Life, times and Sufi poetry of Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmad
Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed was a renowned saint and founder of Khanqah-e Niyazia and the Niyazi Sufi Order.
Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed was an Alvi Syed from his paternal lineage and a Rizvi Syed from the maternal side. His forefathers belonged to royal family of Bukhara (present day Uzbekistan).Among his forefathers Hazrat Shah Ayaat-ul-lah Alvi left the sultanate and got settled in Multan (Punjab province of present Pakistan). His grandson Hazrat Azmatullah Alvi came to Sirhind (Punjab,India). His son Hazrat Shah Muhammad Rahmet-ul-lah later came and got settled in Delhi. He was father of Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed . He was appointed Qazi-ul Quzzat (Chief Justice) in Delhi. He earned the title of “Hakim-e-Elahi”.
His mother was Bibi Ladoo. She was also addressed by the name of Hazrat Bibi Garib Nawaz .She was daughter of Syed Maulana Sa’id Uddin,who traced his descent from Hazrat Imam Musa Raza (a.s.). He was one of the spiritual successor of Hazrat Shekh Kalim-ul-lah Shahjahanabadi r.a. (Delhi). Hazrat Shah Niyaz’s mother was herself a spiritual lady . She was the disciple of Hazrat Shah Mohi-ud-din Diyasanami/Giyasnami (R.A.) Her Murshid inducted her twice in Quadri Sufi Order. He told the reason for the double initiation as that the first time was for her and the second time was for the child in her womb . This child was Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed.
Hazrat Shah Niyaz got birth in Sirhind in 1155 Hijri (1742 AD) . His was named Raaz Ahmed. Later on he was better known as Niyaz Ahmed . He came to Delhi along with his parents in 1160 Hijri (1748 AD). Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed inherited spiritual qualities from his parents, particularly from his Mother from Childhood. His childhood education started at home under guidance of his maternal grandfather Hazrat Syed Maulana Sa’id Uddin. At an early age only his mother Hazrat Bibi Gharib Nawaz entrusted him to the care of Hazrat Maulana Fakhr-ud-Din Dehalvi Chishti r.a. who is better known as “fakhr-e-Jahaan”.
Shah Niyaz got his higher education from Madarsa Fakhriya at Delhi. At the age of 15 Shah He completed his education in Quran, Hadees, Tafseer, Fiqh . He was awarded the degree of Farighut-tahsil after 3 days of questioning by various scholars. He then became Ustad (teacher) at the same Madarsa and later became the principal of the same. Hazrat Maulana Fakhre Jahan initiated him as his spiritual disciple and later on as his successor. Hazrat Fakhr-e-Jahaan deputed Hazrat Shah to Bareilly (Uttarpradesh, India) to carry out the spiritual work. Hazrat Shah Niyaz established the Khanqah-eNiyazia in Bareilly. This Khanqah became the epicentre of both traditional and spiritual knowledge.
Hazrat Shah Niyaz was inducted in Qadri Silsila by Hazrat Abdullah Baghdadi (R.A.),who was direct descendent of Hazrat Gausul Aazam Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani (R.A.). The incidence is such that one day Hazat Fakhr-e-Paak(R.A.) told that in his dream Hazrat Ghaus Paak (R.A.) has introduced him to a certain person (closely related to him) who would be sent to initiate Hazrat Shah Niyaz as his disciple and Hazrat Fakhre Paak should have him accepted by the person. After six days Hazrat Fakre Paak told Hazrat Shah Niaz that the person has reached Delhi. Hazrat Fakre Paak placed a tray full of sweets on his head and holding the hand of Hazrat Shah Niyaz went to Jama Masjid Delhi, where Hazrat Abdullah Baghdadi was staying. Hazrat Fakhre Paak recognized Hazrat Abdullah Baghdadi at once and placed the tray in front of him. Hazrat Shah Niyaz was accepted by Hazrat Abdullah Baghdadi (R.A.) as his spiritual disciple in front of huge crowd in the arch of Jama Masjid.
Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed (R.A.) also received spiritual blessings from other saints of other Sufi orders. He was initiated in Qadri order by Hazrat Syed Abdullah Baghdadi (R.A.) and Hazrat Mohi-ud-din Diyasnami (R.A.),in Chisti-Nizami order by Hazrat Maulana Fakhruddin Fakhr-e-Jahaan (R.A.) and Hazrat Said-ud-din (R.A.),in Suharwardi order by Hazrat Maulana Fakhr-e-Jahaan(R.A.),and in Chisti-Sabri and Naqshbandi order from Hazrat Shah Rahmat-ul-lah (R.A.)
Hazrat Shah Niyaz was married with the daughter of Hazrat Abdullah Baghdadi (R.A.) who died after some years leaving no issues . From his second wife Hazrat Shah Niyaz had two sons, Hazrat Shah Nizam-ud-din Hussain (R.A.)and Hazrat Shah Nasir-ud-din (R.A.)
His eldest son Hazrat Shah Nizam-ud-din Hussain (R.A.) was his premier khalifa and sajjadanashin (spiritual heir). He had lot of other caliphs ,in which some prominent are-Syed Muhammed Sani of Badakshan, Maulvi Abdul Latif of Samarkand, Maulvi Nemat-ul-lah of Kabul, Maulvi Yar Muhammed of Kabul, Mulla jan Muhammed of Kabul, Maulana waz Muhammed of Badakshan, Maulvi Muhammed Husain of Mecca and Mirza Asad-ul-lah Beg of Bareilly.
Various Khanqahs of Silsila-e-Niyazia were established across the world. Which work towards spreading spiritual awareness of the people.
Hazrat Shah Niyaz nurtured deep love, regard and respect towards Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and his family.
He was a very learned person, great mystic ,enlightened saint and an authority on theology . He was also very good scholar, poet and author of many books. He wrote in four languages ( Arabic, Persian, Urdu & Hindavi). His poetic pseudonym was “Niyaz”. He wrote poetry in various formats such as Naat, Munajaat, Manqabat, Masnavi, Ghazal etc. The total count of his published and unpublished literary writings is 18. His poetic collection “Diwan-e-Niyaz” has been published more than 50 times.
Hazrat Shah Niyaz passed away on 6th Jamadi-us-Sani 1250 Hijri (9th October 1834 A.D.) His shrine is in Bareilly (Uttar Pradesh, India) . His Urs is celebrated annually in traditional way. People from different faith, culture, languages attend this Urs.
Khanqah of Hazrat Maulana wa Murshidna Qutub e Alam Madare Azam Hazrat Shah Niaz Ahmad Qibla (Raziallah Taala Anho) & his Spiritual Successors :-
In Chishtia Silsila spiritual succesorship reached to Hazrat Shah Niaz be Niaz(RA) through his Pir o Murshid Hazrat Maulana Fakhruddin Mohammad Dehalvi (Fakhre Paak) and he was bestowed upon the spiritual successorship of Qadria Silsia by Hazrat Abdullah Baghdadi Qadri (RA) who was the direct descendant and spiritual successor of Hazrat Ghaus e Samdhani Mehboob e Subhani Syed Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (Ghaus Paak RA, 17th in the direct line of descendants of the Holy Prophet. Born in 1742 AD (1155AH) in Sirhind Punjab, Hazrat Shah Niaz Ahmad (RA) had his ancestors from a ruling dynasty of Indijan Bukhara , who abdicated the throne and set out to attain spiritual proximity to Allah through the service of humanity.
Hazrat Shah Niaz Ahmad (RA) was sent to Bareilly by his Sheikh Hazrat Maulana Fakhre Paak(RA) . Here he founded a Khanqah which later came to be known as Khanqah e Niazia and , it became one of the most important centre of Islamic Scholarship and Spiritual Training. People from different parts of the world thronged the Khanqah for Spiritual Solace. The Silsila Niazia , named after Hazrat Shah Niaz Ahmad (RA) reached to the far off corners of the world through his spiritual deputies who emerged as highly spiritually rich Buzurgs of their times. Khanqah Niazia has its branches spread all over India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
After Hazrat Shah Niaz Ahmad (RA), his spiritual successor was his eldest son Taj ul Awliya Hazrat Shah Nizamuddin Hussain (RA) (1236-1322AH) who spiritually led the Khanqah for 86 years. The baton of Spiritual Successor ship from Hazrat Taj ul Awliya passed on to his son Siraj us Salekin Hazrat Shah Mohinuddin Ahmad (RA), from Hazrat Siraj us Salekin(RA) to Imam us Salekin Mehboob e Haq Hazrat Aziz Mian Saheb (RA) and from Hazrat Aziz Mian Saheb (RA) to Hazrat Hasan Mian Saheb (RA). Since then under the guidance and spiritual leadership of the present Sajjada Nasheen Hz Shah Hasnain Niazi(Hasni Mian Saheb), the message of love, peace and brotherhood continues to be propagated by the Khanqah.
