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Nizamuddin Auliya
The dargah of Nizamuddin Auliya, Delhi.
Religion Islam, specifically the Chisti order of Sufism
Born 1238
Badayun, Uttar Pradesh
Died 3 April, 1325
Senior posting
Based in Delhi
Title Sultan-ul-Mashaikh, Khalifa
Period in office Late 13th century and early 14th century
Predecessor Fariduddin Ganjshakar
Successor Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlavi

Nizamuddin Auliya (1238 - 3 April 1325) (Urdu: حضرت خواجة نظام الدّین اولیا), also known as Hazrat Nizamuddin, was a famous Sufi saint of the Chishti Order in South Asia, an order that believed in drawing close to God through renunciation of the world and service to humanity. He is one of the great saints of the Chishti order in India.[1] His predecessors were Moinuddin Chishti, Bakhtiyar Kaki and Fariduddin Ganjshakar. They form the initial spiritual chain or silsila of the Chisti order in India in that respective sequence.

Nizamuddin Auliya like his predecessors stressed upon the element of love as a means of realisation of God. For him his love of God implied a love of humanity. His vision of the world was marked by a highly evolved sense of secularity and kindness.[2] It is claimed by the 14th century historiographer Ziauddin Barani that his influence on the Muslims of Delhi was such that a paradigm shift was effected in their outlook towards worldly matters. People began to be inclined towards mysticism and prayers and remaining aloof from the world.[3]


Early life and background

Nizamuddin Auliya was born in 1238, in Badayun, Uttar Pradesh (East of Delhi), though at age five, after the death of his father, Ahmad Badayuni, he came to Delhi with his mother [4] Bibi Zulekha. His biography finds mention in Ain-i-Akbari, a 16th century document written by Mughal Emperor Akbar’s vizier, Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak [5].


At the age of twenty, in the year 1269, Nizāmuddīn went to Ajodhan (the present Pakpattan Sharif in Pakistan) and became a disciple of the Sufi saint Fariduddin Ganj-i-Shakkar, commonly known as Baba Farid. Nizāmuddīn did not take up residence in Ajodhan but continued with his theological studies in Delhi while simultaneously starting the Sufi devotional practices and the prescribed litanies. He visited Ajodhan each year to spend the month of Ramadan in the presence of Baba Farid. It was on his third visit to Ajodhan that Baba Farid made him his successor. Shortly after that, when Nizāmuddīn returned to Delhi, he received news that Baba Farid had expired.

Chilla Nizamuddin Auliya, residence of Nizamuddin Auliya, towards the north-east from Humayun's tomb, Delhi

Nizāmuddīn lived at various places in Delhi, before finally settling down in Ghiyaspur, a neighborhood in Delhi undisturbed by the noise and hustle of city life. He built his Khanqah here, a place where people from all walks of life were fed, where he imparted spiritual education to others and he had his own quarters. Before long, the khanqah became a place thronged with all kinds of people, rich and poor alike.

Many of his disciples achieved spiritual height, including Shaikh Nasiruddin Muhammad Chirag-e-Delhi [6], and Amir Khusro [5], noted scholar/musician, and the royal poet of the Delhi Sultanate.

He died on the morning of 3 April 1325. His shrine, the Nizāmuddīn Dergāh is located in Delhi [7], and the present structure was built in 1562. The shrine is visited by people of all faiths, through the year, thoughout it becomes a place for special congregation during the death anniversaries, or 'Urs, of Nizāmuddīn Auliyā' and Amīr Khusro [4], who is also buried at the Nizāmuddīn Dargāh.

Key beliefs

Besides believing in the traditional Sufi ideas of embracing God within this life (as opposed to the idea that such partial merger with God is possible only after death), by destroying the ego and cleansing the soul, and that this is possible through considerable efforts involving Sufi practices, Nizamuddin also expanded and practised the unique features introduced by past saints of the Chisti Sufi order in India. These included:

  • Emphasis on renunciation and having complete trust in God.
  • The unity of mankind and shunning distinctions based on social, economic, religious status.
  • Helping the needy, feeding the hungry and being sympathetic to the oppressed.
  • Strong disapproval of mixing with the Sultans, the princes and the nobles.
  • Exhortation in making close contact with the poor and the downtrodden
  • Adopting an uncompromising attitude towards all forms of political and social oppression.
  • A bold stance in favour of Sema, which some considered unislamic. Perhaps this was with the view that this was in consonance with the role of music in some modes of Hindu worship, could serve as a basis of contact with local people and would facilitate mutual adjustments between the two communities.[8] In fact Qawwali, a form of devotional music, was originally created by one his most cherished disciples: Amir Khusro.

