Abu Anees Barkat Ali
The saints and seers of the caliber and stature of Ali Ibn Uthman Al-Hujiwiri Al-Jullabi (d.107 CE) who founded a tariqa (wufi order), discharged ta’lim (teaching), initiated murid (disciples or novices), performed dhikr (remembrance of God), proffered spiritual healing, conducted islah (reformation) and above all had spirituality reigning most high in his being would not be born every so often. Al-Hujwiri left the common legacy of his tantalizing and memorable Kashf Al-Mahjub, the oldest text book par excellence on mystical dimension of Islam in Persian laguage, also available in major laguage of the world especially Professor Nicholson’s most readable translation into English. He has these days the traditional fivefold role of the khanqah (convent or lodge), ziyarat (shrine), masjid (mosque) madrassah (school) and the guest house all adumbrated and imbued in his seminary in Lahore.
A man well known as Abu Anees Muhammad Barkat Ali, addressed lovingly as Babbaji, was born in 1911 in the District of Ludhiana (East Punjab) and died on 26th January 1997. He was an embodment of all the qualities and character-traits of the great sufi masters and the pious of the past (salf salehim). Once again he revived, practised and displayed the essential of the Faith, living the while a simple and meaningful life that his devotees take pride in. As a young army of ficer in Royal Indian Engineers (Roorkee Cantt) he served for thirteen years only and was boarded out honorably in 1945 for his hermetic practices that he had sensed and perceived irretrievably form Makhdum “Ala-ud-Din “Ali Ahmad As-Sabir (d. 1290 CE) by his regular attendance at his khanqah in Kalyar on the bank of a canal , some six miles due North-East of Roorkee. Having been duly rewarded and blessed spiritually there, he took his ba’iyat (allegiance) at the hands of a living Shaikh, Syed Amir Al-Hssan Ambalvi (d. 1955) whom Babaji often referred to as Shah Walayat (Sultan of Mysticism), reaping and enhancing further his erudition and knowledge under his tuition and in his company. Command by his Sahikh, Babaji and his family migrated to the new homeland in Pakistan in 1947 and after initial wanderings for a year or so finally settled at Salarwala in District Faisalabad where he founded an institute called Dar-ul-Ehsan and wrote and published his master pieces:Kitab Al-Amal Bis-Sunnah Al-M’aroof Tartib Sharif Volumes 1-6; Makshoofat Man azil-I-Ehsan Volumes 1-5 ; Asma’ Al-Nabi Al Karaim (PBUH). He completed his saying, Maqalat-I-Hikmat volumes 1-30, at Camp Dar-ul-Ehsan, an other convent, a prototype of his mentor Al-Kalyari’s , he founded after his still another migration in 1983 to an open farraland on the bank of a canal situated some six, miles away form the City of Faisalabad on Samundri Road.
Some of Abu Anees Muhammad Barkat Ali’s monumental works have already been translated into English and are published and distributed free of charge by Dar-ul-Ehsan Publications based in Huddersfield, UK, and registered as an international religious charity with the Charity Commission (London). The books in Urdu, Arabic and Persian original have been scanned on to CDs and DVDs for wider distributions to the benefit of the Muslim Ummah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in particular and interested non-Muslims in general
Even during his life time his publication reached all over the world and people visited him from far and wide. His scholarship was acclaimed by leading scholars of his time. Dr Abdul Alim, the Rector of Al-Azhar University (Cairo) and Professor Hussain Nasr, the Vice-Chancellor of Tehran University in 1387 AH, later on the Shah of Iran’s roving ambassador on Iranian Culture, and the author of several voluminous and celebrated books on contemporary Islam, both visited him to pay their homage. Babaji wrote and honoured Professor Hussain Nasr with a stunning spas’name (welcome address) in Persian that was also published in one of his monthly issues of Dar-ul-Ehsan. The address portrayed Babaji’s deep devotion to and respect for the descendants of the Holy Prophet of Islam (PBUH) on the one hand and appreciation of the Professor’s contribution to Da’wah-o-Tabligh Al –Islam on the other. One of the couplets of the address reads thus.
“A voice came to me from the quarters unknown;
‘Beware! O the dwellers of (Pakistan) the land renown,
The Honorable visitor, the offspring of the Prophets’ Crown (PBUH),
Is Hussain Nasr, the Spirit of the Faith, wearing the dan’s gown.’”
