Hadrat Khwāja Pīr Fazal Alī Shāh Qureshī Abbāsī Naqshbandī Mujaddidī (1270-1354 AH) (1854-1935 CE), may Allah sanctify his soul, was the greatest Shaykh of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order in colonial India in the early 20th century. He was the king of all saints, the Ghaus of his times, upholder of Sunnāh and destroyer of Bid’ah.
He was called the Pir of scholars as his disciples included hundreds of Islamic scholars of high caliber who bowed their foreheads in his high court to receive the divine blessings and spiritual guidance. He was also known as the man of divine attraction (Jazbā wālā sāīn), as most of his companions and visitors would often collapse and enter into ecstatic states in his presence.
He was born in Dāūd-khel (Pakistan) in 1270 AH/1854 CE. He was son of Murad Ali Shah and was from the Abbasi line of the Quraish, hence called Qureshi.
He spent his childhood in Kala-Bagh where he received his education mainly from Mawlana Qamr al-Din, and completed his Hadīth course from Mawlana Ahmad Ali Saharanpuri.
When he was young, once he thought to raise a parrot and train it to speak. But he received an inspiration from the Unseen that it is more valuable to make the hearts of the people speak the Zikr than to make a parrot speak. This created a wish for seeking a master of Sufism who could guide him in the Path. Thus he went to the presence of Khwāja Muhammad Usmān Dāmānī (d. 1314 AH/1897 CE) and used to receive blessings from him although Khwaja Damani did not initiate new disciples due to his old age. He used to direct aspiring new comers to do initiation with either his chief deputy Sayyid Laal Shāh or his son Khwaja Siraj ad-Din.
Thus he did his first initiation with Hadrat Sayyid Laal Shah Hamadani (d. 1313 AH/1896 CE) who was a descendant of the Last Prophet, peace be upon him, and was a great saint and perfect Shaykh of this glorious Path. He received his spiritual training from Khwāja Dost Muhammad Qandahari and then from Khwaja Damani who made him a deputy. He lived and died at Dandā Shāh Bilāwal (in district Chakwāl, Pakistan), a village founded by his forefathers. His sainthood was so visible in his noble personality and his shining face that one could not look into his face more than a moment. Hadrat Qureshī reports that one day I was watching my Shaykh who was walking. I was looking at him behind a wall but could not look into his bright face. Unthinkingly, I recited this ayah: “This is not a human, he is but a gracious angel.” [Quran 12:31]
Before completion of the spiritual Journey (Sulūk), however, his first Shaykh passed away. Then he did second initiation and completed his remaining Path with Khwāja Sirāj ad-Dīn (1297-1333 AH/1879-1915), son and successor of Khwāja Dāmānī. Khwāja Sirāj al-Dīn was a walī by birth who was trained by his noble father and received absolute khilāfah and successorship when he was just 17. He passed away at an age of 34, on 26 Rabi al-Awwal 1333 AH. He completed the Sulūk of Pīr Qureshī to the last stage of this noble Path and bestowed the khilāfah to him which was first limited to training fifty pupils, and later awarded him with an absolute khilāfah.
Before receiving khilāfah he had founded the village Faqīrpur together with his close relatives and friends. Later, when he was commanded by his Shaykh to train new disciples in the Path, he established it as a khānqāh and started guiding the needy seekers to the divine Path.
Faqīrpur was located in a rural area with bad accessibility for his disciples and visitors. Considering the facilitation of the seekers, he founded another noble khānqāh and named it Miskeenpur. It is located in disrict Muzaffargarh, Punjab, Pakistan.
He had some agricultural lands where he would harvest crops and would plow the lands himself. He worked very hard in preparing the fields which had hard soil and rocks. He also advised his followers to work hard to earn Halāl (legal) income. He would do Zikr with heart while plowing with hands, and would teach the Zikr to the new seekers there.
He dressed very simple and never observed formality in dress code. He would usually not follow prevalent social customs and conventions, rather only cared for the Sunnāh in every matter. Normally he used white turban in accordance with the Sunnāh and practice of the Naqshbandi masters, usually of muslin (thin cotton fabric). Once he used a green turban as it is also a Sunnāh. He usually wore white kurtā (long shirt) and a white or blue tahband (lower garment). He would sit down on earth (if clean) and did not like to have a cloth to sit on. He fixed his turban in a very informal style, often displeasing to some people.
