A spiritual flashback: Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari

Munir Hussyn Fatemi

Everyone raises his hands to offer Dua while passing by the shrine of a saint in Jinalikoch area near Booni in upper Chitral. But very few people perhaps know about the saint buried there.

ChitralToday in its series of articles on the personalities who played a key role in the spread of Islam in the area has gathered some information about the saint buried there.  This Sufi saint is known as Syed Jalaludin Bukhari and he was associated with Uchi area of Punjab. In different books of Tasawuf, it is mentioned that he migrated from Bukhara to the Indian subcontinent and settled in Bakhar area of Punjab.

Jalauddin was the son of Syed Ali Bukhari. When he came to this part of the world, he was accompanied by his two sons but because of unfavorable conditions they went back. But in some Pakhtun history it is also mentioned that the two were his brothers and their names were Syed Bulbul and Syed Kamaluddin. But history is totally silent about the two.

Further research is to know why Syed Jalaluddin’s sons (or brothers) returned to the Middle East. Anyhow, the saint and his family who lived in in Gilgit and Chitral were greatly affiliated with the preaching of Ismailism and other religious affairs. According to their traditions, Jade Aghla (forefather) Syed Karam Ali Ali Shah (1) went to Iran in the last decades of 18th century from Roshan in Badkhshan during the 45th Imam Khalilullah (AS)’s era where he associated himself with Ismaili Dawat (preaching).

After that he moved to Badakhshan, Chitral and Northern Areas. After rendering services in Badakhshan, he appeared in Chitral and was bestowed by lands but abruptly he shifted to Northern Areas where he settled in Yasen’s Barandas village where his ancestors live in the form of Pir Karam Ali Shah and others today.

In those days when Jalaluddin was in Chitral, he preached most of people in the area of Torkhow and Mulkhow and many people there embraced Ismailism. That is why today there are lots of Ismailies and the Khalifa system is still practiced and according to the old traditions Pir Karam Ali Shah used to visit these areas to meet his followers. After Syed Karam Ali Shah (1), his son Syed Zahoor Shah took the work of preaching.

According to their family traditions, the western parts of Northern Areas like Puniyal and Ghizer were being preached in his time.  After Syed Zahur Shah, Baqir Shah associated himself with Ismaili Dawat and carried out religious affairs in both Gilgit and Badakhshan. While in Chitral, Syed Karim Ali Shah (Sani Al- Maghroof Ba Andalib Jan) pushed forward the preaching. Ismail heritage says as “Syed Karamali Shah hailed from Iran and lived in Mahallat.

He mostly remained in the company of Mirza Mohammad Bakir, the brother of Imam Abul Hasan Shah (d. 1792), who taught him the esoteric aspects of Islam. Sayed Karamali Shah was deputed in Badakhshan and Chitral, where he launched pervasive mission and died in Yasin”. The Ismaili Heritage F.I.E.L.D stated “It is recounted that an Ismaili dai, Sayed Shah Zahur, the son of Sayed Karamali Shah visited Kirman from Yasen, and reported the Imam the services rendered by his father in Yasen and Punial.

The Aga Khan I granted him a sealed letter, authorizing him to continue the mission after his father. Hence, he returned to Yasen, whose ruler was Mihtar Suleman Shah. With his untiring effort and efficiency, a large number of the people embraced Ismailism in Yasen and Punial. He was followed by his son, Sayed Bakir Shah during the rule of Gohar Aman (d. 1860), who was deadly against the Ismailis. His relation with Sayed Bakir Shah was also strained; therefore, the latter had to migrate Shagnan in 1829. Sayed Bakir Shah however continued his mission in Shagnan and Yarkand. Mir Shah, the ruler of Shagnan, stemmed his mission and killed him and his son, Sayed Karim Hyder, known as Syed Shah Kalan. Both had been interred in Badakhshan”.

In Chitral in the initial period of Amanul Mulk’s kingship, Syed Shah Salamat and Shah Kalan Sani, sons of Shah Karim Haider, first came to Chitral and then went to Gilgit and used to lead the Jamat. In the era of Shah Kalan in Chitral, appointing Kalifas took place for performing religious creeds like funeral and marriages ceremony, etc and Khalfagi system was imposed in a consistent manner.

The Pirs continued to supervise religious affairs and arbitrate disputes among members of the community. Unable to attend every social, religious and community related function; the Pir appointed a special representative or Khalifa in every village with resident followers. Pir and Khalifa families intermarry within their own circles. He had however left behind some responsible elders in each village, known as the khalifa, who imparted the cardinal principles of the Ismaili doctrine to the new converts.

After Shah Kalan Syed Jalal Ali Shah who was man of knowledge and in Chitral during kinship, he was a prominent figure in political aspects. In the harsh time of Kingship his role of encouraging the Jamat was also remarkable. After him Syed Jamal Ali Shah performed Jamati work nicely and left this world in 1957.

In the present days, Pir Syed Karam Ali Shah is still carrying out his family traditions. Besides, he worked in central positions in the AKDN institutions. He is the son in law of Mir of Hunza.   Pir Syed Karam Ali Shah is the governor of Gilgit Biltistan. He Assumed office on 28th January 2011. Karam Ali Shah has also been a member of the legislative assembly four times.  

References: Tarikh-e-Pashtun Ismaili Heritage F.I.E.D. BY Mumtaz Ali Tajdin I.T.R.E.B Pakistan, Waizeen Digest July 1996 Chitral Mai Ismaili Dawat k Agaz u Irtiqa by Amir Hamza Balandwi

One Reply to “A spiritual flashback: Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari”

  1. Nice effort for providing us with valuable and interesting information about such an important personality.

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