Pir Maulana Mukthar Ahmad Zia (RA): A Sufi of the third millennium
Those who share with this scribe the love for Sufi literature and history are used to think that these holy persons belong to the past and they have become extremely rare in present days. This is also due to the fact that a real Sufi does not roam around the world saying “hey, look at me! I am a Sufi!” Usually those who behave like this they are not even worth of pronouncing the name Sufi. The word Sufi has unknown origins and would be beyond the scope of this essay to investigate about the origins of this word.
The French-born René Guénon reverted Muslim as Abd ul Waheed Yahya (RA) in his book “Perspective of Islamic Esoterism and Taoism” explains that in virtue of the sacred science of numbers and letters applicable to Arabic, as sacred language, the world Sufi has numerical value equivalent to Al-Hikma al-ilahiya, which means literally Divine Wisdom, and consequently the Sufi is the one positioned in the Divine Wisdom. The same author remarks that as a consequence of the numerical equivalence of the words Sufi and Al-Hikma al-ilahiya the Sufi is therefore al-‘arif-bi-Llah, the one who knows by Allah’s Almighty Knowledge and not the one who knows Allah Almighty (which is a relatively quite inferior condition in the spiritual hierarchy). This is possible because the title of Sufi must be given only to those elected and selected personalities who realize the injunction of the Holy Prophet (SAWS) who (SAWS) said: “O you who believe, die before to die!” meaning to severe all the psychological links with this manifestation and kill their nafs. Sufi are the living testimonial of the terminal goal of the spiritual path known as path of Haqiqah, path of Truth, complimentary to the path common to every Muslim, known as path of Shariah, both being respectively the interior (Haqiqah) and exterior (Shariah) aspect of the same reality: Islam.
It is extremely important to never forget that there is no Haqiqah without Shariah and there is no progress in tasawwuf without knowledge of Shariah. In his poetic composition Qassidah Ghaussia (The Great Poem) his holiness Hadzrat Pir-e- Dastaghir Abd-ul Qadir Jilani (RA) writes: “I acquired esoteric and exoteric knowledge till I became a Polar-Star. This attainment is entirely due to the Divine Grace and Benevolence” and this synthesizes the activity of a disciple advancing towards the final target of becoming a Sufi. The spiritual properties of this Qassidah Ghaussia and the Darood Qibrit Ahmar Sharif (the Red Sulfur Noble Salutations to the Holy Prophet (SAWS)) are beyond human comprehension to the extent that they can be recited in their secret only by authorized advanced disciples of the Qadiryya and Chishty Orders respectively.
It is quite obvious that these extremely special personalities, the Sufi, are quite rare, especially in these days when this manifestation is approaching the day of Qyyamat, doomsday, the end of this manifestation. In fact the cosmic laws explain that Allah’s manifestation begins with a pure order which is known as golden age in the western culture, when consequently those who hold the status of Sufi are majority. The golden age, in base of divinely established cosmic laws, gradually turns into the iron-age, through two intermediary phases. The present age (actually we leave in the last phase of this iron-age) holds the worst living conditions. It may seem a paradox because never than before than this age humans have been capable of paramount discoveries in all fields of sciences, including a substantial increase of life expectancy in most of the advanced countries.
But what is an expected increase of few years in comparison to the age typical of the humans living at the times of prophet Matusalem or Methuselah (AS), who lived 969 years, during the golden-age? What is the use of fast traveling and having every time information at hand when most of the time anguish, solitude, depression dominate great part of humanity in these days? Most of the time, in the attempt to escape this type of psychological sicknesses, humans trap themselves in a spiral of “evasions” like sex, drugs, alcohol and gambling which extension in present days is quite close to that of Sodoma and Gomorra mentioned both in the Holy and Glorious Qur’an and the Old Testament of the Bible. Per contrast among humans who have entered the path of self-destruction there are still men who thread the path of self-liberation practicing a selfless life and among them there are few who have realized this path in full.
I had the fortune to meet some real Sufi and consider myself as lucky as the poet who met in his dream an angel writing the names of the friends of Allah and did not find his name among them but on the contrary he prayed and hoped that his name could be inserted among the friends of the friends of Allah Almighty. Pir Maulana Mukhtar Ahmad Zia (RA) of Halla-Sharif, district Mandi Bahauddin was indeed one of the Sufi I met and I am so sure about it not because he (RA) partaken with me his secret but from the signs I witnessed with other brothers of tasawwuf (Pir-bhai) because he (RA) always concealed his knowledge and his super-voluntary religious practices keeping his secret rigorously hidden to everyone. We met each other almost 14 years ago at the beginning of February 1994 and immediately I remain struck by his fascinating personality: a handsome beautiful man humbly traveling on a 125cc Yamaha motorcycle of undefined age who was so humble to allow one of his beloved brothers of tasawwuf to tease him in front of others at any extent.
