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The sacred Basti of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia dates back to some 800 years when the Holy Saint chose this place to reverve himself in mysticism and finally chose this as his final resting place. No sooner the Holy Saint chose this place in Delhi that people from all folks of life whether Royals Chieftains, Ordinary Fakirs, Poets, Sages and Travelers chose this place their landmark in order to seek his blessings. So this place has a great reverence in the life of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia and his disciples.


Though the Saint lived his life as that of a Faqir but his vanity knew no bounds. Even in his life time his Langar (free feast) was such huge that even the emperors of the day use to envy it. As the saint never preyed on worldly riches so are his disciples and this place. The Basti Hzt Nizamuddin till today is an amalgam of ancient culture and modernity. It has Monuments, Tombs, Bawoli, Tabligi-Markaz, Masjids and Mazars. It has a small market for its small population with old but well maintained homes all existing in tandem. The greatness of the place is that the tombs and the houses exits in tandem as after the Saint all who’s who whether Royals or Faqirs  vouched for their resting place in his vicinity.


This ancient Basti is surrounded by the glitters of the city from all four sides.  The Central Government Offices in the West, a five star hotel and a Prestigious Delhi Public School in the north, Humayun’s Tomb in the East and a bustling residential market in the south. Situated between the Mathura Road and Lala Lajpat Rai Marg it has proximity to Poly Clinic, Schools, Stadium, Railway Station and Inter State Bus Terminal besides a Police Station.


This sacred Basti has not changed much in its 800 year old history. With just two more khasras 54 & 56 added to its village area that two when the population of the country has increased many folds in this intervening period. Moreover this added khasras has parks and very small residential dwellings. Importantly these khasras are not added to the Basti village and the proposal is still doing the rounds. Many NGO’s and various Governmental Organizations’ are working in harmony with the local population and are performing various developmental tasks. The result is that many parks have sprung up in the last few years besides clean and well maintained roads. The streets are all well lit up and cleaned periodically.


With the Dargah a major tourist attraction besides various Mazars and tombs the numbers of devotees who throng this place daily run into thousands. This takes a toll on the infrastructure of the area. The place in and around the Dargah is filthy with a lot of roadside encroachments having sprung up. The roads leading to the Dargah is presently cramped for space and the devotees have to virtually jostle for space to pay obeisance there. The increased number of people requires an urgent need for vehicle parking as the main Mathura Road is often congested due to haphazard parking of the devotees. The adjacent Khusrao Park has been twice narrowed to pave way for the broadening of the road and presently seems the best bet for any multilevel parking in the area.


As highlighted above many NGO’s are working with various government agencies to maintain the sanctity of this Basti. Since commercialization has taken its toll on the area with street encroachment and haphazard construction posing a major challenge to the existing layout and dynamics of the area. Some major NGO’s such as Aga Khan Trust for Culture is engaged in the development works of the area. They are also working in maintaining the old heritage of the Basti. Presently major projects like Ghalib Tomb, Humayun Tomb, Khankhana Tomb, Chauchat Khamba, Barah Khamba, Tughlaq Masjid inside Dargah besides the Sunheri Nallah up gradation project are some of the developmental works being under taken by the trust under the guidance of its CEO Mr. Ratish Nanda. Presently a single private MBBS Doctor besides an Ayurvedic, Homeopathic and Dental clinics has sprung up. 


 Sanctity of Life in Holy Scripture

 (Lecture by Farid Ahmed Nizami at HWPL Harmaony Conference on 10th February 2018 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi)

Ladies and Gentlemen, today I feel proud to stand in this august gathering of renowned religious heads and advocates of world peace. May I introduce myself as the 21st successor of the great Sufi-saint of India His Holiness Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. The Dargah (Shrine) of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia is a 700 years old Sufi centre where people from all over the world come to seek blessings and pay tributes. The saint himself has all through his life laid emphasis on ‘Sanctity of Life’ through high level of self discipline and religious tolerance.

The holy Quran mentions that, before creating Adam, the Lord said to the angles, “I am appointing someone as my deputy on Earth” they replied (in a worried tone) “Are you going to appoint one who will commit corruption and bloodshed, while we declare Your praise and glorify You? The Lord said “I know that which you do not know” (2:30). HUMANS occupy a unique position in the divine scheme of things and thus safeguarding and maintaining the sanctity of life is paramount. It is for this reason that the Holy Quran considers murder as one of the greatest sins. It says “Whosoever kills an innocent, it shall be as he has killed all mankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as he has saved the life of all mankind”  The Holy Prophet (pbuh) warned his followers that “the first case to be settled between people on the Day of Judgment will be that of bloodshed”. He even asked them to show kindness to every living being, animals and humans alike.

To understand the term sanctity of life in Islam, studying of Muslim Kings and Rulers only, does not portray a true picture of Islam. The real Islam lies in the lives and teachings of the Great Sufi saints. LOVE LIES at the core of the Sufi tradition. LOVE is the reason we are all here. Sufism ignites the fervor of passion in the HEARTS that connects one to another.  Sufism or Tasawwuf, as it is known in the Muslim world, is the inward dimension of Islam. Sufi practitioners seek to find the divine love and knowledge through the strict practice of Islam.

Sufis practice SAMA (Qawwali) under strict religious obligations thus invoking the Divine appeal through sufi songs and music.  Sufis like Hzt Nizamuddin promoted his famous Langar (public kitchen) where people of all faiths, caste and religion come and sit together shoulder to shoulder in rows and take their meals. This all laid emphasis on the sanctity and equality of life and paved the way to a path of better future and understanding which these sufi shrines today promote. 

Nevertheless some classical Muslim jurists fail to recognize the universal sanctity of human life. They incorrectly portray that the life of a non-believer is not sacred, or is sacred only when a peace treaty is made with the Muslims. Such erroneous thinking betrays the farewell address of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) where he appealed to the believers in forceful terms that life is sacred and unjust violence in itself is an act of the unfaithful. Murder is explicitly denied by the Holy Quran which mentions, “Take not life which Allah has made sacred” (6:151).

Conforming to this rich legacy, the vast majority of Muslims around the world today condemns all forms of violence. Proof of this can be found in the existence of old churches and synagogues through out the Muslim world like places in turkey, Egypt, Palestine, Syria. Besides there is a significant population of non Muslims in Muslim countries as well where all exists in harmony. It is worthy to mention that terrorism is a global epidemic which manifests in various forms and affects practically every community that is mired in social and political problems. Unfortunately popular media tends to ignore the positive points and focus more on the sensational and violent actions of the fringe groups and individuals. This reinforces an inaccurate image of Islam.

Islam never preached violence nor does it preach vicious holy wars. It certainly condemns terror, suicide bombing or anything of that sort. Like in all other religions of the world it preaches love, compassion and justice. Unfortunately there are few who associate even the success of Islam with violence, mistakenly believing that Islam was spread by the sword. I quote from the Quran, Lakum de nu kum wali ya deen i.e. “You follow your religion let them follow theirs”. In Islam the matter of one’s faith is a personal choice between an individual and God. God explicitly says in the Holy Quran. “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256).  Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) himself said, “O people beware of extremism in religion for those who came before you were destroyed because of extremism in religion”.

I would like to emphasize that Islam permits engagement in war only for the purpose of self-defense and combating oppression that too after all efforts to achieve peace has failed. The word Jihad literally means ‘to strive’ and refers to any struggle a person engages in for a righteous cause. Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) himself explained that a fundamental form of jihad is the internal struggle, the individual tackles in order to reform one’s self. Thus Muslims are duty bound to maintain high ethical and moral standards even during war and strive to cease the conflict as soon as possible. The goal should always be to achieve peace and justice.