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The title of my blog today is a quote from a great 13th century Sufi Saint, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. Sufism is the mystical dimension of Islam, and I have seen over many years its power as a vehicle to connect with the Divine. At its essence Sufism is a way of universal love and tolerance, a quest for the Divine within man. Sufis consider love a spiritual alchemy where the basic qualities of a person are transformed to achieve realisation. They believe in “worshipping God as if you see Him”, so there is emphasis on service to others, which should be done for the sake of Allah, without expectation of any reward. Sufis observe all the pillars of Islam, and also aim to achieve an ideal moral and spiritual state, so that they can meet Allah in this lifetime rather than waiting for the hereafter. The practice of Sufism is very simple and is a liberal and practical way of practising love and kindness. I always tell my students, if they pray at a Sufi shrine, they will get more focus in their prayer to Allah.

In my lifetime I have witnessed the miracle power of Sufi Saints many times, in the lives of those who have prayed humbly and earnestly, at their dargahs. Like great Yogis and Saints, they have the power to change our luck and destiny. These Souls continue to help people hundreds of years after they have left their body and attained immortality. As often as I can, I visit the dargahs or shrines of Sufi saints like Patte Shah and Nizamuddin Sahib in Delhi, Sai Baba in Maharashtara and Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan. I will share one personal story as an example of the Divine power of these Sufi saints.

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Shashi Dubey with his associate at Nizamuddin Sahib Dargah, Delhi

I knew a particular civil servant, who had been selected for a serious position in one of India’s biggest organisations. The relevant Minister, however, seemed to be delaying signing off on the necessary paperwork, in spite of numerous reminders and requests. The poor man had no idea what he could do to get things moving. I met with him and told him I would pick him up at 5.30am the following morning. I brought him to the dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Sahib. It was a very cold morning adding to the almost supernatural silence. I told his man to close his eyes, embrace the tomb of Nizamuddin, and think only: “Baba, I need your love.” When his phone rang I told him to ignore it, to stay focused on the feet of Nizamuddin Sahib. We spent thirty minutes completely on our own there, after which I brought him to another spiritual place where we did more prayer. When we left there, I told him to check his phone for messages. The Minister’s office had called, and the poor man was in a fury, thinking that office never calls so early, and I had caused him more problems by not letting him answer his phone. I smiled and told him to relax and return the call. When he made the call, the official told him they had had an urgent call from the Minister to sign off on the paperwork, and the call was to congratulate him. Needless to say, the civil servant was delighted and his faith in the Divine reaffirmed. I have many such stories of the miracles if Nizamuddin Sahib, who never turned anyone away when he was alive, and still helps those who come for his assistance. His message of love and compassion attracts thousands of people to visit his shrine every day.

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Dargah of Nizamuddin, Delhi

So, who was this Sufi, Hazrat Nizamuddin Sahib, who was also known as Mehboob-e-Elahi — the beloved of Allah? It is believed he was born in 1238 in Badayun, east of Delhi. His parents had fled there from Bukhara in Central Asia around 1220, when Genghis Khan and his army ransacked and destroyed the city. He lost his father when he was only five years old, leaving the family in very poor state financially. His mother, a revered Sufi saint, known as Maa Sahiba, had such deep faith and a strong bond with the Divine, that she overcame all difficulties to make sure her son had the best education and spiritual teachings. On days when there was no food in the house, she would tell her son: “Today, we are the guests of God.” It is not surprising that feeding the hungry became a mainstay of his own life. By the age of sixteen he knew the Quran by heart, and went to Delhi, which at that time was the capital of the Delhi Sultanate, to continue his studies. A few years later he became a disciple of the Sufi saint Farid Shakarganj, who encouraged him to “be a tree under the soothing shadow of which others could find comfort.”

So that he could be this comforter to people, he set up a khanaqah, a centre for religious and spiritual guidance, outside the walls of the city as it was then — this is the site of his dargah today. Of most importance to him, above any ritual, was that everyone should be given food. He used to say: “Dervishhood consists of three elements: first every visitor should be greeted with peace; then he should be served food; and then only should one engage in story telling or spiritual conversation.” He had a strong belief in the essential truth of all religions and did all he could to promote good relations and harmony between Muslims and Hindus, working with the Mughal Emperor. It was a time in Hindustan, as it was known then, when Delhi was ruled by Sultans, focused only on accumulating wealth, and plundering neighbouring kingdoms. It was a reign of fear, greed, and lust, where Nizamuddin Sahib offered calm and hope.

He was loved by all, except the Sultans, of which thirteen sat as rulers of the Delhi Sultanate, during his lifetime, which ended on 3rd April 1325. The depth of love and respect for this great Sufi has continued unabated since that time. If you ever visit the dargah, you will see the tombs of princes, poets, historians, fakirs buried in the soothing shadow of the tree he became. Indeed, just around the corner is the mausoleum of the Emperor Humayun, who ruled half the world in the name of Islam, taking solace in the shadow of Nizamuddin who loved all mankind in the name of Islam.

If you have the opportunity to visit any Sufi dargah, I encourage you to pray to Allah, and receive the blessing of the Sufi saints. As Nizamuddin once said: “There are as many paths to the One as there are grains of sand.” I am including the Ninety-Nine names of Allah. Please choose those you are drawn to and include in your prayer.

