Saturday, May 9, 2009

Lal Shahbaz Qalandar

Lal Shahbaz Qalandar's real name was Muhammad Uthman, who was born in 1143 in Marand, near Tabraiz, Iran. He was the direct descendent of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq.

Lal Shahbaz after completing his education left for Baghdad where he met Baba Ibrahim Karbalai and became his disciple. Baba Ibrahim was the spiritual follower of Jamal Mujjarrad (the celibate).

Lal Shahbaz received khilafat (spiritual sainthood) and other sacred gifts including a stone, which was attributed to Imam Zainul Abideen, from his Shaykh Baba Ibrahim. It is said to be the same stone that hangs on his tomb in Sehwan. Following instructions from his Shaykh, Lal Shahbaz left Baghdad for Sindh via Balkh and Khurasan. In Balkh, the childless King had asked him to pray for him so that he could have an heir to his throne. Lal Shahbaz did pray for him for the birth of his Crown prince but later told him that his would be son would actually be working for him (Lal Shahbaz). That would be Crown prince is known in history as Abu Ben Adham (Abu Ibrahim Ben Adham) who after ruling the Balkh State for some years, abdicated his throne to become a dervish.

In Khurasan Lal Shabaz is said to have meditated continuously at the tomb of Imam Ali Rida (a.k.a. Ali Reza) for forty days and nights. During his journey, he also stayed at the Panjgur valley of Makran, Baluchistan. The place later became known as Dasht-e-Shahbaz, where many Baluch tribesmen became his followers. Mughal Emperor Babur has also mentioned the place in his autobiography Tuzuk-e-Baburi.

On his way from Baluchistan to Sindh, he also stayed in present day Karachi's Manghopir area for muraqba (meditation), and it is said that Manghopir's natural warm fountain is a miracle of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. That warm fountain started to flow from beneath the hill, on which Lal Shahbaz sat for muraqba (meditation). After passing hundreds of years, that warm fountain is still flowing continuously and is said to have miraculous healing power especially for asthma patients.

In Multan, Lal Shahbaz met Bahauddin Zachariah Multani of the Suhurwardiya order, Baba Farid Ganjshakar of Chishtiya order, and Makhdoom Jahanian Surkh Bukhari. The attachment was so cordial and spiritual that their friendship became legendary. They were known as Chahar Yar (Farsi= four friends). According to some historians, the four friends visited various parts of Sindh and Punjab, in present day Pakistan.

Almost all the saints of Sindh including Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Makhdoom Bilawal, Sachal Sarmast and Qadir Bukhsh Bedal were devout followers of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.

The saint died in 1252 in Sehwan.

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