The Gnostic of Siyal; Shaykh al-Islam wa’l-Muslimeen, Khawaja Muhammad Qamar al-Din (1324-1401 AH / 1906-1981 CE)
By Justice Shaykh Muhammad Karam Shah al-Azhari (d. 1419 AH)
Translation, notes and commentary by Bakhtyar Haider Pirzada al-Azhari, July 2006
The nineteenth century was a century of great pain and affliction for Muslims residing in the Indian subcontinent. The wide and expansive Muslim empire of India had been divided into numerous smaller states. The ruler of each individual state had become absent-minded and distracted due to his own personal importance to such an extent that he was neither saddened at the state of his community nor was he upset at his nation meeting its own downfall. The Muslims were now fighting amongst each other. The city of Delhi – which was for centuries the main centre of the Islamic state in India – due to the inability of its sovereigns, was now losing its influence and authority. More grievous than this was the state of the believer’s connection and relationship with his merciful Lord and his affectionate Murshid, which was now becoming more and more weak. Various innovations concerning doctrine and practice had enervated the Islamic society. Mosques were deserted, religious schools were unlighted and khanqahs – where once lion-hearted friends of Allah (most high) used to sit – were now at the disposal of artificial unorthodox mendicants and dauntless persons completely lacking the reality of Islam.
Faces enlightened with the light of ma‘rifa and foreheads refulgent from the signs of prostrations were seldom seen. Fountains were drying up that saturated the sown-field of life. Stars began disappearing one-by-one that guided the lost travellers in the wilderness of life towards their true destination.
Consider for yourself, a place where rulers remain preoccupied day and night in conspiracies to overcome and defeat one another, where the general populace day-by-day becomes distanced from its source and origin of life; in such a place what more could be expected and hoped for other than public dishonour, adversity, decline and downfall. That nation despite its smallness in number had ruled over such a vast country for centuries purely due to the might of its good practice, today those qualities of this nation had become a story and fable of the past. The end result of this was that on a certain evening during the year 1857 the sun of this Islamic rule set and disappeared. Every brick of the palaces was destroyed; palaces in which resided a people who had forgotten their Creator, whose days and nights were spent in luxury and gaiety and in whose courts gatherings of carousing, dance and music were always taking place. Foreigners who had now come from a distance of six thousand miles had mercilessly slaughtered these people who had rebelled against their own Creator. Learned scholars were hanged. Religious schools were locked. Precious rarities of knowledge and wisdom were set alight. The common Muslim had become bound in the chains of double slavery; to the British and to the Hindus.
The darkness of despair had spread everywhere. No ray of hope could be seen appearing from any corner. People had understood that the light of Islam would never be lit in this country ever again. The presence of the Muslims would be erased from the history of this country just like a mistaken letter.
The mercy of Allah (most high) manifests itself in many unique ways. When despair and dismay tighten their noose from all sides, when deprivations snatch away even the longing of staying alive from the heart; at exactly that moment Allah’s mercy prepares for the rising of such a sun that becomes a means of prospering the very dark night with a joyous morning. It confers brilliance and splendour to its rays. Upon observing its magnificence the entire world is left in a state of utter astonishment and bewilderment.
Allah (most high) had chosen a village – whose name was not even known to anyone – in the district of Shah Pur in Punjab to be the birthplace of a favoured and accepted servant. In the small settlement of Siyal, such a lamp of ma‘rifa shined in the house of Mian Muhammad Yar (Allah have mercy upon him) who illuminated this dark night of sadness and despondence. Within the multitude of thick trees were a few underdeveloped dwellings. A fortunate person was born in them who awakened the sleeping fate of a world and corrected the deteriorating destinies of hundreds of thousands. The parents selected the name Shams al-Din for their newborn son. Allah’s mercy honoured him with the station of Shams al-‘Arifin. All those who would come to his astana ‘aliya would return back with the ample passion of remembering Allah (most high), following the Prophetic Practice (sunna) and the prime resolve of waving the flag of Islam high up again. Within a few years, a net of such khanqahs was spread throughout the country where preparations were made to lead the persons, unmindful of themselves, towards the position and station of self-knowing and God-knowing servants of Allah (most high). By observing and pondering over the achievements – of reviving the religion and stitching together the dispersed nation – granted by Allah (most high) to this pure personality; the reminiscence of the wanders of the awliya’ of the past is refreshed.
