Shah Yaqeeq Bukhari: The Saint of the Kakralo

Shah Yaqeeq Bukhari: The Saint of the Kakralo
There are many popular Sufi shrines in the district of Sujawal. However, the shrine of Shah Yaqeeq Bukhari is the most popular one in the district, which is under the administration of the Auqaf Department, Government of Sindh. The shrine of Shah Yaqeeq Bukhari is located about 5 km south of Chuhar Jamali town in Shah Bandar taluka. According to Hafiz Habib Sindhi, the author of several books, his real name was Shah Abdul Aziz but he became known as Shah Yaqeeq. He was called the saint of Kakralo by 18th-century writers. Kakralo was a tiny state, from 1470 to 1760, ruled by the Kehar Jams, which comprised the southern parts of the present-day districts of Sujawal and Thatta – running parallel to the Arabian Sea right from Jati to Kharo Chan. This whole territory was under the dominion of the Kehar Jams. It was annexed to the Kalhora Kingdom in 1760 by Ghulam Shah Kalhoro (r. 1757–1772).

A few booklets have been written on Shah Yaqeeq Bukhari, each one is contradictory to the other. Most of the booklets are fraught with myths and miracles of the saint without providing any authentic information on the genealogy of the saint. However, a booklet on the hagiography of Shah Yaqeeq Bukhari j by Hafiz Habib Sindhi and an article by Dr. N.A Baloch are the two most authentic sources on the history of the saint. Both the sources relied on information which was taken from a manuscript and genealogy plates, both of which were available with Haji Muhammad Dars, a caretaker of the shrine of Shah Yaqeeq Bukhari. I tried to see those metal plates which show the genealogy and history of the saint, but could not succeed, as the owner of the artifacts (genealogy plates) was not in the village when I visited the shrine. Now the relevant material on Shah Yaqeeq Bukhari is available with Ghulam Muhammad, the grandson of Haji Muhammad Dars. I enquired from Hafiz Habib Sindhi, the author of many books, about the genealogy plates. He told me that he saw the plates which had the engraved genealogy and history of Shah Yaqeeq Bukhari. Based on these genealogy plates, he also wrote a booklet on Shah Yaqeeq which is the most authentic work so far.

The earliest reference to Shah Yaqeeq was given by Shaikh Muhammad Azam bin Muhammad Shafi Thattvi (d. 1792) in Tuhfat ul-Tahirin, a manuscript that was written in 1170/1757. He also briefly mentioned Shah Yaqeeq Bokhari. He wrote that Shah Yaqeeq was an eminent mystic and was buried near the sea in the Kakralo region.

The second reference was by Mir Ali Sher Qani Thattvi (d. 1789) in Tuhfat-al Kiram (written in 1181/1767) which also briefly mentioned him as the saint of Kakralo. According to Hafiz Habib Sindhi (2005), the author of Shah Yaqeeq Shaheed Urf Jeay Shah Bukhari, Shah Yaqeeq was born in Bukhara and traced his descent from Hazrat Ali Bukhari, the son Jalaluddin Surkh-Posh Bukhari (d.1292). The father of Shah Yaqeeq Bukhari, Shah Sharifuddin alias Shah Sharif was known for his piety. Hafiz Habib Sindhi believes that Shah Sharif Bukhari was born in Bukhara whereas Dr. N. A. Baloch writes in an article on Shah Yaqeeq in his Rehan Hiran Kha’n (2004) Vol. 6 that he was born in Uch in 773/1371 where he died in 837/1434. Shah Sharif Bukhari has seven sons – Syed Abdullah Shah Bukhari alias Tilan Shah, Syed Moosa Shah Bukhari, Syed Muhammad Ismail Shah Bukhari, Syed Suleiman Shah Bukhari, Shah Muhammad Murad Shah Bukhari, Syed Ali Bukhari alias Khathoorio Baba, and Shah Yaqeeq. Shah Yaqeeq was the youngest son of Shah Sharif Bukhari (d.1434). According to Dr. N.A Baloch, Shah Yaqeeq was born in 835. The source of Dr. Baloch’s information was based on a manuscript about Shah Yaqeeq, which was shown to him by a disciple of Shah Yaqeeq. It is said that Shah Yaqeeq was born a saint. At the age of seven, he traveled to Sindh. His four brothers had already migrated to Sindh from Uch and settled in Kakralo region. Shah Yaqeeq first traveled to Thar and later at the age of seventeen visited Makli and he met some eminent mystics, prominent among the lot was Shah Murad (d.1487), an eminent Naqshbandi saint of Sindh. He was also believed to have traveled to Najaf, Karbala and other Islamic pilgrimage sites.

He was martyred at the age of 20. As legend has it, he was about to tie the wedding knot when an old woman reached his wedding ceremony beseeching him to help protect her village against the dacoits who had attacked her village and were kidnapping her son. On her appeal, Shah Yaqeeq left his wedding and rushed to her village to protect her son and village. This news already reached dacoits that a woman went to a mystic for help. They holed up in a jungle to kill Shah Yaqeeq. So, Shah Yaqeeq was en route to the woman's village, when the dacoits were waiting to kill him. Shah Yaqeeq was martyred by dacoits. This story shows how important the role of a mystic as saviour was in rural areas. Instead of getting help from any local chief or a head of other villages, she rushed to get help from a mystic, reflecting the power that they enjoyed in the socio-cultural milieu of rural areas in 15th-century Sindh.

