A Brief Study of Hazrat Sultan Bahoo (R.A)’s Masterpiece Book ‘Ain ul Faqr’
Laeeq Ahmed | July 28, 2018
Sultan- Ul - Arifeen , Hazrat Sultan Bahoo (R.A) was born in Shorkot, in 1039 AH. His father, Hazrat Bazaid (R.A) was a pious religious scholar who had learnt the holy Quran by heart. In Mughal regime, he served as the caretaker of Shorkot Castle Jhang. His wife, Rasti Bibi (R.A) was one of the perfect mystics. He (Hazrat Bazaid) belonged to Qutb Shahi (Alwi) tribe, which after 31 generations ultimately reaches Syedna Ali (R.A). His mother was informed through spiritual intuition that she would soon give birth to a perfect saint and that he should be named as “BAHOO”. Thus she named him as Bahoo (May Allah bless him).
According to the hagiography written about the life of Hazrat Sultan Bahoo, titled as “ Manaqab e Sultani” and the other traditions passed from heart to heart, he wrote 140 books for the enlightenment and the guidance of the people. His books are a measuring scale for the seekers of Allah, the Exalted.
His books are a gauge for the seekers of Divinity that lend guidance to them on every point. In his writings, besides, imparting a strict advice to tread the path of Sharia ( the traditional Islamic religious law primarily based on the Quran , and also the hadith and tafseer (commentary) he also informs the seeker about the perils of this path. He has presented the problems of Sufiism in a philosophical manner. However, the eminence of all his writings is that he has substantiated every point with an evidence from the holy Quran, as he himself has narrated in Persian verses about his books
In my writings, there is no editing, thus every saying in my books is intuition from Allah. I have attained all knowledge from Quran and Hadith. So, the one who denies my books ,denies Quran and Hadith and he is truly a devil
According to a famous tradition, 140 of his books are a valuable treasure for us, yet, presently, only 31 of his books are available. One of his books is Lahndi language from which Punjabi, Sraiki and Hindko have been segregated. Thirty other books are in Persian language. The books available now are listed below,
Abyate Bahoo (Lahndi Language)
Dewan e Bahoo(R.A)
Kaleed Utauheed ( Klan)
Muhabat ul Asrar
Ameer ul Konain
Muhak Al Faqr Khurd
Muhak Al Faqr (Kalan)
Hujat ul Asrar
Taufiq ul Hidayat
Tarf ul Ain
Noor ul Huda (Kalan)
Muhakam Al- Fuqra
Asrar ul- Qadri
Aqal e Baidar
The greatness and significance of Ain-Ul-Faqr
Ain Ul-Faqr is the most precious and the most popular of his books, which is known as the compass of truth in the Sufi circles. While highlighting the significance of this fine work, Syed Ahmad Saeed Hamdani writes,
The paramount importance of Ain UL Faqr can be summarized from the fact that special arrangements were made for the male children in the lineage of Hazrat Sultan Bahoo(R.A) to learn this book on academic pattern, which implied that the study of this book inculcates some capability to understand the Saintliness and Faqr of Hazrat Sultan Bahoo(R.A). Another book Noor-ul-Huda was also learnt with a presumption that now (after studying that book) the pursuer was able to study the other books of Sultan ul Arifeen and eventually understand his teachings.
This book holds the status of mentor for the scholars, preachers, and the pursuers of Sufism because in this book, he has described the minutest points of Sufism in such a appealing, easy and precise way that it seems to have embank a sea of knowledge into a small vessel.
The study of this book renders a feeling of spiritual tranquillity and calm and strange realities are revealed.
Ain –ul-Faqr is a beautiful blend of prose and poetry. By and large the book is in prosaic form but there is no such page , left unembellished by Sultan ul Arifeen with his poetic taste. Every here and there, his verses are scattered in the form of Mathnavi. Some of these are stanzas, some are couplets and a an anthem also which is termed as “the anthem of love” by him. Besides his own poetic verses the verses of other Sufi poets are also scattered everywhere. Alongside poetry, every page of the book contains the verses from the holy Quran, The Sacred Narration (Hadith Qudsi),traditions of the Holy Prophet Syedna Muhammad (Hadith e Nabwi) SAW and the sayings of the Sufi poets. The style of the book is very attractive, and subtle. The book contains knowledge about mysticism and Gnostic enlightenment, intimate observations, Sufi implications, the preferences of affectionate, the points of wisdom, scholarly explanations, elucidating logics. The principles of worship , and the pearls of righteousness have been assimilated in such a philosophical and established manner that a seeker of divine truth belonging to any era gets maximum benefit from it, regardless of the age he belongs to. Besides providing a comprehensive guideline about the path of Spirituality, this book also extends detailed knowledge about the Qadri Sufi mystic order.
