During the rule of Ghiyasuddin Tugh-laq, Hazrat Nizam-uddin Auliya had a baoli, a water tank, constructed adjacent to his khanqah. The hostile Sultan issued orders banning state workers from helping in its construction. Many of the labourers were devotees and worked in the night. On hearing this, the ruler banned the sale of oil to ensure that lamps could not be lit.
When construction halted, Hazrat Nizamuddin asked devotees to collect water from the tank. He ordered his disciple Naseeruddin Mahmud to light the lamps with water. The lamps glowed with light and work resumed. The master awarded his disciple the title Roshan Chirag-e-Dilli, the Bright Lamp of Delhi.
Naseeruddin Mahmud was born around 1276 in Ayodhya. His father died when he was nine, and was brought up solely by his mother. The young boy spent most of his time in prayer and incessant fasting. The search for a spiritual mentor brought him to Delhi. Used to an ascetic life in the jungles of Awa-dh, Naseeruddin expressed the de-sire to return to a life of seclusion. But Hazrat Nizamuddin ordered him to remain in Delhi, suffering the hardships that people would inflict on him. His early years were steeped in poverty.
Often, in front of visitors, the mystic would cover his tattered garments with his master’s cloak. Hazrat Naseeruddin fiercely fought Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s theory of the state and religion being inseparable. One afternoon, a man by the name of Turab entered Hazrat Naseeruddin’s room, stabbed him with a knife inflicting wounds on his body. Seeing blood gushing out of the drain, some disciples rushed inside and stopped Turab from further attacking the Sufi. They wanted to retaliate but the mystic forbade them, showing concern for the assailant. He then asked Turab for forgiveness, lest the knife had hurt the assailant’s hand.
Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam.
She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org