Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki

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Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki
Hazrat Khwaja Syed Muhammad Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki
File:Tomb of Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki.jpg
Hazrat Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki's mausoleum in Dehli.
Order Chishti
Born 1173 AD / 569 AH
Osh, Transoxiana
Passed away 1235 AD
Delhi, India
Resting place Mehrauli, Delhi, India
Title(s) قطب الاقطاب Qutub ul Aqtab
Predecessor Moinuddin Chishti
Successor Fariduddin Ganjshakar

Hazrat Khwaja Syed Muhammad Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (Urdu: حضرت خواجہ سیّد محمد قطب الدین بختیار کاکی) (born 1173-died 1235) was a renowned Sufi saint and scholar of the Chishti Order from Delhi, India. He was the disciple and the spiritual successor of Moinuddin Chishti as head of the Chishti order. Before him the Chishti order in India was confined to Ajmer and Nagaur. He played a major role in establishing the order securely in Delhi.[1] His dargah in Mehrauli, the oldest dargah in Delhi, is the venue of his annual Urs.

His most famous disciple and spiritual successor was Fariduddin Ganjshakar, who in turn became the spiritual master of Delhi's noted Sufi saint, Nizamuddin Auliya, who himself was the spiritual master of Amir Khusro and Nasiruddin Chirag-e-Delhi.

The influence of Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki on Sufism in India was immense. As he continued and developed the traditional ideas of universal brotherhood and charity within the Chisti order, a new dimension of Islam started opening up in India which had hitherto not been present. He forms an important part of the Sufi movement which attracted many people to Islam in India in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.


Family & Early life

Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki was born in 569 A.H. (1173 C.E.) in a small town called Aush (alternatively Awash or Ush) in the Fergana Valley(present Osh, part of historic Transoxiana)

He was born in the middle of the night, a brightness lighting up the whole house and a strange light being caste all around. After his birth it is reupted that he prostrated himself in adoration and uttered the words "Allah, Allah." After sometime he raised his head and the light disappeared.

Khwaja Qutbuddin's original name was Bakhtiar and later on he was given the title Qutbuddin. The name Kaki was attributed to him by virtue of a karamat (miracle) that emanated from him in Delhi.[2] According to it, he asked his wife not to take credit from the local baker despite their extreme poverty. Instead he told her to pick up Kak (a kind of bread) from a corner of their house whenever needed. After this his wife found that Kak miraculously appeared in that corner whenever she required. The baker, in the meantime, had become worried whether the Khwaja had stopped taking credit due to being perchance angry with him. Accordingly, when the baker's wife asked the reason from the Khwaja's wife, she told her about the miracle of Kak. Although the Kak stopped appearing due to the revealing of the secret, from that day the people started referring to him as Kaki.[3]

He traces his descent from Syedna Hazrat Imam Husain Ra.gif, son of Hazrat Ali Ra.gif(son-in-law of the holy Prophet Mohammad ﷺ), and is therefore a Husaini.

His paternal genealogy is as follows:

Khwaja Qutbuddin son of Syed Moosa son of Kamaluddin son of Syed Ahmad son of Syed Mohammed son of Syed Ahmed son of Ishaq Hasan son of Syed Maroof son of Syed Ahmed son of Syed Raziuddin son of Syed Hisamuddin son of Syed Rashiduddin son of Syed Abdullah jaffer Maroof Ali-al-Naqi son of Syedna Naqi-al-Javvad Abu Jaffer son of Syedna Ali Raza son of Syedna Musa Kazim son of Syedna Jaffer Sadiq son of Syedna Abu Jaffer son of Syedna Mohammed Baqar son of Syedna Imam Zain-ul-Abedeen son of Syedna Imam Husain, son of Syedna Imam-ul-Auliya Hazrat Ali.

Early life and education

When he was eighteen months old., Kamaluddin Ahmad Musa, the Khwaja's father died, and his mother became totally responsible for the child. Learning the Qur'an under Aba Hafs, he finally committed it to memory after he had settled in Delhi.

As he grew older, the Khwaja became in-creasingly devoted to prayer and meditation. His mother organized a marriage for him, but finding his wife an obstacle to prayer. Qutbuddin divorced her and left for Baghdad. There, in a mosque, he met Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. So, impressed was Qutbuddin Bakhtiar with the latter's personality that he became Khwaja Moinuddin's disciple in spite of the fact that other eminent and pious sufis including Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani and Shaikh Abu'n-Najib Suhrawardi also lived in Baghdad at the time.


In the company of his spiritual guide, he undertook tours and travels, going to Mecca, Medina, and Baghdad. With his spiritual guide and teacher Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz, he left Baghdad in AH 586/AD 1190, visiting Chisht, Herat, Sabzawar, Lahore, Samana, and Delhi. From Delhi, he reached Ajmer in AH 587.

After staying in Ajmer for sometime, he went to Oosh to see his mother. On hearing the news of the arrival of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz in Ajmer a second time, he left Oosh for India. On the way to Delhi, he stopped in Multan in AH 590/AD 1194. During his stay in Multan, Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar became his spiritual disciple.

