The mission of great saint of poor people

By: Aziz Kingrani

Hazarat Syyed Usman Marwandi Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is well-known and celebrated Sufi saint of Sindh, a southern province of Pakistan. He is the greatest saint of poor people. Hazarat Qalandar Lal is famous as itinerant, but mostly, he lived among the gatherings of common people. His mysticism attracted people from all religions (1). Where he halted, the deprived populace encircled around him. Since a bold and brave, he uncared the customs of society, social orders and even he refused the provided facilities of government of the time. Thus he became eminent as Qalandar among the people. The prominent historians and scholars have conversed in details concerning the meaning and background of the term Qalandar and Qalandariyya Movement as well as his mission which have been discussed below.
Term Qalandar
According to some accounts, while Qalanar was making his way in to literature word was known as a designation of group of mystics in the eastern lands of Islam who distinguished themselves from other Muslims by their unconventional way of life (2). The scholars write that the word Qalandar has been variously defined. The author of “Risala-e-Ghousia” that in Syriac (Syrian), Qalander is one of the names of Allah. While some people regard the words Sufi and Qalandar as synonymous. On other hand some holds that when a Sufi attains perfection, he is regarded as Qalandar. Other thinks that word Qalandar is derived from Persian term “Kalantar”, the chief man. A few are of opinion that this word is derived from Turkish term “Qal” which means clean and pure. Syed Ashraf Jahangir Samnani says “Qalandar is he who has served all ties from the world and has attained complete outward and inward detachment. A Qalandar seeks God only and renounces all interests in this world as well as, in the world hereafter. He neither desires for any reward in this world, nor does he wish for any recompense or requital in the next world. He is seeker of only God and of nothing other thing else” (3). Some scholars have opined that a Qalandar is kind of itinerant preacher who abundance every thing and—wanders in the world; and one of his features of his character is discipline not ascetic faqir (4).
Some explanations inform that the term Qalandar covers in its historical usage a wide range of dervish type. It was loosely applied in the Persian sphere to any wandering faqir or mendicant, but it was also adopted by certain groups and even distinctive orders were formed, hence the problem of defining term. Shuhabuddin Suharwardi describes Qalandariyya as those who are so possessed by the intoxication of ‘tranquility of heart’ that they respect no custom and reject the convention of society and social relationship. Maqrizi records that Qalandariyya made their first appearance in Damascus around 610 H/1213-14 AD, having been introduced by Persian refugee, Muhammad Yunus Al-Sawaji (d.630/1232-33) and a Qalandari hotel or Zawiya by hyadari group there in 655/1257-58. A Qalandari/Hydari hotel in Tabriz is mentioned by the author of Rawdat al-jinan and our frequent references to the presence these shabbily-dressed, morally responsible wandering dervishes in Safavid society (5). According to another account Qalanariyya was founded by Yusuf-al Andlusi of Spain (6).

The historians hold account that the term Qalandar was historically applied various categories of mystics. Up to the fourteenth century it was synonymous with the concept of dervish and denoted a wandering mystic-ascetic, who did not have personal property or definite place of residence. In early mystic poetry Qalandar is a wanderer who has renounced every thing temporal and is absorbed only in love for God. The Persian Sufis of eleventh century, Abu Sa’id Maihani , Abdullah Ansari and Baba Tahir Uryan called themselves Qalandar in precisely this sense. The last mentioned says:
I am mystic gypsy called Qalandar;
I have neither fire, nor home, nor monastery.
By day I wander about the world, and at night,
I sleep with a brick under my head (7).
Further it has been mentioned that finally, the word Qalandar denoted a member of mystic-ascetic movement in Khurasan, which in the course of time took shape as Qalandariyya fraternity and by the thirteenth century reached the borders of India (8). However, the literal meaning of Qalandar is a person who is free of all cares of this and the next world (9). It becomes clear that a Qalandar seeks an opportunity to destroy the established traditions. He is likewise not burdened conventions of everyday life. A Qalandar is not tied to a certain mentor by inner spiritual link; he is not necessarily follower of definite school of thought or a branch of Sufism and he is above the religious law (10), but he follows the spiritualism. In Sindhi, the literarily meaning of Qalandar can be suggested as brave, bold, courageous and fearless. Hazarat Qalandar Shahbaz possessed all qualities of Godly love, saintly purity and piousness. And undoubtedly, he was saint of high moral, qualitative spiritual leader of suppressed people and qualified the entire characteristics of bravery and term Qalanar.