Nizamuddin did not much bother about the theoretical aspects of Sufism, believing rather that it were the practical aspects that counted, as it was anyway not possible to describe the diversified mystical experiences called spiritual states or stations which a practicing Sufi encountered. He discouraged the demonstration of Keramat and emphasized that it was obligatory for the Auliya (which roughly means the friends of God) to hide the ability of Keramat from the commoners. He also was quite generous in accepting disciples. Usually whoever came to him saying that he wanted to become a disciple was granted that favour. This resulted in him being always surrounded by people from all strata of society.

Ancestral history

The eldest son of 'Alī al-Naqī was Ḥasan al-'Askarī and the other son was Ja'far Bukhārī. After the death of 'Ali al-Naqi, Hasan al-Askari became the accepted Imām of both Shī'ah and Sunnī Muslims. Ḥasan al-'Askarī was killed at the age of 28. He had one son, Muḥammad al-Mahdī, who, at the age of five after the death of his father, disappeared from public view. That was in the time of the 'Abbāsid Caliphs. Knowing about the killings of all the Imāms and family members of the descendants of Muḥammad, Ja'far Bukhārī migrated to Bukhara in Uzbekistan. After a few generations, one of his descendants called 'Alī, known as Dāniyāl, the grandfather of Nizāmuddīn Auliyā', migrated to the city of Badāyūn in Uttar Pradesh, India.


Ancestral lineage

  1. Muḥammad
  2. 'Alī bin Abī Ṭālib
  3. Husayn bin 'Alī
  4. 'Alī bin al-Husayn Zayn-ul'Ābidīn
  5. Muḥammad al-Bāqir
  6. Ja'far al-Ṣādiq
  7. Mūsā al-Kāḍhim
  8. 'Alī al-Riḍā
  9. Muḥammad al-Taqī
  10. 'Alī al-Naqī
  11. Ja'far Bukhārī
  12. 'Alī Aṣghar Bukhārī
  13. Abī 'Abdullāh Bukhārī
  14. Aḥmad Bukhārī
  15. 'Alī Bukhārī
  16. Husayn Bukhārī
  17. 'Abdullāh Bukhārī
  18. 'Alī , known as Dāniyāl
  19. Aḥmad Badāyūnī
  20. Nizāmuddīn Auliyā'

Spiritual history

He was merely sixteen or seventeen years old when he first heard the name of Farīduddīn Ganjshakar, and feelings of love and respect arose in his heart right then. He narrates to his disciples that he never felt the same after hearing or even meeting any other sufi. The love kept increasing like a burning fire. If his classmates would like to have some work out of him they used to invoke the name of Bābā Farīd, and he never refused anything asked in his name. He didn't feel the same for anyone else in his entire lifetime. He became his disciple after completing his studies at the age of 20. He visited him thrice in his lifetime.

Spiritual lineage

  1. Islamic Prophet Muḥammad
  2. 'Alī bin Abī Ṭālib
  3. al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī
  4. 'Abdul Wāḥid Bin Zaid Abul Faḍl
  5. Fuḍail Bin 'Iyyādh Bin Mas'ūd Bin Bishr al-Tamīmī
  6. Ibrāhīm bin Adham
  7. Hudhaifah al-Mar'ashī
  8. Abu Hubairah Basri
  9. Mumshad 'Uluw al-Dinawarī
    Jahan Ara's tomb (left), Nizamuddin Auliya's tomb (right) and Jamaat Khana Masjid (background), at Nizamuddin Dargah complex, in Nizamuddin West, Delhi

Start of the Chishti Order:

  1. Abū Isḥāq al-Shāmī
  2. Abū Aḥmad Abdāl
  3. Abū Muḥammad bin Abī Aḥmad
  4. Abū Yūsuf bin Sāmān
  5. Maudūd Chishtī
  6. Sharīf Zandānī
  7. Usmān al-Hārūnī
  8. Mu'īnuddīn Chishtī
  9. Quṭbuddīn Bakhtiyār Kākī
  10. Farīduddīn Mas'ūd
  11. Nizāmuddīn Auliyā'

His students

He had more than 600 khalifas (a khalifa is a disciple who is given the authority to take his own disciples and thus propagate the spiritual lineage) who continued his lineage all over the world. Some of his most famous disciples are:

Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlavi

He was the spiritual successor of Nizamuddin Auliya. He is considered fifth amongst the big five of the Chisti order in India (the others being Moinuddin Chishti, Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Fariduddin Ganjshakar, Nizamuddin Auliya in that order). His shrine is in Chirag Dilli, New Delhi, India.

Amīr Khusro

He was the most loved disciple of his master. He was so close to his master that once Nizāmuddīn Auliyā' said, "If sharī'ah allows me I would like him to be buried with me in the same grave."[citation needed] He also said that whoever comes to visit his grave must visit the grave of Amīr Khusro first and then his. He died within a few months of his master's death. He was buried at the feet of his master. His shrine is in Nizāmuddīn Dargāh, New Delhi.

Aqi Seraj

He was given the title of Ā'inah-e-Hind (Mirror of India) by Nizāmuddīn Auliyā' and lived with him for along time. He was amongst the earliest disciples of Nizāmuddīn Auliyā', who sent him to West Bengal. His shrine is in Gaur, West Bengal.

Burhanuddin Gharib

He is also amongst the earliest disciples of Nizamuddin Auliya and lived with the master until his last breath. After the death of Nizamuddin Auliya, he went to the Deccan, and the place where he lived became famous thereby. His shrine is in Khuldabad in Maharashtra.

Jalaluddin Bhandari

He is also amongest the earliest disciples of Nizamuddin Auliya. He ran the Langar khana of Nizamuddin Auliya. After the death of Nizamuddin Auliya, he went to the Deccan with Burhanuddin Gharib, and became famous by the name of Bhandari. His shrine is in Fatehabad in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.

Syed Mahmood Kashkinakar

He holds a very special position in Islamic mysticism. He is believed to be alive in the invisible world even after his death in the visible world. There are miracles in the literature of the Chisti order which are attributed to this.

Ajan Fakir


  1. The wilayat (domain) of gnosis and faith can suffer decay. The wilayat of compassion can not.
  2. The love of Auliya (saints) is stronger than their reason.
  3. The lock of spiritual perfection has very many keys. All those keys are to be possessed. If one does not open it, others can.
  4. He who has knowledge, reason, and love, is deserving to become a caliph of the Sufi sheikhs.
  5. So long as is possible, give relief to your heart, because the heart of a good Muslim is the palace of the manifestations of Allah.

His descendants

Nizamuddin Auliya did not marry. However he had one brother named Jamaluddin. He told him, "your descendants will be my descendants". Jamaluddin had one son named Ibrahim. He was nurtured by Nizamuddin Auliya after Jamaluddin's death. Nizamuddin Auliya sent his nephew to Bengal in Eastern India along with one of his most famous disciples (khalifa) Aqi Seraj, famously known as Aaina-e-Hind. Ala-ul-Haq Pandwi (the master (Pir)of Maqdoom Ashraf Jehangir Simnani), one of the most famous Sufis of the Chisti order, became his disciple and khalifa. Ala-ul-Haq Pandwi married his sister-in-law to Ibrahim. They had one son, who was the most famous Chisti Sufi of Bihar, known as Fariduddin Tavaela Bukhsh. He was married to the daughter of Ala-ul-Haq Pandwi. He became the khalifa of Hazrat Noor Qutb-e-Aalam Padwi (the eldest son and spiritual successor of Ala-ul-Haq Pandwi). His shrine is one of the most famous shrines in Chandpura, Bihar Sharif, Bihar. Many of his descendants are very famous Sufis, namely Moinuddin Sani, Naseeruddin Sani, Sultan Chisti Nizami, Bahauddin Chisti Nizami, Deewan Syed Shah Abdul Wahab (his shrine is in Choti Takiya, Biharsharif), Sultan Sani, Amjad Hussain Chisti Nizami, among others. He spread Chisti Nizami order all over Northern India. Ijaza of his Silsila (order) is present in all the existing khanqahs of Bihar. His descendants still reside in Biharsharif and can be found in many parts of the world. However, those still looking after Nizamuddin Auliya's shrine in Delhi are the descendants of his sister's son.