Professor Sayed Hussain Nasr currently holds the Chair of Cultural Studies in one of the leading American Universities.
Dr Hakim Ghulam Mu’in-ud-Din Chisti, and American convert to Islam and Shaikh Al-Chistiyyah of America, has described Babaji’s religious practices in the following words: “He is truly the embodiment of heart and soul of the Din of Islam, and all people should strive to emulate him as he is one who comes so to fulfilling the sunnah of our beloved Prophet (PBUH). “It was much less to do with his clairvoyance and miraculous utterance than his magnetic person and charming disposition that people visited him. His was so captivating a smile that a visitor said goodbye to him alright, but left his heart and mind behind with Babaji, longing to come back for his blessings again and again. When another American visitor was asked, he replied: “In Babaji’s company I found myself spiritually invigorated and physically elevated in peace with myself.”
The sick were treated free of charge at Babaji’s hospitals where he administered at both Camp and Dar-ul-Ehsan campuses twice a year eye camps for hundreds of thousands blinds suffering from cataract fand other eye ailments. The hospitals are carrying out un-stintingly and continually the selfless and free services to the less privileged, deprived and disadvantaged members of the public. To this kind of community development spirit, Babaji alludes in his foreword to The Book of Sufi Healing: “Not even the highest degree of dedication to worship may earn anybody the claim of divine forgiveness or recompense in any other form, yet there is one thing that everybody should make sure of, which shall not go unrequited under any circumstances by Allah the Almighty, and that is the selfless service to the ailing humanity.
Babaji set up a madrassah in his sanctuary for the education of the children of the new converts to Islam. He devised courses and wrote primers/books of his own which are these in wide use in mosque schools. For the converts themselves, who were primarily nomads, he had the houses built with the moneys received from his friends. His life has been an exemplary model of the fiscal propriety in Islam for emulation by individual and collective life stances in Pakistan.
These words in his memory are our token of love for him as also invitation to the readers to delve into his writings for the good of our souls and welfare of the collective life in the motherland whose security and prosperity were upper in his mind and embedded deep in his heart. A couple of years before his demise, he is on record with the Pakistan TV interview, having prayed passionately for the good of Pakistan, her integrity, prosperity and glory amongst the comity of world nations.
For those who had a calling for it, Babaji imparted spiritual knowledge in some fourteen different mystical Orders, including most importantly the Mustafwiyyah and Qadariyyah. His scholarship would have us believe his deep study and reading of the mystical literature. For example, the sufi masters in the mystic orders stand divided over the Nature and Dhat (Being) of Allah the Almighty the one called the Wujudiyyah (everything is with Him) and the other the shuhudiyyah (everthing is with Him). Muhiyyid-din Muhammad Ibn Al-Arabi(d. 1240 CE), the Shaik Al-Akbar of Sapin, is the well-known exponent of the former and Shaikh Badar-ud-Din Ahmad As-Sirhindi (d. 1624 CE), Mujaddad Alif-Thani, of the latter. Reconciling the two Babaji writes that it is the same light (nur) of Allah the Almighty that permeates and pervades the dry blade of grass as it does in a rose referring at the same time to the saying of the Holy Messenger (PBUH) ‘ponder over the shuyunat (qualities/attributes) of Allah the Almighty and not His Dhat). He laid a great deal of stress on character building and strong moral ethics. In this regard, his Makshoofat Manzal-Ehsan is a dossier and sum total of Maqaram Al-Akhlaq (the praise worthy morals) and Makhraj Al-Akhlaq (the desultory or derogatory conduct)
In fulfillment of the fivefold cardinal sufic parameters above the daily sessions of dhikr ere held uninterruptedly in his life time and still are at his seminaries and at the households of some of his devotees. The dhikr has been commanded by Allah the Almighty; the Holy Prophet (PBUH) performed it as it is the cure for the ailments of physical body and ills of the society. Babaji ate and slept little, dressed simply and wrote profusely. He gave away by the evening the daily donations and presents that he received from his friends and devotees, lived like birds with trust in Allah the Almighty. He died on 16th Ramadan Al-Mubarak, the day when his shrine in Camp Dar-ul-Ehsan is jam packed with thousands of his devotees from throughout Pakistan and abroad thus paying homage to their dear mentor at the anniversary__contributed by Dr Muhammad Iqbal, Senior Lecturer, The University of Huddersfield United Kingdom.