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THE VOICE WITHIN

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  19 March 2017 12:00 AM GMT

Amir Khusraw was the most beloved disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin Awliya, the great Sufi saint. He was the only one who could enter the room of his master at all times of the day. A respected courtier, he had been in the service of several sultans.
Once, Amir Khusraw participated in a successful campaign. He wanted to return to his master and took permission from the sultan. The journey from Bengal to Delhi was long. Coming back with camels and horses loaded with gold, he halted at several inns along the way.
He was yet to reach his destition when a strange thing happened. Staying in an inn, he sensed the fragrance of his master nearby. He then made enquiries and met a poor man who had gone to Hazrat Nizamuddin Awliya asking for alms. As there was nothing in the khanqah, the saint had given him his own pair of slippers. Confused and disappointed, this man was returning to his village with the worn pair of slippers wrapped in his turban.
Amir Khusraw then offered horses, camels, gold and the very silk coat he was wearing in exchange for his master’s slippers. The poor man, silently thanking God for meeting this rich but genial madman, sold the tattered slippers for the riches. Each felt he had gained the greater treasure.
Carrying the slippers on his head as a crown, Amir Khusraw was at last with his master. When asked what he had paid in the bargain, he replied: “I have given away all my wealth”. The saint teased him, saying: “Arzaan kharidi”, meaning: “You have bought these at a cheap price!’
Amir Khusraw agreed, though he hastened to add: “But master, I would have paid for them with my life, if necessary!”
On another occasion, a visitor to the khanqah, seeing the quality of food served, asked to dine with the Shaikh himself — certainly the menu of the pir would be extraordiry! So he insisted on eating only what the Shaikh ate.
The saint and his disciples tried to discourage him, but he was stubborn. Though a generous spread was laid, the saint did not partake of it. At last, after the guests and disciples had eaten their fill, the saint invited his guest to sit with him. A bowl of bitter greens was set before them.
The Shaikh picked out the toughest roots and stems for himself, then offered the tastier leaves to his guest. Stunned, the visitor asked if any other dishes were to follow. The saint replied that this was all that would be served; he had invited him only because he had insisted. The guest tried to eat but could not. In the end, he left the khanqah with great humility and respect for the saint.
At the time of iftaar, the saint would eat very little; when food was brought in early morning, he would usually refuse it, fasting continuously. A servant would plead with him to eat.
“I think of the many poor, of beggars suffering hunger and deprivation, huddled around the mosques and sleeping in the streets of the city. How can this food go down my throat?” the saint would remonstrate. Not for nothing do qawwals sing of him as ‘Garibo ki waaz’, lover of the poor!
Such was Shaikh Nizamuddin Awliya, the 14th century Sufi saint of the Chishtiya order, legendary for his piety, compassion and persol frugality. At his langar, food was generously served each day to all visitors, followed by discussions on matters both spiritual and worldly.
The Shaikh believed that saints needed to have ishq (love), aql (wisdom) and ilm (knowledge), and used them all in generous measure. He lies buried in Delhi, with disciple Amir Khusraw too entombed close by. To this day, visitors and devotees in large numbers visit the dargah and seek their blessings.
—the harbinger


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