The Chisti Nizami order

Nizamuddin Auliya was the founder of the Chisti Nizami order. He had hundreds of disciples (khalifa) who had Ijaza (khilafat) from him to spread the order. Many of the sufis of the Chisti Nizami order are recognised as great sufis; some on this list are his descendants and some his disciples:

Muhammad Hussaini Gisudaraz Bandanawaz, Gulbarga (near Hyderabad), Karnataka; Ala-ul-Haq Pandwi & Noor Qutb-e-Alam Pandwi, Pandua, West Bengal; Makhdoom Ashraf Jahangir Simnani, Kachaocha, Uttar Pradesh; Faqruddin Faqr Dehlvi, Mehrauli, New Delhi; Shah Niyaz Ahmad Barelvi , Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh; Shafruddin Ali Ahmed & Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, Chirag Dilli, New Delhi; Zainuddin Shirazi, Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh; Muhiuddin Yousuf Yahya Madani Chishti, Medina; Kaleemullah Dehlvi Chishti, Delhi; Nizamuddin Aurangabadi; Nizamuddin Hussain, and Meerza Agha Mohammad; Muhammad Sulman Taunswi, Pakistan, Mohammad Meera Hussaini, Hesamuddin Mankpuri.

Famous Branches

Nizamuddin Auliya was an unparalleled sufi of his time amongst all the existing sufi orders of that time. Many of his contemporaries were doubtless very powerful spiritual leaders, but he was the most famous of all. In his career of approximately 70 years as a sufi he saw the reign of seven rulers of the Delhi sultanate. The kings were very loyal to him and respectful of him. When he first arrived as the Qutb of Delhi he settled down at a lonely place on the outskirts of Delhi, Ghyaspur. But he became so famous that Ghyaspur became the main hub of Delhi and so densely populated that he wanted to leave that place but did not. He was buried in the campus of his khanqah. Ghyaspur is now a central locality of New Delhi, and is known after his name Nizamuddin. The area is so vast that it is divided into four parts: Nizamuddin Dargah (where his shrine is situated), Nizamuddin East, Nizamuddin West and Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station.

The branches

The Chisti order branched out with Nizamuddin Auliya to form the Chisti Nizami order. Another branch which started with another disciple of Baba Farid was the Chisti Sabiri branch. People started adding Nizami gracefully after their name. He spiritually made many great sufis amongst his students, descendants and the sufis of the Nizami order.

The other branches are as follows:


His disciple Nasiruddin Muhammad Chirag-e-Dehli started the Nizamia Naseeria branch.


The Hussaini branch is named for Muhammad Hussaini Gisudaraz Bandanawaz. He was the most famous and loved disciple of Nasiruddin Muhammad Chirag-e-Dehli. The khanqah he established in Gulbarga, Karnataka is still in existence. He is the most famous sufi of South India.


Shah Niyaz Ahmad Barelvi, in the 19th century started the Niyazia branch. He was a great Sufi of South Asia.


The Nizamia Serajia branch was started by Serajuddin Aqi Seraj. This branch is also known as Chistia Serajia.


The Chistia Ashrafia branch was started by Ashraf Jahangir Semnani, the most famous sufi saint of Uttar Pradesh. He established a khanqah, still in existence at Kachaucha, Uttar Pradesh, India.


The Chistia Serajia Faridia order was started by Fariduddin Tavaelabukhsh, a descendant of Nizamuddin Auliya and a sufi of the Serajia branch of the Chisti order. This branch is also known as Nizamia Serajia Faridia.

