Hadrat Khwaja Nasiruddin Mahmood Chiragh

Hadrat Khwaja Nasiruddin Mahmood, popularly known as “Chiraagh Delhi” was the fifth spiritual successor of Hadrat Khwaja Mu’inuddin Chishti of Ajmer. He was the Khalifa of Hadrat Khwaja Nizaamuddin Awliya who, at the time of his death, told Hadrat Nasiruddin) that, “You shall have to stay in Delhi and suffer the persecution of the people,” while handing him over the sacred relics or Tabbarukaat-e-Mustafavi.

Hadrat Nasiruddin renounced the world at the blooming age of 25 and began Mujahedas against his Nafs with the company of a dervish with whom he is reported to have roamed around the surrounding mountains and jungles of Avadh for 8 years. During this period, he always observed fasting and lived on herbs. He used to break his fast with the leaves of sambhalu – a kind of plant generally found in Avadh (U.P).

Hadrat Nasiruddin came to Delhi at the age of 43 years and joined the circle of Hadrat Nizaamuddin Awliya’s mureeds. One day while Hadrat Nizaamuddin was descending from his hujra at the top of his Khanqah, he noticed that Sheikh Nasiruddin Mahmood was standing in a despondent mood under the shade of a nearby tree. He sent for him through his attendant and took him in privacy to have a talk about his condition. After a brief self-introduction, Hadrat Nasiruddin said: “Sir, I have come here to help the dervishes in putting on their shoes.” This one sentence was enough to confirm his humble character and keenness for a spiritual career and also to win the affection of Hadrat Nizaamuddin Awliya who related his own story of devotion to his Peer-o-Murshid in the beginning of his career. He then became mureed at the hands of Hadrat Nizaamuddin Awliya and devoted himself whole-heartedly to the service of his Peer-o-Murshid.

Once Khwaja Mohammed Gaazrooni, a mureed of Khwaja Baha’uddin Zakaria of Multan was staying as a guest of Hadrat Nizaamuddin Awliya at his Khanqah. One night Khwaja Gaazrooni awoke for Tahajjud and keeping his clothes in the Jamaat Khana, went to perform Wudhu but on his return he did not find his clothes where he left it and began to grumble loudly in a fit of anger. Hadrat Nasiruddin was upset by his noisy temper and thought that it would disturb Hadrat Mehboob-elahi’s devotion at the odd hour of night. In order to pacify the anger of the Khwaja, he at once took off his own clothes and gave them to him. The next morning, when this incident came to the knowledge of Hadrat Nizaamuddin, he presented Hadrat Nasiruddin with a new “poshaak” (dress) and prayed for his success.

After the demise of Hadrat Mehboob-elahi the Jamaat Khana of his Khanqah became the property of his sisters descendants and Hadrat Nasiruddin shifted himself to the place of Chiraagh Delhi where his Mazaar Shareef stands to this day.

Like his Peer-o-Murshid, Hadrat Nasiruddin had to contend with very hard times. Often, during the nights, he had no lights in the house. For several days his oven remained cold. When anybody came to see him, he used to wear his Peer’s Jubba to meet him, and after having gone he would change into his rough clothes. He says that he never liked to perform ablution by wearing his Peer’s Jubba but he liked to hide his poverty from the world by wearing it. During his good times, although he used to fast daily, he ordered delicious food to be prepared and served to his guests and mureeds. He himself used to say, “Allah be praised! After all, Faqeeri (life of a Sufi) is tremendous blessing. It’s beginning and end are both beautiful.”

The title of “Chiraagh”, according to one version, was given to the Sheikh by his Peer-o-Murshid. Once there was a distinguished gathering of many leading Mashaa’ikhs at Hadrat Nizaamuddin Awliya’s Khanqah. Hadrat Nasiruddin arrived a bit late and Hadrat Mehboob-elahi asked him to sit down, but he replied: “Sir, my back would be towards this august assembly” – a posture which is considered impertinent in Islamic etiquette. Upon this Hadrat Mehboob-elahi said: “A Chiraagh has no back” – meaning that there is neither a face nor a back of a lamp, it sheds its light in all directions. From that day onwards, among his fellow mureeds, the title of “Chiraagh” became very popular.

