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Who is Nizam al-Din Awliya?
A 13th century Chishti saint who originated from Badayun and later emigrated to Dehli. Nizam belonged to the Ahlul Bayt (Descendant of the Prophet ﷺ) through the lineage of Ali al-Naqi.
He studied with various prominent scholars and became a disciple of Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar.
Baba Fariduddin's Heir
In the year 664 AH, on the 13th of Ramadhan, Baba Fariduddin gave Nizam his 'Khilafah' (Inheritance of the Path) aged 23.
He said, "You (Nizam) will be a tree under whose cool shade, all of humanity will find a cure."
The symbolism of Nizam al-Din being a tree was that a tree discriminates against none and it is a source of shade/sustenance for those who come to it. This metaphor becomes a reality later when Nizam al-Din returns to Dehli.
Denouncement of the World (Dunya)
A key attribute of Nizam al-Din was that he had a strong aversion to associating with rulers and it then became a part of his teachings. He said, "do not approach the doors of kings. Seek no recompense from them."
If a letter was sent by the king, he would leave it unopened and would remain apolitical. As Nizam grew in popularity, the sultan would send spies to investigate for he felt his political status was threatened.
The King's Letter
Alauddin Khilji, the ruler of Dehli at the time, wished to meet Nizam al-Din but was refused. Nizam said to him, "In this Khanaqa (Institute), there are two doors. If you enter from one, I will leave through the other."
One day, Alauddin arrived at the Khanaqa unexpectedly but was refused entry. He took a piece of paper and wrote, "What is this? At the palaces of kings, aides and servants are found. Yet, I find aides and servants at the doors of the Faqirs (Ascetics). What is the difference between kingship and ascetism?"
The epistle was delivered to Nizam, who replied, "The aides at the doors of kings refuse entry to the poor and needy. The aides at our doors refuse entry to the likes of kings."
The Khanaqa was a place for the destitute to reside and take provisions. No-one was ever turned away and didn't leave except their need was fulfilled.
After expressing his desire to view the Khanaqa, Alauddin was granted entry.
The King's Visit
Alauddin was shown around the Khanaqa and witnessed the generosity of Nizam al-Din, in particular the Langar (open feast).
He was then shown the horses stable. The shackles were made from silver and the chains tied to the horses' feet were made from gold.
To Allaudin's amazement, he wrote again to Nizam al-Din with, "What is this? Kings possess gold and silver and so do ascetics? What is the difference between kings and ascetics?"
Nizam replied, "The difference is that kings carefully conceal away their treasures and the ascetics place it around the feet of horses."