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Tazkiratul Awliya’

(Rahmatullahi ‘alayh)
(400-465 A.H; 1009-1072 C.E)

(Request: Please recite Rahmatullahi ‘alayh, on reciting the name of any of the pious predecessors mentioned here.)

All Praise is for Allah k1 and may the blessings and peace of Allah k2 be forever on our Beloved Holy Prophet Muhammad al-Mustafa, Makki, Madani k36.

As-Sayyid ‘Ali bin Usman al-Hujwiri, popularly known as Hadrat Data Ganj Bakhsh (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) traces his ancestry to our Beloved Holy Prophet Muhammad k38through Imam al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali (Rady Allahu ‘Anhu) and he traces his spiritual roots to RasulAllah k39 through Hadrat Junaid al-Baghdadi (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh).

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah k3 make us benefit from him). Ameen.

He was born in the year 400 A.H in Ghazni, in present day Afghanistan, which was one of the centers of Islamic civilization when the famous historical Sultan Mahmud al-Ghaznawi ruled there.

His Shaykh al-Kamil (perfect spiritual guide) was Hadrat Abul Fadl bin al-Hasan al-Khuttali (Rahmatullahi ‘alayhi) whom he considered to be one of the awtaad (spiritual pegs). His Shaykh was resting in his lap when he breathed his last, such was the bond of love between them.

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah k4 make us benefit from him).

Hadrat Data Ganj Bakhsh was a sufi master, a sufi saint who migrated and settled in Lahore in 431 A.H, about a thousand years ago, and became the spiritual sovereign of Pakistan, and has remained so ever since. Allah k5 is Al-Wahhab (The Bestower) and He bestowed on Pakistan, Data Ganj Bakhsh (which in Urdu means “the bestower of spiritual treasures”). Pakistanis in the sufi tradition as well as the silent majority appreciate such a great bestowal on them.

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah k6 make us benefit from him).

Hadrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz Mawlana Mu‘inuddin Chishti (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) spent forty days in spiritual retreat worshipping Allah k7 at the dargah (shrine) of Hadrat Data Ganj Bakhsh and when he left for Ajmer, India, he composed this memorable couplet in honour of Hadrat Data Ganj Bakhsh.


He is a generous bestower of spiritual treasures for the whole world,
a manifestation of God’s Light
A perfect spiritual guide for those yet imperfect,
a leader of those who are perfect

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah k8 make us benefit from him).

Hadrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) then went to Ajmer to become Sultan-ul-Hind, the spiritual sovereign of India.

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah k9 make us benefit from him).

We can just imagine how much nur (spiritual light) and asraar (spiritual mysteries) Hadrat Khwaja sahib must have witnessed there. And as he is a Pir-e-Kamil (Shaykh al-Kamil) himself, he recognized Data sahib as Pir-e-Kamil (perfect spiritual guide).

Naf‘anAllahu bihima (may Allah k10 make us benefit from them both).

The room in which Khwaja Gharib Nawaz spent forty days in spiritual retreat has till to-day been preserved as a blessed historical place. Those responsible in other countries, who have so senselessly destroyed the noble Islamic historical sites and landmarks should learn a lesson from this example, beg forgiveness from Allah k11 and mend their ways.

Our Beloved Holy Prophet Muhammad k37 personified generosity. As-Sayyid ‘Ali al-Hujwiri followed his example and came to be called Data Ganj Bakhsh (bestower of spiritual treasures). Mawlana Mu‘inuddin Chishti followed the same Prophetic example and came to be called Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (the Patron of the poor). A line in a poem in Urdu has captured this most succinctly.

Khwaja banaa diyaa kahin Data banaa diyaa

He made someone a Khwaja, another one a Data.

Naf‘anAllahu bihima (may Allah k12 make us benefit from them both).

Mawlana ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) has praised Data sahib in his kitab titled Nafahatul Uns (Breaths of the Breeze of Friendship) while Hazrat Nizamuddin Awliya’ (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) has praised him in Fawaidul-Fuad (Morals for the Heart).

Naf‘anAllahu bihim (may Allah k13 make us benefit from them).

Hadrat Data Ganj Bakhsh is a Shaykh al-Islam, a sufi master in the Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama‘ah tradition, an ‘aalim (scholar) in the Hanafi madh-hab (school of sacred Muslim law).

His miracles are well-known, one of which is that he converted many Hindus to Islam through his spiritually brimming personality, generous nature and convincing arguments.

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah k14 make us benefit from him).

When he built a masjid, he personally helped in lifting stones and sand for its construction, just as the Beloved Prophet k41 had done in Madina. When the masjid was being built, some of the ‘ulama (scholars) questioned that its direction for Salah (Prayer) was not towards the Ka‘ba in Makkah. So, when it was completely built, he invited them and they saw themselves facing the Ka‘ba in Prayer.

