Suhrawardi Saints Of Shikarpur

Suhrawardi Saints Of Shikarpur
Shikarpur district is home to many Sufi shrines. One such shrine belongs to Mian Muhammad Jami. Over three dozen books are written on Shikarpur, but hardly one or two mention Mian Muhammad Jami, a nineteenth-century Suhrawardi saint. The shrine complex of Mian Muhammad Jami Indhar is located at Jami-Ja-Quba village, about 3 km east of Rustam town in Lakhi Ghulam Shah taluka in Shikarpur district. Like many other shrine complexes of Sindh, this one has also escaped the attention of scholars. Although there is a piece of scattered information in a few articles and books on the saint but there should be a monograph on Mian Muhammad Jami's teachings, his role, and importance in spreading Suhrawardi silsila in Shikarpur, Ghokti, Rahim Yar Khan, and other regions in Sindh.

A wooden door in the mosque of Mian Muhammad Jami

One finds the earliest references to Mian Muhammad Jami in the works of Moulana Muhammad Qasim of Garhi Yasin (d. 1931), Mufti Abdul Wahab Chachar, and Dr. Memon Abdul Majeed Sindhi. Dr. Memon Abdul Majeed Sindhi, a towering figure in Sindhi literature and author of many books, wrote a scholarly paper that briefly mentioned Mian Muhammad Jami in his article Sindh Ja Suhrawardi Buzrag which was published in the quarterly Mehran 1984, Vol. 33. No. 4. He reproduced the same information on Mian Muhammad Jami, his father and their mentor Shaikh Muhammad Nawab Musa Qureshi in book Pakistan Mein Sufiyana Tehreekain which was first published in 1992 by Sang-e-Meel. While discussing other Suhrawardi saints of Sindh, he stated that Mian Muhammad Jami was an eminent saint from the Indhar tribe whose spiritual genealogy goes back to Shaikh Muhammad Musa Nawab Suhrawardi.

There are many versions of the story of the conversion of the Indhar tribe by Shaikh Muhammad Musa Nawab which can be read in Tarikh Qabela Indhar by Muhammad Hasan Indhar Adrani.  One can also discuss the origin and conversion of the tribe with the Indhar scholars. I had telephonic interviews with Mufti Jamil Ahmed Indhar,  who knows the history of the saints, Sufis, and scholars from his tribe. He shared some information from his unpublished work titled: Tazkira Hazrat Mian Muhammad Jami. I also had a telephonic conversation with Moulana Shamsuddin Indhar of Ghotki, who is an authority on the Indhar tribe, its origin, and eminent Sufis saints and scholars. The Indhar tribe inhabits Bhong, Rajanpur, Sadiqabad, Liaqatpur, Rahimyar Khan, Bahawalnagar, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Jhang and Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab. In Sindh, the Indhar tribe live in Ghotki, Sukkur and Shikarpur.

Shaikh Muhammad Musa Nawab, who converted the Indhar tribe, was born in Kot Karor aka Lal Esan to Sultan Ahmed Ghaus Qureshi in 584AH / 1188 AD. He was a deputy and cousin of Shaikh Bahauddin Zakariya. Like his other deputies, Shaikh Muhammad Musa Nawab also played an instrumental role in spreading Suhrawardi silsila in Sindh and Punjab. Through his teachings, many tribes embraced Islam. He died in 1269 and was buried in Sanjarpur in Sadiqabad. He did not get married. According to Dr. Memon Abdul Majeed Sindh (1984), after his death, his nephew Pir Muhammad Ismail (d. 1312) son of Makhdoom Rawal Darya (d.1259), became the first Gadi Nashin of his dargah.

Fretted panel on wooden canopy over the grave of Mian Muhammad Jami

The Indhar tribe produced many eminent scholars and Sufis who spread the message of Islam in every nook and corner of Punjab and Sindh. They built mosques, khanqahs, and madrassahs to teach theology and mysticism. Many of their disciples and deputies carried out their missionary work. Bhong Mosque, a fabulous piece of Islamic architecture, was also built by an Indhar noble.

A few villages and towns in Sindh and Punjab host the shrines of Indhar saints who trace back their spiritual genealogy back to Shaikh Muhammad Musa Nawab. In Sindh, two of the most famous shrine complexes of Indhar Suhrawardi saints are Mian Muhammad Mustaqeem alias Baggo Sher in Pano Aqil and Jami-Ja-Quba in Shikarpur.

Painted wooden ceiling of canopy over graves of Ghulam Nabi and Mian Shamsuddin

The shrine of Mian Muhammad Mustaqeem alias Baggo Sher son of Mian Muhammad Hussain Shaheed is located at Cheechro village in Pano Aqil taluka in Sukkur district. He was an eminent Suhrawardi saint who converted many people to Islam. He had two wives. From his first wife he had two sons Mian Muhammad Jami and Mian Phul Muhammad and from his second three sons- Mian Mohkamuddin, Mian Sadruddin, and Mian Amanullah. Mian Muhammad Jami after whom the Qubo Jami or Jami Quba/ Jami-Ja-Quba is named was the eminent Suhrawardi saint. His father Mian Muhammad Mustaqeem and grandfather Mian Muhammad Hussain Shaheed were also celebrated Suharwardi saints.

