Shah e Alam
|Shah e Alam|
|Religion||Islam, specifically the Chisti order of Sufism|
Period in office
|Late 13th century and early 14th century|
The dargah of Shah Alam in the city of Ahmedabad is among the most famous and beautiful dargahs in Gujarat. Sayyid Sirajuddin Muhammad, the son and successor of Burhanuddin Qutub e Alam, came to be called by the title of Shah Alam, king of the world.
Shaykh Burhanuddin was the grandson of the celebrated Sayyid Jalauddin Hussain Bukhari of Uch, also known as Makhdoom Jehaniya Jehan Gasht. He had kept in touch with both the Delhi Sultans and the all the religious and spiritual leaders of India of his time. He arrived in Gujarat during the beginning of the fifteenth century, settling on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.
Following the Suharwardi tradition, the family established close contact with the local rulers and played an active role in the social and political life of the city. The Sultans of Gujarat became deeply devoted to Qutub -e -Alam and Shah Alam, ascribing their victories to their blessings. The Sufis infused the local people with a spirit of religiosity and homogeneity.
Shah Alam, the eleventh among twelve sons, assisted his father, Qutub-e-Alam in playing host to many men of spiritual eminence. A dutiful son, he is said to have approached his father during one of the latter’s spiritual states and implored that his heart be filled with mystic knowledge. An interesting miracle happened one day; while bathing in a water body, his feet hit upon something. The Shaykh remarked that he didn’t know whether the object was stone, iron or wood. Miraculously, the object turned into a mixture of the three materials and became a venerated relic.
Shah Alam was related to the royal houses of Sindh and Gujarat through marriage to Bibi Marqi, the second daughter of Jam Sahab of Sindh. He taught people to trust in God and spend time in reflecting on His glory.
Many stories recount how the young Shah Alam yearned for his heart to be engulfed with Divine love. He spent six days a week in solitary meditation, remaining inaccessible even to the rulers. He received visitors only on Fridays, when open discussions were held and anyone could seek his guidance. An account of the Friday gatherings was compiled in a seven volume manual titled, 'Kunuz-e-Muhammadi’ by Shaykh Farid bin Daulat Shah Jilwani. Unfortunately, the book is not traceable today.
Under the Chishti influence, Shah Alam became a lover of music and held qawaalis regularly. His khanqah was at Rasulabad between the outskirts of the city and his father’s khanqah at Vatwa. Here, Shah Alam trained innumerable disciples, wrote manuals, anthologies of prayers, and met visitors. He advised people not to waste time, indulge in wasteful or hurtful talk, and to clear the heart of all malice. He encouraged devotees to spend most of their time in remembrance of God.
Many of these accounts were compiled but have not survived, and much of Shah Alam’s valuable library containing rare manuscripts is lost. The Sufi died on 20 Jumada al akhira 880 Hijri/1475 AD.
A weeklong festivity marks the Urs celebrations, which include a mushaira, poetic symposium, and milad, celebratory tributes to Prophet Muhammad. On the last day there is an exclusive event for women called, ‘Bibi ka Mela’, so they can spend time at the dargah without being pushed around by the large number of men in the compound.
A large number of devotees continue to visit his dargah in Gujarat. The beautiful mausoleum was built by a noble man by the name of Abdul Latif Taj Kham Narpali in 1532 AD. Asaf Jah, Shahjehans’s trusted aide and the brother of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, built the façade of the mosque in the courtyard.
The following is the description on the existing dargah.
The main part of this Dargah surrounded by large enclosure walls, consists of two mausoleums and a majestic mosque. The entrance to the site is a trophy construction with an arch-shaped gate and a line of arch-shaped windows on the second tire. In this large site with a pond, there are various buildings in different sizes surrounding the mausoleum. There is a group of tomb stones, suggesting the religious authority of this saint and the strong influence he had on people. From the historical Persian inscription hung at the entrance to the tomb, it can be assumed that the saint died in 880AH (1475). This inscription also mentions that his tomb was constructed in 888AH (1483), and the name of a noble who constructed the tomb is written. As Dr. Rajan stated, there remain various buildings built between 1475 and 1575 in the Dargah of Shah Alam. Among all, two mausoleums and Jama'at Khana, which will be introduced below, are the main buildings.
The tomb of the Sayyid Shah Alam is situated roughly in the center of the east end of this dargah. It is a majestic building on a square plan with a 12-pillared mausoleum with a high dome in the centre of the roof, surrounded by double corridors with 24 small domes on top. It has arch-shaped entrance on all sides. The main entrance on the west having a small dome projects out from the wall. On each wall of the mausoleum, there is an entrance in the center. On either side of the entrance, there are three arch-shaped windows, over which an arch-shaped part covered by Jali Screen is formed. It helps giving dignity to this mausoleum. When I visited the site, all domes on the roof was painted in white, suggesting that this dargah is still venerated.
To the west-southwest facing the tomb of Shah Alam, there remains the tomb of Saiyid Makhdum 'Alam. The size, form and structure of the tomb is roughly same as the above tomb. Saiyid Makhdum 'Alam is said to have been the 6th grand son of Shah Alam. This mausoleum also has the entrance projecting out to the east. 24 small domes on the roof are very prominent in this building. Unlike the tomb of Shah Alam, the domes were not painted in white, which conversely gave me strong impression. Inside of this mausoleum is filled with tomb stones. What struck me most was the Jali screen employed on the walls of this square building. Every pattern was different. I was surprised by the variety of the patterns.
To the north of this mausoleum, there is a mosque built in the west-northwest of the tomb of Shah Alam. It was constructed later in history. Having an open space with a pond in front of the main building, the noble structure of this construction is quite distinctive. Inside of the prayer room, having a transition with unique sculptures and patterns and mihrab forming simple circular arches, creates unique atmosphere. According to Dr. Rajan, this mosque was constructed by a person called Najabat Khan in the early 17th century and the construction was completed by a person called Saif Khan in 1620. The sculptured patterns on the surface of high and slender minarets on either side of the mosque seemed to me prominently unique. (Matsuo Ara)