Hadrat Pir Mitha narrates that one day Hadrat Qureshi was waiting at a train station along with his disciples. When the train arrived, he took his turban lying down besides him and put it on the head without fastening it properly. Some faqīr requested him to fasten it but didn’t listen. When he reminded again and then the third time, he replied: “One who doesn’t like my shape and appearance, shouldn’t look at me!”
His Method (tarīqāh)
Hadrat Pir Qureshi used to initiate new disciples in the Naqshbandi Mujaddidi Order although he had authority in four major Sufi Orders. Following the way of his masters, he used to hold a circle of Zikr every morning in which all his followers and visitors will sit in a large circle according to the Sunnah of Sahaba. They would bow their heads and usually cover their heads with a shawl. Everyone will recite the Personal Name of God, i.e., Allāh Allāh Allāh, in their hearts or other spiritual subtleties (Latā’if), without using the tongue. The Shaykh would recite verses from the Qurān and sing poetic verses in Persian, Urdu or Punjabi regarding the praise of the Gracious Messenger (peace be upon him), his masters, and advice to the seekers. It was called Murāqbāh (meditation), or Halqa-e Zikr (circle of recollection).
During this Halqā, Pīr Qureshī used to take a Tasbīh (prayer beads) with large beads, and would strike the beads together to produce sound that mimicked the heart beat. He used to teach to the pupils that they should match their recollection of the noble name Allāh in their hearts with this sound as it was helpful to follow the sound. He loved that Tasbīh so much that sometimes he would wear it as a necklace. This method of holding a group Zikr is still practiced by his followers in the whole world.
Apart from that, recitation of Naats and Manqabats (singing in the praise of the masters) was very common in his companions. During the Halqā as well as at most other times, people including new comers would usually enter the state of Jazbā (divine attraction) and ecstasy. Some would go unconscious, some would cry and weep, others would start laughing, still others would start shaking and dancing and circling around the Shaykh. These spiritual states were so common that the local people started calling him as Jazbā wālā Sāīn (the man of ecstasy). The cry of Allāh Allāh was so common that most of the time, specially during journeys, all of his companions would proclaim this great name of God very loudly. Although the Naqshbandi Path does not include loud recollection, doing it involuntarily is not forbidden.
The descent of spirits of earlier saints over the disciples of Pīr Qureshī was very common. The spirits of great Awliyā such as Shaykh Abdul Qādir Jīlānī, Khwāja Mueen al-Dīn Ajmerī, Hadrat Bulleh Shāh, Hadrat Sultān Bāhū and many others, may peace be upon them, used to talk to the Shaykh from the bodies of some faqīrs (devotees). Once during a journey, Hadrat Bulleh Shāh (1680–1757), a great saint and classical Sufi poet of Punjab, had a descent over a disciple and asked Pīr Qureshī to teach the 2nd lesson of the Path to Hadrat Pīr Mithā (his chief khalīfā). The second day, again, the spirit requested him to teach the next lesson, and this happened daily for many days. Thus Hadrat Pīr Mithā learned and completed the seven Latā’if (subtleties) in that journey by the recommendation of Hadrat Bhulleh Shāh.
His chain of spiritual succession in the Naqshbandi Mujaddidi Order goes as follows:
He traveled the Path under the guidance of his first Shaykh Hadrat Sayyid Laal Shāh Hamadānī and received received Ijāzah (authority) of Sufism from his second Shaykh Hadrat Khwāja Sirāj ad-Dīn Naqshbandī. Both of his Shaykhs received it from Hadrat Khwāja Muhammad Usmān Dāmānī, who received it from Khwāja Dost Muhammad Qandahārī, who received it from Shah Ahmed Saeed Fārūqī Dehlavī, who received it from Shāh Abū Saeed Fārūqī Dehlavī, who received it from Shāh Ghulām Alī Dehlavī, who received it from Hadrat Mīrzā Mazhar Jān-e Jānān, who received it from Sayyid Nūr Muhammad Badāyūnī, who received it from Hāfiz Muhammad Mohsin Dehlavī, who received it from Khwāja Saif ad-Dīn Fārūqī Sirhindī, who received it from his father Imām Muhammad Māsoom Sirhindī, who received it from his father Imām Rabbānī, Mujaddid of the 2nd millenium, Hadrat Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindī, may Allah be pleased with them all. The chain further up from Imām Rabbānī is available in many books and can be looked up.