After Khawaja Shams al-‘Arifin, his great son, Khawaja Muhammad Din, adorningly sat upon the spiritual seat as a beauteous embodiment of the qualities of his noble father. He gave this movement of his noble father further strength and energy. This chain of faqr and darwayshi gradually spreading through major cities reached the very distanced and isolated villages that were situated in mountains and deserts.
After Khawaja Muhammad Din, his son, Khawaja Diya’ al-Din, beautified and enhanced not only the khanqah of Siyal Sharif and not only the Chishti Nizami Sufi Order but also all orders of faqr and darwayshi. In this era, the collective struggle against the sway of the British and the domination of the non-Muslims began. This lion-hearted struggler, who throughout his life challenged the foreign rulers in every field, departed from this world at the age of merely forty five years. Allah (most high) favoured Khawaja Diya’ al-Din’s sincerity in such a manner that He granted him a great and unique son; Shaykh al-Islam Khawaja Muhammad Qamar al-Din Siyalwi. For three quarters of a century, Shaykh al-Islam Khawaja Muhammad Qamar al-Din shined above the horizon of life as a full moon spreading light and defeating every form of darkness. At his departure, the entire community is tearful. His obedient followers are manifesting their humble prayers and paying their respects in numerous ways. The special edition of Diya-e Haram Monthly Journal is also a humble beam from this chain of humble prayers.
What aspect of this personality, attributed with all great attributes, should be mentioned and what should not be mentioned in order to be content? This period is very testing of patience for the rose-gatherer in this rose-garden of beauty and perfection.
The physical beauty that Allah (most high) granted Khawaja Muhammad Qamar al-Din, we cannot find any match for it anywhere. Gracious face, high nose, shining gazelle-like eyes, broadness of the fortunate forehead, thickness of the blessed beard and shining tresses would capture the gaze and the heart. Despite the graces of beauty, such a reflection of Allah’s majesty remained resplendent upon the face that no courage to speak in the holy presence remained.
When Khawaja Qamar al-Din’s age was four years, four months and ten days, Khawaja Diya’ al-Din enrolled him to memorise the Qur’an in the class of Hafiz Karim Bakhsh. He very quickly memorised the Qur’an in a short span of time. Following that, capable teachers taught him Persian and Arabic etymology and syntax with much joy and hardwork and this capable student accepted all that he was taught with much joy and enthusiasm. When he was very young and was reading the Kanz al-Daqa’iq, during this time he wrote a commentary on a difficult issue within the Kanz al-Daqa’iq in the Arabic language. After seeing it, great learned scholars were left amazed. This written piece caused a greater sense of enhancing the education and upbringing of this student in the heart of his father; Khawaja Diya’ al-Din. As a result, he looked towards a distinguished scholar from the Khayr Abadi family of knowledge and wisdom, Maulana Mu’in al-Din Ajmayri. At that time, he was the principal teacher at Madrasa ‘Uthmaniyya Dar al-Khayr in Ajmayr (India) and so for some time, Khawaja Diya’ al-Din sent his beloved son to Ajmayr in pursuit of education. Later on, Maulana Ajmayri was brought from Ajmayr to Siyal and Khawaja Qamar al-Din continued acquiring knowledge from him. A student of Maulana Ajmayri, Maulana Muhammad Husayn, also began teaching in Siyal at Dar al-‘Ulum Diya’ Shams al-Islam. Khawaja Qamar al-Din studied philosophy and logic with Maulana Muhammad Din Badhwi. Khawaja Qamar al-Din completed these various sciences and disciplines from these learned scholars. He also completed the Dawra Hadith with Maulana Ajmayri, who consequently bestowed the sanad and ijaza of hadith narration to him.
During the student years, signs of aptitude and a genius could be seen in the personality of Khawaja Qamar al-Din. Allah (most high) granted him such an ability and intellect that he would be able to solve difficult issues with much ease. The memory was so strong that whatever he learnt once was never forgotten. He was a mountain of piety and steadfastness, unyielding and resolute amidst any esoteric passion or exoteric adverse circumstances. His eyes and gaze always remained modestly low looking at the ground before him. The passion for passing on the message of truth was embedded within him from a young age. He would go to every house and encourage people to offer their prayers and whoever would be lazy in performing the prayer, he would show his disappointment.
