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Read this biography on Nizamuddin Aulia, a profound teacher of Sufism of the Chishti Order in India. He wasn’t just a teacher, but a doer of his own word.

Nizamuddin Aulia

Born On: 1238 AD
Born In: Badayun, Uttar Pradesh
Died On: April 3, 1325
Career: Sufi Saint
Nationality: Indian

Nizamuddin Aulia aka Mehboob-e-Elahi, which means Beloved of God, was one of the greatest saints of the Christi Order in South Asia. The order was involved in drawing close to God through renunciation of the world and service to humanity. He was preceded by Moinuddīn Chishti, Bakhtiyar Kaki, and Fariduddin Ganjshakar, popularly known as Baba Farid. And just like them, Nizamuddin emphasized on the element of love as a means to realization of God. With strong beliefs in practical aspects of Sufism and implementation of those beliefs in his own life, he led by example. No wonder he had more than 600 disciples who were further allowed to have disciples under them so as to spread the message of love and humanity to as much as possible! It was Nizamuddin’s heightened sense of secularity and kindness that made people inclined towards mysticism of Sufism and prayers, remaining aloof from the worries of the world. The place where he lived for more than six decades is now a shrine and is visited by people from diverse background all year long.

Early Life
Nizamuddin Aulia was born to in 1238 AD in Badayun, Uttar Pradesh (east of Delhi). His father’s name was Khwaja Ahmed and his mother’s name was Bibi Zulaitaikha. When Nizamuddin was a little boy of five, his father passed away and his mother brought him to a school where he learned to recite the holy Quran. In a short time, he achieved quite a mastery over it. By the age of twelve, Nizamuddin had studied Arabic grammar, traditions of Prophet Mohammad, and had become distinguished in the commentary of Quran, Islamic jurisprudence, mathematics and astronomy. His sharp wittedness and understanding had earned him the title of a Debater. It was during the eighteenth year of Nizamuddin that he travelled from Badayun to Delhi. Accompanied by a firm believer of Bada Farid’s teachings, Musamma Ayuz, who said nothing but praises for him; Nizamuddin’s faith in Baba Farid began to reach new heights.

In the year 1257, Nizamuddin went to Ajodhan (present Pakpattan Sharif in Pakistan) and became a disciple of Sufi saint Fariduddin Ganj-i-Shakkar, commonly known as Baba Farid. He lived in the company of Baba Farid, who had now become his spiritual guide, for seven months and a few days before returning to Delhi where he ascended the throne of Khilafat-e-piran-e-Chisht or the Caliph of the Chishti Sheikhs. After residing for a few days in Delhi, Nizamuddin felt that he needed to move away from the crowd and thought of withdrawing himself to the desert. It was then that he received a revelation that he should take up a residence in a village outside the city, Ghiyaspur. It turned out to be perfect place untouched by the noise and chaos of the city life. Thus, he built his Khanqah, and lived there for more than sixty years without changing his residence. The Khanqah is visited by many people till date. Nasiruddin Chiragh Delhavi, spiritual successor of Nizamuddin Aulia; Amir Khusro, the most loved disciple of his master; Aqi Seraj, Burhanuddin Gharib, Jalaluddin Bhandari, Syed Mahmood Kashkinakar, Ajan Fakir, and Syed Ahmed Badepaa were the few disciples that reached spiritual heights among the 600 that Nizamuddin had.

Key Beliefs
As opposed to the belief that merger with God is possible only after death, Nizamuddin believed in embracing God within this life by cleansing the soul and destroying the ego and that it was possible though considerable efforts involving Sufi practices. He did not much bother about the theoretical aspects of Sufism but focused on practical aspects like having complete trust in God, turning away from distinctions made on the basis of social and religious status, being generous to the needy and oppressed, and holding an uncompromising attitude towards all form of social and political oppressions.

It was on 3rd April 1325 that Nizamuddin died because of a four months long illness and was buried in Ghiyaspur itself. His shrine, the Nizamuddin Dergah is located in Delhi and the present structure that stands over it was built in 1562. The place is visited by people from all faiths through the year.

Titles Given To Nizamuddin Aulia
Spiritual Lineage
Start of the Chishti Order:
Arziyaan, a qawwali song in the film Delhi 6 composed by Oscar award winner music director A.R Rehman is dedicated to Nizamuddin Aulia. The film was released in 2009 and the song became quite popular.

1238: Nizamuddin Aulia was born in Badayun, Uttar Pradesh.
1250: Studied many aspects of Islam, mathematics, and astronomy.
1256: He moved to Delhi from Badayun.
1257: He went to Ajodhan and became a disciple of Baba Farid.
1325: Nizamuddin Aulia died on 3rd of April.