Once a learned person came to Hadrat Nasiruddin to become his mureed. At the time of initiation, the Saint warned him: “When an aspirant enters on the path of Tariqat, he must shorten his sleeves, keep his dress up and shave off his head. Shortening of sleeves means that he has cut off his hands so that he may not spread it before the world for help except Allah; keeping his dress up means that he has cut off his feet so that he may not go to any place that is bad and where there is a danger of misfortune; and shaving of the head means that he has cut of his head in the Oath of Divine Love so that nothing against Shari’at would come from him.”

How great and wise were the teachings of one of the greatest Sufi Saints ever. Hadrat Nasiruddin recommended all that came to him to observe punctuality of Namaaz with congregation. He himself desired this rule very strictly since his younger days. He used to explain the benefits of Namaaz by guiding instances from Hadith and Quran. He had extreme love for the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) and his philosophy of Islamic faith was based upon two paramount things, namely, obedience to whatever Allah and his Rasool (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has ordained and the avoidance of whatever was forbidden.

Hadrat Nasiruddin like many other Sufi dervishes before him, had to go through extreme sufferings from the ruler of the time. Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq persecuted him. However, eventually he had to pay a severe penalty, like some of his short-sighted predecessors who had also persecuted Hadrat Khwaja Nizaamuddin Awliya.

Hadrat Khwaja Nasiruddin and another great Sufi dervish Hadrat Qutbuddin Munawwar had received their Khilafat on one and the same day with the instruction of Hadrat Nizaamuddin that, “They should maintain mutual affection without any discrimination or superiority complex.” Here is a story of their overwhelming regard for each other when they met after a long time at Hansi. When Hadrat Khwaja Nasiruddin was retiring from That with Sultan Feroze Tughlaq, the Saint parted with the kings party to go to Hansi to meet Hadrat Qutbuddin Munawwar (his Peerbhai) whom he had not seen for a very long time. On hearing that Hadrat Khwaja Nasiruddin had come to Hansi, Hadrat Qutbuddin Munawwar ran out of his Khanqah bare-footed to meet him on the way and received him with the most affectionate embrace and overwhelmed by the recollection of the old happy days of their association of their beloved Peer, Hadrat Mehboob-elahi. Both the dervishes could not resist their sorrowful tears on this occasion. A Sama mehfil was arranged and both of them had Wajd (ecstasy) and Sukr in a spiritual mood. After the mehfil both the dervishes insisted upon each other to lead the Asr prayer out of each others elderly regard, eventually Hadrat Qutbuddin Munawar led the prayer because he was the host and within his right under the Islamic Shari’at.

Hadrat Khwaja Nasiruddin was very fond of cleanliness. His dress always appeared very tidy and neat. On both of his sides he used to keep a heavy gathering of flowers. One day Hadrat Nasiruddin Chiraagh, after his Zohr prayers, was busy with his devotional contemplation when a Qalandar by the name of Turab suddenly entered and persistently attacked the innocent Saint with a knife so much so that blood began to flow down the floor. But curiously enough the murderous attack did not disturb the Saint at all in his highly engrossed devotion. When some of the mureeds saw the blood coming out of the hujra, they rushed in and caught hold of the Qalandar. Hadrat Khwaja Nasiruddin strongly dissuaded them and asked his beloved disciples Abdul Muqtadir, Sheikh Sadruddin Tabib and Sheikh Zainuddin Ali not to harm the Qalandar. On the contrary, Hadrat Khwaja Nasiruddin addressed the Qalandar apologetically and said: “If infact the act of attacking me with your knife, you have felt any pain in your hands, please pardon me for the same”. The Saint further gave 20 tankas (type of money) to the Qalandar and sent him away unharmed.

From the above incident we see the level of his forgiveness. It is on account of such rare generosity that Hadrat Nasiruddin Chiraagh enjoys high esteem in the Sufi world. Among the dervishes of the Chistiya Order particularly, he is a unique symbol of forbearance and humility.

Three years after the murderous attack, Hadrat Khwaja Nasiruddin passed away of a natural death on Friday the 18th Ramadaan 757 A.H. Hadrat Khwaja Nasiruddin willed that at the time of putting him in the grave, the Khirqa of his Peer-o-Murshid, Hadrat Nizaamuddin Awliya, must be put upon his chest, the Asaa (staff) by his side, the rosary on the finger of Shahadat, the kaasa (a special wooden bowl which the Faqeers usually carry with them to serve as the only utensil for food, water, etc.) under his head instead of the brick, and the pair of his Peer’s shoes under his arm. This will was carried out. The passing away of Hadrat Nasiruddin closed the first circle of a most glorious chapter of Sufism in India.


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