The Red Falcon of the King

Just suppose you are able to make an interview with Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. What would you ask him? Perhaps some of your questions are similar to the ones as given below:

Q: Can you tell us something about yourself?
A: Yes!
Q: Please do so!
A: My name is Usman Marwandi. This implies that I hail from Marwand near Tabriz. I left it in what you call the thirteenth century.

Q: Why are you called Lal Shahbaz?
A: Lal Shabbaz means the red falcon of the king. I have had one longing, i.e. to return to my Beloved. It so happens that a falcon always wishes to return to the hand of the king. I have always put on a red (lal) dress, so that is why they also called me ‘Lal Sorkh’.

Q: Why do so many Hindus visit your grave in Sehwan (Pakistan)?
A: The first reason may be that these Hindus have a certain open-mindedness, which raises them above the distinctions of caste and creed. The second reason may be that this particular spot has been a Shiva shrine in the past. People still point out a Shiva linga. But who knows, the third reason may be that they are here because of the food.

Q: Because of the food?
A: At the moment at least 13 Sufi brotherhoods are surrounding my dargah in Sehwan. Each of these brotherhoods organizes a free kitchen.

Q: And why are you called Qalandar?
A: Perhaps I have been called a Qalandar because few of the orthodox people would live like I have done inside of a hollow tree and later on in the quarter of the prostitutes in Sehwan? The people think that I have not adhered strictly to the religious injunctions and that I have followed the way of the censured like many Qalandars. On the other hand few people know about my knowledge of Qur’an, hadith and figh (Islamic Jurisprudence), few people know I have written poetry in Arabic and Persian, and that I have been the caliph of that staunch promoter of orthodox values, shaykh Bahauddin Zakarya of Multan. He has had an intense dislike for qalandars, but he accepted me and it was he who called me Shahbaz, which is the noblest species of falcon. You may judge for yourself if I’m disclosing these last facts once again in order to follow the path of blame.

Q: How about the display of popular devotion, which can be seen near your shrine?
A: Islam is an ocean in which there is room for all. There are so many paths to God as there are sand corns in the see. A bird, let us say a red falcon, demonstrates to us that there are many ways to your own heart.

When you are looking for God,
Look for him in your own heart.
He is not in Jerusalem,
Nor in Mecca,
Nor in the pilgrimage.

Q: But this is a poem of Yunus Emre!
A: He, clearly, was someone who was an owner of a heart! When you enter my dargah in Sehwan, you’ll see a metal heart hanging directly above my grave. People say it sheds tears as it softens up for all those who come here to find relief.

Q: Anything else you want to say to us?
A: Safar-e mubarak! May your journey be blessed!