From time immemorial, Prayag or Allahabad has been a very sacred place for Hindus and it has been the land of knowledge and ascetics of different religions and philosophies. Prayag is told as one of the holy places where the holy rivers meet. Prayag is also revered meeting center of different philosophies and it has provided equal freedom of thought and religious practices to all from the very existence of various cultures of the Indian sub-continent. Such was the honor and grace of Prayag that Manusmriti tells us about Prayag and calls it very holy and sacred place. In the Mughal period Akbar reorganized his territories and divided it into twelve Subas and built a strong fortress on the confluence of the two holy rivers. Akbar also founded a new city in Prayag and named it as Ilahabas of Ilahabad which came to be known as Allahabad in British period. In the Mughal period many sufis and saints migrated to Allahabad and settled into the various parts of this region. In later Mughal period we found at least fourteen major Sufi establishments which were named after their founder saints. This paper tries to underline the settlement of Suhrawardi Sufis in the region during the Delhi Sultanate. We have sources which tell us that before the foundation of Allahabad this region was very fruitful for the Sufis and many Suhrawardi saints had migrated to this region which was then known as Payak or Prayag, and they had settled their hospices into the various parts of the region. A humble attempt has been made in this paper to underline the settlement of early sufis in this region.
In the very beginning of Muslim settlements in India many Sufis and saints had settled in various parts of the country and Allahabad also witnessed settlements of many great Sufis as early as twelve/ thirteenth century. One of the earliest Sufi of this region was Shaban ul Millat, a saint of Suhrawardi order who settled at Jhunsi.1 Shaban ul Millat Ali Murtaza Bayabani also known as Mahi-Shaban-i-Bayabani, was among the earliest eminent Sufis of the region. He was originally from Bhakkar and born there in 660/1261 AD. In the age of 30 years Shaban ul Millat developed a deep yearning for the divine love and he used to wander to the different spiritual circles and mystics. Finally he went to the Hazrat Samshuddin Arizi of Multan and asked him to initiate himself into his discipleship. But Hazrat Samshuddin said to him that you are made for Wilayat (spiritual guardianship) and asked him to go to in the service of Shaikh Bahuddin Zakariya.
When Shaban Millat reached to Shaikh Bahuddin Zakariya he gave him under the guidance of Shaikh Ruknuddin Abul Fathi. Shaban Millat remained in the service of Shaikh Ruknuddin for a long period and after two years he asked to Shaikh Ruknuddin to educate him about mystical knowledge. Shaikh Ruknuddin told him to perform some strict rituals including fasting and Chilla2 (retreat) and finally asked him to go to Bihar and meet Makhdum Shah Minhazuddin Haji al-Harmain and become his disciple. On the directions of Shaikh Ruknuddin he set out for Bihar and when he reached there he saw that Makhdum Shah Minhaz was waiting for him outside of the city. He remained in the service of Makhdum Shah Minhaj for twelve years and after twelve years he gave him spiritual robe and asked him to settle at Shaikh Pura where he stayed for about two years until he was recalled by Makhdum Shah Minhaz and directed to proceed for Payag (Prayag) and propagate Islam in the region.3
On the instruction of his murshid (mentor) Shaban Millat set out for the Payag with fifty other faqirs. When he reached to Jhunsi it was then called Harbong Pur, they settled at the bank of Ganges in the forests. According to author of Manba al Ansab, here he had a clash with the local ruler of Harbong Pur and raged by the killings of his fellow faqirs Shaikh overturned the Fort of ruler with his spiritual power and settled here with peace forever. He established his khanqah and propagated the teachings of Sufism in the region. He died in 1359 AD and his shrine is located in Jhunsi and the place is famous as Ulta Qila (overturned Fort). Shaikh had two sons and two daughters his elder son Ali Amir Shahid was martyred fighting against the infidels. His second son Saiyid Sadrul Haq Taqi became his spiritual successor.4
