Khwāja Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Ghaffār Fazalī Naqshbandī alias Pīr Mitthā, may Allah sanctify his soul, was a great Naqshbandi Sufi shaykh of Sindh in the 20th century. He was the chief deputy and successor of Khwāja Pīr Fazal ʿAlī Shāh Qureshī Naqshbandī may Allah be pleased with him.
His family tree is as follows:
- Khwājā Muhammad Abdul Ghaffār alias Pīr Mithā, son of
- Maulānā Yār Muhammad, son of
- Maulānā Khair Muhammad, son of
- Maulānā Abdur-Rahmān, son of
- Maulānā Khalīl Ahmad, son of
- Maulānā Hāfiz Khān Muhammad, son of
- Khwājā Muhammad Panāh, son of
- Maulānā Hāfiz Muhammad, son of
- Maulānā Ghulām Rasool, son of
- Maulānā Noor Muhammad, son of
- Maulānā Ghulām Hasan, son of
- Maulānā Ahmad Alī, son of
- Maulānā Ghulām Rasool, son of
- Maulānā Noor Muhammad, son of
- Maulānā Muhammad Ishāq, son of
- Khwājā Muhammad Zakariyā, son of
- Khwājā Muhammad Awais, who was brother and spiritual successor of Khwājā Imāduddīn alias Pīr Channar a famous Sufi saint of Punjab
His great-grandfather Khwāja Muḥammad Awais was brother and successor of a great Sufi saint of Punjab called Pīr Channar quddisa sirruhū. Pīr Channar, who was also called ʿImāduddīn (the pillar of religion), was born in 638 AH. He was a great saint and man of miracles, and was associated with the Suhrawardī Sufi order. His shaykh was Shaykh Sailoon, whose spiritual lineage goes to the great Suhrawardī master Khwāja Bahāʾ ad-Dīn Zakariyā Multānī qaddas-Allāhu sirrahū. Pīr Channar received martyrdom in a fight against a Hindu Raja who was angered by their efforts of converting large numbers of Hindus to Islam and attacked their town. Today, the shrine of Pīr Channar, located in Rohī (Cholistān desert), is a place of pilgrimage by the people of southern Punjab, including Muslims as well as Hindus.
The great-grandfathers of Pīr Mitthā were all scholars and Sufi masters in the Qādrī order and had large numbers of followers. His father Mawlānā Yār Muḥammad quddisa sirruhū was a great Islamic scholar, follower of the Hanafi madhhab, author of multiple books, and owned a large personal library of Islamic books. When he passed away, each of his four sons (including Pīr Mitthā) inherited a large number of books sufficient for an average madrasah library.
Haḍrat Pīr Mitthā was born in a village called Langar, near Jalālpur Pīrwālā, south of Multan, Punjab (now in Pakistan). His exact date of birth is not known, the year is approximately 1880 (1297 AH).
During his childhood, one day Pīr Mitthā was standing close to other children who were playing with glass beads. The chief of the village passed from there, and asked him that since you are a descendant of a pious family, please pray for me that I can have a child (he was childless). Pīr Mitthā gave him a glass bead and told him to wash it in water and drink that water with his wife. The chieftain obeyed his advice, and just after a year, a baby boy was born to him whose skin color was similar to that glass bead.
Haḍrat Pīr Mitthā received traditional Islamic education and reached the status of a Islamic scholar. His first teachers were his father, his elder brother Mawlānā Muḥammad Ashraf, and many others. He traveled to many places for learning and faced much hardships. For a short while, he studied at Derā Nawāb with Mawlawī Niẓāmuddīn who was anti-Sufism and had objections to the teachings of great Sufis such as Mawlānā Jalāluddīn Rūmī. When his father learned about this, he came to the madrasah and took Pīr Mitthā back, saying that “learning from a person of wrong creed is worse than remaining uneducated.”
His teacher in the final courses of Ḥadīth was Mawlānā ʿĀqil Muḥammad Quraishī (1813-1923), who was a student of Sayyid Aḥmad Zaynī Daḥlān al-Makkī raḥimahullāh (1817-1887) and a spiritual deputy (khalīfa) of Haḍrat Ḥājī Imdādullāh Muhājir Makkī quddisa sirruhū (1817-1899). Mawlānā ʿĀqil Muḥammad was a highly righteous and pious scholar, who used to teach without salary and without collecting donations. He died at ninety years of age on 19 June 1923, and is buried in Jalālpur Pīrwālā.