King's disrespect leads to his own doom

One of the kings in the lifetime of Nizamuddin Auliya was Qutb ud din Mubarak Shah (last ruler of the Khilji dynasty), Delhi sultanate. He used to assemble all the leading figures and famous personalities of Delhi in his court every weekend. Once he was told by one of his assistants that everyone comes to the court except Nizamuudin Auliya. Then the King said, "Order him in my name to come to my weekend gathering, else he will be hanged." When the disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya, Amir Khusrau, told this to his master, he ignored the message, and did not answer. As the weekend approached, his disciples became concerned for his life. On the day before the weekend Nizamuddin Auliya went to the grave of his mother and came back unperturbed, telling his disciples to go home and sleep as usual. The next morning, everyone was very tense and worried, but Nizamuddin Auliya looked as unperturbed as always. Shortly, news came that there was a rebellion in the palace of the king and the king had been killed brutally. His dynasty came to an end. Such is the connection of saints with Allah.

Titles given to Nizamuddin Aulia

  • Mehboob-e-elahi (Beloved of God)
  • Sultan-ul-mashaiq
  • Dastageer-e-dojahan
  • Jag ujyare
  • Qutb-e-dehli


The Urs (death anniversary) of Nizamuddin Auliya is celebrated at the Nizamuddin Dargah on the 17th of Rabi II (Rabi-ul-Aaqir), and that of Amir Khusro on the 18th of Shawwal.

Further reading

  • Nizamuddin Auliya Ain-i-Akbari, by Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak. English tr. by H. Blochmann and Colonel H. S. Jarrett, 1873 – 1907. The Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta, Volume III, Saints of India. (Awliyá-i-Hind), page 365.
  • The Life and Times of Shaikh Nizam-u'd-din Auliya, by Khaliq Ahmad Nizami; Idarah-i Adabyat-i Delli, 1991.
  • Nizam Ad-Din Awliya: Morals for the Heart, by Bruce B. Lawrence; 1991, Paulist Press. ISBN 080913280X.
  • Khwajah Nizamuddin Auliya, by Abdurrahman Mumin; Qazi Publishers and Distributors, 1998, ISBN 8185362599.
  • Sheikh Nizamuddin Auliya, by Khaliq Ahmad Nizami; National Book Trust, 2004, ISBN 8123741480.
  • The Dargah of Nizamuddin Auliya, by Laxmi Dhaul; Pallee, Anoop Kamath, Rupa & Co., 2006. ISBN 8129109387.
  • Fawa'id al-Fu'ad : Spiritual and Literary Discourses of Shaikh Nizamuddin Awliya. Originally Compiled by Amir Hasan 'Ala' Sijzi Dehlawi. English translation with introduction and historical annotation by Ziya-ul-Hasan Faruqi. New Delhi, D.K. Printworld, 1996, 495 p., $50. ISBN 81-246-0042-2.

See also


  1. ^ Bhakti poetry in medieval India By Neeti M. Sadarangani. Pg 60
  2. ^ Bhakti poetry in medieval India By Neeti M. Sadarangani. Pg 63
  3. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie (1975). Mystical Dimensions of Islam. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. p. 348. ISBN 0-8078-1271-4. 
  4. ^ a b Nizamuddin Auliya
  5. ^ a b Nizamuddin Auliya Ain-i-Akbari, by Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak. English tr. by H. Blochmann and Colonel H. S. Jarrett, 1873 – 1907. The Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta, Volume III, Saints of India. (Awliyá-i-Hind), page 365. "many under his direction attained to the heights of sanctity, such as Naṣíru'ddín Muḥammad Chirágh i Dihlí, Mír Khusrau, Aláu'l Ḥaḳḳ, Akhí Siráj, in Bengal, Wajíhu'ddín Yúsuf in Chanderi, Yạḳúb and Kamál in Malwah, Ghiyáṣ, in Dhár, Mughíṣ, in Ujjain, Ḥusain, in Gujarat, Burhánu'ddín Gharíb, Muntakhab, Ḥasan, in the Dekhan."
  6. ^ In The Name Of Faith Times of India, April 19, 2007.
  7. ^ Nizamuddin Dargah - Location Wikimapia.
  8. ^ Faruqi, Zia ul Hasan (1996). Fawa'id Al-Fu'ad--Spiritual and Literary Discourses of Shaikh Nizammuddin Awliya. South Asia Books. ISBN 8124600422. 

External links


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