During those moments he (RA) would have joined his hands like in prayer, silent but smiling showing his white and perfect teeth and bent his head in sign of submission. Few months later he (RA) became my host in the religious school (Dar-ul-Uloom Muhammadia Ghaussia, DMG) directed by him in Chack Shazad, a little town inside the Federal Capital territory of Islamabad. I, freshly converted from Catholicism to Islam, spent almost one year in DMG learning the basics of Islam and Muslim life along with the recitation in Arabic of the Holy and Glorious Qur’an. My admiration and love for him (RA) were growing in parallel to the admiration and love for our common Sufi Master, his holiness Justice of Supreme Court Pir Muhammad Karam Shah Al-Azhari, known as Zia ul Ummat (RA). Casually and from someone else I came to known that the man who was lifting me to Islamabad with his old Yamaha 125 cc was a Pir, Persian name of spiritual master, and this made me feeling ashamed in thinking that he (RA) personally was bringing food for me and calling me in the middle of the night when my anxious and old father unfamiliar with time differences was phoning from Italy lagging four hours behind Pakistan.
Pir Mukhtar Ahmad Zia (RA) would have covered the 300 meters from his humble quarter to my room bringing the telephone to me, summer or winter. But sooner his humble and low profile behavior started to contrast with what the language of the heart was telling me about him and what the dreams were telling to my Chinese brother of Tasawwuf Pir Zuaharat-ud-Din and me. Both of us had clear examples of his capability to read minds and, above all, to know in real time whenever a thing was done or said to one of our two by our common Pir Sahab (RA) in Bhera Sharif. Extraordinary and uncommon behaviors (karamat or miracles) which are not searched by those personalities but are a consequence of their high spiritual rank are typical of Sufi.
One day I had a problem. A man known to me to conduct a non-Islamic life invited me for dinner at his residence, remembering the famous episode when his holiness Hadzrat Umar Farooq bin Kattab (RA) discovering that his host was living on bribery rushed out of that house and vomited voluntarily the food given by that man, because an impure man gives impure food. I asked Pir Maulana Mukhtar Ahmad Zia (RA) what to do telling him “I rather decline the invitation.” He answered me in a very gentle but firm manner: Rather you go and pray for him and his family to return to Islam.” It was a lesson to me: the force of love is superior to anything else but this does not means that the second caliph of Islam was wrong, simply the times and the conditions were very different. It is indeed a general duty of a man of the path of Haqiqah and a quality of a Sufi to behave accordingly to the conditions required by the times and not stubbornly always in the same way as it is the tendency of those who deny the path of Haqiqah and follow exclusively that of Shariah.
Pir Maulana Mukthar Ahmad Zia (RA) born in December 1957 and at the age of 12 met for the first time his Sufi master, his holiness Hadzrat Pir Karam Shah Al-Azhari (RA) in Bhera Sharif, not too far from his native village of Halla in district Mandi Bahauddin in West Punjab, Pakistan. He studied in the Dar Uloom Muhammadia Ghoussia in Bhera Sharif and was companion to the eldest son of his master, the present sajjada nasheen (custodian) of Pir Aamir ul Salikin (RA) Darbar Sharif, his holiness Hadzrat Pir Amin ul Hasanat Shah Sahab. He (RA) was initiated in the Chishty noble order of tasawwuf during the course of his studies, which he (RA) completed in 1976. He was bestowed full khilafat in 1985, thus having official authority to order and supervise disciples in the Chishty order. His love for his spiritual master was so intense that he soon became so close to him to the extent that his face and even his voice remained remarkably very similar to that of his master until his passing away.
To give an example of his intense love for his spiritual master is enough to narrate the following incident. His holiness Hadzrat Zia ul Ummat (RA) was used to travel by train in the period 1957 - 1976 and later. The train from Bhera would have stopped also in Halla, the young Mukhtar Ahmad Zia (RA) organized a tea shop right at the train stop giving strict order to the tea shop keeper to prepare tea and biscuit whenever in the train there would have been his holiness Zia ul Ummat (RA) and serve him with full protocol. The care and attention given by Pir Maulana Mukhtar Ahmad Zia (RA) to his master and each member of his family was such that his holiness Hadzrat Zia ul Ummat, RA, and his sons prefer spending their stay in Islamabad at the DMG in Chack Shazad despite two of the daughters of Justice Pir Muhammad Karam Shah (RA) live in Islamabad.
