Khwaja Saiyid Mohammed Gesu Daraz

Khwaja Saiyid Mohammed Gesu Daraz is one of the great Chishti Sufis. He is known and respected throughout the sub-continent of India, Pakistan and Bangla Desh. He is a disciple and a spiritual caliph of Khwaja Nasiruddin Chiragh of Delhi.

He was born on the 4th of Rajab in the year 721 A.H. (which is the 30th of July 1321 C.E. according to my computer). His nickname is Abu’l Fatah. He is addressed as Sadruddin, Wali ul akbar us-Sadiq and Gesu Daraz. There are several reasons for calling him Gesu Daraz. He had very long hair and for this reason he came to be called Gesu Daraz, which means ‘one with long locks of hair’. Another reason assigned is this, that once he was carrying on his shoulders the palanquin in which his spiritual guide and teacher was sitting. All of a sudden his locks of hair, which extended up to his knees, were entangled in the wheel of the palanquin. Out of respect for his spiritual guide he did not prefer to stop the palanquin in order to take out his hair from the wheel. His shaykh was highly pleased with him and he recited a couplet, conferring him the title of Gesu Daraz.

He was related to imam Zain ul Abedin, the son of imam Husain, the son of imam ‘Ali, who is the fourth caliph of Islam and the son in law of the prophet Mohammed (s.a.w.). He traced his descent from the prophet, being related to him in twenty-two degrees. Saiyid Yusuf Husaini was his father, who was a spiritual disciple of the Chishti Sufi Nizamuddin Awliya. His father was also benefited by the spiritual blessings of Khwaja Nasirudin Chiragh of Delhi. His father moved to the Deccan where he came to be known as Raju Qattal, for the reason that he had waged a war against his own self. This war is called the greater jihad as it is a major struggle with the goal to transform the ego into a self with inner peace.

The reason why he moved to the Deccan is connected to the sultan. Sultan Mohammed Bin Tughlaq wanted to shift the seat of government from Delhi to Daulatabad and he ordered the residents of Delhi to proceed to the Deccan and settle there. The journey in those days was so hard that many people expired on the way. His father settled there when Gesu Daraz was in his eight year. His mother was an accomplished woman. Her father was a spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Awliya. Being aggrieved by her brother, who was the governor of Daulatabad, she left for Delhi along with her two sons. Her husband was then no longer alive. She began to live in Delhi. Gesu Daraz was then in his fifteenth year.

Gesu Daraz received his early education and training at home. His father and his maternal grandfather looked after him. At an early age he committed the Qur’an to memory. He was deprived of paternal care, when he was ten years, three months and one day old.

When he was is Khuldabad – this is the place in the Deccan where his father settled – he used to hear a great deal about Nizamuddin Awliya and Nasirudin Chiragh (= lamp) of Delhi. He had begun to feel a great love and liking for the ‘lamp of Delhi’. When he saw him for the first time (it took place when he moved to Delhi as he saw the Chishti pir in the mosque of Qutubuddin Aibek on the occasion of the Friday prayers) his joy and fondness knew no bounds. He took his brother with him and together they paid their respects to Nasiruddin Chiragh of Delhi. Gesu Daraz was accepted as a disciple. Subsequently he was appointed as a spiritual caliph of Nasiruddin.

Gesu Daraz continued his education even after his being initiated into the Chishti order. His teachers counted such learned people as Mawlana Sharafuddin Katheli, Mawlana Tajuddin Bahadur and Qazi Abdul Muqtadar. He completed his education when he was 19 years old. After completing his education he devoted himself exclusively to prayers, ascetic practices, rituals, inner purification and illumination. His spiritual guide directed him to keep ablutions as far as possible and to maintain fasts in the month of Shaban.

At the age of forty years he married Bibi Khatun, the daughter of Mawlana Saiyid Ahmad. They had two sons and three daughters. His eldest son named Saiyid Husain died during the life-time of Gesu Daraz. His second son, Saiyid Mohammed Yusuf became his spiritual successor. His eldest daughter was named Bibi Fatima. His second daughter was named Bibi Batul and his third daughter was named Bibi Umuddin.

On the eve of the invasion of Timurlenk he left Delhi along with the members of his family. On the way he stayed in Gawalior with one of his disciples named Mawlana Alauddin. He honoured him by appointing him as one of his spiritual caliphs.

Gesu Daraz was very pious. He adhered to the sunna of the prophet Mohammed (s.a.w.) strictly. He served his spiritual guide faithfully. He used to wake up in the middle of the night and devote himself to rituals, remembrance of God and prayers. After the ishraqi prayers, he used to take food with his sons and used to teach commentaries on the Qur’an and traditions. In the noon he used to take a little rest. After the prayers following this rest he used to recite the Qur’an regularly. In the night about fifteen people took food with him every day.

At the time of accepting anyone as his spiritual disciple, he used to place his right hand on the hand of the new entrant and used to tell this:

‘Know that you promised this humble being and to the spiritual guide of this humble being and to all the awliya of this order, that you will always ‘protect’ your eyes and your tongue, and will firmly hold to the shariah. Do you accept it?’

After acceptance he would take a pair of scissors, then he always recited the takbir i.e. Allaho akbar, Allah is greater (than anything you can imagine) and then would cut some hair near the right and the left ear and again would recite the takbir. He would then place the four-edged cap on the head of the disciple and asked the disciple to offer a prayer of two cycles. Then he would issue certain spiritual instructions to the newcomer.

Gesu Daraz was an eminent poet. He has left a large collection of poems. During his long span of life (he attained the ripe age of one hundred and four years, four months and twelve days) he wrote about 105 books. This means that he wrote one book each year…

His teachings have been preserved. He says that the advantage of being a disciple is this, that on the Day of Judgment the spiritual guide and teacher will plead your case and will help and assist you.

Discussing prayer and its efficacy, Gesu Daraz says that the prayer which is offered in conformity with the conditions attached to it, is sure to be accepted. If you may have some doubts about its being accepted or if you have not observed all the conditions precedent to it, then it is of no use to complain of its not being accepted.

He says that there is no difference of opinion, that to feed the poor and the hungry is considered praiseworthy in every religion. There is in fact nothing better than to feed the hungry, to give them rest and respite, and to console them.

According to him if one may not get even according to one’s need then it constitutes privation. The one who is happy under such circumstances and may not like to get more than one’s needs is known in the terminology of the tariqat as pious. And if one may neither decry nor like to get more, then it is a case of submission. If one may not desire more, but may like to get more then it constitutes contentment. If one may desire more, but finding it difficult to achieve so, the search may have been given up, then it is called greed. If one may be overpowered by necessities and those necessities may not be fulfilled, then the one concerned, is confused indeed.

The Chishti Sufi Gesu Daraz has also taught:

· The spiritual guide and teacher is well-acquainted with the ups and downs of the spiritual path. Without his help and guidance the way cannot be traversed. The goal cannot be reached by mere rigours and ascetic practices without the help of the spiritual guide.
· A sound heart results in a sound vision. This vision becomes such, that it turns dust into alchemy.
· Piety is the cure of all the spiritual ills.

The above comes from an unpublished manuscript written by a Chishti pir. He has had access to Persian and Urdu books and manuscripts.