Allahu Akbar! Allah is Supremely Great!

The masjid has since been expanded many times and can now accommodate more than 50,000 worshippers. Al-Hamdu Lillah (All Praise is for Allah k15).

He wrote many books, the most well-known of which is Kashf al-Mahjub (Unveiling the Veiled), in Persian, which he wrote in Lahore. This book is based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah and the explanations of these by sufi masters up to his time as well his own explanations. It unveils the veiled or hidden spiritual mysteries of Islam. The word “mahjub” is from the same root as the word “hijab” (veil). It means “the one who is veiled”, or “that which is veiled”. The word “kashf” means “to remove the veil”. When the groom unveils his bride on the wedding night, he realizes how truly beautiful his wife is. When Hadrat Data sahib unveils for us the spiritual aspects in the beliefs and pillars of Islam such as Ma‘rifa (gnosis, knowledge of Allah’s Attributes), Tawhid (Oneness of Allah k16), Iman (Faith), Salah (Prayer), Zakat (compulsory charity), Sawm (fasting in the month of Ramadan), and Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah), we begin to appreciate how truly beautiful the teachings of the religion of Islam really are.

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah k17 make us benefit from him).

He was sahib ul-kashf (a man of spiritual unveilings) to whom Allah k18 gave Kashf al-Mahjub (Unveiling the Veiled spiritual mysteries of Islam).

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah k19 make us benefit from him).

When we recite Kashf al-Mahjub, we appreciate the depth and breadth of his knowledge in both written and oral tradition. He was an international personality who had travelled to many countries such as Turkestan, Khurasan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria and met many sufi masters and mastered many sufi treatises including Al-Risala fi ‘ilm al-Tasawwuf (The Epistle about the Sufi tradition) of Imam Abul Qasim ‘Abd al-Karim bin Hawazin al-Qushayri (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh), a foremost definitive work on the sufi tradition in Arabic. And so, his Kashf al-Mahjub became the first and most well-known definitive work on the sufi tradition in Persian.

Naf‘anAllahu bihima (may Allah k20 make us benefit from them both).

The subject matter of the Sufi tradition (Tasawwuf) is Tazkiyatun-nafs (the purification of one’s inner self of base qualities). The teaching is to cleanse the heart of all its diseases such as jealousy, doubt and hatred; and to adorn it with all noble attributes such as ikhlas (sincerity), tawakkul (reliance on Allah k21 and trust in Him), mahabba (love), and yaqin (conviction about the truth of Islam). This is the specialization of the sufi masters, the Awliya’ Allah (Friends of Allah).

So, Kashf al-Mahjub gives brief biographies of the Awliya’ Allah. Data sahib considers the Khulafa ar-Rashidun (the Rightly-Guided Khalifas) and the Ahl al-Bayt (the Family of the Prophet) to be Awliya’ Allah so he begins with the Khulafa ar-Rashidun:

  1. Sayyiduna Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (Rady Allahu ‘Anhu),
  2. Sayyiduna ‘Umar al-Faruq (Rady Allahu ‘Anhu),
  3. Sayyiduna ‘Uthman Dhun-Nurayn (Rady Allahu ‘Anhu), and
  4. Sayyiduna ‘Ali al-Murtada (Rady Allahu ‘Anhu).


Then he comes to the descendants of the Prophet k42 and gives biographies of:

  1. Sayyiduna Imam al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali (Rady Allahu ‘Anhu),
  2. Sayyiduna Imam al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (Rady Allahu ‘Anhu),
  3. Sayyiduna Imam ‘Ali Zayn al-‘Abidin (Rady Allahu ‘Anhu),
  4. Sayyiduna Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (Rady Allahu ‘Anhu), and
  5. Sayyiduna Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq (Rady Allahu ‘Anhu).


Then he explains about the Ashab-us-Suffa, the Companions of the Prophet k43 who were the sufi fuqara’, materially poor but spiritually rich.

This is all in the tradition of the kitab titled Hilyat-ul Awliya wa Tabaqat ul-Asfiya (The Adornment of the Friends of Allah and the Ranks of the Spiritual Elite) of Imam Abu Na‘im al-Asfahani (948-1036 C.E) in Arabic.

Then, Hadrat Data Ganj Bakhsh gives the biographies of four Tabi‘in who are the second generation of Muslims after the Sahaba (Companions). These are:

  1. Hadrat Uways al-Qarani,
  2. Hadrat Harim bin Hayyan,
  3. Hadrat Hasan al-Basri, and
  4. Hadrat Sa‘id bin al-Musayyib.


Rahmatullahi ‘alayhim.