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99 Names of Allah

Arabic English Translation

Allah (الله) God The Greatest Name

1 Ar-Rahman (الرحمن) The All-Compassionate

2 Ar-Rahim (الرحيم) The All-Merciful

3 Al-Malik (الملك) The Absolute Ruler

4 Al-Quddus (القدوس) The Pure One

5 As-Salam (السلام) The Source of Peace

6 Al-Mu’min (المؤمن) The Inspirer of Faith

7 Al-Muhaymin (المهيمن) The Guardian

8 Al-Aziz (العزيز) The Victorious

9 Al-Jabbar (الجبار) The Compeller

10 Al-Mutakabbir (المتكبر) The Greatest

11 Al-Khaliq (الخالق) The Creator

12 Al-Bari’ (البارئ) The Maker of Order

13 Al-Musawwir (المصور) The Shaper of Beauty

14 Al-Ghaffar (الغفار) The Forgiving

15 Al-Qahhar (القهار) The Subduer

16 Al-Wahhab (الوهاب) The Giver of All

17 Ar-Razzaq (الرزاق) The Sustainer

18 Al-Fattah (الفتاح) The Opener

19 Al-`Alim (العليم) The Knower of All

20 Al-Qabid (القابض) The Constrictor

21 Al-Basit (الباسط) The Reliever

22 Al-Khafid (الخافض) The Abaser

23 Ar-Rafi (الرافع) The Exalter

24 Al-Mu’izz (المعز) The Bestower of Honors

25 Al-Mudhill (المذل) The Humiliator

26 As-Sami (السميع) The Hearer of All

27 Al-Basir (البصير) The Seer of All

28 Al-Hakam (الحكم) The Judge

29 Al-`Adl (العدل) The Just

30 Al-Latif (اللطيف) The Subtle One

31 Al-Khabir (الخبير) The All-Aware

32 Al-Halim (الحليم) The Forbearing

33 Al-Azim (العظيم) The Magnificent

34 Al-Ghafur (الغفور) The Forgiver and Hider of Faults

35 Ash-Shakur (الشكور) The Rewarder of Thankfulness

36 Al-Ali (العلى) The Highest

37 Al-Kabir (الكبير) The Greatest

38 Al-Hafiz (الحفيظ) The Preserver

39 Al-Muqit (المقيت) The Nourisher

40 Al-Hasib (الحسيب) The Accounter

41 Al-Jalil (الجليل) The Mighty

42 Al-Karim (الكريم) The Generous

43 Ar-Raqib (الرقيب) The Watchful One

44 Al-Mujib (المجيب) The Responder to Prayer

45 Al-Wasi (الواسع) The All-Comprehending

46 Al-Hakim (الحكيم) The Perfectly Wise

47 Al-Wadud (الودود) The Loving One

48 Al-Majid (المجيد) The Majestic One

49 Al-Ba’ith (الباعث) The Resurrector

50 Ash-Shahid (الشهيد) The Witness

51 Al-Haqq (الحق) The Truth

52 Al-Wakil (الوكيل) The Trustee

53 Al-Qawiyy (القوى) The Possessor of All Strength

54 Al-Matin (المتين) The Forceful One

55 Al-Waliyy (الولى) The Governor

56 Al-Hamid (الحميد) The Praised One

57 Al-Muhsi (المحصى) The Appraiser

58 Al-Mubdi’ (المبدئ) The Originator

59 Al-Mu’id (المعيد) The Restorer

60 Al-Muhyi (المحيى) The Giver of Life

61 Al-Mumit (المميت) The Taker of Life

62 Al-Hayy (الحي) The Ever Living One

63 Al-Qayyum (القيوم) The Self-Existing One

64 Al-Wajid (الواجد) The Finder

65 Al-Majid (الماجد) The Glorious

66 Al-Wahid (الواحد) The Unique, The Single

67 Al-Ahad (الاحد) The One, The Indivisible

68 As-Samad (الصمد) The Satisfier of All Needs

69 Al-Qadir (القادر) The All Powerful

70 Al-Muqtadir (المقتدر) The Creator of All Power

71 Al-Muqaddim (المقدم) The Expediter

72 Al-Mu’akhkhir (المؤخر) The Delayer

73 Al-Awwal (الأول) The First

74 Al-Akhir (الأخر) The Last

75 Az-Zahir (الظاهر) The Manifest One

76 Al-Batin (الباطن) The Hidden One

77 Al-Wali (الوالي) The Protecting Friend

78 Al-Muta’ali (المتعالي) The Supreme One

79 Al-Barr (البر) The Doer of Good

80 At-Tawwab (التواب) The Guide to Repentance

81 Al-Muntaqim (المنتقم) The Avenger

82 Al-‘Afuww (العفو) The Forgiver

83 Ar-Ra’uf (الرؤوف) The Clement

84 Malik-al-Mulk (مالك الملك) The Owner of All

85 Dhu-al-Jalal wa-al-Ikram (ذو الجلال و الإكرام) The Lord of Majesty and Bounty

86 Al-Muqsit (المقسط) The Equitable One

87 Al-Jami’ (الجامع) The Gatherer

88 Al-Ghani (الغنى) The Rich One

89 Al-Mughni (المغنى) The Enricher

90 Al-Mani’(المانع) The Preventer of Harm

91 Ad-Darr (الضار) The Creator of The Harmful

92 An-Nafi’ (النافع) The Creator of Good

93 An-Nur (النور) The Light

94 Al-Hadi (الهادي) The Guide

95 Al-Badi (البديع) The Originator

96 Al-Baqi (الباقي) The Everlasting One

97 Al-Warith (الوارث) The Inheritor of All

98 Ar-Rashid (الرشيد) The Righteous Teacher

99 As-Sabur (الصبور) The Patient One