Haḍrat Pīr Mitthā quddisa sirruhū was initially a disciple of a Qādrī shaykh named Mawlānā Ḥāfiẓ Fatiḥ Muḥammad Qādrī qaddas-Allāhu sirrahū (1835-1917), who was a saintly and pious shaykh of the Qādrī Sufi order, and also an Islamic scholar and teacher. He loved Pīr Mitthā and used to ask him to recite poetry in his presence.
After his first shaykh’s demise, Pīr Mitthā was sad and anxiously trying to find another perfect shaykh of Sufism. He looked to many places including famous well-established khānqāhs of the time, but could not find the most perfect and spiritually elevated master. At last, one day he heard about Haḍrat Khwāja Pīr Fazal ʿAlī Quraishī, a great Naqshbandī Sufi master who had newly arrived in his region. He also became a murīd, and from the very beginning he was specially trained by Pīr Quraishī. He had extreme love for his shaykh, which is evident from his beautiful Saraiki poetry, and was unrivaled in any other person or deputy of his shaykh. His shaykh also showed high affection and love for him, and made him a deputy and ordered him to go to Sindh to spread the Naqshbandī Sufi path and to propagate the teachings of Islamic Shariah and Sunnah.
During his early time of spiritual training, he was often overpowered by ecstasy. This state continued for two to three years, during which he often had sudden bursts of ecstasy and would through away his turban, and run hither and thither. He would walk barefoot, put dust on his head, and would wear no clothes except a skirt to cover himself navel to knees (satr). When his shaykh saw him in such a state, he would jokingly say: “Mawlawī Ṣāḥib! Have you given all your clothes to the dhobī for washing?”
He received deputyship together with two other prominent deputies of Pīr Fazal ʿAlī, named Mawlānā ʿAbd al-Mālik Ṣiddīqī and Ḥāfiẓ Karīm-Bakhsh.
Haḍrat Pīr Mitthā, by the orders of his shaykh, traveled to many places in Sindh and even stayed for long periods in different small and remote villages, which were turned into religious sanctuaries due to his blessed presence.
He later migrated permanently to Sindh and established a religious village and spiritual center at Larkana. This was called Rahmatpur (meaning the place of mercy), where he stayed much of his later life and spread the tariqah to Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab.
During his stay in Sindh, there was a prominent Deobandi madrasah in Therhī, near Khairpur, which was a stronghold of Deobandis. When Pīr Mitthā became a popular Sufi master and people flocked to him, the scholars at this Therhi madrasah asked one of their top scholars Mawlawī Ḥabibullāh to meet with Pīr Mitthā and test him in his mastership of religious knowledge.
Mawlawī Ḥabibullāh prepared twenty two very difficult questions related to various religious sciences, and came to meet with Pīr Mitthā. When he arrived, he expressed his intention to meet with the shaykh, and was told that the shaykh will come out for Zuhr prayer, afterwards you can meet him. Learning this, he fixed his seat just behind the Imām’s position in the mosque, to be close enough to ask his questions.
When Pīr Mitthā arrived and stood as Imām, Mawlawī Ḥabibullāh who was standing just behind, started reciting the Iqāmah (takbīr) for starting the prayer. Although he was a highly learned scholar, when he reached the words “Ḥayya ʿAla aṣ-Ṣalāh”, he forgot the next words and kept repeating “Ḥayya ʿAla aṣ-Ṣalāh”. On this, Pīr Mitthā said:
“This faqīr does not know takbīr properly. Someone else should say takbīr.”
When the prayer ended, Pīr Mitthā turned to the people and started his speech. He began with the words: “Some people say this and this. Their answer is that….”, and this was exactly the first question Mawlawī Ḥabibullāh had written, and was answered. Pīr Mitthā continued, and revealed all his twenty two questions and their correct answers. After the speech, Pīr Mitthā stood up to return, and Mawlawī Ḥabibullāh met him. When Pīr Mitthā looked at him, he was overwhelmed by a sudden ecstatic state.
Later in the evening, he returned back to the madrasah, where others were waiting for him to learn what happened with his questions. When he reached, he told them that it was beyond his powers to test such a dignitary saint who possessed some kind of knowledge of the Unseen, as he responded to all the questions without being asked. [Biography by Pīr Karamullāh Ilāhī]
Mercy on animals
Pīr Mitthā established a khānqāh in Punjab that was often called “Jazbe Wālī Bastī” (village of Jazbah). He lived there for about seven years, before moving on to other places for spreading the spiritual path.