The religious and political conditions prevalent at the time of the composition of Ain-ul-Faqr
Before his birth , the seed of Atheism which Jalal ud Din Akbar had sown in the soil of India in the name of the unanimity of all the religions and his intentions were dazed to ground by a great Sufi Hazrat Sheikh Mujadad Alf Thani ( the second) ,with his spiritual and scholarly powers. The same monotheism appeared again with the grandson of Akbar Dar- Ashikoh in the times of Sultan-ul-Arifeen, Hazrat Sultan Bahoo(R.A).Dara Shikoh belonged to the same sect of Hazrat Sultan Al-Arifeen and intimate to him. Despite that Hazrat Sultan –ul-Arifeen ,rejected Akbar and Dara Shikoh’s amalgamation of Right and Wrong( Haq /Batil). He stood with Aurangzeb Alamgir against Dara Shikoh to defend the religion and defeat agnosticism. Aurangzeb, according to prejudiced was very stringent in the matters of religion, but according to the proponents of truth, he was an embodiment of perseverance. He believed in the promulgation of Islamic Sharia in the kingdom. Hazrat Sultan Ul-Arifeen composed a regular digest “ Aureng Shahi) for Aurengzeb Alamgeer and in many of his writings he mentioned Auranzeb Alamgir as Ameer –ul- Momineen ( the head of the Islamic state)so that Aurengzeb wins popularity on public level. According to historical references Aurengzeb made three meetings with Hazrat Sultan Bahoo(R.A) and got spiritual vantage. Aurengzeb Alamgir believed in the implication of Islamic Sharia. On the contrary, Dar Shikoh wanted to make use of “Unanimity of Religions” and introduce such a Sufi movement that presented the similarities between the Holy Quran and Veedahs and ultimately merge Islam into Hinduism so that Mughal rule could be made more acceptable for the majority of the population over there.
These were the political and religious circumstances of Hindustan when Hazrat Sultan Bahoo(R.A) wrote this book. With the help of his spiritual powers and guidance and advice, he not only crushed the conflicting Atheism but also dilated upon the true meaning of Sufism, in the light of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAW).
Hazoor Sultan Bahoo’s(R.A) own sayings about Ain-ul-Faqr Shareef
He (R.A) wrote Ain-ul- Faqr at the age of 46 about which he himself mentioned in the following words in the last chapter of Ain –Ul-Faqr.
“This point of the Oneness of Allah (Ain-ul-Faqr) has been written in the reign of Shah Aurengzeb Alamgir in 1085.”
His birth year is 1039, thus in 1085 his age would be 46 years.
Why this book was named as Ain-ul-Faqr Shareef , this question has been replied in the foreword of this book in the following words,
“ Know this that this book has been named as Ain-ul-Faqr(the eye if the saintliness) because this books provides guidance to those who are the genuine seekers of Divine Truth and those desirous of annihilating themselves in Divinity, on any stage either it’s the beginning or the end of their journey and keeps them on the straight path and blesses them with the observation of the secrets of Divinity and the observation of the celestial Divine lights and eventually leads them to the knowledge of truth, witnessing the truth, and believing the truth.
- He has divided this book into 11 parts. The first part has no title or topic . we may term it as foreword or prologue. This book has 10 chapters which are sequenced as follows;
- In Chapter one he has described the secrets of Tauheed( Oneness of Allah) and detailed explanation of the name” ALLAH” and its blessings.
- In chapter 2 ,he has discussed about the Divine light that dawns upon the seeker during his spiritual journey. He has discussed it with an exploratory point of view , illustrating which of these sparks are from Allah and which is a trap spread by Satan and the base self.
