Dargah – Chirag-e-Dehlawi Hazrat Khawaja Nasiruddin Mahmood (RA)
Hazrat Khwaja Nasiruddin Mahmood r.a., popularly known as “Chiragh Delhi” was the fifth spiritual successor of Hazrat Khwaja Mu’inuddin Chishti of Ajmer r.a. He was the Khalifa of Hazrat Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya r.a. who, at the time of his death, told Hazrat Nasiruddin r.a. that, “You shall have to stay in Delhi and suffer the persecution of the people,” while handing him over the “sacred relics”. (Tabbarukat-e-Mustafavi).
Hazrat Nasiruddin r.a. renounced the world at the blooming age of 25 and began Mujahedas against his Nafs with the company of a dervish with whom he is reported to have roamed around the surrounding mountains and jungles of Avadh for 8 years. During this period, he always observed fasts and lived on herbs. He used to break his fast with the leaves of sambhuker (a kind of plant generally found in Avadh, Uttar Pradesh, India).
Hazrat Nasiruddin r.a. came to Delhi at the age of 43 years and joined the circle of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s r.a. Murids [disciples]. One day while Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya r.a.was descending from his hujra [room] at the top of his Khanqah, he noticed that Sheikh Nasiruddin Mahmood Chiragh r.a. was standing in a despondent mood under the shade of a nearby tree. He sent for him through his attendant and took him in privacy to have a talk about his condition. After a brief self-introduction, Hazrat Nasiruddin r.a. said: “Sir, I have come here to help the dervishes in putting on their shoes.” This one sentence was enough to confirm his humble character and keenness for a spiritual career and also to win the affection of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya r.a. who related his own story of devotion to his Pir-o-Murshid in the beginning of his career. He then became Murid at the hands of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya r.a. and devoted himself wholeheartedly to the service of his Pir-o-Murshid [shaikh].
Once Khwaja Mohammed Gazrooni, a Murid of Khwaja Ahauddin Zakaria r.a. of Multan was staying as a guest of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya r.a. at his Khanqah. One night Khwaja Gazrooni r.a. awoke for Tahajjud [prayer before sunrise] and keeping his clothes in the Jamat Khana, went to perform Wudu [purification] but on his return he did not find his clothes where he left them and began to grumble loudly in a fit of anger. Hazrat Nasiruddin r.a. was upset by his noisy temper and thought that it would disturb Hazrat Mehboob-e-Illahi’s r.a. ['Beloved of God' -- Hazrad Nizamuddin Auylia, r.a.] devotion at the late hour of night. In order to pacify the anger of the Khwaja, he at once took off his own clothes and gave them to him. The next morning, when this incident came to the knowledge of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auylia r.a., he presented Hazrat Nasiruddin r.a. with a new “poshak” (dress) and prayed for his success.
After the demise of Hazrat Mehboob-e-Illahi r.a., the Jamat Khana of his Khanqah became the property of his sisters descendants and Hazrat Nasiruddin r.a. shifted himself to the place of Chiragh Delhi where his Mazar Sharif [noble shrine] stands to this day.
Like his Pir-o-Murshid, Hazrat Nasiruddin r.a.had to contend with very hard times. Often, during the nights, he had no lights in the house. For several days his oven remained cold. When anybody came to see him, he used to wear his Pir’s Jubba to meet him, and after having gone he would change into his rough clothes. He says that he never liked to perform ablution by wearing his Pir’s Jubba but he liked to hide his poverty from the world by wearing it. During his good times, although he used to fast daily, he ordered delicious food to be prepared and served to his guests and Murids. He himself used to say, “Allah be praised! After all, Faqiri (life of a Sufi) is tremendous blessing. It’s beginning and end are both beautiful.”
The title of “Chiragh,” according to one version, was given to the Sheikh by his Pir-o-Murshid. Once there was a distinguished gathering of many leading Masha’ikhs at Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s r.a. Khanqah. Hazrat Nasiruddin r.a. arrived a bit late and Hazrat Mehboob-e-Illahi r.a. asked him to sit down, but he replied: “Sir, my back would be towards this august assembly”- a posture which is considered impertinent in Islamic etiquette. Upon this Hazrat Mehboob-e-Illahi r.a. said: “A Chiragh has no back” meaning that there is neither a face nor a back of a lamp, it sheds its light in all directions. From that day onwards, among his fellow Murids, the title of “Chiragh” became very popular.
Once a learned person came to Hazrat Nasiruddin r.a. to become his Murid. At the time of initiation, the Saint warned him: “When an aspirant enters on the path of Tariqat, he must shorten his sleeves, keep his dress up and shave off his head. Shortening of sleeves means that he has cut off his hands so that he may not spread it before the world for help except Allah; keeping his dress up means that he has cut off his feet so that he may not go to any place that is bad and where there is a danger of misfortune; and shaving of the head means that he has cut of his head in the Oath of Divine Love so that nothing against the Shari’at [Islamic Law] would come from him.”
