Bahauddin Zakariya Suhrawardi
Hazrat Sheikh Bahauddin Zakariya Suhrawardi was the leading Sufi saint of his time in North Western India and belonged to well known Suhrawardi silsila originating in Baghdad. He was a contemporary of Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar of Ajodhan and Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki of Delhi. All three great saints had a close friendship and mutual regard for each other.
Family & Lineage
He was Quraishi, Asadi, and Hashimi and is said to have belonged to the house of Aswad, son of Muttabb, son of Asad. It is also related that he traced his descent from Asad Qurshi, who was one of the forefathers of Hazrat Ali son-in-law of the Holy Prophet Mohammad ﷺ. He also traced his descent from Asad, son of Hashim. Some have thus referred to him as “Quraishi-ul-Asadi.”
His grandfather, Shaikh Kamaluddin Ali Shah, migrated from Mecca to Khwarezm and then to Kot Karor near Multan in 200 AH where they settled down permanently. His father, Shaikh Wajihuddin, married Bibi Fatima, the daughter of Maulana Husamuddin Tirmizi who had settled in Kot Karor. Other sources relate that Bibi Fatima was the daughter of Hazrat Shaikh Isa, who was a descendant of Hazrat Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani and was married to Shaikh Wajihuddin when he travelled to a city called Hama. He lived there for sometime before returning to Kote Karror. According to certain chroniclers, his mother is said to be the sister of the mother of Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar.
Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya was born in the morning on Friday the twenty-seventh of Ramazan in 566 AH in Kot Karor. Others record his year of birth as 587AH/1192AD – the year when Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti arrived in Ajmer.
Early life and education
Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya was born a wali. From his childhood he showed signs of spiritual greatness as if marked out for a great spiritual destiny. It is said that when his father recited the Holy Quran, he would abandon his milk and listen to the recitation of the verses of the Holy Quran very respectfully and attentively. He committed the Holy Quran to memory at the age of seven and also learnt the seven rhythmic methods of reciting it. At the age of twelve he lost his father, Hazrat Khwaja Wajihuddin. After his father’s death he went to Khorasan, and there engaged in acquiring the outward knowledge and in attaining the inward graces for a period of seven years. He then went to Bukhara to complete his education. There he was nicknamed “Bahauddin Firishta” (angel) for his gentle nature and obedience. 
Having finished with his course, he went to Mecca & Medina for Hajj where he stayed for five years and studied the hadith from a distinguished muhaddith Shaykh Kamaluddin Muhammad Yamani from whom he received a sanad i.e., a formal authorization, to teach hadith. From Medina, he went to Jerusalem, and from there to Baghdad.
Initiation into the Sufi Order
When in Baghdad, he heard a great deal about the name, fame, and spiritual attainments of Hazrat Shaikh Shihabuddin Suhrawardi and wanted to be his spiritual disciple. After reaching Baghdad he indeed became his disciple. Sheikh Bahauddin was so receptive to spiritual teachings that it took him a mere 17 days to grasp the entire spiritual course. He had khilafat conferred upon him within such a short period that the other disciples felt jealous, for they had not been able to achieve this even after many years of training under the Sheikh. When the Sheikh learnt of their complaint, he explained that Hazrat Bahauddin was like dry wood that caught fire immediately, whereas they were like wet wood that takes time to catch fire.
Before having khilafat conferred upon him, Hazrat Bahauddin dreamt of a house of light in which the Holy Prophet Mohammed ﷺ was seated with his spiritual guide Hazrat Sheikh Shihabuddin Umar Suhrawardi standing respectfully in his presence. There was a rope upon which several robes were hung. He was summoned by Hazrat Shihabuddin who took him by the hand and presented him to the Holy Prophet ﷺ. The Holy Prophet ﷺ pointed to a certain robe and said: “O, Umar, take this robe and give it to Sheikh Bahauddin to wear. He took the robe from where it was hung and asked Hazrat Bahauddin to wear it, which he did before bowing down and touching the blessed feet of the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
When he awoke, he was summoned by Hazrat Shihabuddin the following morning. When he entered the house, he found it mirrored that which he had seen in his dream the previous night. His spiritual guide and teacher asked him to come close to him took the same robe from the hanger that had been pointed out by the Holy Prophet ﷺ}. Hazrat Shihabuddin adorned Hazrat Bahauddin with the robe upon saying:
Departure from Baghdad
Hazrat Bahauddin was directed by his Sheikh to return to the subcontinent and settle in Multan to spread the teachings received from him. He was accompanied by Hazrat Sheikh Jalaluddin Tabrizi, who was nominated to work in Bengal. When they reached Neshapur, Shaikh Jalaluddin Tabrizi went to meet Hazrat Fariduddin Attar. On his return, Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya asked him who he considered was the best among the dervishes.
