Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia may be regarded as the patron Saint of Delhi. His ever-lasting message to all who look on Delhi with evil eyes “Hunooz Dilli Door Ast — Delhi is still a long way away”, can never be forgotten.
A recent publication highlights his message. Mehru Jaffer’s The Book of Nizamuddin Aulia (Penguin Viking) not only gives his life story but also has many valuable quotes from his teachings. I give a few extracts from her biography.
“One day Rabia called out to the entire village to help her search for a lost needle. After a long, futile search everywhere a neighbour wanted to know the exact spot where Rabia had lost the needle. Rabia replied that it was inside her home that she had lost the needle. “Then why are we searching for the needle outside your home?” a voice questioned. “That is what I want to know. Why do we search outside?” counter questioned Rabia.
“It is because it is dark inside the house and there is more light on the street,” added another.
“Perhaps,” was the answer.
“Then let us light up the dark inside the home. I can bring a lamp and we can look for the needle inside the house,” was one suggestion.
Rabia agreed. She said that it was a good idea to light up the darkness
inside and to look for the needle exactly where she had lost it.”
The love of Muslim mystics for music and poetry can be traced back to Muinuddin, founder of the Chishti way of life in South Asia. Muinuddin was fifty years old when he came to South Asia from the Persian lands of Samarkand and Bukhara in 1192. He made his home in Rajasthan amidst a climate of war and destruction. He won the hearts of the local people upon whom he showered endless love and whom he treated with immense tolerance. Muinuddin is still remembered as Gharib Nawaaz, or friend of the poor, all over South Asia and also for entertaining local poets, philosophers and wandering minstrels in his home in Ajmer. For Muinuddin music was prayer and the most effective expression of love. But many theologians saw the same sessions as an occasion to nurse the sensual.
“Throughout the day Nizamuddin listened to the problems of others. He listened to their woes, alleviated their worries and revived their wilting spirits.
In the morning Nizamuddin welcomed visitors on the rooftop of his house. At midday, he offered prayers in the community hall and later he retired to a private room on the upper floor. Here he continued to meet visitors till the sunset. Nizamuddin took a break from meeting visitors after dinner but only to meditate some more on the state of this world and the plight of the poor. His meditations led him to concentrate on purifying his thoughts. Just as a steel mirror, when coated with rust, loses its power of reflection, so the inward spiritual sense, which Sufis call the eye of the heart, is blind to celestial glory when neglected. It is only when the veil of darkness and sensual contamination is cleared that the eye of the heart awakens. The clearance, if it is to be done effectively must be the work of God though it demands a certain inward cooperation on the part of man.
Amir Khusro, a poet-politician, was a very close follower of Nizamuddin staying with him like his shadow. Watching Nizamuddin glow in the centre of the courtyard, encircled by trees, plants and flowers and surrounded by admirers, Khusro delighted in comparing the sight before him to the solar system, where a retinue of orbiting planets are gravitationally bound to the sun and without whose magnificence and magnanimity everything withers away to waste. Mere stardust in comparison to the parental star of the solar system that Nizamuddin was, Khusro found his love for the light of his life inspiring enough to compose countless poems. Shattering the silence with his sweet voice Khusro recited:
“I made myself so lovely // Only for love
And decked up before my lover
When I came, // Love is what I became.”
Baba Faarid Shakarganj told Nizamuddin “Nizamuddin, you will be a tree under whose shadow people will find rest.”
Lucknow-born Mehru Jaffer teaches Islam in Vienna University. She is also the author of The Book of Muhammad and The Book of Muinuddin Chishti."
II. Be a Good Forgetter
Forget the things that are left behind
Forget injuries, slights, unkind words
Be too big to be hurt
Be too great to be unkind
Be too busy to quarrel
Too wise to engage in clumsily gossip
Too strong to permit little annoyance to turn you away from life’s big road
Too clean to indulge in any kind of muck-raking.
(Courtesy: Prof RP Chaddah, Chandigarh)