Saturday, 24 December 2011

Moinudeen Chishty

Dargah is a Persian word. A Dargah is a shrine constructed for a sage or saint.

Dargah, makam, mausoleum, shrine, keramat are various terms used to refer to places where people come to pray, offer prayers or read doa. More about Dargah.

The general understanding is prayers are made and the deceased person can carry that up to the Supreme Creator. In Islam the Supreme Creator is Allah SWT. This is the Sufi way. However, the Wahhabi will not accept this and say it is not right to do so (tawassul) in Islam.

These are contrasting views of praying at graves (from Ziyarat in Wikipedia): 

Wahhabi views
The majority of Wahhabis believe that visiting the graves of saints should be classified as shirk and bid'ah except the visiting of the tomb of Nabi Muhammad s.a.w. in Madinah which may be done during Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage. However, it is not a required. They point out to the following sayings of Muhammad as an evidence for their belief.
Narrated by 'Aisha : Umm Salama told Allah's Apostle about a church which she had seen in Ethiopia and which was called Mariya. She told him about the pictures which she had seen in it. God's Apostle said, "If any righteous pious man dies among them, they would build a place of worship at his grave and make these pictures in it; they are the worst creatures in the sight of God."
The most evil of mankind are those who will be alive when the Last Day arrives and those who take graves as places of worship.”
It is also reported in the most authentic books of Sunni Islam that Aa’ishah (wife of Nabi Muhammad s.a.w.) reported:
Had it not been so, his (i.e. the Prophet’s) grave would have been in an open place, but it could not be due to the fear that it could be taken as a mosque.
Sunni scholars declare that the purpose of visiting the graves and cemeteries is only to remind people of death and a curse be upon the Jews and Christians for taking the graves of their Prophets as places of worship.
  • “...Beware that those before you took the graves of their Prophets as places of worship. Do not take graves as places of worship, for verily I forbid you to do so.”
  • “The most evil of mankind are those who will be alive when the Last Day arrives and those who take graves as places of worship.”

Sūnnī or Sufi Views

The purpose of visiting a grave is to gain llim (divine knowledge), tafakkur and to pray for the person in the grave, but if the person in the grave is a Prophet or a Awliya (friend of God), fayd and spiritual benefits can be gained from their souls. The person who is visited, must be thought of as if he is alive and must be visited with the same good manners.

" The event of death is like moving from one house to another for the friends of Allah, the same good manners, respect and high regards must be shown to them, as when they were alive." Abdul Hakim Arvasi, Rabita-i Serife, 23-24; Halidiyye Risalesi, 58-60.
" Neither kissing the grave or moving the hands over the face after touching the grave for blessing, is suitable to the good manners (adab)." Gazali, Ihya, IV, 711.
" Hz. Rasulullah (s.a.w) has given the good tidings that the Angels say "AMIN" for the prayers which are performed for the brothers and the Awliya and Allahu Taala accepts them (at the exact moment)." Buhari, Edebu'l-Mufred, No:623; Ebu Davud, Vitr, 29.
" Visiting the grave is a duty which is performed for Allah's pleasure and visiting the grave of a father and mother on a Friday is appropriate ." Gazali, Ihya, IV, 711.


Whatever views Muslims hold, there is an interesting name which I have in TEMD that is connected to a book which I use for teaching History of Medicine. This book was written by a Sufi named Moinuddin Chishty. I still use the book for teaching traditional medicine. This has to do with rose oil as the rose is thought to have connection with the Great Prophet, Nabi Muhammad s.a.w. - even the Prophet's sweat smelled of roses.

When I was writing the biography for Dr Burhanuddin al-Helmy, his information contained a city named Ajmer in India. Google-ing Ajmer gave me the largest and most important Dargah in India - this is the Chishty Dargah in Ajmer.

History has it that even Shah Jahan came to Ajmer and he had donated to the Dargah. The Chishty Dargah is important in supporting the lives of Indian Muslims from far and near. 

Where I grew up in Malacca, there is Pulau Besar off the coast. This Pulau Besar is famous for one thing - it contained very long graves of Muslim sages/saints. At certain times, people would go to the graves, bringing along pulut kuning with chicken etc. I have not observed this in person but I read about it in the papers. These offerings were left at the graves. At one time, this practice of bringing offerings to the graves was banned by the Malacca State Government.

In Singapore, there is the shrine of Habib Noh. His tomb is placed high up and a concrete staircase leads up to the tomb. I've not been to the tomb but I heard from one of the descendants of Habib Noh in Penang, that he was a very important person (VIP).

In Kampung Kolam in Penang, just behind the Masjid Kapitan Keling, lies a dilapidated mausoleum (makam usang) that houses the tombs of Cauder Mohinuddin, his mother and younger brother, Nordin. There are other graves too. I was told that there is a pious Indian Muslim lady buried here too - a female saint.

At the large cemetery bordering Perak Road in Penang, there are 2 mausoleums, a dilapidated older makam, and a more recent makam. I was told by the graveyard caretakers that both the deceased persons were great saints. The more recent makam is that of Datok Keramat, for whom Jalan Datok Keramat was named. Jalan Datok Keramat was once a famous road as it had a tram line running the length of the road. The older makam belonged to Datok Keramat's teacher (I could have this info reversed). The boys who looked after the graves were young Tamils, either Muslims or non Muslims. In another part of this massive cemetery, an old Tamil Muslim looked after the graves.

At certain parts of the large Muslim cemetery at Kubor Banggol in Mukim Banggol outside Kota Bharu, Kelantan, there were similar happenings at the graves. There were dolls planted and offerings made next to the graves. I read that Kubor Banggol was an early settlement at the time when Kelantan was first opened by the Malays (probably of Tamil descent). So it is likely that these graves that I saw with offerings were from the same or similar Indian Muslim or Tamil Muslims. I don't know because I didn't see anyone at the graves or I could ask them.

I would take it that the Indian Muslims/Tamil Muslims are Sufi people and that Sufism is handed down or practised among family members and close friends. Among the Malay Muslims, Sufi activities are limited to male circles, and they join up with the Indian Muslims/Tamil Muslims who are more well-versed with Sufi practices. I may be wrong though.

These are keramats in Malaysia (from Ziyarat in Wikipedia):
  • Shrine of Syed Shahul Hamid, George Town, Penang
  • Tomb of Ismail Nagore, George Town, Penang
  • Tomb of Noordin Sahib, George Town, Penang
  • Tomb of Syed Mustapha Idris a.k.a. Dato' Koyah, George Town, Penang
  • Tomb of Wali Mohammed Salleh, Batu Uban, Penang - frequented by Naqshabandi Malays
  • Tomb of Syed Ibrahim al-Hashimi, Gelugor, Penang
  • Darga of Syed Lal Shah Bukhri (Jalan Hang Tua in masjed) Kuala Lumpur
  • Darga of Sultan ul Arifeen Syed Ismael Shah Aljillani (Pulau Besar) Melaka
  • Darga of Fikir Baba Maulana Miskin (Chulia St, Penang)
These are keramats in Singapore:
  • Shrine of Syed Shahul Hamid
  • Tomb of Wali Habib Noh - frequented by Malays and Naqshabandis
  • Shrine of Hazrath Khwaja Habibullah Shah at Kubur Kassim on Siglap Road near Chai Chee in Singapore.
Moinudeen Chishty
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