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The Poet: Mian Muhammad Bakhsh was born in village Khari Sharif near the town of Mirpur (currently in Azad Kashmir), not far from the northern boundary of Pakistani Punjab, and about 100 kilometers Southeast of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. He was from the Gujjar tribe and was a direct descendant (fourth in line) of Pir-e Shah Ghazi, a highly respected Sufi Saint of that region, who is buried in Khari Sharif. He was born in 1830. His father was Mian Shamsuddin. He acquired his initial education at home since his was a well respected and learned family. Then he studied Hadith from the local Madressah of Hafiz Muhammad Ali. He was well educated in Farsi and Arabi. From an early age, he showed keen interest in poetry. He was especially fond of Yusuf Zuleikha of Abdur Rehman Jami. He was about 15 years old when his father passed away, who nominated him to be his spiritual successor. He himself pledged allegiance to a sufi named Ghulam Muhammad. Mian Muhammad Bakhsh wrote many books. The most popular of his books is Saif-ul Malook, which he completed at the age of 33. He spent his life preaching, teaching, and educating people. He never got married. He lived in Khari Sharif where he passed away in 1907. He is buried close to the grave of Pir-e Shah Ghazi.His Legacy: His best known work is Saif-ul Maluk. Saif-ul Maluk is a fictional story of a prince named Saif-ul Maluk (name means the sword of kings) who falls in love with a beauty named Badi-ul Jamal (name means strange/unique in beauty), whom the prince had never met face to face. She is, I believe, a princess or a fairy, and is imprisoned on a Caucasus (Koh-e Qaaf) -like mountain. The story has all the trials and tribulations which befall the lovers, especially who are far apart like Saif-ul Maluk and Badi-ul Jamal. There are lessons in morality and sufi themes all along. The book is written as a Mathnawi, a long poem with a single meter, with every 2 lines rhyming together. I believe it has at least 8-10 thousand double lines (ashaar). The titles and subtitles are in Farsi. The author uses the takhallus Muhammad or Muhammad Bakhsha (meaning O Muhammad Bakhsh). The scale of story is grand, with plots and sub-plots. Sometimes it seems like one is reading Greek Mythology. But there is something else. Mian Muhammad Bakhsh is in fact narrating the story of the journey of soul towards God. The scene where he describes a marriage ceremony is thought to be in fact a reference to death, when the soul will meet the creator in a joyful union. This type of allegory is seen in Farsi sufi poetry. Like Mantiq-ut Tair of Farid-ud Din Attar. The universal theme is that of Ishq-e Haqiqi (the Divine Love). At times one can feel the tone of Maulana Jalal-ud Din Rumi. Mian Muhammad Bakhsh himself loved the poetry of Jami. Jami also wrote Nafahat-ul Uns, a biography of saints. Jami himself was deeply influenced by Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi and he wrote extensively about him. Rumi considered Farid-ud Din Attar (and Hakim Sanai) to be his spiritual guides. He says:Attar ruh buud o Sanai do chashm-e oo,maa az paye Sanai o Attar aamadeym.(Attar was the soul and Sanai was its two eyes; we came after Sanai and Attar)Today Saif-ul Maluk and Mian Muhammad Bakhsh are deeply loved in Pakistani Punjab. Especially the northern districts along Jammu and Azad Kashmir (i.e. Sialkot, Gujrat, Jhelum, Chakwal, Rawalpindi, and even Attock) can be considered to be forming the Saif-ul Maluk belt. The people of Jhelum and Mirpur (on the Azad Kashmir side) have a special bond with Saif-ul Maluk and Mian Muhammad Bakhsh.Listen to these folk singers singing the Saif-ul Maluk at a wedding not far from Khari Sharif (thank you ishaqx):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmE6-rb075Q&feature=channel_pagehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68ZWQsTkG1I&feature=channel_pageThe Singer: Sain Zahoor Ahmad was born in mid 1940s in a village in Okara / Sahiwal (old Montgomery) districts of Punjab, Pakistan. He has been singing at various sufi shrines in Punjab, Sindh, and Azad Kashmir since a very young age. He made his first record in 2006. He usually sings sufi poetry of Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, Bulleh Shah, and Waris shah. He usually sings with ghunghrus (small bells) in his ankles and iktara (meaning single-stringed) in his hands. (Information mostly collected from Wikipedia).

Author: KhamoshTamashai
Keywords: ahmad azad bakhsh kashmir khari maluk mian muhammad pakistan poetry punjabi saiful sain sharif sufi zahoor
Added: February 2, 2009