Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki: Wikis


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Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki
Dargah of Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Mehrauli
Religion Islam, specifically the Chishti Order of Sufism
Other name(s) Malik-ul-Mashaa'ikh
Born 1173
Aush in Transoxiana (A region in central Asia corresponding approximately with modern-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and southwest Kazakhstan)
Died 1235
Senior posting
Based in Delhi
Title Khalifa
Period in office Early 13th century
Predecessor Moinuddin Chishti
Successor Various, the most prominent being Fariduddin Ganjshakar

Khwaja Syed Muhammad Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (Urdu: خواجہ سیّد محمد قطب الدین بختیار کاکی)(born 1173-died 1235) was a renowned Muslim Sufi mystic, saint and scholar of the Chishti Order from Delhi, India. He was the disciple and the spiritual successor of Moinuddin Chishti as head of the Chishti order. Before him the Chishti order in India was confined to Ajmer and Nagaur. He played a major role in establishing the order securely in Delhi.[1]. His dargah in Mehrauli, the oldest dargah in Delhi, is the venue of his annual Urs. The Urs was held in high regard by many rulers of Delhi like Qutbuddin Aibak, Iltutmish who built a near by stepwell, Gandhak ki Baoli for him, Sher Shah Suri who built a grand gateway, Bahadur Shah I who built the Moti Masjid mosque nearby and Farrukhsiyar who added a marble screen and a mosque [2].

His most famous disciple and spiritual successor was Fariduddin Ganjshakar, who in turn became the spiritual master of Delhi's noted Sufi saint, Nizamuddin Auliya, who himself was the spiritual master of Amir Khusro and Nasiruddin Chirag-e-Delhi.

The influence of Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki on Sufism in India was immense. As he continued and developed the traditional ideas of universal brotherhood and charity within the Chisti order, a new dimension of Islam started opening up in India which had hitherto not been present. He forms an important part of the Sufi movement which attracted many people to Islam in India in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.


Early life

Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki was born in 569 A.H. (1173 C.E.) in a small town called Aush (alternatively Awash or Ush) in Farghana (present Fergana Province in eastern Uzbekistan, part of historic Transoxania). According to his biography mentioned in, Ain-i-Akbari , written in 16th century by Mughal Emperor Akbar’s vizier, Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, he was the son of Kamalu'ddin Musa, whom he lost at the young age of a year and a half.[3][4][5].

Khwaja Qutbuddin's original name was Bakhtiyar and later on he was given the title Qutbuddin. He was a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad, descending through Hussain ibn Ali. His mother, who herself was an educated lady, arranged for his education by Shaikh Abu Hifs.

When Moinuddin Chishti passed through Aush during his travels, Khwaja Bakhtiyar took the oath of allegiance at his hands and received the khilafat and Khirqah from him. Thus, he was the first spiritual successor of Moinuddin Chishti.

Move to Delhi

In pursuance of the desire expressed by his spiritual master, Moinuddin Chishti, Khwaja Bakhtiyar went and started living in the city of Delhi, during the reign of Iltutmish. Here attracted by his spiritual prowess and charitable attitude, a large number of people started visiting him daily. He started initiating disciples on the spiritual path as well [6].

The name Kaki was attributed to him by virtue of a keramat(miracle) that emanated from him in Delhi.[7] According to it, he asked his wife not to take credit from the local baker despite their extreme poverty. Instead he told her to pick up Kak (which means a kind of bread) from a corner of their house whenever the need arises. After this his wife found that Kak miraculously appeared in that corner whenever she required. The baker, in the meantime, had become worried as to whether the Khwaja had stopped taking credit due to he being perchance angry with him. Accordingly, when the baker's wife asked the reason from the Khwaja's wife she told him about the miracle of Kak. Although the Kak stopped appearing due to the revealing of the secret but from that day the people started referring to him as Kaki.[8]

Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki's dargah

Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki, like other Chisti saints, did not formulate any formal doctrine. He used to hold a majlis, a gathering, where he gave his discourses. Directed at the common masses these contained an emphasis on renunciation, having complete trust in God, treating all human beings as equal and helping them as much as possible etc. Whatever money was donated to him he usually spent it on charity the same day.

He was a great believer in helping the needy without heeding the result. When an eminent disciple, Baba Farid, asked him about the legality of amulets (tawiz) which was controversial as it could lead to theological problems of semi-idolatory in Islam, he replied that the fulfilement of desires belonged to no one; the amulets contained God's name and His words and could be given to the people.[8]

He continued and extended the musical tradition of the Chisti order by participating in sema. It is conjectured that 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. [9]. On the 14th of Rabi-ul-Awwal 633 A.H. (27 November 1235 CE) [3] he attended a sema where the poet Ahmad-i-Jam sang the following verses:

Those who are slain by the dagger of surrender;
Receive every moment a new life from the unseen.

Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki was so overcome and enraptured by these verses that he fainted away. He died four days later while still in that state of ecstasy. His dargah (shrine) is near Qutub Minar, in Mehrauli, Delhi.

Left of the Ajmeri Gate of the dargah at Mehrauli, lies Moti Masjid, a small mosque for private prayer built by Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah I (r. 1707-1712) in 1709, an imitation of the much larger, Moti Masjid, built by his father, Aurangzeb inside the Red Fort of Delhi.[10]


Mahatma Gandhi visiting the Dargah during the Annual Urs, 1948.

