Sultan-ul-Mashaikh, Mehboob-e-Ilahi, Hazrat Shaikh Khwaja Syed Muhammad Nizamuddin Auliya (1238 – 3 April 1325) also known as Hazrat Nizamuddin, was a famous Sufi saint of the Chishti Order in the Indian Subcontinent, an order that believed in drawing close to God through renunciation of the world and service to humanity. He is one of the great saints of the Chishti order in India. His predecessors were Moinuddin Chishti, Bakhtiyar Kaki and Fariduddin Ganjshakar. In that sequence, they constitute the initial spiritual chain or silsila of the Chisti order, which is widely prevalent in India and Pakistan.
 
Nizamuddin Auliya, like his predecessors, stressed upon the element of love as a means of realisation of God. For him his love of God implied a love of humanity. His vision of the world was marked by a highly evolved sense of secularity and kindness. It is claimed by the 14th century historiographer Ziauddin Barani that his influence on the Muslims of Delhi was such that a paradigm shift was effected in their outlook towards worldly matters. People began to be inclined towards mysticism and prayers and remaining aloof from the world.

Nizamuddin Auliya was born in Badayun, Uttar Pradesh (east of Delhi). At the age of five, after the death of his father, Ahmad Badayuni, he came to Delhi with his mother, Bibi Zulekha.  His biography finds mention in Ain-i-Akbari, a 16th century document written by Mughal Emperor Akbar’s vizier, Abu’l-Fazl ibn Mubarak.

At the age of twenty, Nizāmuddīn went to Ajodhan (the present Pakpattan Sharif in Pakistan) and became a disciple of the Sufi saint Fariduddin Ganj-i-Shakkar, commonly known as Baba Farid. Nizāmuddīn did not take up residence in Ajodhan but continued with his theological studies in Delhi while simultaneously starting the Sufi devotional practices and the prescribed litanies. He visited Ajodhan each year to spend the month of Ramadan in the presence of Baba Farid. It was on his third visit to Ajodhan that Baba Farid made him his successor. Shortly after that, when Nizāmuddīn returned to Delhi, he received news that Baba Farid had expired.

Chilla Nizamuddin Auliya, residence of Nizamuddin Auliya, towards the north-east from Humayun’s tomb, Delhi

Nizāmuddīn lived at various places in Delhi, before finally settling down in Ghiyaspur, a neighborhood in Delhi undisturbed by the noise and hustle of city life. He built his Khanqah here, a place where people from all walks of life were fed, where he imparted spiritual education to others and he had his own quarters. Before long, the khanqah became a place thronged with all kinds of people, rich and poor alike.

Many of his disciples achieved spiritual height, including Shaikh Nasiruddin Muhammad Chirag-e-Delhi,  and Amir Khusro,  noted scholar/musician, and the royal poet of the Delhi Sultanate.

He died on the morning of 3 April 1325. His shrine, the Nizāmuddīn Dergāh is located in Delhi, and the present structure was built in 1562. The shrine is visited by people of all faiths, through the year, though it becomes a place for special congregation during the death anniversaries, or ‘Urs, of Nizāmuddīn Auliyā’ and Amīr Khusro,  who is also buried at the Nizāmuddīn Dargāh.

 

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