The Mausoleums of Ismaili Pir Sadardin and His Son Pir Hasan Kabirdin

By Malik Mirza

The dome of Pir Hasan Kabirdin’s mausoleum. Photo: Malik Mirza. Copyright.

THE JOURNEY BEGINS

While I was on a training assignment related to micro-finance in Bahawalpur, a thought came across my mind: Why not visit the mausoleums of our ancient Pirs, and try to explore the current on ground situation of the mausoleums? After all, the devotional literature of the Pirs resonates in our places of worship on a regular basis, and we are grateful to them for their dedication and devotion to spread the message of faith as well as show us the right path.

Hence, we requested our host organization to arrange for a trip to Uch Sharif, a town which is around 90 minutes drive from Bahawalpur, a city located in Southern Punjab, Pakistan.

Location of Uch in Pakistan. Map: Wikipedia

On Saturday, May 28, 2011, we reached Uch Sharif which is famous for various tombs and shrines, a number of which are considered as masterpieces of Islamic architecture and are on the UNESCO World Heritage Site tentative list. Among the famous shrines at Uch Sharif are those of Bibi Jevandi, Baba Abdul Qadir Saani and Makhdoom Jahanian Shah Jahanghast. We first visited the shrine of Bibi Jevandi. From there, we asked about the directions for Pir Hasan Kabirdin and Pir Sadardin’s mausoleums. We were informed that the mausoleum of ‘Hassan Darya’ was nearby while that of Pir Sadardin was slightly further away.

PIR SADARDIN AND PIR HASAN KABIRDIN

Professor Ali Asani, in his book Ecstasy and Enlightenment states that:

Placed by the Russian orientalist W. Ivanow between the second half of the 8th/14th century and the beginning of the 9th/15th century, Pir Sadr al-Din is the most well-known among the pirs. The number of works ascribed to him is linguistically diverse and extremely large (218 ginans and 18 granths)……. He contributed in various ways to developing the community’s organization: he is believed to have established the first jamat khana and given the title khawaja (lord, master) to his followers. The term Khoja, by which Nizari Ismailis are popularly known in the subcontinent, is a corruption of this title.

Pir Sadr al Din was succeeded by his son, Hasan Kabir al-Din(d.c. 875/1470?), renowned in the community for his emotional poems in which he passionately expresses his yearnings for beatific vision. To this religious figures are attributed at least 79 short ginans and several granth…

MAUSOLEUM OF PIR HASAN KABIRDIN

The mausoleum of Pir Hasan Kabirdin in Uch Shariff in the Punjab province of Pakistan. Photo: Malik Mirza. Copyright.

We first visited the mausoleum of Pir Hasan Kabirdin who is known as Hassan Darya in the vicinity. About 500 metres before the mausoleum, we came across a large permanent sign which serves as an indicator that the Pir’s mausoleum is ahead. It also informs the visitors about the annual commemoration of the Pir’s death anniversary. The sign (photo below, followed by an explanation) has some traditional Shia writings, including a quatrain that reflects the high regard with which the Pir is held. We learnt that the annual ‘Urs’ (death anniversary) of Pir Hasan is commemorated on the 17th and 18th days of the Islamic month of Safar, and hundreds of thousands of people visit his shrine on that occasion.

A noticeboard before Pir Hasan Kabirdin’s mausoleum displaying information about the ‘Urs’ (annual death anniversary) of Pir Hasan Kabirdin. Photo: Malik Mirza. Copyright.

The details of the sign, picture above, are as follows:

It begins with Bismillah hir rehman ir rahim. This is followed by the word Allah and the names of the Panjtan Pak, i.e. Muhammad, Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussain.

The round one (circle) says: Darbar e Aqdas Hazrat Makhdom Sayed Hassan Kabir Din Buut Shikan (“the Royal Court of Respectful Sayed Hassan Kabir Din – the idol breaker” and then it states: Hazrat Syed Sakhi Pir Hassan Darya).

Next it says: Two days majalis of Uza & Urs Mubarak 17 & 18 Safar ul Muzafar

This is followed by a couplet which can be translated as follows:

When we talk about the progeny of Prophet, we get satisfaction in our hearts
This Zikar gives us determination to follow the path of the ritghteous (i.e those who follow the truth)
The people who were worshiping got Kabir din who broke all idols
Kabir Din is in the lineage of Shams Hussaini

The last line says: Administrator: Syed Zahid Abbas son of Late Qaim Ali Shah Shamsul Hussaini.

There is also the ceremony of ‘uza daree’, i.e. mourning in name of Hazrat Imam Hussain (a.s.) on the occasion of Urs. The mausoleum is administered by Syed Zahid Abbas who belongs to Fiqh-e-Jafaria.

An inscription on the wall of Pir Hasan Kabirdin’s mausoleum, photo above, states: “Hazrat Pir Hassan Kabir Din Rehmat ullah Aley (Meaning May peace/blessings be upon him). Date of birth: Shaban 22, 742 A.H.Date of departure/death: Safar 853 A.H.”

Pir Hasan Kabirdin is not known as an Ismaili Pir in the area. Rather, people told us that he was ‘kufar shikan’, meaning ‘a person who defeated idol worship’ and made people recite ‘kalma’ i.e. he made non-believers to believe in Islam.

