Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ghiyashuddin Awliya: Sufi of Assam: Hajo Pilgrimage

Ghiyasuddin Awliya (c. 1330 A.D.)
Ghiyasuddin Awliya was a famous Sufi saint of Brahmaputra Valley. Still Assamese irrespective of their religion visited shrine at Hajo. The source of information on Ghiyasuddin’s life is very limited. Traditions and Deodar Burunji are the only sources through which know something on his life and activities. Most of the writers on Hajo, Poa Makka and Ghiyasuddin Awliya, used traditions and the belief of local people to narrate Ghiyashuddin. Mohini Kumer Saikia, Rofiul Hussain Barua and Maheswar Neog write about the importance of Ghiyasuddin Awliya and Hajo in the history of Assam. According to the most acceptable tradition, Ghiyashuddin came to Brahmputra valley with Ghiyasuddin Bahadur Shah, the son of Sultan Shamsuddin Firoz Shah (1301-22) of Luknawti, in the second quarter of 14th century[i].He first came to Garigaon near Guwahati and stayed for sometimes, before permanently shifted to the north bank of Brahamputra at Hajo. His decision to move their might be because of administrative and social importance of the place. M.K.Saikia on the basis of another tradition opined that Ghiyasuddin was from Arab, and after wondering a few places in India, finally came to Brahaqmaputra Valley with three disciples or companions Hazrat Shah Burug and Hazrat Gudur and Hazrat Jainal, and settled on the mountain at Hazo in Kamrupa District[ii]. The Assam District Gazette of B.C.Allen also mention that a shrine of Hazrat Ghiyasuddin Awliya is located at Hajo, and the near by Masjid was probably built by Sultan Ghiyasuddin Bahabur Shah during his stay in Kamrup[iii]. Mohini Kumer Saikia discussed another tradition which is believed and accepts by a large section of people, who seems it is more trustworthy. It claims that Ghiyasuddin Awliya came to stay in Hajo around 1257-58, when Ikhtiyar Uddin Malik Yuzbek invaded Kamrupa and established his ruled there, he eracted Maszid in Kamrup and the place of the Masjid could Hajo since the Dargah of Hazart Ghiyasuddin might known by Yuzbek in his sojourn at Kamrup[iv]. Yahya Taimizi finally opined that Sultan Ghiyasuddin was the name of a saint, whose grave is located in Hajo. He could not provide details on latter’s life[v]. However on the basis of local tradition, Ghiyasuddin is appeared a great Sufi, who devoted his whole life to the cause of Islam. He is the person who made the original structure of the Masjid, where he is buried. Still his dargah and Hajo are held in great esteem and considered a sacred place by Muslim’s so much that it became a centre of pilgrimage. People of Brahamaputra Valley called the place Powa Macca, (i.e. one fourth of Makkah). They believe that the soil from Makkah was put in the Masjid complex that is why those who visit the place get one-fourth sawab of a Haj.
We know that since 1205 A.D. Muslims gradually settled in lower Assam. It is obvious that some Sufis also came to Brahmputra valley along with Muslim different Muslim generals, administrator and commoners. They had preached the message of Islam among the masses through humanitarian and other services. So it is assume that Ghiyashuddin Awliya was one of them, and along with many others, who’s preaching, helped to emerge a large Muslim society in lower Assam. It can be concluded that the old Muslim society of Hajo is the result of Ghiyashuddin Walleye’s influence. Hindus and Muslims visiting the shrine of Ghiyashuddin Awliya offer Shinni ad lit candles from generation to generation as a token of respect to the late Sufi[vi].
Still there are two Muslim villages at some five miles from Hajo called Kalita Kuchi and Bamun Bari. According to a local writer, these villages were once inhabited by two major Hindu castes Kalita and Brahman, who became converted to Islam at the influence of one Adam Guru, a Sufi. Muslims of these villages believe that their ancestors were Hindus and they had embraced Islam[vii].
[i] Yahya Taimizi, op. cit., p.91
[ii] Mohini Saikia, op. cit., p. 190
[iii] B.C.Allen, Assam Disrrict Gazetteers, Kamrupa, Shilong, 1905, p.103
[iv] Mohini Saikia, op. cit., p. 192
[v] Yahya Taimizi, op. cit., p.92
[vi] Rafiul Hussain Barua, Muslim Oitijya Aru Asham, Jorhat, 1989, p.19
[vii] Seyad Mukibur Rahman, Ashamar Musalman aru Hajo, Manikunt, Souvenir, Asham Shahitya Sabha, Hajo, 1999, pp.46-7

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