A young Chishti dervish

A young dervish living in Ajmer, who belonged to the Chishtiyya order, every day sat in meditation near the dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. He always stayed there until the lights were brought to the dargah. It was his habit to leave a little later in order to say the sunset prayers in the nearby Sufi khaneqah. One day he received the permission to travel from his pir. He travelled at first to Lahore, which in those days took several weeks to reach. After visiting the Sufi places in Lahore he went to buy some food at the local bazaar. There he saw something peculiar. He saw a painting of a Sufi who wore an unusual type of pointed hat. As in Islam paintings are frowned upon by the ‘ulama’ he had never in his life seen a painting of a human being before.

His travels then took him to the Northwest of the country but his progress was stopped as the sultan of the neighbouring region had fled and his country was in a state of turmoil. That is why he travelled to the South and hoped to travel on by means of Baluchistan. In Baluchistan he enjoyed the Sufi music very much. Many songs were dedicated to Lal Shah Baz Qalandar or to the ‘Rose of Baghdad’ or to the ‘Lion of God’, ‘Ali. It was easy for him to understand the local language and what he did not understand his heart understood.

After travelling for a long time in the desert the young dervish finally arrived in an oasis called Mahan. It was not so hot here as a cool wind from the snow-capped mountains brought with it some refreshing air. He had gone there to visit Shah Ne’matollahi Vali, whose mausoleum could clearly be seen. It had a beautiful dome, it was surrounded by a garden with water and stately cypress trees, so the Indian dervish immediately went to that place.

When entering the dargah he did not see anyone. This was something, which had never happened to him in Ajmer. He was used to sit in meditation while thousands of other people had come to for ‘ziarat’, a visit. Now he was alone. He was even alone in the room where the great Ne’matollahi Shaykh lied buried. Suddenly it was as if he simply had to turn his face into the opposite direction. What he saw, gave him a shock as he saw a painting of a Sufi with a curiously pointed hat. It was the same man he had seen on the painted portrait in Lahore. It was Shah Ne’matollahi Vali himself. So he was not alone after all…