Miracles, Visions and Revelations
His greatest miracle was that he connected the people with their Lord. He induced the zikr of Allah in their hearts with which the hearts would start proclaiming the blessed name of God Allāh Allāh Allāh and would never stop. Sometimes, the sound of the heart was clearly heard by others. It was observed many times that his disciples who had died and were being buried, their hearts were still calling out this noble name with loud voice even after the death, and the motion of the heart was clearly visible in their chests.
“Eternal is the one whose heart has awakened to Love!” (Hafiz)
One day, a three year old girl was sitting in his halqā with her father. Suddenly, the shaykh’s spiritual Gaze turned to her and her heart started in the zikr of Allah. She would then wake up early and awaken her father for Tahajjud (pre-dawn) prayer, and would do the zikr all day and night. After few days, she died but her heart didn’t stop from recalling the name of the Lord. A special scent came from her grave for many days.
One day hadrat Qureshī thought to write a letter to Hājī Gul Muhammad to ask him to bring some dates to Miskeenpur, but could not do it. While the wife of Hājī Gul Muhammad was also a true seeker. She entered the state of ecstasy and started saying these worlds, as if she was reading the letter written by the shaykh: “Hājī sahib! Assalāmu Alaikum! Buy some dates and come to the noble Miskeenpur.” He purchased the dates and reached there, and informed the shaykh about this miracle.
Mawlānā Abdul Mālik relates that once at Faqīrpur, wheat grain that was cleaned and collected at the fields was to be brought to the storeroom. It wasn’t much as the fields of the shaykh produced very little. There were around fifty to sixty persons there, all of whom including the Hadrat himself started carrying the wheat after sunrise until it was noon. After the Zuhr prayer, they started again until it was time for Asr. Everyone was tired but it seemed the wheat pile will never finish. They asked Mawlānā Abdul Mālik to request to the shaykh that we are all too tired and exhausted. Mawlānā went to the presence of the shaykh and said, the barakāh that is appearing at the fields, can’t it be inside? He said yes. And then after the Asr prayer all the remaining wheat was carried in one round. That grain lasted for the whole year, even though hundreds of guests ate every day.
His shawl was known to have miraculous effects. People would take it during marriage or other large events and put it over the pots containing food. They would start taking the food without disclosing the pots, and all the attendees would eat fully even if the food was not enough.
Hadrat Qureshī said, once I was collecting stones of the date seeds and was selecting the better ones (date seeds or other small stones are often used for counting during the Khatam). A seed that didn’t look nice and had an irregular shape, I tried to throw it out. That date stone spoke to me and said, if I am ugly, it is not my fault but my Creator has made me like that. Why are you separating me?
He said, I wept and recalled my own faults, kissed the stone and included that into the collection. Afterwards, whenever that stone would pass into my hands during the Khatam, I would kiss it before placing it back.
He used to have kashf (prescience) so much that he knew everything about the new visitors. Once he said, I wish that the visitors should not introduce themselves and their objectives to me as I know everything about them including what they wish to say and how long they wish to stay. But I have stopped myself from it .
Hadrat Khwāja Qureshī followed the traditional Sunni Islam and acted upon the Hanafī fiqh. His creed was the creed of his shaykhs i.e. the Mujaddidī saints specifically Imām Rabbānī Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindī, as described in the Maktūbāt (epistles). He never followed or liked the later day innovations in Sunni creed, aka. Deobandī and Barelvī, rather completely obeyed the original principles of the earlier Sunni scholars and his shaykhs of the Mujaddidi order. He never practiced anything against their way.