Khanqah e Niazia is a major seat of learning for Hindustani Classical music and many prominent names ( Shambu Maharaj , Birju Maharaj, Naina Devi etc) have been associated with this Khanqah . Hazrat Shah Niaz and his successors have a substantial literary work in the form of poetry and prose , which, besides being precious treasure of Tasawwuf , has an exemplary value in Urdu and Persian literature
Islamic mysticism is called ‘tasawwuf’ or Sufism. The term ‘Sufi’ is derived from the Arabic word of Suf which means wool. It refers to the early Muslim asceticswho used a coarse wollen garment as a symbol of detachment from the worldand closeness to God. The wool was also considered the sign of soul’s purity. The sole mission of a sufi is to realize God. He renounces everything except God, follows the Divine Path (tariqat), attains spiritual perfection (maarifat) and finally experience unification with God (fana).
Islamic mystics are largely influenced by the Quranic views of monistic God, love of Humanity, moral values and universal religion.
The doctrine of ‘unity of God (tawheed) which is expressed as ‘there is no God but God’ is interpreted by Sufis in various ways. The pantheistic mystics give it the form of ‘unity of existence’ (wahdat-ul-wajood).
Love (muhabbat), gnosis (marifa) and unification (tauheed) are the cardinal principals of Sufi thoughts. The mystics of Islam always preach the theory of pure love or the selfless love of God. From the early years of Islamic Mysticism the Sufis had used poetry as a form of communication to express themselves and their spiritual experiences and to spread their massage among the people. Many of the early Sufis were also poets who wrote in Arabic and Persian.
In India the origin and growth of Urdu Poetry took place in the early medieval period from eight to thirteenth century. It was the age when the religion of Islam had penetrated into south India and the fusion of Islamic Culture and Indian Civilization has begun. The Muslims knew Hindu religion and the Indian system of philosophy while the Hindus were well acquainted with the teachings of the Quran and the traditional Sufism.
Almost all the early Urdu poets were sufis. Amir Khusro, Sayed Muhammad Bandanawaz Gesudaraz, Shamsh-ul-Ushshaq Shah ‘Miranji’, Shaikh Bahauddin ‘Bajan’, Shah Burhanuddin ‘Janam’, Muhammad Quli ‘Qutub Shah’, Syed Sirajuddin ‘Siraj’ Aurangabadi, Zahuruddin ‘Hatim’, Shamshuddin ‘Wali’ Dakkani were all great sufis.
In the later generation of Urdu poets Mir Taqi ‘Mir’ , Khwaja Mir ‘Dard’, Khwaja Haider Ali ‘Aatish’, Mirza Asadullah Khan ‘Ghalib’, Mirza Mazhar Jaanejaana, Shaikh Ibrahim ‘Zauq’, ‘Daag’ Dehalvi, Ameer Minai were followers of tasawwuf.
While most of them strictly followed the path of Sufism and lived their life accordingly, some of them were influenced by the idea of Sufism and made it the guiding concept to express their experiences in the form of poetry.
Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed (1742 – 1833 AD) of Bareilly was a profound Sufi and an authority on mysticism and theology. He followed the Chishti Sufi Tariqa of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti & Qadri Sufi Tariqa of Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani.
Hazrat Shah Niyaz started his poetry in the early age of 15 and wrote up to the age of 75. He didn’t write any poetry in the last 25 years of his life. He didn’t appoint anyone as his teacher for poetry neither he followed the specific pattern of and wrote purely on his spiritual experiences.
