendant of Hazrat Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (rahmatullahi alaihi), the first caliph of Islam. His birthplace is thought to be Kakor, India and it was there that he received his early education. To further his studies he travelled to Delhi, the centre of learning at the time, and sought out a university. Word of the popularity of Hazrat Shah Kalimullah Jahanabaadi (rahmatullahi alaihi) reached his ears, and he decided to meet the great saint. When he arrived at the seminary of Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi), he found the door locked, as the shaykh was engaged in the spiritual musical assembly of Sama, to which outsiders were not permitted. Unaware of this, he knocked at the door and, to the amazement of the other disciples, was welcomed in by Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) and shown great love.
Soon after, he enrolled in the great saint’s university. Initially, his primary aim was to obtain religious external knowledge only; but after a time the intense spiritual atmosphere that surrounded Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) drew him closer to the path of the sufis. One day, as his shaykh prepared to leave, Hazrat Nizamudeen (rahmatullahi alaihi) came forward, dusted his murshid’s shoes, and placed them before him. Upon seeing this, Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) inquired,
“O Nizamudeen, have you come to acquire knowledge, or do you seek the path to Allah?” To this Hazrat Nizamudeen (rahmatullahi alaihi) humbly replied,
“You know better what is for me;
You know better, for us, for me.”
Upon hearing these lines, Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) recalled the prophecy of Hazrat Yahya Madini (rahmatullahi alaihi) who stated that the one who would utter these words would be responsible for the spread and propagation of the Chishtia silsila. Hazrat Nizamudeen (rahmatullahi alaihi)’s spiritual instruction began immediately.
After a period of strict spiritual training, Hazrat Nizamudeen (rahmatullahi alaihi) was made the khalifa-e-azam of Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) and instructed to spread Islam and serve the needs of the community in south India. He travelled extensively throughout the whole of the southern Indian plateau teaching and catering for the needs of the community, before settling down and establishing a seminary in Aurangabad. The seminary had ten doors, and none were forbidden entrance or education. At each door stood a scribe, and whenever anyone came with financial problems, they would write the following lines,
“The remembrance of Allah is the greatest;
On this my heart is fully concentrated.
To this world, Nizamudeen is oblivious.”
The poor would then take this to the rich who, because of their great respect and deep love for the great saint, would regard it as the highest honour to fulfill their brother’s needs. Wit this kind of practice, is it any wonder that the sufis of India were loved and venerated by rich and poor alike? Those who spread Islam not only by words but by actions, who not only preach but live the eternal principles of Islam, such men and women have truly sacrificed their lives for Allah. It is they to whom Rasulallah refers in a hadith wherein he states,
“The saint are like prophets unto their communities.”
Hazrat Nizamudeen Aurangabadi (rahmatullahi alaihi) was actively involved in the propagation of Islam, and along with this he gave special attention to the spiritual training of his mureeds. Historians have quoted the number of those disciples as being over one hundred thousand. At any given time after salaat, about 300-500 people would gather in his mosque for zikrullah. Hazrat Nizamudeen (rahmatullahi alaihi) was strict in his observance of the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) . His concern for the welfare of the community, as we have seen above, was sincere and very great. He would always ensure that in whatever way possible he would fulfil the need of anyone who Shah Kalimullah (rahmatullahi alaihi) him for assistance. The life of a saint is not only miracles and ecstasies; they live in the real world of ordinary mortals such as ourselves, but yet transcend it, for they breathe Allah’s love with every breath.
Hazrat Nizamudeen (rahmatullahi alaihi)’s book, Nizamul Quloob, hold very pertinent lessons for us today, as it stresses the spiritual upliftment of the muslims prior to them commencing propagation of Islam. He states that in order to be a true representative of Islam, one necessarily must possess those qualities of spiritual perfection that would allow the person to spread the religion not only by word but also by practice and principle. Hazrat Nizamudeen (rahmatullahi alaihi) had thirteen khulafah who continued his work after his demise, foremost of whom was his son Hazrat Moulana Fakhrudeen (rahmatullahi alaihi). He left this world on the 12th Zil Qadah 1142AH and lies buried in his mazaar in Aurangabad. Ample testimony to his great services to Islam both during his life and posthumously can be found in the title afforded to him, “Qutbe Daccan”, or “axis around which revolves the south.”
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.