Deputies and Disciples

Publication Year : 2019

The landscape of Badin district is dotted with the shrines of Suhrawardi saints who were mainly the deputies and disciples of Bahauddin Zakariya ((1170-1262). In the 13th century, Badin became the center of Suhrawardi saints. Later many saints from the family of Bahauddin Zakariya migrated to Sindh. Some settled there and the others went back to Multan. Many people from Sindh also went to Multan to enroll themselves as the deputies and disciples of Bahauddin Zakariya. It is believed that due to the frequent travels of Bahauddin Zakariya to Sindh and those of Sindhi mystics to Multan, Sindh became the cornerstone for the Suhrawardi silsila in 13th, 14th,, 15th and 16th centturies. Many of the saints from different Sindhi tribes were given the religious title of ‘Dars’ by Bahauddin Zakariya which literally meant ‘Sabaq’ (lesson) in Sindhi language. This term ‘Dars’ was used for those who studied under the guidance of Bahauddin Zakariya in his madrassah in Multan and received the blessings and spiritual authority from him to continue preaching Islam in their respective regions. The Sindhi Dars disciples of Bahauddin Zakariya spread his teachings in every nook and corner of their own region and some even went to preach in Kutch and Rajasthan.Tomb of Hamal Jat in the necropolis of Makhdoom Mula HassanAmongst the most prominent earliest deputies of Bahauddin Zakariya were chiefly those from lower Sindh, particularly from Badin. Makhdoom Mula Hassan was one of the prominent deputies of Bahauddin Zakariya who became known for his piety in lower Sindh. He studied in the madrassah of his mentor in Multan and stayed several years before seeking permission from him to travel to Sindh for preaching Islam there. There are two different versions of the story about his place of origin. Some Sindhi scholars believe that Makhdoom Mula Hassan was originally from Uch from where he went to become a deputy of Bahauddin Zakariya and later migrated to Sindh for the sake of spreading the teachings of his mentor. The other story is that he was from Sindh who went to study under the supervision of Bahauddin Zakariya and was probably the first Sindhi saint to receive the title of Dars. Irrespective of his place of origin, Makhdoom Mula Hassan was undoubtedly the most popular propagator of the Suhrawardi silsila in lower Sindh. It was he who converted a large number of people from Jat tribe. The Jats were a non-Muslim tribe in Sindh. There are many stories of Jat conversions which took place under Makhdoom Mula Hassan. This conversion was not forced.The people of the Jat tribe were impressed by the teachings of Makhdoom Mula Hassan who emphasized the values of humanity, tolerance, love, peace, equality and interfaith harmony: the best example being one of his Hindu disciples from a lower caste. That disciple never converted but remained close to Makhdoom Mula Hassan. He was from the Gurgala caste, whose members were never accepted and given equal treatment by the upper castes of Brahmins, Kshatriya and Vaishya.Dilapidated tomb of Radho JatIn fact, it often happened that lower caste Hindus found solace and equal treatment in the Sufi lodges of Sindh. It reflected the liberal attitude of Sindhi Sufis who never converted anyone by force but by a love that transcended religious boundaries and caste barriers.When this disciple died, Makhdoom Mula Hassan asked his Muslim disciples to bury that Gurgala Faqir near his Sufi lodge. Today the shrine of Makhdoom Mula Hassan is located near it. The grave of Gurgala Faqir is located at the main entrance of shrine. The devotees of Makhdoom Mula Hassan first pay homage to Gurgala Faqir before going to the main shrine. Such were the instructions of Makhdoom Mula Hassan to his disciples that Gurgla Faqir was to be respected first. This was the way that the Sufis dealt with the downtrodden and excluded members of the society.Mannat objects at the shrine of Makhdoom Mula HassanDevotees of Makhdoom Mula Hassan first pay homage to his Hindu disciple Gurgala Faqir before going to the main shrine – as the Makhdoom instructed in his lifetimeThe shrine of Makhdoom Mula Hassan is located about 15 km northwest of Golarchi. The tomb of Makhdoom Mula Hassan also contains the graves of his sons Miyon Fazal and Miyon Hussain and his deputies and disciples. The shrine of Makhdoom Mula Hassan is frequented by both Muslims and Hindus. Although he is known as the patron saint of Jats, the shrine also attracts many people of other castes. To the west of the shrine is located the three-domed mosque of Makhdoom Mula Hassan. Both the tomb and mosque appear to have been built during the first quarter of 18th century by then Gadi Nashin of the shrine of Makhdoom Mula Hassan. Due to the frequent renovations, both the structures have lost their originality. In the graveyard of Makhdoom Mula Hassan are also buried the dignitaries of many tribes, but the tombs of the Jat tribe predominate the landscape. All of them were followers of Makhdoom Mula Hassan. To the northwest are the remnants of several stone chhatris of Jat nobles. To the north of the shrine of Makhdoom Mula Hassan are two impressive rectangular tombs of the chiefs of the Jat tribe which were built in the second half of the eighteenth century. The tombs belong to Hamal Jat and Radho Jat respectively. The dome of Radho Jat’s tomb has caved in. Both the tombs are noted for beautiful architecture but are in a crumbling condition. They need to be preserved before both cave in.The entrance and interior of Makhdoom Mula Hassan’s tomb is decorated with triangle-shaped mannat objects, which are left behind the devotees as supplication to the saint. The colourful and varied mannat objects reflect the diversity of devotees that the shrine of Makhdoom Mula Hassan attracts.

The author is an anthropologist and teaches at the Department of Development Studies, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE)

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