When Allah Almighty blessed me with the mantel of full khilafat bestowed upon me by his holiness Hadzrat Pir Amin ul Hasanat Shah Sahab I was again sent to Pir Mukhtar Ahmad Zia for instruction and during this period my admiration and love for him increased further. As a western-born I always realized my limitations in moving in the spiritual world (almost like an elephant in a fine glass shop) respect majority of my Pakistani brothers threading the same spiritual path and kept him (RA) as model and example because he (RA) was one, effaced with our common spiritual masters, past (RA) and present. Few weeks later to my khilafat it happened that his holiness Hadzrat Pir Amin ul Hasanat Shah Sahab visited Islamabad and as usual spent his stay in his room in the Dar ul Uloom Muhammadia Ghoussia (DMG) in Chack Shazad. I went to see Pir Sahab in his room in early morning, when he was alone.
We both started to chat when all the sudden his holiness Hadzrat Pir Maulana Mukhtar Ahmad Zia (RA) entered the room. Pir Sahab suspended his speech with me, looked at Pir Maulana Mukhtar Zia (RA) intensely and then looking at me but pointing at him Pir Sahab said to me in English: “he (i.e. Pir Maulana Mukhtar Ahmad Zia (RA)) is a living example of fana-e-sheikh!” For those who are not familiar with tasawwuf terminology it should be explained that at Sufi level, when the nafs has been killed, and beyond it there are
three different stages of self-effacement (fana), which is fana-esheikh, fana-e-rasool (SAWS) and fana-e- bi-Llah. The Arabic terms can be respectively translated into effacement of the self in the spiritual essence of the spiritual master personality (not individuality. Personality or self is perennial, on the contrary individuality, related to the physical and psychical sphere, is perishable), effacement of the self in the spiritual essence of the Holy Prophet (SAWS) and
finally effacement of the self in Allah Almighty, which corresponds to the Hindu “Supreme Identity” explained in the Veda. These concepts are very easy to be expressed but very difficult to be understood and extremely difficult to be achieved also because they belong to Allah Almighty gifts reserved for His selected creatures and his holiness Hadzrat Pir Maulana Mukhtar Ahmad Zia (RA) who left this terrestrial abode during the last ten days of 2006 Ramadzan was indeed a Sufi holding a very high station.
I was in Madina Munawwarah when the shocking news of his passing away reached me. At the news something clicked in me, I remembered his voice when I phoned him before my departure, there was no time to meet and his voice sounded to me strange but captured by the many things one has to fulfil before departing when the visa is received in the same day of the flight booking I did not pay too much attention to the strange tone of his voice. His voice sounded me so strange that I could not define it, but when the news of his departure from this world arrived to me I realized that that was a tone of sadness. Immediately I realized that “he (RA) knew that he was to leave this abode before time and my return” and he, perhaps, was sad to do not see me for the last time.
At my return to Islamabad I discovered from his family members that more than a month before his passing away he (RA) started to receive clear dreams informing him that his terrestrial journey was at end so much that he gradually started to give to those around him signals of what was going to happen. But those around him did not realize the immanence of his destiny. Quite astonishingly his adopted and beloved daughter passed away a day before him and he went to lead her jinnaza prayer (funeral prayer) and when she was inside her grave he made a dua (prayer) saying “We will meet soon, my daughter”. Few minutes later when he was sitting in his car he started developing some problems and requested his sons to bring him to the hospital. He was rushed to the hospital remaining silent but with a smiling face. He kept the same smile while passing away. This passing away smiling is a clear sign that Allah Almighty preserved him from the pains of death, a condition that Allah Almighty reserves to His friends, the Sufi.
A Sufi does not need to declare his spiritual status because somehow the world around him perceives it so much that from one side people who will interact with him will naturally regard him as a Sufi, on the other side signs of Allah’s Almighty Love for him will be so clear to those who have eyes to see them that he will not need to say to them “I am a Sufi”, rather he will try to conceal it and preserve his condition as a well kept secret between Allah Almighty and him. And this indeed was the remarkable position of his holiness Hadzrat Pir Maulana Mukhtar Ahmad Zia (RA), a Sufi among us, a Sufi of the third millennium.
Pir Dr. Eng. Muhammad Muddassir Gualini (Jilani)
Biography Of Shaykh Muhammad Amin al-Hasanat Shah
Shaykh Muhammad Amin al-Hasanat Shah al-Qurashi
Biography Of Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada
Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada, born in 1946 in Jhang, Pakistan, is a graduate of DMG Bhera and the University of the Punjab (Pakistan). His qualifications include Adib, ‘Alim and Fadil ‘Arabi, BA (English), MA (Islamic Studies), MA (Arabic) and MOL.
His recent publications include: Reflections, a quest for answers to today's questions; Human Rights, in light of the Qur'an and Sunna; The Ideal Mother; In light of the Qur’an, Sunna and Tradition. He continuously writes articles on contemporary issues affecting the Muslims, nationally and internationally, that regularly appear in newspapers and journals as well as exclusives in the Al-Karam Journal.