Sultan Bahu was an eminent saint who founded the Sarwari Qadiri order. His asceticism, renunciation, faith, hope and belief place him in extremely high regard among the sufi saints in the Indian subcontinent. His unflagging zeal, dogged determination, purity of faith and above all his humanism continue to inspire.
Hazrat Sultan Bahu was born into the Awan tribe known for its organisation and discipline, obedience to the patriarch, valour, education and fear of God. He traced his descent from Hazrat Ali , the son-in-law of the Holy Prophet Mohammad ﷺ.
His father, Bayazeed Mohammed, served emperor Shah Jahan as officer-in-charge of Kohistan. He had committed the Holy Quran to memory and was thus a Hafiz. He was a learned man of his time, and adhered strictly to the tenets enjoined by Islam. His father was very unhappy with the position he held and therefore left Kohistan for Multan. When ordered to return, he tendered his resignation. After spending sometime in Multan, he migrated to Shorkot and settled there permanently. His mother was known for her piety and religious fervour. Hazrat Bahu was born in Shorkot in 1628 AD / 1039 AH and was named Bahu.
Legends relating to his childhood are numerous and of a varied nature. One of them relates that When Bahu was a boy, he was such a devout Muslim that a sort of radiance spread round his face and whenever a Hindu witnessed it, he was so impressed by it, that forgetting all, he renounced his own religion and became a Muslim.
This miracle frightened the Hindus who sent a delegation to wait upon his father and request him to keep his son indoors, except at certain hours.
One night he had a dream in which he saw himself being presented in the Court of the Holy Prophet Mohammad ﷺ by no other than Hazrat Ali . The Holy Prophet ﷺ took his hand in his and thereby honoured him by initiating him. He himself acknowledged all those blessings that ensued. He said: “I attained so many and such stations and exalted positions, which cannot be described.” Subsequently, the Holy Prophet ﷺ entrusted him to Hazrat Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani, better known as Ghous-ul-Azam. The dream brought about a noticeable transformation in him. He became indifferent to mundane affairs and lost interest in his surroundings. He was absorbed in the manifestation of the glory of God Almighty and was lost in the beauty of the absolute.
Search for a spiritual guide
His mother observing this advised that he get himself initiated in to a Sufi Order. He asked his mother: “Where is a spiritual guide to be found? And where should I go in search of him?” His mother pointed towards the East.
Hazrat Sultan Bahu left home and went out in search of a spiritual guide. He had heard of the great spiritual attainment and powers of Hazrat Shah Habibullah so he went to him and revealed the object of his visit. To this Hazrat Habibullah responded by saying:
After a short period of discipleship Sultan Bahu rose above his master in his power of karamat or miracles. Thereupon Hazrat Shah Habibullah informed him of his inability to teach him any further and directed him to go to his master Hazrat Shaikh Syed Abdur Rahman Qadiri of Delhi. Hazrat Shaikh Syed Abdur Rahman, as Hazrat Shah Habibullah described him, possessed great spiritual knowledge.
He thereupon went to Delhi and became a spiritual disciple of Hazrat Shaikh Syed AbdurRahman Qadiri, and later, his spiritual guide conferred upon him the robe of caliph, thus enabling him to accept spiritual disciples. After living in Delhi for sometime, he returned to Shorkot and began to preach. He called his Order “Qadiriya Masrooriya.” Among his caliphs were Hazrat Nou Rang, Hazrat Mulla Ma’ani, and Hazrat Momin Shah.
Marriage and children
He had four wives who bore him eight sons. His youngest son, Sultan Hayat Mohammed, died in childhood. His seven other sons were: Sultan Noor Mohammed, Sultan Wali Mohammed, Sultan Latif Mohammed, Sultan Saleh Mohammed, Sultan Ishaq Mohammed, Sultan Fath Mohammed and Sultan Sharif Mohammed.
Character and literary pursuits
He was ever absorbed in meditation and was indifferent to mundane affairs. He is the author of many books including Ain-ul-Faqr, Gang-ul-Israr, Kalid- ut-Tauhid, Noor-id-Huda, Mahabat-ul-lsrar, Shams-ul-Arefeen, Aurange Sliahi, Israre Qadiri, Taufiq-e-Hidajat, Majalistun-Nabi, Tegli-e-Berehna, Risala Ralii, Qurb-e-Didar, Kalid-e-Jannat, Miftah-ul-Ashiqeen, Kashf-ul-Israr, Amir-ul-Kaunain, Jam-e-Israr, Ain-un-Nijat, Qutb-ul-Aqtab, and Hujjat-ul-Israr.
One day a certain person came to him to demand some money from him. He was at that time ploughing his land. The person, seeing him doing so wanted to return. As soon as Hazrat Bahu saw him, he called him and said: “O you have come from so far off, how is it, that you are leaving without meeting me?” He asked the person to plough the land while himself went to urinate. When he returned, he threw all the pebbles that he had removed on the ground and remarkably they turned into gold. Addressing the person, he said: “You had come for money. I did not want to disappoint you. Now, take as much gold as you wish.” The person picked up a large quantity of gold and returned a very happy man.
He breathed his last on the first of Jamadi-us-Sani in 1102 AH. His tomb in Shorkot draws myriads of devotees from far away places.
His teachings serve as a code for life, useful to all. He writes:
About faqr (poverty), he says: “It has three meanings, the first meaning is the extinction of self, the second meaning is wrath on self, and the third meaning is submission to the divine will.”