Ali Hujwiri (Data Ganj Bakhsh)
Hazrat Syed Hafiz Haji Abu’l Hasan Bin Usman Bin Ali Al-Jalabi Al-Hujwiri (ra) (also spelled Hujweri, Hajweri, Hajveri, Hajvery) also known as Data Ganj Bakhsh (the master who bestows treasures) or Data Sahib was a great Persian Sufi scholar, writer and poet who lived during the 5th Century AH (11th Century AD). He significantly contributed to the spreading of Islam in South Asia.
Family & Lineage
Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) was both a Hasani and Husseini Syed.
- Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra), son of
- Hazrat Mohammad Usman (ra), son of
- Hazrat Abu’l Hasan Ali (ra), son of
- Hazrat Abdur Rahman (ra), son of
- Hazrat Shah Shuja (ra), son of
- Hazrat Abu’l Hasan Ali (ra), son of
- Hazrat Hasan Asghar (ra), son of
- Hazrat Zaid (ra), son of
- Hazrat Imam Hasan , son of
- Hazrat Ali .
Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) was the ninth descendant of Hazrat Ali . After the tragedy of Karbala, many of the descendants of Hazrat Ali dispersed to foreign lands and among them were the forefathers of Hazrat Ali Hujveri who migrated to the Ghaznavid Empire, which is now modern-day Afghanistan.
Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) was also blessed with direct lineage to the Holy Prophet ﷺ through his mother who was a descendant of Hazrat Imam Hussein . His mother was greatly devoted to religious worship and was committed to bettering the welfare of the poor and the suffering.
His maternal uncle was highly respected and had the title of “Tajul Auliya”. Adjacent to the mausoleum of Hazrat Tajul Auliya lays the mausoleum belonging to the mother of Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra).
Although the family lived in fairly affluent circumstances, they were held in high esteem for their piety and religious devotion.
Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) was born in the city of Ghazni during the reign of Mahmud of Ghazni where his family had settled. He was known as Ali Al-Jalabi Al-Hujwiri (ra), as he had lived in Jalab and Hujwir, two different quarters (Mohallas) within the city of Ghazni.
The exact date of Hazrat Ali Hujwiri’s (ra) birth is not known, with estimates ranging from 400 AH to 406AH. Little is known of his early life or his education.
After having completed his studies, he travelled extensively in order to acquire knowledge from well-known scholars as well as to pay homage to saints. He is reported to have travelled for forty years, during which he always offered his Friday prayers in congregation.
He travelled to Syria, Iraq, Persia, Kohistan, Azerbaijan, Tabaristan, Kerman, Khorasan, Transoxiana amongst other places and met several prominent Sufis of the time. In Khorasan alone he is reported to have met 300 Sufis. He relates in Kashf-ul-Mahjoob:
After the acquisition of academic knowledge in the fields of his search, he diverted his energy in quest of an accomplished spiritual teacher (Murshid-e-Kamil). He travelled great distances in search of a personality who could satiate his thirst for spirituality, rather than mere academic superficial knowledge. Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) states in Kashf-ul-Mahjoob:
Initiation into the Sufi Order
Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) was accepted as a murid (spiritual disciple) by Hazrat Sheikh Abu’l Fadl Muhammad bin Al-Hasan Al-Khuttali (ra). His silsila (spiritual chain) is traced back to the Beloved Prophet ﷺ as follows:
- Hazrat Sheikh Ali Hujwiri (ra), disciple of
- Hazrat Sheikh Abu’l Fadl Al-Khuttali (ra), disciple of
- Hazrat Sheikh Abu’l Hasan al-Husri (ra), disciple of
- Hazrat Sheikh Abu Bakr Abdullah Shibli (ra), disciple of
- Hazrat Sheikh Junaid al-Baghdadi (ra), disciple of
- Hazrat Sheikh Abu’l Hasan Sari al-Saqati (ra), disciple of
- Hazrat Sheikh Maruf al-Karkhi (ra), disciple of
- Hazrat Sheikh Dawood Taa’ee (ra), disciple of
- Hazrat Sheikh Habib al-Ajami (ra), disciple of
- Hazrat Sheikh Hasan al-Basri (ra), disciple of
- Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib , Khalifa of
- Sayyidina Muhammad ibn Abdillah, ﷺ
Hazrat Sheikh Al-Khuttali (ra) is described by Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) in Kashf-ul-Mahjoob:
Other teachers and Sheikhs associated with Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) are:
Abu’l-Abbas Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ashqani (ra) (or al-Shaqani)
Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) describes him:
Abu’l-Qasim bin Ali bin Abdullah al-Gurgani (ra)
Abu Ahmad Muzaffar bin Ahmad bin Hamdan (ra)
Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) describes an interesting experience pertaining to Qawwali in Kashf-ul-Mahjoob:
Abu’l Qasim Abdul Karim Bin Hawazin al-Qushayri (ra)
Arrival in Lahore
One night Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) saw his spiritual guide and teacher Hazrat Sheikh Abu’l Fadl Al-Khuttali in a dream saying to him: “O, my son! we have appointed you as the qutb of Lahore. Be prepared and start forthwith for Lahore.” He replied, “Your Holiness has already appointed Khwaja Hasan Zanjani as the qutb of Lahore. What is the need for this humble being in his presence there? What is the importance, significance, and implication of the order of your holiness?” Thereupon his spiritual guide and teacher said: “O my son! Do not argue with me and leave for Lahore without loss of time.”