He completes the Tazkiratul Awliya’ (A Memorial of the Saints) by giving biographies of the most well-known sufi masters up to his time. Hadrat Fariduddin Attar (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) followed this tradition and wrote the book Tazkiratul Awliya’ in which he gave biographies of the well-known Awliya’ Allah up to his time.

Al-Hamdu Lillah! (All Praise is for Allah k22!)

Hadrat Data Ganj Bakhsh also fulfilled his responsibility as a Shaykh al-Islam by exposing in Kashf al-Mahjub the false beliefs of sectarians such as the Mu‘tazilah (who questioned the eternal nature of the Qur’an), the Khawarij (who believed that committing major sins turns a Muslim into a non-believer), the Hashwiyya (anthropomorphists), the hululis (believers in incarnation), and the qaraamita (Carmathians who held that when Truth is revealed, shari‘a or the sacred Muslim law is abandoned).

Nastaghfirullah, may Allah k23 protect us from such false beliefs. Amin.

Kashf al-Mahjub has been published several times in Lahore, Samarqand, Tashkent and many other cities and it has been translated into Arabic, Urdu and English.

Shahidullah Faridi, the well-known sufi, accepted Islam on reciting Kashf al-Mahjub.

Al-Hamdu Lillah (All Praise is for Allah k25).

Lahore is called Data ki nagri (which in Urdu means the city of the Data) after him. As he is the spiritual sovereign in Pakistan, his mazar is called Data darbar (the court of the Data). Here come the Awliya’ Allah (Friends of Allah, sufi saints), the ‘ulama (learned scholars), the salihin (pious), the muhibbin (loving disciples), and the ‘aamm (ordinary folk), Muslims as well as non-Muslims, to gain barakaat (blessings) of visiting Data sahib.

Strict adherents of shari‘a (sacred Muslim law), fervent followers of tariqa (spiritual path leading to Allah k26), and those who have tasted of haqiqi ma‘rifa (spiritual realities) all visit the court (darbar) of Data sahib to gain barakaat (blessings).

Besides the five times daily Prayer, they

*recite the Holy Qur’an,
*listen to Hadith and mawa‘iza (sermons),
*recite Zikrullah (in remembrance of Allah k27),
*recite Salawaat and Salaam ‘alar-Rasul, invoking the blessings and salutations of Allah k28 on Prophet Muhammad k44,
*do fikr (contemplate about the beautiful creations of Allah k29),
*make du‘a (supplication to Allah k30),
*pray Salatush-Shukr (Prayer of thanksgiving) to thank Allah k31 for bestowing on Muslims the noble Data sahib, and
*donate towards the provision of food and for charity.

Every day, at any time of the day or night, you will see one or more pious devotees reciting the Holy Qur’an at the darbar (court of the Data). Thus, the Holy Qur’an is recited there continuously, every day, twenty-four hours a day. The darbar is surely a blessed place. Food is served to all the visitors, the rich and the poor, on a continuous basis and the donations received there are distributed to the poor.

Al-Hamdu Lillah (All Praise is for Allah k32).

Those who are in charge of maintaining the masjid and the darbar should continue to maintain the highest level of taqwa (piety) and waraa’ (scrupulousness) to gain maximum barakaat (blessings). 

Many manqabats (poems) have been composed in honour of Data sahib.

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah k33 make us benefit from him).

His ‘urs (anniversary) to celebrate his achievements in promoting piety is held on 18 Safar, the date he passed ahead.

Naf‘anAllahu bih (may Allah k34 make us benefit from him).

May Allah k35 bestow upon us His love, the love of RasulAllah k45, the love of the Ahl al-Bayt and the Sahaba (Rady Allahu ‘Anhum), and the love of the awliya’ and the salihin (Rahmatullahi ‘alayhim). Amin.


Siddiq Osman Noormuhammad
18 Safar 1435, December 2013.







Kashf al-Mahjub

Pir Muhammad Karam Shah, “The Kashf al-Mahjub by Hazrat ‘Ali bin Usman Al-Hujwiri”, p. 42-60, Zia ul-Qur’an Publications, Lahore and Karachi.
Can be downloaded from

Other Classics of Muslim Spirituality

Imam Abu Na‘im al-Asfahani, Hilyat-ul-Awliya’ wa Tabaqat-ul-Asfiya’ (The Adornment of the Friends of Allah and the Ranks of the Spiritual Elite), Vol. I and Vol. II, Dar ul-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, Beirut, 1357 A.H.

Internet References

Data Ganj Bakhsh

Khwaja Gharib Nawaz Mawlana Mu‘inuddin Chishti (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh)
Tazkiratul Awliya’ Gharib NawazMaulana Muhinudeen Chishti.html

Manqabat on Data Ganj Bakhsh Hadrat ‘Ali Hujwiri (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh)
By: Syed Hamid Yazdani of Toronto

And oral tradition.