- Chapter 3 deals with the definitions of Spiritual Mentor (Murshid) and the Seeker, and also explains the levels of Spiritual journey.
- In Chapter 4 he has talked about encountering and Conquering “ the Self” i-e how the self can be rendered under control with the concession granted by Almighty Allah
- In Chapter 5 he has brought forth the status of the practicing Scholars and the perfect Gnostics and also the virtues and the kinds of knowledge.
- Chapter 6 is about the levels of meditation and observation (MURAQBA and MUSHAHIDA). He has also detailed the validity of witnessing Allah the Almighty and the presence in the congregational assembly of the Holy Prophet (SAW) in the state of a dream. He has also mentioned about the interpretation of some of the dreams.
- Chapter 7 deals with the virtues of the recitation of Kalimah Tayyaba and covert as well as overt Dhikr.
- In chapter 8, he has expressed the dispositions of love and affection and the reality of Gnosticism (Faqr)
- In chapter 9, he has elucidated three important topics, wine, and the reality of Sufis and the negation of all except Allah.
- In chapter 10, he has talked about Gnosticism to annihilate one’s self into Allah ‘s and denouncement of the world.
The Number of Pages
The Persian text of Ainu l Faqr is spread over 182 pages.
The Number of the verses of the Holy Quran ( Ayahs)
The number of Ayahs (the verses of the holy Quran) is 151 in the Persian script of the book.
The number of the sayings of the Holy Prophet (SAW) and the Sufis
The number of the sayings of Holy Prophet(SAW) and the Sufis is 184.
The number of Hadith e Qudsi
There are 20 Hadith Qudsia in the book.
The Number of the couplets (Abyat)
The number of the poetic verses is 265
The poetic expressions in general:
There is one Quartet, three lyrics, and one anthem.
(These figures have been collected from the presidential address of the pioneer and the patronage of Islahee Jamaat and Aalmi Tanzeem ul Arifeen, Hazrat Sultan Muhammad Ali , delivered at the end of Three days Hazrat Sultan Bahoo(R.A) international conference.)
The Subject Matter of Ain- Ul- Faqr Sharif
The intellectual Style of Ain –ul-Faqr
The laudable book of Hazrat Sultan Bahoo(R.A)has been written in a very simple but effective style.
The style of the commendable book Ain Ul- Faqr by Hazrat Sultan Bahoo*R.A is very simple yet very logical. In this refined piece of knowledge, he has inferred so many verses of the holy Quran that it seems that no Sufism lies outside the Holy Quran. The book enjoys the privilege of having verses from 26 Parts of the Holy Quran. Out of 151 verses of the Holy Quran, only one verse from each chapter is being presented so that the readers may evaluate the book duly and besides that they should also be able to know that the main source of his knowledge is the holy Quran.
Part 1, SURAH Al-Baqrah, 44
Part 2, Surah Al-Baqrah, 255
Part3, Surah Al-e-Imran, 31
Part 4, Surah Ale Imran, 92
Part5, Surah Al-Nisa, 43
Part6, Surah Al- Maidah, 54
Part7, Surah Al-Maidah, 118
Part7, Surah Al-Anam , 122
Part9, Surah Al-Araf, 182
Part11, Surah Yunus, 62
Part, 12, Surah Hood, 4
Part 13, Surah Ibraheem, 27
Part 14, Surah Al-Hajar, 99
Part 15, Surah Bani Israel, 72
Part 16, Surah Tauha,48
Part20, Surah AL-Qasas, 56
Part 21, Surah Al-Ahzab , 4
Part 22, Surah Al-Saba, 13
Part 23, Surah Suad, 78
Part 24, Surah Al-Momin, 44
Part 25, Surah Al-Zukhruf, 32
Part 26, Surah Al-Hujrat, 13
Part27, Surah Al-Najam, 17
Part 28, Surah Al-Taghabun
Part 29, Surah Al-Muzamil
Part 30, Surah Bayanat
He (R.A), before explaining any point about Sufism, would bring forth a Quranic verse to substantiate that point. Then he would relate it to some saying of the holy Prophet (SAW). In this book, he (R.A) has mentioned about other Sufi saints also. On some places he has recorded the sayings of the other Sufis while on the others ,he (R.A) has mentioned events and incidents related to their lives.
The Sufi saints who have been mentioned in this book are the following:
Syedna Imam Hassan Basri(R.A), Syedna Sheik Abdul Qadir Jailani, Hazrat Ibrahim Bin Adam, Bayazeed Bastami, Mansoor Halaj, Sheikh Abu Bakar Shiblee (R.A),Hazrat Hatim Asam, Amam e Azam Abu Haneefa Sheik Fareed –u-Din Attar , Makhdoom J hanian Jahan Gasht, Hazrat Bahaudin Shah Rukne Alam, Malik Bin Deenar, Shafeeq Milanji, and Sheikh Wahid Kirmani”
He (R.A) like other Sufi saints has copied (Hadith e Nabwi )the Saying of the Holy Prophet, SAW without describing the reference but on certain places he has referred to the name of the companion of the Holy Prophet (SAW), or the Imam who had quoted that Hadith.
Like in chapter 7 of this book, he (R.A) he has referred to two Hadiths( sayings) of the Holy Prophet,(SAW) with reference to Hazrat Muaz (R.A) and likewise two more , Hadiths(sayings) of the Holy Prophet(SAW) have been quoted with reference to Hazrat Abu Zar Ghaffari (R.A). On another place in the book, he wrote about a Hadith that that was recorded by Imam Bahli (R.A).In his book he (R.A) he has made note of two books as well; one of which is the interpretation ,Asrar ul-Fatiha( the secrets of Fatiha) ,from which he has copied one anecdote, and the other is a digest, Ghosal Azam, Muhu –u-din ,in which he has reproduced some sayings of Syedna Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jailani (R.A).This book is oriented in very gentle instruction and guideline which is not only masterpiece book for the seekers of divine path nut also for the world of knowledge.
The prosaic style of Ain-ul-Faqr
The prose of Ain ul-Faqr not only enlightens the vision f the reader but also elevates him to a new universe of lucidity and vividness. In the other books of Hazrat Sultan ul-Arifeen , this apex of scholarship is evident from the fact that as the reader progresses in reading , he feels himself immersed into the Faqr of Hazrat Sultan ul-Arifeen. It feels as if prose has transformed into poetry and the poetry tends to open and flourish the universe of inner-self, exactly like the fragrance may transmit the color and the colors transforms into sound. If anyone wants to enjoy poetry in prose, he probably won’t find a more refined piece of writing in Persian literature than the books of Hazrat Sultan ul-Arifeen. The following three samples from Persian text are being presented as example.
On this topic, a comparatively brief digest, “Tafheem -ul-Kalam-e Hazrat Sultan Bahoo (R.A) by the translator, and principal researcher, of the works of Hazrat Sultan Bahoo(R.A) , Syed Ameer Khan Niazi (late, may Allah bless him) is worth studying piece of research.
The points related to Mysticism in Ain ul Faqr
Hazrat Sultan Bahoo(R.A) has elaborated the minutest details of Sufism with the instances from the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAW).He (R.A) was never a proponent of any saying or action that goes against the Sharia of the holy Prophet (SAW). He (R.A) didn’t detach the inner from the outer self as there is a verse in the opening of the book.
“The knowledge of the inner self is like butter and the knowledge of the external self is like milk. So, without milk, how the butter would be produced and without a saint, how would the saintliness be produced”.
While discussing the important topics about Sufism, first he has stated the opinion of the other Sufi saints and then express his own thoughts. His Persian verses (Abyat) also play a significant role for the elaboration of issues related to Sufism. After elucidating a point in detail in prose, when he combines it with a Persian verse, it seems as if an ocean of knowledge has been bridged.
The terminology used in Ain-ul-Faqr
A trend that is quite obvious in his(R.A) other writings also is that while explicating some issue when, he notices a dearth of terminology about that particular issue, he coins his own terminology and within the specifications of his own terminology and establishes his own comprehensive explanation.