Around 431 AH, in the reign of Mahmud Ghaznavi, he left Ghazni for Lahore along with Hazrat Abu Saeed Hujwiri (ra) and Hazrat Ahmad Hammadi Sarkhasi (ra). Hazrat Abu Saeed Hujwiri (ra) was a fellow townsman of Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) and the book Kashf-ul-Mahjoob was written in accordance to his request. Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) says regarding Hazrat Ahmad Hammadi Sarkhasi (ra):
When he had reached the outskirts of the city, it had grown dark. He stayed outside the city and entered it in the morning. To his great surprise, he saw a funeral. On his inquiring, he learnt that it was the funeral of Hazrat Sheikh Khwaja Hasan Zanjani (ra), who had passed away the previous night. He led the funeral prayers.
Miracle in Lahore
After he had permanently settled in Lahore, he constructed a monastery for himself and also a mosque. When the mosque was under construction, the Ulama of the city raised a storm of opposition to the effect that the mosque was not exactly aligned towards the Qibla. He remained unconcerned about this opposition and objection. When the mosque was complete he invited the Ulama, Sufis, saints, and leading citizens to it and they all offered prayers behind him. After the prayers were over, he addressed all those present, saying: “People have expressed doubt concerning the alignment of the mosque. I request you to close your eyes and meditate and then decide whether it is correct or not.” Thereafter he meditated and the curtains were removed from the eyes of the people. All of them saw that the sacred Ka’ba was before their eyes and that the mosque direction had been correctly aligned.
He spent the rest of his days there guiding, teaching, and inspiring the people and preaching and propagating the doctrine of truth. Thousands of unlettered persons became alims, hoards of people accepted Islam, the misguided began to follow the Path, the insane recovered reason and sanity, the imperfect became perfect (in knowledge) and the sinners became virtuous under the influence of Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra).
One of the earlier converts was one Rai Raju, the Naib (Viceroy) of Lahore during the time of Sultan Maudood. On conversion to Islam he was named Sheikh Hindi. His descendants have been since that time the custodians of the mausoleum.
Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) is said to have passed away on the twentieth of the month of Rabi-ul-Awwal 465 AH although the date, month and year are all conjectural. Others have estimated his passing on to have occurred between 481 AH and 500 AH.
His Urs takes place on the twentieth and the twenty-first of Safar every year.
Respect of Great Sufis towards Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra)
Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (ra)
Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (ra), the great saint of Ajmer, came to Lahore to meditate for forty days at the sacred alter of Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) and after receiving spiritual enlightenment; Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (ra) expressed his gratitude and out of love and devotion uttered the following couplet whilst in an ecstatic trance:
Ganj Bakhsh-e faiz-e aalam, mazhar-e nur-i Khuda
Naqisaan ra pir-e kaamil, kaamilaan ra rahnuma
An attempted translation of this inspiring couplet:
The giver of bounties, the benefactor of the world [and] manifestation of the light of God,
To the imperfect, a perfect spiritual guide, and to the perfect, a guide.
It is from this time that Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra), came to be known as Data Ganj Bakhsh (the master who bestows treasures/bounties).
Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) also stated,
Kashf-ul-Mahjoob (Revelation of Mystery) is held in high esteem as the first important treatise on Sufism. Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) was a prolific writer, perceptive and discriminating in his choice of topics.
Kashf-ul-Mahjoob was written in response to the request of his fellow townsman Hazrat Abu Saeed Hujwiri (ra) who put the following questions to him:
Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) starts the reply with the following, regarding the current status of Sufism:
The object of the book seems to set forth a complete system of Sufism, and the author’s attitude throughout remains that of a teacher instructing a student.
It will not be a boasting opinion to mention Kashf-ul-Mahjoob as the primary source on the laws of mysticism. It elaborates all the stages of the Path of Sufism in such a manner that in the words of the author the seeker studying and following the book would not need the auspicious guidance of a Sheikh (spiritual guide). He has touched upon the doctrines held by the different sects of Sufis, in which he enumerates special doctrine of each.
The work has always been applauded by majority of the theologians and Sheikhs representing different schools of thought and it has been always a source of excellent guidance to the seekers of the Path. It leads one to straight path and mind of the seeker is enlightened with the purity of Shariat and reality of the Truth and he feels independent of any doubt or uncertainty.
The great saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya (ra) said regarding the book:
Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) wrote a few more books but he himself mentions in Kashf-ul-Mahjoob that they were stolen by other people. He says:
Quotes & Teachings
The shrine is located near the Bhaati Gate into Lahore’s Walled City. It was originally built by the Ghaznavi king Sultan Zakiruddin Ibrahim in the late 11th century and has been expanded several times. Adjoining the porch is a mosque, an extension of the one which Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) had built during his lifetime. In front of it is the gate of a small room (Hujra) where Hazrat Khwaja Moinudeen Chisti performed his meditation (Muraqaba) for forty days. To the west of the tomb is the courtyard for the reciters of Quran.
The tomb of Ali Hujwiri is built on a white marble chabutra. In the centre is the tomb of Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (ra) which is accompanied by the resting places of Hazrat Ahmad Hammadi Sarkhasi (ra) and Hazrat Abu Saeed Hujwiri (ra) who had both accompanied him to Lahore from Ghazni.
View of the tomb
Ceiling of the tomb
People pay their respects
People at Data Durbar
Minaret of Jamia Hajveria