Sultan Bahu

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Sultan Bahu
Shrine of Sultan Bahu
Native name سلطان باہو
Born 17 January 1630
Shorkot, Punjab (now Pakistan)
Died 1 March 1691
Jhang, Punjab
Resting place Garh Maharaja, Punjab
Education Marifat
Known for Sufism, poetry
Predecessor Syed Abdul Rehman Jilani Dehlvi
Successor Syed Mohammad Abdullah Shah Madni Jilani

Sultan Bahu (also spelled Bahoo; ca 1630–1691) was a Sufi mystic, poet and scholar active mostly in the present-day Punjab province of Pakistan. He belonged to the Sufi order known as Qadiri, and the mystic tradition he started has been known as Sarwari Qadiri.

Little is known of Bahu's life, other than a hagiography written by a descendant of his seven generations later, entitled Manaqib-i Sultani.[1] Sultan Bahu was born in Shorekot, Jhang in the current Punjab Province of Pakistan. More than forty books on Sufism are attributed to him, mostly in Persian, and largely dealing with specialised aspects of Islam and Islamic mysticism.[2] However, it is his Punjabi poetry which had popular appeal and earned him lasting fame.[1]:14 His verses are sung in many genres of Sufi music including qawwali and kafi, and tradition has established a unique style of singing his couplets.


Sultan Bahu's education began with his mother, Mai Rasti, herself a pious woman who has her own mausoleum in Shorkot. She told him to seek spiritual guidance from Hazrat Shah Habib Gilani whose shrine is found in the village of Baghdad Sharif, near Mian Channu, to this day.

Around 1668 Sultan Bahu moved to Delhi for further training under the guidance of Syed Abdul Rehman Jilani Dehlvi, a notable Sufi saint of the Qadri (or Qadiriyya) Order in the Indian Subcontinent, and thereafter returned to Punjab where he spent the rest of his life.

Literary works[edit]

The exact number of books written by Sultan Bahu is not known but it is assumed to be more than one hundred, forty of them on Sufism and Islamic mysticism alone. Most of his writings are in the Persian Language except Abyat-e-Bahoo which is written as Punjabi poetry.[3] Only The following books written by Sultan Bahu can be found today.

  • Abyat e Bahu
  • Risala e Ruhi
  • Sultan ul Waham
  • Nur ul Huda
  • Aql e Baidar
  • Mahq ul Faqr
  • Aurang e Shahi
  • Jami ul Israr
  • Taufiq e Hidiyat
  • Kalid Tauheed
  • Ain ul Faqr
  • Israr e Qadri
  • Kaleed e Jannat
  • Muhqam ul Faqr
  • Majalis un Nabi
  • Muftah ul Arifeen
  • Hujjat ul Israr
  • Kashf ul Israar
  • Mahabat ul Israr
  • Ganj ul Israr
  • Fazl ul Liqa
  • Dewaan e Bahu

Spiritual lineage[edit]

In his writings, Sultan Bahu refers to Abdul Qadir Jilani as his spiritual master, even though Jilani died long before the birth of Sultan Bahu. However, most Sufis maintain that Abdul Qadir Jilani plays a special role in the mystic world and that all orders and saints are forever indebted to him in some way either directly or indirectly.[4] While acknowledging that he is a follower of Jilani's Qadiriyya tradition, Sultan Bahu initiated an offshoot of his own which he named Sarwari Qadiri. He belonged to the Alvi Awan tribe.[5][6]

Bahu's Sarwari Qadiri tradition (or Sufi order) is similar in its overall philosophy to the Qadiri order. However, unlike many other Sufi orders, the Sarwari Qadiri tradition does not prescribe a specific dress code, ascetic practices, breathing exercises, etc., and instead focuses on mental exercise, an important one being visualisation of the word الله (Allah, God) as written on one's own heart.

According to tradition, the lineage reaches Sultan Bahu as follows:

The Sultan Bahu tradition is continued to this day through Sultan Bahu's successors.


Shrine of Sultan Bahu near Jhang, Pakistan.

The shrine of Sultan Bahu, located in Garh Maharaja, Punjab,[7] was originally built on his grave but has had to be moved twice when the Chenab River changed its course. It is a popular Sufi shrine, and the annual Urs festival commemorating his death is celebrated there with great fervour on the first Thursday of Jumada al-Thani month. People come from far off places to join the celebrations.[8]

Sultan Bahu also used to hold an annual Urs to commemorate the martyrs of Karbala from the 1st to the 10th day of the month of Muharram. This tradition continues to this day and every year, thousands of pilgrims visit the shrine during the first 10 days of Muharram.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sult̤ān Bāhū (1998). Death Before Dying: The Sufi Poems of Sultan Bahu. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-92046-0. 
  2. ^ Syed Ahmad Saeed Hamadani. Sultan Bahu Life & Work. 
  3. ^ Sultan Hamid Ali,"Manaqib-i Sultani" Malik Chanan Din Publishers (Regd) Lahore Pakistan 1956
  4. ^ S. Padam, Piara. Dohrhe Sultan Bahu. s. n. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Sadia Dehlvi. Sufism: Heart of Islam. HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 185–. ISBN 978-93-5029-448-2. 
  8. ^ Book Name: Tareekh-e-Jhang, Author:Iqbal Zuberi, Publisher: Jhang Adabi Academy, Jhang Sadar, Pakistan, First Edition, Date: 2002