Sultan-ul-Mashaikh, Mehboob-e-Ilahi, Hazrat Shaikh Khwaja Syed Muhammad Nizamuddin Auliya R.A (1238 – 3 April 1325) (Urdu: حضرت شیخ خواجہ سیّد محمد نظام الدّین اولیاء), also known as Hazrat Nizamuddin, was a famous Sufi saint of the Chishti Order in the Indian Subcontinent, an order that believed in drawing close to God through renunciation of the world and service to humanity. He is one of the great saints of the Chishti order in Mughal India. His predecessors were Fariduddin Ganjshakar, Bakhtiyar Kaki and Moinuddin Chishti. In that sequence, they constitute the initial spiritual chain or silsila of the Chisti order, widely prevalent in the Indian subcontinent.
Nizamuddin Auliya, like his predecessors, stressed love as a means of realising God. For him his love of God implied a love of humanity. His vision of the world was marked by a highly evolved sense of secularity and kindness. It is claimed by the 14th century historiographer Ziauddin Barani that his influence on the Muslims of Delhi was such that a paradigm shift was effected in their outlook towards worldly matters. People began to be inclined towards mysticism and prayers and remaining aloof from the world.
Nizamuddin Auliya was born in Badayun, Uttar Pradesh (east of Delhi). At the age of five, after the death of his father, Ahmad Badayuni, he came to Delhi with his mother, Bibi Zulekha. His biography finds mention in Ain-i-Akbari, a 16th century document written by Mughal Emperor Akbar’s vizier, Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak.
At the age of twenty, Nizāmuddīn went to Ajodhan (the present Pakpattan Sharif in Pakistan) and became a disciple of the Sufi saint Fariduddin Ganjshakar, commonly known as Baba Farid. Nizāmuddīn did not take up residence in Ajodhan but continued with his theological studies in Delhi while simultaneously starting the Sufi devotional practices and the prescribed litanies. He visited Ajodhan each year to spend the month of Ramadan in the presence of Baba Farid. It was on his third visit to Ajodhan that Baba Farid made him his successor. Shortly after that, when Nizāmuddīn returned to Delhi, he received news that Baba Farid had died.
Nizāmuddīn lived at various places in Delhi, before finally settling down in Ghiyaspur, a neighbourhood in Delhi undisturbed by the noise and hustle of city life. He built his Khanqah here, a place where people from all walks of life were fed, where he imparted spiritual education to others and he had his own quarters. Before long, the Khanqah became a place thronged with all kinds of people, rich and poor alike.
Many of his disciples achieved spiritual height, including Shaikh Nasiruddin Muhammad Chirag-e-Delhi, and Amir Khusro, noted scholar/musician, and the royal poet of the Delhi Sultanate.
He died on the morning of 3 April 1325. His shrine, the Nizamuddin Dargah, is located in Delhi. and the present structure was built in 1562. The shrine is visited by people of all faiths, through the year, though it becomes a place for special congregation during the death anniversaries, or Urs, of Nizamuddin Auliya and Amīr Khusro, who is also buried at the Nizāmuddīn Dargāh.
Besides believing in the traditional Sufi ideas of embracing God within this life (as opposed to the idea that such partial merger with God is possible only after death), by destroying the ego and cleansing the soul, and that this is possible through considerable efforts involving Sufi practices, Nizamuddin also expanded and practised the unique features introduced by past saints of the Chisti Sufi order in India. These included:
Nizamuddin did not much bother about the theoretical aspects of Sufism, believing rather that it were the practical aspects that counted, as it was anyway not possible to describe the diversified mystical experiences called spiritual states or stations which a practicing Sufi encountered. He discouraged the demonstration of Keramat and emphasised that it was obligatory for the Auliya (which roughly means the friends of God) to hide the ability of Keramat from the commoners. He also was quite generous in accepting disciples. Usually whoever came to him saying that he wanted to become a disciple was granted that favour. This resulted in him being always surrounded by people from all strata of society.
The eldest son of 'Alī al-Naqī was Ḥasan al-'Askarī and the other son was Ja'far Bukhārī. After the death of 'Ali al-Naqi, Hasan al-Askari became the accepted Imām of both Shī'ah and Sunnī Muslims. Ḥasan al-'Askarī was killed at the age of 28. He had one son, Muḥammad al-Mahdī, who, at the age of five after the death of his father, disappeared from public view. That was in the time of the 'Abbāsid Caliphs. Knowing about the killings of all the Imāms and family members of the descendants of Muḥammad, Ja'far Bukhārī migrated to Bukhara in Uzbekistan. After a few generations, one of his descendants called 'Alī, known as Dāniyāl, the grandfather of Nizāmuddīn Auliyā', migrated to the city of Badāyūn in Uttar Pradesh, Mughal India.
