|Mirzā Mazhar Jān-i Jānān|
|Full name||Mirzā Mazhar Jān-i Jānān|
|Died||11th Muharram, 1195 A.H.
|School||Sunni Islam, Hanafi, Sufi|
|Notable ideas||Acceptance of Hindus as Ahl-i Kitab, unflinching adherence to the Sunnah|
Mirzā Mazhar Jān-i Jānān (مرزا مظہر جانِ جاناں), also known by his laqab Shamsuddīn Habībullāh (1699-1781), was a renowned Naqshbandī Sufi poet of Dehli, distinguished as one the "four pillars of Urdu poetry." He was also known to his contemporaries as the sunnītrāsh, "Sunnicizer", for his absolute, unflinching commitment to and imitation of the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad.
He established the Naqshbandī suborder Mazhariyya Shamsiyya.
The date of birth is variously given as 1111 or 1113 A.H, and it took place in Kālā Bāgh, Mālwa. His father Mirzā Jān was employed in the army of the mighty Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Following a custom according to which the Emperor had the right to name the sons of his officers, Aurangzeb is reported to have said:
"A son is the soul of his father. Since the name of his father is Mirzā Jān, the name of the son will be Jān-i Jānān."
His early religious intruction was entrusted to hājjī Afzal Siyālkōtī (hadith) and hāfiz Abd al-Rasūl Dihlawī (Qur'an). At the age of 18, he joined the Naqshbandī order under Nūr Muhammad Bada'ūni, who was closely connected to the teachings of Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindī, and completed his studies in four years. He was also initiated in the Qādirī, Chishtī and Suhrawardī orders.
In his prime, Mazhar was advised to write poetry in Urdu rather than Persian as the days of the latter language were said to be numbered in India. His initial experiment in Urdu poetry is said to have been a disaster. One of his adversaries was Mirzā Sauda, who famously remarked that Mazhar was like a
"washerman's dog, belonging neither to the house nor the ghat".
Besides authoring poetry and polemics, Mazhar also wrote a large number of letters relating to Sufi thought and practice.
Among his notable ideas is his acceptance of the Divine-origin of the vedas, which he claimed were revealed by God at the beginning of creation, and his acceptance of the Hindus as the people of the book. In Mazhar's view, Krishna and Rama Chandra were both prophets, who preached the oneness of God. Their religion was one that pleased God, but was later abrogated by the arrival of Islam.
However, his views cannot be considered as a breakthrough in the historical relationship between Muslims and Hindus, as stated by professor Friedmann. According to Thanāullāh Panipatī, Mazhar did not enter the homes of Hindus. He used in one of his letters, the expression "the Sikh infidels" (kuffār-i Sikh).
Among his 'disciples' or Muridīn was the great Hanafī scholar, Qādī Thanāullāh Panipatī, who wrote a famous Tafsir of the Qur'an by the name Tafsir-i Mazharī, which he named after his teacher. Also in his spiritual lineage (silsila) came the great Hanafī jurist Imam Ibn 'Abidīn and the Qur'an exegete Allāma Alusī.
His Naqshbandī lineage came to be known as Mazhariyya Shamsiyya. Mazhar apparently authorized more disciples than any of his predecessors. He regularly corresponded with his deputies, and his letters form much of the basis of our knowledge about his life and ideas.
Mirzā Mazhar was shot and seriously injured on the 7th of Muharram, of the year 1195 AH/1780 CE. The author of Āb-i Ḥayāt writes:
"The cause of this murder was widely rumored in Delhi among high and low: that according to custom, on the seventh day [of Muḥarram], the standards were carried aloft [in procession]. Mirzā Mazhar sat by the side of the road in the upper veranda of his house, with some of his special disciples. Just as ordinary barbarous people do, his [Sunni] group and the [Shia] procession group may perhaps have hurled some insults and abuse, and some barbarous person was offended. Among them was one stony-hearted person named Faulād [=steel] Ḳhān, who was extremely barbarous. He did this evil deed. But Ḥakīm Qudratullāh Ḳhān 'Qāsim', in his anthology, says that in his poetry Mirzā Sahib used to compose a number of verses in praise of Hazrat ʿAlī, and some Sunni took this amiss and did this evil deed.
It should be noted that the author of Āb-i Ḥayāt, a determined Shia, has been suspected of indulging in partisan religious bias. Professor Frances Pritchett has noted that the latter account of the death of Mirzā Mazhar in Āb-i Ḥayāt is a deliberate distortion. Professor Friedmann, as well as Annemari Schimmel and Itzchad Weismann, have all noted that Mirzā Mazhar was killed by a Shiite zealot.