Mian Muhammad Bakhsh was a Sufi saint and a Punjabi/Pahari poet of great repute; he belonged to the Qadiri tariqah. He is especially renowned as the writer of a book of poetry called Saiful Maluk. He was born in a village called khanqa peir-E-shah Gazi Khari Sharif, situated near Mirpur District of Azad Jammu & Kashmir).
He belonged to the Gujjar baradari and the Dedhar clan, he was a fourth generation descendant of Pir-e Shah Ghazi Qalandar Damriyan Wali Sarkar, who was buried in Khari Sharif. Pir-e Shah Ghazi’s khalifah was Khwajah Din Muhammad; and his khalifah was Mian Shamsuddin, who had three sons: Mian Bahaval Bakhsh, Mian Muhammad Bakhsh – the subject of this article -, and Mian ‘Ali Bakhsh. Mian Muhammad Bakhsh’s ancestors originated in Gujrat, but had later settled in the Mirpur District of Azad Jammu & Kashmir. He was poet of Phari language (widely spoken in different parts of Kashmir.
Mian Muhammad Bakhsh himself states in his magnum opus – Saiful Maluk – that he completed the work in the month of Ramadan, 1279 AH (1863 AD), and that he was then thirty-three years of age. Hence, he must have been born in 1829 or 1830.
He was brought up in a very religious environment, and received his early education at home. He was later sent with his elder brother, Mian Bahaval, to the nearby village of Samwal Sharif to study religious sciences, especially the science of Hadith in the madrassah of Hafiz Muhammad ‘Ali. Hafiz Muhammad ‘Ali had a brother, Hafiz Nasir, who was a majzub, and had renounced worldly matters; this dervish resided at that time in the mosque at Samwal Sharif. From childhoodMian Muhammad had exhibited a penchant for poetry, and was especially fond of reading Yusuf o Zulaikha by Nur ad-Din Abd ar-Rahman Jami. During his time at the madrassah, Hafiz Nasir would often beg him to sing some lines from Jami’s poetry, and upon hearing it so expertly rendered would invariably fall into a state of spiritual intoxication.
Mian Muhammad was still only fifteen years old when his father, falling seriously ill, and realizing that he was on his deathbed, called all his students and local notaries to see him. Mian Shamsuddin told his visitors that it was his duty to pass on the spiritual lineage that he had received through his family from Pir-e Shah Ghazi Qalandar Damriyan Wali Sarkar; he pointed to his own son, Mian Muhammad, and told those assembled that he could find nobody more suitable than he to whom he might award this privilege. Everybody agreed, the young man’s reputation had already spread far and wide. Mian Muhammad, however, spoke up and disagreed, saying that he could not bear to stand by and allow his elder brother Bahavul to be deprived of the honour. The old man was filled with so much love for his son that he stood up and leaving his bed grasped his son by the arms; he led him to one corner and made him face the approximate direction of Baghdad, and then he addressed the founder of their Sufi Order, Shaikh ‘Abdul-Qadir Jilani, presenting his son to him as his spiritual successor. Shortly after this incident his father died. Mian Muhammad continued to reside in his family home for a further four years, then at the age of nineteen he moved into the khanqah, where he remained for the rest of his life. Both his brothers combined both religion and worldly affairs in their lives, but he was only interested in spirituality, and never married – unlike them.His Formal Pledge of Allegiance
Despite the fact that he had essentially been made a khalifah of his father, he realized that he still needed to make a formal pledge of allegiance or bay’ah to a Sufi master. Having completed his formal education he began to travel, seeking out deserted locations where he would busy himself in prayer and spiritual practices, shunning the company of his fellow-men. He took the Sufi pledge of allegiance or bay’ah with Hazrat Ghulam Muhammad, who was the khalifah of Baba Baduh Shah Abdal, the khalifah of Haji Bagasher (of Darkali Mamuri Sharif, near Kallar Syedan District Rawalpindi), the khalifah again of Pir-e Shah Ghazi Qalandar Dumriyan Wali Sarkar.He is also said to have travelled for a while to Srinagar, where he benefitted greatly from Shaikh Ahmad Vali.
His Poetic Talents and Works
Once he had advanced a little along the Sufi way he became more and more interested in composing poetry, and one of the first things he penned was a qasidah (quatrain) in praise of his spiritual guide. Initially he preferred to write siharfis and duhras, but then he advanced to composing stories in verse. His poetry is essentially written in the Pothohari dialect of Panjabi,and utilizes a rich vocabulary of Persian and Arabic words. His works include: Siharfi, Sohni Meheinval, Tuhfah-e Miran, Tuhfah-e- Rasuliyah, Shireen Farhad, Mirza Sahiban, Sakhi Khavass Khan, Shah Mansur, Gulzar-e Faqir, Hidayatul Muslimin,Panj Ganj, Masnavi-e Nirang-e ‘Ishq. He also wrote a commentary on the Arabic Qasidat-ul-Burda of al-Busiri and his most famous work, entitled Safarul ‘Ishq (Journey of Love), but better known as Saiful Maluk.
He died on the 7th of the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah 1324 AH (1907 AD), and was buried in Khari Sharif, not far from his illustrious great great grandfather Pier-e-Shah Ghazi Qalandar Damriyan Wali Sarkar. To this day many people visit his tomb with the intention of receiving spiritual blessings