Mian Muhammad Jami established his madrassah in his village, where many people became his disciples. He used to spend most of his time at the shrine of his spiritual mentor Shaikh Muhammad Musa Nawab. He was the caretaker of the shrine of Shaikh Muhammad Musa Nawab. He started langar khana at the shrine of his mentor which is still continued by his descendants. Dr. Memon Abdul Majeed Sindhi (1984) writes in Sindh Ja Suhrwardi Buzrag (Mehran Vol.33, No), that Mian Muhammad Jami took the masons and craftsmen from Sindh and built the tomb of Shaikh Muhammad Musa Nawab.

Persian poetry by Muhammad Musa on wooden door of Mian Muhammad Jami's tomb

Three most eminent khalifas of Mian Muhammad Jami were Khwaja Fateh Muhammad of Jalalpur Pirwala, his brother Mian Mohkamuddin and Moulana Muhammad Ibrahim Bhayo. The shrine of Moulana Muhammad Ibrahim is located at Sarhad village in the Ghotki district. Moulana Muhammad Ibrahim first studied in the madrassah of Makhdoom Abdul Khaliq Khuhravi (d.1869) son of Makhdoom Muhammad III (d.1817). Later he became the khalifa (deputy) of Mian Muhammad Jami. He died in 1302 AH /1885 AD and was buried in Sarhad village in Ghokti district. In 1303 AH / 1886 AD, Sarhad village was inundated by the Indus and his mortal remains were shifted from Purna (old) Sarhad to Nao (New) Sarhad. His shrine is the most popular which is located 3 km south of Sarhad Railway Station.

Mian Mohkamuddin Serani was an outstanding khalifa of Mian Muhammad Jami who spread his teachings in both Sindh and Punjab. After the death of his brother Mian Muhammad Jami, he managed the langar Khana and shrine of  Shaikh Muhammad Musa Nawab.  Mian Mohkamuddin Serani had one son Mian Muhammad Ali and who had three sons: Mian Fatehuddin, Mian Mohkamuddin Sani and Mian Shahabuddin.

Graves of Mian Muhammad Jami and his family under wooden canopy

Despite his teaching, Mian Muhammad Jami also spared his time to help ordinary people. There are a few examples from which one learns that he even went out of Sindh to help solve the issues of a few people. From Tazkira Mashaikh Katbar Sharif (translated by Asif Mahmud Qadri in 2007) which is the translation of Umdatul Asar Fi Tazkira Ahhiyar Al- Katbar) by Moulana Muhammad Qasim Garhi Yasini (d.1931) that Mian Muhammad Jami went along with disciples to the Khanqah of Mian Muhammad Kamil (d. 1824) to Katbar Sharif for resolving an issue of a certain person. Katbar Sharif was a thriving centre of Qadiri Sufis in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the Sibi district of Balochistan. Mian Muhammad Kamil Ghoto was a khalifa of Mian Noor Ahmed son of Mian Muhammad Sadique. On the instructions of his mentor Mian Noor Ahmed, he migrated from Ghotki to preach in the Katbar region in the Sibi district. Mian Muhammad Kamil had three sons- Mian Muhammad Jam (d.1844), Mian Muhammad Hayat (d.1839) and Mian Muhammad Hasan (d.1858).

Inscription on the interior wall of Mian Muhammad Jami's tomb

Mian Muhammad Jami was warmly welcomed by Mian Muhammad Kamil to his Khanqah and asked his grandsons-Mian Taj Muhammad (d.1893) son of Mian Muhammad Hasan, Mian Muhammad Akram (d.1842) son of Mian Muhammad Hayat, and  Mian Ghulam Hyder (d.1883) son of Mian Muhammad Hasan to accompany Mian Muhammad Jami to Karak to solve the issue of a person for whom he had approached him. A person whom Mian Muhammad Jami was helping, was not his disciple. He had fled from Karak to take refuse to Jami-Ja-Quba village in Shikarpur. As a Sufi and scholar, Mian Muhammad Jami was willing to help everyone. That person had committed certain wrongdoing in his village and requested Mian Muhammad Jami to help him to return to his village which he accepted.  

Mian Muhammad Jami died as per an inscription on his tomb in AH 1284/1868 AD and was buried in a village which came to be called after his name Qubo Jami and now is locally called Jami-Ja-Quba or Jami Quba (the tombs of Jami).  Dr. Abdul Waheed Indhar (2008) writes in Sukkur: Tarikh wa Tamdan that many people studied in the madrassah of Qabo Jami and later became eminent religious scholars. Some of the eminent scholars who studied in Qubo Jami include Moulana Muhammad Ibrahim Bhayo, Moulana Sher Muhammad Khizrani, Moulvi Abdul Hakim Mehrani, Moulvi Ali Bakhsh, and Moulana Hamadullah Halejvi (d.1962), etc.