Qalandariyya Movement
It is believed that Qalandar Lal Shahbaz belonged to Malamati order (Sufism) but I am of the opinion that Qalandar Shahbaz was related to Qalanariyya movement. In early Iran, the practices of Malamatis were different from Qalanddariyya. The Malamati was group of baggers in Persia who used to go door to door. On other hand, Qalanadar Lal and his disciples did not do so. He spread his mission among common people through the saintly activities of Qalandariyya movement. A point of view can be accepted only at the limit of influence that the Qalandariyya movement came in to being on the bases of the early teachings of Malamatiyya (11). The terms Hyadriyya and Qalandariyya is frequently used by scholars for the disciples of Qalandariyya. Qalandar Shahbaz has also called himself as “Hyadriyam Qalandaram Mastam” in his poetry. In the meantime, still his disciples and devotees call themselves Hydaris and Qalandaris. Positively, the influence of Malamatiyya on Qalandariyya can not be unnoticed. History reveals that Qalanariyya movement flourished in Syria, eastern Iran and Transoxiana. The movement consisted of many groups and Hyaderis (12). Whereas, some accounts of history notify that the Qalandariyya were an eastern Iranian order which had just been introduced in Damascus in 616/1219 by Shaykh Jamal al-Din, the first real systematizer of the group’s doctrine and rule to conduct. Jamal al-Din left himself Damascus for Egypt in 620/1223, but he left behind him numerous disciples, many of them Persian (13). The Sufi theoreticians of medieval Persia informs us that the difference between Malamati and Qalandar mystics was that the former sought to conceal his acts of devotion and piety, whereas, later endeavoured to overturn and destroy established customs. As an institution, the Qalandariyya was closely connected with the early Malamati tradition in tenth/eleventh century Nishapur in Khurasan, which later, under the leadership of Jamal al-Din (d. Circa 630 /1232), developed in separate order with their own Khanqahs scattered all over Egypt, Libya, Turkey, Persia and India. Undoubtedly, the Qalandariyya movement represented a sort of mass institutionalization of the high principles of Malamati moral Philosophy (14) but later it became a different movement.
Although the Qalandariyya movement originated and spread primarily in eastern lands of Islam, they asserted themselves as recognizable trend with Sufism in Damascus and Dameitta (Egypt) in the early decades of seventh/thirteenth. The founder of the movement was the Persian Jamal al-Din (15). Qalandariyya refers to people who are under influence spiritual tasting and intoxication of heart to the degree that they try to corrupt (disobey) usual customs and free (themselves) from attending to correct manners (social orders) when in gatherings and association with people (16). While, the Malamatis refused to follow and give public recognition to the rationalist urbanizing Muslims that was taking shape. And the social arenas of Sufi cloister (Khaniqah) and Chivalric brotherhoods (Futuvvat) that sentiments like those of the Malamatis found many devotees (17). Possibly, Malamatis were doing so in Persia, but as for association with people and public recognition of Qalandariyya in Sindh including its increasing cluster of disciples can be reviewed from the role and public fame of Qalandar Shahbaz.
Kathryn Babayan also writes that a Qalandariyya movement crystallized under the leadership of Persian named Jamal al-Din (d. 1232-1233), from Saveh in central Iran. The leadership of Qalandariyya who established communities of believers through hospices in the Fertile Crescent (Damascus, Darmietta, Jerusalem) and Egypt was ethically Persian (18). Thus, the Qalandariyya Movement had already public recognition and the public believers. Probably, Adam Sabra has related the act of Malamtiyya with Qalandariyya that the Qalandariyya wore simple woolen sacks and shave their hair, beard, mustache, and even eyebrows (19). Most probably, herein Sindh, Qalandar Shahbaz had reformed the principles of Qalandariyya Movement. It can be believed that he quieted the attitude of removing hair. Consequently, his believers or Qalandaris had not shaved mustaches, beard and eyebrows. Sadia Dehlvi is of the opinion that the Qalanadars and Malamati mystics do not belong to organized order and wander from one to another place. Shaykh Shuhabuddin Suhrwardi wrote that there is difference between these two types of dervishes. Qalandars are seized by intoxication arisen from love of God to such a degree that they reject social pleasantries. They perform mandatory but not the extra vigils. On other hand the Malamatis try concealing their spiritual achievements by behaving in an offensive manner, so that they be left alone (20). When we consider over the Qalandar Lal’s mystic and sagely activities, his movement and Sufi order were well organized and he had a large circle of organized disciples and devotees comprising common people.
The writer of book, “Mystics, Monarchs and Messiahs” describes that a new type of ascetic movement emerged with the institutionalization of mystical orders (Sufism) giving birth to dervish groups like Qalandariyya and Hydariyya. Distinct from mysticism of brotherhood, these mystics rejected very social and cultural forms that impinged on their notion of piety. Moving from place to place, they rejected stability and material comfort and expressed this attitude through a language of social deviance and strict interpretation of poverty (21). According to some academic sources the Qalanddars emerged as a separated movement with a distinctive style of dress and behavour (22). While recognizing, Jonathan Porter Berkey says that the example of Qalandariyya suggests that Islam was capable in the middle period of manifesting it self in a brilliant complexity of forms even at centre-even that is, in major centres of juristic cultures such a Cairo and Damascus-and that Sufism, broadly conceived one of the principal source of that complexity (23). Some scholars have revealed that in those days the more popular movement in Tramsoxiana was the Qalandariyya deriving from the Malamatiyya (24). Mostly, the discussed quotations enlighten the itinerant life of Hazarat Qalandar Lal Shahbaz and his Qalandariyya movement. He meandered at various countries as well as India and finally he settled in Sindh. While traveling and living among the mystic groups of ordinary men and guiding them as religious leader of the Qalandariyya movement, he remained most active Sufi saint among the followers whole the life.