One day, a bitch that had small cubs was killed in an accident with a car. Her little puppies were crying out of hunger and loss of their mother. When Pīr Mitthā saw them, he said to his murīd Allāh-Wasāyā: “The puppies of this bitch are crying. Do you think Allāh will not ask us for them?” Allāh-Wasāyā then started feeding them with milk until they grew up.
Ḥaḍrat Pīr Mitthā wrote the speeches of his shaykh in Urdu, during stay and journeys to various places. These speeches are one of the primary sources of the biography of his shaykh, and have been published recently from Matli, Sindh, edited by Pīr Karamullāh Ilāhī Naqshbandī.
He was an excellent poet of Saraiki language, and wrote a large amount of poetry in Saraiki and Urdu. His poetry is focused on the love of Allah, love of the Prophet and love of his master and shaykh, as well as spiritual advice and guidance. The complete poetry is published as a Diwan edited by his daughter Shaykha Ummat al-Karīm and grandson Mawlānā Dīdah-Dil Ghaffārī.
He wrote a number of letters to his shaykh and to his disciples and deputies. Not all the letters have been collected, though a large number (about three hundred) are collected. But to date, these have not been published and remain in private collections. A few have been published in various books and magazines.
His beliefs and teachings
Pīr Mitthā strictly followed the creed of Ahl as-Sunnah and the path of the Naqshbandī masters. Though some of the deputies of his shaykh turned to Deobani sect and started propagating Wahhabi beliefs, he continued to teach the true creed and path of his shaykh.
He said: “Mullahs say that our prophet has died and is dead now. God forbid! Our beautiful and gracious prophet, Allah’s mercy be upon him, is alive, and sees us here. He possesses such a life that thousands of our lives cannot equate a tiny bit of that. There is a verse in the Quran about the life (after death) of martyrs. The status of martyrdom is due to the prophets. A thousand martyrs cannot be equal to the dignity of a prophet.”
About the knowledge of the Unseen possessed by our Prophet, Pīr Mitthā said:
“Allah the Gracious has granted the knowledge of the Unseen to His prophet. Look! Abu-Jahl came to him with a fist full of stones, and asked him: O Muhammad! Can you tell what is in my hand? The beautiful and gracious Prophet, Allah’s mercy be upon him, replied: Shall I tell you or the things in your hand shall tell what they are? On this, the stones themselves read the shahādah. If this is not knowledge of the Unseen, what else is? Imām-i Rabbānī said that whoever enters my ṭarīqah until the day of Judgement, I have been shown their faces and I even know their names and tribes.”
He further clarified his position on this issue in the following words:
It is a belief of all Barelawīs and some Deobandīs that the knowledge possessed by the gracious Prophet ﷺ is granted (not self-possessed), and we say the same. So for the one who calls it self-possessed, we are free from him. Though Deobandīs claim that (that knowledge) is partial, and do not agree (to it being) complete. The elders of Deobandīs include Imdādullāh Muhājir-Makkī and Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī. Mawlawī Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī has described many issues of Sulūk (the Sufi path) in a good manner, and mentions the Ahlullāh (the saints) with due etiquette. He has proved the issues of Sulūk from Qurʾān and Ḥadīth. But in the matters of difference, we are not in agreement with him, rather we are free from him. We are neither Barelawī nor Deobandī, we are Ḥanafī and Naqshbandī.
He said regarding the superiority of the rightly guided caliphs:
It is our belief that the supreme human after the prophets is Abū-Bakr, then is ʿUmar (Allah be pleased with them both). Whoever holds a belief different than this, is not Sunnī but some other sect.
Regarding the status of Ashraf Alī Thānawī, he said:
Once Mawlawī Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī was mentioned before my shaykh. He said Mawlawī Ashraf ʿAlī was a scholar, but being an Ahlullāh (saint or walī) and possessor of inner secrets is a different thing. Indeed my shaykh said the truth. I have met many of his (Thānawī’s) murīds, but none of them knew about the Qalb (i.e., possessed the secret of Qalb which is the lowest in the spiritual secrets).
Haḍrat Pīr Mitthā mad more than a hundred deputies, some of whom established their own khanqahs after his sad demise. His chief khalīfā was Hazrat Allāh Bakhsh Abbāsī Naqshbandī, who was appointed as the successor by Hazrat Pīr Mithā during his life. He was called the chief khalifa even during the life of Hazrat Pīr Mithā by his followers, and was known as Sohnā Sāeen. Hazrat Allāh Bakhsh, mostly known with his title Sohnā Sāeen, later founded multiple khanqahs including Allahabad sharif, near Kandiaro, Sindh, where he was buried after his demise in 1983. He was succeeded by his son Hazrat Allama Muhammad Tāhir Bakhshī Naqshbandī Mujaddidī, who is the leading Naqshbandi shaykh today in Pakistan.
