English Articles


*Dr. Muhammad Sultan Shah 

    Islam was propagated in Indian subcontinent by saints who had either migrated here from Islamic centres or had been trained by the spiritual guides of different Sufi orders residing in Islamic lands. These mystics belonged to Naqshbandi, Qadri, Chishti, and Suhrawardi Orders. The preaching efforts by Sufi saints resulted in the conversion of a large number of people to Islam. Among such mystics Hadrat Shaykh Baha' al-Din Zakariyya Multani, occupies a remarkable place. He dedicated the whole of his life for preaching of Islam. 
    This great Sufi was born at Kot Karor near Multan in 566 A.H. He was a lineal descendant of Asad, the son of Hashim, the great-grandfather of the Holy Prophet (Upon whom be peace and greeting). His father died when he was twelve years of age. After completing his study of the Holy Qur'an according to its seven methods of recitation at Kot Karor, he visited the great centres of Muslim learning in Khurasan, Bukhara, Madinah, and in Palestine. He learnt Hadith with an eminent traditionist, Shaykh Kamal al-Din Yamani at Madinah and he was employed as an attendant at the mausoleum of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) for 5 years. After visiting the graves of the Israelite Prophets in Palestine, he reached Baghdad and became a disciple of Shaykh Shihab al-Din Suhrawardi. At that time he was, as his master said, a dry wood ready to catch fire, and so after seventeen days' instruction, the later appointed him his successor and ordered him to set up a Suhrawardi Khankah in Multan. 
He complied with the order of his master and worked in Multan for 

*Chairperson, Department of Arabic & Islamic Studies, GC University Lahore
more than half a century and died in Multan on 7 Safar, 661/21 December, 1262. (1)
    Hadrat Baha' al-Din is such saint who has been equally revered both by the Muslims and non-Muslims. A number of Orientalists and 
indigenous non-Muslim writers have mentioned him in their books. Homage paid by the Christians, the Hindus and the Sikhs to this mystic is reflected from the following paragraphs.
    E.d.Maclagan, a Settlement Officer, who compiled "Gazetteer of the Multan District" in 1901-02 writes about Shaykh Baha' al-Din Zakariyya as follows:
"Shaikh Baha-ud-Din Zakaraia, otherwise known as "Bahawal Hakk", was, according to Abul Fazl, "the son of Wajih-ud-din Muhammad b. Kamal-ud-Din Ali Shah and was born at Kot Karor near Multan in A.H. 565 (A.D. 1669-70). His father died when he was a child; he grew in wisdom, and studied in Turan and Iran. He received his doctrine from Shaykh Shihab-ud-Din Suharwardi at Baghdad, and reached a degree of vice-gerent. He was on terms of great friendship with Shaikh Farid al-Din Shakarganj, and lived with him for a considerable time. Sheikh Iraki and Mir, Husayni were his disciples. Bahawal Hakk was for many years the great saint of Multan, and has still a very extensive reputation in the South by West Punjab and in Sindh ………… His death is thus described Abdul Fazl: 'on the 7th of Safar, A.H. 665 (7th November, 1266), an aged person of grave aspect sent in to him a sealed letter by the hand of his son Sadr-ud-din. He read it and gave up the spirit; and a loud voice was heard from the four corners of the town: "Friend is untied to friend" (Dost ba dost rasid)"(2)
    Sir Lepel Griffin has given an account of Shaykh Baha' al-Din in "Punjab Chiefs" and has praised his piety due to which a large number of people embraced Islam and became his disciples. (3)
    Professor Sir, Thomas Arnold, a teacher of Allama Muhammad Iqbal at Government College Lahore, in his book entitled "The Preaching of Islam" has elucidated how did Islam spread in different parts of the world.

