Shah Jalal

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Shah Jalal
hyrt shaahjaalaaler drgaah shriiph silett.jpg
Shah Jalal Mazar
Born1271 CE
Died1346 (aged 7475)
Religion Islam
Denomination Sufi
Muslim leader
Based in Sylhet
Period in officeLate 13th century to early 14th century
PredecessorSyed Ahmed Kabir Suhrawardi
Successor Shah Paran
Post Sufi saint and mystic
Tomb of Hazrat Shah Jalal in Sylhet Sylhet02.jpg
Tomb of Hazrat Shah Jalal in Sylhet
Shah Jalal Mazar Mosque ShahJalal1.JPG
Shah Jalal Mazar Mosque

Shāh Jalāl ad-Dīn al-Mujarrad al-Naqshbandi (Arabic : شاه جلال الدين المجرد النقشبندي), popularly known as Hazrat Shah Jalal (Arabic : شاه جلال, Bengali : শাহ জালাল, Sylheti: ꠡꠣꠢ ꠎꠣꠟꠣꠟ) (25 May 1271 CE – 15 March 1346 CE), is a celebrated Sufi Muslim figure in Bengal. Shah Jalal's name is often associated with the spread of Islam into the Sylhet region, which was part of a long history of interactions between the Middle East, Persia, Central Asia and South Asia. According to a tablet inscription found in Amberkhana, he arrived at Sylhet in 1303 CE. [1] Various complexes and religious places have been named after him, including the largest airport in Bangladesh, Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

Bengali language Indo-Aryan language mainly spoken in India and Bangladesh

Bengali, also known by its endonym Bangla, is an Indo-Aryan language primarily spoken by the Bengalis in South Asia. It is the official and most widely spoken language of Bangladesh and second most widely spoken of the 22 scheduled languages of India, behind Hindi. With approximately 228 million native speakers and another 37 million as second language speakers, Bengali is the fifth most-spoken native language and the seventh most spoken language by total number of speakers in the world.

Sylheti language Indo-Aryan language spoken in India and Bangladesh

Sylheti is an Indo-Aryan language, primarily spoken in the Sylhet Division of Bangladesh; and in the Barak Valley and Hojai district of the Indian state of Assam. There is also a substantial number of Sylheti speakers in the Indian states of Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura with smaller populations in Kolkata and Nagaland.

Sufism, or Taṣawwuf, variously defined as "Islamic mysticism", "the inward dimension of Islam" or "the phenomenon of mysticism within Islam", is mysticism in Islam, "characterized ... [by particular] values, ritual practices, doctrines and institutions" which began very early in Islamic history and represents "the main manifestation and the most important and central crystallization of" mystical practice in Islam. Practitioners of Sufism have been referred to as "Sufis".



His biography was first recorded in the mid 16th century by a certain Shaikh 'Ali (d. 1562), a descendant of one of Shah Jalal's companions. Thus there is a gap of several centuries between the life of the saint and that of his earliest biographer. According to this account, Shah Jalal had been born in Turkestan, where he became a spiritual disciple of Khwaja Ahmad Yasawi, one of the founders of the Central Asian Yasawi Sufi tradition. [2] Therefore, although his existence is not debated, much of his life story is debated.

Turkestan region; land of the Turks

Turkestan, also spelt Turkistan, refers to an area in Central Asia between Siberia to the north; Iran, Afghanistan, and Tibet to the south; the Caspian Sea to the west; and the Gobi Desert to the east.

Early life and education

Born Jalāl ad-Dīn bin Mahmoud bin Ibrahim and became a makhdoom, teacher of Sunnah and, for performing prayers in solitary milieu and leading a secluded life as an ascetic, al Mujarrad was postfixed to his name. He was conferred with the title of Shaykh-ul-Mashāykh (Great Scholar). Shah Jalal's date and place of birth is not certain. Various traditions and historical documents differ. A number of scholars have claimed that he was born in 1271 CE in Konya in modern-day Turkey (then in the Sultanate of Rûm) and later moved to Yemen either as a child or adult while many believe he was born in a village called Kaninah in Hadhramaut, Yemen. His mother, Syeda Hasina Fatimah, and his father, Mahmoud bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim, were descendants of Hashemite dynasty of Quraysh of Mecca. [3] His father was a Muslim cleric, who was a contemporary of the Persian poet and Sufi mystic, Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi. Shah Jalal was educated and raised by his maternal uncle Syed Ahmed Kabir in Mecca. He excelled in his studies; became a hafiz and mastered fiqh. He achieved spiritual perfection (Kamaliyyat) after 30 years of study, practice and meditation. [4]

Makhdoom is an Arabic word meaning "Teacher of Sunnah." It is a title for Pirs, in South and Central Asia.

