ČERĀḠ-E DEHLĪ (b. at Avadh, ca. 675/1276-77; d. at Delhi, 18 Ramażān 757/14 September 1356), the title of Shaikh Naṣīr-al-Dīn Maḥmūd, the last of the five great early saints of the Indian Češtī order (see češtīya). He was the son of Shaikh Yaḥyā b. ʿAbd-al-Laṭīf Yazdī, a prosperous wool merchant (Kermānī, p. 238), who had emigrated from Khorasan to Lahore. Later the family settled down at Avadh. Čerāḡ-e Dehlī was only nine years old when his father passed away (Ḥamīd, p. 282), and his mother supervised his education (Kermānī, p. 92). His teachers included ʿAbd-al-Karīm Šervānī, Qāżī Moḥyi’l-Dīn Kāšānī, Efteḵār-al-Dīn Moḥammad Gīlānī, and Šams-al-Dīn Yaḥyā, an eminent scholar and disciple of the Češtī Shaikh Neẓām-al-Dīn Awlīāʾ (d. 725/1324; Baranī, p. 353; Habib, p. 129; Ḥamīd, pp. 150, 282; Jamālī, p. 92; Kermānī, p. 225). After years of contemplation and solitude in the forests of Avadh (Ḥamīd, pp. 170-71), at the age of forty-three Čerāḡ-e Dehlī went to Delhi, where he was interviewed by Shaikh Neẓām-al-Dīn and admitted into the Češtī order (Habib, pp. 129-31). His piety and spiritual excellence soon earned him the respect of his colleagues, as well as of the Shaikh, who referred to him as “our Ebrāhīm-e Adham” (q.v.; Ḥosaynī, p. 87), gave him the title Čerāḡ-e Dehlī, and eventually, in 724/1323, a few months before his death, chose him as his successor (Kermānī, pp. 91, 248; Jamālī, p. 91). After the death of his master, Čerāḡ-e Dehlī moved his headquarters to an area in Delhi now known as Čerāḡ-e Dehlī, where he led his order for more than thirty years. Čerāḡ-e Dehlī had strained relations with the contemporary ruler, Sultan Gīāṯ-al-Dīn Moḥammad (r. 725-52/1325-51), who had little sympathy for the order and forced some of its members to move to provincial towns (EI2 II, p. 51), but his successor, Fīrūzšāh III (r. 752-90/1351-88), who had more faith in the mystics (Baranī, p. 560), did not interfere with Čerāḡ-e Dehlī and his activities.
Čerāḡ-e Dehlī died after being stabbed by a certain Torāb, a qalandar (Ḥamīd, p. 286; Kermānī, pp. 242-47). His disciples buried him according to his instructions, along with the mystic regalia that he had received from his master (the ḵerqa “robe,” ʿaṣā “staff,” moṣallā “prayer rug,” etc.; Ḥamīd, p. 287). His tomb is in Delhi in the area known as Čerāḡ-e Dehlī and stands in an irregular oblong enclosure of 180 x 104 feet, the greater portion of which, according to the inscription on the tomb, was built in 1142/1729 by Moḥammad Shah (d. 1161/1748), the Mughal ruler.
Among Čerāḡ-e Dehlī’s disciples were Sayyed Jalāl-al-Dīn Boḵārī, popularly known as Maḵdūm-e Jahānīān (d. 785/1384), Sayyed Moḥammad Gīsū-Darāz, Qāżī ʿAbd-al-Moqtader, a distinguished scholar and poet in Arabic, Mawlānā Aḥmad Thānīsarī, an outstanding scholar of Islamic jurisprudence, and Ṣadr-al-Dīn Ḥakīm, a distinguished scholar of his time (ʿAbd-al-Ḥaqq, pp. 142, 146, 148-49).
The record (malfūẓāt) of Čerāḡ-e Dehlī’s assemblies, Ḵayr al-majāles, is regarded as superior to other such
Moḥammad b. Sheikh Moḥammad-ʿAlī Akram, Eqtebās al-anwār, Azad Library, Aligarh Muslim University, ms. no. H.G. 22/4:1, fol. 186.
Żīāʾ-al-Dīn Baranī, Tārīḵ-efīrūzšāhī, ed. Sir S. Ahmed Khan, Asiatic Society, Calcutta, 1860, p. 353.
Moḥammad Bolāq, Maṭlūb al-ṭālebīn, Azad Library, Aligarh Muslim University, ms. no. H. 87, fol. 117a-b.
Ferešta, Nawal Kešor, 1281/1864-65, II, pp. 329-94.
M. Habib, “Shaikh Naṣīruddīn MahÂ¡mūd Chirāgh-i Dehlī as a Great Historical Personality,” Islamic Culture 20, 1946, pp. 129-53.
Qalandar Ḥamīd, Ḵayr al-majāles, ed. K. A. Neẓāmī, Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University, pp. 150, 170-71, 281, 283.
S. Moḥammad-Akbar Ḥosaynī, Jawāmeʿ al-kelam, Hyderabad, n.d., p. 106.
Fażl-Allāh Darvīš Jamālī, Sīar al-ʿārefīn, Delhi, 1311/1893-94, pp. 92-97.
Amīr Ḵord Kermānī, Sīar al-awlīāʾ, Delhi, 1302/1884-85, pp. 92, 225-38.
K. A. Neẓāmī, introd. to Qalandar Ḥamīd, Ḵayr al-majāles, pp. 1-67.
ʿAbd-al-Ḥaqq Moḥaddeṯ-e Dehlavī, Aḵbār al-aḵyār, Delhi, pp. 142, 146, 148.
(Sharif Husain Qasemi)
Originally Published: December 15, 1991
Last Updated: December 15, 1991
This article is available in print.
Vol. V, Fasc. 3, pp. 262-263