While describing the preaching of Islam in India, he has admitted: 
"The conversion of the inhabitants of the western plains of the Punjab is said to have been effected through the preaching of Bahawal Hakk of Multan and Baba Farid al-Din of Pakpattan, who flourished about the end of the thirteenth and beginning of the fourteenth centuries." (4)
    L.Bevan Jones of the Baptist Missionary Society in his book "The People of the Mosque" has acknowledged the services of Baha'al-Din Zakariyya for propagation of Islam. He writes: 
    "This (Suhrawardi) order was founded by Dia-ul-Din Abi Najib Suhrawardi, who died in A.D. 1167. It was introduced into India by Shaikh Baha-ud-Din Zakariyya of Multan, a disciple of Shaikh Shihab-ud-Din, who succeeded the founder. Baha-ud-din died in 1266A.H. His tomb in Multan is greatly revered. His spiritual descendants are active and successful propagandists of Islam." (5)
J.Spencer Trimingham wrote about this mystic as follows:
"The Suhrawardi Silsila spread in India as a distinctive school of mystical ascription to be one of the major tariqa………The chief propagandist in Sindh and Punjab was another disciple, Baha ad-din Zakariyya (A.D.1182 - 1268), the succession continuing in the same family." (6)
    Famous orientalist A.J. Arberry has also paid tribute to him. He writes:
"Shihab al-Din wrote many books, large and small, the most famous and influential being the 'Awarif-al-Ma'arif which became fundamental text book of the order. His teaching was carried to India by Baha' al-Din Zakariyya of Multan, and therefore found immediate acceptance." (7)
    He also holds the view that, the Suhrawardiyyah order was carried to India by Baha' al-Din al-Multani'. (8) 
    The Cambridge History of Islam" also contain a brief introduction to Sufi orders. About Suharwardi order it has been underlined:
    "A second order was presently established in Baghdad by Shihab al-Din (539-633A.H/1144-1234A.D), a nephew of a sufi rector of the Nizamiyya Academy and himself an accomplished Shafi'i scholar, a pupil of 'Abd al-Qadir, his best known work is the 'Awarif al-ma'arif (Benefits of gnoses). The Suhrawardiyya was carried to Inida by Baha' al-Din al-Multani." (9)
    John P. Brown published a book about oriental spiritualism in 1868A.D that was later on edited by H. A. Rose and published in 1968 A.D. In this book Shaykh Zakariyya is mentioned as follows:
"In Multan the Suhrawardiya centered around the attractive personality of Baha'uddin Zakariya (d.666)........ a pupil of Omar Suhrawardi............under whose influence the mystical poet Fakhar-ud-din 'Iraqi remained for a long time."(10)
    In the Encyclopedia of Religion of Ethics, Shaykh Zakariyya is mentioned in the following words:
"Of importance in the history of Islam in the Punjab is the Settlement in that part of India of saints of Suhrawardi Order; e.g., to the preaching of Baha' al-Din Zakariya and of Sayyid Jalal al-Din and his descendants, many of the tribes of the Punjab owe their conversion." (11)
At another place, it is further told:
"Baha-al-Din Zakariya settled in Multan, in the neighborhood of which he had been born, and his tomb, which he is said to have built during his lifetime, is of the few great monuments of Indian Architecture of this period."(12) 
    Annemarie Schimmel has undertaken research work on Islamic mysticism and has written a number of books on this subject. She writes:
"And even greater Suhrawardi impact on Muslim religious life was made by Baha'-ud-Din Zakariyya Multani (d.Ca.1262 A.D), contemporary of Farid-ud-din Ganj-e-Shakar…… And he was willing to mix freely with members of the ruling classes just as Abu-Hafs-Umar Suhrawardi himself had served the Caliph an-Nasir" (13)
    Dr. Schimmel has also given the details about Shaykh Baha' al-Din Zakariyya. She writes:
    "He went to the central Islamic lands to study Hadith, and when he finally met Abu-Hafs-Suhrawardi in Baghdad, this teacher found him ready as dry wood to catch fire. Returning to Multan, Baha-ud-din soon gained many followers, although his lifestyle differed considerably from the austere, God-trusting, yet emotionally charged atmosphere of his Chishti neighbours. His Khankah was well run; he had fixed hours for reception…… Baha' ud-Din Zakariyya accepted government grants and cooperated with those rulers whom he found acceptable, following with Najib-ud-din Suhrawardi the Koranic device: 'Obey God and His Prophet and Obey those with authority among you (Sura 4/59). Thus, he cooperated with Iltutimish as his successors cooperated with Feroz Tughluq." (14)
    Murray T. Titus, while writing about Shaykh Baha'al-Din Zakariyya says: 
    "Following the appearance of the Chishti order in India, the next Darwish fraternity to be introduced was the Suhrawardi order, which was sponsored by Baha'ud-Din Zakariyya, a native of Multan. He went to Baghdad and attached himself to Shihab-ud-Din Suhrawardi, the founder of the order, who as himself a contemporary of 'Abd-ul-Qadir Jilani, the founder of Qadiri Order. In A.D. 1266, he died at Multan where his tomb is greatly revered" (15)
