I was 11 at that time, when I found out that I was actually travelling to a town which has given the warmest welcome to one of the most pivotal, elite, holy, charismatic, litterateur emigrant saint of the Sabri Chishtiya Order (a branch of the Chishti Silsila, only scantily documented). His name was Sheikh Abdul Quddus, also known as Sheikh Abd-Al-Quddus Gangohi and Abdul Quddus Hanafi Ghaznavi Chishti Gangohi bin Shaykh Muhammad Ismail bin Shaykh Safi al-din. (1456-1537). However in my study and research, Quddusis are rootly connected to the Persian King Anushirwan who was popularly known as Kusrow I (The Immortal) and the founder of Sasanian Empire – Ardashir I (The Unifier). The religion of Sasanian Empire was Zoroastrianism but after the collapse of the Empire, some people migrated to India and accepted Islam as their new religion.
The details of Sheikh Abdul Quddus life are comparatively well known. His family, which had produced many illustrious Ulama (Refers to the educated class of Muslim legal scholars engaged in the several fields of Islamic Studies and Polymaths), and claimed descent from Imam Abu Hanifa. During the period of the early Turkish sultanates, they had migrated from Gazna Sara, Iran to Delhi, but toward the end of the 14th century Sheikh Abdul Quddus’s great grandfather, Shaikh Nasir-al-Din, moved eastward to Jawnpur, settling near Rudawli, where he and his descendants maintained close ties with the ruling Sarqi dynasty. Sheikh Abdul Quddus was born into the family of Shaikh Moḥammad Esmail bin Safi-al-Din bin Nasir-al-din ca. 860/1456.
Muhammad Iqbal (widely known as Allama Iqbal) on him:
“Muhammad of Arabia ascended the highest heaven and returned. I swear by God that if I had reached that point, I should never have returned” (M. Iqbal, Six Lectures on the Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Lahore, 1930, p. 193).
For Iqbal this statement summarizes the contrast between the mystic and prophetic levels of consciousness. But it is important to remember that the saying, if it can be genuinely attributed to the saint from Gangoh, was uttered as an ecstatic aphorism during one of his intoxicated state, perhaps while attending a sama ‘assembly’. Like every major Sufi saint, however, Sheikh Abdul Quddus was able to combine opposite qualities and tendencies; in his sober state he maintained his obligations as a strict Sunni Muslim, as a husband and father, and as a nurturer of other men in the mystical path of the Sabri Chishtiya.
Education, Life, Spiritual Practices
The educational and spiritual life of Sheikh Abdul Quddus closely resembles to that of his Sufi preceptor Ahmad Abd – al – Haq Rudawlavi (d. 838/1434). Both began their formal studies in the field of External Sciences (Alam-e-Zaher), but finally overwhelmed by the passionate love for God (Ishk-e-Maula) after which they became students, disciples, and eventual exemplars of the Sufi path (ṭariqa). Sheikh Abdul Quddus was not, however, linked to Aḥmad in a generational sequence, they had a very generational gap of more than a hundred years. He became known to with the relatively obscure Sabri Chishtiya through Aḥmad’s grandson, Shaikh Moḥammad, who was the Sajjada Nasheen of the Rudawli Khanqah in Sheikh Abdul Quddus’s youth and whose sister Sheikh Abdul Quddus later married. Sheikh Abdul Quddus himself claimed that it was once a direct communication with the spirit of the deceased saint in a dream that prompted his profession of spiritual allegiance (bayt) to the Sabri Chishtiya.
For approximately seventeen years after his initiation into the Sabri Chishtiya discipline, he remained near Rudawli, spending his time in private spiritual and devotional pursuits (e.g., namaz-e-makus “inverted prayer” and sultan-e-dhiqr “supreme meditation,” were extraordinarily rigorous) but also accepting Afghan disciples from the Lodhi armies that conquered and intermittently ruled eastern Uttar Pradesh during the latter part of the 15th century. Sheikh Abdul Quddus, with his family, moved to Shahabad in the Punjab region, not far from Gangoh, where the saint eventually died and was buried. For over 30 years he resided there, raised his sons, and continued to groom Afghan disciples. Inevitably he was entangled in the battle of Panipat (1526). Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi compelled him to bless the ill-fated Lodhi army. The now aged saint was captured and later released by the invading Mughals. He then moved to Gangoh, where he lived for his remaining eleven years. He developed minimal but apparently cordial relations with both Babur and Humayun. Abd-al-Quddus recorded his exchanges with the Lodhi and Mughal royalty in letters, copies of which were retained, collected, and later transcribed by scrupulous disciples. These letters (the Maktubat-e-Quddusi) provide insights into the saint’s relations with contemporary rulers and government officials.
A writer, too
Sheikh Abd-al-Quddus was also an inventive writer in Persian, Arabic and Hindi. Unfortunately, out of his seventeen compositions only a few are left, many are no longer extant. Anwar-al-ayun is a Persian tazqira of his pir, Aḥmad Abdul Ḥaqq Rodawlavi; while Roshd (Morshed) nama is a Persian esaara “instructional detail” with numerous Arabic citations that summarizes the saint’s mystical outlook and incorporates meditative exercises of Nathanpanthi yogins. He have two collections of his Persian letters (Maktubat-e-Quddusi and a smaller Montakabe Maqtubat-e-Quddusi).
A life full of supernatural practices and extraordinarily literary
Muhammad Gauth Gawaliyari, the author of Jawaahir-e-Khamsah, was an aalim (Religious Scholar). He was apparently a contemporary of Sheikh Abdul Quddus. Once he sent some jinns to bring Hadhrat to him. Hadhrat Shaikh on this occasion was engrossed (in thikr) in the Mosque. The jinns arrived, but could not muster up the courage to go to Sheikh Abdul Quddus .When the Shaikh noticed someone, he asked: ‘Who is it?” The jinns replied: “Muhammad Gauth wishes to see you, hence he has sent us. If you consent, we shall take you without causing any inconvenience.”
“I order you to bring Muhammad Gauth here.”
The jinns obeyed. Taking hold of Muhammad Gauth they set off to Sheikh Abdul Quddus. Muhammad Gauth said to the jinns : “What is wrong? You were in subjection to me. Why this disobedience?”
The jinns responded: “With regard to others, we are obedient to you, but not in regard to the Sheikh. As far as he is concerned, we cannot obey you.”
They delivered him to Hadhrat Sheikh Abdul Quddus who said: “Have you no shame?”
Hadhrat severely reprimanded him. Finally he became bayt to Hadhrat and attained a lofty spiritual status of divine proximity (i.e. he became a Saahib-e-Nisbat). His grave is in Gawaliyar, India.
The other most wonderful and supernatural story about him is that:
It is claimed that Sheikh Abdul Quddus was once engaged in a direct communication with the spirit of the deceased saint Abdul Haqq in a dream that prompted his profession of spiritual allegiance (bayt) to the Sabri Chishtiya. He is claimed to be the only Saint of the Chishtiya order for whom the spirit of the deceased saint Abdul Haqq arrived from its grave to meet Sheikh Abdul Quddus to prompt his spiritual allegiance (bayt).