Ruzbeh N. Bharucha
Khwaja in Persian means Master and Gareeb Nawaz means Patron of The Poor, thus Sultanul- Hind Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddeen Hasan Chishti Sanjari Ajmeri is with love known to His disciples, devotees and lovers as Khwaja Gareeb Nawaz.
Why would this Giant of Giants, the One who introduced Sufism in India, who had innumerable spiritual Titles, is still through centuries known as the Kind Master Patron of The Poor? The reason is simple, time and again He made it clear that the surest and quickest way to please God, Allah, The One, The Friend and to evade the fire of hell was by providing food and water to the hungry and thirsty, taking care of the needs of the poor and being there for those who were in misery.
According to Him, the best way to worship and please God or Allah was to provide relief to the poor, the humble and the oppressed and that there was no prayer higher than the prayer of service to those in need.
Like Sai Baba of Shirdi, He was very clear that taking care of the poor was so noble, an act that it humbled the very Heaven and when the day of the Judgment will arrive, the surest way of being granted salvation and avoid the wrath of Judgment Day was to take care of the needs of the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the downtrodden, the miserable, the ailing and the damned.
Khwaja Saheb also insisted that it wasn’t just providing material comfort to the needy but also to give those who are in pain, depression and oppression a willing ear, time and consolation as well as to pray for them and do all that which is possible to lighten their hearts and free them as far as possible from anxiety and depression. Thus, it wasn’t just about doing a bit of charity but also to give your time, love and compassion and by doing so He believed and taught that the Almighty, God, Allah, The Friend, considered this to be a very elevated form of worship.
Baba Sai of Shirdi has often said that compassion didn’t need a healthy balance sheet but a large heart and sometimes a smile, a kind word, a willing ear, tenderness in the eyes, did more than the gift of money or other material stuff.
Thus, compassion and charity first came from the heart, the eyes, the kind words and then if possible from money and all that which money can provide.
No wonder Khwaja Saheb has said that, ‘a sin committed does not harm an individual so much as looking down upon one’s own fellow human beings’.
Thus, for Khwaja Garib Nawaz, the most important spiritual necessity was to live with compassion and never to look down upon another being.
Of course, one needs to come from compassion without any agenda. To feed the poor and take care of the needy, with an agenda, even a spiritual agenda, meant one performed charity as a barter arrangement, and I guess that would amount to another business deal and God is a great parent, best of all friends but a horrid businessman.
Khwaja Garib Nawaz referred to Allah as The Friend but one must understand that He could refer to Him as The Friend, as He lived a life so pious, so compassionate, so spiritual that God, Allah, became The Friend. He believed that if you truly loved God or The Friend, then all one needs to do is to live a life of peaceful and happy submission to the Will of The Friend. That all one experienced, the good and what appeared to be harsh, came from The Friend, and what came from The Friend meant it came for the Highest good of the individual. One should lead a life of surrender, giving life one’s best and living with the highest degree of compassion and then leaving all to God or The Friend and most importantly, embrace all, everything and everyone, with joy and happiness. I love this statement of His where He says that, ‘the one who keeps his neck submitted to The Will of God, God Almighty looks after him’.
This is also because He believed that if you are a true lover of God or Allah, there is a divine fire that burns within the individual, that divine fire is the fire of love and once an individual is raging with this fire of love, everything that tries to come in between God and that individual is burnt away. This means if one burns with the love of God, the fire of that love burns away all pending Karma and all the duality that stands between God, Allah, The Friend and the individual. This fire burns away all that which is not on the path to Him or Her. This fire can be fanned and increased by living a life filled with prayer and compassion and treating all as equal or better still treating all as superior to one, in fact treating oneself as a servant to all, thus increasing within oneself humility, compassion, the will to serve and knowing that in serving all, one makes The Lord happy. Living a life of silent meditation, be it in prayer or through one’s conduct makes the One happy and proud of you.
His every moment was a prayer and every action and moment lived in prayer in motion. He believed in three things that each individual should practice apart from compassion and calm, positive, humble submission to The Friend.
The first was that the one should eat less as that way one was always fasting and I assume when one’s stomach isn’t bursting at its seams, one can be more focused to the moment and giving one’s all to the moment and being in the moment which means being with the breath which means being with The One.
