Al Adaab: An Ahl as Sunnah Perspective

Traditional Islamic Resources

Hadrat Sultan Bahu The Sultanul Faqr and Sultanul Arifeen

Posted by al Adaab on January 4, 2007

Hadrat Sultan Bahu The Sultanul Faqr and Sultanul Arifeen

Hadrat Sultan Bahu is one of the most renowned sufi saints of the later Mughal Period in the history of Indo Pakistan subcontinent. He is often called Sultanul Arifin ( the Sultan of gnostics) in the Sufi circles. His ancestors belonging to the tribe of Alvids called Awan and coming from Arabia via Hirat ( Afghanistan ) had settled in the soon Sakesar Valley of Khushab District in Punjab. His Father, Sultan Bazid, had served in the army of the Emperor Shah Jehan as a high ranking officer and so in recognition to his services he had been awarded a jagir in the shorkot area. The family migrated to the place and settled at Qalai Shorkot, a settlement at the bank of River Chenab ( now in District Jhang, Punjab). Hadrat Sultan Bahu was born there, probably in 1628 A.D.

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Even in the early childhood, it was perceived by all those around him that a strange light shone upon his face which compelled even the Hindus to utter Kalima Tayyiba ( there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger) in his presence. His father died when he was just a child but his mother Bibi Rasti, remained alive till he was forty years old.
His mother supervised his education but it must have been irregular because he was often found under the influence of ecstatic states. It seemed that his education remained informal to the end. Whatever he expressed or wrote after-words, it was in the light of his own spiritual vision and Knowledge.

His mother taught him the essential sufi exercises of dhikr ( invocation of Allah and His Names ) and he probably needed no more guidance after that. He was initiated to walk the path of Sufis intuitively. His spiritual experiences and vision enriched his mind and spirit with so much knowledge that he far excelled his contemporary Sufi masters and sufi poets in Tasawwuf ( Sufism ) and Suluk ( all about the Sufi Way and its stations and states). In a book he remarks: Though we have little of formal learning, / Yet the spirit has been blessed with holiness by esoteric knowledge. In fact he may be called a born saint.
He got married in his early youth and twice or thrice afterwards and had sons and daughters but all this did not deter him from his dervish wanderings, to visit the sacred places and look for the spiritual company of his fellow sufis.
At the age of thirty he had an extraordinary vision in which he saw Prophet Muhammad ( may peace be upon him ) through the spiritual recommendations and support of Hadrat Ali and Hadrat Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani. The prophet himself took his bay’ah and allowed him to pass on the Sufi teachings. He often mentions in his books about his presence in the spiritual meetings presided by the Prophet himself. However, in the treatise ” Of the Spirit ” he calls Hadrat Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani his Murshid ( spiritual director ). He is always lavish in the praise of Hadrat Shaikh and calls himself Qadiri. In his eyes the teachings of the Qadiriya order were most effective for the spiritual development of the disciples. But at the same time it is evidently clear that by the Qadriya order he means the one that he himself represented. He names it ” Sarwari Qadiri “.

During the same period when he was a young man of about thirty, the war of succession between Dara Sikoh and Aurangzeb was fought. His later writings are sufficient proof of his moral and spiritual support for Aurangzeb who won and became the emperor. He himself, however, never cared to have any concern with the court or the courtiers.
All his life he kept traveling to the far-flung places initiating disciples and passing on the spiritual knowledge and wisdom to the seekers of truth. He might have written most of the books during such journeys. He never made a permanent Khaneqah during his lifetime.

Sometimes he fell into ecstasy and passed his days and nights in the state of absorption. Many places are still remembered and venerated where he stayed for some long or short periods to contemplate in solitude.
In “Manaqibi Sultani ” a few of his journeys have been mentioned. His traveling in Saraiki region up to Sindh, his journey to Delhi where he met the emperor Aurangzeb in the Jamia Mosque and his visits to the tombs at Multan and other cities have been indicated.

He left this world in 1691 A.D. at Shorkot where he was buried close to the bank of the river. His body had, however, to be transferred twice to other nearby places due to the floods. Now the place he lies buried under a beautiful tomb is called Darbar Hazrat Sultan Bahu ( District Jhang, Punjab).

He wrote many books in Persian. He also wrote ghazals and poems in Persian as a well as Abyaat in Punjabi. His Punjabi poetry contains spiritual fervour and passionate expression of the exalted state of Divine Love. One is transported to the spiritual domains while one listens to his Dohas in a melodious voice of the singers. About thirty epistles, treatises and books are still available. Almost all of his work has been written under inspiration in his style peculiar to him. Most often he uses “scatter method ” diffusing Sufi doctrine and the methods of spiritual realization in his writings

He was the greatest teacher and propagator of Faqr ( spiritual poverty ) which is the shining guiding star in his teachings. He may be considered one of the greatest Revealers in the history of Sufism. His dargah has always been supervised by the Sajjadah Nashins of his own family. The present Sajjadah Nashin also belongs to his line.

It is strange that his fame rose and spread world-wide after his leaving this world. Only recently Scholars have turned attention to present and interpret his doctrine in a systematic way. The scope to edit, translate, interpret and transmit his work is still very vast. It is hoped that the next generation of sufi scholars and teachers will continue to perform this tremendous job more efficiently.

I quote the verse written on the wall of the mosque adjoining his tomb.
Oh noble Sultan Bahu! in the realm of reality, you are perfect.
Help me in all the spiritual states, in interiority as well
as in exteriority.

Courtesy of:  Sultan Gul Hassan gulhassan@hotmail.com

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