Hazrath Haji Shah Goolam Muhammad Soofie Siddiqi Chisti Nizami Habibi RA

Hazrath Haji Shah Goolam Muhammad Soofie Siddiqi Chisti Nizami Habibi RA was born in 1267 AH [1848] in Ibrahimpatan, Ratnagir, India. He was the eldest son of Hazrath Ibrahim Siddiqi RA, a direct descendant of the first Khalifa of Islam, Hazrath Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq RA.

Unlike many other children of his time, he was brought up in a strict Islamic atmosphere, and received his early education from his father, who was the Imam (leader) of the local masjid and teacher at the madrasah (Islamic school).

Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA excelled in his studies and qualified as a hafiz (one who has memorized the Holy Qur'an) at this madrasah. After the demise of his father in 1872 (when he was 22 years old), he was appointed as the Imam of the masjid and teacher.

Hazrat Soofie Saheb RA Mazaar today

Acting upon a vision of the Holy Ka`bah whilst teaching his students the importance of Hajj (the major pilgrimage to Makkah), Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA decided to go for Hajj in 1892. After performing the sacred pilgrimage to Makkah, carrying his beloved mother on his back the entire time, and paying his respects to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (the Salutations and Peace of Allah be upon him) in the Holy City of Al-Madinah, he returned back home to India, and was turned away from the materialistic world towards Tasawwuf (spirituality). Mystic ideas were now imbued in him, and he felt the need for a murshid (Spiritual Guide), who could place him on the path of Tasawwuf. He thus left India, and journeyed to Baghdad, in search of a spiritual guide.

After arriving in Baghdad, Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA spent some time in the Khanqah of Al-Ghowth Al-Azam, Hazrath Shaykh Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jilani RA, before setting off in search of a murshid. Here, he met Hazrath Shah Goolam Mustafa Effendi Al-Qadiri RA, who accepted Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA as a mureed (disciple) in the Qaadiriyyah Soofie order. It was Hazrath Shah Goolam Mustafa Effendi RA who first called him "Soofie." Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA spent six months thereafter in Baghdad, where he used to sit in the mazaar of Shaykh Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jilani RA engaged in Mujaahadah. After this time, his "Qadiri" murshid, Shah Goolam Mustafa Effendi RA ordered Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA to return to India, to meet with his "Chisti" murshid, the Qutub of Kokan, Hazrath Khwaja Habib Ali Shah Chisti Nizami Hafizi RA.

Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA thus left Baghdad and journeyed back to India. When he reached the Khanqah of Hazrath Khwaja Habib Ali Shah RA in Hyderabad, Deccan, a mehfil us Sama (recitation of devotional and mystic poetry) was in progress. Hazrath Khwaja Habib 'Ali Shah RA immediately recognized Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA, and with one glance caused Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA to beco me overcome with wajd (ecstasy), which lasted for two days. After this, Khwaja Habib 'Ali Shah RA embraced him, and immediately accepted him into the Chistiyyah Silsila.

Khwaja Habib Paak RA recognised Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA as a brilliant shining star amongst his disciples and loved him dearly. Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA, after resigning from his post as Imam and teacher at the madrasah, remained in the service of his murshid and was instructed in the path of Tasawwuf.

Khwaja Habib Paak RA always visited the mazaars of the Awliya Allah (Beloved friends of Allah) especially during the Urus celebrations. During one of his visits to the Urus of Hazrath Khwaja Naseeruddeen Chiragh RA in Delhi, whilst sitting at the grave, Khwaja Habib Paak RA was instructed by Khwaja Naseeruddeen Chiragh RA to send his brilliant mureed (Hazrath Soofie Saheb ZRA) to South Africa to propagate Islam and the Chistiya Silsilah. Thus acting upon this instruction, Khwaja Habib Paak RA ordered Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA to South Africa. 

In 1895, Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA arrived in Durban, South Africa. Upon arrival in South Africa, Hazrath Soofie Saheb made it his first task to locate the grave of a saint of Allah who was unknown to the people, Hazrath Shaykh Ahmed Badsha Peer RA.  After making enquiries, he found himself at the cemetery in Brook Street, Durban, where he meditated until he was able to identify the grave of Hazrath Badsha Peer RA.

Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA then searched for land to build a Khanqah, from where he could propagate Islam and the Chistiyyah Silsila. He found this at Riverside, on the banks of the Umgeni River in Durban.

Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA purchased this land and the trust deed was created with the assistance of Mahatma Gandhi (who was then a practicing lawyer in Durban). It was here in Riverside that Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA planted the flag of Islam and the Chistiyyah Silsila. A masjid, madrasah and orphanage were built, and thus the first Chisti Khanqah in South Africa came into existence. From here, the sweet fragrance of the Chistiyyah Silsila spread through South Africa, and the rose-bud of this great mystic order of Islam continues to bloom until the present day.

Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA, apart from imparting religious lessons and caring for the orphans, sick and needy, also established many other Islamic activities, such as the regular commemoration of Urus of the various grand masters, dhikr programmes, and Mawlid un-Nabi (the Salutations and Peace of Allah be upon him), to name a few. He also provided many welfare services (e.g. prison and hospital visits, burial services, spiritual help, marriages etc.), and established the first old-age home to care for the elderly. At the hands of Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA, many non-Muslims entered the fold of Islam, and many Muslims became mureeds (disciples) in the Chistiyyah and Qaadiriyyah Soofie Orders of Islam.

The work of Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA did not stop in Durban. He established similar khanqahs in Ladysmith, Cape Town (Habibia), Colenso, Tongaat, Butha Buthe, Verulam, Pietermaritzburg and Newcastle. In Durban, apart from Riverside, khanqahs were established in Westville, 45th Cutting, Springfield and Kenville. He accomplished all of this in just fifteen years!

On Thursday, 29 June 1911(2 Rajab 1329 AH), Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA stood at the door of his house and, whilst looking towards the Khanqah, said, “May Almighty Allah, through the Waseelah [means] of our beloved Nabi (the salutations and Peace of Allah be upon him) accept the humble effort of ours and may He safeguard the khanqahs!”

The same day, as the mu’aththin was calling the Athaan for the Thuhr prayers, this shining star of the Chistiya Silsila breathed his last. He was 63 years old. His mazaar stands in Riverside, at the banks of the Umgeni River where it overlooks the Indian Ocean, reflecting the bright light of Islam and the Chistiya Silsila. It has been declared a National Monument by the local government, and the road leading to the mazaar has been named after this fragrant rose-bud from the garden of Chist.

We owe our gratitude to Hazrath Khwaja Habib Ali Shah RA for sending this great servant of Islam to our South African shores, who lit the lamp of Imaan and love in our hearts.

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