He was merely sixteen or seventeen years old when he first heard the name of Farīduddīn Ganjshakar, and feelings of love and respect arose in his heart right then. He narrates to his disciples that he never felt the same after hearing or even meeting any other sufi. The love kept increasing like a burning fire. If his classmates would like to have some work out of him they used to invoke the name of Bābā Farīd, and he never refused anything asked in his name. He didn't feel the same for anyone else in his entire lifetime. He became his disciple after completing his studies at the age of 20. He visited him thrice in his lifetime.
Start of the Chishti Order:
He had more than 600 khalifas (a khalifa is a disciple who is given the authority to take his own disciples and thus propagate the spiritual lineage) who continued his lineage all over the world. Some of his most famous disciples are:
He was the spiritual successor of Nizamuddin Auliya. He is considered fifth amongst the big five of the Chisti order in India (the others being Moinuddin Chishti, Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Fariduddin Ganjshakar, Nizamuddin Auliya). His shrine is in Chirag Dilli, New Delhi, India.
He was the most loved disciple of his master. He was so close to his master that once Nizāmuddīn Auliyā' said, "If sharī'ah allows me I would like him to be buried with me in the same grave." He also said that whoever comes to visit his grave must visit the grave of Amīr Khusro first and then his. He died within a few months of his master's death. He was buried at the feet of his master. His shrine is in Nizāmuddīn Dargāh, New Delhi.
He was given the title of Āainae-Hind (Mirror of India) by Nizāmuddīn Auliyā' and lived with him for a long time. He was amongst the earliest disciples of Nizāmuddīn Auliyā', who sent him to Bengal. His shrine is in Gaur, West Bengal.
He is also amongst the earliest disciples of Nizamuddin Auliya and lived with the master until his last breath. After the death of Nizamuddin Auliya, he went to the Deccan, and the place where he lived became famous thereby. His shrine is in Khuldabad in Maharashtra.
He is also amongst the earliest disciples of Nizamuddin Auliya. He ran the Langar khana of Nizamuddin Auliya. After the death of Nizamuddin Auliya, he went to the Deccan with Burhanuddin Gharib, and became famous by the name of Bhandari. His shrine is in Fatehabad in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.
He holds a very special position in Islamic mysticism. He is believed to be alive in the invisible world even after his death in the visible world. There are miracles in the literature of the Chisti order which are attributed to this.
Nizamuddin Auliya did not marry. However he had one brother named Jamaluddin. He told him, "your descendants will be my descendants". Jamaluddin had one son named Ibrahim. He was nurtured by Nizamuddin Auliya after Jamaluddin's death. Nizamuddin Auliya sent his nephew to Bengal in Eastern India along with one of his disciples (khalifa) Akhi Siraj Aainae Hind, known as Aaina-e-Hind. Alaul Haq Pandavi (the master (Pir) of Ashraf Jahangir Semnani) became his disciple and khalifa. Ala-ul-Haq Pandwi married his sister-in-law to Ibrahim. They had one son, Fariduddin Tavaela Bukhsh, who became a well known Chisti Sufi of Bihar. He was married to the daughter of Alaul Haq Pandavi. He became the khalifa of Hazrat Noor Qutb-e-Aalam Padwi (the eldest son and spiritual successor of Alaul Haq Pandavi). His shrine is in Chandpura, Bihar Sharif, Bihar. Many of his descendants are well known Sufis, namely Moinuddin Sani, Naseeruddin Sani, Sultan Chisti Nizami, Bahauddin Chisti Nizami, Deewan Syed Shah Abdul Wahab (his shrine is in Choti Takiya, Biharsharif), Sultan Sani, Amjad Hussain Chisti Nizami, among others. He spread Chisti Nizami order all over Northern India. Ijaza of his Silsila (order) is present in all the existing khanqahs of Bihar. His descendants still reside in Bihar Sharif and can be found in many parts of the world. However, those still looking after Nizamuddin Auliya's shrine in Delhi are the descendants of his sister's son.
