Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, a patron saint of Sindhis, was born early in the twelfth century in 1177 in Marwand, now Afghanistan, to a noble Makhdum, sayed Ahmed Kabir, who was a close friend of the King of Tabriz. Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s real name was Syed Muhammad Usman and his mother was a high-ranking princess. He showed from his infancy signs of a deep spiritual nature. It is said that even when very young he had developed occult powers. He knew Quran by heart at age seven, and at twenty he was initiated into the Qalandar order.
|Name:||Lal Shahbaz Qalandar|
|In Urdu :||لعل شہباز قلندر|
|Original Name:||Shah Hussain Marwandi / Shah Usman Marwandi|
|In Urdu :||شاہ حسین مارواندی / شاہ عثمان مارواندی|
|Senior posting:||Based in Sehwan|
|Period :||12th/13th century|
|Name Given by Father:||Syed Mohammad Usman Marwandi R.A|
|Name Given by People:||Syed Shah Hussain R.A|
|Parents:||Ibrahim Kabiruddin (father)|
|Date:||19 February 1274|
|Rest Place:||Sehwan, Sindh (modern-day Pakistan)|
Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (1177 – 1274) (Sindhi: لال شھباز قلندر), a Persian sufi saint, philosopher, poet, and qalandar, was born as Syed Usman Shah Marwandi. He belonged to the Suhrawardiyya order of sufis, and was close contemporary to Baha-ud-din Zakariya, Shaikh Fariduddin Ganjshakar, Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari Surkh-posh of Uchch, and Shah Shams Tabrizi. Some also add the name of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi-Rumi (Mevlana Rumi). He travelled around the Muslim world and had settled in Sehwan ( Sindh, Pakistan) and was buried there. He preached religious tolerance among Muslims and Hindus. Thousands of pilgrims visit his shrine every year, especially at the occasion of his Urs.
“He showed from his infancy, signs of a deep spiritual nature. It is said that even when very young he had developed occult powers. He knew Quran by heart at the age of seven, and at twenty he was initiated into the Qalandar order.” At first Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar was taught by his mother, and then he went on to Medina (KSA) and spent some time there. From medina he went on to Karbala (Iraq) where he used to look after the Holy Shrine of the King of Martyrs Imam-e-Hussain
Hazrat Syed Shah Hussain a.k.a. Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar ibne Hazrat Syed Ibrahim Kabir u Din Mujab ibne Hazrat Syed Shams-ud-Din ibne Hazrat Syed Noor Shah ibne Hazrat Syed Muhammad Shah ibne Hazrat Syed Ahmed Shah ibne Hazrat Syed Hadi Shah ibne Hazrat Syed Mehdi Shah ibne Hazrat Syed Muntakhib Shah ibne Hazrat Syed Ghalib Shah ibne Hazrat Syed Mansoor Shah ibne Hazrat Syed Ismail Shah ibne Imam – e – Jafer – e – Sadiq (A.S.)
Syed Ibrahim Kabir-ud-Din Mujab used to talk to the King of Martyrs Imam-e-Hussain (A.S.) and used to get a reply in return, hence the name Mujab “The one who is Answered” (or whose prayers are answered). One day he was foretold, by Imam-e-Hussain (A.S.) in a lucid dream, that you are devoted and have looked after our Shrine in a very good manner, Imam-e-Hussain (A.S.) ordered Syed Ibrahim Kabir-ud-Din Mujab to get married, and said we will gift you a “Baaz” (Falcon) which was gifted by Allah to our Grandfather Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H) on “Me’raj” (the ascension of Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H.)). Hence Syed Ibrahim Kabir-ud-Din Mujab got married (at the age of 75 according to some sayings). On the occasion of Marriage Ceremony of Syed Ibrahim Kabir-ud-Din Mujab, all of the Iraq celebrated and it was like festival during his wedding throughout Iraq. (According to some sayings he got married in Marwand).
