Lal Shahbaz Qalandar

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Shah Hussain/Usman Marwandi
Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.jpg
Religion Islam
Other names Lal Shahbaz Qalandar
Born 1143-44
Marand, Persia
Died 19 February 1274(1274-02-19) (aged 174–175)
Sehwan, Sindh (modern-day Pakistan)
Parents Ibrahim Kabiruddin (father)
Senior posting
Based in Sehwan
Period in office 12th/13th century
Predecessor Baha-ud-din Zakariya

Shah Hussain Marwandi or Shah Usman Marwandi[1] (1143-44 to1333-34), popularly known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (Sindhi: لعل شھباز قلندر‎), was a Sufi philosopher-poet of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was called Lal ("ruby-colored") after his usual red attire and Shahbaz to denote a noble and divine spirit and Qalandar as he was a wandering holy man.[citation needed]


Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, son of Ibrahim Kabeeruddin,[2] was born in Marand. His ancestors had migrated from Baghdad and settled in Mashhad, before moving again to Marwand.[citation needed] He lived when the Ghaznavid and Ghurids ruled in the Indus region.[3] A contemporary of Rumi, he travelled around the Muslim world and settled in Sehwan where he was eventually buried.[4] There is evidence[citation needed] 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 and died in the year 1300 at the age of 151[citation needed]. In Multan he met[according to whom?] Baha-ud-din Zakariya of the Suhrwardiyya, 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"). According to some historians[according to whom?] the four visited various parts[where?] of Sindh, Punjab (in present-day Pakistan) and southern part of India.[citation needed]. Shahbaz became a profound scholar of religions, fluent in many languages including Pashto, Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Sindhi and Sanskrit.[citation needed]

Following his death, Hindus within Sindh began to identify Lal Shahbaz Qalandar as an incarnation of their patron deity, Jhulelal. This connection was emphasized by the popular spiritual song Dama Dam Mast Qalandar which referred to him by the name Jhulelal. Over time, the Jhulelal has become a nickname for him, among both Hindu and Muslim Sindhis.


Interior of the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan

The shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar was built in 1356 and decorated with Sindhi 'kashi-tiles', mirror-work and a gold-plated door donated by the Shah of Iran, Reza Shah Pahlavi and installed by the late Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.[5] 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 copies of 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[citation needed].

Mela / Urs (Annual Fair)[edit]

Lal Shahbaz's annual Urs (death anniversary celebration), held on the 18 Sha'aban – the eighth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, brings more than half a million pilgrims from all over Pakistan. On each morning of the three-day feast the narrow lanes of Sehwan are packed with pilgrims, fakirs and devotees making their way to the shrine to commune with the saint, offer tributes and ask for their wishes. (Sao Sumar) singing from 6am till 8am the next day. They invite bands of folk-singers (mandali) from different regions each year.

The 2017 terrorist attack[edit]

On 16 February 2017, the Islamic State's Khorasan faction claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on the shrine which resulted in the deaths of 88 people.[6] 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 terrorists.[7] The shrine's dhamaal, or meditative dancing ceremony, was resumed the very next evening following the attack.[8]

In poetry and prose[edit]

A qawwali sung by many Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian singers and musicians like Noor Jehan, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen, Sabri Brothers, Runa Laila, Wadali brothers, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Reshman, Mika Singh and Qurat-ul-Ain Balouch. "Lal Meri Pat Rakhiyo ustad Fareed Ayaz and Abu Mohammad..."(See Dama Dam Mast Qalandar). This poem was initially written by Amir Khusrow, then further modified by Baba Bulleh shah. Lal Shabaz Qalandar has also been referred to as "Jhulelal".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sarah Ansari (1992) Sufi Saints and State Power: The Pirs of Sindh, 1843–1947. Vanguard Books
  2. ^ "DAWN - Features; 05 October, 2004". DAWN.COM. 2004-10-05. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  3. ^ N B G Qazi (1971) Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Uthman Marwandi. RCD Cultural Institute.
  4. ^ M Inam (1978) Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar of Sehwan Sharif. Karachi.
  5. ^ N M Mathyani (2002) Lal Shahbaz Qalandar: A great saint.
  6. ^ "Sehwan bombing toll reaches 88, over 250 injured". The News. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  7. ^ "37 terrorists killed in security crackdown after Sehwan bombing". The News. 17 February 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2017. At 3.30 am the shrine´s caretaker stood among the carnage and defiantly rang its bell, a daily ritual that he vowed to continue, telling AFP he will "not bow down to terrorists". 
  8. ^ "Pakistan's Sufis defiant after Islamic State attack on shrine kills 83". Reuters. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 

External links[edit]