Thursday, April 19, 2007

He Was in Love with Her Eyes

By Yoginder Sikand - The Times of India - New Delhi, India

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

At the theoretical level, religions are often understood in strictly scripturalist terms. Each religion comes to be regarded as a self-contained, monolithic and neatly bounded entity, completely apart, if not mutually opposed to, other religions.

In contrast, lived religious traditions often defy neat categorisations and allow for a considerable sharing as well as blurring of boundaries between religious communities. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of the popular Sufi traditions in north India. Some years before the demolition of the Babri masjid, I visited Ayodhya on a project to document Sufi traditions in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Besides the Babri masjid and numerous old ancient mosques that dotted Ayodhya were scores of Sufi shrines, big and small, that testified to a rich local tradition of popular religion that defied the sternly Brahminical Hinduism that the Hindutva forces were so ardently seeking to impose on the country.

Muslims formed less than a tenth of the town's population, and a sizeable number of those who visited Ayodhya's Sufi shrines were Hindus. This, of course, was not a unique phenomenon. All across Uttar Pradesh, and, in most parts of India, Hindus still flock to Sufi shrines in large numbers, out of devotion to buried Muslim saints and in the belief that they are able to intervene with God to seek His blessings.

A number of Sufis made Ayodhya their centre for spiritual teaching and instruction from as early as the 12th century — much before Babar, as is said by some, visited the town.

One of the first was Qazi Qidwatuddin Awadhi, who came to Ayodhya from Central Asia. He is said to have been a disciple of Hazrat Usman Haruni, the spiritual preceptor of India's most famous Sufi saint, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer.

Another great Muslim mystic of Ayodhya of pre-Mughal times was Shaikh Jamal 'Gujjari', of the Firdausiya Sufi order. According to popular legend, the Shaikh would regularly step out of his house carrying a large pot of rice on his head, as the men of the Gujjar milkmen caste did, which he would distribute among the poor and the destitute of Ayodhya.

Ayodhya was home to a number of spiritual successors of the renowned 14th century Sufi of Delhi, Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya.

The most important of these was the famous Sufi Shaikh Nasiruddin Chiragh-i Dilli, who lies buried in New Delhi. Shaikh Nasiruddin was born in Ayodhya and at the age of 40 left the town for Delhi to live with Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya. Yet, he would often return to Ayodhya to visit his relatives, and made disciples who emerged as great Sufis. These included people such as Shaikh Zainuddin Ali Awadhi, Shaikh Fatehullah Awadhi and Allama Kamaluddin Awadhi.

Ayodhya is also home to the shrine of a female Sufi saint, Badi Bua or Badi Bibi, sister of Shaikh Nasiruddin Chiragh-i Dilli. She was particularly beautiful, but she remained single throughout her life and devoted herself to serving God and the poor.

When she was asked why she refused to marry she would answer, 'I only love God and nothing else'.

She is said to have been greatly troubled by the local clerics, perhaps because of her refusal to marry. The kotwal, the chief police officer of the town, asked for Badi Bua's hand in marriage, saying that he was in love with her eyes.

Without a moment's hesitation, so the story goes, she plucked out her eyes and gave them to him. The shocked Kotwal, realising that Badi Bua was no ordinary woman, but a true devotee of God, repented at once and begged her for mercy.

There is an attempt to erase from public memory stories of these and other Sufis of the town, however, visible signs of centuries-old Muslim presence continue to dot the town — crumbling minarets of ancient mosques, neglected graveyards rapidly slipping under a dense cover of weeds, broken walls of what must have once been grand Sufi lodges.

Some of these structures came down along with the Babri mosque. In the violence, the dargahs of Shah Muhammad Ibrahim, Bijli Shah Shahid, Makhdum Shah Fatehullah, Sayyed Shah Muqaddas Quddus-i Ruh and the Teen Darvesh, were attacked. Today, some Sufi shrines still survive in Ayodhya, continuing to be visited by local devotees in search of solace.

The writer works with the Centre for Jawaharlal Nehru Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

[picture: the Babri mosque (mosque of Babur) pre-1992]

5 comments:

moezuddin said...

masallahallah
i want to know that from which book do u get this informaton

Misbah said...

hello, as per ur information Hazrath Nasir Uddin Chirag Dehli's relatives reside there in ayodiya
& ofcourse her elder sister badi bua, can you please give the information about her shrine
& decendends of hz.chirag dehli &
on one of the site's displayins the biography of Hz.Chirag Dehli say that his decendends moved to south Hyderabad. can you please send me information

Misbah said...

please can u give me information about famous sufi of Raichur HAZRATH SHEIK MAYIAN BABA(Taki wale baba)& HAZRATH SHEIK SALAR MAYIAN BABA

Misbah said...

also i need information about decendends of HAZRATH ALLAMA SHEIK KAMAL UDDIN & SHEIK ZAIN UDDIN CHISTY AWADHI

Misbah said...

is there any book called ZUBAIDAT-UL-ASFIA

Thursday, April 19, 2007

He Was in Love with Her Eyes
By Yoginder Sikand - The Times of India - New Delhi, India

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

At the theoretical level, religions are often understood in strictly scripturalist terms. Each religion comes to be regarded as a self-contained, monolithic and neatly bounded entity, completely apart, if not mutually opposed to, other religions.