He extremely loved the Messenger of Allah, may peace be upon him, his Sahābā and his Ahl al-Bayt (family). But he condemned the deviated sects and always warned his disciples against the Shia, pretending pīrs, fake sayyids and the selfish scholars.
But on the other hand, he never rejected anyone from his company due to their creed, cast or color. Everyone was welcome at his noble khānqāh. Due to his miraculous spiritual powers, many people from the deviated sects turned to the right path of traditional Sunni Islam. Many Wahhābī scholars who were once extremists and disapproved the shaykh’s tarīqāh, adopted the traditional Sunni beliefs by his miraculous power. Indeed, this was one of the miracles of the shaykh that once the most fanatic anti-Sufi scholars used to dance around him in ecstasy when they entered his noble company.
The shaykh himself once remarked, “Nowadays many Wahhābī scholars are my friends. Alhamdu’lillāh, they have learned etiquette and have also benefited from zikr. They have adopted such high manners that they walk barefoot in the Langar-Khānā (central kitchen) at Faqīrpur. And one day, Maulvī Nazīr Ahmad Ahmadpurī was saying to Maulvī Bashīr Ahmad Ahmadpurī in the state of ecstasy: come here O brother, until today we have tasted Wahhabism, now let’s taste this sweet.” 
He did not declare the Wahhābīs as non-believers, but regarded them as ill-mannered (Be-Adab) .
Hadrat Qureshī never hesitated to go to the madrasahs and mosques of Wahhābī and Deobandī people, and sometimes went there to teach them the Qalbī zikr of the Naqshbandi Method and to guide them to the right path. He did this in the most beautiful way that no one would object to him or his method. Once he went to a masjid where large number of Ahl al-Hadīth people joined him, and he held the Naqshbandi Murāqbāh of zikr. During the Murāqbāh, while reciting verses and poems, he had an ecstatic state in which he began calling upon the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, directly and loudly. Although this was in direct contradiction to their belief, none of them objected.
He also visited the famous madrasah of Deoband where he taught the zikr to the scholars and students alike. During the Salāh, the Imām of the masjid did not use a turban in accordance with sunnāh. Hadrat shaykh notified them that this noble sunnāh should not be abandoned in this center of Islamic learning. The scholars of Deoband highly revered him, so much as Qārī Muhammad Tayyib once helped him wear his shoes (as a symbol of reverence) .
He used to celebrate the Urs of his shaykhs annually and arranged an annual congregation at Faqīrpur in this regard. This large gathering provided spiritual guidance and training to his followers and was a means of much Fayd and blessings. This noble event was celebrated on every 22nd Baisākh (second month of the Hindu calendar) and was an occassion to remember the masters of the tarīqāh and to recite Khatam for their spirits. After he established the noble khānqāh Miskeenpur and moved there, the Urs was celebrated there [1,4,7].
Although he did not celebrate the Urs of Sayyidina Abdul Qādir Jīlānī which is very common in Indian Muslim society, he approved of it generally . He also attended many Urs events of the sublime saints of India, such as that of khwāja Mueen al-Dīn Ajmerī Chishtī where he was invited by khwāja Ajmerī himself. In Ajmer, he also listened to the musical singing (Simā’) as practiced in the Chishti Order, merely as a symbol of venerating the khwāja, even though he always refrained from any form of music as per the rulings of Hanafī jurists.
Some biographers have mentioned this as an annual event, avoiding the word Urs. But Khwaja Qureshi himself has mentioned the Urs to be celebrated on 22 Baisakh in a short letter written to a disciple.
Hadrat Pir Qureshi spent most of his time in missionary traveling, to spread the Zikr and love of Allah. In his last such journey, he was too weak to walk and was helped by the disciples to get to the vehicle. He had a stroke attack during the journey and was escorted back to the noble Miskeenpur.
After remaining sick for about half a month, this light of the highest heavens and the sun of blessings parted to the eternal world in the night before 1st Ramadan 1354 AH, Thursday 28 November 1935, after passing 81 noble years of his age.2 His Janāzah prayer was led by Mawlana Hafiz Karīm Bakhsh.