The second was to sleep less in order to pray. When one eats less and is in the zone of continuous fasting, the body is always ready to be in a state of prayer and worship. Prayer and worship is mandatory for one to keep moving closer to The One. When one sleeps one is so mired in the subconscious mind that for hours at a stretch one keeps oneself away from the union with The One. When asleep one is in no control of one’s state of devotion and hours could be lost in being filled with duality and keeping oneself away from the breath, the moment, the feeling of surrender to The Almighty.
The third is one should speak less as when we speak less I assume one is once again with the breath, which means one is in the flow of the moment, which means one is closer with The One. Also when one speaks one can get carried away, speak stuff which may not be of the Path, gossip, slander and disparage, which once again is moving away from the Path and The Oneness Family.
He believed that usually the path to The One, starts with fear, is followed by hope and then culminates with love. With fear comes the need to avoid all that which is not on the Path and thus make certain after one passes over, hell isn’t either an option or destination. With hope that one can avoid the fires of hell or creating more troublesome Karma, comes prayer and with prayer comes compassion. Prayer is usually done with the hope that God is listening and God is All Merciful and being All Merciful one can move closer to Him or Her. But all this leads to love. With love comes the need to merge with The One and this brings about more compassion, love, servitude, Friendship, meditation, contemplation and the need to spend not a moment away from The One, in this life time or the next, in the physical, in the spirit and in the beyond the beyond.
His guidance for those who wanted to be on The Path showcases His philosophy, ideology, compassion and humility. Khwaja Garib Nawaz believed that the one who wanted to be on the path or for an ascetic one had to follow ten things.
First and foremost was the search for God and to try find Him or Her in every moment and every thought, word and action.
Second was to find a Master as The Master would help the individual to move steadily on the Path and not get lost in the various by lanes of the material world and the world of illusions and duality.
Third was that the seeker respected every being, irrespective of caste, creed, religion, financial position and also that as God has created every being, each being was to be treated with love, compassion and respect.
The fourth was to be in a perpetual state of surrender to God and His Will. To live a life of calm, happy, peaceful surrender and to lead a life where apart from giving your best, He knows the best and what He wants shall be for the best of the individual and thus for the highest and largest good of the individual and Creation at large.
The fifth thing which was mandatory for the seeker was to love all beings. Without love there is no God and without God there is nothing thus everything starts and ends with love. If one loves God and cannot love those who are around the individual then there is something terribly wrong. Only love can open the door of God’s heart and it is the love for all beings as S(H)e is in all beings. Thus, everything begins and ends with selfless love.
The sixth need is goodness and piousness. One needs to be inherently good and pious and pious stands for so many things. Most importantly it stands for being inherently a good human being. One who operates not from the narrow confines of self centeredness but from the highway of selflessness and where the larger good is always paramount and the individual good if complements the higher and larger good, is only the permissible.
The seventh on the list is perseverance and consistency. On the Path, if you don’t have the stubbornness of an extremely obdurate mule, where you are shamelessly stubborn as not to be waylaid from the Path, then and only then are you and me going to reach the Destination or get even close to the Destination. Thus one needs to be very clear of one’s spiritual priority and then keeping one’s eye and focus on the Destination, one holds the staff of single-minded perseverance and consistency and walks on, no matter how many times one is kicked in the teeth, no matter how often one’s nose is rubbed into the sand of time and illusions, no matter no matter no matter.
The eighth thing needed to be packed in the spiritual haversack is to be able to eat less and sleep less. Gluttony and sloth have made seekers lose their path, more than the other obvious trap holes and land mines on the path of spirituality. Every Sufi and Sage has kind of gritted Their Spiritual Teeth and cautioned the aspirant to be wary of stuffing one’s face and snoring through a land storm. There must be a reason. Both, eating and sleeping too much can make one earth bound. If one wants those beautiful wings that can make the soul soar with the Angels, one needs to go a tad easy on the food and sleep.
The ninth on the list is seclusion. One needs to be away and by one self if one wants to go within oneself, be one with one’s breath, connect with the Higher Self, The Guru within, The Guru’s love enveloping you and to allow Divine Silence to be the wind beneath your Wings. Seclusion is a must. Be it any time of the day or at night, if one can’t go away from one’s family and responsibility, one need’s to have time in the day or at night, where one can spend time in seclusion. Being by one’s self, in thought, prayer and just being….just be….
