Lal Shahbaz Qalandar

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Sayyid Usman Marwandi
Shrine Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Sehwan Shareef, Sindh, Pakistan.jpg

Died19 February 1274(1274-02-19) (aged 96–97)[1]
Sehwan (present-day Pakistan)
ParentsSayyid Kabiruddin (father)[2]
Other namesLal Shahbaz Qalandar
Muslim leader
Based inSehwan
Period in office12th/13th century

Hazrat Sayyid Usman Marwandi, popularly known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (لعل شھباز قلندر), was a Sufi saint and poet of present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan.[1]

Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, although from Maiwand in the Afghanistan, whose family came from Baghdad, settled in Sindh and helped many people in converting to Islam and was revered by the local Sindhi population. Lal Shahbaz Qalandar had also been reputed for performing many miracles and was seen as a very holy figure in Sindh.[3]

The 19th century spiritual Sufi Manqabat Dama Dam Mast Qalandar is dedicated to Lal Shahbaz Qalandar and is widely popular in the sub-continent.


Tomb of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, also known as 'Jhulelal Qalandar,' in Sindh, Pakistan.

He is called Lal ("ruby-colored") because of the ruby-like glow on his face/forehead and "Shahbaz" to denote a noble and divine spirit and "Qalandar" as he was a wandering spiritual man.[1]

Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is sometimes called Jhulelal (Sindhi/Urdu: جھولےلال).[4][1] The term Jhulelal means "red bridegroom". According to the Garland Encyclopedia, Lal Shabaz Qalandar was referred to as Jhulelal (red bridegroom) because he was promised marriage to a daughter of his friend, but the friend died and later his friend's son refused to allow the agreed upon marriage, which caused Lal Shabaz Qalandar grief.[5]


Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, son of Syed Kabeeruddin,[2] was born in Maiwand, today's Afghanistan. His ancestors had migrated from Baghdad, Iraq and settled in Maiwand in Afghanistan before moving to Sindh. He lived when the Ghaznavid and Ghurids ruled in the Indus region (today's Punjab, Pakistan).[6]

A contemporary of Rumi, he travelled around the Muslim world and settled in Sehwan, Sindh where he was eventually buried.[7] There is evidence of his presence in Sindh in 1196 when he met Pir Haji Ismail Panhwar of Paat and he is believed to have arrived in Sehwan around 1251. There he established a meeting house (khanqah), taught in the Fuqhai Islam Madarrsah and wrote his treatises Mizan-us-Surf, Kism-e-Doyum, Aqd and Zubdah. Lal Shahbaz lived a celibate life.[1]

In Multan, he met Baha-ud-din Zakariya of the Suhrawardiyya order, Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar of the Chishtiyya and Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari. The friendship of these four became legendary. They were known as the Chahar Yar (In Persian "the four friends").[2] According to some historians, the four friends visited various parts of Sindh and Punjab (in present-day Pakistan).[2]

This was also the time period when Ghiyas ud din Balban (reigned: 1266 – 1287) ruled India.[2]


Gateway to the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar
Interior of the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan

The shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar was built by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in 1356,[8] expanded by Mirza Jani Beg[9] and his son Mirza Ghazi Beg of Tarkhan Dynasty, but was not completed until 1639, when Nawab Dindar Khan paved the courtyard with glazed tiles.[10] The silver work on the gate, the balustrade around the tomb and the top of the dome was gifted by Mir Karam Ali Talpur of Talpur Dynasty.[10] Later on the shrine was decorated with Sindhi 'kashi-tiles', mirror-work and a gold-plated door was installed by the late Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.[citation needed] The inner sanctum is about 100 square yards with a silver-canopied grave in the middle, according to Nadeem Wagan, Cutharo silver donated by Sardar Mahboob Ali Khan Wagan (Chief Sardar of Wagan Tribe) on one side of the marble floor is a row of about 12-inch-high (300 mm) folding wooden stands, on which there is a set of copies of the Quran for devotees to read. On the other side, beside a bundle of incense, are rows of oil-lamps lighted by devotees. Thousands of devotees visit the tomb particularly every Thursday.[11][12] The shrine is considered being the chief shrine for malangs and qalandars - adherents of a distinct Sufi order inspired by the teachings of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.

Mela / Urs (Annual Fair)[edit]

Lal Shahbaz's annual Urs (death anniversary), held on the 18 Sha'aban – the eighth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, brings more than two million pilgrims from all over Pakistan and parts of India, Bangladesh. Essentially, it is a south Asian affair.[13]

The 2017 terrorist attack[edit]

On 16 February 2017, a group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on the shrine, which resulted in the deaths of 88 people.[12] The following morning, the shrine's caretaker continued the daily tradition of ringing the shrine's bell at 3:30 A.M. and defiantly vowed that he would not be intimidated by the terrorists. Pakistani government and security forces have also launched a nationwide security crackdown and have recently killed 37 terrorists.[14] The shrine's dhamaal, or meditative dancing ceremony, was resumed the very next evening following the attack.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "The Sufi in red Pakistan Today". Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e Lohar, Masood (5 October 2004). "Saint revered by people of all religions". DAWN (newspaper). Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  3. ^ Sells, Michael (1 January 1995). Early Islamic Mysticism: Sufi, Qur'an, Mi'raj, Poetic and Theological Writings (1 ed.). Paulist Press. ISBN 0809136198.
  4. ^ Kugle, Scott (5 March 2007). Sufis and Saints' Bodies: Mysticism, Corporeality, and Sacred Power in Islam. The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0807857892.
  5. ^ The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: South Asia : the Indian subcontinent, Garland Publishing, 1998, p. 760, ISBN 9780824049461
  6. ^ N B G Qazi (1971) Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Usman Marwandi. RCD Cultural Institute.
  7. ^ M Inam (1978) Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar of Sehwan Sharif. Karachi.
  8. ^ Hasan, Masudul (1965). Hand Book of Important Places in West Pakistan. Lahore: Pakistan Social Service Foundation. p. 21.
  9. ^ Balfour, Edward (1885). The Cyclopædia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia, Volume 3. B. Quaritch. p. 562.
  10. ^ a b Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Volume 68. Asia: Bishop's College Press. 1899. p. 32.
  11. ^ a b "Pakistan's Sufis defiant after Islamic State attack on shrine kills 83". Reuters News Agency. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Sehwan bombing toll reaches 88, over 250 injured". The News International (newspaper). 17 February 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  13. ^ "In all its glory, Qalandar's urs culminates in Sehwan". The Express Tribune (newspaper). 18 May 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  14. ^ "37 terrorists killed in security crackdown after Sehwan bombing". The News International (newspaper). 17 February 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2018.

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