Our Sufi Order
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 Syed 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 and that our order is transmitted via Mawla Ali (as), who loved the name given to him by the last and final Prophet Muhammad (saw) who lovingly called him, “Abu Turab” (Father of the soil) , whilst the red color symbolized ishqe haqiqi (true love), the two qualities which the Chishti order strives to imbibe into it’s disciples. The flag also indicated that a Khalifa of the order is 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 the Mazaar 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 his 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 Chishti silsila. Bhabi Saheba (Rahmatullah alai) passed away on the 14 January 1991.
The Khanqah was ably served by her son , Hazrath Shah Ghulam Muhammad until his demise (d. 30 Zul Hijjah 1437/ 02 October 2016) and her grandson Irshad, (the son of Hazrath Shah Ghulam Muhayaddin who passed away on 19th Rabi al-Awwal 1429 / 26 March 2008).
The Khanqah is currently still being served by Irshad along with his son, Kamil Ahmad.
Today the Habibia Soofie Aastana in Pietermaritzburg which comprises of a Jaame Masjid, Islamic library in the office of the Masjid (only Quraan Sharif with no translation is kept inside the masjid to avoid forcing one school of thought on any persons). The library in the office can be visited but books are not lent out, however a free service of photocopying relevant pages for research purposes is offered.
A massive Madrasah was run but post apartheid saw the introduction of Islamic Schools and many people choosing to send their children to the old prestigious schools. Madrasah enrollment numbers began to decline due to Islamic Studies offered at schools and the old prestigious schools having many after school activities. However, many converts and children come to the Khanqah home for private lessons.
Insha’Allah the Institute plans to launch an online Madrasah which focuses on the basics of Islam and the differences of the schools of thought so the future generation learn the etiquette of differences.
A wise sage once said that ”A good teacher does not tell you what to look at but where to look.”
The Spiritual Centre also has a Community hall, a Fitness Centre (for women and children), an offering of social welfare services , spiritual healing, counseling and spiritual guidance.
A monthly night market was introduced in 2017 in order to uplift local businesses within the community and famous traders from other markets were requested to join and it served the purpose of people supporting lesser known home-based traders. Many were given free stalls and were supplied with stock due to their dire financial status. With the Grace of God Almighty, they became popular and self sufficent. All funds generated through this initiative is put into a Project Account with the instructions of the organization’s Accountant. Eventually we were able to build a heated indoor pool and fitness floor exclusively for ladies and children. Keeping the body fit is also a Sunnah.
The funds generated from the Fitness Centre will, Insha’Allah, enable us to build change rooms with shower facilities. (NOTE: Children and ladies, who cannot afford to pay, are given free lessons, after verification). The instructors pay a rental into the Musjid Project Account which will, Insha’Allah, enable the Masjid to become sustainable with minimal requests for funding.
Our future project is to establish a Women Empowerment Centre where various skills will be taught.
(During the Pandemic, lessons are given with social distancing and adherence to Government restrictions)
May Allah Almighty lifts this pandemic soon so that more instructors can rent the facility and increase the activities of the Fitness Centre.
Without moving away from the customary Sufi practices that were always practiced, Events have been scaled down due to the current administration’s policy of tackling tough economic times. The long and huge functions done in the past over many days have become a financial strain. Thus, it is now conducted on one day.
It is an accepted fact that our Centre is a thriving Khanqah of the Chishti order.
In conclusion, we 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.