Sunnah, also sunna or sunnat, is the body of literature which discusses and prescribes the traditional customs and practices of the Islamic community, both social and legal, often but not necessarily based on the verbally transmitted record of the teachings, deeds and sayings, silent permissions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, as well as various reports about Muhammad's companions. The Quran and the sunnah make up the two primary sources of Islamic theology and law. The sunnah is also defined as "a path, a way, a manner of life"; "all the traditions and practices" of the Islamic prophet that "have become models to be followed" by Muslims.

Konya Metropolitan municipality in Central Anatolia, Turkey

Konya is a major city in south-western edge of the Central Anatolian Plateau and is the seventh-most-populous city in Turkey with a metropolitan population of over 2.1 million. Konya is an economically and industrially developed city and the capital of Konya Province.

Travel to South Asia

According to legend, one day his uncle, Sheikh Kabir, gave Shah Jalal a handful of soil and asked him to travel to India. He instructed him to choose to settle and propagate Islam in any place in India where the soil exactly matches that which he gave him in smell and colour. [5] Shah Jalal journeyed eastward met many great scholars and Sufi mystics. [5] He passed through Baghdad and was present there during the time of the murder of the last Abbasid caliph Al-Musta'sim in 1258. [6] He gained a small following which joined Jalal on his expedition, including the likes of Shah Mustafa and his son Ismail. Shah Jalal reached Gujarat, where he was joined by Shah Malum.

India Country in South Asia

India is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives; its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.

Islam is an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God (Allah), and that Muhammad is a messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.9 billion followers or 24.4% of the world's population, commonly known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, and unique, and has guided mankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, believed to be the verbatim word of God, and the teachings and normative examples of Muhammad.

Mysticism Practice of religious experiences during alternate states of consciousness

Mysticism is the practice of religious ecstasies, together with whatever ideologies, ethics, rites, myths, legends, and magic may be related to them. It may also refer to the attainment of insight in ultimate or hidden truths, and to human transformation supported by various practices and experiences.

Conquest of Sylhet

In 1303, the Sultan of Bengal Shamsuddin Firoz Shah was engaged in a war with the neighbouring kingdom of Sylhet, then under the rule of the Hindu king Gour Govinda. This war began when Burhanuddin, a Muslim living in Sylhet, sacrificed a cow for his newborn son's Aqiqah or celebration of birth. [7] According to tradition, Govinda learned of this sacrifice when a piece of beef from the cow was picked up by a bird which was then dropped on the King's personal temple. Govinda, in a fury for what he saw as sacrilege, had the newborn killed as well as having Burhanuddin's right hand cut off. [8]

Sultan noble title with several historical meanings

Sultan is a position with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", derived from the verbal noun سلطة sulṭah, meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who claimed almost full sovereignty in practical terms, albeit without claiming the overall caliphate, or to refer to a powerful governor of a province within the caliphate. The adjective form of the word is "sultanic", and the dynasty and lands ruled by a sultan are referred to as a sultanate.

Shamsuddin Firoz Shah was the independent ruler of the Lakhnauti Kingdom. He ascended the throne with the title of Al-Sultan Al-Azam Shams Al-Duniya wa Al-Din Abu Al-Muzaffar Firoz Shah Al-Sultan and invoked the name of the Abbaside Caliph Mustasim Billah in his coins.

Hinduism is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life, widely practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history. Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder. This "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE, after the end of the Vedic period, and flourished in the medieval period, with the decline of Buddhism in India.

When word of this reached Firoz Shah, an army commanded by his nephew, Sikandar Khan Ghazi, was sent against Gour Govinda. Two successive strikes were attempted, both ending in failure due to the Bengali armies inexperience in the foreign terrain as well as Govinda's superior military strategy. [9] [10]

Sikandar Khan Ghazi also known as Sikander Shah was the first wazir of the Gour under the Lakhnauti Kingdom ruled by Shamsuddin Firoz Shah. Prior to this, Khan was one of the commanders of the Battles of Gour during the Conquest of Sylhet in 1303. Early Persian manuscripts and inscriptions relating to Shah Jalal name Sikandar Khan Ghazi as well, highlighting his role as a commander in the battles.

