Hazrat Shah Jalal

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Full Name: Sheikh-ul Mashaek Mokhdum Sheikh Shah Jalal Mozorrodh Bin Muhammed
Known in Yemen as Sheikh Jalal Uddin Tabrizi. His birth name was Sheikh Makhdum Jalal-ad-Deen bin Mohammad

(Born: 1271 C.E. (596/598 Hijri), Konya, Turky -- death: 1347 CE (746 Hijri), Sylhet, Bangladesh).

Shah Jalal was born in Konya, Turkey, the city of the Mevlana (Mawlana Jalal Uddin Rumi). Rumi was a desciple of Shah Jalal's father, Sheikh Muhammad Tabrizi. Rumi's mazaar is situated in Konya.

Shah Jalal's ancestors were originally from Tabrizi in Persia. Later, they settled in Hadramaut, Yemen. Shah Jalal never married, so he was called Al-Mozorrodh ("the bachelor") or "Mozorrodh-e-Yemeni". He was mentioned as Shekh Jalal Uddin Tabrizi by famous traveller Ibn Batuta, Hazrat Kutub Uddin Bakhtiar Kaki (R.) and Hazrat Forid Uddin Gongeshkar (R.).

Shah Jalal was raised by his maternal uncle, Syed Ahemd Kabir, in Mecca. He became a Hafiz (those who know the Holy Koran by heart) and also became proficient in Islamic theology. Legend has it that one day his uncle gave him a handful of earth and ask him to go to Hindustan with the instruction that whichever place in Hindustan matches this earth completely in smell and color, he should settle down for meditation and preaching.

Shah Jalal journeyed eastward and reached Hindustan (modern India) in c. 1306. It was during the reign of Sultan Gias Uddin Khilji. According to Bangla Academy, it was during the reign of Sultan Iltutmish (father of Sultana Razia). I believe it is wrong since Iltutmish reigned between 1210-1236. Some information from my family history suggest that it was 1151 CE (561 Hijri). I'm not sure how to validate any of these dates.

In Ajmir, he met the great Sufi mystic (Dervish/Pir), Kwaja Gharibnawaz Moinuddin Hasan Chisty. He also met with Nizam Uddin Awlia (1236-1325), a prominent Dervish, in Delhi. Nizam Uddin requested him to go to Sylhet to rescue Sheikh Burhan Uddin. Sheikh Burhan Uddin's mazaar (shrine) is located in the banks of river Surma in Sylhet town.

Sheikh Burhan Uddin was only a handful of Muslims living in the kingdom (Sylhet area) of a Hindu king, Gaur Gavindha. As the cow is a sacred animal in the Hindu tradition, the king banned the slaughtering of cows in Sylhet. However, Burhan Uddin secretly slaughtered a cow to perform his son's Akika (Muslim ceremony commemorating children's birth). It is said that a crow carried a piece of meat and dropped it in the king's yard. The enraged king ordered execution of the Sheikh's son and cutting off of the Sheikh's hands.

Burhan Uddin went to Sultan of Gaur, Shamsuddin Firuz Shah for justice. The Sultan sent his nephew, Sikhandar Khan Ghazi. He was however, defeated twice by Gaur Govinda. The Sultan then ordered his Sipahsalar (armed forces chief), Syed Nasir Uddin to lead the war. He was joined by Shah Jalal and his desciples.

Shah Jalal reached Sylhet with 360 Awlias (disciples). Some of the awlias originally followed him from Delhi, and some joined on the way to Sylhet. Knowing that Shah Jalal was advancing toward Sylhet, the king removed all ferry boats from the river Surma. Legend has it that Shah Jalal crossed the river Surma by sitting in a Zainamaaz (prayer rug). Upon reaching the opposite banks, he ordered the Azan (call to prayer) to be sounded, at which the magnificent palace of Gaur Govinda was shattered. The king was defeated by Muslim armies after a fierce battle and he fled.

Shah Jalal also found a match of the earth his uncle once gave him. He settled down in a placed called Dargah Mahallah, near Choukidhiki. He preached Islam from there. He and his disciples also travelled as far as Mymensingh and Dhaka.

In his book "Afdalul Hawaade", poet Hazrat Amir Khosru gave exact dates of Shah Jalal's travel to Sylhet. Khosru was a Moghul court poet, and considered the founder of Urdu language. Persian traveller, Ibn Batuta, also came to Sylhet to meet Shah Jalal.