In Delhi, his spiritual guide and teacher Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz came to see him, showering his blessings on him and on his spiritual disciples; particularly on Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar, who was in Delhi at that time. Subsequently, Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar, with the permission of his spiritual guide and teacher Hazrat Qutbuddin, left for Hansi. Hazrat Qutbuddin reached Oosh in AH 602 to see his ageing mother. He then left for Baghdad, where he met with Hazrat Shaikh Shahabuddin Umar Suhrawardi, Shaikh Uhaduddin of Kirman, and other saints. He learnt from Hazrat Jalaluddin of Tabriz, that Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti had left Khorasan for India and that he was staying in Delhi, whereupon he left for India to offer his respects to his spiritual guide and teacher. Hazrat Shaikh Jalaluddin of Tabriz accompanied him. They eventually reached Multan during the reign of Sultan Iltutmish in AH 611/ AD 1214. The officer-in-charge of Multan, Qubacha Beg, requested him to stay there permanently, which he refused saying that it was a place meant for the activities of Hazrat Shaikh Bahauddin Zakariya and, moreover, it was for his spiritual guide and teacher to decide his future permanent place of residence.

He reached Delhi in AH 611/AD 1214 and stayed in Kilokri. Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish requested him to stay in Mehrauli instead of Kilokri, which he was pleased to do.

After the death of Hazrat Jamaluddin Mohammed Bustami of Delhi, the post of Shaikh-ul-Islam fell vacant. Sultan Iltutmish requested Hazrat Qutbuddin to accept the post, but he declined, whereupon the Sultan appointed Shaikh Najmuddin Sughra to the post.For a period relations between Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar and Najmuddin were cordial. Gradually, however, the Shaikh became jealous of the Khwaja and used the latter's practice of gaining spiritual ecstasy through sama as a pretext to incite the 'ulama' against him.

Khwaja Moinuddin was prompted to visit Delhi to investigate the confrontation be¬tween the Khwaja and the Shaikh. Najmuddin Sughra refused to call, as was traditional, on Khwaja Moinuddin. Visiting the latter, the Khwaja upbraided him for his rudeness. The former apologized, admitting that he was con¬cerned at the people's devotion to Khwaja Qutbuddin.

Khwaja Moinuddin promised that the Khwaja Qutbuddin would accompany him to Ajmer. But Iltutmish and the people of Delhi were so upset at the Khwaja's departure that he was followed, and the dust on the road where he had passed was collected as a relic. Khwaja Moinuddin was so moved at such a spontaneous and genuine sign of affection for his disciple that he urged him to return.

Having lived in Delhi for quite some time, Hazrat Qutbuddin got restless and wanted to pay his respects to Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz. He wrote to him accordingly and this time his request was granted. Reaching Ajmer, he devoted himself to the service of his spiritual guide and teacher. Describing the details of their last meeting, he says: "Saying this, Hazrat Khwaja began to weep." He said to me "O dervish, the reason why I am planted here on the face of this earth is this, that my grave will be raised here. In a few days, I shall be passing away."

He returned to Delhi and passed his remaining days there. Twenty days after his return from Ajmer, his spiritual guide and teacher Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz passed away. He saw him in a dream, and asking how he was, was told: "God has been Merciful enough as to shower His Blessings upon me. He has allocated me a place near the angels and the inhabitants of the throne. I live here."

Marriage and children

He married twice. He married first in Oosh, but divorced his wife three days after marriage because it prevented him from sending salutations to the Holy Prophet Mohammad ﷺ as he had done three thousand times every night when going to bed.

He married a second time in Delhi. Two sons were born, one named Khwaja Ahmed and the other Shaikh Mohammed who died at the age of seven.

Passing on

The death of the Khwaja is a story of great significance to sufis. He took part in a sama ritual in the khanqah of Shaikh Ali Sijzi. When the musician recited the following verse, written by the celebrated sufi Ahmad-i-Jam, the Khwaja was seized with ecstasy:

Those who are slain by the dagger of surrender;

Receive every moment a new life from the unseen.

Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki was so overcome and enraptured by these verses that he fell unconscious. After he was taken to his house, the Khwaja ordered the verse to be repeated each time he regained consciousness, which always occurred at the time of obligatory prayers. He then lapsed back into an ecstatic state.

On the fifth night. 14th Rabi- I, 633/27th November. 1235, he died and was buried in Mahrauli about eleven miles from Delhi, at a place he himself had chosen. His tomb in Mehrauli near New Delhi is a site of veneration and devotion.


Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar was his premier caliph and spiritual successor. Some of his other spiritual caliphs are: Shaikh Badruddin of Ghazni; Shaikh Burhanuddin of Balkh, Maulana Fakhruddin Halwai, Shaikh Husain, Shaikh Firoz, Shaikh Badruddin Mootab, Shah Khizr Qalandar and Shaikh Saduddin.


He occupies a position of pre-eminence among the saints of the Indian subcontinent, next only to that of his spiritual guide and teacher Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishti. Hazrat Shaikh Abdul Haq Muhaddis of Delhi writes of him: "He is one of the eminent saints and outstanding sufis."