He replied: “Undoubtedly Hazrat Fariduddin Attar is the best.” Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya then asked him about the conversation he had with Hazrat Fariduddin Attar. He replied that as soon as Hazrat Fariduddin Attar saw him, he inquired as to where the dervish had come from, to which he replied that he had come from Baghdad. Hazrat Fariduddin Attar then inquired which dervish was most absorbed in the remembrance of God. He said that he did not reply and had remained silent. Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya suggested that rather than remaining silent he should have replied, mentioning the name of Hazrat Sheikh Shihabuddin Suhrawardi. Hazrat Jalaluddin Tabrizi then said that the great respect he had for Hazrat Fariduddin Attar had so greatly overwhelmed him that he forgot to mention his name. This annoyed Hazrat Zakariya before they parted ways in Neshapur.
Arrival in Multan
After an arduous journey, he eventually reached Multan. Multan was then an established centre of learning and was also the home of many outstanding and accomplished dervishes.
His arrival was a source of consternation to the town’s holy men and religious dignitaries and they requested him to settle elsewhere. They expressed their wish through a symbolic act. Sheikh Bahauddin was sent a cup full of milk, pointing out that the town was as full of scholars as the cup of milk and had no room for others. The Sheikh understood the significance of their action and placing a rose on the milk, returned the cup. Such a gesture implied that he would occupy the same place among the scholars and holy men of Multan as the rose in the milk. They all were greatly surprised by his depth of vision, intelligence, and his courteous behaviour.
This was not the end of Sheikh Bahauddin Zakariya’s conflicts. Initially he used to go for prayers to the madrasa of the chief Qadi of Multan, Qutbuddin Kashani, who was against Sufism. Once Sheikh Bahauddin finished prayer earlier than the prescribed time, and when asked about the reason, he replied: “If someone learns through intuition (nur-i batin) that the prayer leader has made an error, it is appropriate for him to arise before the end of the prayer.” Qutbuddin Kashani, who was the Imam, i.e. the leader during this particular prayer, was annoyed at the selfconceit of Hazrat Bahauddin, and exclaimed: “Every intuition which is not in accord with the dictates of the Law, that is a heinous sin!” After the incident Qadi Qutbuddin forbade Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya from showing himself in his madrasa in future.
Initially his stay in Multan was uneventful. He spent the period in equipping himself for the great task that awaited him, leading a life of seclusion. He devoted himself to prayer, remembrance of God, meditation and ascetic practices. Later, he began to preach and propagate the doctrine of truth.
Sheikh Bahauddin reputation as a scholar, and the distinctive place he acquired among the disciples of Sheikh Shihabuddin Suhrawardi, soon made him an important figure in Multan. Merchants from Iraq and Khurasan were attracted to him in large numbers. The Sheikh erected an extensive khanqah containing granaries. However, it was not a meeting place for the common people; only eminent religious people and perhaps state dignitaries and wealthy merchants were admitted. The Sheikh discussed with them topical theological and spiritual problems and in his own estimation they all benefited from him company.
At this time, Sultan Qutbuddin Aibak was ruling at Delhi as viceroy after the victory of Shahabuddin Muhammad Ghori over Raja Prithviraj Chauhan (in 1192 AD) while Nasiruddin Qabacha was his governor at Multan. When Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish succeeded Sultan Qutbuddin Aibak, Qabacha hatched a conspiracy to declare himself as the sole ruler of Multan province independent of Delhi. This action was disliked by the then Qazi of Multan (Maulana Sharfuddin Asfahani) and Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya both of whom loved Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish dearly as he was a very pious, God-fearing and benevolent ruler and a mureed of Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki. They, therefore, informed Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish of this conspiracy. When Qabacha came to know of this through the interception of two letters conveying this information, he immediately had the Qazi executed and summoned the Sheikh to his palace. On being shown the letter and being asked for an explanation, the Sheikh boldly replied that he had written the letter in accordance with divine mandate and upon hearing this, Qabacha began to tremble and asked him to go away. 
After the annexation of Multan and Sind by Shamsuddin Iltutmish in 1228 AD, relations between the Sultan of Delhi and Hazrat Sheikh Bahauddin became more amicable. Shamsuddin Iltutmish invited him to preside over the mahzar organized to judge the allegations of adultery against Sheikh Jalaluddin Tabrizi by the Sheikh-ul-Islam, Najmuddin Sughra.