In the 55 years of his writing period his main contemporary were Jaan e jaana, Dard, Soz, Sauda,Meer,Haatim, Qayam. While most of the contemporaries of Shah Niyaz Ahmed refuted the concept of wahdat-ul-wajood or unity of being Hazrat Shah Niyaz was the greatest representative of the pantheistic form of mysticism in the modern period. He regards God as the very existence of everything. There is no being except his being. He preached that the path of love is to be followed by the aspirant because love alone can lead to the revelation of the God. The same philosophy is strongly visible in the poetry of the Shah Niyaz Ahmed.
‘Mushafi’ Ghulam Humdani was the disciple of Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed. He is considered to be the first person to simply call the Urdu language Urdu. Before this Urdu was called by many names Hindavi, Dakkani,Rektha etc. Many of the later generation of Urdu Poets were impressed by the poetry Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed. Shaikh Muhammad Aleem ‘Aasi’ Ghaizipuri, Asghar Hussain ‘Asghar’ Gondavi, Hazrat Shah Muahmmad Taqi Aziz ‘Raaz’ Niyazi, hazrat Allama ‘Maikash’ Akbarabadi, Bieshshwar Prasad ‘Munawwar’ all followed Hazrat Shah Niyaz’s expression of unity of existence (wahdat-ul-wajood) in their poetry.
Hazrat Shah Niyaz wrote in four languages Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Hindavi. His poetic pseudonym was “Niyaz”. He wrote poetry in various formats such as Naat, Munajaat, Manqabat, Masnavi, Ghazal etc. The total count of his published and unpublished literary writings is 18. His poetic collection “Diwan-e-Niyaz” has been published more than 50 times.
The Diwan Of Hazrat Shah Niyaz can be distributed in three parts. The first portion contains his Persian Poetry. It contains one Munajaat with 192 couplets, 101 Persian ghazals, One ghazal Completely in Arabic, One ghazal with first line in Persian and second line in Arabic, 2 masnavis with 15 couplet each, 5 Mustazaad with 40 couplets each.
The second portion contains his Urdu poetry with 66 ghazal which has approximately 525 couplets. The third portion contains his Hindavi poetry. This includes Hori, Phag, Basant etc.
Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed rejected empirical and intellectual form of knowledge as the true means for the realization of Ultimate Truth. He believed that the truth (Al-Haqq) is disclosed through revelation (kashf) in the illuminated heart of the devotees of Allah.
Hazrat Niyaz Ahmed Says :
Hosh-o-khirad se hum ko sarokaar kuchh nahin,
In donon saahibon ko humaara salaam hai !
(We are not concerned with the perception and reason,
We discard both of them )
Aql ke madrase se uth, ishq ke maikade mein aa,
Jaam-e-fana-o-bekhudi, ab to piya jo ho so ho !
(Get up from the school of mind and come to the tavern of love,
You have drunk the cup of annihilation and ecstasy now let whatever happens)
He believed that God is realized only by means of love.
Hazrat-e-ishq aap howein gar mudarris chand roz,
Phir to ilm-o-faqr ki tahseel khaatir kuaah ho !
(O love, if you be our guide for a few days,
We will certainly acquire perfect knowledge and saintship)
Jise dekhna hi muhaal tha na tha us ka naam-o-nishaan khain,
So hare k zarre mein ishq ne humein us ka jalwa dikha diya !
(His contemplation was not possible and he was not at all perceptible,
Love has shown us His glory in every particle of dust)
The seeker of God sees nothing when loves grows in his heart.
Hazrat Niyaz Ahmed Says –
Basaa meri mein tu is qadar,
Ki tujh bin mujhe kuchh aata nahin nazar
( O god, my eyes are preoccupied with thee the extent,
That I see nothing except thee)
Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed believed that Suffering implies closeness to God. Niyaz says-
Hargiz dawa na keejiyo is gham ki aye ‘Niyaz’,
Sab raahaton se is ko mazedaar dekhna !
(O Niyaz, do not try to avoid distress in love,
You will find it more delightful than all other comforts.)