The tenth thing required is prayers and fasting. Prayers of gratitude and prayers of repentance and prayers of remembrance and prayers of Oneness and it could mean formal prayers or chanting One of His or Her Names or chanting the Name of one’s Guru. But prayers is mandatory and when one goes deep into prayers automatically the need to eat goes down and as one goes deeper into prayers, food itself becomes an obstacle and thus with prayers follows natural fasting.
As Khwaja Saheb has said that, “the heart of a Lover (True lover of Allah ) constantly burns with the fire of love so much so that whatever intrudes upon its sanctity is reduced to ashes”.
The journey of Khwaja Saheb is that of sheer love for God, The Prophet Mohamed, His Masters and Saints and pure compassion and love for mankind.
Khwaja Saheb’s mother best sums up Her son’s life. Hazrat Bibi Ummul Wara said, “as soon as I conceived this beloved son, Moinuddin, the house seemed to be full of blessing and prosperity. Our enemies turned into friends and I started having pious and auspicious dreams and when He was born, My house was shining with a divine light”.
His Father, Sayyid Ghiyas-u’d-din, was not only a wealthy man but also very learned. With His influence, Khwaja Saheb learnt the Holy Quran by the age of nine and other esoteric subjects. When a teenager His Father passed away and in a short while, within months, His mother joined His father in Spirit. He was barely fourteen years of age, when Khwaja Saheb inherited a garden and a mill.
One day when Khwaja Saheb was tending the garden an elderly man arrived. The man was no ordinary person, He was Sheikh Ibrahim Qundozi, a Majzoob.
According to Avatar Meher Baba, a Majzoob, is a soul that has transcended all states of consciousness and is filled with a state of God consciousness, but the Majzoob is so filled with God consciousness or the state of Godhood and is so God intoxicated that He cannot help others. It is like a Perfect Mast. A Mast too is so God intoxicated that He is of no help to the rest of Creation. The meaning of Majzoob is The One who is Absorbed and a Majzoob can only indirectly help those individuals, who have honoured Him.
So Khwaja Saheb attended to the Majzoob. He wanted to tend to Him and feed Him. So the young fourteen year old Boy took the Majzoob and made Him rest under the shade of a tree. He had a bunch of grapes which He pleaded with the Majzoob to eat. Khwaja Saheb sat respectfully in front of the Majzoob while the latter ate a few grapes. The Majzoob for sure must have recognized the fire that flamed within Khwaja’s Nawaz’s spirit. So He took out a small piece of cake or bread, chewed a piece of it and then removed it from His mouth and put it into Khwaja Saheb’s mouth.
Similar to how Qutub Tajuddin Baba and Sarkar Makhdum Shah too had been fed by Their Masters.
The moment Khwaja Saheb chewed the piece of cake and swallowed it He began to swim in the same powerful current of Godhood.
He sold His property, gave all the money to the poor and then set out for The Last Marathon. For a long while He wandered, meeting Masters and scholars and eventually met His Master, Hazrat Khwaja Shaikh Usman Harooni and joined His Master’s group as a disciple. For twenty years Khwaja Saheb served His Master in the only way one serves one’s Master. With pure, selfless love and complete humble surrender.
“I did not give myself a moment’s rest from the service of my Peer-o-Murshid, and carried about His night clothes during his journeys and stoppages”.
Thus after twenty years, Khwaja Saheb was appointed as the Spiritual Successor of Hazrat Khwaja Usman Harooni and Khwaja Saheb was given the holy relics of the Holy Prophet Mohamed.
All this took place in Mecca and Madina and hence forth He was called Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti of the most famous Sufi heritage of Chisti. He was given a Stick, a robe, sandals and a prayer carpet. His Master then for the last time, physically spoke to Khwaja Saheb. ‘These holy relics are the sacred possessions of our spiritual ancestors, which we have received from the Holy Prophet Mohamed and I have given them to Thee. Thou should’st keep them with Thee, as we have done. Whomsoever Thou may’st find a real seeker, entrust them to Him. Do not hold any hope from the people. Live far from the people and aloof from the public and do not demand or ask anything from anybody I have entrusted Thee to God.’ Then He went into trance and I departed.”
