Hazrath Hajee Shah Goolam Mohamed Soofie Siddique Chisti Al-Qadiri Habibi RA
Was born in 1848 AC (1267) in the town of Ibrahimpatan, Ratnagir, about 200km from Bombay in India. He was the eldest son of Hazrath Ibrahim Siddiqui RA, a direct descendent of Hazrath Abu Bakr Siddique RA, the first Caliph of Islam. His mother was Hazrath Rabia RA. His younger brothers were Qadi Abdul Majid and Qadi Goolam Hasan. His sisters were Khatoon, Amina and Bibi. He was brought up in a strict Islamic atmosphere unlike many of the children of his time.
Journey to Mecca Tul Mukarramah
Arabia is a hot desert country where the midday temperature can reach up to 50 degrees. In order to get relief from the blazing sun and the burning sands, Hazrath Soofie Saheb (RA) after every few hours of walking, would stop at an oasis to rest. He would untie his mother, see to her requirements, prepare meals, and only after making sure that his mother and wife were comfortable, he would sit down and rest. They spent the nights under a tent. The journey, although arduous, was not dangerous because there were other pilgrims travelling towards Mecca either on foot or on camels. It took him three days to reach Mecca Shareef.
Stay in Mecca Tul Mukarramah
After arriving in the Holy City of Mecca, Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA took his family to Sayed Alawi who was the family Muallim (guide). A suitable humble place was located for himself and his family. He made Tawaaf-e-Ziarat of the Kaaba and made the Sa-ee with his mother on his back. He spent a few days in Mecca making ziarat of the important historial places and mosques. He then left for the city of Medina, the famous and revered city of the Holy Prophet SAW. He joined a caravan consisting of a few camels with pilgrims. They used to camp at night. The journey took twelve days.
Stay in Medina Tul Munawara
Medina, unlike Mecca is a city that is lush and green with vegetation and date palms. It is calm, peaceful and serene, much in keeping with the resting place of the Holy Prophet SAW. Even the inhabitants go about their duties in a leisurely manner in contrast with the hustle and bustle of Mecca, where the Holy Prophet SAW was born.
The first thing that Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA did when he arrived in Medina Shareef was to take his mother on his back and his wife to the Haram of the Holy Prophet SAW where they offered their salutation and respects. During his stay in Medina, he made ziarat of all the important historical places. Daily, after the Fajr and Ishraaq namaaz he visited Jannatul Baqee, the famous cemetery in Medina where many of the Prophet’s family, the Sahabas and other important personalities are buried. May Allah’s peace be upon them. After his stay in Medina Munnawwara, he went back to Mecca, where he performed Haj before returnung to India.
By now there was a great change in his personality and in his outlook. This was particularly due to his stay in Medina. He was drawn away from the materialistic world towards spiritualism. Mysticism and sufistic ideas were imbued in him. What he needed now more than ever before, was a Pir (Spiritual Guide) who could place him on the path of Sufism.
Trip to Baghdad Shareef
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, and is situated on the banks of the Tigris. It was once known for its learning and culture, for its flourishing trade, its gardens and for its minarets and domes. It is a place of pilgrims. It was built in 726 (66 AH) by Abu Jaffar al-Mansur, the second caliph of the Abbasid Dynasty, and enlarged by King Haroun al-Rashid during which era it reached the height of its prosperity. Baghdad is dotted by many mazaars-those of Hazrath Junaid Baghdadi RA, Hazrath Mansur al Hallaj RA, Hazrath Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani RA and Imam Abu Hanifa RA, to name a few. The tomb of Zubeida, the queen of Haroon al-Rashid is also here.
After discussing the trip with the members of his family, Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA left for Bombay. He set sail again with Baghdad as his destination, in search of a Pir O Murshid (Spiritual Master).
Stay in Baghdad Shareef
After arriving in Baghdad, Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA went to the khanqah (monastery) of Hazrath Ghousal Azam Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani RA to arrange accommodation and then visited his Mazaar Shareef where he spent a few hours before going out in search of a Pir. Here he met Hazrath Shah Goolam Mustupha Effendi al-Qadri RA who accepted Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA as a mureed(disciple) in the Qadiri Silsila, one of the orders into which the Sufis are classified, the other principal orders being Chistia, Suhrawardia and Naqshabandia. These orders have no fundamental differences except in matters of minor details. While in Baghdad he visited many places such as Karbala, Najaf, Kufa, Damascus, Jerusalem and others.
Riazath and Mujahedas
Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA used to sit in the Mazaar Shareef of Hazrath Ghousal Azam RA especially after Fijr Namaaz. He had to recite certain wazifas (daily round of the holy recitals) before performing Ishraq and Chast namaaz. After Tajahud (middle of the night) namaaz he spent his time in reciting the Holy Quraan. These daily routines known as Riazath and Mujahedas, were indulged in for the next six months.
It was Hazrath Shah Goolam Mustupha Effendi RA who first called him Soofie. One day on the request of his Pir he respectfully sat down by his Qadri Pir and was told to return to India in order to meet his Chisti Pir, Hazrath Khwaja Habib Ali Shah RA in Hyderabad. Meanwhile, both these Pirs, communicated with one another by means of spiritual contact about the disciple, Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA.
Meeting with his Chisti Pir
Without any questions, Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA left Baghdad for India. After a journey of three weeks he arrived in Bombay. The first thing he did was to inquire about a place called Hyderabad when he learnt that Hazrath Khwaja Habib Ali Shah RA was in Majghown, a village not far from Bombay, where he had a small Khanqah to cater for his mureeds in this part of the country and from where he spread the silsila. When Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA arrived here he found a Sama Khani in progress (recitation of devotional and mystic poetry). However, he quietly slipped into the room which was full of devotees and Hazrath Khwaja Habib Ali Shah RA recognised him and one glance from him put Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA into a trance (Istighrag) or engrossment, a position which lasted for two days after which Hazrath Khwaja Habib Ali Shah RA embraced him and immediately accepted him into the Chistia Silsila.
Hazrath Khwaja Habib Ali Shah RA was very satisfied, when he discovered that his young mureed was not interested in worldly gain. This is what he had expected from his shining star and made dua for him to progress in the path of Sufism.
Back in Kalyan
After a few days Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA set off for Kalyan to resume duties as a teacher in the madressa and as leader in the Musjid.
Hazrath Khwaja Habib Ali Shah RA loved his mureed, Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA very much. As a result he used to visit his mureed quite regularly in Kalyan. In return, Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA showed the greatest respect for his Pir. On one such trip he kissed the feet of his Pir out of sheer love and respect. However, a few members of the congregation (unable to differentiate between worship of Allah and respect for mankind) caused a dispute. When he found that the congregation was being divided, Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA, not to offend anyone, resigned as Imam and teacher at this institution in Kalyan and returned to his home in Ratnagir, after which he went to Hyderabad to serve his Pir.
Khwaja Habib Ali Shah RA Visits Mazaars
Meanwhile, an important incident took place in Delhi which was to change not only the life of Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA but the life of the Muslims in South Africa. Hazrath Khwaja Habib Ali RA used to visit the various mazaars in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent especially during the Urs Shareef (Death Anniversary) celebrations. During one of his visits to the Urs Shareef celebration of Hazrath Khwaja Naseeruddin Chirag RA (a Khalifa of Hazrath Nizamuddin Awliya RA and a Sufi saint of the Golden Age of Sufism in India) whose illustrious Mazaar is in Delhi, Hazrath Khwaja Habib Ali RA was seated beside the Holy Grave of Hazrath Khwaja Naseeruddin RA. He was reading the Holy Quraan and wazifas when suddenly he was in spiritual contact with Hazrath Khwaja Naseeruddin RA who instructed him to send his brilliant mureed, Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA to South Africa to propagate Islam and spread the Chistia Silsila.
From Ratnagir, Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA left for Hyderabad where he remained in the service of his Pir O Murshid and at the same time he was given instructions in the path of Sufism. He also had various duties to perform at the Khanqah Shareef of his Spiritual Master.
One day, Hazrath Khwaja Habib Ali Shah RA called Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA to his presence and instructed him to proceed to South Africa where he was to carry out his mission. Once again, without any questions, Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA left the city of Hyderabad and went to Ratnagir to make preparations to leave for South Africa.
Back in Ratnagir
Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA spoke of his intended trip to South Africa with the members of his family who were very supportive and his mother readily gave him permission and blessing to leave the shores of India for South Africa.
Arrival of Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA in Durban South Africa
It was a normal morning in the winter of 1895 when a ship S.S Hoosen, docked at the Durban Harbour. On board was a person, simple in dress in a yellow garb and a cloth hat. As he stood on the deck of the ship looking at the people on the wharf to welcome their respective relatives and friends, little did the people realise that he was to make such a great impact in their life-style, to make them God-fearing and to bring about spiritual, mental and social upliftment, and an enhancement in the quality of their lives. His was a name that, with the Grace of Almighty Allah, will till Eternity, remain on the lips of the people, a name that will remind future generations of his selfless sacrifice for the Deen of Islam and for the general upliftment of the masses in South Africa.