How great and wise were the teachings of one of he greatest Sufi Saints ever. Hazrat Nasiruddin r.a. recommended all that came to him to observe punctuality of Namaz [Islamic Prayer] with congregation. He himself desired this rule very strictly since his younger days. He used to explain the benefits of Namaz by guiding instances from the Hadith [Traditions of the Prophet, s.a.w.s] and the Qur’an. He had extreme love for the Prophet Muhammad, s.a.w.s. and his philosophy of Islamic faith was based upon two paramount things, namely, obedience to whatever Allah and His Rasul [Messenger of Allah] s.a.w.s. has ordained and the avoidance of whatever was forbidden.
Hazrat Nasiruddin r.a., like many other Sufi dervishes before him, had to go through extreme sufferings from the ruler of the time. He was persecuted by Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq whom history will never forgive for his tyrannical rule over innocent humanity on the one hand and the capricious schemes that ruined Delhi and especially the 200 year old glorious work of the great Sufi Saints of India, on the other. Because of shortage of space we will not go in detail about the cruel Sultan’s whimsical schemes but so much should be said that the Sultan’s thirst for power interfered with the pious work of these Sufi dervishes. However, eventually he had to pay a severe penalty, like some of his short-sighted predecessors who had also persecuted Hazrat Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya r.a.
Hazrat Khwaja Nasiruddin r.a. and another great Sufi dervish Hazrat Qutbuddin Munawwar r.a. had received their Khilafat on one and the same day with the instruction of Hazrat Nizamuddin r.a. that they “should maintain mutual affection without any discrimination or superiority complex.” Here is a story of their overwhelming regard for each other when they met after a long time at Hansi. When Hazrat Khwaja Nasiruddin r.a. was retiring from that with Sultan Feroze Tughlaq, the Saint parted with the king’s party to go to Hansi to meet Hazrat Qutbuddin Munawwar r.a. (his Pir-bhai) whom he had not seen for a very long time. On hearing that Hazrat Khwaja Nasiruddin r.a. had come to Hansi, Hazrat Qutbuddin Munawwar r.a. ran out of his Khanqah bare-footed to meet him on the way and received him with the most affectionate embrace and overwhelmed by the recollection of the old happy days of their association of their beloved Pir, Hazrat Mehboob-e- Illahi r.a.. Both the dervishes could not resist their sorrowful tears on this occasion. A Sama mehfil [assembly of listening] was arranged and both of them had Wajd (ecstasy) and Sukr [spiritual intoxication] in a spiritual mood. After the mehfil [assembly] both the dervishes insisted upon each other to lead the Asr prayer out of each others elderly regard, eventually Hazrat Qutbuddin Munawar r.a. led the prayer because he was the host and within his right under the Islamic Shari’at.
Hazrat Khwaja Nasiruddin r.a. was very fond of cleanliness. His dress always appeared very tidy and neat. On both of his sides he used to keep a heavy gathering of flowers. One day Hazrat Nasiruddin Chiragh r.a., after his Zuhr [noon] prayers, was busy with his devotional contemplation when a Qalandar by the name of Turab suddenly entered and persistently attacked the innocent Saint with a knife so much so that blood began to flow down the floor. But curiously enough the murderous attack did not disturb the Saint at all in his highly engrossed devotion. When some of the Murids saw the blood coming out of the hujra, they rushed in and caught hold of the Qalandar. Hazrat Khwaja Nasiruddin r.a. strongly dissuaded them and asked his beloved disciples Abdul Muqtadir Sheikh Sadruddin Tabib and Sheikh Zainudin Ali not to harm the Qalandar. On the contrary, Hazrat Khwaja Nasiruddin r.a. addressed the Qalandar apologetically and said: “If inthe act of attacking me with your knife, you have felt any pain in your hands, please pardon me for the same.” The Saint further gave 20 tankas to the Qalandar and sent him away unharmed.
From the above incident we see the level of his forgiveness. It is on account of such rare generosity that Hazrat Nasiruddin Chiragh r.a. enjoys high esteem in the Sufi world. Among the dervishes of the Chishtiyya Order particularly, he is a unique symbol of forbearance and humility.
Three years after the murderous attack, Hazrat Khwaja Nasiruddin (radi Allahu anhu) passed away of a natural death on Friday the 18th Ramadan 757 A.H. [Sept. 14, 1356 C.E.] Hazrat Khwaja Nasiruddin r.a. willed that at the time of putting him in the grave, the Khirqa [Sufi cloak] of his Pir-o-Murshid, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya r.a. must be put upon his chest, the Asaa (staff) by his side, the rosary on the finger of Shahadat, the kasa (a special wooden bowl which the Faqirs usually carry with them to serve as the only utensil for food, water, etc.) under his head instead of the brick, and a pair of his Pir’s shoes under his arm. This was carried out. The passing away of Hazrat Nasiruddin r.a. closed the first circle of a most glorious epoch of Sufism in India.