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Hazrat Pir Shah Jewna -- a beacon of spirituality

Islamabad

May 10, 2008

Shah Jiwana City, located on the Jhang-Lalian road, 30 km north of Jhang, is a town of Jhang district in the Punjab province of Pakistan. It has the honour of being the resting place of an eminent and great Sufi saint Mehboob Alam, popularly known as Hazrat Shah Jewna. The famous saint converted many local tribes to Islam (after whom the town has been named). The shrine of Hazrat Pir Shah Jewna is situated in the south of Shah Jewna city. The area surrounding the shrine is replete with series of large, Jaal trees.

On 10 May every year, people from all over the country throng Shah Jewna to witness ÒRasm-e-ChiraghÓÑ a pure spiritual ceremony in which the descendants of Shah Jewna family hoist a burning oil-lamp in the presence of a huge crowd. The lamp-hoisting ceremony marks climax of annual celebrations held at the shrine of Hazrat Pir Shah Jewna.

During the annual Urs of the great Sufi Saint, devotees from across the country will not only offer obeisance but will also invoke Allah’s blessing to get their wishes answered. With traditional beat of drum, folk dances and multi-coloured flags, the devotees have started pouring in the town to express their devotion and reverence to the great Sufi saint.

Spread of Islam in the sub-continent is the sweet fruit of the hard labour of sufis and saints. The darbar of Hazrat Shah Jewna enjoys a prominent place in this prestigious list. The aim and ambition of all the saints of this lineage was to convey the message of Islam to the local population.

The annual celebrations at the shrine of Pir Shah Jewna are held to commemorate the services rendered by great Sufi to the mankind. Pir Shah Jewna was a source of spiritual strength for humanity. He had firm belief in the injunctions of Holy Quran and was emotionally attached to Holy Prophet (PBUH). His love for Holy Prophet (PBUH) can easily be gauged from the fact that he made Surah Muzammil the centre of his life. Muzammil is one of Hazrat

Muhammad (PBUH)Õs holy names. Researchers have failed to find another saint who attached himself so strongly to one Surah.

The great grand father of Pir Shah Jewna was Makhdoom Syed Jalaluddin Surkh Bukhari who migrated to the subcontinent from Bukhara in the reign of Salve Dynasty. Hazrat Shah Jewna is linked to Hazrat Imam Ali Naqi by 16 generations and Makhdoom Syed Jalaud Din Surkh Bukhari by eight generations. He was born in 1493 (895 A.H) in Qanuj (now a district of Uttar Pradesh in India) during Sikandar LodhiÕs reign. At the time of his birth, his father Syed Sadr-ud-din Shah Kabir was away from Qanuj and he saw a dream in which it was revealed to him that a third lamp has been lit in his house. He came back home, kissed the newborn on his forehead, and said that the kid exuded spiritualism. He named his son as Mehboob Alam who led a pious life from the time of his childhood.

Pir Shah Jewna used to recite Holy Quran ubiquitously and had imbibed the ways of living from Surah Muzammil. He continuously recited verses from the Holy Quran, daily, on his way to River Chenab from his abode. The rustics were impressed by his recitation abilities. Not only did the villagers listen to his beautiful recitation from Holy Quran but birds and animals used to encircle him during recitation. It is said that he recited Surah Muzammil a million times in the ‘bela’ of Chenab.

He always used to wear green cloak and used to offer late-night prayers. But there is one thing to be noticed in the teachings of Pir Shah Jewna - he always rejected monasticism and never preached renunciation of this world. He urged people to work hard during daytime and earn their livelihood. People used to come to him after every prayer for his blessings.

Hazrat Shah Jewna’s grandfather Syed Zain ul Abideen and father Syed Shah Kabir were noted scholars of their time. He benefited from them in the field of spiritualism. He got education in Arabic, Persian, Quran, tafsir, hadith and Islamic jurisprudence from his teacher Qazi Bahauddin. And thus became a renowned scholar. The fame of his piety and simple lifestyle spread to far-flung places and many ulema and dervishes of his time started paying visits to him. The ÔkaramaatÕ of Hazrat Shah Jewna were famous in Qanuj and nearby areas. Sick people would get well and those disturbed by the burdens of life would get relief from distress. And these were only the ordinary ÔkaramaatÕ of the pious soul.

