Abdullah Shah Ghazi ‘The saint that keeps cyclones at bay’

The city of Karachi is known as the city of lights and a city that never goes to sleeps. Another prominent feature of Karachi is the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi. This year the city celebrated the 1,286th three days ‘Urs’, at the birth anniversary of saint Syed Abdullah Shah Ghazi, from 23 to 25 September. A large number of devotees attended the celebrations.

About the saint:

Syed Abdullah Shah Ghazi was born in the year 720 in Medina. He was educated in Medina where he learned the Holy Qur’an and Hadis. He belonged to the 4th generation of Hazrat Amir ul Momineen Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajhu. He was the great grandson of the Holy Prophet from the historical tribe of Bani Hashim.

Historians have different views regarding Ghazi’s arrival in Sindh. He arrived in Sindh in the year 760. Some wrote that he came Arab to Sindh only for the great cause of Islam. It is believed that Shah Ghazi was an Arab merchant and brought with him a large number of horses purchased from Kufa, Iraq. He got a warm welcome both from the rulers of Sindh and local residents as he belonged to a respected Saadat family.

Abdullah Shah was very fond of hunting. Once he had gone far enough and was killed by the enemy. The handful of followers that he had gathered carried his body all the way to the shores where he had first set foot in Sindh. They buried him on top of a hill near the area from where he had arrived on an Arab ship. This area now lies near Clifton and Sea View in Karachi.

According to the eminent scholar, M. Daudpota, Ghazi arrived in the area from Iraq as a commander. The real name of Abdullah Shah was General Abdullah bin Nabhan. Before Muhammad bin Qasim took Sindh in 711, the Arabs mounted five attacks, all routed by Dahir’s army. The fifth attack, led by Buzail, was the one instigated by the loss of gifts en route from Serendeb (Sri Lanka) to the Omayyad caliph.

One among the officers under Buzail’s command was a man called Abdullah bin Nabhan. A pitched battle was fought on the beach we today know as Clifton and both Buzail and his second in command Abdullah were killed. According to the research of Dr Umer Daudpota, the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi keeps the mortal remains of Abdullah bin Nabhan.

Later, a second mission was entrusted to a young commander, Muhammad bin Qasim who successfully defeated the Raja and rescued the noble women and the other Muslim prisoners.

According to another view, while Muhammad bin Qasim forged ahead to far off areas like Multan (Punjab), Abdullah Shah continued to live in Sindh as he loved the people and thought they needed him for teaching of Islam specially love for humanity.

He settled in Sindh along with his brother, Syed Misri Shah, and became the pioneer of of Sufi strands of Islam.

The shrine:

The tomb of the saint is located atop a hill, about 100 meters above the sea at Clifton. It is dated back to 1400 years ago, until the early 1950s the shrine was just a tiny, shaky hut on top of a sandy hill at the Clifton. It has a tall square chamber topped with green-and-white striped dome.

The shrine was built, expanded, and beautified in the mid-1960s as it had begun to attract devotional attention. In 2005, Karachi municipal government started an extensive repair, cleaning up, and renovation job on the shrine, which was completed in 2007. There is a long lines of shops selling rosaries, incense sticks, glass and silver bangles, prayer mats and beads.

Shah Ghazi shrine was attacked in 2010 by militants who detonated two suicide bombs at the shrine killing 10 and injuring 50

Stories related to shrine:

Soon after the shrine was built, there was only salty water found in the area. Ghazi’s followers were concerned about not having access to clean drinking water, when out of nowhere, a spring of fresh drinking water started trickling behind the shrine. His devotees claim the water, which flows to this day, to have healing properties.

For a long time the saint’s many admirers have believed that the reason cyclones usually not, hitting Karachi is squarely due to ‘the mystical power and presence of Shah Ghazi’s spirit that resides within the shrine’. There is a belief prevalent amongst Karachiites that “All the Cyclones which are supposed to hit Karachi stopped by Abdullah Shah Ghazi and his shrine

Abdullah Shah Ghazi was able to control the seawaters using a bowl in the sea and ordering it to remain calm. “This was done to help the fishermen who approached him because they were unable to earn their livelihood in the rough sea.”

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