A third attack, now under the additional leadership of Firoz Shah's Sipah Salar (Commander-in-Chief) Syed Nasiruddin, was undertaken, a force which was joined by Shah Jalal and his companions, who at this point numbered 360. [11] Shah Jalal, who had immediately prior to this been a guest of the Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi, may have been summoned by Firoz Shah for aid after the initial failed attacks against Gour Govinda. Alternatively, he may already have been present in Sylhet, fighting against the Hindu king independently prior to being approached by the Sultan. [11] [12]

The army was guided through Sylhet by Burhanuddin, ultimately arriving at the banks of the Barak River. Here, the third battle was fought between Gour Govinda and the combined armies of Shah Jalal and Syed Nasiruddin, with the latter forces ultimately claiming victory. Govinda was forced to retreat and Sylhet was brought under Muslim control. According to tradition, Shah Jalal at this point compared the soil in Sylhet with that which was previously given to him by his uncle, finding them to be identical. In any case, following the battle he and his followers permanently settled in Sylhet. [7] [11]

Later life

05122009 Hazrat Shahjalal Majar Exit photo2 Ranadipam Basu.jpg

During the later stages of his life, Shah Jalal devoted himself to propagating Islam. Shah Jalal became so renowned that the famous traveller Ibn Battuta, then in Satgaon, [13] made a one-month journey through the mountains of Kamarupa north-east of Sylhet to meet him. [14] On his way to Sylhet via Habung, Ibn Batuta was greeted by several of Shah Jalal's disciples who had come to assist him on his journey many days before he had arrived. At the meeting in 1345 CE, Ibn Batuta noted that Shah Jalal was tall and lean, fair in complexion and lived by the mosque in a cave, where his only item of value was a goat he kept for milk, butter, and yogurt. He observed that the companions of the Shah Jalal were foreign and known for their strength and bravery. He also mentions that many people would visit the Shah to seek guidance. [15]

The meeting between Ibn Batuta and Shah Jalal is described in his Arabic travelogue, Rihla (The Journey). Amir Khusrau also gives an account of Shah Jalal's conquest of Sylhet in his book Afdalul Hawaade. Even today in Hadramaut, Yemen, Shah Jalal's name is established in folklore. [16]

The exact date of his death is debated, but he is reported by Ibn Batuta to have died on 20 Dhul Qadah 746 AH (15 March 1346 CE). [17] He left behind no descendants and was buried in Sylhet in his dargah (tomb), which is located in a neighbourhood now known as Dargah Mahalla:

Where he lies, a soul eternal, The much-loved awliya of Allah, Hazrat Shah Jalal. [18]

His shrine is famous in Sylhet and throughout Bangladesh, with hundreds of devotees visiting daily. The largest mosque in Sylhet was built at the Dargah (also one of the largest in Bangladesh).

Shah Jalal's Masjid ShahJalal5.JPG
Shah Jalal's Masjid

Spiritual genealogy

Spiritual genealogy of Shah Jalal is as follows:


See also

Related Research Articles

Syed Muhammad Nizamuddin Auliya, also known as Hazrat Nizamuddin, and Mahbub-e-Ilahi was a Sunni Muslim scholar, Sufi saint of the Chishti Order, and unarguably one of the most famous Sufis on the Indian Subcontinent. His predecessors were Fariduddin Ganjshakar, Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, and Moinuddin Chishti, who were the masters of the Chishti spiritual chain or silsila in the Indian subcontinent.

Sylhet Division Division of Bangladesh

Sylhet Division, is the northeastern division of Bangladesh, named after its main city, Sylhet. The colloquial name Sylhet is derived from its original correct form Srihatta but now the term Sylhet is officially recognized name of this division. There are difference of opinions among the scholars regarding the name Srihatta. It is bordered by the Indian states of Meghalaya, Assam and Tripura to the north, east and south, respectively; and by the Bangladeshi divisions of Chittagong to the southwest and Dhaka and Mymensingh to the west. Along with the Indian districts of the Barak Valley, it forms the Greater Sylhet region.