The number of those associated with the astana ‘aliya of Siyal Sharif is countless and are spread throughout the country of Pakistan. Offering guidance in religious and worldly affairs was Khawaja Qamar al-Din’s duty. Consider for yourself, to whom different people from different tribes and areas would come daily, what would be the state of his busy schedules. It was Khawaja Qamar al-Din’s duty to have arrangements in place for their food and drink and a place to stay. Furthermore, various forms of supererogatory worship and daily waza’if were part of his norm. Whenever, he would begin to perform his salat, that scene was worth seeing. A state of istighraq and deep involvement would be surrounding him. When he would stand it was awe-inspiring, when he would go into ruku‘ it was graceful and when he would prostrate it would seem as if he would not get up due to the pleasure he was feeling in prostrating to his Lord. Even when he would sit in tashah-hud position it was unique. My sinful eyes have not seen anyone perform salat in this manner. His wazifa was less by means of a tasbih as he was always absorbed in the dhikr of Allah (most high) with his heart and soul. And this state was not only during salat but remained at all times.
There was always plenty of baraka from Allah (most high) in the langarkhana at the astana ‘aliya of Siyal Sharif. Day and night hundreds of guests were provided with meals. Khawaja Qamar al-Din never had the desire to accumulate wealth; whatever came was quickly spent. During the era of Yahya Khan, when the government had announced that by a certain date all five hundred rupee notes and all one hundred rupee notes must be returned in order to thwart and control the black market trade, everyone was suddenly worried and day and night frantically pursued the exchange of their notes. Respected Khawaja Qamar al-Din told me personally that at that time he only possessed eight anahs in his pocket and hence he was not worried in the least. The servants of Allah (most high) not only keep their hearts but also their pockets free and pure from wealth.
Whenever a religious or national movement rose in the country and a need for personal and financial sacrifice was felt, this servant of Allah (most high) attributed with all his pure and unconditional devotion was always seen at the forefront. His struggle was not limited to merely a physical one but through the medium of his tongue and pen, he remained preoccupied throughout his life in raising high the banner of truth. If falsity raised its head in any form and in any corner of the state, the valor of Khawaja Qamar al-Din fell heavily upon it.
During the British era, a wave of tribulations flooded the land. Somewhere pseudo-missionaries of Christianity pelted the veracity of Islam with their arrows of taunt and insult. Somewhere the mischief of rejecting the finality of prophethood (inkar khatm al-nubuwwa) occurred, and in someplace else rambles of those insulting the status of prophethood cropped up. Somewhere organised conspiracies of disrespect towards the Prophetic Companions (sahaba) transpired, and in someplace else impudence towards the greatness and dignity of the respected Prophetic Household (ahl al-bayt) ensued. In short, this beloved servant of the chosen Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) of Allah (most high) fought with all. He put up a bold front and with the help of Allah (most high) forced all to experience a divulging defeat.
When the movement began for the independence of India, the Congress was at the forefront whose leadership was in the hands of some prejudiced and narrow-minded Hindus. However, the deceit of the main Hindu leaders had allured many Muslims to their tune and to raise their same voice. Many Muslim scholars, leaders and the learned had become devotees of Indian nationality and stood side by side with the Hindu leaders. At that moment Qa’id A‘zam Muhammad ‘Ali Jinnah demanded the formation of Pakistan. Khawaja Qamar al-Din – through his light of firasat – perceived the truth of Qa’id A‘zam’s position whilst great intellectuals of that time could not decide whether the claim of Qa’id A‘zam had any acceptance or weight in it or not, or whether it is practicable or not. Khawaja Qamar al-Din, with firm resolve and certainty, announced his assistance and loyalty to Qa’id A‘zam in the struggle to acquire Pakistan. History testifies that this man of truth, whatever step he took he did not stop until he reached his desired destination and objective.
The pursuing of a referendum in the province of Sarhad was much dangerous as the Khan Brothers had great influence and power here and they were blind devotees of Gandhi. The Red Shirts movement was accepted here to such an extent that in every town and village of the Sarhad province, red flags were waving. If in this referendum the Muslim League was defeated then the dream of Pakistan would have become dispersed and diminished before any interpretation could be given. The bravery of the people who paved the way for the success of the Muslim community in Sarhad, without a doubt at the front of this group, you would clearly see the shining face of Khawaja Qamar al-Din.
