JALĀL-AL-DIN ABU’L-QĀSEM TABRIZI (b. Tabriz, early 13th century; d. Bengal, 642/1244-45), a prominent Sufi of the Sohravardiya Order. He started his education in Tabriz under Badr-al-Din Abu Saʿid Tabrizi. After his teacher’s death, he moved to Baghdad where he studied with Šehāb-al-Din Abu Ḥafṣ ʿOmar Sohravardi (539-632/1145-1234). Jalāl-al-Din stayed with Sohravardi for several years and, as it is reported in the Aḵbār al-aḵyār, accompanied him on the annual pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina (Sobieroj). Through Sohravardi, Jalāl-al-Din became close to another disciple of his, Bahāʾ-al-Din Zakariyā (d. 661/1262). When Sohravardi ordered Bahāʾ-al-Din Zakariyā to migrate to Multan (Molṭān, in modern Pakistan), he permitted Jalāl-al-Din to travel with Bahāʾ-al-Din. Jalāl-al-Din and Bahāʾ-al-Din are to be considered the founders of the Sohravardiya Order in India (Sobieroj, quoting Rizvi, I, p. 190). On the way to India, at Nišapur, they met the famous Persian poet Farid-al-Din ʿAṭṭār (d. 618/1221). Thereafter, some disagreement must have ensued between the two traveling companions and, while Bahāʾ-al-Din went on to Multan, Jalāl-al-Din set off for Delhi. En route, at Kahtwal (near Multan), he met the famous Cheshti (see ČEŠTIYA) Sufi, Farid-al-Din Masʿud Ganj-e Šakar (d. 664/1265; see GANJ-E ŠAKAR, FARID-AL-DIN MASʿUD; Čerāḡ-e Dehli, pp. 219-20).

Jalāl-al-Din was received with much ceremony at the outskirts of Delhi by the reigning sultan, Šams-al-Din Eltotmeš (r. 1211-36; see ELTOTMEŠ, ŠAMS-AL-DIN), who brought him to the palace. Jalāl-al-Din was lodged nearby, so that the sultan could call on him more easily. Jalāl-al-Din visited the famous Cheshti Sufi Qoṭb-al-Din Baḵtiār Kāki (d. 1236) on the occasion of a samāʿ. The respect he enjoyed, particularly from Eltotmeš, made him an object of envy. The Shaikh-al-Islam of Delhi, Najm-al-Din Ṣoḡrā, contrived to discredit Jalāl-al-Din by bribing a local dancer and a moneylender to lay charges of adultery against him (Siar al-ʿārefin). In 1228, the sultan convened an investigation to test the charges. Najm-al-Din Soḡrā proposed Bahāʾ-al-Din Zakariyā to preside at the proceedings—no doubt counting on his disagreement with the accused to sway his judgment. Many distinguished ulema and Sufis attended. In the event, the dancer’s nerve failed her, and she withdrew her allegations and confessed the plot with Najm-al-Din Soḡrā. Though exonerated in this way, Jalāl-al-Din Tabrizi was profoundly disillusioned with Delhi and withdrew from the city and its intrigues.

He moved to Badāʾun (modern Budaun or Badaun in Uttar Pradesh, India), where he is credited with founding a mosque and with converting many Hindus and Buddhists to Islam (Rizvi, II, p. 398; Trimingham, p. 232). There he passed the mantle to ʿAlāʾ-al-Din Oṣuli, who later became famous as the teacher of the Cheshti Sufi Neẓām-al-Din Moḥammad Awliyāʾ Badāʾuni (d. 726/1325). The names of two of his deputies (ḵalifa) from Badāʾun are recorded, Shaikh Borhān-al-Din and Shaikh ʿAli Mowlānā.

From Badāʾun, Jalāl-al-Din moved on to Bengal, settling (according to later writers) in Pandua (in modern West Bengal state of India), where he founded a mosque, a garden, and a ḵāneqāh (hospice reserved for Sufi mystics) much frequented by the poor, wayfarers, and Hindu yogis. He is said to have had many students and disciples but, despite his personal prestige, the ḵāneqāh did not evolve into a major Sohravardi center. Nevertheless, his memory was greatly cherished, and many successive rulers renovated in his honor the buildings in Pandua that were associated with him—the Friday mosque (masjed-e jāmeʿ), the ḵāneqāh, and the čella-ḵāna (premises to spend time at during the 40-day period of fasting, see ČELLA ii). An inscription on the čella-ḵāna in Deotala (in modern West Bengal state of India) indicates that a mosque was built in Deotala under his initiative and that the place was renamed to Tabrizābād, after Jalāl-al-Din Tabrizi’s name.

It is recorded (Sejzi, pp. 99-100) that Jalāl-al-Din Tabrizi exchanged letters with Bahāʾ-al-Din Zakariyā on the evils of wealth, any rancor between them presumably long since forgotten. He is credited with having had an enduring impact in Bengal and inspiring many people to take the journey to God through Islam. According to Ḡolām Sarvar Lāhuri’s Ḵazinat al-aṣfiāʾ, he died in 642/1244-45, but this is not certain. Ebn Baṭṭuta (d. 770/1368-69) must have confused Jalāl-al-Din Tabrizi with Shah Jalāl of Sylhet (Sobieroj, quoting Rizvi, I, p. 341) whom he met in western Assam around 740/1340 (Ebn Baṭṭuṭa, IV, pp. 216-22; cf. Storey, I/2, p. 971, n. 7).



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January 22, 2008

(Farhan Nizami)

Originally Published: December 15, 2008

Last Updated: April 10, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XIV, Fasc. 4, pp. 410-411