Islam in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a Muslim majority nation and Islam is the state religion of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. The Muslim population was approximately 152 million, constituting 90% of the total population as of 2011 and making Bangladesh the third-largest Muslim majority nation in the world after Indonesia and Pakistan.

Sylhet District District in Sylhet Division, Bangladesh

Sylhet, located in north-east Bangladesh, is the divisional capital and one of the four districts in the Sylhet Division.

Shah Paran

Shah Paran was an Islamic saint and Sufi of the Jalalia section of the Suhrawardiyya order. He was the nephew of Shah Jalal and was born in Hadramaut, Yemen, and accompanied his uncle, Shah Jalal, with whom he arrived in India in 1303 AD. He is associated with the spread of Islam in the region what is now Bangladesh. He took part in the Conquest of Sylhet. After the conquest, he established a khanqah at Khadim Nagar in Dakshingarh Pargana, about 7 km away from Sylhet town. He played a significant role in propagating Islam and establishing Muslim rule in the Sylhet region.

Sylhet region Region

Sylhet is a geographical, historical and cultural region in the north-eastern part of the Indian subcontinent and comprises the Sylhet Division in Bangladesh, which includes the Surma Valley, and the three districts of the Barak Valley in Assam, India. In 1947, when a plebiscite was held in Sylhet, the population decided to join to the Pakistani province of East Bengal. However, when the Radcliffe Line was drawn up, the Barak Valley was given to India by the Commission after being pleaded by a delegation led by Abdul Matlib Mazumdar. Nihar Ranjan Roy, author of Bangalir Itihash, says that "South Assam / Northeastern Bengal or Barak Valley is the extension of the Greater Surma/Meghna Valley of Bengal in every aspect from culture to geography".

Shah Kamal Quhafa Devanagari: ह्ज़्रत शाह कामाल क़ुहाफ़ा; Bengali: হজরত শাহ্‌ কামাল ক়োহাফাহ্ b.1291 d.1385 CE, was a philanthropist, pioneer, social and religious activist, who is revered in South Asia as a dervish of sufi order. He was born in Makkah, Hijaz province of Arabian Peninsula and travelled to Bangladesh with his Meccan wife and twelve sufi disciples in 1315 to disseminate ideals of socio-religious harmony and meet his father, Burhanuddin Quhafah, who had travelled to Bangladesh a decade earlier with Shah Jalal Yamani in 1303.

South Surma or Dakshin Surma is an Upazila of Sylhet District in the Division of Sylhet, Bangladesh.

Sufism in Bangladesh is more or less similar to that in the whole Indian subcontinent. India, it is claimed, is one of the five great centers of Sufism, the other four being Persia, Baghdad, Syria, and North Africa. Sufi saints flourished in Hindustan (India) preaching the mystic teachings of Sufism that easily reached the common people, especially, the spiritual truth seekers in India. Sufism in Bangladesh is also called pirism, after the pirs or teachers in the Sufi tradition.

Shah Syed Nasiruddin was a Sufi saint and military leader associated with the spread of Islam in Bengal in the 14th century. As the commander of the armed forces or Sipah Salar of the Sultan of Bengal, Syed Nasiruddin is primarily known for his role in the Conquest of Sylhet in 1303, alongside the celebrated Sufi dervish Shah Jalal.

The Conquest of Sylhet,, refers to many battles which took place in the region of Srihatta which consisted of many petty kingdoms. Predominantly, it refers to the three battles between Shamsuddin Firoz Shah, of the independent Bengali kingdom centered in Lakhnauti, and Raja Govinda of the Srihattan Kingdom of Gour. However, other battles taking place after this incident such as the battles of Taraf are also part of the Conquest of Sylhet.

