Visiting Hazrat Mian Mir’s darbar in Lahore

I went to the tomb of Hazrat Mian Mir yesterday. Despite living in Lahore for years, we have never visited this shrine, and I was determined to make it there this time.

There is a small street with shops for roses and marigolds (for offerings) that suddenly breaks off from a busy not-upscale commercial area into a quiet, down-to-earth little world that leads to the shaikh’s tomb.

The saint’s is a lovely spiritual presence that is tranquil as well as draws one to him and to God.

People sat, prayed, held on to the marble walls of the old tomb. Pigeons flocked on the dome, and drank at the many clay dishes of water set out for them. Old, spreading trees graced the beautiful quiet marble-floored courtyard. The walls are the old, slim Lakhauri bricks that we see in Mughal-era architecture. I saw only people of humble social background here. No one seemed especially interested in our arrival, including the White man among us.

My ammi said I looked different – better – when I got back.

Hazrat Mian Mir (no relation, to my knowledge) was a Qadiri Sufi saint born about 1550. The Mughal emperors Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb ruled during his time, and begged him for his favor. Hz. Mian Mir disliked kings and opposed their persecution of – among others – the Sikh. It is said that Guru Arjan Dev, fifth of the Sikh gurus, was a great friend of his, and asked Hz Mian Mir to lay the foundation stone of the Harmandir Sahib, or the Golden Temple – which he did.

One day, the Emperor Jahangir arrived to pay his respects to Hz. Mian Mir – and to request his prayers on behalf of his Deccan military campaign. But the shaikh’s followers blocked the emperor at the gate and asked him to wait. Jahangir’s pride was hurt, and when he eventually received permission to enter, he remarked: “Ba dare-darvish darban nalbayd.” (There should be no guard or doorman at the gate of a dervish). Hz Mian Mir replied, “Babayd keh sag-e dunia na ayad” (There is one so that a dog of the world i.e. a materialistic, grasping selfish man – may not enter). Sufi zing.

Ashamed, the emperor begged pardon. A poor man arrived and offered a rupee to the shaikh. Mian Mir told him to give it to someone in the audience. But though the man went from person to person, no one among the shaikh’s followers accepted the rupee.

Hz Mian Mir said, “Give this rupee to him,” pointing to the emperor Jahangir. “He is the most needy of all. He has a great kingdom, but he is greedy for more, and wants the Deccan.”


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