HAZRAT SHAH ABDUL LATIF BHITTAI ALAIH REHMA (1689-1752), SINDH, PAKISTAN
Shah Abdul Latif, a great scholar, saint and spiritual poet, was born in Hala Haveli near the Khatiyan village of Hyderabad District, Sindh in 1689. He was the direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihay Wasallam through Hazrat Imam Zain-ul-Abideen Razi Allaho Taala Anho , son of Imam Husayn Razi Allaho Taala Anho. Shah's father, Syed Habib Shah had migrated from Matyaru, Afghanistan to Bhainpur in Sindh, in order to gain spiritual contact with Bilawal, a local pious man.
Shah Sahab was a missionary and believed in practical learning. It is through his journeys that he acquired the background for most of his poems. He denounced extravagance, injustice and exploitation in all forms and at all levels, and praised simplicity and hospitality. His spiritual and mystic poetry carries a message of love and universality of the human race.
In 1713, the Sufi poet married Bibi Saida Begum. It was a love marriage. His wife died at an early age, before she could have any children. Shah never married again.
In 1742, Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai Alaih Rehma decided to settle in Bhit, meaning "The Sandy Mound". Having a great passion for music, one day he ordered the musicians to play music. They played continuously for three days. When they stopped playing from pure exhaustion, they found the poet dead. He died in 1752, and is buried in Bhit. A mausoleum was later constructed there.
Before his death, fearing that people might ignore his poetry, he destroyed all his writings by throwing them in the Kiran Lake. But at the request of one of his disciples, the sufi poet asked his servant, Mai Naimat, who had memorized most of his verses, to rewrite them. The message was duly recorded and compiled. A copy of the compilation known as "Ganj" was retained at the mausoleum. The original copy disappeared sometime in 1854. It was in 1866, 114 years after the poet's death, that Ernest Trumpp, a German scholar who knew Sindhi as well as many other languages, compiled "Risalo", a complete collection of Shah Abdul Latif's poetry, along with two other Sindhi scholars.
Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai is always remembered for his great poetry with love and reverence
Latif got his early education in the school maktab of Akhund Noor Muhammad in basic Persian (the government language at that time) and Sindhi (local spoken language). He also learned the Quran e Kareem. His correspondence in Persian with contemporary scholar Hazrat Makhdoom Moinuddin Thattavi Alaih Rehma, as contained in the Risala-i-Owaisi, bears witness to his scholastic competence.
He would often seek solitude and contemplate on the burning questions running through his mind concerning man's spiritual life:
Why was man created?
What is his purpose on this earth? What is his relationship with his Creator?
What is his ultimate destiny?
Although he was born in favoured conditions, being the son of a well-known and very much respected Syed family, he never used his position in an unworthy manner, nor did he show any liking for the comforts of life. He was kind, compassionate, generous and gentle in his manner of speech and behavior which won him the veneration of all those who came across him. He had great respect for woman, which, unfortunately, the present day Sayed's and Vaderas (the landlords) do not have, and he exercised immense reserve in dealing with them, in an age when these qualities were rare. He hated cruelty and could never cause physical pain to any man or even to an animal. He lived a very simple life of self-restraint. His food intake was simple and frugal, so was his dressing which was often deep yellow, the colour of the dress of sufis, jogis, and ascetics, stitched with black thread. To this day, his relics are preserved at Bhitsah (where his mausoleum stands), some of which include a "T"-shaped walking stick, two bowls, one made of sandal-wood and another of transparent stone, which he used for eating and drinking. His long cap and his black turban are also preserved.
QUEST FOR RELIGIOUS TRUTHS
In quest of religious truths, Shah Bhitai traveled to many parts of Sindh and also went to the bordering lands. He kept himself aloof from the political scene of favoritism and intrigues which was going on at the height of the power and rule of Kalhoras in Sindh. Instead of visiting towns and cities, in political canvassing, to serve the purpose of the rulers and elite of the land, though he was much respected by the members of the dynasty and could have benefited from it, he went to hills, valleys, the banks of river, and the fields, where he met the ordinary simple people, the sufis (mystics). He went to the Ganjo Hills in the south of Hyderabad for contemplation, and then to mountains in Las Bela in the south of Sindh and Balochistan. For three years, he travelled with these jogis and sanyasis, in search of the truth, peace, and harmony, to Hinglay, Lakhpat, Nani at the foot of the Himalayas and to Sappar Sakhi. At several places in the Risalo, mention has been made of these jogis and of his visits to these wonderful, holy and peaceful places. The two surs, Ramkali and Khahori, describe them under various endearing names and a detailed account of the jogis' lifestyle is given. He also travelled to such far away places as Junagardh, Jesalmere and parts of the Thar Desert.