Multan to Sehwan
While visiting many countries of Asia and Middle East, Qalandar Shahbaz returned to Sindh and settled at village near Multan. In Multan, Prince martyred Khan built Khanqah for Hazrat Qalandar. The Qalandar of course politely declined the earnest offer of the prince (25). Ghulam Muhammad Girami writes that according to some accounts Qalandar Lal was disciple of Sheikh Bahauddin Zakiriya and Sheikh Shuhabuddin Suhurwardi, regarding this, the historians and research scholars have not proved with literarily and historically sources. I support the opinion of Ghulam Muhammad Girami, since Qalandar Shahbaz was leading his own dissimilar and distinctive Sufi order Qalandariyya. So, how could be he the disciple of Shaikh Bahauddin Zakiriya or any other Sufi order? Meanwhile, history included him in the fold of friendship of Sufis of Multan (26). It is believed that, Shahbaz Qalandar (Seyyed Usman) was seen as a controversial figure by some, because he was a Qalandariyya and Malamatiyya Sufi saint. He would put on red clothes and was often found in a state of spiritual ecstasy. This offended the orthodox Ulema of the time in Multan. Qazi Qutb al-Din Kashfi, a prominent religious person, gave a judgment [religious edict or Fatwa) against Seyyed Usman, who was staying in a village near Multan (27). He was furious when he heard about this Judgment and traveled to Multan with his followers to avenge the dishonour. Shaykh Baha al-Din Zakariya heard about Sayyad Usman and the cause of his anger. So, Shaykh Baha al-Din managed to calm him down (28). Most probably, the cause of controversies was not personal dishonour of Qalanddar Lal Shahbaz but activities of Qalandariyya Sufi order and its increasing popularity among the people in the vicinity of Multan might have become the reason of controversy for some religious personalities. Thus, the Sufi saint, a symbol of tolerance reacted against judgment. However, after worried ambiance Qalandar Shahbaz left Multan and traveled to Sehwan Sharif.
Syyed Dinal Shah Darbelvy writes that according to historical account Qalandar Lal came to Sehwan direct from Multan in 649 h. He was at the ripe age of 111 years. His stay in Sehwan is only one year where his mortal remains are buried (29). Some historical accounts as well inform that Qalanar is for his Sufism. Marwandi lived as a celibate and after a wandering life around Middle East, he settled in Sehwan in the Sindh (30). In Sehwan Sharif Qalandar Shahbaz continued his mission and activities of Qalandariyya movement as in Multan till his last moments of life.

