World-Wandering Mystics

Publication Year : 2019

Coming from many different centres of the Islamicate world, Suhrawardi mystics established their khanqahs in a number of cities, towns and villages of Sindh. The majority of Suhrawardi centres in Sindh are associated with Multan and Uch. Bahauddin Zakariya (1170-1262) and his descendants frequently travelled to Sindh and some permanently settled there.Among thse were some Suhrawardi mystics from the family of Jalaluddin Bokhari – also called Jalal Surkh (Red) – who settled in Sindh.Jalaluddin Surkposh Bokhari was an eminent disciple of Bahauddin Zakariya who migrated from Bukhara in Central Asia to Bhakkar in Sindh, where he got married to a daughter of Syed Badaruddin, a son of Muhammad Shah Makki. Later due to local jealously he had to migrate to Uch in 1244. When the Suhrawadi silsila began to decline in Multan after the death of Shaikh Ruknuddin, it was rejuvenated by his disciple Syed Jalaluddin Makhdoom Jahaniyan (Lord of the Mortals) in Uch. He was the grandson of Syed Jalaluddin Surkhposh Bokhari. In fact, Jalaluddin SurkhposhBokhari had three sons: Syed Ahmad Kabir, Syed Bahauddin and Syed Muhammad. Syed Jalaluddin Makhdoom Jahaniyan and Raju Qatal were the sons of Syed Ahmad Kabir.Grave of Mahdi Sarkar at Shahpur JahaniyanIt is believed that Jalaluddin Makhdoom Janhaniyan was appointed Shaikh-ul-Islam and made head of the Khanqah Muhammadi in Sewistan (Sehwan) by the Delhi Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq. But he did not remain in Sehwan long.Jalaluddin Makhdoom Janhaniyan, whose epithet was Jahangasht (World Traveler) was the most eminent Suhrawardi of the 14th century. That order spread from Uch to Gujarat, Punjab, Kashmir, Sindh and even extended its influence to Delhi itself – where Sultan Firuz Shah came under its influence. It is also believed that the Soomras of Sindh, who were Ismailis, adopted Sunnism under the influence of Syed Jalaluddin Makhdoom Jahaniyan Jahangasht. He was also believed to have played an influential intermediary role in the time of conflict between the Sultans of Delhi and the Jams of Sindh.Shahpur Jahaniyan in Qazi Ahmad taluka in Shaheed Benazirabad district is home to a number of shrines of Jahaniyanpota Sufi saints who traced their ancestry back to Jalaluddin Makhdoom Jahaniyan Jahangasht (died in 1385) of Uch Sharif. There are five Suhrawardi saints from the family of Makhdoom Jahaniyan Jahangasht who became known as Jahaniyanpota saints of Sindh. They spread the Suhrawardi silsila through Sindh and Gujarat.

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

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