PIETY AND ASCETISM
By the time he was a young man of twenty one years, he began to be known for his piety, his ascetic habits and his absorption in prayers. Observation and contemplation were chief traits of his character. A number of people flocked round him adding to the already large number of his disciples. This aroused jealousy of some powerful, ruthless, tyrannical persons - landlords, Pirs, Mirs, and Rulers - who became his enemies for some time. Later, seeing his personal worth, and the peaceful and ascetic nature of his fame, abandoned their rivalry. At this time he was living with his father at Kotri, five miles away from the present site of Bhitshah. It was here that his marriage was solemnised in 1713 CE with Bibi Sayedah Begum, daughter of Mirza Mughul Beg. She was a very virtuous and pious lady, who was a proper companion for him. The disciples had great respect for her. They had no children.
In the true ascetic spirit, Shah Latif was now in search of a place where in solitude, he could devote all his time in prayers and meditation. Such a place he found near Lake Karar, a mere sand hill, but an exotic place of scenic beauty, four miles away from New Hala. This place was covered by thorny bushes surrounded by many pools of water. It was simply and aptly called 'Bhit' (the Sand Hill). On the heaps of its sandstones he decide to settle down and build a village. As it was sandy, he along with his disciples dug out the hard earth from a distance and covered the sand with it to make the ground firm. After months of hard labour, carrying the earth on their heads and shoulders, the place was now fit enough for the construction of an underground room and two other rooms over it, along with a room for his old parents. A Masjid was also built and the houses of his disciples properly marked out. In 1742, whilst he was still busy setting up a new village, Bhit, he got the sad news of the death of his dear father.. Soon after this Shah Latif shifted all his family members from Kotri to Bhitsah, as the village now began to be called. His father was buried there, in accordance to his will, where his mausoleum stands only eight paces away, from that of Shah Abdul Latif, towards its north.
THE FINAL YEARS
For the last eight years of his remarkable life, Shah Latif lived at Bhitshah. A few days before his death, he retired to his underground room and spent all his time in prayers and fasting, eating very little.
The date was 14th Safar 1165 Hijra corresponding to 1752 CE. He was buried at the place where his mausoleum now stands, which was built by the ruler of Sindh, Ghulam Shah Kalhoro. His name literally means 'the servant of the Shah'. He, along with his mother, had adored and revered Shah Latif and was his devoted disciples. The work of the construction of the mausoleum was entrusted to the well-known mason, Idan from Sukkur. The mausoleum, as well as the Masjid adjoining it, were later repaired and renovated by another ruler of Sindh, Mir Nasir Khan Talpur. Pair of kettle drums that are beaten every morning and evening even till today by the fakirs, jogis and sanyasis, who frequent the mausoleum, were presented by the Raja of Jesalmeer.
For the last eight years of his life, he lived at Bhitshah, a small village built by him. A few days before his death, he retired to his underground room and spent all his time in prayers and fasting, eating very little. The great Sufi poet died in 1752 was buried at the same place where a shrine now stands. In 1866, 114 years after the poet's death, a German scholar Ernest Trump compiled Risalo, a complete collection of Shah Abdul Latif's poetry,
The Urs commences every year from 14th Safar (2nd month of Hijra calendar) and lasts for three days. Along with other features, like food fairs, open-air markets selling Ajrak and Sindhi Caps among others, and entertaining and competitive sports, a literary gathering is also held where papers concerning the research work done on the life, poetry, and message of Bhitai, are read, by scholars and renowned literary figures. His disciples and ascetics, singers and artists, gather around and sing passages from his Risalo. Scholarly debates and exhibitions of his work and traditional Sindhi artifacts are also organized.
Fi Amanillah e Taala - Take care
Talib e Dua,
Sag e Dargah e Aalia MASHORI SHARIF
Faqir Mohammed Atif Minhaj Qasmi Qadri
PEER E KAMIL SURAT E ZILL E ILAH
YANI DEED E PEER E KAMIL DEED E KIBRIYA
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