Even as a young boy, Shahbaz Qalandar showed strong religious leanings. He learnt the Holy Quran by heart just at age of seven, and at twenty embraced the Qalandar order of Sufism. Qalandar is a type of dervish who is generally dressed in beggars clothes, likes poverty and austerity and has no permanent dwelling. Lal Shahbaz Qalandar wandered throughout Middle East and came to Sind from Baghdad via Dasht-i-Makran. In 1263, he arrived in Multan, which at that time was at the height of glory and splendor. The people of Multan besought him to stay but he continued his journey southward and eventually settled down in Sehwan, then a famous center of learning and popular place of worship for Hindus, in the southern part of Sindh, where he lived in the trunk of a tree on the outskirts of the town. He stayed at Sehwan for six years and during this period he disseminated the light of Islam, providing guidance to thousands of people.
In poetry and prose
A Qawwali by Abida Parveen and many other singers of sufi songs, ‘Lal Meri Pat Rakhiyo …’ is in honour of Shahbaz Qalandar, as is the one sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan named Mast Qalandar. This famous mystic often quoted the teachings of Maulana Jalal ad-Din Rumi. A book detailing his life is called “Solomon’s Ring” by Gul Hasan.
Boo Ali Shah Qalandar’s famous Persian verses showing his love and honour for Hazrat Ali are engraved on his shrine:
- “Haiderium Qalandram Mastam
- Banda e Murtaza Ali Hastam
- Peshwa e tamam Rindanam
- Ke Sag e Koo e Sher e Yazdanam”!
- I am Haideri (relating to Haider, a second name for Ali ibn Abi Talib), Qalandar and Mast (intoxicated with inspiration)
- I am a slave of Ali Murtaza
- I am leader of all saints
- Because I am a dog of the lane of “Allah’s Lion” (referring to Ali)
Reason for leaving Karbala and Arrival in Sindh
One day Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar saw the King of Martyrs Imam-e-Hussain (A.S.), Imam-e-Hussain (A.S.) ordered Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar to go to Hindustan (Indo-Pak Subcontinent). After receiving orders Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar left for Indo-Pak subcontinent. He went to Mashad, stayed there for a short time then went on to Indo-Pak Subcontinent. It is said that he entered through Makran and went on to Karachi. Then went on and stayed at the mausoleum of Syed Sadr-ud-din, Sukher (Sindh) and from there went on to stay with Surkh Syed Jalal-ud-din Bukhari of Uch sharif – Bahawalpur (Punjab) .
While in Sehwan
When he first arrived he stayed out of the city according to some sayings it is call Lal Bagh (Red Garden) which is towards south-eastern side. Inside the city of Sehwan, Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar had two disciples, Boodla Bahaar and Sachal Sarmast. It is said that Boodla Bahaar had a very long beard with which he used to clean up the place of Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. At the time of Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s arrival at Sehwan, Sehwan was centre of evilness. Boodla Bahaar and Sachal Sarmast were appointed by Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar to preach inside the city and their duty was to go stand and every nook and corner and say “Ali Haq” (Imam-Ali (A.S.) ibn-e-Abi-Talib (A.S.) is the ultimate Truth).
Some Miracles of Qalandar
One day king of the fort ordered his soldiers to bring him the man (Boodla Bahaar) who says “Ali Haq”. Once Boodla Bahaar was arrested he was presented to the king, he asked Boodla Bahaar stop saying “Ali Haq” Boodla Bahaar answered “Ali Haq” and I will not stop. King got angry and asked his soldiers to kill Boodla Bahaar and make mince of his meat and then distribute it and throw it away (according to some sayings the soldiers ate the meat). (there is a saying that when Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar used to call Boodla Bahaar he replied “Aya Sarkar” (I am coming my Lord!)). When Boodla Bahaar didn’t return for a long time Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar inquired and found out what happened he said “Boodla Bahaar” and where ever the meat of Boodla Bahaar was it replied “Aya Sarkar” (Coming My Lord!) and the meat gathered and turned back into Boodla Bahaar. Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar sent him again to preach these people and the same thing happened again. Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar again performed the same miracle and after third time Qalandar said that these people of fort and their king will not listen and keep destroying lives and freedom of innocents, Hence after the third time he gave his “Mutahir” (A strong baseball bat type stick) to Boodla Bahaar and told him to turn it upside down while looking at the Fort and as Boodla Bahaar turned it all the fort was turned upside down (this is clear from the fort remains). Later on someone asked Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar why didn’t he do it himself, Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar replied I was holding on to the earth as if I haven’t stopped it the whole earth would have gone upside down.
