By Sadia Dehlvi
Mar 10, 2011
Recently I spent two days at the Nagaur Sufi Music Festival, held amidst the magnificent Nagaur Fort. Hosted by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, the three-day festival celebrated devotional expressions. Over 300 people from various parts of the globe participated in the festival. It included local Rajasthani folk singers and musicians from Egypt, Morocco, Syria and Turkey.
Nagaur is a two-hour drive from Jodhpur. From emperor Akbar’s time up to the end of Mughal rule in India, Nagaur changed hands, from the Rathores of Jodhpur, Bikaner, to the Mughals. Veiled in obscurity for years, the fort has recently been restored.
Hearing the Sufi music and watching the whirling dervishes of Egypt and Syria amidst the candle lit spaces of the fort was a spiritually nourishing experience. The festival brought to life the inclusive Sufi traditions of Nagaur, the final resting place of Sufi Hamiduddin Nagauri.
Born in 1192 AD at Lahore, Sufi Hamiduddin’s family migrated to Delhi where he studied under the famous religious scholars Maulana Shamsuddin Halwai and Muhammad Juwayini. He became fluent in Arabic, Persian and the Hindawi dialect spoken in Rajasthan.
At a young age, Sufi Hamiduddin became a disciple of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer, ranking second to Khwaja Qutub as his spiritual successor. He led a simple, withdrawn and ascetic life. He accompanied his master on his first trip to Delhi, amazing audiences with his knowledge of mysticism. On one occasion, Khwaja asked his companions to request anything of God, assuring them that it would be granted. Sufi Hamiduddin replied that having surrendered to God’s will, he desired nothing. Pleased with the disciple’s annihilation of desire, Khwaja bestowed on him the title “Sultan Tariqin”, Master of the Sufi Way.
Sufi Hamiduddin lived in Suwali, a village near Nagaur, where he had bought a small piece of land. Refusing offerings of money from the Sultan and the governor of Nagaur, he lived off the earnings made from tilling his field. His wife would spin yarn for their meager clothing needs.
Respecting the sentiments of the majority Hindu community, the Chishti Sufi advocated vegetarianism and ate no meat. He requested his followers that even after his death, no meat should be cooked and distributed for the peace of his soul. His sentiments continue to be respected at the dargah in Nagaur.
In contrast to the Chishtis, the Sufis of the Suharwardi order accepted state patronage. Disturbed by the worldly possessions of Bahauddin Zakariya of Multan, the head of the Suharwardi Order, Sufi Hamiduddin, wrote the mystic a number of letters but remained dissatisfied with the replies. Later, the two met in Delhi where they engaged in a discussion on wealth. Sufi Hamiduddin compared money to a dangerous serpent, asserting that storing it was akin to rearing a snake. He reminded the Suharwardi Sufi of Prophet Muhammad who repeatedly said, “Poverty is my pride”.
Equipped with a vast knowledge of Islamic philosophy and sciences, Sufi Hamiduddin taught that Shariah, the outer way, and Tareeqah, the inner way, were similar to body and soul. He said a life without a sacred path is a wasted life, and taught that one must turn away from worldly desires in the pursuit of God. He said, “The seekers of God are left with no will of their own”. He believed ignorance to be the biggest curse and said, “Human beings without knowledge are no better than fossils”.
Sufi Hamiduddin died on 29 Rabi ath thani 673 Hijri/1274 AD and lies buried in Nagaur, the place where he spent most of his life. In 1330 AD, Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq constructed a beautiful gateway to the entrance of the dargah. Sufi Hamiduddin turned Nagaur into an important mystic centre, spreading the message of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz who said, “Develop rover like generosity, sun like abundance and earth like hospitality”.
— Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: The Asian Age