The mission and played role by this great Sufi saint of underprivileged people can be portrayed as below.
(a) Tolerance: Tolerance was basic principle of Qalandariyya movement in Sindh, led by Hazrat Qalandar Lal Shahbaz including Sufism. Qalanadar Shahbaz chose first Multan and later Sehwan, Sindh, as the centre of his mission for the spiritual guidance of mankind. During his lifetime, he maintained close association with the free-wandering order of the Sufis and the common people remembered him by the title of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. His reputation has survived undiminished as the popular saint of Sindh (31). Hazarat Qalandar Lal Shahbaz (1177-1274) preached a doctrine of tolerance between Muslims and Hindus. His tolerance included assimilating local traditions into Islam, which has earned the movement opposition of Mullas who ruled the faith (32). Shahbaz Qalanar turned liberator spent the rest of his life teaching Sufism (33). Lal shahbaz preached religious tolerance among Muslims and Hindus (34). It was though their simple philosophy, uncomplicated practices, and sprit of tolerance and accommodation that Sufis won the hearts of mass, thronged the Khanqahs (35). The role of Hazrat Qalandar Shahbaz was according to the concept of “Sabar” which seems to have been interpreted as tolerance and Sufism is defined as a “tradition of tolerance”. Moreover, calling Sufism a tradition of tolerance carries the implication that it is harmless to others (36). Sufi saints drew Muslims and non-Muslims alike to their fold through their simplicity and sincerity, their broadmindedness, tolerance and compassion, and built bridge of understanding, amity and conciliation between people of different religions and ethic backgrounds (37). By speaking about the universal love in quest of Almighty, Sufi philosophy thus heightened the atmosphere of tolerance (38). Still, there is tolerance among individuals like him (Qalandar Shahbaz) for the rituals that devotee perform (39). In view of above references, Qalandar Shahbaz and his Qalandariyya movement were magnificently sign of tolerance.

(b) Peace: Being a liberal and secular Sufi saint, Qalandar Shahbaz passed his life peacefully and always preached peace among the people of different religions. As a sacred Sufi guide, he favored the peace, all the time of his life, because the Sufis always prefer peace to war and non-violence to violence. But Sufis are also fighters against injustice (40). The protest against Qazi Qutub al-Din Kashfi can be counted as an instance of fight of our Sufi saint against unfairness. The message of peace, harmony, universal brotherhood and peaceful co-existence of Sufis along with the efforts of Bhakti counterparts helped a society free of religious, sectarian and communal tensions (41). Certainly, the philosophy of Qalandari school of thought is completely surrender at all that is universal peace which is the foundation of universal religion of Islam (42). Moreover, the life of Qalandar Lal was also sign of peace and harmony.

(c) Love to God and mankind: Lal Shahbaz Qalandar played a very important role for boosting Sufism and preaching the message of love and peace in this part of the world.
The Sufis of this order believe that the entire universe exists because God is love. Live is great law of existence. Love, according to the Sufi doctrine God’s own nature, and because man exists within God’s Universal Being, it follows that love is fundamental law at work in man. That is why man’s greatest experiences are those which are expressed in love. The Sufi’s primary aim, therefore, is to obey steadfast discipline, the greatest of divine commandments: “Love one another and every thing everywhere” (43). Qalandar Shahbaz is free from both, the mortal and immortal world; he only cares (Loves) Allah (44). The first requirement according to Sufi is that we should love God, above all His outer manifestations. The second requirement of life is that we shall love every soul on earth. In God’s presence, hatred, resentments, criticisms and judgments have no place. He is the sprit in every soul, and it is His sprit in every one that we must love (45). Thus, Qalanadar Lal Shahbaz loved Allah and His creature. Concerning such philosophy of Sufism, Mansoor Halaj of Persia practiced and was martyred. Qalandar Shahbaz also communicates this message and relating himself to Mansoor Halaj, he expresses in his poetry that “Manam Usman Marwandi k yar-e Khuwaja Mansooram” which means, I am Usman Marwandi, a friend (follower) of Khuwaja Mansoor Halaj.

(d) Preaching of Qalandariyya movement and Islam: The Sufi saints have preached the principles of their Sufi orders including Islam and Allah. It has been suggested that the majority of Indian’s (subcontinent) Muslims accepted Islam through the quit preaching of the Sufis, spreading the simple tenets of Islam through rustic poems in the languages of Indian peasants (46). Undoubtedly, Qalanadar Lal Shahaz preached his Sufi order including Sufism and Islam practically and literarily.

