Burhanuddin Gharib

Burhanuddin Gharib (d. 1337) was a disciple of Nizamuddin Awliya. His love for the samaa’ (Sufi music; audition) was only surpassed by his love for his spiritual guide. When he was in the company of Nizamuddin Awliya he was so concentrated upon him, that he noticed nobody else present. He was very popular among the Chishtiyya of his time. Amir Khosraw and Amir Hasan were his personal friends. Nasiruddin Cheragh of Delhi used to stay with him. He had the utmost respect towards his spiritual guide, Nizamuddin Awliya. He never sat with his back towards Ghiyaspur, where Nizamuddin Awliya lived.

‘Ali Zumbeli and Malik Nusrat, who were related to sultan Alauddin, were probably jealous of their co-disciple and complained about him to their teacher Nizamuddin Awliya. What happened? When Burhanuddin was about seventy years old, he had become very weak and it was difficult for him to sit on the ground. He used to wrap up his blanket fourfold and used to sit on it in the Sufi centre of Nizamuddin Awliya. The two aforementioned men complained to their master that Burhanuddin, by his sitting thus, posed to be a spiritual successor of Nizamuddin. Nizamuddin was therefore displeased with him and did not talk with him when he came. Later on, Khwaja Iqbal came to him and told him that Nizamuddin Awliya had given the order that he should leave the Sufi centre there and then.

Not knowing the reason of the displeasure of his guide, he was extremely confused. He went to the house of his old friend Mawlana Ibrahim, who however was afraid that he would incur the displeasure of Nizamuddin Awliya. So, Burhanuddin went to his own house (in days of distress you learn who are your true friends) and passed his days in weeping. His friends came to him and tried to console him.

After some time his old friend Amir Khosraw pleaded on his behalf. He went to Nizamuddin Awliya with a turban round his neck and stood before him respectfully.

“What is it, o Turk?” – Nizamuddin Awliya asked.
“I want Mawlana Burhanuddin to be forgiven” – was the reply.
Nizamuddin Awliya smiled and asked: “where is he? Call him here!”

Burhanuddin Gharib came. He was reinstated as a spiritual disciple and on top of that was accepted as a khalifa (spiritual caliph) of Nizamuddin Awliya.

This great Chishti Sufi described the ideal Sufi teacher thus:

The perfect master and teacher is that one
Who is both lover and beloved,
Both the seeker and the sought,
Both the impassioned and the impassioning,
Both the perfect and the perfected,
Both the enraptured wayfarer and the wayfaring enraptured one,
Both the astonished and the absorbed.
His way is sometimes intoxicated and sometimes sober,
At times absorbed and at times effaced.
The master is the guide and exemplar.