There are Sufi shrines in almost every old locality of Rawalpindi which belong to different Sufi orders. A few of the shrines belong to the Naushahiyya branch of the Qadiriyya Silsila. The Naushahiyya order was founded by Syed Muhammad Naushah Ganj Bakhsh Qadiri (d.1654). There are three popular Naushahiyya shrines in different localities of Rawalpindi. These shrines include those of Sain Muhammad Ali Naushahi in Naushahi Mohalla (formerly called Arjun Nagar), Sain Fateh Ali Khan in Dhoke Ratta and Hakim Nizamuddin at Dhoke Hafiz (now called Hafiz Town). All these Sufi saints were initiated into Naushahiyya Silsila by the saints of Sanghoi Sharif in the Jhelum district.
The earliest Naushahi saint in Rawalpindi city was Sain Muhammad Ali. According to Sharif-ul-Tawarikh (1972) Vol. 7 by Syed Sharif Ahmed Sharafat Naushahi, Sain Muhammad Ali Naushahi was born in 1861 in Kashmir, hence he also was called Sain Muhammad Ali Kashmiri. His father Malik Umer Bakhsh son of Malik Rahim Bakhsh was also known for his piety in Kashmir. Sain Muhammad Ali Naushahi was initiated into the Naushahiyya Silsila by Sahibzada Akbar Ali alias Chambi Wali Sarkar (d. 1888) whose shrine is located at Sanghoi Sharif in the Jhelum district. Sahibzada Akbar Ali son of Ghulam Hyder Shah was a descendant of Syed Muhammad Naushah Ganj Bakhsh Qadiri. He had many deputies and disciples in Pothohar who carried on his missionary work. Later his son and deputy Sultan Ali Shah Naushahi (d. 1932) also initiated many people into the Naushahiyya silsila. A few of the shrines of his deputies and disciples are located in Rawalpindi city and different villages around Islamabad.
Sain Muhammad Ali Naushahi preached the Naushahiyya silsila in Rawalpindi and other districts in Punjab. He also composed poetry in Punjabi. He had four sons: Sain Saif Ali, Sain Madad Ali, Sain Abdur Rahman, and Sain Manzoor Ali; and a daughter who was married to his deputy Sain Fateh Ali Khan also known as Fateh Khan Qalandar.
When Sain Muhammad Ali Naushahi died on 26 October 1916, he was buried in Arjun Nagar, now called Naushahi Mohalla of Rawalpindi. As per the inscription on the facade of the tomb, it was built by the daughter of Sain Muhammad Ali Naushahi. There are three graves in the tomb. Apart from the grave of Sain Muhammad Ali Naushahi, two other graves belong to his sons Sain Saif Ali (d. 1917) and Madad Ali (d.1915) respectively. Both were also known for their piety. There are a few graves of his family in the courtyard of the shrine complex. To the east of the tomb are located the graves of his two other sons and a daughter (d. 1936) and the wife of Sain Fateh Ali Khan. The grave of Sain Barkat Ali Naushahi (d. 1977) son of Ghulam Nabi is also to be found here. Sain Barkat Ali Naushahi was a poet of Punjabi. He also used to recite the poetry of Sain Muhammad Ali Naushahi in seminars and conferences held in Rawalpindi and other cities and towns of Punjab.
As such, Sain Muhammad Ali Naushahi’s most outstanding and eminent khalifa (deputy) was Sain Fateh Ali Khan alias Fateh Khan Qalandar. Sain Fateh Ali Khan’s shrine is located behind Islamia High School No. 3 in Dhoke Ratta locality of Rawalpindi. According to Malik Shahzad Farooq, the Gadi Nashin of Sain Fateh Ali Khan’s shrine, Sain Fateh Ali Khan son of Abdullah Khan, was born in Kamriyal village in Pindigheb tehsil of Attock district. He belonged to the Jodhra tribe which claims Rajput descent. Jodhras were once lords of the Soan and Sil valleys in Talagang and Pindigheb in Pothohar. According to Tazkira-e-Shura-e-Naushahiyya (2007) by Syed Sharif Ahmed Sharafat Naushahi, Sain Fateh Ali Khan was a poet and author of several books which include
- Ganjina Qadiri Naushahi
- Lamat-al- Tasawwuf
- Majmua Abyat
- Mahnama Qadiri Naushahi
Tazkirat-al-Shaikh is a biography of his spiritual master Sain Muhammad Ali Naushahi. Sain Fateh Ali Khan died in 1952 and was buried in the tomb in Dhoke Ratta which he built during his lifetime. He also built a mosque during his lifetime which was noted for its beautifully painted murals. There are three graves in the tomb of Sain Fateh Ali Khan. Apart from his graves, two other graves belong to his mother Shah Begum and sister Bakht Begum. He had two sons and two daughters. Both his sons Arif Sultan Malik and Farooq Sultan Malik carried his legacy and spread the Qadiriyya Naushahiyya silsila in Rawalpindi and other districts of Punjab. The graves of both are located near the main doorway of the tomb of Sain Fateh Ali Khan.
The third most popular Naushahiyya darbar (shrine) in Rawalpindi belongs to Hakeem Nizamuddin Naushahi, also known as Sain Nizamuddin Naushahi, which is located in Dhoke Hafiz on the old Airport Road. Hakeem Nizamuddin Naushahi was born in Dhoke Lalhyal in Rawalpindi. Dhoke Hafiz was the main settlement of Mangral Rajputs in Rawalpindi before the construction of Islamabad Airport. Hakeem Nizamuddin Naushahi also belonged to the Mangral Rajput tribe. His father Mian Noor Muhammad was known for his piety in the village. Hakeem Nizamuddin Naushahi was initiated into the Naushahiyya silsila by Sultan Ali Shah son of Sahibzada Akbar Ali of Sanghoi Sharif. Like Sain Muhammad Ali Naushahi and Sain Fateh Ali Naushahi, he also played a very important role in spreading the Nauahahiyya Silsila in Rawalpindi. Sain Nizamuddin Naushahi was also an eminent Punjabi poet of Rawalpindi. Like Sain Fateh Ali Khan, he also authored several books. According to Naushahi Shura (2005) by Pir Syed Abu Al Kamal Barq Qadiri Naushahi, he wrote several books.
Some of the most popular books by Sain Nizamuddin include:
- Gulzar Naushahi
- Aina Israr alias Behrami Gulzar
- Qissa Sasui-Punhun
- Aina Sikandari
- Sajara Sharif Naushahi
- Touba Nama
- Wisal Nama
- Basharat Nama and others.
He died in 1946 and was buried in Dhoke Lalhyal, and hence was called Hakeem Nizamuddin Lalhyali. His mortal remains were shifted in 1970 to Dhoke Hafiz by his son Hafiz Hakeem Abdul Ghani Qadiri Naushahi when the Islamabad Airport was built. His son Hafiz Hakeem Abdul Ghani Qadiri Naushahi (d. 1994) built an impressive tomb over his grave and mosque in Dhoke Hafiz. Today, the shrine complex of Hakeem Nizamuddin Naushahi is frequented by his devotees and common folk of the area.
All the Naushahi Qadiri saints of Rawalpindi played an important role, not only by spreading their silsila but also in literary discourse and the development of the Punjabi language by writing books on Sufi poetry and popular legend in a language which was easy for common folk to read and understand.