About Kaithal

Syed Mahmood Hassan Gilani talks about Kaithal, an ancient town in India, and provides historical facts about its saints and mystical mausoleums which attracted a great number of devotees in yesteryears and even today

The ancient town of Kaithal in the Haryana province of India, once the hometown of my renowned saintly ancestors, is also my birthplace. My attachment to the place is not merely emotional, it is spiritual that surpasses pragmatism. The whole region that includes Kurakashetra in the east and sarhind in the west, has the peculiar sanctity for the Hindu mythologists, who even today revive the mythical divinity of Rama and Krishnan. Kaithal is famous for a grand worshipping place known as Hanuman's temple thereby associating Kaithal directly with the mythical figure of god Rama. The spirit of the devoted Hindus since the pre-historic times has been so dominant that we call the Kaithal Hindu shrine. Not more than one thousands years ago, the city attracted the Muslims Saints, whose simple life and affectionate preaching of Islam attracted the local idol worshippers to Islam. The first generation of Muslims saints was the progeny of Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani of Baghdad and they were perhaps the only saintly people who worked devotedly for the spiritual guidance of the common people. The whole stretch of land right from Sarhind down to Kaithal and Panipat on the outskirts of Delhi was very important strategically and geo-politically. Its climate was superb the rains here left thousands of pools and ponds of the water in their wake. So that there was no dearth of water till the next rains. The region attracted the notice of historians when Muslim invaders started pouring in after the in-roads made by Mahmud of Ghaznavi from Afghanistan. After his death his successor Masud Ghaznavi did not extend his empire beyond Lahore and Jullinder. He was defeated by Allauddin Jahansoze, who amassed a large army in Central Asia and attacked and burnt Kabul and gained the little of Jahansoze (the burner of the world). He extended his kingdom up to Kaithal, where he built the famous grand mosque (Jamia Masjid) with ten domes and attached seminary.

Kaithal came to light when Razia Sultana, the Queen of Delhi, and the daughter of the famous saintly king Altamush having been defeated, ran away along with her husband, Malik Altunia, the ruler of Sarhind. They both were killed near Kaithal by the robbers and were buried there. Their decaying tomb we left at the time of partition of the Subcontinent. Farishta, the court historian of Akbar the Great has recorded the event in detail. The streets and bazaars of Kaithal are strewn with the graves and tombs of Muslim Saints, who had brought the light of the Holy Quran and many of them were martyred. The earliest of them were Behlim Bakht Bola Shaheedm, Khawaja Ali Shaheed and th Turkish Saint Syed Kamal Tirmizi Shaheed. In the middle of the city adjacent to the grand mosque is situated the tomb of Khawaja Ahdur Rashid Shah Wilayat, In the outskirts of Kaithal of a distance of about three miles is situated th tomb of Pir Makhdoom, whose real name was Makhdoom Amanullah, a descendant of Hazrat Imam Hasan (RA). He reached the suburbs of Kaithal in the 6th century Hijra. He was martyred in a battle. There was no tomb over his grave. The Urs (death anniversary) was held on Friday in the month of the rainy season. Thousands of people from far and near visited the mazar for blessing (Fateha)and were served with delicious food. The people of Kaithal irrespective of their religion and creed were the devotees to the saints and were simple in thought and action. They were true to their word and lovers of humanity. The same sight enlivened the mausoleum of Hazrat shah Kamal on every thursday during the rainy season. As it has already been mentioned that hundreds of saints lay in their graves all over the city, the stately tomb of Hazrat Shah Kamal Qadri and that of his famous grandson Hazrat Shah Abdullah Sikander Raves had a great appeal to common people (zires), who attended the tombs in the thousands. In and around Kaithal there were many ponds and pools but the grand lake-like pool named Bidhkayar had no parallel. On the eastern bank of this pool were situated the grand mausoleums of these two famous (grand) spiritual personalities. A big boundary wall around the mausoleums stretched over the an area of about 10 acres. The area all around was unpopulated, when we last saw in 1947. These mausoleums appeared like royal place (in architectural view). Inside the precincts there stood grand trees of rare variety. Thousands of flowers chevron as if in ecstasy, In the west the dirty sky appeared shedding rays of light to the ecstatic minds. These saintly personages were the contemporaries of the Mughal King, Akbar the great. His political strategy of pleasing the Hindu majority was damaging to Islamic precepts. For instance, he ordered (the acts of knelling) and even prostrating before the kin, which was in contravention of the first canon of Islam, i.e, oneness of God. Such acts of Akbar perturbed the minds of the Muslims pontiffs as well as the saintly people, who guided the common Muslim towards Islam by codes of life practicing Islamic. These saints of Kaithal preached Islam in its true light. Influenced by their teaching m, their disciples like Sheikh Ahmad Sarhindi openly opposed the royal culture of idolism so much so that Akbar's own son Jehangir detested Akbar's policies of pampering his Hindu countries. The resistance to Hinduism offered by these humanities of Qadria sect is a historical fact

Hazrat Shah Kamal was the greatest saint after Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani of Baghdad. Hazrat Shah Sikander dissuaded the followers against the evil forces of Hinduism. They were the lovers and well-wishers of all humanity irrespective of their beliefs. So even non-Muslims were and still are their devotees. That devotion to them continuous till this day when all the overwhelming Muslim population is now non-existent after its mass immigration in 1947. Their mausoleums are not deserted. They have retained their old grandeur. Rather, they are more devotedly looked after. Both the Muslims and the non-Muslims visit these Mazars for seeking blessing of Allah. Their Urs (anniversaries) are attended yearly by thousands of people. The local Hindus make special efforts to manage the yearly Urs and they have taken pains to extend and beautify the environment, to improve the decoration of the buildings and to arrange the holding of daily feasts for the devotees.

One aspect , however, despite all these devotional acts, remains missing. People of Kaithal will always miss that devoted, blissful presence of Hazrat Syed Ali Ahmad Shah, a descendant of Hazrat Shah Kamal, led a model life praying for all irrespective of their creed and caste who sat on a Takht (throne) shedding his spiritual light all around. He prayed for the welfare of all. People coming from far and near were received by him with a smile that alleviated most of their grief's. He did not sermonize. He presented his own example emulating the life-style of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). He was spiritually attached to his ancestor Hazrat Ghous-e-Azam (Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani , the head of Qadria order in mystics.) He celebrated the Urs of the saint regularly on the 11th of Rabi-us-Sani , every year and continued celebrating it even after his migration to Pakistan when he chose Dera Ghazi Khan as his abode. This religious gathering used to begin after Isha prayers and last till the morning Fajr prayers. Around seven to eight thousand people used to attend the Urs. They were drawn from in and outside Kaithal . All Muslims, whether Shia, Sunni, Wahabi, Brailvi or Deobandi participated in the Urs. The same tradition continued in D.G. Khan where he had settled after migration. The tradition continues after his death on December 21, 1962. The locals, as well as those belonging to other towns, are drawn enthusiastically to the mausoleum of Hazrat Syed Ali Ahmad Shah Gilani for seeing Allah's blessings in the aroma of Kaithal's great saints pervading the place all over.