King of faqirs —Aun Zaidi
Mian Mir’s love for God-loving people made him stand head and shoulders above the pirs of his time, and even in death he became a beacon of hope and inspiration for the future generations
Mian Mir once said: “When a faqir becomes perfect and his heart is cleared of doubt, then nothing can give him (her) harm or cause him (her) injury. He himself becomes a king then. He does not pay any regard to a king. The kings, on the contrary, are overpowered by him.” Like all true saints, Mian Mir believed in what he preached and followed it himself.
This was never truer then when the great Mughal emperor Jahangir came to pay homage to the pious Sufi saint at his shrine. Mian Mir unlike most other saints had his mureeds standing guard outside his shrine to stop people from entering the shrine without the permission of the saint. Emperor Jahangir came with his whole bandwagon, as was the protocol of a king at that time; however he was stopped by the mureeds from entering. Jahangir was angry and ashamed that he being the king was required to ask for permission to enter a premises within his own kingdom. Being a wise king, Jahangir controlled his emotions and waited. After a little while he was given permission and he went in to meet Mian Mir.
Unable to control his earlier indignation he said to Mian Mir: “On the doorstep of a faqir, there should be no sentry,” to which Mian Mir replied, “They are there so that the dogs of the selfish men may not enter.” The emperor felt ashamed, but however asked for the blessing of the pir for his upcoming military campaign in the Deccan.
As if this were not enough humiliation, a man came to pay homage to Mian Mir. The man was poor and hence could only offer one rupee in homage to the great saint. Mian Mir asked the devotee to take the one rupee and give it to the poorest man he could find in the shrine. The man returned after a while with the one rupee in his hand stating that no one is poor enough or willing enough to take it. Pointing towards Emperor Jahangir the saint said, “Go and give this rupee to him, he is the poorest and most needy of the lot. Not content with a big kingdom, he covets the kingdom of the Deccan. For that, he has come all the way from Delhi to beg. His hunger is like a fire that burns all the more furiously with more wood. It has made him needy, greedy and grim. Go and give the rupee to him.”
This begs one to ask the question why would an emperor or anyone else need to go and get insulted by a pir in order to get his blessings. There are very different views or opinions about why people go to Sufi saints. A few people usually only go because it is what they have been practicing since they were little children accompanying their parents, thus making it a ritual of sorts that come every Thursday one must go and pay homage to a saint.
The masses flock to such shrines not for spiritual closeness to God but rather for the free food being distributed to all those who come to pay their respects to Mian Mir. The irony is that the people who come to distribute food at the shrine are usually the ones who want to give out food so that they can have the blessings of the saint for their personal endeavours, much like the example of when Emperor Jahangir went to Mian Mir for his personal gains. As for the poor, they are usually there for the free meal, but one is put off by mobs vying for food at such chaste places.
There are very few who actually know why they are devotees of Mian Mir. In Islam there is the concept of asking God for whatever you want and need, but since we as human beings have become so corrupted and impure, we need to ask someone who is purer than us to help us out with taking our requests to God. The perception behind this being that those who are closer to God will not have their requests turned down, even if they are carrying someone else’s request.
For this reason these people flock to the shrines of pirs. Yet most often than not these pirs turn out to be nothing more than conmen trying to fleece a quick buck out of needy people. In retrospect, Mian Mir’s saying, “A Sufi is one who does not exist, i.e. he is united with God,” speaks volumes about him. His love for God-loving people made him stand head and shoulders above the pirs of his time, and even in death he became a beacon of hope and inspiration for the future generations and truly lived up to his own saying that, “The hold of the friends of God is the same after their death as it was during their lifetime.”
Aun Zaidi is a freelance journalist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org