Syed Muhammad Usman Marwandi, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar

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Syed Muhammad Usman Marwandi (1177–19 February 1275), also known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (Sindhi: لال شھباز قلندر‎), was a Sufi philosopher-poet of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Called Lal (Red) after his usual red attire, Shahbaz to denote a noble and divine spirit.

Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, son of Pir Syed Hasan Kabeeruddin, was born in Marwand. His ancestors had migrated from Baghdad and settled in Mashhad, before moving again to Marwand.[citation needed]

He lived when the Ghaznavid and Ghurids ruled in South Asia. A contemporary of Rumi, he travelled around the Muslim world and settled in Sehwan where he was eventually buried. There is evidence[citation needed] of his presence in Sindh in 1196 when he met Pir Haji Ismail Panhwar of Paat and he is believed to have arrived in Sehwan around 1251. There he established a meeting house (khanqah), taught in the Fuqhai Islam Madarrsah and wrote his treatises Mizan-us-Surf, Kism-e-Doyum, Aqd and Zubdah. Lal Shahbaz lived a celibate life and died in the year 1300 at the age of 151[citation needed].

In Multan he met[according to whom?] Baha-ud-din Zakariya of the Suhrwardiyya, Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar of the Chishtiyya and Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari. The friendship of these four became legendary, they were known as the Chahar Yar (In Persian “the four friends”). According to some historians[according to whom?] the four visited various parts[where?] of Sindh, Punjab (in present-day Pakistan) and southern part of India.[citation needed].

Shahbaz became a profound scholar of religions, fluent in many languages including Pashto, Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Sindhi and Sanskrit.[citation needed]

Following his death, Hindus within Sindh began to identify Lal Shahbaz Qalandar as an incarnation of their patron deity, Jhulelal. This connection was emphasized by the popular spiritual song Dama Dam Mast Qalandar which referred to him by the name Jhulelal. Over time, the Jhulelal has become a nickname for him, among both Hindu and Muslim Sindhis.

The Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar was built in 1356 and decorated with Sindhi ‘kashi-tiles’, mirror-work and a gold-plated door donated by the Shah of Iran, Reza Shah Pahlavi and installed by the late Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

The inner sanctum is about 100 square yards with a silver-canopied grave in the middle, according to Nadeem Wagan, Cutharo silver donated by Sardar Mahboob Ali Khan Wagan (Chief Sardar of Wagan Tribe) on one side of the marble floor is a row of about 12-inch-high (300 mm) folding wooden stands, on which there is a set copies of Quran for devotees to read. On the other side, beside a bundle of incense, are rows of oil-lamps lighted by devotees. Thousands of devotees visit the tomb particularly every Thursday

Lal Shahbaz’s annual Urs (death anniversary celebration), held on the 18 Sha’aban – the eighth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, brings more than half a million pilgrims from all over Pakistan. On each morning of the three-day feast the narrow lanes of Sehwan are packed with pilgrims, fakirs and devotees making their way to the shrine to commune with the saint, offer tributes and ask for their wishes. (Sao Sumar) singing from 6am till 8am the next day. They invite bands of folk-singers (mandali) from different regions each year.

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