Learn from the Hindu how worship is done: Amir Khusro

There are as many paths as there are grains of sand. -Nizamuddin Auliya

Oh you who sneer at the idolatry of the Hindu,

Learn also from him how worship is done.

Amir Khusro

Six yogis once came to Nizamuddin’s hospice in Ghiyaspur and started to meditate in front of his door. They did not utter a word to anyone. Nizamuddin’s attendant, Lalla, informed his master that there were six yogis at the gate; they were sitting there quietly. They would not budge. One of the yogis, in fact, had said the other five had taken a vow of silence and lived in caves in the mountains. They had heard of Nizamuddin and had merely come to seek his blessings. Nothing else. Nizamuddin met them with affection.

February 19, 1319, Nizamuddin recounted a story at his assembly. “Prophet Abraham would only eat in the company of guests till one day he found himself with only a polytheist as guest. Blessed Abraham, when he saw that he was alone with the polytheist, did not give him anything to eat. Then a command came forth: ‘O Abraham, how is that we can confer life on him yet you cannot give him bread?’.”

 An Arab of the desert would pray thus: “Oh Creator, be merciful on me and Mohammad. Do not show mercy on others.” Nizamuddin said when the Prophet heard of this, he advised the Arab not to limit God’s mercy. Divine mercy is for one and all.

A dervish travelled to Gujarat and met a Sufi overpowered with ecstasy. He decided to stay with him for a while. In the evening he went to a water tank to perform his ablutions. Not everyone was allowed to use the tank. He was given permission because he knew the caretaker. Some women were waiting to fill their pitchers. An old woman approached the dervish and asked him to fill her pitcher. The other women followed suit, and the dervish filled one pitcher after the other. He returned to his room and saw the Sufi fast asleep. The dervish began to say his prayers. The Sufi jumped awake and screamed at the dervish: “Why all this fuss? There was spiritual bliss in filling the pitchers.”

November 10, 1317, Nizamuddin spoke about honesty and sincerity among Muslims. “There was a Jew who lived in the neighbourhood of Khwaja Bayazid Bistami – May God sanctify his lofty secret. When Khwaja Bistami died, they said to that Jew: ‘Why did you not become a Muslim?’ The Jew replied: ‘If Islam is what Bayazid professed, then I cannot attain it, but if it is what you profess, then of such an Islam I would be ashamed’.”

 February 19, 1319, Nizamuddin recounted a story. “Some time ago, after I had come to the city, a Sufi, among the friends of Shaikh Bahauddin – may God have mercy on him – came to visit me. On that occasion, Sai’d Quraishi, Ali Khokhari, and other students were present. It was a propitious assembly, and food was served. All had a hearty appetite, that is, until a neighbour of mine, Sharaf Payada by name, also came and began eating. Now that Sharaf Payada was a hairdresser! As soon as he arrived and started to partake of the food, Sa’id Quraishi and some others stopped eating. They found it difficult to eat in his presence. Soon thereafter Sai’d Quraishi left the assembly. I was surprised. What could have caused them to stop eating? I asked: ‘Why did they leave?’ Others replied: ‘Because this man who began to eat with them was a hairdresser.’ I began to laugh. How did it happen that they couldn’t eat with a hairdresser? What can excuse such an extreme display of contempt?”

Amir Hasan Sijzi, who was present at the time Nizamuddin recounted the story of the hairdresser Sharaf Payada, said he had met Sai’d Quraishi, but he was not known to display such an attitude of contempt. “Yes,” replied Nizamuddin. “It was due to an ill-omen from that incident that misfortunes have befallen him.”

Nizamuddin’s religion was to bring happiness to the human heart. Nothing else mattered as the old woman by the Jamuna River learnt. Nizamuddin was walking past the river when he saw this old woman filling water from a well when the river was a few steps away. Why did she put herself through so much strain by drawing water from the well? he asked. The woman replied that she and her husband were very poor. The water from the Jamuna was so pure that it increased their appetite and hunger. Nizamuddin was in tears. “Lalla,” he called his attendant. “In our Ghiyaspur there is a woman who does not drink water from the Jamuna because she fears hunger. Go and ask her what she needs for her daily expenses and send her the money every month unfailingly.”

Such was Nizamuddin’s love for the creatures of his Maker, which is why he spent the night in prayer. Only the candle flickered. And Amir Khusro would kneel in prayer, tears streaming down.

I do not know what abode it was, that place where I was last night.

 On every side I saw the dance of the bismil in that place I was last night.

 If Nizamuddin Auliya and Amir Khusro could practise such tolerance 700 years ago, why then today do we slaughter one another and display diabolical prejudice in the name of religion?

There are as many paths as there are grains of sand. What difference does it make which grain you choose?

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