Ishq mein tere kohe gham sar pe liya jo ho so ho !
Aish-o-nishaat-e-zindagi chhod diya jo ho so ho !
Mujh se mareez ko tabeeb haath tu apna mat lagaa
Isko khuda pe chod de bahr-e-khuda jo ho so ho !
Hasti ke is saraab mein raat ki raat bas rahe
Subh-e-adam huaa numoo paaon uthaa jo ho so ho !
Dunia ke nek-o-bad se kaam humko ‘Niyaz’ kuch nahin,
Aap se jo guzar gaya use kya jo ho so ho !
(In Your love , I bear mountains of agony, come what may.
I forsake the luxuries of life, come what may.
Oh doctor, don’t touch a patient like me,
Leave it for God; for God’s sake, come what may.
In the mirage of this body we stayed only for the night,
When finally the dawn arrives, step forward, come what may.
‘Niyaz’ I care not about the good or bad of this world,
One who has gone beyond the self, did what he did, come what may.)
Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed believed that love result in the realization of higher mystical stage of selflessness which is a great achievement of the saint.
Shah Niyaz Ahmed described this state of ecstasy :
Mujhe bekhudi ye tu ne bhali chashni chakhaai !
Kisi aarzu ki dil mein nahin ab rahi rasaai !
Na maqaam-e-guftgu hai na mahl-e-justju hai,
Na wahaan hawas paunchein na khirad ki ho rasaai !
Na visaal hai na hijsran na suroor hai nag ham hai,
Na makin hai na makaan hai na zameen hai na zamaan hai,
Dil-e-Be nawa ne mere wahaan chaawni hai chhaai !
( O state of selflessness, what a remarkable alchemy thou hast awarded me,
Henceforth no worldly desire abides in my heart.
It is an incommunicable stage with is no desire,
It is neither a stage of unification and nor a stage of separation.
Now I neither feel delight and grief,
I am lost to myself in this overwhelming state.
Neither there is a place to abide in nor is it occupied by someone,
My humble heart has made its abode there in.)
Hazrat Shah Niyaz further says that such an immediate experience is enjoyed only with the grace of god. He says:
Kahaan main kahaan bekhudi ka maqqam,
Wahaan se yahan tu hi laaya mujhe !
(O God I could not experience state of selflessness myself,
Thou alone hast led me to this mystic stage)
Hazrat Shah Niyaz preached that God unveils his glory to those whose selfhood is effaced. This is a high station of the spiritual path which is achieved by the genuine saints.
Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed explains this stage as:
Aate hi us ke saamne yun aap se hum chal basey !
Suraj ka chehra dekhte jaise ki shabnam chal basey !
Aql-o-khirad imaan-o-deen sabr-o-shakeb wa aaraam-o-dil,
Jo kuch the who zindagi ke rukhn-e-aazam chal basey !
(We passed away from ourself in his presence,
As dew is evoparated with the vision of Sun.
Reason intellect belief religion patience endurance tranquility and heart,
Once the pillar of my existence have completely disappeared.)
After this Hazrat Shah Niyaz says that the knower and known becomes one.
Khuli aankh peete hi wahdat ka jaam,
Huye mast-o-sarshaar deedaar ke !
Khamoshi ka aalam hai apna maqam,
Nahin aashna bahes-o-takaar ke !
(our inner eye opened when we drank the wine of unicity
We rejoiced the state of intoxication as we experienced the vision,
Our state is a state of quietness,
Beyond discussion and argumentation)
The seeker’s personality and individuality ceases to exist and he realizes oneness of God.
Naqsh-e-hasti mit gaya naam-o-nishaan sab mit gaya,
Saaf matla ho gaya jot ha yahaan waan kuchh na tha !
The mark of my existence has vanished and all traces of my being obliterated,
Now the horizon is cleared for me and that which belonged to me has faded away)
Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed believes in the Sufi doctrine of wahdat-ul-wajood. It signifies that there is only one reality in existence. Everything else is a form of that reality.
Aalam kahe his ko jahaan yaani jahaan-e-jism-o-jaan
Shanein hain us zaat ki jisko kahaae sansaar ek !