The story of Ibn Batuta's Shirt: Ibn Batuta described an interesting story about a dress involving Shah Jalal. There are different versions of this story.

When Ibn Batuta came to Sylhet, Shah Jalal was wearing a very nice wool dress. Ibn Batuta liked it and wished he would received it as a gift but did not say anything. When he was leaving, Shah Jalal gave it to him as a gift. His companions told Ibn Batuta that Shah Jalal usually does not wear that sort of shirt but wearing it speicially as to receive Ibn Batuta. Shah Jalal's companions also told him that Shah Jalal prophesized about coming of a Moroccan traveler and said that he has a wool dress for him. He also prophesized that an idealator king would confiscate it from him.

From then on, Batuta was careful not to wear the dress in front of any kings he met. However, when he was in China, a wazir of a king saw it and confiscated it from him. He was given lots of money and other gifts in return.

Many years later, he saw Shekh Burhan Uddin Shakrozi was wearing the same dress. Batuta was astonished. Shelkh told him that he was given this dress as a gift from king (the same king whose wazir confiscated it). He also showed him a letter from Shah Jalal where Shah Jalal tells him that he was sending Burhan Uddin a wool dress through Ibn Batuta.

Jalali Kabutar: Kabutar means pigeons in Farsi (Perisan). It is one of many words inhertied from Farsi to Bengali. Nizam Uddin Awlia gave Shah Jalal a pair of pigeons when he was coming to Sylhet. These pigeons were and still are considered sacred by both Hindus and Muslims in Sylhet. Nobody kills or eats them in greater Sylhet town. Some believe that it is okay to kill them once they cross the river, Horma.

Legend says, Shah Jalal transformed the witchcraft followers of Gaur Gavindha into catfishes which are still alive in the tank adjacent to the Mazaar (shrine). Swords, the holy Koran, and the robes of the Shah Jalal are still preserved in Shah Jalal's Dargah (shrine). There are golden fishes (Koi fish) in another tank. There are also legends surrounding these fishes. Nobody eats these fishes. Some of them are hundreds of years of age, as people belive. These fishes are ritually bured when they die. The catfishes are huge since thousnads of people feed them everyday. A few years ago, these magnificent fishes were poisoned. Many are pointing fingers towards Islamic fundamentalists, but the inept police and detectives had not found anything.

The exact date of his death is unknown. According to Ibn Batuta, it was 1347.

Urush: This is the annual gathering of the Sufis and general people during the anninversary of Shah Jalal's death. Urush is also observered for his deciples in many parts of Sylhet. Thousands of Fakirs (transient men who live in jungles and shrines of Sufi saints), travels to Sylhet from all over Bangladesh. These men are identified by red robes with iron sticks in their hands and colorful garlands in their necks. Some even travel from distant parts of India. These Fakirs closely resembles the original Hindu Sadhu-Sanyashis (hermits) who treaded this land for centuries. Many of them are for simple pleasures of Ganja (Marijauna), Hashish, etc, but nobody knows who is the real one. Strict Islamic clerics tried, though unsuccessfully, to stop these festivities, as Islam strongly forbids any saint worship or assigning divine power to any human being.

Shah Jalal's nephew, Hazrat Shah Paran, lived out of town, in Major Tila area. Legend says that he was of very high temper and would curse people when they are unruly and the curse would come true. To save people from his wrath, Shah Jalal ordered him to settle down just the outskirt of the town.

In many villages, you will find shrines of the awlias and pirs. Many of them are claimed to be one of Shah Jalal's 360 desciples but many claims are not substantiated. There is a huge business surrounding those shrines. Many opportunistic Vondos (false saints) take advantage of people's fear and respect for the Pirs. Syed Waliullah's famous novel, "Lal Saalu", depicts one of these stories.

Outside Sylhet, some of his desciples include Shah Malek Yameni in Dhaka, Syed Ahmed Kolla Shahid in Comilla, Syed Nasiruddin in Pargana Tara, Haji Daria and Shekh Ali Yemeni.

My familiy is the descendant of one of Shah Jalal's 360 disciples, Hazrat Shah Kaalu Yameni, son of Hazrat Shah Chand Yameni (Chand Vorang in Biswanath,Sylhet, was name after him).