There are many Sufi shrines in every major city, town and historic village of Sindh. These Sufi saints played important roles in spreading the message of peace, love and tolerance among different communities. These values won the hearts of many non-Muslims who were impressed by the teachings of these Sufis and accepted Islam. One such Sufi saint who converted many to Islam was Shah Khairurddin Jilani, popularly known as Jeay Shah Badshah. The shrine of Shah Khairuddin Jilani is located in old Sukkur and is one of the most popular and early Qadiri shrines in the city of Sukkur.
It is believed that Shah Khairuddin, son of Amir Ahmed Shah Jilani, was born in Baghdad in 911 AH/1505. He was from the family of Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (1077-1166 AD), the founder of the Qadiri Silsila of Sufism. He received early education at Baghdad and became an erudite scholar of Quran, Hadith and Tafsir at the age of 40. At the age of 40 he moved to Makkah where he is believed to have stayed for twelve years and performed 12 Hajj. Afterwards, he went to Madinah and stayed some years there too. After spending several years in Arabia, he came to Sindh for preaching in the last quarter of the sixteenth century. He spent his initial years preaching in lower Sindh where he met an eminent Sufi poet Abdul Karim Bulri (1536-1623 AD). Shah Khairuddin Jilani spent some time with him and both engaged in religious discourse together in Bulri, where some other religious scholars also attended these sessions. Later Shah Abdul Karim Bulri took him to eminent Suhrawardi Sufi saint Makhdoom Nuh (1506-1589) of Hala. It is believed that four of the saints – Shah Khairuddin Jilani, Shah Abdul Karim Bulri, Makhdoom Nuh andYousaf Shah Rizviused to have daily religious discourses for quite some time at Hala, which subsequently left a deep influence on Shah Khairuddin Jilani – to accept Makhdoom Nuh as an established Sufi saint of the sixteenth century.Although he was impressed by the religious knowledge of Makhdoom Nuh, he did not become his disciple as many of the modern Sindhi writers have claimed in their books. He remained attached to Qadiri Sufi traditions.
The shrine of Shah Khairuddin Jilani is located in old Sukkur and is one of the most popular and early Qadiri shrines in the city of Sukkur
After travelling and meeting Sufis saints of Bulri and Hala, Shah Khairuddin Jilani finally went to Sukkur where he stayed in a cave in the hill of Sukkur. He used to spend all of his time in the cave in pray and fasting. This hill is still known as ‘Shah Jo Jabal’ in Sukkur. To some of the devotees of Shah Khairuddin it is also known as Chilgah. Near the Chilagh is a mosque which is believed to have been built by Ghulam Muhammad Pirzado who was a disciple of Shah Khairuddin Jilani. This mosque was built in 1176 H/1762 AD.
Later, upon the requests of his disciples Shah Khairuddin Jilani moved to then Tarkhan Mohallah (now Pirzadah Mohallah) where he established his khanqah there where today his tomb is situated now. During travelling in lower Sindh many people became his disciples and some even came along with him to Sukkur. One of his disciples from lower Sindh was Mian Sadruddin alias Sadan Sawai whose grave is located in the tomb of Shah Khairuddin. Apart from Sadan Sawai, another eminent disciple of Shah Khairuddin was Mian Haji Jamal Shah alias Shah Madini whose descendants now are the caretakers of the shrine. Many other Sufis of Sindh praised the religiosity and mysticism of Shah Khairuddin Jilani. One knows the piety and magnitude of the mysticism of Shah Khairuddin Jilani from Malfuzat (discourse and sayings) of Pir Muhammad Rashid Shah (1756-1818 AD) alias ‘Rozay Dhani’ which was written by his chief deputy Khalefo Mahmood Nizamani (1775-18-51 D). He praised him and his disciples for their religious knowledge and piety.
Many nobles and Sufi poets also became his disciples. Mir Muhammad Zakria, a grandson of Mir Muhammad Masoom Bakhari (1528-1606 AD), was also one of the disciples of Shah Khairuddin Jilani. He spent all of his life at the khanqah of Shah Khairuddin Jilani and died there. He was buried in the family graveyard of Mir Muhammad Masoom Bakhari next to his father Mir Buzrug. Mian Nasiruddin Shah Rizvi and his son Shah Inayat Rizvi (d.1708). Both were from Nasarpur and were also disciples of Shah Khairuddin Jilani. Shah Inayat Rizvi was also a Sufi poet of great repute. He also composed some poetry in the praise of his mentor Shah Khairuddin Jilani. The list of Shah Khairuddin Jilani’s disciples is very long but I just mentioned a few.
Shah Khairuddin Jilani died on the 27th Ramazan in 1017 H/1609 AD. But there is dispute among the Sindhi writers on the year of death of Shah Khairuddin Jilani. Some ascribed it as 1017 H/1609 and others cite 1027 H/1718 as the probable year of the death of Shah Khairuddin Jilani. This confused historians very much.
Actually the reason behind this confusion is that there are inscriptions with two different years of death of the saint. There are three Persian inscriptions, one nazam and one madah in the tomb. The first inscription is fixed above the mehrab in the interior of the tomb that shows 1027 H/1618 AD as the date of the saint’s death. The second Persian inscription on the facade of the tomb bears the date of the tomb’s construction (1174 H/1760-61) and the name of the builder. The third inscription is also on the facade of the tomb bearing the date of the saint’s death (1017H/1609 AD), the date of the tomb’s construction (1174 H/1760-61) by Mian Ghulam Muhammad and renovation and decoration of the tomb with ceramics (1299 H/ 1282) by Mian Mureed Ali son of Muhammad Ali Pirzado. This third inscription appears more correct – which has also been confirmed now by the present caretaker and shows the actual year of death of the saint as 1017 H/1609 AD. Apart from three inscriptions there is a nazam on the silver door of the tomb with the date 1305 H/1887 AD and Persian madah on glazed tiles in the exterior of the tomb which was composed by Abdul Qadir Bakhsh Bedal Rohriwaro (1815-1873 AD), a Sufi poet who belonged to the Qadiri silsila of Sufism.
The tomb of Shah Khairuddin Jilani is one of the magnificent structures in Sukkur which is adorned with beautiful ceramics with ornately carved, perforated and latticed marble screens on the marble canopy over the grave of Shah Khairuddin Jilani. The ornamental lantern over the dome of Shah Khairuddin Jilani is one of the impressive architectural elements of eighteenth century Sindh.
The annual Urs of Shah Khairuddin Jilani is celebrated for two days on the 26th and 27th Ramazan. On this occasion Mehfil-i-Maulood is held and a langar is distributed amongst the devotees of Shah Khairuddin Jilani who come from all over Sindh, South Punjab and Balochistan. Shah Khairuddin Jilani is highly revered not only by Muslims but also by Hindus of three provinces of Pakistan.
The author is an anthropologist and has authored four books: ‘Symbols in Stone: The Rock Art of Sindh’, ‘Perspectives on the art and architecture of Sindh’, ‘Memorial Stones: Tharparkar’ and ‘Archaeology, Religion and Art in Sindh’. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org