According to Moulana Shamsuddin Indhar the son of Ghulam Nabi Indhar, who was the great-grandson of Mian Muhammad Jami, Mian Muhammad Jami started the construction of his tomb and mosque during his lifetime which was later completed by his brother and deputy Mian Mohkamddin Serani in 1294 AH / 1877 AD that is also attested by Persian inscription on the interior wall of the tomb.

Mian Muhammad Jami had two sons Mian Abdul Qadir and Mian Shamsuddin. Both were also celebrated saints and scholars who continued to teach in the madrassah at Jami-Ja-Quba and spread Suhrawardi Silsilsa. The main doorway, which is engraved with the poetry of Muhammad Musa son of Faqir Amanullah, leads to the interior of the tomb. Muhammad Musa was the nephew of Mian Muhammad Jami. The door is engraved with Persian poetry of Muhammad Musa son of Mian Amanullah. Muhammad Musa was a celebrated Hakim and poet. He composed poetry in Persian. He and his son Mian Muhammad Baqa both wrote books on the subject of Hikmat.

Above the door is a tile panel that shows a verse from the Holy Quran and the date of the death of Mian Muhammad Jami. During the renovation of the tomb, the sequence of the tiles was rearranged thus making the reading difficult.

Shrine complex of Mian Muhammad Jami

There is a splendid wooden canopy over the grave of Mian Muhammad Jami, as well as that of his brother, son, and grandson. Geometric and floral designs are found on the wooden canopy over the grave of Mian Muhammad Jami. One cannot see such spectacular engravings and painted wooden ceilings in any other shrine complex in Shikarpur. Fretted panels and arches are superbly carved, which again reflect the skill and mastery of Shikarpuri craftsmen.

As one enters the tomb of Mian Muhammad Jami, one notices a row of four graves under the wooden canopy. The first grave in the row belongs to Mian Ghulam Nabi (d.1971) son of Mian Yar Muhammad, grandson of Mian Shamsuddin, and great-grandson of Mian Muhammad Jami.  The second grave is of Mian Shamsuddin son of Mian Muhammad Jami. The third grave is of Mian Muhammad Jami after whom the tomb is named and the fourth belongs to his brother and khalifa (deputy) Mian Mohkamuddin Serani.

To the north of the canopy of Mian Muhammad Jami is the grave of Mian Jamaluddin son of Mian Abu Bakr. To the north is located the grave of Mian Noor Muhammad who was the son of Mian Abdul Qadir (d.1932), the eldest son of Mian Muhammad Jami.   To the south of the canopy is the row of four graves which belong to Mian Abdul Qadir son of Mian Muhammad Jami and his brothers Mian Sadruddin, Mian Muhammad Phul, and Faqir Amanullah respectively.

Adjacent to the mausoleum of Mian Muhammad Jami is the tomb of Mian Fatehuddin, who was the son of Mian Muhammad Ali and grandson of Mian Mohkamuddin Serani. Mian Fatehuddin was also an eminent scholar.  He also used to teach in the madrassah of Jami-Ja-Quba where many religious scholars studied and later established madrassahs in their respective areas. He died in 1958 and was buried near the tomb of Mian Muhammad Jami. An imposing tomb was erected on his grave. The interior of the tomb is decorated with floral and Persian poetry. Apart from the grave of Mian Fatehuddin, the tomb also houses the graves of Mian Shah Dino, Mian Abu Bakr, and Mian Mewal. It is believed that Mian Abu Bakr wrote a manuscript on Mian Muhammad Jami.

Doorway to the tomb of Mian Muhammad Jami

To the south of the tomb of Mian Muhammad Jami is located an imposing mosque that is noted for exquisite woodwork. The mosque is built in a rectangular plan. The main chamber of the mosque which is spanned by a hemispherical dome is approached through a verandah. The painted wooden ceiling of the mosque verandah is one of the most spectacular in the entire Shikarpur district. Similar marvelously carved three doors, which lead to the main chamber of the mosque, also show the mastery of Shikarpuri artists to execute designs and motifs which created their identity in the community of the artists not only in Sindh but also in Punjab. The mihrab in the mosque is decorated with ceramic tiles. It is believed that the tilework was commissioned by Rais Ghazi Khan Indhar, the builder of Bhong Mosque in Sadiqabad tehsil in Rahim Yar Khan district. The main portal of the shrine complex of Mian Muhammad Jami is decorated with ceramic tiles which represent floral and Quranic verses. An inscription on the outer wall of the shrine complex bears the date of renovation on 9 Zul Hijjah 1353 AH/ 14 March 1935 AD.

The tomb of Mian Muhammad Hussain Shaheed, the grandfather of Mian Muhammad Jami, is also located in Jami-Ja-Quba village. The necropolis of Mian Muhammad Jami contains the graves of several scholars and saints from the Indhar tribe.

Today, the shrine complex of Mian Muhammad Jami is managed by the descendants of Mian Mohkamuddin Serani, the brother of Mian Muhammad Jami where the descendants of Mian Muhammad Jami now live in Ghotki.

The author is an anthropologist. He tweets at: @Kalhorozulfiqar