The legendary Haji Ali dargah in Mumbai was constructed in memory Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, the propagatoe of Sufism in Mumbai. MEERA S. SASHITAL tells us his story.
It being the Holy period of Ramjan one’s thought drift to the Sufi saints who came into this world to spread the love for God. Many saints migrated to India from Arabian countries and Persia to spread the word of Islam. They came as and when informed by their own intuition or as per the instruction of Prophet Mohammed.
A magnificent example of such spread of Islam by an Iranian saint was that of Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. In the propagation of Sufism, he travelled all the way to Mumbai leaving all his earthly belongings behind in his home town of Bukhari according to the tradition of Sufi Qalanders. It is a belief of the Muslims that the holy saints who sacrifice and devote their lives in the way of Allah are immortal. Their stature is equivalent to that of the Martyrs (Shaheed) as they have renounced their worldly lives for Allah and are called Shahadat-e- Huqmi.
Legend has it that once when Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari was sitting at some lonely place in his hometown saying his prayers, a woman passed by from there crying and screaming. When the saint enquired about her crying, she pointed to an empty vessel in her hand and said that she had dropped some oil and if she went home without the oil her husband would beat her.
The saint asked her to calm down and accompanied her to the place where the oil had been dropped. He then took the vessel from the wailing woman and pushed the earth with his thumb. Immediately, the oil gushed out like a fountain and the vessel was filled to the brim. The saint gave her the vessel with the oil and the woman went away happily.
However, after this incident, the saint had dreams of having wounded the earth by digging it which had effect on his health. He was full of remorse and grief from that day. With the permission of his mother he travelled to India with his brother and finally reached the shores of Mumbai near present Worli. His brother returned but Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari decided to stay on. He conveyed to his mother that he had decided to settle down there permanently for the spread of Islam and asking her forgiveness.
Till his death Pir Haji Ali was spending his time in praying and preaching about Quran and Islam to people and devotees who regularly flocked to him. He was revered as a great saint. Before his death he advised his followers that they should not bury him at any proper place or graveyard but drop his shroud (Kafan) in the ocean so that it should be buried by the people where it is found. This wish was obeyed by his followers. That is the reason why the Dargah Sherief is built at the very spot where his shroud came to rest on a small mound of rocks rising above the sea. The tomb and the Dargah Sherief were built later.
The Haji Ali Dargah was constructed in 1431 it seems. On Thursdays and Fridays, the shrine is visited by atleast 4,000 pilgrims of respective faith and religion. People visit the Dargah popularly known as Haji Ali, to get the blessings of the legendary saint Pir Hazrat Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. On Fridays specially, Sufi musicians perform the devotional music called Qawwalis at the Haji Ali Dargah.
Some of Pir Haji Ali’s sayings were:
“The days of life pass away like clouds, so do good while you are alive.”
“Fear God and you will have no cause to fear anyone.”
“He who knows himself knows God.”