After Pakistan came into existence, for a long time it remained in a dilemma of life and death. Those people, who were granted the responsibility of its premiership, increased the difficulties of this new state as a result of their incompetence or their criminal defalcation. However, 1970 was a period of far more anxiety and worry for the Muslim nation. At that time such a movement began here that rose purely with the tenacity of making socialism the modus operandi of the country and not Islam. Though, all the previous rulers that came did not present any worthwhile service for the implementation of nizam Mustafa (way of the Chosen One), and even if they took a step towards this direction it was with great dissatisfaction. However, this particular time-period brought within its embrace an uproarious and troublesome doomsday.
The impostures of Bhutto had impressed the imprints of socialism in the minds of the nation to such an extent that slogans of death to Islam could be heard on common roads. There was a fear that in this country which was attained by the blood of hundreds of thousands of martyrs and by the sacrifices of their prime of youth for the sake of Islam, now the system of Marx and Lenin may be enforced.
The slogans of Bhutto’s comrades were very thunderous and vociferous creating an overwhelming, subdued and fearful atmosphere. Great politicians were under the mandible of the regime. Many scholars of the gown and turban were assisting Bhutto by sowing the seeds of socialism in this home of Islam. In this atmosphere of fear and terror, dread and despair, a voice called out, “Pakistan will become the burial ground of socialism.” The entire nation was startled and friends and foes were left amazed at the courage and bravery of the one shouting this slogan. They began rubbing their eyes and were anxious to see the face of this person who caused a commotion throughout the country with his sublimely enchanting call.
Who was making this call and who was shouting this slogan? He was none other than the leader of us Sunnis, the murshid of us Chishtis, Khawaja Muhammad Qamar al-Din Siyalwi. This call acted as the horn of Israfil and the sleeping nation woke up. It was only a case of this awakening that the burst of those slogans of falsity ended and that spell was broken which had engulfed the entire nation and especially the youthful generation in a bad way. In such a fragile period, when the leadership of Jam‘iyyat ‘Ulama’i Pakistan (JUP) and the flag of Islam’s greatness came in to the hands of this determined man of truth from the family of Shams al-‘Arifin, the tables were turned and the ambitions of Bhutto and his followers were turned to dust that desired to empty this land from Islam and make it a centre for socialism.
The servants of the Chosen One (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) were first pitted against the British rule, then were tested against the Hindus and then internal troubles seized their attention and focus. During this period, the fitna of the Ahmadiyya Movement (Mirza’iyyat, Qadiyaniyyat) fearless of any form of hindrance kept on spreading its tentacles and strengthening its foundations. They had found plenty of time to organise their resources and formalise their conspiracies. Their people had already taken positions within the civil courts and during this time they also stabilised their positions in the military; in the land, naval and air forces. This was to such an extent that an Ahmadi, Zafar Chaudhry, was successful in becoming the Chief of the Pakistan Air Force. He had developed such courage that in the month of December during their six day conference in Rabwah, he ordered the Pakistan Air Force to pay respect to his false prophet.
They had the hope that in one leap they would be able to capture the premiership of Pakistan. In order to protect the nation of His Beloved (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) from the dangerous conspiracies of these stooges of foreigners and enemies of Islam and the Muslims, Allah (most high) caused a small incident that took place at the railway station in Rabwah to be the means for this rescue. Following this incident, the movement of khatm al-nubuwwa (finality of prophethood) spread to all corners of the country. This eventually led to the government being forced to declare the Ahmadis a non-Muslim minority. In this time, the brave and leading role that Shaykh al-Islam Khawaja Qamar al-Din played is evident and not in need of further explanation.
Khawaja Qamar al-Din’s services during the nizam Mustafa movement shall forever remain luminous and glittering.
It was the fourteenth of Ramadan (1401 AH / 1981 CE), the day was Friday and every corner of the astana ‘aliya of Siyal Sharif was overcrowded due to the sheer number of visitors. Khawaja Qamar al-Din prayed the Salat al-Jumu‘a in his mosque and said farewell to all his servants and followers with abundant prayers. On this day, he opened his fast at his home with his family contrary to his normal practice. He spent the night in Siyal Sharif. The son of Sahibzada Ghulam Nasir al-Din had been in Lahore under medical treatment. A programme was made to go to Lahore to enquire about his health. After eating the predawn meal of suhur, Khawaja Qamar al-Din paid his respects at the shrine of Shams al-‘Arifin and after offering prayers began the last journey of his life.
