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Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki


Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki

Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki
Dargah of Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki in Mehrauli, Delhi.
Religion Islam, specifically the Chishti Order of Sufism
Lineage Chishti Order
Other names Malik-ul-Mashaa'ikh
Born 1173
Osh in Transoxiana (present-day Kyrgyzstan)
Died 1235
Resting place Mehrauli, Delhi
Senior posting
Based in Delhi
Title قطب الاقطاب Qutub ul Aqtab
Period in office Early 13th century
Predecessor Moinuddin Chishti
Successor Tony chishti

Qutb ul Aqtab Hazrat Khwaja Sayyid Muhammad Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (Urdu: حضرت خواجہ سیّد محمد قطب الدین بختیار کاکی‎) (born 1173-died 1235) was a renowned Muslim Sufi mystic, saint and scholar of the Chishti Order from Delhi, India. He was the disciple and the spiritual successor of Moinuddin Chishti as head of the Chishti order and the person to whom the Qutb Minar, Delhi is dedicated. Before him the Chishti order in India was confined to Ajmer and Nagaur. He played a major role in establishing the order securely in Delhi.[1] His dargah located adjacent to Zafar Mahal in Mehrauli, and the oldest dargah in Delhi, is also the venue of his annual Urs festivities. The Urs was held in high regard by many rulers of Delhi like Qutbuddin Aibak, Iltutmish who built a nearby stepwell, Gandhak ki Baoli for him, Sher Shah Suri who built a grand gateway, Bahadur Shah I who built the Moti Masjid mosque nearby and Farrukhsiyar who added a marble screen and a mosque.[2]

His most famous disciple and spiritual successor was Fariduddin Ganjshakar, who in turn became the spiritual master of Delhi's noted Sufi saint, Nizamuddin Auliya, who himself was the spiritual master of Amir Khusrau and Nasiruddin Chirag-e-Delhi.

The influence of Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki on Sufism in India was immense. As he continued and developed the traditional ideas of universal brotherhood and charity within the Chisti order, a new dimension of Islam started opening up in India which had hitherto not been present. He forms an important part of the Sufi movement which attracted many people to Islam in India in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. People of every religions like Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, etc. visiting every week at Dargah.


  • Early life 1
  • Move to Delhi 2
  • His Influence over people 3
  • Phoolwalon-ki-sair festival 4
  • Royal grave enclosure 5
  • Titles given to Qutbuddin Bakhityar Kaki 6
  • His Works 7
  • Further reading 8
  • Gallery 9
  • See Also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Early life

Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki was born in 569 A.H. (1173 C.E.) in a small town called Osh (alternatively Awsh or Ush) in the Fergana Valley (present Osh in southern Kyrgyz Republic(Kyrgyzstan), part of historic Transoxania). According to his biography mentioned in, Ain-i-Akbari, written in the 16th century by Mughal Emperor Akbar’s vizier, Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, he was the son of Kamalu'ddin Musa, whom he lost at the young age of a year and a half.[3][4][5]

Khwaja Qutbuddin's original name was Bakhtiyar and later on he was given the title Qutbuddin. He was a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad, descending through Hussain ibn Ali. His mother, who herself was an educated lady, arranged for his education by Shaikh Abu Hifs.

When Mu‘inuddin Chishti passed through Aush during his travels, Khwaja Bakhtiyar took the oath of allegiance at his hands and received the khilafat and Khirqah from him. Thus, he was the first spiritual successor of Moinuddin Chishti.

Move to Delhi

In obedience to the desire of his spiritual master, Mu‘inuddin Chishti, Khwaja Bakhtiyar went and started living in the city of Delhi, during the reign of Iltutmish (r. 1211-1236), the founder of the Delhi Sultanate. Attracted by his spiritual prowess and charitable attitude, a large number of people started visiting him daily. He started initiating disciples on the spiritual path as well.[6]

The name Kaki was attributed to him by virtue of a keramat (miracle) that emanated from him in Delhi.[7] According to it, he asked his wife not to take credit from the local baker despite their extreme poverty. Instead he told her to pick up Kak (a kind of bread) from a corner of their house whenever needed. After this, his wife found that Kak miraculously appeared in that corner whenever she required. The baker, in the meantime, had become worried whether the Khwaja had stopped taking credit due to being perchance angry with him. Accordingly, when the baker's wife asked the reason from the Khwaja's wife, she told her about the miracle of Kak. Although the Kak stopped appearing due to the revealing of the secret, from that day the people started referring to him as Kaki.[8]

Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki's dargah

Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki, like other Chisti saints, did not formulate any formal doctrine. He used to hold a majlis, a gathering, where he gave his discourses or fatwas. Directed at the common masses, these contained an emphasis on renunciation, having complete trust in God, treating all human beings as equal and helping them as much as possible, etc. Whatever money was donated to him, he usually spent it on charity the same day.

He was a great believer in helping the needy without heeding the result. When an eminent disciple, Fariduddin Ganjshakar, asked him about the legality of amulets (tawiz) which were controversial as they could lead to theological problems of semi-idolatory in Islam, he replied that the fulfilment of desires belonged to no one; the amulets contained God's name and His words and could be given to the people.[8]

He continued and extended the musical tradition of the Chisti order by participating in sema or Mehfil-e-Sama. It is conjectured that this was with the view that, being in consonance with the role of music in some modes of Hindu worship, it could serve as a basis of contact with the local people and would facilitate mutual adjustments between the two communities.[9] On the 14th of Rabi'-ul-Awwal 633 A.H. (27 November 1235 CE)[3] he attended a Mehfil-e-Sama where the poet Ahmad- e Jam sang the following verses:

Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki was so overcome and enraptured by these verses that he fainted away. He died four days later while still in that state of ecstasy. His dargah (shrine) is adjacent to the Zafar Mahal, near Qutub Minar complex, in Mehrauli, Delhi. After his death his will was read that emphasized that only the person who has done no haram and have never left the sunnah of Asr prayer may only lead his namaz-e-janaza (funeral prayer). This left to a brief lull as nearly everybody did not adhered to the contents of the will. Finally a teary eyed Illtutmish come out of the congregation saying that I did not want to reveal my inner self to everybody but the will of Khwaja bakhtiyar Kaki R.A. wants so. His Janaza prayer was finally led by Illtutmish as he was the only the person who fulfilled and adhered to the contents of the will.

Left of the Ajmeri Gate of the dargah at Mehrauli, lies Moti Masjid, a small mosque for private prayer built by Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah I in 1709, an imitation of the much larger Moti Masjid built by his father, Aurangzeb, inside the Red Fort of Delhi.[10]

His Influence over people

Mahatma Gandhi visiting the Dargah during the Annual Urs, 1948.

As a well-known saint, Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki exercised great sway over the people. He continued the policy of non-involvement with the government of the day. This was the traditional way of saints of the Chisti order in South Asia,[11] as they felt that their linkage with rulers and the government would turn their mind towards worldly matters.

During the lifetime of the Khwaja he was held in great esteem by the Delhi Sultan, Iltutmish. It is contended that the Qutb Minar, the worlds tallest brick minaret, partially built by Iltumish, was named so after him.[12] He was also the favorite saint of the Lodhi dynasty which ruled over Delhi from 1451 to 1526.[13] His importance continues to this day and can be gauged by the following historical fact. When Mahatma Gandhi launched his last fast-unto-death in Delhi in 1948, asking that all communal violence be ended once and for all, he was pressed by leaders of all denominations to end the fast. One of the five conditions that Gandhi put forward to end the fast was that Hindus and Sikhs as an act of atonement should repair the shrine of Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki which had been damaged during the communal riots.[14]

Phoolwalon-ki-sair festival

The darbaar shrine of Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki has also been the venue of the annual Phoolwalon-ki-sair (a festival of flower-sellers) in autumn, which has now become an important inter-faith festival of Delhi.[15][16]

The festival has its origins in 1812, when Queen Mumtaz Mahal, wife of the Mughal Emperor, Akbar Shah II (r. 1806-1837) made a vow to offer a chadar and flower pankha at the Dargah and a pankha at the Yogmaya Mandir, also at Mehrauli, if her son Mirza Jehangir, who after inviting the wrath of Sir Archibald Seton, the then British Resident of the Red Fort, was exiled to Allahabad, returned safely. And as the legend goes, he did, and so began the tradition.[15][17] The festival was stopped by the British in 1942, but later revived by the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961 to bridge the Hindu-Muslim gulf, and inculcate secularist ideals.[18]