Qalandar in his life taught people about the true Islam. Mourning on Prophet’s Family and taught people on how to mourn. His major lessons were not to leave Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H.), Imam Ali (A.S.) and Prophet’s Family as, as soon as one left prophet and his family one is bound to go on a wrong path. In most of his teachings, which is clear from his poetry, he emphasized on following Imam Ali (A.S.) and mourning for Imam-e-Hussain (A.S.). At the end of this article I would like to quote one of the Qalandar’s famous Persian verses showing his devotion, love and honour for Imam Ali (A.S.), and are engraved on Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine.
Legends and Stories
On his way from Baluchistan to Sindh, he also stayed in present day Karachi’s Manghopir area for muraqba (meditation), and it is said that Manghopir’s natural warm fountain is a miracle of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. That warm fountain started to flow from beneath the hill, on which Lal Shahbaz sat for muraqba (meditation). After passing hundreds of years, that warm fountain is still flowing continuously and is said to have miraculous healing power especially for asthma patients. In Multan, Lal Shahbaz met Bahauddin Zachariah Multani of the Suhurwardiya order, Baba Farid Ganjshakar of Chishtiya order, and Makhdoom Jahanian Surkh Bukhari. The attachment was so cordial and spiritual that their friendship became legendary. They were known as Chahar Yar (Persian = four friends). According to some historians, the four friends visited various parts of Sindh and Punjab, in present day Pakistan. Almost all the saints of Sindh including Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Makhdoom Bilawal, Sachal Sarmast and Qadir Bukhsh Bedal were devout followers of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.
The shrine around his tomb, built in 1356, gives a dazzling look with its Sindhi kashi tiles, mirror work and two gold-plated doors – one donated by the late Shah of Iran, the other by the late Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The inner sanctum is about 100 yards square with the silver canopied grave in the middle. On one side of the marble floor is a row of about 12 inch high folding wooden stands on which are set copies of Quran for devotees to read. On the other side, beside a bundle of burning agarbattis (joss sticks), are rows of diyas (small oil lamps) lighted by Hindu devotees.
His annual Urs (death anniversary celebration) is held on the 18 Sha’aban – the eighth month of the Muslim lunar calendar. Thousands of devotees flock to the tomb while every Thursday their number stands multiplied especially at the time of his ‘Urs’ being a carnival as well a religious festival and celebrated every year. Sehwan springs to life and becomes the focal point of more than half a million pilgrims from all over Pakistan. On each morning of the three day feast, the narrow lanes of Sewhan are packed to capacity as thousands and thousands of pilgrims, fakirs and devotees make their way to the shrine to commune with the saint, offer their tributes and make a wish. Most of the people present garlands and a green chadar (a cloth used to cover a tomb) with Qur’anic inscriptions in silver or gold threads. Humming of verses, singing and dancing in praise of the saint continues till late at night. A devotional dance known as ‘dhamal’, being a frenzied and ecstatic swirl of the head and body, is a special ritual that is performed at the rhythmic beat of the (a big barrel-shaped drum), some of them being of giant size and placed in the courtyard of the shrine. Bells, gongs, cymbals and horns make a thunderous din, and the dervishes, clad in long robes, beads, bracelets and colored head-bands whirl faster and faster in a hypnotic trance, until with a final deafening scream they run wildly through the doors of the shrine to the courtyard beyond.