A week before his demise, Hazrat Pīr Mithā asked his followers: have I not fulfilled my duty to teach you the Sharia and tariqah? They replied: yes indeed you have. Then he said: After this, if someone does not follow my guidelines and acts against the tariqah, I will be away and free from him on the day of Judgement.
Hadhrat Pīr Mitthā quddisa sirruhū passed away from this mortal world in the night of 8th Sha’bān 1384 A.H. (Saturday 12 December 1964) at 11:30pm. He was about 84 years of age at the time of demise. He was buried beside the masjid in Rahmatpur Sharīf, Lārkānā, Sindh, Pakistan. A beautiful green tomb was built over his noble grave, which is visited by thousands of his followers and lovers. Today, millions of people are spiritually affiliated with his tariqah, mainly through Hazrat Khwaja Muhammad Tāhir Naqshbandi alias Sajjan Sāeen, who is the son and spiritual successor of Pīr Mithā’s chief khalīfā Hazrat Sohnā Sāeen (quddis sirruhū).
Pīr Mitthā left a large number of deputies, more than one hundred names are known today. The complete list of names and their biographies is published in Sindhi titled Tazkirah Khulafā-i Ghaffāriya. This blog post lists all the names.
After his sad demise, his tomb, the mosque and the shrine of Raḥmatpur in Lārkānā was succeeded as inheritance by his noble son Khwāja Khalīl ar-Raḥmān Ghaffārī, who continued his mission at this sacred place.
His numerous deputies continued to spread the ṭarīqah to far and wide in Pakistan and abroad. The chief among them and the most distinguished was Shaykh Allāh-Bakhsh ʿAbbāsī Ghaffārī, who was made the chief spiritual heir by Pīr Mitthā.
The next in the Naqshbandī Mujaddidī Tāhirī spiritual golden chain is Shaykh Allāh Bakhsh Abbāsī Ghaffārī.
- Dīvān-e-Ghaffāriā (Urdu and Saraiki), Sufi poetry of Hazrat Pīr Mithā, published by Sāhibzādā Muhammad Deedah-Dil Ghaffārī, 2011, pages: 406
- Malfūzāt-e Fazaliā (Urdu), speeches of Hazrat Pīr Fazal Alī Qureshī, written by Hazrat Pīr Mithā, edited by Pīr Karamullāh Ilāhī alias Dilbar Sāeen, published in 1433 AH (2012), 530 pages. An old partial edition
- Malfūzat-e Ghaffāriā (Sindhi), by Muftī Abdur-Rahmān Allāhābādī, published by Idārat-ul-Ma’rifat, Allahabad sharif, Kandiaro, March 2010. 200 pages.
- Malfūzāt-e Ghaffārī (Sindhi), by Khalīfā Sa’adullāh Soomro, edited by Pīr Karamullāh Ilāhī alias Dilbar Sāeen, published in 1432 AH, 200 pages. Speeches of Hazrat Pīr Mithā.
- Noor-us-Sudoor (Sindhi), Malfūzāt of Hazrat Pīr Mithā, written by Maulānā Ghulām Farīd Ghaffārī, edited by Pīr Karamullāh Ilāhī alias Dilbar Sāeen, published in 1432 AH, 50 pages. Another link
- Hazrat Pīr Mithā Sāeen (Sindhi), comprehensive biography written by Pīr Karamullāh Ilāhī alias Dilbar Sāeen, published in 2010, 608 pages. PDF file
- Gulistān-e Ghaffāriā (Urdu), biography written by Bedar Morai, published in 2008, 144 pages.
- Ganjeena-e Hayāt-e Ghaffāriā (Sindhi), biography written by Bedar Morai, published in 1974, 150 pages. PDF, Scribd link
- Tazkirāh Khulafā-e Ghaffāriā (Sindhi), by Pīr Karamullāh Ilāhī alias Dilbar Sāeen, published in 1431 AH. 826 pages. Biographies of one hundred khulafa of Hazrat Pīr Mithā and their spiritual descendants.
- Maktūbāt Ghaffāriā (Urdu), selected letters written by Hazrat Pīr Mithā. Text version, pdf file.
- Two-monthly Attāhir no. 19, Pīr Mithā edition, April 1991. Collection of articles related to Hazrat Pīr Mithā. PDF