In contrast, lived religious traditions often defy neat categorisations and allow for a considerable sharing as well as blurring of boundaries between religious communities. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of the popular Sufi traditions in north India. Some years before the demolition of the Babri masjid, I visited Ayodhya on a project to document Sufi traditions in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Besides the Babri masjid and numerous old ancient mosques that dotted Ayodhya were scores of Sufi shrines, big and small, that testified to a rich local tradition of popular religion that defied the sternly Brahminical Hinduism that the Hindutva forces were so ardently seeking to impose on the country.

Muslims formed less than a tenth of the town's population, and a sizeable number of those who visited Ayodhya's Sufi shrines were Hindus. This, of course, was not a unique phenomenon. All across Uttar Pradesh, and, in most parts of India, Hindus still flock to Sufi shrines in large numbers, out of devotion to buried Muslim saints and in the belief that they are able to intervene with God to seek His blessings.

A number of Sufis made Ayodhya their centre for spiritual teaching and instruction from as early as the 12th century — much before Babar, as is said by some, visited the town.

One of the first was Qazi Qidwatuddin Awadhi, who came to Ayodhya from Central Asia. He is said to have been a disciple of Hazrat Usman Haruni, the spiritual preceptor of India's most famous Sufi saint, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer.

Another great Muslim mystic of Ayodhya of pre-Mughal times was Shaikh Jamal 'Gujjari', of the Firdausiya Sufi order. According to popular legend, the Shaikh would regularly step out of his house carrying a large pot of rice on his head, as the men of the Gujjar milkmen caste did, which he would distribute among the poor and the destitute of Ayodhya.

Ayodhya was home to a number of spiritual successors of the renowned 14th century Sufi of Delhi, Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya.

The most important of these was the famous Sufi Shaikh Nasiruddin Chiragh-i Dilli, who lies buried in New Delhi. Shaikh Nasiruddin was born in Ayodhya and at the age of 40 left the town for Delhi to live with Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya. Yet, he would often return to Ayodhya to visit his relatives, and made disciples who emerged as great Sufis. These included people such as Shaikh Zainuddin Ali Awadhi, Shaikh Fatehullah Awadhi and Allama Kamaluddin Awadhi.

Ayodhya is also home to the shrine of a female Sufi saint, Badi Bua or Badi Bibi, sister of Shaikh Nasiruddin Chiragh-i Dilli. She was particularly beautiful, but she remained single throughout her life and devoted herself to serving God and the poor.

When she was asked why she refused to marry she would answer, 'I only love God and nothing else'.

She is said to have been greatly troubled by the local clerics, perhaps because of her refusal to marry. The kotwal, the chief police officer of the town, asked for Badi Bua's hand in marriage, saying that he was in love with her eyes.

Without a moment's hesitation, so the story goes, she plucked out her eyes and gave them to him. The shocked Kotwal, realising that Badi Bua was no ordinary woman, but a true devotee of God, repented at once and begged her for mercy.

There is an attempt to erase from public memory stories of these and other Sufis of the town, however, visible signs of centuries-old Muslim presence continue to dot the town — crumbling minarets of ancient mosques, neglected graveyards rapidly slipping under a dense cover of weeds, broken walls of what must have once been grand Sufi lodges.

Some of these structures came down along with the Babri mosque. In the violence, the dargahs of Shah Muhammad Ibrahim, Bijli Shah Shahid, Makhdum Shah Fatehullah, Sayyed Shah Muqaddas Quddus-i Ruh and the Teen Darvesh, were attacked. Today, some Sufi shrines still survive in Ayodhya, continuing to be visited by local devotees in search of solace.

The writer works with the Centre for Jawaharlal Nehru Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

[picture: the Babri mosque (mosque of Babur) pre-1992]

5 comments:

moezuddin said...

masallahallah
i want to know that from which book do u get this informaton

Misbah said...

hello, as per ur information Hazrath Nasir Uddin Chirag Dehli's relatives reside there in ayodiya
& ofcourse her elder sister badi bua, can you please give the information about her shrine
& decendends of hz.chirag dehli &
on one of the site's displayins the biography of Hz.Chirag Dehli say that his decendends moved to south Hyderabad. can you please send me information

Misbah said...

please can u give me information about famous sufi of Raichur HAZRATH SHEIK MAYIAN BABA(Taki wale baba)& HAZRATH SHEIK SALAR MAYIAN BABA

Misbah said...

also i need information about decendends of HAZRATH ALLAMA SHEIK KAMAL UDDIN & SHEIK ZAIN UDDIN CHISTY AWADHI

Misbah said...

is there any book called ZUBAIDAT-UL-ASFIA