    Arthur F. Buehler who has embraced Islam, has praised the contribution of Baha'-al-Din Zakariyya in spreading Islam in the Punjab. He writes:
"Punjabi Islam was structured in a meditational pattern from the beginning. The spread of Islam throughout the western Punjab has been attributed to the efforts initiated by the grand sufi masters of the Chishtiyya and Suhrawardiyya, Baba Farid Ganj-e-Shakar (d.664/1265) of Pakpatten and Baha' uddin Zakariya (d.666/1267) of Multan respectively."(16)
    Besides orientalists some non-Muslim historians of the sub-continent have also mentioned this great Sufi in their books. Among Hindus, Dr.Tara Chand has written about Baha' al-Din Zakariyya in his book "Influence of Islam on India Culture". (17) K.S. Lal in his book "Early Muslims in India" writes about this saint as follows:
"The founder of the Suhrawardi Silsila was Shaikh Shahab-ud-din Suhrawardi. He directed his disciples to work in India. The most prominent among these was Shaikh Baha-ud-din Zakariyya of Multan. Baha-ud-din Zakariyya was born at Karor in 1182-83 and after a long sojourn of many important centres of Muslim learning, he settled down in his Khanqah at Multan where he died in 1262 after half a century's work. The credit of organizing the Suhrawardi order in India belongs to him. He did not believe in poverty or torturing the body. He lived a comfortable life and emphasized and practiced the external forms of Islam …….… Bahauddin Zakariyya did not shun wealth; in fact he accumulated it. He also mixed freely with sultans and practiced politics. It is said that he was the richest Muslim saint of medieval India". (18)
    Some Sikh historians have also highlighted the achievements of Zakariyya Multani. For instance, Dr Fauja Singh of Punjabi University Patiala (India) writes: 
"By and by, at Multan and Uch, permanent seats of learning associated with the names of Pirs and Fakirs were established. Among them, the Suhrawardy order was the most prominent. The Original founder of this branch was Sufi saint of Baghdad, Shahab-ud-Din Suhrawardi". In Multan, the foundation of this order or Silsila was laid down by the Sufi Saint Baha-ud-Din Zakaria". (19)
    Dr. Bakhshish Singh Nijjar of Mahandra College Patiala has written "Punjab under the Sultans (1000-1526 A.D)" in which he writes about Shaykh Baha' al-Din Zakariyya in the following words:
    "Baha-ud-din Zakariya was the founder of Suhrawardi sufi order in India who was born at Kot Aror near Multan in 1182-83. He met the famous Sufi Shahab-ud-din Suhrawardi during the course of his journey to Bukhara, Baghdad and Jerusalem. He set up Khanqa at Multan where he lived and worked for about half a century and where he died in December 1263, his descendants Shaikh Sadr-ud-din and Abul Fath Rukn-ud-din, carried on the work of spiritual salvation after his demise. His cult was accepted by both the communities. He was the most influential sufi saint of thirteenth century. His mystic ideology differed greatly from that of the Chishti Sufis."(20)
    Khushwant Singh has also referred to this great sufi in his book entitled "The History of the Sikhs". He has mentioned that the Suhrawardi sufis Baha' al-Din Zakariyya and Shah Rukn al-Din opened a centre of Sufism  

at Multan.(21)
    E.D. Maclagan has given the details in the following words: 
"The lower part of the tomb is in square of 51 feet 9 inches. This is surmounted by an octagon, about one-half of the height of the square, above which there is a hemisphere dome. The greater part of the building is a mass of white plaster; but on the eastern side there are still existing some fairly preserved specimens of diaper ornament in glazed tiles." (22)
    According to Cunningham there is only one other specimen of the architecture of this exact period, and that is at Sonepat. (23). The shrine of Bahawal Hakk is enlivened at times by the visits of bands of pilgrims from Sindh and elsewhere who march in with flags, crying out in chorus: " Dam Bahawal Hakk! Dam Bahawal Hakk!" (24)
    The shrine of this great saint has been revered both by the Muslims and non-Muslims as J.Royal Roseberry III writes:
"Many Hindus venerated Muslim saints. Mulraj's mother made offerings at the shrine of Bahawal Hakk, praying. "that her son might not only conquer the English, but afterwards the Sikhs and become King of the Punjab"           (25)
    It is evident from the above statements that contribution of Hadrat Baha' al-Din Zakariyya to Islam has been acknowledged even by non-Muslim writers. They had referred to him in their writings. The Hindus, Sikhs and orientalists had eulogized this great sufi and the founder of Suharwardi order in India.
