Makhdum Shah (R)

Makhdum Shah (R) one of the renowned and venerable saints of Bengal. He lies buried beside the old Shahi mosque at Shahjadpur in Sirajganj district. From architectural point of view it may be stated that the shahjadpur mosque was built in the pre-Mughal period, but it cannot be dated with certainty for want of any inscription. For this reason and in the absence of written evidence, the identity and history of the saint, Makhdum Shah Daulah Shahid (R), cannot be established.

The only source of information about Makhdum Shah is an oral tradition current in the area and collected about a century back and published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta.

According to the tradition Muaz bin Jabal, a king of Yemen, had one daughter and two sons and Makhdum Shah Daulah was one of them. With the permission of his father and accompanied by twelve other saintly persons besides his sister and three nephews Khwaja Kalan Danishmand, Khwaja Nur and Khwaja Anwar he went into the land of infidels to preach Islam. At Bukhara they met Shaikh Jalaluddin Bukhari who presented Makhdum Shah a pair of gray pigeons as a token of good whishes. From Bukhara the party preceded towards Bengal and settled at Shahjadpur, a locality under the jurisdiction of a Hindu king whose kingdom extended upto Bihar. The king ordered for the expulsion of Makhdum Shah and his companions. Consequently there ensued a severe fight between the two parties in which Makhdum Shah with all his followers, except Khwaja Nur, embraced martyrdom. Khwaja Nur, surviving the tragedy, is said to have later married a princess of sonargaon. The Shahjadpur family claiming ancestry to Makhdum Shah Daulah Shahid might have been the descendants of Khwaja Nur and the princess of Sonargaon.

The tomb of Shah Yusuf is located in the same compound and with in the same enclosure where Makhdum Shah Daulah Shahid is lying buried while his other companions were buried in the enclosure nearby. Shamsuddin Tabrizi (not the same Shamsuddin Tabrizi who was the teacher of Shaikh Jalaluddin Rumi, the author of the famous Masnavi, and who is not known to have ever visited Bengal), said to be a companion of Shah Daulah Shahid, lies buried in a separate enclosure. Others who are supposed to be companions of Makhdum Shah and whose tombs are found in the same enclosure are Shah Khingar, Shah Ajmal, Hasila Pir, Shah Bodla, Shah Ahmad and Shah Mahmud. Some other companions of the saint were buried in a general graveyard that is known as ganj-i-xahidan. The sister of Makhdum Shah drowned herself in the nearby river and the place is still known as Sati Bibir Ghat. As Makhdum Shah is known to have been a prince or xahzada of Yemen, the place has come to be known as Shahjadpur after him.

In the Muslim period Shahjadpur was included in the revenue unit of Pargana Yusuf Shahi named after Shah Yusuf. A big landed estate of 722 bighas was endowed for the maintenance of the dargah and the mosque of Shahzadpur. The estate is till today enjoyed by the descendants of Khwaja Nur, the surviving nephew of Makhdum Shah.

The date of Makhdum Shah Daulah's arrival in Bengal cannot be determined. The tradition suggests that he and his companions came to Bengal in the twelfth century AD before the Turkish conquest, about which modern scholars, however, have expressed doubt. Muaz bin Jabal, the king of Yemen cannot be identified; a Muaz bin Jabal, a companion of the prophet who died in 17 or 18 AH was certainly not the Muaz bin Jabal of the tradition. Jalaluddin Bukhari whom Makhdum Shah is said to have met, died in 1291 AD. So keeping in view the dates of these personages, it may be suggested that Makhdum Shah came to Shahjadpur not earlier than 14th century AD and certainly after the conquest of Bengal by bakhtiyar khalji.

A fair annually held at Shahjadpur shrine in the end of the Bengali month Chaitra (mid-April) lasts for about a month and is attended by people of all communities. The usual offerings are rice, sugar, sweets, fowl and chiragh (a votive lamp). [Abdul Karim]

Bibliography Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta, 1904; ME Haq, A History of Sufism in Bengal, Dhaka, 1975; Abdul Karim, Social History of Muslims in Bengal (2nd ed), Chittagong, 1985.