It was in Mecca and Madina where Khwaja Saheb while in a trace was told by Prophet Mohamed that He must go to Ajmer, in India and spread Sufism and the word of Allah.
“O Moinuddin! You are a prop of Our faith. Proceed to India and show the path of Truth to the people there.” That is why Khwaja Saheb is also known as Ataye Rasul/Naib-e-Rasul.” (Lieutenant of Prophet Hazrat Mohamed.
All the Moghul rulers with their armies on one side met with resistance from those who lived in India to accept their rule and forceful conversion while Khwaja Saheb with His humility and compassion and His sheer majestic personality made the most hard hearted agnostic take to Sufism and Islam.
Khwaja Saheb lived the most humble life but only gave and gave and gave of Himself to the poor and the needy and the downtrodden and the damned.
Not the marrying kind, it took again Prophet Mohamed’s personal intervention via a dream and it was then that Khwaja Saheb got married. He had three children from the first marriage and one from the second. Each child was considered a Saint in His or Her own right.
Nobody went hungry from Khwaja Saheb’s Darbar. He loved to feed people of all castes, creeds, religion. Nobody went empty handed. The needy were taken care of and the miserable were consoled and the heartbroken were restored back to spirit and the angry were made calm and the proud were made humble and whether you accepted Islam or not, you were treated as family and you were given the respect and love which is the right of each living being in Creation. Khwaja Saheb was so compassionate and loving though most often silent and somber, that one could not help fall in love with Him and His Godlike nature and personality.
He introduced Urdu to the world and spread Islam but mainly Sufism to all of India. He had no interest in politics or power.
When He realized that He had to depart from the body He called His chosen disciple Khawaja Qutubudin Bhaktiyar Kaki to Ajmer.
Just like His Master, Khwaja Saheb too handed over all that He had received from His Guru. In the words of Khawaja Qutubudin Bhaktiyar Kaki.
” I was called to go near my Pir. When I did so, He put His kulah (headcovering on my head and wrapped the turban with His own sacred hands. He then gave me Hazrat Khwaja Usman Harooni’s Asa (holy staff), His own copy of the Holy Qur’an, His musalla (prayer carpet)- and a pair of sandals and said: “These are the most sacred relics of Our Holy Prophet Mohammed which have come down to Us through the past generations of our Khwajgaan-e-Chisht (succ- eeding dervishes in thesilsila of Chishti Saints) which were entrusted to me by my Pir-o-Murshid, Hazrat Khwaja Usman Harooni. Now I am giving them to You. You should prove yourself worthy of them, like Our revered predecessors in Our Order, so that on the Day-of-Judgment I may not suffer shame before Allah and our holy predecessors.”
After this, Khwaja Saheb grasped the hand of Khwaja Qutubuddin looked at the sky, saying, “I entrust You to God. I have done my duty in bringing You up to this stage of perfection as Your Pir.”
Then He told His successor the most beautiful of all teachings. That a Sufi must outwardly appear as a well fed person but within He must never forget that He is poor and He should always be hungry. A Sufi must always feed the poor properly. Though a Sufi within is always sad (as He is separated from His God and Master) He must always appear happy and content with the world. And that a Sufi must always forgive those who hurt Him or who wish Him harm and must treat His enemy with love and kindness too.
Khwaja Qutubuddin was wrought with sadness. He fell at Khwaja Saheb’s feet. Khwaja Saheb embraced His disciple. Khwaja Qutubuddin again fell at Khwaja Saheb’s feet. Once again Khwaja Saheb embraced His most loved disciple and that was the last meeting between Master and Disciple. Khwaja Saheb sent Jhwaja Qutubuddin to Delhi.
Twenty days later Khwaja Saheb retreated to His dwelling with instructions to all that none should disturb Him while He prayed. His disciples could hear Him chant the Holy Quran. A day and a half later they could hear His voice no more. When they entered the room they realised that Khwaja Garib Nawaz had become One with The Almighty. He was then aged ninety seven. He had through His love and compassion converted nine million and more people into Islam.
On His forehead for a long while were inscribed the words in Arabic, “He is Allah’s beloved and He died in Allah’s Love.”
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha