In the year 1895, Khwaja Habib Ali Shah (Rahmatullah alai), the great Sufi saint of the Chishti Nizami Order in India, sent his beloved disciple and spiritual successor, Shah Ghulam Muhammad Siddique (Rahmatullah alai), the humble descendant of Hazrath Abu Bakr Siddiq (Rahmatullah alai), to the Southern tip of Africa to propagate Islam in general and the Chishti Order in particular. It was a challenge to push forward the work of Islam and the silsilah in the British ruled country and to evolve an effective mechanism to deal with those associated with the order. Hazrath Soofie Saheb (Rahmatullah alai) not only rose to the occasion but in the short span of fifteen years the entire Southern Africa became studded with Khanqah’s of the Chishti order. The Khanqah of the founding Pir of the Nizami Chishti order, Khwaja Nizaam ad -din Awliya (Rahmatullah alai), by the side of the Jamuna river in India, whilst the first Khanqah of his beloved spiritual son stood by the side of the Umgeni river in Africa, with a magnificent view of the Indian ocean.
The subsequent eleven Khanqah’s established all stood in a serene, loving atmosphere, with a cool and refreshing breeze blowing, which aptly symbolized the order of Khwaja Muin ud din Chishti (Rahmatullah alai), the order of love, of the prince of love, which was to blow amidst the oppression and injustice. The Khanqah’s comprised of a Masjid, Madrassah, cemetery, orphanage, rehabilitation center, medical center, houses, courtyard, garden, fountains, wells and open kitchen. In each center, the yellow and red flag of the Chishti Nizami Habibi order was hoisted. The sandy yellow color on the flag symbolized humility whilst the red color symbolized ishqe haqiqi (true love), the two qualities which the Habibia order strives to imbibe into it’s disciples. The flag also indicated that a Khalifa of the order was present at the Khanqah and could be consulted.
I feel it is important to mention here that Mahatma Gandhi used to visit Hazrath for spiritual counseling whilst Hazrath received legal counseling from him. The trust deed of Soofie Saheb (Rahmatullah alai) bears the signature of his lawyer, Mahatma Gandhi, and this bears testimony to the fact. The various practices of the Chishti were introduced into each center; in order to mobilize the spirit in the quest for God.
The Habibia Soofie Khanqah in Pietermaritzburg (est.1909), was built on the banks of the Dorpspruit river, at that time an uninhabited area, where Soofie Saheb (Rahmatullah alai) had predicted the people would eventually live, was administered and controlled by the third son, Hazrath Haji Shah Abd al -Qadir Soofie (Rahmatullah alai). He continued in the footsteps of his father and became a father figure to the community who affectionately called him “Haji Saheb”.. He passed away on the 28 May 1940, and his young widow, Sayyida Khatoon Bibi Soofie (Rahmatullah alai), continued the spiritual practices and selfless service to humanity of the Chisti Habibia silsila. Bhabi Saheba (Rahmatullah alai) passed away on the 14 January 1991. The Khanqah is ably served today by her son, , Hazrath Shah Ghulam Muhammad and her grandson Irshad, the son of of Hazrath Shah Ghulam Muhay ad-Din the son of Hazrath Shah Ghulam Muhay ad din WHO PASSED AWAY ON 18th Rabi al-Awwal 1429 (March 2008). It is an accepted fact today that the Habibia Soofie Aastana in Pietermaritzburg which comprises of a Jaame Masjid, Madrasah, pre-school, Islamic library, community hall and offering social welfare services, spiritual healing, counseling and spiritual guidance, is a thriving Khanqah of the Chishti Nizami Habibi order.
In conclusion, I pay tribute to all the present Khulafa, trustees and khadims (servants), of all the Soofie Saheb (Rahmatullah alai) Khanqah’s in Southern Africa. Every centre established by Hazrath (Rahmatullah alai) is continuously, selflessly serving humanity and even adversaries admit that the impressive buildings and well maintained Khanqah’s have become a landmark and a tribute to Islamic architecture in Southern Africa. The services of Hazrat Soofie Saheb (Rahmatullah alai) i.e. loving and serving all humanity regardless of caste, creed, nations, race or sex continue at his Khanqah’s unto the present day. His Mazaar Shareef at Riverside, Durban at the headquarters of The Spiritual Order, is a fountain of the nectar of love, that nourishes hearts up to the present day.