Tuti ho daastan saara sau sau tarah se de sadaa,
Har dam nay bole sadaa aur hai wahaan miqaar ek !
Be-imtiyaaz-e besh-o-kam daane mein hain ye sab baham,
Bekh-o-darakht wa shaakh-o-gul anboh-e-barg-o-baar ek !
(The world, which is known as the world of body and soul,
Is only a glory of the divine essence or the absolute unity.
The parakeet narrates its tale in hundred different voices,
With the self-same one beak he gives a new tone every time.
The root the tree the branch the flower and the multitude of leaves and fruits,
Are indistinguishably united in the seed and hence they are all one)
One the account of our inability to comprehend the real as perfect unity we
regard it as the multiple being, while this multiplicity is in fact a form of unity.
Wahdat aise hui hai jalwa numa
Ek hai sau hazaar aankhon mein
(The one being exhibits itself in such a way,
That the hundred thousand eyes behold it as once)
In other words there is only one absolute being whose essence and existence is identical.
Dekhta aap hai sune hai aap
Tu uske ma-siwa dekha
(God sees Himself and listens and Himself,
Hast thou seen else but Him??
God is imminent as well as transcendent. His immanence means His manifestation in the certain forms. The world apart from him is nothing.
Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed explains –
Na tan dekhta hoon na jaan dekhta hoon !
Tujhi ko nihaan aur ayaan dekhta hoon !
Jidhar dekhta hoon jahaan dekhta hoon ,
Khuda hi ka jalwa miyan dekhta hoon !
Agar koi jaan-e-jahaan gair-e-Haq hai ,
So main us ko wahm-o-gumaan dekhta hoon !
(I see neither my body nor soul,
I see only Thee in my inward and outward being.
Where ever I look and whatever I see,
I see only the vision of God.
If there is any existence other then the truth,
Then I regard it as imaginary and illusory)
This implies that the God is absolute and one. He can be worshipped in multiple ways.
Sanam ko pooje Brahman haram ko maane Shaikh,
Ye donon ek hain manoon kise, kise doon chhor !
(The Brahmin worships the idol and Shaikh reverts to Mecca,
To me both are same, which should I accept and which I should reject.)
Every creation is a manifestation of God. He reveals Himself in various forms.
Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed doesn’t believe in emanation as it signifies dualism between creator and creation. He believes in One reality which the creator as well as the creation. God and the universe is the same in essence. Hazrat Shah Niyaz describes his monistic concept of God.
Yaar ko hum ne ja-ba-ja dekha !
Kahin zahir kahin chhipa dekha !
Kahin mumkin hua kahin waajib,
Kahin faani kahin baqaa dekha !
Kahin hai baadshah-e-takht nasheen,
Kahin kaasa liye gadaa dekha !
Kahin aabid bana kahin zahid,
Kahin rindo ka peshwa dekha !
Surat-e-gul mein khilkhila ke hansa,
Shakl-e-blbul mein chahchaha dekha !
Shama ho kar ke aur parwana,
Aap ko aap mein jala dekha!
Kar ke daawa kahin an-al-Haqq ka,
Bar sar-e-daar who charha dekha !
Kahin aashiq ‘Niyaz’ ki surat,
Sina biryan-o-dil jala dekha !
(I saw the bellowed everywhere,
Somewhere he was revealed and somewhere hidden.
Somewhere he is contingent and somewhere he is necessary,
Somewhere he is mortal and somewhere he is eternal.
Somewhere he is the king on the throne,
Somewhere he is a beggar with his bowl.
Somewhere he is worshipper of Himself and somewhere he is ascetic,
Somewhere he is seen is as the chief of His lovers.
Sometimes he laughs in the form of flower buds,
Another time he sings in the form of nightingale.
He takes the form of candle and the moth,
And consumes himself in the fire of love.
Somewhere he is found exclaiming I am the truth,
And getting hanged in the gallows.
Elsewhere he is seen in the disguise of his lover like Niyaz,
With chest aflame and burning heart)
Link to Hazrat Shah Niyaz poetry of Sufinama-
Link to the Deewan of Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmad on Sufinama
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