Nizamuddin Auliya was the founder of the Chisti Nizami order. He had hundreds of disciples (khalifa) who had Ijaza (khilafat) from him to spread the order. Many of the sufis of the Chisti Nizami order are recognised as great sufis; the following is a list of notable sufis of the Chisti Nizami order, which includes his descendants as well as his disciples:
Muhammad Hussaini Gisudaraz Bandanawaz, Gulbarga (near Hyderabad), Karnataka; Alaul Haq Pandavi & Noor Qutb-e-Alam Pandwi, Pandua, West Bengal; Ashraf Jahangir Semnani, Kichaucha, Uttar Pradesh; Faqruddin Faqr Dehlvi, Mehrauli, New Delhi; Shah Niyaz Ahmad Barelvi, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh; Shafruddin Ali Ahmed & Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, Chirag Dilli, New Delhi; Zainuddin Shirazi, Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh; Muhiuddin Yousuf Yahya Madani Chishti, Medina; Kaleemullah Dehlvi Chishti, Delhi; Nizamuddin Aurangabadi; Nizamuddin Hussain, and Meerza Agha Mohammad; Muhammad Sulman Taunswi, Pakistan, Mohammad Meera Hussaini, Hesamuddin Mankpuri.
Nizamuddin Auliya was an unparalleled sufi of his time amongst all the existing sufi orders of that time. Many of his contemporaries were doubtless very powerful spiritual leaders, but he was the most famous of all. In his career of approximately 70 years as a sufi he saw the reign of seven rulers of the Delhi sultanate. The kings were very loyal to him and respectful of him. When he first arrived as the Qutb of Delhi he settled down at a lonely place on the outskirts of Delhi, Ghyaspur. But he became so famous that Ghyaspur became the main hub of Delhi and so densely populated that he wanted to leave that place but did not. He was buried in the campus of his khanqah. Ghyaspur is now a central locality of New Delhi, and is known after his name Nizamuddin. The area is so vast that it is divided into four parts: Nizamuddin Dargah (where his shrine is situated), Nizamuddin East, Nizamuddin West and Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station.
The Chisti order branched out with Nizamuddin Auliya to form the Chisti Nizami order. A parallel branch which started with Alauddin Sabir Kaliyari, another disciple of Baba Farid, was the Chisti Sabiri branch. People started adding Nizami gracefully after their name. He spiritually made many great sufis amongst his students, descendants and the sufis of the Nizami order.
The branches of the Chisti Nizami order are as follows:
His disciple Nasiruddin Muhammad Chirag-e-Dehli started the Nizamia Naseeria branch.
The Hussainia branch is named for Muhammad Hussaini Gisudaraz Bandanawaz. He was the most famous and loved disciple of Nasiruddin Muhammad Chirag-e-Dehli. The khanqah he established in Gulbarga, Karnataka is still in existence.
Shah Niyaz Ahmad Barelvi, in the 19th century started the Niyazia branch.
The Nizamia Serajia branch was started by Serajuddin Aqi Seraj. This branch is also known as Chistia Serajia.
The Chistia Ashrafia branch was started by Ashraf Jahangir Semnani. He established a khanqah, still in existence at Kichaucha sharif, Uttar Pradesh, India.
The Chistia Serajia Faridia order was started by Fariduddin Tavaelabukhsh, a descendant of Nizamuddin Auliya and a sufi of the Serajia branch of the Chisti order. This branch is also known as Nizamia Serajia Faridia.
One of the kings of the Delhi sultanate during Nizamuddin Auliya lifetime was Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shah, the last ruler of the Khilji dynasty. Legend has it that disrespect of Nizamuddin Auliya caused the king's death. Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shah used to assemble all the leading figures and famous personalities of Delhi in his court every weekend. Once a courtier complained to him that Nizamuudin Auliya never came to the court. The King declared, "Order him in my name to come to my weekend gathering, else he will be hanged." When Nizamuddin Auliya's disciple, Amir Khusrau, related this to his master, he ignored the message, and did not even answer. As the weekend approached, his disciples became concerned for his life. On the day before the weekend, Nizamuddin Auliya went to the grave of his mother and came back looking unperturbed, telling his disciples to go home and sleep as usual. The next morning, everyone was very tense and worried, but Nizamuddin Auliya remained unperturbed. Shortly, news came that there had been a rebellion in the palace, and the king had been brutally killed.
The Urs (death anniversary) of Nizamuddin Auliya is celebrated at the Nizamuddin Dargah on the 17th of Rabi II (Rabi-ul-Aaqir), and that of Amir Khusro on the 18th of Shawwal.
Arziyan, a qawwali in the film Delhi 6 (2009) composed by A. R. Rahman is dedicated to Nizamuddin Auliya. Kun Faya Kun a song in the movie Rockstar (2011) is also dedicated to him, and was shot at the dargah.