His son, Saiyid Sadrul Haq Taqi ud Din Muhammad Abul was also a devoted Sufi and he was well known for his piety and knowledge. He received honor and appreciation from royals and common people both and became famous as a great Suhrawardi saint of the region. He was born in 1320 A.D. in Jhunsi (Payag).5 He received education and spiritual training under the guidance of his father Shaikh Shaban ul Millat and after completing his spiritual training, received bayt (initiation) from his father. Saiyid Taqi ud din also travelled far and away and visited many famous Sufi centers. During such a tour he met Saiyid Muhammad Bukhari bin Mir Abdul Haq Kabir in Bukhara and stayed with him for twelve years. In the meantime he was married to the daughter of Saiyid Mir Abdul Kabir, who was named Rukhmah Begum. Shaikh Taqi ud din also received many spiritual gifts from Saiyid Mir Abdul Haq.6 After death of Saiyid Mir Abdul Kabir, he returned to Hindustan with his family and when he reached to Delhi he saw a dream that Sultan ul Mashaikh (King of Saints) Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya had gifted him spiritual robe and Khilafat. So he went to meet to Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya and described his dream to him, Shaikh replied that he has also seen a similar dream and accepted him in his service. Shaikh Taqi ud din remained in the service of him for one year and learned mystic knowledge. After one year Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya gave him spiritual robe and made him one of his khalifas.7 Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya also asked him at the time of his departure to meet Mir Saiyid Alauddin Jayuri of Kubrawiya order. On the instruction of Shaikh Nizamuddin he also met Saiyid Alauddin and received spiritual gifts from him and thus Kubrawiyah order was introduced to his legacy.8
Hazrat Shah Jalaluddin or popularly known as Ganj Rawan9 also came to Jhunsi to meet Shaikh Taqi ud din. He stayed with him for one week in seclusion and they talked about mysticism after one week Shah Jalaluddin was also very influenced by his spiritual abilities and knowledge of abstruse Sufi subjects.10 He said these lines about Shaikh Taqi ud din
ہے تقی ادیں تو ہی سیف خدا
سر عوم رابکن از تن جدا
(Shaikh Taqiuddin you are the sword of Almighty, Behead my enemies).
Shah Madar Badiuddin also met him and he was very much impressed with his spiritual capabilities and devotion for Almighty. He is said to have stayed with Shaikh Taqi for three days in his huzra (hospice) and remarked that I have seen a real wali (saint) here.11
Along with a great Sufi Shah Taqi ud din was also a good poet and wrote some rubayi (poems) in the praise of Almighty and divine love. Farrukhsiyar had visited Shaikh Taqi ud din’s shrine in 1712 AD while he was on his way to fight Jahandar for the crown.12 A biography of the Shaikh was later on written by one of his followers, Haji Rumi, praising both the son and father and it was entitled as Tahrir ul-Mu taqid fi Halat-i-Murshid.13
Manba ul Ansab was originally written in Persian and later it was translated into Urdu. Sayyid Mu īn Al-Haqq wrote this book around 830 AH/1426 AD. This book is divided into eleven chapters Along with the history of Prophet Muhammad and The Twelve Imams and The Fourteen Infallibles, it also gives account of various Sufi orders. The book also gives us the genealogy of Prophets and Manba ul Ansab has its unique importance as the title suggests itself; it gives us crucial information regarding the saints and their genealogy that were related to Bukkur (Bhakkhar) and its surrounding region.
This source gives us crucial information regarding the spread of Sufism in the Prayag (later Allahabad) region during thirteenth century. Jhunsi emerged as the epicenter of Sufis in the period and became abode of Sufis and mystics in the region. From here many Sufis received mystical training and many of them also settled at various parts in the region including Bamhrauli and Kara-Manikpur. The most renowned Sufi of the region was Khwaja Karak Abdal or Khawaja Gurg who was a disciple of Shaikh Imaduddin Ismaili Suhrawardi, who was in turn a disciple of Shaikh Shaban ul Millat of Jhunsi.14 These saints played an important role in the spread of Sufism in the region and they founded their hospices (khanqah) which in turn became the centers of acculturation and synthesis of liberal ideas.
Fig.1. Tombs of Shaikh Shaban Millat and Shaikh Taqiuddin at Jhunsi (Field Survey)
Notes and References