Often the researchers face a problem while interpreting his writings in specific and in studies in general that they want to comprehend his expressions in the light of the contemporary terminology which in fact is entirely different. Therefore, they are not only unable to understand the respective point but also end up reaching wrong conclusions in understanding that point. That’s why the terminology employed by Hazrat Sultan Ul-Arifeen is itself a separate and researchable subject. For the comprehension of the doctrine of these terms, only linguistic expertise is not enough, rather the spiritual training in the companionship and amity and of a sheikh who has been educated and trained on the spiritual pattern recommended by Sultan UL-Arifeen.
The Sufi interpretation of the verses of Holy Quran in Ain –UL-Faqr Shareef
In this book, the Sufi interpretation of the verses from the Holy Quran that he has presented, only two of them are as follows;
- Allah Subhana wa Tala said,
Surah Yaseen; Ayah 60
“Did I not enjoin upon you , o children of Adam, that you not worship Satan-(for) indeed, he is to you a clear enemy”
The man whose heart inclines to his base self, his heart grows dark and is wrapped by ignorance. But when ‘Base self (Nafs) and heart coalesce, the soul grows feeble and meek. When heart and soul harmonize, the “Base Self” becomes scrawny and dependent, and eventually renders submission. It’s the advice of Faqeer Bahoo (R.A) that the guidance of Allah is better than thousands of the enemies originated from the Base Self and the Satan. The heart who is venerated with the blessings of Allah the Almighty, is detached from the base Self and the Satan.
- Allah the Almighty says,
“Allah will raise the ranks of these people”
Knowledge should be practical, not mere burden. There is a Hadith by the Holy Prophet (SAW) that knowledge is dot and it’s abundance is it’s practical interpretation. The scholar who doesn’t practice, his knowledge becomes a nuisance for him. There is a saying of the Holy Prophet (SAW) “The scholars are the heritage of the Prophets. ”The inheritors of the prophets are those people who step by step follow the footprints of the prophets and whose souls are free of debauchee, falsehood, fabrication, jealousy, greed and pride, rather they are the embodiments of truth and the guide to the path of piety.”
The Sufi interpretation of the Hadith Nabwi(SAW)( the holy sayings of the holy Prophet, SAW)
The Sufi interpretation that he has presented in Ain –Ul-Faqr Shareef, only two are being cited here,
There is a sacrosanct saying of the Holy Prophet (SAW),
“The angels don’t enter the house where there is a dog.”
The heart is like a house, Allah’s Zikr (remembrance) is like an angel, and the base Self is akin to a dog. The heart , surrounded by the darkness of the world, when becomes an abode of the devilish and selfish worldly pursuits, remains deprived of the blessed sight of Allah the Almighty, and the heart which is devoid of the blessings of Allah the Almighty, strays and ultimately gets filled with greed, jealousy and pride.
There is a Hadith by the Holy Prophet (SAW).
The path which is rejected by Shari’a (the traditional Islamic religious law primarily based on the Quran, and also the hadith and tafseer) is the past of the stray “
The path rejected by the Shari’a is the path of infidelity. That is the path of Satan and the path characterized with the desires of the Self and the betrayal of the Worldly desires.
He has written this distinguished book for the guidance and instruction of the seekers of Allah and the subject matter of this book is also “the Recognition of Allah, the Almighty. But still, this book invites the people of knowledge to research because in this book he has also discussed about, the knowledge of the Holy Quran, the knowledge of Hadith, the knowledge of Islamic Jurisprudence, (Fiqh), history, law, philosophy, and logic. Now, it’s obligatory for the men of knowledge to carry out research on this book and bring to light the secrets of the book.
- Syed Ameer Khan Niazi “ Tafheem ul Kalam, Al-Arifeen Publications, Lahore, March 2010 ,P: 5
- Hazrat Sultan Bahoo, Ain–ul-Faqr, interpretation by Prof. Syed Ahmad Saeede Hmadani, Al-Arifeen Publications ,Lahore, January 2016.
- Sahibzada Sultan Ahmad Ali, “Muhabbat Fateh Alam” monthly Mirrat ul-Arifeen International, September 2013, p;31
- Hazrat Sultan Bahoo(R.A) Ain-ul-Faqr, Al-Arifeen Publications ,Lahore, January 2016; p,387
- Ain-ul-Faqr, p.41
- Yaseen; 60
- Ainu l Faqr :153