After Hazrat Sheikh Jalaluddin Tabrizi arrived in Delhi he was given a rousing reception with Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish receiving him outside the city. He was held in high esteem and became very popular in the city. Najmuddin Sughra, a well-known persecutor of Sufis, became jealous of him, apprehending that the deep respect and social status enjoyed by Hazrat Sheikh Jalaluddin, coupled with his growing popularity, would one day prove detrimental to him.
Najmuddin Sughra persuaded a bondmaid to bring a charge of adultery against him and it was agreed that she would receive two hundred and fifty gold coins in advance and an equal amount after she had performed her task. The Sultan saw to it that a mazhar was convened, at which all the religious authorities of Delhi, including Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki and Qazi Hamiduddin Nagori, were present.
At the hearing, the bondmaid disclosed the conspiracy after being prompted by Hazrat Sheikh Bahauddin to confess to the slander.
The result of the miscarried plot against Hazrat Jalaluddin was Najmuddin Sughra’s dismissal from the post of Sheikh-ul-Islam and it was Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya who replaced him.
Some Sheikh al-Islam, like Najmuddin Sughra, took a very active part in politics and the administration. Some sufi authorities themselves gave the title to outstanding sufis, thus indicating their supreme spiritual status. To Sheikh Bahauddin, it only meant additional finance to his khanqah. He was not known to have been closely involved in political matters except for recommending his favourites to the Sultan.
After the scandal, apologies were made to Hazrat Jalaluddin Tabrizi but he did not wish to remain in the capital after what had happened. Of what had happened to him he said:
As a result, Hazrat Jalaluddin set off for Bengal to preach Islam with Shamsuddin Iltutmish equipping him for the journey with a unit of the Sultan’s army.
Marriage and Children
Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya married in Multan and had seven sons: Hazrat Sheikh Sadruddin Arif, Sheikh Burhanuddin, Sheikh Ziauddin, Sheikh Alauddin, Sheikh Shahabuddin, Sheikh Quwwatuddin, and Sheikh Shamsuddin.
He was also an excellent family man. It is known that he spent enormous resources on the education of his sons and he was extremely fond of his elder grandson Hazrat Ruknuddin Abul Fath (son of Sheikh Sadruddin Arif) who was a great Sufi saint in his own right.
Hazrat Bahauddin is said to have passed away after a prolonged illness. He died in mysterious circumstances. One day a disciple brought a letter, and gave it to his son, Hazrat Sheikh Sadruddin , saying: ‘A man gave me this letter and said, “Take it to Sheikh Bahauddin Zakariya”.’ Sheikh Sadruddin, when he read the address on the letter, turned pale. He went and gave that letter to Sheikh Bahauddin Zakariya. The Sheikh, on reading the letter, turned aside and uttered loud cries. That night Sheikh Bahauddin Zakariya – may God have mercy upon him – died. Thus, came to an end to a noble and illustrious career on Thursday the seventh of Safar in 666 AH/1267 AD .’
The mausoleum is reported to have been constructed at Sheikh’s own expense during his lifetime. The tomb consists of two tiers, with the lower one having a traditional square base, whereas the upper one is octagonal. The material and décor are made of bricks and blue ceramics. It features the earliest example of blue tilework in the subcontinent. In the year 1848, during the siege of Multan, the cupola and part of the upper tier weredestroyed by the British cannon shells, but were restored later. In 1952 a spacious brick verandah with a painted wooden ceiling was added to the mausoleum, from where the massive carved wooden doors lead into the small burial chamber. There, under a fretted wooden canopy the mortal remains of the saint and his son Hazrat Sadruddin are laid to rest. Behind the tomb a mosque has also been built.
His most prominent caliphs were: Hazrat Sheikh Sadruddin Arif, Hazrat Syed Jalaluddin Surkh-Posh Bukhari, Hazrat Sheikh Hasan Afghan, Hazrat Syed Usman Marwandi better known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar of Sindh, Hazrat Sheikh Fakhruddin Ibrahim of Iraq, and Hazrat Syed Sadruddin Ahmed better known as Syed Husain.”
