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Nur Qutb Alam


Nur Qutb Alam a saint and saviour personality of the Muslims of Bengal from the oppression of raja ganesha. A son and chief disciple of Shaikh Alaul Huq and a grandson of Shaikh Asad of Lahore, he was a guardian saint of pandua. Both father and son are lying buried in the famous Shash Hazari Dargah (a dargah endowed with a property worth six thousand rupees) of Pandua. Like his father, Shaikh Nur Qutb Alam was a chishtiya saint and has left behind a line of saints who played significant part in the Muslim social life of Bengal for several centuries. Shaikh Alaul Huq was a contemporary of Sultan Shamsuddin iliyas shah and his son sikandar shah, while Shaikh Nur Qutb Alam was a fellow-student and contemporary of Sultan ghiyasuddin azam shah.

Shaikh Nur Qutb Alam became more famous than his father, because he saved the Muslim kingdom of Bengal from a catastrophe. When Raja Ganesha captured the throne of Pandua and began to oppress the Muslims including the Shaikhs and Ulama, he decided to interfere, and wrote a letter to Sultan Ibrahim Sharqi of Jaunpur to come to the aid of the Muslims of Bengal. He also wrote a letter to Mir Sayyid Ashraf Jahangir simnani with a request to intercede to Sultan Ibrahim to accede to the request of Shaikh Nur Qutb Alam. Sultan Ibrahim marched with a large army to Bengal. At this Ganesha got frightened, submitted to Shaikh Nur and prayed to him to request Sultan Ibrahim to go back. The Shaikh demanded that the Raja should turn a Muslim, because, as he said, he could not intercede to a Muslim king in favour of a non-Muslim. Ganesha agreed but when he disclosed this to his wife, she did not agree. The Raja then brought his son Jadu, a boy of twelve, to the Shaikh and got him cnverted to Islam. The boy was named Jalaluddin and Ganesha abdicated in his favour.

After the death of the Shaikh, Ganesha, however, reconverted Jadu to Hinduism and ascended the throne again. But it so happened that Ganesha died soon after, and Jadu occupied the throne with the title of Sultan jalaluddin muhammad shah.

In order to practise the virtue of humility during the lifetime of his father, Nur Qutb used to do all sorts of menial works. He washed clothes of visiting faqirs, carried fuel and water, kept water constantly hot for ablution of his murshid during winter days and even cleaned the privies attached to the khanqah. He gave his two sons, Shaikh Rafqatuddin and Shaikh Anwar, spiritual training. Shaikh Zahid, a son of the former, also attained much fame as a saint, after the death of his grandfather. Shaikh Anwar died a martyr at Sonargaon at the hands of Raja Ganesha, most probably during the lifetime of his father. Another leading spiritual disciple of Shaikh Nur Qutb Alam was Shaikh Husamuddin Manikpuri.

Sultan Alauddin husain shah granted a number of villages for maintaining the alms-house and madrasah attached to the dargah of Shaikh Nur Qutb Alam. The sultan used to come every year from his capital city of Ikdala to Pandua to visit the shrine of the saint. The date of Shaikh Nur Qutb Alam's death is not definitely known, but the date is most probably 818 AH/ 1415 AD and the chronogram of this date is Nur banur-shud (light went into light). [Abdul Karim]

Bibliography SAH Dehlavi, Akhbar-ul-Akhya fi- Asrar-ul-Abrar; HS Jarrett and Sarkar (tr), Abul Fazl, Ain-i- Akbari, III, Calcutta 1949; A A Khan and Stapleton, Memoirs of Gaur and Pandua, Calcutta, 1951; ME Huq, A History of Sufism in Bengal, Dhaka 1995; Abdul Karim, Social History of the Muslims in Bengal, Chittagong, 1998.