AḤMAD KHATTŪ, also known as Aḥmad MAḠREBĪ, famous medieval Gujarati saint whose name is associated with the foundation of the city of Ahmadabad (b. Delhi, 737/1336; d. Sarkhej, 10 Šawwal 849/9 January 1446). It is said that, born into a noble family, Aḥmad was separated from his parents by a cyclone and fell into the hands of Bābā Esḥāq, a saint of the Maḡrebī order, who brought him up and later initiated him into the selsela. He was educated in Delhi and then accompanied his spiritual master to Khattu, near Nagaur, in Rajasthan, where he lived till the latter’s death in 776/1374-75. He then left to make a pilgrimage to holy places in Arabia, Iraq, and Iran. In 800/1398 when Tīmūr invaded India, he was living in Delhi and taken prisoner, but was later released when his spiritual qualities became known. Allegedly through his intercession Delhi escaped the wrath of Tīmūr (Badāʾūnī, I, p. 270), who took the saint with him back to Samarqand. When allowed to return to India, Aḥmad settled at Sarkhej, six miles southwest of the later city of Ahmadabad, where he attained his greatest fame. According to tradition, it was at his insistence that Sultan Aḥmad Shah I (813-46/1411-42) founded the city of Ahmadabad. Other rulers of Gujarat also treated him with respect. In addition to being a scholar of the traditional sciences, he wrote poetry in Persian (some is quoted in his malfūẓāt) and had an aptitude for music. Aḥmad Khattū’s magnificent mausoleum at Sarkhej and the complex of buildings surrounding it were begun by Moḥammad Shah II (846-55/1442-51) and completed by Qoṭb-al-dīn Shah (855-63/1451-58). Because of their deep attachment to him, Sultan Maḥmūd Begāra and Sultan Moḥammad II were buried in the shadow of his tomb.

Besides his poetry, the only extant writing of Shaikh Aḥmad is a resāla dedicated to Sultan Aḥmad Shah. Ḥaǰǰī Dabīr used a commentary on this resāla, Šarḥ-e resāla, by Abū Ḥamīd b. Ebrāhīm, in preparing an account of the shaikh’s life (Ẓafar al-wāleh I, p. 1). Several collections of Aḥmad’s malfūẓāt, were compiled: Toḥfat al-maǰāles by Maḥmūd b. Saʿd b. Ṣadr Ṣūfī Erǰī (India Office Library, D.P. 979; ed. Sayyed Abū Ẓafar Nadvī [from another ms.], Azamgarh, n.d.); Malfūẓ by Moḥammad b. Abi’l-Qāsem, apparently based on the Toḥfa (Ivanov, Cat. A.S.B., pp. 91-93); Maqāmāt-e Šayḵ Aḥmad Maḡrebī, referred to by Badāʾūnī (I, p. 271) but no longer available. Toḥfat al-maǰāles, according to the author’s own statement (fols. 2a-4a), was compiled with the permission of the saint, though one may doubt that Aḥmad ever checked the text. Important facts are so interwoven with miracles that the real Aḥmad Khattū has been obscured. As a malfūẓ, it must be adjudged a work of inferior quality; its importance derives from the information it provides about the saint and his relations with contemporary Sufis and sultans, as well as its unusually vivid account of Tīmūr’s invasion of Delhi. 


Storey, I/2, pp. 952-53.

Badāʾūnī, I, pp. 207-08; tr., I, pp. 357-58.

Āʾīn-e Akbarī II, p. 212.

ʿAbd-al-Ḥaqq Moḥaddeṯ Dehlavī, Aḵbār al-aḵyār, Delhi, 1309/1891, pp. 153-58.

Tūzok-e Jahāngīrī, Aligarh, 1864, p. 212.

Ḡawṯī Saṭṭārī, Golzār-e abrār, ms., personal collection. Maḥmūd Boḵārī, Tārīḵ-esalāṭīn-e Goǰarāt, ed. S. A. I. Termeḏī, Aligarh, 1964, pp. 7, 9, 20, 26, 28.

Ḡolām Moʿīn-al-dīn ʿAbdallāh Ḵᵛēšgī Qaṣūrī, Maʿāreǰ al-walāya, ms., personal collection. ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Češtī, Merʾāt al-asrār, ms., personal collection. Ḥāǰǰī Dabīr, Ẓafar al-wāleh be moẓaffar wa āleh, ed. E. Denison Ross, London, 1910; tr. M. F. Lokhandwala, Baroda, 1970, pp. 1-2.

Sekandar b. Moḥammad Manǰhū, Merʾāt-e Sekandarī, ed. S. C. Misra and M. L. Rahman, Baroda, 1961, pp. 34, 56-58.

ʿAlī-Moḥammad Khan, Mirāt-i-Aḥmdī . . . Supplement, tr. S. N. Ali, Calcutta, 1928, pp. 33-34.

Ḡolām Sarvar Lāhūrī, Ḵazīnat al-aṣfīāʾ, Lucknow, 1290/1873, II, pp. 289-90, 314-20.

K. A. Nizami, “Shaikh Ahmad Maghribi as a Great Historical Personality of Medieval Gujarat,” Medieval India—A Miscellany III, Aligarh, 1975, pp. 234-59.

(K. A. Nizami)

Originally Published: December 15, 1984

Last Updated: July 28, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 6, pp. 649-650

Cite this entry:

K. A. Nizami, “AḤMAD KHATTŪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/6, pp. 649-650; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ahmad-khattu (accessed on 19 March 2014).