  (Allah's mercy be upon him)



1.    The Encyclopedia of Islam (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1986) vol. 1, P.912
    Also Muhammad Latif, Sayyed, The Early History of Multan     (Lahore
: People Publishing House, 1965) PP.73-75.
2.    Maclagan, E.D., Gazetteer of the Multan District (Lahore: Civil 
and Military Gazettee Press, 1902) P.339
3.    Griffin, Sir Lepel, Punjab Chiefs, Urdu Translation by Sayyed
     Nawazish Ali (Lahore: Sing-e-Meel Publications, 1993) Vol.2, P.492.
4.    Arnold, Sir Thomas W., The Preaching of Islam (Lahore:     
Shirkat-i-Kaulam, 1956) P.281.
5.    Jones, L.Bevan, The People of the Mosque (Calcutta: Y.M.C.A. 
Publishing House, 1939) P.165.
6.    Trimingham, J. Spencer, The Sufi Orders in Islam (Oxford: At the 
Claredon Press, 1971) P.65.
7.    Arberry, A.J., Sufism ----------- An Account of the Mystics of 
Islam (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1950) P.86.
8.    Arberry, A.J., Mysticism in "The Cambridge History of Islam" 
edited by P.M. Holt Ann K.S. Lambton & B.Lews (Combridge 
    University Press, 1970) Vol. 2 , P.622)
9.    Holt, P.M. etal. (eds) The Cambridge History of Islam        
 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1970)vol.2-B, P.622.
10.    Brown, John P., The Darivishes or Oriental Spiritualism, edited 
by H. A. Rose (Frank Cass & Company Ltd. 1968) P.4
11.    Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. VIII, P.747
12.    Ibid, Vol. XI, P.69
13.    Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical Dimension of Islam (Lahore:     
Sang-e-Meel Publications, 203) P.352.
14.    Annemarie Schimmel, Islam in Indian Subcontinent (Lahore:     
Sang-e-Meel Publications, 2003) PP.31 - 32.
15.    Titus, Murray T., Islam in India and Pakistan (Karachi: 
Royal     Book Company' 1990) P.128.
16.    Buehler, Arthur F., Sufi Heirs of the Prophet (Columbia:     
University of North Carolina Press, 1998) P.169.
17.    Tara Chand, Influence of Islam on Indian Culture (Lahore: 
Book     Traders, P.O.Box 1854, 1979) P.47
18.    Lal, K.S., Early Muslims in India (Lahore: Iqbal Publications, 
n.d.) P.124 - 5.
19.    Fauja Singh, Hisotry of the Punjab (A.D. 1000 - 1526) (Patiala: 
Punjabi University, 1972) Vol.3, P.15.
20.    Nijjar, Bakhshish Singh, Punjab Under the Sultans (Lahore: 
Book     Traders, 1979) pp.139-40
21.    Khushwant Singh, The History of the Sikhs (1469-1839) (Delhi:
 Oxford University Press, 1984) Vol. PP.27-28
22.    Maclagan, E.D., Gazetteer of the Multan Districts, PP.339- 40. 
23.    Ibid, P.339 
24.    Ibid. P.348
25.    Roseberry III, J.Royal, Imperial Rule in Punjab (New Dehli:    
 Manohar Publications, 1987) P.80.