History of Sylhet

The Greater Sylhet region predominantly includes the Sylhet Division in Bangladesh, and the three districts of the Barak Valley in Assam, India. The history of the Sylhet region begins with the existence of expanded commercial centres in the area that is now Sylhet City. Historically known as Srihatta, it was ruled by the Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms of Harikela and Kamarupa before passing to the control of the Sena and Deva dynasties in the early medieval period. After the fall of these Hindu principalities, Srihatta became home to many independent petty kingdoms such as Gour, Laur, Ita, Taraf and Jaintia. After the Conquest of Sylhet in the 14th century, the region was absorbed into Shamsuddin Firoz Shah's independent principality based in Lakhnauti, Western Bengal. It was then successively ruled by the Muslim sultanates of Delhi and the Bengal Sultanate before collapsing into Muslim petty kingdoms, mostly ruled by Afghan chieftains, after the fall of the Karrani dynasty in 1576. Described as Bengal's Wild East, the Mughals struggled in defeating the chieftains of Sylhet. After the defeat of Khwaja Usman, their most formidable opponent, the area finally came under Mughal rule in 1612. After the Mughals, the British Empire ruled the region for over 150 years until the independence of India. In 1947, when a referendum was held, Sylhet decided to join the Pakistani province of East Bengal. However, when the Radcliffe Line was drawn up, the Barak Valley was given to India by the Commission after being pleaded by Abdul Matlib Mazumdar's delegation. Throughout the History of Sylhet, raids and invasions were also common from neighbouring kingdoms as well as tribes such as the Khasis and Kukis.

Nūr al-Hudā Sa'īdi al-Ḥusaynī, commonly known by the sobriquet Ḥaydar Ghāzī, was the second wazir of the Gour under the Lakhnauti Kingdom ruled by Shamsuddin Firoz Shah. Prior to this, Ghazi took part in the Conquest of Gour in 1303.

Syed Shāh Rukn ad-Dīn was a 14th-century Sufi Muslim figure in the Sylhet region. Ruknuddin's name is associated with the propagation of Islam in Rajnagar. In 1315, he joined Shah Kamal Quhafa who was travelling to the Sylhet region to meet Shah Jalal and reunite with his father, Burhanuddin Quhafa.

Syed Shāh Tāj ad-Dīn was a 14th-century Sufi Muslim figure in the Sylhet region. Tajuddin's name is associated with the propagation of Islam in Osmani Nagar. In 1315, he joined Shah Kamal Quhafa who was travelling to the Sylhet region to meet Shah Jalal and reunite with his father, Burhanuddin Quhafa.


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  2. Eaton, Richard M. (1993). The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204–1760 (PDF). Berkeley: University of California Press. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 June 2016.
  3. Rahman, M. F., Hazrat Shah Jalal and 360 Awliya, Deshkaal Publications, Sylhet, 1992, p.12-13
  4. Islam in South Asia in practice source of shuhel-e-yamani By Barbara Daly Metcalf, Published by – Princeton universiti press, 2009. Page 385
  5. 1 2 Karim, Abdul (2012). "Shah Jalal (R)". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  6. Ibn Battutah. The Rehla of Ibn Battuta. He had seen Caliph al-Musta’sim Billah al-Abbasi at Baghdad, and that he was there at the time of his murder.
  7. 1 2 Hussain, M Sahul (2014). "Burhanuddin (R)". Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  8. EB, Suharwardy Yemani Sylheti, Shaikhul Mashaikh Hazrat Makhdum Ghazi Shaikh Jalaluddin Mujjarad, in Hanif, N. "Biographical Encyclopaedia of Sufis: Central Asia and Middle East. Vol. 2". Sarup & Sons, 2002. p.459
  9. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, Statistics Division, Ministry of Planning, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh,"Population Census of Bangladesh, 1974: District census report" (1979), p. 15
  10. Mujjarad (2002 , p. 459)
  11. 1 2 3 Mujjarad (2002 , p. 460)
  12. Wise, J (1873). "Note on Sháh Jalál, the patron saint of Silhaț". Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 42: 279.
  13. Hazrat Shah Jalal O Sylhet er Itihas by Syed Mujtaba Ali, re-published by Utsa Prakashan, Dhaka, 1988, p.60
  14. Rihla 9, 1344
  15. Islam in South Asia in practice By – Barbara Daly Metcalf, Published – Princeton university press Uk 2009, Page 383 – 385.
  16. The rise of Islam and the Bengal frontier, 1204–1760, By Richard Maxwell Eaton, Published by – university of california press, page 76
  17. Rahman, M. F., Hazrat Shah Jalal and 360 Awliya, p.13, Deshkaal Publications, Sylhet, 1992
  18. Ziaul Haque, Md., Hazrat Shah Jalal (R.A): An Epic, p.114, Choitonno Publication, Sylhet, 2015
  19. Islam in South Asia in practice, By Barbara Daly Metcalf, Published by Princeton universiti press.