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Abdullah Shah Ghazi

November 29, 2012

IN his report, ‘Festival of the Ghazi begins today’ (Nov 6) about Hazrat Abdullah Shah Ghazi, whose shrine is in Clifton, Karachi, your reporter QAM has expressed ignorance about matters relating to Karachi’s patron saint. He has also raised some queries.

For instance, he wonders why people of the metropolis and beyond flock to the Ghazi's tomb. Also, that “Abdullah Shah was not a ‘Sufi’ in the popular sense. He may have been a pious individual descended from a noble clan, but his era predated the rise of the great Sufi orders by a few hundred years ..."

Perhaps he is unaware of the 36 page booklet containing a reasonable amount of information about the wali written and researched by Muhammad Nawaz Tishnah, which is provided free of cost by the admin office located there. It also lists a bibliography of seven reference works at the end.

Briefly speaking, Hazrat Abdullah Shah (98 AH – 151 AH) was the third descendant of Hazrat Imam Husain (R.A.A.), the son of Caliph Ali (R.A.A.).

His father sent him to the latter’s uncle in Basra during the Alawi rebellion, from where he travelled to and settled in Sindh during Caliph Mansoor’s reign, according to Ibn Kathir.

He spent 12 years spreading Islam over there. Following the martyrdom of both his father and paternal uncle during the rebellion against the Abbasids, the governor of Sindh, Umer bin Hafs, was ordered by Caliph Mansoor to arrest Abdullah Shah and send him back.

However, the gentleman held the saint in great esteem, having made bayt (allegiance), finally sending him to the care of a Raja ruling a coastal state.

During his lifetime, he converted hundreds, if not thousands, of people to Islam and finally met his martyrdom at the hands of the newly-appointed governor’s troops.

As far as his relation to Sufism is concerned, the reporter’s conclusion is misleading. The Sufis had existed even during the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Some notable examples are those of Hazrat Owais Qarni (R.A.A.), as well as of the group known as the Ashab-i-Suffa.

About the latter, Allah Himself had sent a Quranic verse (VI, 52) in their support and the Prophet (peace be upon him) had also spoken highly of them. So, it can’t be said that Hazrat Abdullah Shah (R.A.) couldn’t have been a Sufi.

S. QADRI Karachi