During 1556, the son of Qanuj’s Raja was playing with his colleagues. The play turned into a scuffle and somebody stabbed Raja’s son in his back and he died of the wound. Raja was grieved and he came to Pir Shah Jewna and requested him to give life to his son. It is said that Pir Shah Jewna recited a verse of Holy Quran and placed his hand upon the body of the dead boy. By grace of God the boy opened his eyes and this miracle of Shah Jewna impressed Raja so much that he, along with thousands of other Hindus, embraced Islam.

Pir Shah Jewna left Qanuj for good in 1558 and stayed at Hyderabad Deccan for a short while and then went to the shrine of Nasir-ud-din Cheragh Dehlvi. There he had a revelation that he should proceed to western part of the subcontinent. In this journey he first arrived at Lahore and then left on foot for Pidhrar - an acid area without any vegetation at that time. During his stay over there he prayed to God for water and soon springs of water started coming out of rocky landscape. These springs of water changed whole landscape of that area. A proof of Shah JewnaÕs blessings also exists even today in that area. This well is known as ÒPeersÓ well and people used the water of this to cure their physical and spiritual ailments.

He left for Jhang after brief stopover at Pidhrar. His great grand father Syed JaIaluddin Bukhari inhabited the city of Jhang. Sial tribe of Jhang was follower of Shah JewnaÕs grandfather Makhdoom Jalaluddin. ÒHeerÓ daughter of Choochak Sial was disciple of Syed Ahmed Kabir, grandfather of Shah Jewna. In 1559, Shah Jewna landed in a village 30 km away from Jhang, and made this place a centre of his missionary activities. In no time this village developed into a town and later came to be known as ÒShah JewnaÓ. At that time ÒMuralÓ Rajputs ruled Shah Jewna and they along with many other tribes like Bharwanas, Jappas, Khokhars, Chadhars, Bhattis, Baloch, Rajokas entered the fold of Islam.

Shah JewnaÕs son Habib, was also a saint and earned the reputation as Sakhi (Generous). He used to arrange meals at his house twice a day for the poor. The historians told that once a local chieftain, out of sheer jealously, asked the rich of his area not to contribute to Langar (daily meal) of Sakhi Habib. Habib learnt of this and said that the quantity of Langar be increased and recited some verses from Holy Quran. A few days later chieftain inquired about the Langar and to his disappointment he was told that it is now prepared in a quantity double the original one. He felt ashamed and said it is divine Langar (meal) and it cannot be stopped.

Many miracles are also related to Shah Jewna’s grandson Ladhan Imam, grandson of Shah Jewna who was also a saint by birth. One day he was playing outside the walled city when suddenly the invaders attacked the city. He jumped on to a wall and started reciting verses of Holy Quran. It is a popular belief that a serpent came out of the wall and he used it as a whip. He ordered the wall to run and it ran until he reached to safety. The relics of that wall can be seen even today and are known as ÒPeer GhoraÓ (horse of saint). Many Sufis were born to this family of Shah Jewna after Ladhan Imam. Many of them rose to the ranks of Ghaus, Qutab and Abdal.

Hazrat Shah Jewna had seen the rule of Sikandar Lodhi, Ibrahim Lodhi, Zahir ud Din Babar, Nasir ud Din Humayun, Sher Shah Suri and Jala ud Din Akbar and remained busy in spreading the message of Islam. He died in 1569 (971 A.H.) during the reign of Akbar. At that time the ruler of Delhi was Syed Abdul Wahab Bukhari. Similarly Shaikh Farid ud Din Bukhari was very close to the Emperor. Both these personalities were close relations of Hazrat Shah Jewna. They and several other prominent nobles of Delhi darbar came to Shah Jewna on his death. A delegation representing Emperor Akbar also accompanied them as a token of respect for the deceased.

About 450 years have passed since his death. But even today people come to his shrine and get blessed with ÔfaizÕ. Pilgrims come to pay homage and get the wealth of inner peace in return. Their prayers are answered. In this age of moral degradation, the message from Hazrat Shah Jewna is still one of piety, humility and morality.

Grandfather of Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat - current spiritual-heir to darbar - Makhdoom Khizar Hayat was also a renowned Sufi while his father Makhdoom Syed Mehmood Hayat Muhammad Ghous took active part in Pakistan Movement. People come to the shrine of Shah Jewna for the fulfilment of their dreams, to get cure of their diseases and some for spiritual insight only.

The spiritual-heir to shrine is said to be blessed with power to cure. Current spiritual-heir, Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat when prays for people also urges them to offer their prayers regularly.

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