“Indeed we belong to Allah and to Him we shall return!” [Quran 2:156]
Before his death, he had constructed a small cabin to be his final burial place. Once he called Mawlana Abdul Ghaffar and his brother Mawlana Abdul Sattar (both his khulafa) in seclusion, and told them about his will to be buried in that cabin. After his demise, he was buried in that place as Mawlana Abdul Sattar was there who informed the people about his will.
His holy shrine lies in his established khanqah Miskeenpur sharīf, district Muzaffargarh, Pakistan, and is visited by thousands of devotees. Many of the sacred relics from his personal items are held by his family and grandsons like Mawlana Rafiq Ahmad Shah Qureshi.
Khulafā and Descendents
Hadrat Pir Qureshi awarded khilafah to probably more than a hundred disciples who propagated his noble path to many corners of the world, but from them, only 66 names are known today. All of them were luminaries and dignified Shaykhs of this noble path. They spread this exalted Order to many nations including Punjab, India, Bengal, Sindh and in the Arab world. A few names from the more prominent ones are presented here with short details.
His Spiritual Successor
Among all his noble khulafa, the most prominent, the greatest lover and the most beloved of the Shaykh was his foremost deputy Hadrat Khwaja Abdul Ghaffar Fazali, well known with his title Pir Mitha. He was born near Jalalpur Pirwala (Punjab) in 1297 AH/1880, and later migrated to Sindh and settled in Rahmatpur sharīf, a khanqah founded by him near Larkana (now part of it).
After he was appointed as a deputy, he was commanded by the Shaykh to go to Sindh for preaching. He spread the Order in Sindh and many other areas.
Due to his extreme love and attachment with his Shaykh, he also married his daughter with the Shaykh, following the Sunnah of Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him.
Hadrat Qureshi also awarded khilafah to his younger brother Hadrat Mawlana Abdul Sattar, and told Pir Mitha that if your father and elder brother were alive, I would have given them khilafah too. He also said that I have never before awarded khilafah to two brothers, you are the first.
Some Other Deputies
Some of the other notable names in his deputies are given here.
- Hadrat Mawlana Abd as-Sattar (Jalalpur Pirwala), brother of Hadrat Pir Mitha
- Hadrat Hafiz Qari Karim Bakhsh (Ghalwān, Alīpur, district Bahāwalpur).
- Hadrat Mawlana Abdul Malik Siddiqi (Khanewal), who received khilafah in the same session when Hadrat Pir Mitha was bestowed.
- Hadrat Mawlana Abdul Ghafoor Abbasi Madani (Madinah), one of the chief deputies who was specially sent to the holy city of Madinah for propagating the Naqshbandi Order.
- Hadrat Mawlana Muhammad Saeed Qureshi, shaykh of Mawlana Zawwar Hussain Shah
- Hadrat Mawlana Abd al-Wahid Bhutto (Sindh), who later devoted himself to Hadrat Pīr Mitha.
- Hadrat Mawlana Ahmad Deen (Uch sharīf, Bahawalpur), who used to be his personal servant for long time.
Hadrat Pir Qureshi married to three women in different times, and had children from the first two. He had eight sons all of whom died before adulthood. His maternal grandsons are all scholars of Islamic sciences and symbols of the piety of their grandfather.
His spiritual mission is carried forward by all of his grandsons, most notably by Hadrat Maulana Rafīq Ahmad Shah Qureshi Fazali Naqshbandi, a deputy of Hadrat Khwaja Sohna Saeen who was the spiritual successor to Hadrat Pir Mitha. Mawlana Rafīq Ahmad is son of Mawlana Abdur-Raūf Shah son of Mawlana Saeed Ahmad Shah son of Faqīr Shah who was brother of Hadrat Pir Qureshi. Maulana Rafīq Ahmad was born at Miskeenpur sharif on 6th May 1957. He received Islamic education from many renowned scholars, and learned the spiritual path of Naqshbandi tariqah from Hadrat Sohna Saeen who also awarded khilafah to him. He is a noble symbol of the dignity of his grandfather Pir Qureshi and a reputed Shaykh himself, and is currently associated with Hadrat Khwaja Sajjan Sāeen, the successor to Hadrat Sohna Saeen. He lives at Miskeenpur sharif, the noble khanqah established by his grandfather. May Allah prolong his life and keep us always under his noble shade.
