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Dargah of Hazrat Nizammudin

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Hazrat Nizamuddin is the greatest of Indian Sufi saints. Sufism represents the mystical side of Islam. Hazrat Nizamuddin believed and preached that God could be attained only through love and he could be loved only through love and service to humanity. It is only natural then that he is also called by the name Mehboob-e-illahi, beloved of the God.

Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia’s grand parents had migrated from Bukhara (formerly in Russia now in Uzbekistan) to India during the reign of Sultan Shamsuddin Al-Tamish. After a short stay in Lahore; they shifted to Badaiyun in U.P.(India) where they settled down permanently. Hazrat Khawaja Ahmed Bukhari, father of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia, was married to Hazrat Bibi Zuleikha at Badaiyun, where Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia was born on Wednesday the 27th of ‘Safar’, 636, Hijri.

At the age of seventeen, he became a disciple of Sufi saint Fariduddin Ganj-i-Shakkar also known as Baba Farid. Just three years later, he was announced the successor to Baba Farid and the caliph of the Chisti Order. This was year 1258.

After living in several places in Delhi, he finally established his khanqah, spiritual monastery, in Ghiyaspur area, now known as Nizamuddin after him. It was here that he spent the rest of his days in prayer, renunciation and as a spiritual mentor to many.

Thousands became his devotees.  It was a motley crowd, rich, poor, young, old, Hindus and Muslims alike. Hazrat Nizamuddin held that there is only one God though we may know him by different names and may take different routes for the ultimate union with him, but so long as this route was based in love, nothing else mattered. The khanqah ran a langar, free kitchen, where thousands of people from all faiths ate everyday. But the saint himself ate little. He said he had trouble swallowing, thinking of the many who slept on empty stomachs. 

Hazrat Nizamuddin believed in the power of music and poetry as a way of inspiring and expressing love for God. This often brought him in conflict with the orthodox rulers of the Delhi Sultanate. Further, he refused to pay court to the sultans, stating that matters of religion and state must be kept separate.  This rankled with the rulers. A story goes that Hazrat Nizamuddin was in the middle of getting a baoli, water reservoir, made at the khanqah when the sultan, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, announced the construction of the Tughlaqabad fort. The sultan ordered all the labourers to work at his construction site and banned other construction work in the city. Because of their love for the saint, the labourers decided to work at the baoli at night. The saint was more popular than the sultan! Jealous, Ghiyasuddin banned the supply of oil to Ghiyaspur. No oil meant lamps couldn’t be lit and no work could be done. “Never mind. We shall light lamps with water,” said the saint to the worried labourers. And that’s what they did. They lit lamps with water and completed the work!

Another time, returning from a train of battle victories, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq sent forth orders to Hazrat Nizamuddin to leave the city before his arrival. This got the disciples nervous, but the saint remained unperturbed, only saying, “Hunooz Dilli Door Ast.” Delhi is still far. Indeed, just as he had prophesied, Ghiyasuddin never did reach Delhi! The timbered pavilion where the sultan had camped just outside the city collapsed, burying him underneath. The prophecy was yet another proof of the saint’s exceptional powers.

Hazrat Nizamuddin saw thirteen sultans wear the crown of Delhi. He passed away at the old age of eighty-seven. His tomb reposes now under a large cupola, in a marbled courtyard. A few feet away are other tombs, where lie Jahan Ara, Mohammad Shah Rangeela and other royalty. 

To be buried close to a saint is supposed to be a short cut to heaven. On the other side of the courtyard is the tomb of Aamir Khusro, the great poet and musician, who was the founder of the Urdu language. He was the saint’s most loved disciple. When Hazrat Nizamuddin passed away, the bereaved Khusro sat by his grave for six months, crying. At the end of the six months he too left this world. He was so close to the Master.

Here lies Khusro, a true friend:

The winding lane leading to the Dargah are cramped with small restaurants and shops selling knick-knacks, and flowers and chadors to offer to the saint—the bustle not much different from what one witnesses outside temples. Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia has said, “A Sufi must never go to the courts of Kings and must refuse to accept any kind of rewards or gratifications for his maintenance.” The Saint had fully devoted his whole life in the worship of God and for the welfare of mankind. After his death, the Kings, Princes, Ameers (rich men), Presidents, Prime Ministers not only from India but from abroad also, had started visiting his holy shrine (Dargah) in order to pay tributes to the saint and to seek spiritual and temporal blessings. His holy shrine at Delhi has become an object of veneration not only for 250 millions Muslim population of the country but also for people of different faiths and religions. The area is named after the saint and the sacred shrine is an important Muslim pilgrim center. People treat the shrine with reverence and deep respect.

Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia lived permanently in Delhi after the death of his parents. He died on 18th of ‘Rabiussani’ (Rabia II) in 725th Hijri at Delhi.