Hasan Afghan, in particular, was endowed with such extra-sensory faculties that, in spite of being illiterate, he could among other written texts make out the lines of Qur’an because, thanks to his internal sight (basirah) he could see the radiance emanating from them. Hazrat Bahauddin used to say about him:
One of the most enigmatic personalities amongst Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya’s associates was his khalifa, Jalaluddin Surkh-Posh Bukhari. It is said that on the way from Bukhara to India, Jalaluddin was taken prisoner by the Mongols, who threw him into a fire. However, the saint came out of the flame unharmed, and this miracle made such an impression upon Genghis Khan that he adopted the true faith and gave his daughter in marriage to Hazrat Jalaluddin.
Although Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya could rightfully be proud of all his disciples, he often used to say that he would have exchanged all of them for Hazrat Jamaluddin Hansvi, disciple of disciple of Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar. To this Hazrat Baba Farid used to reply, using with good effect the name of his murid (derived from jamal, i.e. beauty), that such an exchange is possible only when one is referring to property (mal), but not to beauty (jamal).
Social & Economic Reformer
Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya was not only a great Sufi saint but he was also a great religious, social and economic reformer. He strived to improve the conditions of the suffering masses in Sindh by transforming barren jungles into flourishing green fields as well as establishing irrigation canals, orchards and wells. In spite of the time and energy needed for these activities, he was staunchly devoted to his Sufi duties and principles.
Generosity with his Wealth
Hazrat Bahauddin was a rich man who engaged in trade and commerce on a large scale. His fortune and his generosity is characterized by an episode in which the governor of Multan appealed to him for assistance in the form of food supply, since no stocks of grain were left in the city.
The Sheikh gave instructions to issue grains from his granaries, and in the middle of the grain a container full of silver coins was found. The honest-minded governor declared: ‘The Sheikh has provided us with grain, not this silver. It must be returned to him’. ‘Tell them,’ said the saint to whom the find was brought, ‘that Zakariya knew about this. I intentionally gave you this silver along with the grain. If you give something to somebody, you should give it with a flourish.’ 
Hazrat Bahauddin also ran a kitchen (Langar) where free food was distributed to hundreds of poor people, travellers, dervishes and guests of his.
Another episode relates that on one occassion, he asked his attendant to distribute 5,000 dinars to the poor. The attendant, however, could not find the container which held the money after which he reported the disappointment to his master. The great saint said: “Alhamdulillah” (God be praised). After a short while, the attendant came and informed him that the box had been found to which the saint again said “Alhamdulillah”. Those present asked him: “Your honour, why did you praise God Almighty on both occassions i.e. when the box was reported as lost then reported as found?” Hazrat Bahauddin replied:
Therefore, from the point of view of Hazrat Bahauddin, it the spiritual and moral perfection of the soul which ultimately matters.
Once a group of Qalandars, before whom Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya had the doors closed, indulged almost in a riot, insisting on alms, and pelted the khanqah with stones. After some time the saint came out to meet the brawlers and declared that he held his office not for the sake of profit, but by the will of Hazrat Shihabuddin Suhrawardi, who had sent him to Multan. Having heard the name of the founder of the Suhrawardis, the Qalandars prostrated themselves before the Shaikh and went back from where they had come.
Hazrat Bahauddin was greatly devoted to God and had the ability to recite the entire Qur’an in one rakat (unit) of prayer. Fawa’id al-Fu’ad narrates:
Like all eminent Sufis, Sheikh Bahauddin emphasized that the importance of meditation and contemplation was the expulsion of everything from the heart except that connected with God. The company of people should be replaced by a constant recitation of zikr. A Sufi should seriously control his lower-self in all conversations and actions. He should not talk or do anything unless it is necessary.
Quotes & Sayings
- ↑ Anwar-e-Ghosiya
- ↑ Tazkarat-ul-Auliya
- ↑ Masalek-us-Salekeen, vol. II, p. 509
- ↑ Akhbar-ul-Akhiyar
- ↑ Siyar-ul-Arefeen; Masalek-us-Salekeen, vol. II, p. 511.
- ↑ Anwar-e-Ghosiya; Manuscript copy of “Kholasat-ul-Waseleen.”
- ↑ Masalek-us-Salekeen, vol. II, p. 511.
- ↑ Siyar-ul-Arefeen
- ↑ Masalek-us-Salekeen, vol. II, p. 511
- ↑ Fawaid-ul-Fu’ad
- ↑ Masalek-us-Salekeen, vol II, p.512
- ↑ Masalek-us-Salekeen, vol II, p.513
- ↑ Masalek-us-Salekeen, vol II, p.515
- ↑ Masalek-us-Salekeen, vol II, p.523-524
- ↑ Fawa’id Al-Fu’ad
- ↑ Siar-ul-Arifin