Custom formalities being over, the passengers now disembarked and on the wharfside, relatives embraced, hugged and met each other. Some were helping the passengers with their heavy luggage, tin trunks and suitcases along the gangway from the ship, others were stacking the luggage on the horse wagon on the wharf, while some were being driven away by their relatives and friends. Looking at the scene as he came down the gangway, this humble son of Islam, with a walking stick in one hand and a small cloth-covered bundle in the other (in it were his spare koortha, loongie, singlet, miswak, towel, a Quraan, a tasbih and a book with various wazifas) carefully stepped on to soil of Southern Africa with confidence knowing that the blessings of Allah and his Pir are with him.
As he walked he greeted the people, some returned his greetings while others just stared at him curiously. No one offered to give him a lift into town or even ask him whether he had a place to stay. Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA made his way to the Jumah Musjid which was then a very simple building in Grey Street.
Hazrath’s Second Day in Durban
After Salatul fajr the next morning, the incident of the previous night with the Muezzin, spread like wildfire among the local Muslims. Out of curiosity Musallees gathered around Hazrath and began to talk to him, among other things, about his village at home in India. On learning that he was from Ratnagir, District Kokan, then one Rooknoodeen and one Fazloodeen Jhetam who were from the same district, took a greater interest in him. He explained his mission to them and that he was sent by his Pir O Murshid, Hazrath Khwaja Habib Ali Shah RA of Hyderabad, India to serve the Deen of Islam.
The Musallees offered him accommodation and to be their guest, but the Imam refused to let him go. After a short consultation with both parties he decided to sleep at the house of the Imam but eat at the homes of the Musallees. This made everyone happy.
Locating the Grave of Hazrath Badsha Peer RA
Grave of Hazrath Badsha Peer RA, Brook Street, Durban. (Artist Impression)
The next morning after breakfast at the Rooknoodeen home where others were also present, Hazrath inquired about the grave of Hazrath Sheikh Ahmed RA. Unfortunately they could not remember such a person. Next he made inquiries at the Jumah Musjid from the Imam. After failing to get a definite answer he then asked to be taken to the local Muslim cemetery in Brook Street. At the entrance he made Muraqaba (meditation) until he was able to identify the actual grave.
He walked directly to the grave. After removing the overgrown grass and weeds, the shawl that he had on his shoulder was placed on the grave of Hazrath Badsha Peer RA. Hence the first Gilaaf (cloth cover) was placed on it by Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA. He told the people who were present at the graveside on this historic occasion that it was this personality who had foretold his arrival, and that Hazrath Shaikh Ahmed RA was the Badsha (King) of the Peers of his time. Hence he is well known today as Hazrath Badsha Peer RA.
The people then remembered that there was a person who wore torn and tattered clothes and was referred to as a diwana because he had no family and he had no care for this world. He spent most of his time seated either in the vicinity of the Juma Musjid or at the Brook Street cemetery. He would often move from one place to another. He frequently visited the small and remote villages and towns in northern Natal where there were Indians, although travelling in those days was difficult.
They also remembered him saying that a man of “shariat” has left the shores of India bound for South Africa and those who want salvation in the hereafter should follow this leader when he arrived.
Demise of Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA
In early 1911 Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA made a trip to India which proved to be his last. He returned in April the same year. Two days before his demise he had a high fever and he lay on the floor holding the feet of his mother, as was his custom, reminding her that Paradise lies at the feet of the mother.
On Thursday, 29 June 1911 (2 Rajab 1329), at about noon, he performed wudu and asked to be taken to the door leading out of the house. He was weak and had to be assisted by his second son, Hazrath Shah Abdul Aziz Soofie RA, and one of his mureeds, Hassan Miajee. While standing at the door, he looked towards the Khanqah in a northerly direction and said,
“May Almighty Allah, through the Wasila of our Beloved Nabie SAW, accept the humble effort of ours and may He safeguard the Khanqahs”
He was brought back to his room where he spoke to his mother and informed her that he was about to meet his Creator, His Beloved Prophet SAW and his Pirane Azam. He then lay on the floor facing the Qibla, and as the Muezzin was calling the faithful to Zohar Prayers, this humble son of Islam breathed his last. He was 63 years of age.
“To Allah we belong and unto Him is our return.” – (Holy Quraan)
His Mureed, Hassan Miajee, who was requested by him a few days earlier to perform the Ghusal (and the Janaza Namaaz) carried out the wishes accordingly. His funeral took place the next day in accordance with the wishes of the people to enable them to attend. In the presence of thousands of people of all races and religions, he was buried in the present Mazaar Shareef, overlooking the Indian Ocean where the thunder of the breaking waves on the shore can be clearly heard.