Royal grave enclosure

The tombs of Shah Alam II and his son Akbar II, with Moti Masjid in the background, next to the Kaki Mausoleum complex in 1890s

Incidentally, Akbar Shah II is now buried nearby in a marble enclosure, along with other Mughals, Bahadur Shah I and Shah Alam II.[10] An empty grave, also known as Sardgah, of the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, can also be found here, as he had willed to be buried next to the famous shrine, as did his previous Mughal predecessors. Unfortunately, he was exiled to Burma where he died. Talks of bringing back his remains here have been raised in the past, from time to time.[19]

Titles given to Qutbuddin Bakhityar Kaki

  • Qutub-ul-Aqtaab
  • Malik-ul-Mashaa'ikh
  • Rais-us-Saalikin
  • Siraj-ul-Auliya
Moti Masjid, Mehrauli, built by Bahadur Shah I.

His Works

  • Divan-i Khwajah Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (in Urdu). Kanpur Munshi Naval Kishaur. 1879. 

Further reading

  • Images of enclosure containing Mughal royal tombs IGNCA
  • "Dargah of Qutb-Sahib at Mehrauli", 1845 painting, 1814 painting


See Also


  1. ^ Biographical encyclopaedia of Sufis By N. Hanif.Pg 321
  2. ^ Smith, Ronald Vivian (2005). The Delhi that no-one knows. Orient Blackswan. pp. 11–12.  
  3. ^ a b Qutbuddin Bakhtyar Kaki Ain-e-Akbari by Abul Faza, English translation, by Heinrich Blochmann and Colonel Henry Sullivan Jarrett, 1873–1907. The Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta., Volume III, Saints of India. (Awliyá-i-Hind), Page 363.
  4. ^ Islamic Thought and Movements in the Subcontinent, 711-1947, by Syed Moinul Haq. Published by Historical Society, 1979. Page 144.
  5. ^ Tabakat-i-Nasiri. A General History of the Muhammadan Dynasties of Asia, Including Hindustan, from A. H. 194 (810 A.D.) to A. H. 658 (1260 A.D.) and the Irruption of the Infidel Mughals into Islam. Translated from Original Persian Manuscripts by Major H. By Abu-'Umar-i-'Usman. Published by Adamant Media Corporation. ISBN 1-4021-7110-2. Page 921.
  6. ^ Luniya, Bhanwarlal Nathuram (1978). Life and culture in medieval India. Kamal Prakashan. p. 354. 
  7. ^ 2. Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki Sufi Saints of Delhi.
  8. ^ a b Biographical encyclopaedia of Sufis By N. Hanif. Pg 323
  9. ^ Faruqi, Zia ul Hasan (1996). Fawa'id Al-Fu'ad--Spiritual and Literary Discourses of Shaikh Nizammuddin Awliya. South Asia Books.  
  10. ^ a b Eicher:City Guide - Delhi, Eicher Goodearth Publications. 1998. ISBN 81-900601-2-0. Page 188.
  11. ^ Islam in the Indian subcontinent By Annemarie Schimmel Pg 25
  12. ^ When fakirs held sway. The Hindu; Sep 06, 2004; Metro Edition. Retrieved on 15 August 2009.
  13. ^ Jafar Sharif/Herclots.Islam in India. Oxford 1921, repr 1972. Pg 143
  14. ^ Abul Kalam Azad. India wins Freedom. Bombay 1959. Pg 219.
  15. ^ a b Say it with Flowers: Phoolwalon-ki-sair bhaans ki aankh.
  16. ^ Where religion does not define identity Times of India, Oct 23, 2008.
  17. ^ Phool Walon Ki Sair begins Times of India, Sept 26, 2005.
  18. ^ Indian secularism The Times of India, Sep 28, 2008.
  19. ^ Fulfilling Bahadur Shah’s last wish Metro Plus Delhi, The Hindu, May 21, 2007.

Imran khalid,New Delhi-110025.

External links

  • All Sufis Of Delhi, India and the whole World, Retrieved 13 August 2015
  • Biography of Bakhtiar Kaki
  • When Fakirs held sway at The Hindu.
  • Dargah Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Mehrauli
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