About a few miles from Sargodha, on the Sargodha Lahore Road is a bridge of Chack Eleven. The lifelong driver of Khawaja Qamar al-Din, Ghulam Haider – who had been driving for his murshid for forty five years – was driving the car. It was seven in the morning and the sun had risen, there was light everywhere. From in front of the Chack Eleven Bridge, Ghulam Haider saw a lorry coming towards him. The lorry was coming from the wrong direction, the careful driver just as before moved the car further left, however the lorry did not correct its direction. To this, Ghulam Haider took the car off-road. However, the lorry driver did not control his lorry. Suddenly a thunderous accident occurred that completely destroyed the car. The driver, Ghulam Haider, died on the spot offering the sacrifice of his life at the feet of his Shaykh.
Another servant, Allah Bakhsh, who was due to get married a few days after, was sitting on the back seat. He was also crowned with the crown of martyrdom. The other two companions, Haji Muhammad Nawaz – who was a close servant to Khawaja Qamar al-Din – his arm was broken and the fourth companion, Muhammad Aslam, was severely injured.
Khawaja Qamar al-Din was sitting on the front passenger seat next to the driver. After hearing the noise of this collision, people from all around gathered. Khawaja Qamar al-Din was taken out and the ankle-bone of his right leg was fractured. The blessed face and other parts of the body seemed completely fine. When he was taken out of the vehicle and sat down, a person came forward and offered water. Khawaja Qamar al-Din refused to drink and stated, “I am fasting.” Then he was laid on a bedstead and taken to Sargodha District Hospital on the back of a van.
The news of this painful tragedy spread like wild-fire in all directions. Crowds and crowds began to gather at the hospital.
We, at Bhera, were informed in the evening of this accident; however, the giver of this news also told us that Khawaja Qamar al-Din was fine and well. The next day early in the morning, I along with my relatives went to Sargodha to enquire of his state and health. At that moment, the doctors were dressing his wounds. The entire grounds of the hospital were filled with devotees and followers. Everyone’s tongues were uttering words of gratitude, for Allah (most high) had protected and saved their kind leader from this severe accident.
We were all so happy that the arrow of fate was mistaken. However, fate itself was smiling at our naivety. For two days, Khawaja Qamar al-Din remained under medical treatment at Sargodha District Hospital. When the President of Pakistan, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq heard of this tragedy, he became restless. Every ten to fifteen minutes, he himself was phoning the hospital to find out about the state of Khawaja Qamar al-Din and he kept on emphasising to the doctors that there must be no shortfall in his medical treatment.
On the seventeenth of Ramadan, the doctors advised that for further treatment Khawaja Qamar al-Din must be taken to CMH (Combined Military Hospital) in Lahore. Eventually, he was taken there and when the doctors saw the colour of his fingernails, they became worried and said, “You have come late.” Despite the great efforts of the doctors at CMH Lahore, the decree of Allah (most high) had been fulfilled and that great personality, who spread light shining as the full moon above the horizon of life for a quarter of a century, became concealed from our eyes, left this temporary world and was honoured to present himself in the eternal court of his true Beloved. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.
Time remained preoccupied in search for such a leader in order to enlighten its night of sorrow, but, this struggle did not bear any fruit. The Muslim nation will always keep the memory of this leader close to their hearts who guided it with great courage during every type of difficulty and calamity. The circles of disciples and followers will always remain restless for a glimpse of the luminous face of their Shaykh.
The one who always loved and was affectionate towards students, who recognised the status and positions of the scholars, who fulfilled the rights of the respect and honour of the Prophetic Household, the protector of the dignity of the Prophetic Companions, the grieved lover of the beauty of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the one who would not be distanced from the remembrance of Allah (most high) for a moment, the light of the eyes of the people of the heart, the guide of the people of wisdom and intellect, the leader of the caravan of love and affection, the Shaykh of Islam and the Muslims, Khawaja Muhammad Qamar al-Din (Allah be well pleased with him); outwardly, he is hidden and concealed from our eyes, however, the lamps of his devotion and love will always shine.
[For footnotes and references please consult the PDF of this article]
The article has been adapted from two articles written by Diya’ al-Ummat, Justice Shaykh Muhammad Karam Shah al-Azhari (ra) about Shaykh al-Islam Khawaja Muhammad Qamar al-Din Siyalwi (ra). The first was written and published in Diya-e Haram Monthly Journal in August 1981 and the second in September 1981.