By Sadia Dehlvi
February 4th, 2011
Shaykh Ali ibn Uthman Hujwiri (d. 1071 AD) came to be called Datta Ganj Baksh, The Giver of Treasures, because of his generosity. He is one of the most luminous figures in Islamic history, becoming the first great Sufi to settle in the subcontinent. His 967th Urs, or death anniversary, which falls in Safar, the second Islamic month, was celebrated last week in Lahore, the city he made his home.
Datta Sahab’s family traces their lineage from Imam Hasan, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. Uthman Hujwiri was born at Hujwer; a settlement in the town of Ghazna in present-day Afghanistan. He studied Sufism under several masters and travelled to Turkestan, Transoxania, Iraq, Iran and Syria. Datta Sahab’s Master, Shaykh Muhammad bin al Hasan Khattali of Syria, ordered him to go to Lahore. When his Master died, Hujwiri was with him in Syria. Some years later, he went to Lahore.
Datta Sahab wrote many books on Sufism, including the famed manual Kashf al Mahjub (Uncovering of the Veils). It remains an important study of the early Sufis and their philosophies and is the first comprehensive book on Sufism in the Persian language.
According to Datta Sahab, “The knowledge of God is the science of Gnosis, the knowledge from God is the science of the sacred law and knowledge with God is the science of Tasawwuf, Sufism. Knowledge is a divine attribute and action a human attribute and the two are not separate from one another”.
The Kashf al Mahjub describes the perfect state of the intoxicated Sufi as one of sobriety. It explains safa, purity, as the destination of a Sufi, a station where there is no room for complaint. Datta Sahab defined a Sufi as one who overcomes the passions of the self and annihilates himself in the path of haqq, truth. The mystic preached that those with Marifah, divine knowledge, are the chosen ones to whom God reveals the “divine secrets”.
Datta Sahab identified seven forms of lust — warning the true seeker of God against them. (Lust of the eye to see, of the ear to hear, of the nose to smell, of the tongue to speak, of the mouth to taste, of the body to touch and the heart to feel.)
Before his arrival at Ajmer, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti meditated for 40 days at the Datta Durbar. Khwaja sought his blessings and described Datta Sahab as a perfect Sufi. Khwaja wrote:
Ganj Bukhsh Faiz-e-Alam; Mazhar-e-Noor-e-Khuda
Naqisa-ra Pir-e-Kamil; Kamila-ra Rahnuma
(Ganj Baksh is a grace to the world; a manifester of God’s light. A perfect spiritual teacher for the beginners; a guide for the perfected.)
The dargah of Datta Ganj Baksh is situated in the old city of Lahore outside Bhati Gate. Sultan Iltutmish built the first dome on Datta Sahab’s grave. Various kings and rulers through the centuries, including emperor Akbar and Maharaja Ranjit Singh, built additions to the complex. The Maharaja held Datta Sahab in great reverence, making offerings at the annual Urs festivities and even presenting a copy of the Quran to the Durbar after his victorious campaign against the Afghans. Rani Chand Kaur, wife of Kharak Singh, built the courtyard near the well.
Hundreds of years gone by, devotees from different backgrounds, creed and class continue visiting Datta Durbar. Those seeking blessings distribute langar, food to hundreds of people each day. It is believed that thanks to Datta Sahab’s blessings, no one remains hungry in Datta ki nagri, the city of Lahore.
— Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam. She can be contacted at email@example.com
Source: The Asian Age