The shrine of Shah Yaqeeq Bukhari

Shah Yaqeeq was martyred in 855/1451 and was buried in a village that came to be called after his name. Some scholars and writers tried to attempt in vain to relate him to Makhdoom Mian Usman Abbasi (1738-1806), whose shrine is located 5 km south of Chach Jahan Khan at Mian Usman-Ja-Quba village in Shah Bandar taluka. Moulvi Muhammad Ibrahim wrote a booklet on the hagiography of Shah Yaqeeq in which he tried to associate him with Makhdoom Mian Usman Abbasi. It was written that Shah Yaqeeq was a disciple of Makhdoom Mian Usman  Abbasi and was getting married to his daughter before his martyrdom. No such information is found in the most authentic manuscript Ruh al-Islam on Sufism and the family of Makhdoom Mian Usman Abbasi by Makhdoom Ahmed, the younger brother of Makhdoom Mian Usman Abbasi. Makhdoom Mian Usman Abbasi lived in the 18th century while Shah Yaqeeq in the 15th century. This was an untrue story by the author to relate Shah Yaqeeq to Makhdoom Mian Usman Abbasi.

It is also not known in which Sufi silsila he was initiated or to which Sufi order he belonged. Hafiz Habib Sindhi believes that he was a Qadiri-Naqshabandi Sufi. In fact, all his brothers were Qadiri-Naqshanbadi Sufis. All the brothers were unmarried. They spent all their lives preaching Islam in different parts of Sindh and Kutch.

The shrine of Shah Yaqeeq is most frequently visited by the people of Karachi, who have made the saint a “Ruhani surgeon” (spiritual surgeon). The Karachiites outnumber the local people at the weekends. The majority of the devotees do not know the history of the saint and call him "Ruhani Surgeon." There are two graves inside the tomb, one belongs to Shah Yaqeeq and the other to Syed Muhammad Shah alias Mahmood Shah Shirazi who was his father’s chief disciple. Shah Sharif, the father of Shah Yaqeeq, had asked his disciple Mahmood Shah Shirazi to accompany his son to Sindh. Mahmood Shah Shirazi became the friend of Shah Yaqeeq and his companion to several places in Sindh and beyond. Mahmood Shah Shirazi died in 858/1454 and was buried in the tomb of Shah Yaqeeq. According to Hafiz Habib Sindhi, the old tomb was demolished by Auqaf Department a few years ago, which was built by Ghulam Shah Kalhoro (d.1772). The tomb was later renovated by one of the disciples of Shah Yaqeeq, Moulana Hafiz Haji Hayat Muhammad Hayat Bakhsh Jatoi in the Talpur period (1783-1843). It had many Persian inscriptions. The grave of Moulana Hafiz Haji Muhammad Hayat Bakhsh Jatoi is located near the shrine of Nek Bakhat, the sister of Shah Yaqeeq. The new tomb of Shah Yaqeeq was built by Auqaf Department in 2018. Near the shrine complex is also located a mosque whose foundation was laid by the Auqaf Department in 1997 and later it was expanded with financial help by some businessmen of Karachi in 2015.

To the west of the tomb of Shah Yaqeeq is located a canopy that commemorates the visit of Haji Pir of Kutch to the shrine of Shah Yaqeeq. Moreover, according to hagiographic accounts of Shah Yaqeeq, he once visited Kutch and on the way back to Sindh Haji Pir accompanied him to Kakralo where today his bethak is built. Whether Haji Pir accompanied him or not, whether he lived before him or not, what is most important to note is that it is very common in South Asian culture to mark a place in the honour of a saint which later becomes a shrine itself. There are over a hundred such bethaks in the Pothohar region in Punjab that I have visited myself. So, this bethak of Haji Pir was made in his honour and he never visited or accompanied Shah Yaqeeq. On the southern side adjacent to the shrine of Shah Yaqeeq is his sister’s shrine whose name was Nek Bakhat. She was a pious lady who died in 855/1451.

To the south of the shrine complex of Shah Yaqeeq is located the shrine of his eldest brother Syed Abdullah Shah Bukhari alias Tilan Shah, who is known to Karachiites as Jalali Baba. The devotees of Syed Abdullah Shah Bukhari from Karachi call him Jalali Baba. His shrine is also frequented by Karachiites. Syed Abdullah Shah was also a religious person and known for his piety. He died in 856/1452. The grave of Ali Bukhari, another brother of Shah Yaqeeq, is located in his graveyard. As per information on a genealogy plate, the grave of Ali Bukhari is located east of the shrine of Shah Yaqeeq. He died in 860/1456.

Apart from Syed Abdullah Shah Bukhari, Ali Bukhari, and his sister Nek Bakhat, the shrines of Shah Yaqeeq’s two other brothers are located in Ladiyon area in Shah Bander taluka in the Sujawal district.  The shrine of Syed Moosa Shah Bukhari is located about 2 km southwest of Ladiyon near Khadiyon village. It is also a popular shrine in the area. Syed Moosa Shah Bukhari was also an eminent Sufi saint in the Kakralo who died in 857/1453 and was buried in Khadiyon village.  Syed Muhammad Ismail Bukhari, a brother of Shah Yaqeeq, is also an eminent saint in Khadiyon village. Syed Ismail Shah Bukhari died in 859/1455 and was buried in the tomb of his brother Syed Moosa Shah Bukhari in Khadiyon village.

Shah Yaqeeq and his brothers converted many people to Islam through the message of love, peace and tolerance. Today, the shrines of the Bukhari brothers are visited by many people every day. But on the weekends, Karachiites throng the shrine of Shah Yaqeeq and outnumber the locals, and mostly spend their weekends at the shrine.

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