Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh (400-465 A.H)(1007-1072 AD)

Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh is a great Saint of the sub-continent. Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh was born in Ghazni, a small place in Afghanistan. Located at a higher altitude it is a cool place in summer. The winter is windy and cold. When Ghaznavids were in power, this town was known for its grandeur as it happened to be the capital of their empire. It is said, it is contemporary to Harrappan and Indus valley civilization. It was the centre of trade with “Khurasan” and Sindh. It was a medieval walled city with expensions of areas called “Mohallahs” developed outside the walled city. Two of these Mohallahs were known as “Hujwer” and “Jalab”. Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh’s, family lived in the locality of Hujwer.

Being in Iran, the family of Data Ganj Bakhsh was largely Iranised. They had married Iranian Woman. In the deviation of writing the book Kashful Mahjub in persian, instead of Arabic, is evidence that the spoken language of the family was persian. May be his mother was also an Iranian

Many books mention 400 A.H. or 1000 AD as date of birth but some writers by analysing the contemporary historical events argue it to be 1002 AD. Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh was a Hasani Syed i.e. a descendent of Hazrat Ali. Generally recorded is Ali Hujweri s/o Muhmmad Usman s/o Abul Hasan ali, who was son of Abdur Rehman s/o Shah Shuja s/o Abul Hassan Ali s/o Asghar s/o Daud s/o Imam Hasan who was son of Hazrat Ali.

The original name of Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh was Abul Hasan Ali when he came to be known as Saint, he was surnamed ‘Data Ganj Bakhsh’ because of his generosity. In Kashful Mahjub, Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh has referred to himself as Ali Bin Usman-bin-Ali-al-Jallaby-al- Ghazanvi-al-Hujweri. He was named after his grandfather.

His real name is Ali Mukhdum, Hujweri, of Ghazni, His father name was Usman, son of Ali Jalali Ghaznavi, and he was a disciple of Sheikh Abul Fazl bin Hassan Khutbi.He followed the arms of Masud, the son and successor of Mahud, to Lahore where he settled in 431 A.H.Having lived thirty-four years in Lahore, during which time he conferred great benefits on the people be his learning and piety, he died in 465 A.H., and was buried close to a mosque which he had himself built. The mausoleum was constructed by Sulatn Ibrahim, a successor of Musud. Ali Makhdum was an eminent scholar, and was the author of many books on theology and religion.

Hazrat Khawaja Gharib Nawaz, Muinudin Chisti, the celebrated Saint of Ajmer, meditated at the tomb of Hazrat Ganj Bakhsh. After a period of forty days, he was, it is said, greatly affected by the graces showered upon him at this holy place and it was here that he got the spiritual illumination. At that moment standing at the foot of the tomb, out of respect for the great saint said:

“Ganj Bakhsh-e-faiz-e-alam, Mazhar-e-noor-e-Khuda, Naqisan-ra pir-e-Kamil, Kamilan ra Rahnuma”.

The best ower of treasure (Ganj Bakhsh) in both worlds, reflector of the splendor of God.
An accomplished spiritual guide for the learned and a guide for the ignorant.

He was a great author of his time, and among other works he wrote a book called the Kashf-ul-Mahjub. Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh had great and brilliant knowledge of Quran, tradition, history, jurisprudence and logic etc. that is testified by the treasure trove in the classic ‘Kashful Mahjub’.

The supreme mission of the Saint was to make the people understand true Islam. He had great skill in discourses, debates and profoundness of thought. Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh, as referred to in Kashful Mahjub has written seven other books these are:-

i) Minhajuddin containing account of various Sufis.

ii) Asrarul Khiraj Wal-maurat means of livehoof.

iii) Kitabi Fana-o-Baqa.

iv) Al-Hallaj.

v) Kitab-al-byan li-ahl-al-Iman.

vi) Al-riayat li Haquq Allah.

vii) A book on the subject of Faith.

Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh was himself a poet. He has quoted numerous verses in Kashful Mahjub and this shows his developed taste for poetry. The Saint, it is appears from his writings, travelled extensively. The places visited include Amul in Tabaristan, Farghana, Azerbayjan, Tabrez, Baghdad, Balkh, Merv, Baward in Turkman, Damascus, Samarkand, Eygpt, Heart, Nishapur, Hijaz, Isphahan, Khurasan and Kirman etc., etc.

Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh was a scholar Saint. His classic work Kashful Mahjub is scholary exposition of various subjects. A deep and thorough study leads one to discover the genius of spiritualism in the form of sayings of Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh. Prof. Masud in his book on Data Ganj Bakhsh has copied and calculated 536 such ‘Aqwal’, to quote one:

“you must know enough to know that you do not know”

According to ‘Fuwaid –ud-Fuwad’ by Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia os Delhi when Hazrat Al-Khattali asked Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh to proceed to Lahore, he expressed surprise at the order,for, Shaikh Zanjani was already there. But he was asked to follow the orders without questioning. When Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh reached Lahore, the first thing he noticed was that funeral of Hazrat Shaikh Zanjani was being taken out and Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh led the funeral prayer. It thus dawned on him why his Shaikh had asked him to proceed to Lahore.

Islam had recently entered punjab and there was great scope of work. There is controversy among the writers about the date of arrival but it is around 1034 or 1035 AD. Two Sufi Scholars preceded Data Sahib in case of Lahore. These are Shah Hussain Zanjani and Shah Ismail. Shah Hussain Zanjani died in 1034 and his tomb is in Chah Miran Lahore. Shah Ismail died around 1048 and his tomb is on the Hall Road Lahore.

Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh acquired great fame and came to be recognized as the Qutab-ul-Aqtab. He had during this period many disciples who came to him for religious instructions. He had ‘Khanqah’ and a a Mosque in his lifetime. This Mosque was re-built in 1279. It was damaged later, around late 1960s during an earthquake. It is said that when originally being built some of the locals pointed out that the ‘Qibla’ of the Mosque was not exactly in the western direction and appeared towards north. On learning the objection the Holy Saint himself one day led the prayer and after that asked the people who had objected to see if the ‘“Qibla”’ was wrongly placed. When they saw they found it directly in line with the Holy Kaaba. It was the 1st ‘Karamat’ of the saint.

As already mentioned the most important of Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh was Kashful Mahjub. This was also the first work on Sufism written in Persain. Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh was also a scholar of Arabic but to communicate easily with his readers, he wrote it in Persian.

The death anniversary of Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh is celebrated on 20th of Safar each year. On Muharram the Mausoleum is given ‘Ghusal”. The Mausoleum, to conclude is the spiritual centre of Lahore and it is difficult to visualize Lahore without Data Sahib. So Lahore is also called ‘Data Ki Nagri’.

He was a Sufi, a Saint, a Scholar, a Poet, a Philosopher, a Teacher, a Muslim Missionary and an embodiment of the best in Islam.