Books and References
1, Munawar Arbab, Sufi Saints of Indus Valley,, 2014, p-160
2, Erik Gren, Orientalia Suecana, Volume 53, Almquist & Wiksell Periodical Company, 2004, p-64
3, Editors, Suresh K. Sharma, Usha Sharma, Cultural and Religious Heritage of India: Islam, Mittal Publications, 2004, p-350
4, Dr. Nazir M. Gill, Development of Urdu language and Literature, Xlibris Corporation, 2013, p-95
5, Colin Turner, Islam without Allah, Routledge, 2013, p-125
6, Md. Sirajul Islam, Sufism and Bhakti, CRVP, 2004, p-61
7, Anna Suvorova, Muslim Saints of South Asia, Routledge, 2004, p-178
8, Anna Suvorova, Muslim Saints of South Asia, Routledge, 2004, p-179
9, Md. Sirajul Islam, Sufism and Bhakti, CRVP, 2004, p-61
10, Редакционная коллегия, Ишрак том 3: Ishraq, Islamic Culture Research Foundation, 2012, p-322
11, Anna Suvorova, Muslim Saints of South Asia, Routledge, 2004, p-179
12, M. K. Agarwal, From Bharata to India: Volume 2, iUniverse, 2012, p-106
13, R. Stephen Humphreys, From Saladin to the Mongols, SUNY Press, 1977, p-209
14, Editor, Leonard Lewisohn, Hafiz and the Religion of Love in Classical Persian Poetry, I.B.Tauris, 2015, p-37
15, Alexander D. Knysh, Islamic Mysticism, Brill, 2000, 2 Jul 2009, p-272
16, Lloyd Ridgeon, Morals and Mysticism in Persian Sufism, Routledge, 2010, ref. 71
17, Kathryn Babayan, Mystics, Monarchs, and Messiahs, Harvard University, 2002, p-87
18, Kathryn Babayan, Mystics, Monarchs, and Messiahs, Harvard University, 2002, p-88
19, Adam Sabra, Poverty and Charity in Medieval Islam, Cambridge University Press, 2000, p-28
20, Sadia Dehlvi, Sufism: Heart of Islam, HarperCollins Publishers, 2012, p-34
21, Kathryn Babayan, Mystics, Monarchs, and Messiahs, Harvard University, 2002, p-88
22, Sadia Dehlvi, Sufism: Heart of Islam, HarperCollins Publishers, 2012, p-34
23, Jonathan Porter Berkey, The Formation of Islam, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p-245
24, Editors, Muzaffar Alam & others, The Making of Indo-Persian Culture Manohar Publishers & Distributors, 2000, p-102
25, Dinal Shah Darbelvy, Hazarat Shahanshah Qalandar, Culture Department Sindh, 2012, p-194
26, Azad Kandhro, Sindhri Jo Shahbaz Qalandar, Culture Department Sindh, 2012, p-102
29, Dinal Shah Darbelvy, Hazarat Shahanshah Qalandar, Culture Department Sindh, 2012, p-48
30, Norbert C. Brockman, Encyclopedia of Sacred Places, ABC-CLIO, 2011, p-439
31, Nabi Hadi, Dictionary of Indo-Persian Literature, Abhinav Publications, 1995, p-322
32, Norbert C. Brockman, Encyclopedia of Sacred Places, ABC-CLIO, 2011, p-439
33, Reza, Sebastian, Reza War and Peace, National Geographic Books, 2008, p-308
34, Munwar Arbab, Sufi Saints of Indus Valley,, 2014, p-159
35, Farooqui Salma Ahmed, A Comprehensive History of Medieval India, Pearson Education India, 2011, p-215
36, Editors Judy Wakabayashi, Rita Kothari, Decentering Translation Studies, John Benjamins Publishing, 2009, p-141
37, Amitabh Pal, “Islam” Means Peace, ABC-CLIO, 2011, p-60
38, Farooqui Salma Ahmed, A Comprehensive History of Medieval India, Pearson Education India, 2011, p-215
39, Shemeem Burney Abbas, The Female Voice in Sufi Ritual, University of Texas Press, 2010, p-xix
40, Amitabh Pal, “Islam” Means Peace, ABC-CLIO, 2011, p-60
41, Farooqui Salma Ahmed, A Comprehensive History of Medieval India, Pearson Education India, 2011, p-215
42, Dinal Shah Darbelvy, Hazarat Shahanshah Qalandar, Culture Department Sindh, 2012, p-350
43, Suresh K. Sharma, Usha Sharma, Cultural and Religious Heritage of India: Islam, Mittal Publications, 2004, p-350-51
44, Hakim Fateh Muhammad Sehwani, Qalandar Nama, Culture Department Sindh 2012, p-39
45, Suresh K. Sharma, Usha Sharma, Cultural and Religious Heritage of India: Islam, Mittal Publications, 2004, p-351
46, Nile Green, Islam and the Army in Colonial India, Cambridge University Press, 2009, p-17

(Presented on 7th of June 2015, in International Qalandar Shahbaz literary conference at Shahbaz Auditorium Sehwan Sharif)


Give us your feedback

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s