Sultan Bahu (RA)-Short Biography

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Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) |Sultan-al-Faqr, Sultan-al-Arifin| (1628_ 1691)

Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) is one of the most renowned Sufi saints of the later Mughal period in the history of Indo-Pakistan sub-continent. He is often called Sultan al-Arifin (the Sultan of gnostics) in the Sufi circles. His ancestors belonging to …a tribe of Alvids called Awan and coming from Arabia via Hirat (Afghanistan) had settled in the Soon Sakesar Valley of Khushab District in Punjab. His father, Hazrat Sultan Bazid Muhammad, had served in the army of the Emperor Shah Jahan as a high ranking officer and so in recognition to his services had been awarded a jagir in the Shorkot area. The family migrated to the place and settled at Qalai Shorkot, a settlement at the bank of River Chenab (now in District Jhang, Punjab) Hazrat Sultan Bahu was born there, probably in the 1628 A.D. His mother Mai Rasti (RA) saw a vision of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) that soon she will be blessed with a child with inherent spiritual qualities whose light of Faqr will benefit many seekers till the end of time. She was instructed to name the child `Ba Hu’ – meaning – `With Allah’. This name, most certainly suited this holy personality, for he was always drowned in the Love of Allah. Hazrat Sultan Bahu’s (RA) name is incomparable and has no parallel. His very name reflects his lofty spiritual station, pure qualities and attributes. Thus was given the name Hazrat Sultan Muhammad Bahu (RA).

The shrine of Hazrat Sultan Bazid Muhammad (RA) and Mai Rasti (RA) both being Wali’s (Allahs’ friend)of their time is in Shorkot . It is said that Hazrat Sultan Bahu has mentioned that it is a must to visit the shrine of his parents before visiting Darbar (Shrine) Sultan Bahu (RA). It is one of the miracles (karamats) of Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) that even in early childhood, it was perceived by all those around him that a strange light shone upon his face which compelled people of other faiths to utter Kalima Tayyiba (There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad (P.B.U.H) is His messenger) in his presence. His father died when he was just a child but his mother Bibi Rasti, remained alive till he was forty years old. His mother supervised his education but it must have been irregular because he was often found under the influence of ecstatic states. It seems that his education remained informal to the end. Whatever he expressed or wrote afterwards, it was in the light of his own spiritual vision and knowledge. His mother taught him the essential Sufi exercises of dikhr (invocation of Allah and His Names) and he probably needed no more guidance after that. He was initiated to walk the path of Sufis intuitively.

His spiritual experiences and vision enriched the mind and spirit with so much knowledge that he far excelled his contemporary Sufi masters and Sufi poets in Tasawwuf (Sufism) and Suluk (all about the Sufi Way and its stations and states). In a book he remarks: Though we have little formal learning, yet the spirit has been blessed with holiness by esoteric knowledge. At the age of 30 Hadrat Sultan Bahu (RA) had an extraordinary vision in which he saw Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) through the spiritual recommendations and support of Hadrat Ali (AS) and Hadrat Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (RA). The Prophet (P.B.U.H) Himself took his bay’ah and allowed him to pass on the Sufi teachings. Hadrat Sultan Bahu (RA) often mentions in his books about his presence in the spiritual meetings presided by the Prophet (P.B.U.H) Himself. However in the treaties of the spirit he calls Hadrat Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (RA) as his Murshid (spiritual director). He is always lavish in the praise of Hadrat Shaikh and calls himelf Qadri. In his eyes the teaching of the Qadiriya order were most effective for the spiritual development of the disciples. But at the same time it is evidently clear that by the Qadiriya order he means the one that he himself represented. HE NAMES IT “SARVARI QADRI”.

He died in 1691 A.D. at Shorkot where he was buried close to the river bank. His body however had to be transferred twice to other nearby places due to the floods. Now he lays buried under a beautiful tomb called Darbar Hazrat Sultan Bahu (District Jhang, Punjab). He wrote many books, ghazals and poems in Persian as well as Abiyat in Punjabi. His Punjabi poetry contains spiritual fervor and passionate expression of the exalted state of Divine Love. One is transported to the spiritual dominion while one listens to his Dohas in a melodious voice of the singers. About thirty epistles, treatises and books are still available. Almost all of his works have been written under inspiration in a style peculiar to him. Most often he uses “scatter method” diffusing Sufi doctrine and the methods of spiritual realization in his writings. He was the greatest teacher and propagator of Faqr (spiritual poverty) which is the shining guiding star in his teachings. He may be considered one of the great Revealers in the history of Sufism.
“I made the sharia (Islamic Law) my guide, I got the knowledge of reality from Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H).”


Sultan-al-Faqr: (King/Badshah of Sufism), Faqr (Sufism/Tasawwuf) “spiritual poverty” (Those who willingly choose to leave all the desires and temptations of this world to attain Allah, to be one with Him).

Sultan-al-Arifin ( King/Badshah of Gnostic’s): Arif is the one who knows the secret of Allah’s Irfan (knowledge/wisdom) and Tawhid (Oneness of Allah).

Abyat: A Bait (Plural of Abyat) as a genre of the Punjabi Poetry is a four-lined poem different from the Urdu and Persian quatrains. Its form has a very vast scope for the expression of various subjects and topics ranging from the adoration of God, prophets and saints or the feeling of love |divine and human| to the moral, philosophical or mystical reflections and even the portrayal of some distinctive episodes of tales and legends. Basically the Abyat generally called Dohras are lyrical poems to be sung by the bards, singers, qawals and artists in public or in private. Whenever these are collected in a volume, they are arranged in a peculiar way. The poets themselves or the compilers take up the Abyat beginning with each letters of Arabic alphabet from Alif (a) to ya (last letter) and set them in an order according to this sequence calling such collection Si-harfi. Hazrat Sultan Bahus’ (RA) Abyat called Siharfi, as such have been very popular among the people for their melodious quality as well as for their contents i.e. Sufi wisdom.


|Abyat -e- Bahu Says Bahu|Translation with an Introduction & notes by Prof. Syed Ahmed Saeed Hamadani |Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) Life and Work| Prof. Syed Ahmed Saeed Hamadani |Divani Bahu|

Foreword by Prof. Dr. Annemarie Schimmel translated with an introduction and notes by Prof. Syed Ahmad Saeed Hamadani |RUHI (Of the Spirit)|

Foreword by Professor Dr. Annemarie Schimmel translated by Prof. Syed Ahmad Saeed Hamadani Research.

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