All the saints and the sufis of his time held him in deep respect and reposed faith in him. His prayers were accepted. It is said that whatever he foretold actually happened. Whoever had the privilege of his company became a saint.

He was deeply devoted to prayer, and prayed regularly five times a day. Having committed the Holy Quran to memory, he recited the whole of it everyday. Besides this, he undertook three hundred genuflexions daily, and before going to bed, he offered salutations to the Holy Prophet Mohammed ﷺ three thousand times.

He ate and talked little and slept little. He did not mix much with the people. Hazrat Mohammed Gesoo Daraz says, that he was always withdrawn, sombre, spending much time in tears. He kept awake all night long in the latter part of his life.He passed his days in poverty. Sometimes, he and members of his family did not have anything eat but he did not reveal this to anyone. In the early part of his life, he had no dining carpet, dish, or cup. He would not accept offerings made to him. Once, Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish sent him some silver and gold coins, but he refused to accept them.

He was very fond of sama. Sometimes, in a state of rapture, he would remain unconscious for several days. Hazrat Hazrat Qutbuddin was a man of literary taste and was also a poet. He has written the following books in Persian:

  1. Daleel-ul-Arefeen, a collection of the discourses of his spiritual guide and teacher Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz # Zibdat-ul-Hacja'iq
  2. Risala.

Among his poetic works are:

  1. Masnavi
  2. Diwan, a collection of his poems.


The spiritual guide and teacher should possess so much power, that when a seeker comes to him for acceptance as a spiritual disciple, he may eradicate all the lust of the world from his heart and may so purify his heart that any lust, rust, and attachment to the world does not remain. Subsequently, by enlisting him as his disciple he may unite him with God. If the spiritual guide does not possess such power then it should be understood that the spiritual guide and the spiritual disciple are both in the vortex of darkness.
According to the enlightened, an individual attains perfection by four things, namely, sleeping less, talking less, eating less, and mixing less with the people. Turning to Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar he said: "O dervish, unless you eat little, sleep little, talk little, and mix less with the people, you will never acquire the essence of spiritualism. The class of dervishes is such a class, who have not allowed themselves sleep and who take the society of people as worse than snakes and serpents."
When the non-believer placed a knife at the throat of Prophet Yahya and began to pierce it, he was about to cry out of sheer agony. At that instant angel Gabriel came to him and conveyed to him the message of God to the effect that if he did so, his name would be wiped off from the list of prophets. On hearing the command of God, he was perfectly calm and with the utmost calm handed over his life to the Creator.
It was the habit of Hazrat Rabia Basri that when some misfortune befell her, she was happy and would say that the Friend had remembered her; otherwise she felt defected and sad wondering why the Friend had not remembered her.

In Baghdad, a dervish was brought before the Qazi on some charge and was sentenced to death. The executioner took him to the place of execution and as usual, made him to sit with his face towards the qibla. The dervish turned his face from the direction of the qibla and sat with his face towards the direction of the tomb of his spiritual guide and teacher. The executioner said to him that at the time of death, his face should be turned towards the qibla, to which the dervish responded: "You busy yourself with your own work. I have turned my face towards my qibla. This controversy was still raging when in the meanwhile the order of the caliph was conveyed by a messenger, that the dervish had been pardoned and should be let off."

Commenting on this episode, Hazrat Hazrat Qutbuddin said: "Look, his strength of faith saved him from the gallows."

Quotes & Sayings

The enlightened is one who may experience strange conditions every moment and every hour, and he may be so absorbed that if at that moment the earth and every other thing enters his breast, he may be quite unmindful of their so entering therein.
For the enlightened, no curtain is greater than the world itself. The path of enlightenment requires courage of a very high order, so that the secrets may gain ground and may not be exposed, for the secret is the mystery of the Friend.
The claimant of love who complains in time of trouble is not sincere in love, but on the contrary, is a pretender and a liar.
He, who is perfect does not expose the secret of the Friend.
When the dervish becomes perfect, whatever he wills that happens.
The dervish will never attain the position of nearness, unless and until, he becomes a stranger to all his friends and relatives and takes to renunciation and frees himself from the attachment of the world.
The dervish who eats to his heart's content, out of desire of self, is a worshipper of the self and not a dervish at all.
Sainthood is not a pleasure, but implies embroilment in the troubles of the world.
The spiritual guide and teacher should possess so much power, that he is able to clean the darkness within the heart of his disciple by the dint of his inward power and may cause him to reach God.
The spiritual disciple must remain the same in the presence and absence of his spiritual guide and teacher, and after his passing away may show him greater respect.
Whatever pleasure there is in music, is not contained in any other thing and that such a condition cannot be attained without music.
The manifestation of supernatural powers will deprive one of the remaining stages of life.


A traditional story which presents the sanctity and supernatural powers of Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar involved a tank which was built to overcome Delhi's water shortage. Sultan Iltutmish devised a scheme for it, but was unsure where to choose the site. According to tradition, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ appeared to both the Sultan and the Khwaja indicating a particular spot. Hauzi-i-Shamsi was excavated, and the area became significant, not only as a source of water, but more importantly, as a cultural and religious centre, where the spiritual and intellectual elite of Delhi would gather.
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