Great Grand Master – Hazrat Maulaanaa Fazl Ahmad Khan
(1857 – 30 November 1907)
(Spiritual Master of Shri. Lalaji Maharaj)
Maulana Fazal Ahmed Khan Sahib Kuddusuruh Naqshbandia (Maulana Sahib) was the last Muslim saint in this order. Also known as Huzur Maharaj, and commonly with the honorific “Maulana”, was an Indian Sufi teacher who was considered to be a saint by his followers. He was resident of village Raipur, Tahshil Kayamganj, Dist. Fatehgadh (U.P.). He was mudarris (teacher) of a maktab (school / madarsa) run by masjid (mosque). He was a great Faquir (Mahatma) with faculty much above the narrow feeling of caste, creed, language and sect etc.
Shri. Lalaji Maharaj had taken a room on rent for his study and was living very near to the Masjid where Maulana Sahib lived. While going to and coming back to school, he used to pay respect to Maulana Sahib. Gradually, the acquaintance developed into mutual love and attraction. One day during winter, it was raining, cool wind was blowing and Maulana Sahib was sitting in front of a fire pot. Lalaji Maharaj while returning late night from his relatives in drenched clothes took care to pay his respect to Maulana Sahib as usual who in turn asked him to change his clothes and get warmed up. Lalaji came back and when he sat in front of the fire, Maulana Sahib covered him with his quilt (the cotton /wool shawl ) and said to him fondly to get warmed up.
Lalaji Maharaj has written that the moment Maulana Sahib covered him with quilt, he experienced total transformation in him and found as if whole universe is whirling. After some time Maulana Sahib said — “Son, now you go and sleep. When you come tomorrow, bring one bucket and rope for my use”. During the night in sleep Lalaji Maharaj saw a dream in which Maulana Sahib was presenting him (Shri. Lalaji Maharaj) to a great personality who was sitting on a wooden platform with bright aura around him. Next day Lalaji Maharaj arranged bucket and rope; filled it with water and presented to Maulana Sahib. When he narrated the dream, Maulana Sahib said that it was not a dream but reality. He further added “You are Siddha (endowed with supernatural power) and accomplished from the very birth. Give light to the world”.
Sufis do not belong to any particular caste, creed or religion; they belong to the entire humanity. Sufism and Santmat have been two streams in Islam and Hinduism respectively which have the same basic tenets barring the perfunctory traditions that have descended from their lineage. It was but natural that some enlightened individual would see the futility of this division. This account of the life of Mahatma Ramchandraji of Fatehgarh (Shri. Laalaaji Maharaj) brings forth this point in the most outspoken manner. Mahatma Ramchandraji, who was the first duly authorized Hindu Sufi, at one point of time expressed a desire to convert to Islam, the religion of his spiritual Master Maulana Fazl Ahmad Khan (Huzur Maharaj), but his Master out rightly rejected the idea stating that in all the human beings, the flow of spirituality occurs in the same manner but their way of living differs. Religion depends upon the society and circumstances in which one is born but the soul is the same in everyone. Spirituality is a matter of soul, which is same in every one and it requires no particular religion to be followed.
Hujur Maharaj was sixth in the line of succession from Mirza Zanzana in the Naqshbandi Order. Through his spiritual awareness and liberal religious approach, he made the practice of the Sufi way extremely simple. He was able to bestow the priceless spiritual knowledge of Naqshbandi Order to all, including non-Muslims, without conversion i.e. without accepting Islam. He distinguished the religion (the outer or the material form of religion) from spirituality and held that for gaining spirituality religion is no bar.
Hujur Maharaj’s father was Shaikh Gulam Hussain, who himself was a Master in the Order of the great Sufi Saint Maulana Waliuddin of Kashmir. His mother too had been initiated into the Naqshbandi order of Sufism. Hujur Maharaj`s parents were great saints and true human beings. It is, therefore, no wonder that a person like Maulana Fazl Ahmad Khan took birth in their family, which ushered in a new era of religious and communal harmony and brought about a spiritual revolution. Hujur Maharaj spent most of his time in Raipur except for a few years when he served in Farrukhabad. He lived a very simple and pious life. He was very kind hearted and had no prejudice against any religion or caste. Persons from all classes and belonging to all religions including Hindu, Muslim and Christians used to visit him.
Hujur Maharaj was among the first people who spread the Sufi way of life and spiritual practice amongst the Hindus without any discrimination. He was compl etely free from religious prejudices and never participated in any religious debates or disputes, nor did he ever criticise any religion. If someone criticized any religion in front of him, he would leave that place. He pronounced that religions are many but their essence is one i.e. to gain spirituality. One should follow the dictates of one`s religion but should not be guided by religious prejudices. The social or religious rituals do not bind spiritual life. If any Hindu suggested that he would convert and adopt Islam, he used to feel very upset. He disapproved of conversion, rejecting it outright. He used to say that everyone must observe the discipline of one`s religion. Among the many disciples that he accepted, he declared Mahatma Ram Chandraji (Shri. Lalaji Maharaj) as his successor. This is a unique example of a Muslim Sufi giving away his entire spiritual treasure to a Hindu without conversion.
Hujur Maharaj did not accept offerings or allow anyone to touch his feet. Instead he himself often comforted his disciples by looking after their requirements so much so that many a times he would press the legs of his tired disciples. Often for days together his family lived on scanty food or with no food at all. Even then if he received some money from someone, he would distribute it to others. Hujur Maharaj had a strange habit. Even when he had some money with him, he used to take loan from others. Once, one of the Satsangis asked him the reason for his doing so. Hujur Maharaj answered, `By doing so I not only remain grateful to the person from whom I have taken the loan but it also helps me in not having a feeling of pride of not being a debtor.
Hujur Maharaj spent most of his time in meditation. He proceeded to his heavenly abode on 30 November 1907. His mausoleum is situated in Raipur.