Secular Traditions of Hyderabad మే 25, 2007Posted by Telangana Utsav in Articles, English.
Guardians of Hyderabadi heritage
A Dargah in Nampally retains its majesty and spirituality, thanks to its inheritors
Today, heritage of the historic Hyderabad is being showcased in a series of monuments and silent structures that are the only remains of a past glory. But how many of us are aware of a heritage and culture that has survived through the centuries and still lives on in the heart of this hetero-cultured city?
That communal harmony reigned supreme over this part of Deccan plateau long before the principles of tolerance were preached, is something of a historical fact. And the land owed this to the mighty Qutub Shahi rulers whose lives and times were testimonials to secularism. Sufi – a beautiful blend of the Hindu and Islam tenets of spiritualism sans rigidity of either.
It was such environs that the later Nizams inherited and were wise enough to let the social structure be the way it stood. A few Sufis sanctified the land making it their home. And one such great saint was Shah Khamoush whose tomb (dargah) stands tall and majestic in the densely populated Nampally area.
Historic Hyderabad- The tomb of Shah Khamoush reverberates with an air of Sufi mysticism
The narrow, winding lanes leading to the Dargah and the inheritor’s abode within its precincts reveal a monumental beauty that is simply breath taking. It is not just the imposing structures that strike the visitor but the typical cultural finesse of the custodians of the place who are epitomes of the Sufi tradition passed on to them by their illustrious ancestor. Every brick and wall of the abode speaks volumes of those days when spirituality charged the atmosphere and great scholars thronged the place. To this day, Shah Khamoush (Silent King) dargah guardians play host to innumerable qawwals and literates of the Sufi strain. Transcendental qawwalis (Sama-e-mehfil) reverberates through the quaint ambience of the `Samakhana’ (literally place of listening) charging the entire atmosphere with an air of divine musical spirituality.
Of mysticism and silence
“I am 44th in the line of the Hazrat Moinuddin Hussaini or Shah Khamoush as he was later called by virtue of his mysticism and his silence. I am actually his brother’s great, great grandson. My illustrious ancestor belonged to the Chishti Nizamia order (that of Ajmer saint) and settled in this place (then Dakkhan) during the reign of the fourth Nizam Nasir-ud-dowlah (Mukhtaar-ul-mulq). To cut a long story short, the Hazrat wasin constant communion with God and for most part of his long life stayed in the western quarter of the Mecca Masjid where he had established a `khankha’ (a Sufi monastry).
Later, 150 years ago this land, (pointing towards the area where the Dargah stands today) was given to him by the then Nizam but he chose to live in his small room at the Mecca Masjid all his life. His earthly remains have been consecrated here and we celebrate three occasions in a year called `Urs’ for him and his chief followers all of whom call themselves fakir, and to this day, we are honestly humble at the core of our being,” explains Syed Akbar Nizamuddin Hussaini.
One look at the hefty figure crowned by a soft, unassuming countenance is enough to convince a casual visitor that here is a man living in the present day world according to its norms and also in tune with his inner being which is bestowed by a wonderful culture called `Sufi’. He is able to strike an exceptionally fine balance of the cultural inheritance and the modern outlook and lifestyle. The essence of Sufism itself is a sensitive balance of communal harmony, tolerance and universal love in the quest of Almighty. And here is a living testimonial of these qualities and much more.
The man- a post-graduate in Islamic Studies and well-versed in English, Rector of Jamia Nizamiah (the oldest Islamic university in India), an educationist, a national-level sharp shooter, a connoisseur and collector of Attars (oriental perfumes), a generous leader of his community, a father who has highly educated daughter settled abroad and a person loved by one and all.
The abode- known for its antique and breath-taking chandeliers of different colours running into scores, his vintage attardhaanas (perfume holders/boxes), marble laced parapets skirting split level halls, marble inlaid stands and showpieces, intricately carved wooden furniture lined with velvet and dining tables running the length of the halls and innumerable artefacts. An aura of authenticity with the stamp of antiquity, preserved and protected pervades the entire built-in area. The chandeliers and the library are just history recreated. The inhabitants and the habitat compliment each other.
“The qawwals who come from far and wide prefer to stay within the precincts of this Dargah and not in any posh accommodation we earmark for them as they feel the place is charged with spirituality. Music is a part of the tradition and also a part of our lives. Qawwals sing Meera bhajans too along with Islamic verses. Well, that is an integral part of Sufi tradition,” he says matter-of-factly as he supervises the construction of a larger dining room and kitchenette to hold the guests coming to the shrine during the Urs.
The Hindu, Metro Plus Hyderabad, Jan 18, 2007