As a renowed saint, Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki exercised great sway over the people. He continued the policy of non-involvement with the government of the day. This was the traditional way of saints of the Chisti order in South Asia,[11] as they felt that their linkage with rulers and the government would turn their mind towards worldly matters.

During the lifetime of the Khwaja he was held in great esteem by the Delhi Sultan, Iltutmish. It is contended that the Qutb Minar, the worlds tallest brick minaret, partially built by Iltumish, was named so after him.[12] He was also the favorite saint of the Lodhi dynasty which ruled over Delhi from 1451 to 1526.[13] His importance continues to this day and can be gauged by the following historical fact. When Mahatma Gandhi launched his last fast-unto-death in Delhi in 1948, asking that all communal violence be ended once and for all, he was pressed by leaders of all denominations to end the fast. One of the five conditions that Gandhi put forward to end the fast was that Hindus and Sikhs as an act of atonement should repair the shrine of Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki which had been damaged during the communal riots.[14]

Phoolwalon-ki-sair festival

The darbaar shrine of Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki has also been the venue of the annual Phoolwalon-ki-sair (a festival of flower-sellers) in autumn, which has now become an important inter-faith festival of Delhi.[15] [16]

The festival has its origins in 1812, when Queen Mumtaz Mahal, wife of the Mughal Emperor, Akbar Shah II (r. 1806-1837) made a vow to offer a chadar and flower pankha at the Dargah and a pankha at the Yogmaya Mandir, also at Mehrauli, if her son Mirza Jehangir, who after inviting the wrath of Sir Archibald Seton, the then British Resident of the Red Fort, was exiled to Allahabad, returned safely. And as the legend goes, he did, and so began the tradition henceforth [15][17]. The festival was stopped by the British in 1942, but later revived by the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961 to bridge the Hindu-Muslim gulf, and inculcate secularist ideals.[18]

Incidentally, Akbar Shah II is now buried nearby in a marble enclosure, along with other Mughals, Bahadur Shah I and Shah Alam II.[10] An empty grave also known as Sardgah of the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, can also be found here, as he had willed to be buried next to the famous shrine, as did his previous Mughal predecessors. Unfortunately, he was exiled to Burma where he died. Talks of bringing back his remains here have been raised in the past, from time to time [19].

Titles given to Qutbuddin Bakhityar Kaki

  • Qutub-ul-Aqtaab
  • Malik-ul-Mashaa'ikh
  • Rais-us-Saalikin
  • Siraj-ul-Auliya

Further reading


See also


  1. ^ Biographical encyclopaedia of Sufis By N. Hanif. Pg 321
  2. ^ Smith, Ronald Vivian (2005). The Delhi that no-one knows. Orient Blackswan. p. 11–12. ISBN 8180280209. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=f70gjLC5chgC&pg=PA7&dq=Qutbuddin+Bakhtiar+Kaki#v=onepage&q=Qutbuddin%20Bakhtiar%20Kaki&f=false.  
  3. ^ a b Kutbu'ddin Bakhtyar Kaki Ain-e-Akbari by Abul Faza, English translation, 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 363.
  4. ^ Islamic Thought and Movements in the Subcontinent, 711-1947, by Syed Moinul Haq. Published by Historical Society, 1979. Page 144.
  5. ^ Tabakat-i-Nasiri. A General History of the Muhammadan Dynasties of Asia, Including Hindustan, from A. H. 194 (810 A.D.) to A. H. 658 (1260 A.D.) and the Irruption of the Infidel Mughals into Islam. Translated from Original Persian Manuscripts by Major H. By Abu-'Umar-i-'Usman. Published by Adamant Media Corporation. ISBN 1402171102. Page 921.
  6. ^ Luniya, Bhanwarlal Nathuram (1978). Life and culture in medieval India. Kamal Prakashan. p. 354.  
  7. ^ 2. Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki Sufi Saints of Delhi.
  8. ^ a b Biographical encyclopaedia of Sufis By N. Hanif. Pg 323
  9. ^ Faruqi, Zia ul Hasan (1996). Fawa'id Al-Fu'ad--Spiritual and Literary Discourses of Shaikh Nizammuddin Awliya. South Asia Books. ISBN 8124600422.  
  10. ^ a b Eicher:City Guide - Delhi, Eicher Goodearth Publication. 1998. ISBN 8190060120. Page 188.
  11. ^ Islam in the Indian subcontinent By Annemarie Schimmel Pg 25
  12. ^ When fakirs held sway. The Hindu; Sep 06, 2004; Metro Edition. Retrieved on 15 August 2009.
  13. ^ Jafar Sharif/Herclots.Islam in India. Oxford 1921, repr 1972. Pg 143
  14. ^ Abul Kalam Azad. India wins Freedom. Bombay 1959. Pg 219.
  15. ^ a b Say it with Flowers: Phoolwalon-ki-sair Times of India, Nov 2, 2006.
  16. ^ Where religion does not define identity Times of India, Oct 23, 2008.
  17. ^ Phool Walon Ki Sair begins Times of India, Sept 26, 2005.
  18. ^ Indian secularism The Times of India, Sep 28, 2008.
  19. ^ Fulfilling Bahadur Shah’s last wish Metro Plus Delhi, The Hindu, May 21, 2007.

External links

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