Hadrat Pīr Qureshī wrote letters to his disciples, very few of them are available today. A few of his poems are also available including a Naat and a Shajrā sharīf. One of his poems that guides a seeker to the truth and the right path, is translated here.
Translation of an Urdu poem
O my dear friends! This world is a mortal place,
Do not be occupied here, grave is the final place.
You came to do the service, but stuck in the worldly pleasures,
Your intellect went blind, how pitiful is your youth.
Don’t waste your life in sins, do repent;
Where are your great grand parents? whose sign you are.
Don’t make pride in your power, pomp, or property
You will leave behind of this world every entity
Do good, offer prayers, remember your lord each moment
As finally, every good of yours will benefit yourself.
Do not submit to Satan, neither disobey your lord,
Be a servant at the Prophet’s door, if better you wish to hoard.
Be slave to the Sacred Law, refrain from sins my dear,
May the ruthless be in worse, the thief and the adulterer!
Make your rightful livelihood, be in full the light of Taqwa,
In Taqwa lies the betterment, it is the eternal wealth.
Get hold of a perfect Shaykh, initiation is also required,
Where else, except the Shaykh, can you find the rightful word?
Whose watching makes you remember God, that is the perfect Shaykh,
Who will remove the love of world? No one but the Shaykh.
Slave of the Sacred Law, having all the best virtues,
Whose heart is like a mirror, these are his clues.
If you are a seeker of lord, and of the reformation.
Then hurry get a Shaykh, this is a true advice.
Qureshi begs you humbly, listen O you brother!
I swear no lie there is in this, and is to be doubted neither.
(Shaykh Fazal Ali Qureshi Naqshbandi)
Books read by Shaykh Fazal Alī
Usūl al-ʻArbʻāʼ Fī Tardīd al-Wahābiyya (الأصول الأربعة في ترديد الوهابية), by Khwāja Muhammad Hasan Jān Sirhindī Mujaddidī
The next in the Naqshbandī Mujaddidī Tāhirī spiritual golden chain is Shaykh Abd-ul-Ghaffār Fazalī.
Pictures of Shaykh Fazal Ali
Recently, a number of pictures have been circulating, claimed to be pictures of the venerable master Shaykh Fazal Ali Qureshi. However none of them is verified through a reliable source. In fact, no particular source has been cited when claiming that these pictures are of the Shaykh. Below are some of the pictures purported to be of the Shaykh:
- Maqāmāt Fazaliā (Urdu) by Sayyid Zawwār Hussain Shāh, Zawwar Academy Publications, 3rd edition, 2004
- Sawāneh Hazrat Pīr Qureshī (Urdu) by Mawlānā Habīb ur-Rahmān Gabol Tāhirī, published on www.islahulmuslimeen.org
- Malfūzāt Fazaliā (Urdu), written by his chief khalifa Hazrat Pīr Mithā, edited and published by Pīr Karamullāh Ilāhī alias Dilbar Sāeen. Published in 2012, 530 pages.
- Malfūzāt Ghaffāriā (Sindhi) by Muftī Abdur Rahmān Ghaffārī Allāhābādī, Idārat-ul-Ma’rifat, 2010
- Four letters of Hadrat Pīr Qureshī, published on www.islahulmuslimeen.org [http://urdu.islahulmuslimeen.org/urdu/articles/maktubat_fazali.htm]
- Short biography in Urdu by Mukhtār Ahmad Khokhar, published in Attahir [http://urdu.islahulmuslimeen.org/urdu/silsila/37.htm]
- Tazkirat ul-Khulafā al-Ghaffāriā (Sindhi) by Muhammad Karam-Allāh Ilāhī Naqshbandī, Sha’aban 1431 AH
- Malfūzāt Ghaffāriā (Sindhi) by Mawlānā Sa’d-Allah Soomro, published by Muhammad Karam-Allāh Ilāhī Naqshbandī, Safar 1432 [www.peerdilbar.com/books]