In accordance with one of the epitaphs on the walls of mausoleum, photo above, he was born in 1341 CE/742 AH and died in 1449 CE/853 AH. Hence, based on this, he lived to be 108 years.

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Inside the mausoleum of Pir Hasan Kabirdin. A man can be seeing praying. There are three graves and the centre one with the red covering and light pink cloth is that of Pir Hasan Kabirdin. See next photo, taken from another corner. Photo: Malik Mirza. Copyright,

The grave of Pir Hasan Kabirdin is surrounded by three graves of similar size and a smaller grave. On inquiry, we were informed that those were the graves of his grand children. The care taker of the mausoleum was not a well informed person and was unable to provide any further detail about the life of Pir Hasan.

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The Pir’s grave is in the middle of two other graves. Photo: Malik Mirza. Copyright.

The only information provided by the care taker was that Pir Hassan was a great saint and he made many non-believers accept the faith of Islam. There was no literature or ginan or any other written material readily available in the mausoleum. It can be seen in the photos that the end of the graves bear cloths of different colours. At times, people identify saints with colors. The courtyard of Pir Hasan Kabirdin’s mausoleum has many other graves. On inquiry, we were informed that those were the graves of people from the family of the Pir.

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Courtyard of Pir Hasan Kabirdin’s mausoleum like that of Pir Sadardin’s mausoleum has a number of graves. Photo: Malik Mirza. Copyright.

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MAUSOLEUM OF PIR SADARDIN

The mausoleum of Pir Sadardin is located in an area called ‘Taranda Muhamad Panah,” about a 45 minute drive from Pir Hasan Kabirdin’s mausoleum in Uch Sharif. Photo: Malik Mirza. Copyright

Pir Sadardin’s mausoleum is not exactly located in the area of Uch Sharif. Rather, one needs to travel for around 40–45 minutes from the mausoleum of Pir Hasan Kabirdin and other major shrines to an area called ‘Taranda Muhammad Panah’, which is mainly a very rural population. The care taker of the mausoleum mentioned that due to its distance from the other main shrines, it is visited by fewer people on a daily basis.

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Gate of the mausoleum of Pir Sadardin. Photo: Malik Mirza. Copyright.

There was no epitaph on any of the walls of Pir Sadardin’s mausoleum. Like his son Pir Hasan Kabirdin, Pir Sadardin is also not known as a Ismaili Pir in the area. Rather, the care taker informed us that Pir Sadar Shah, as he is known, was a saint of Fiqh-e-Jafaria and he converted many non-believers to the faith of Islam.

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Graves in the the courtyard of Pir Sadardin’s mausoleum. Photo: Malik Mirza. Copyright.

We also noted that a Qur’an, some salt and water were lying along with the grave of Pir Sadardin. We were informed that the pilgrims who visited the place took away the salt or water from Pir’s mausoleum for barakah (blessings or happiness) in their homes. As noted earlier, the mausoleum of Pir Sadardin is located further away from other major shrines and has fewer visitors compared with the shrine of Pir Hasan Kabirdin.

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Inside Pir Sadardin’s mausoleum. Photo: Malik Mirza. Copyright.

THE TWO MAUSOLEUMS: SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES

While the domes of both mausoleums are green in color, the exterior walls have different colours. The walls of Pir Sadardin’s mausoleum are white while they are greeen for the mausoleum Pir Hasan Kabirdin.

A large tree outside Pir Sadardin’s mausoleum. The dome of Pir Sadardin’s mausoleum is green like that of Pir Hasan Kabirdin’s. The exterior walls are white here, compared to green for Pir Hasan Kabirdin. Photo: Malik Mirza. Copyright.

Both mausoleums were surrounded by smaller graves. On inquiry, we were informed that those were the graves of their later family members.

Outside Pir Sadardin’s mausoleum is a big tree which spreads its shadows all around it, while the mausoleum of Pir Hasan is surrounded by a mosque and a few other shops.

Like the mausoleum of Pir Hassan, Pir Sadardin’s grave is also in between two other graves. On inquiry from the care taker, we were informed that those were the graves of his grand children.

The author, Malik Mirza, in front of Pir Hasan Kabirdin’s mausoleum. The dome colour and the exterior wall colours are green. Photo: Malik Mirza Collection. Copyright.

CONCLUSION

Certainly, this was one of the most memorable trips to see the heritage of the Ismaili community. We were gratified to learn that our Pirs were revered as saints by other Muslim communities, and that they left a deep impression and influence outside the Jamat. The aura and charisma of the two Ismaili Pirs is evident by the number of visitors who visit their shrines to pay homage and tributes today, centuries after they departed from this world.

The Ismaili community’s deep held reverence for Pir Sadardin and Pir Hasan Kabirdin is demonstrated by the affection and love with which members of the Jamat, young and old alike, recite their Ginanic compositions. These compositions over the centuries have nurtured the souls of millions of murids, and inspired good thoughts and actions as well as unbounded love for the Imam of the Time.

Photos and Text Copyright: Malik Mirza

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Profile of Malik Mirza at Contributors.

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