The Great Personality of Hazrat Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A)
Hazrat's daily schedule
Details of Hazrat’s schedule, as excerpted from the memoirs of Sheikh-ul-Jamia Maulana Ghulam Muhammad Ghotavi, a sincere devotee of Hazrat (R.A) who used to visit Golra frequently and stay there for long periods at a time, are given below:
“ Hazrat spent almost all his time in prayers, meditation and recitations, and in providing religious and spiritual guidance to people. He offered his Tahajjud prayers and the first part of his early morning prayers (Fajr) in his room and then came to the mosque for saying the second part in congregation. After completion of the prayers, he resumed the recitations and continued them until around 10 A.M., either in the mosque or back in his room. He spoke to no one during this period, nor did anyone venture to come close to him while he was thus engaged, since the nature of such recitations were such that they could have a different impact on un-initiated people. Around 11:00 A.M., Hazrat came out of his room to spend some time in parlour in order to meet visitors, listen to their problems, pray for the resolution of their problems, and otherwise converse with some of them on scholarly topics and questions. Recitations continued during these meetings as well. Sometimes he also gave lessons from the “Mathnavi of Maulana Rumi”; the “Futuhat-e-Makkiyah” and the “Fasus-uk-Hikam” of Shaikh Muhyuddin Ibn-ul-Arabi; the “Sahih-ul-Bukhari”; and the “Sharah-e-Chaghmani”. Around noon, he returned to his room and had his lunch and his mid-day nap for about an hour. Thereafter he returned to the mosque for the Zuhr Prayers (early afternoon) prayers. This was followed by further recitations in his room until the Asr (late afternoon) prayers. During this period anyone wishing to state his problems or ask questions was allowed to do so. Indeed, sometimes a brief sitting of some selected group of persons was held and views exchanged on important religious topics".
“ After Asr prayers, Hazrat usually left alone on horseback for the village Maira Badiyah, two or three miles away, where he offered his Maghreb (evening) and Isha (late evening) prayers in a mosque before returning to Golra. A daily spell of horse riding had been medically prescribed for him as a fitness device in an otherwise sedentary schedule.
Once a sincere devotee suggested that Hazrat might take someone along him for security purposes during this ride. Hazrat, however, declined the suggestion, and drew the devotee’s attention to ayah 67 of Surah V of the Holy Quran in which Allah had promised protection of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) “against mankind”. When the devotee pointed out that such a protection was specifically promised for the Holy Prophet ( P.B.U.H), Hazrat remarked that as a slave of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) he too considered himself to be indirectly covered by this divine promise. The recitations and meditation were resumed after supper and continued fairly late into night before Hazrat retired to bed. The daily time-table was suitably adjusted during the Holy month of Ramadan, in order to provide for Sehr (start of fast in the early morning), iftar (breaking the fast at the sunset), and the taravih prayers as part of Isha, when the entire Holy Quran is recited in twenty or more daily installments over the one-month period by a hafiz (a person who has memorized the full Quran), and which are an important Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H)”.
“ To those who took bai’at at his hands to become his formal disciples (or Murid), Hazrat usually adjoined two things: (a) to say all the five daily prayers regularly and (b) to add a couple of short recitations after each prayer. The latter comprised, in most cases, the recitations of Darud Sharif on the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) ten times, the Kalima Sharif ten times, and the Surah Ikhlas of the Quran ten times.
This signified two things
(i) Hazrat’s recognition of the key importance of salat in an Islamic system, and its instrumentality in restraining a person from “ wickedness and sin" as stressed in both the Quran and Hadith and Sunnah,
(ii) His anxiety not to over burden the common run of his disciples with too exacting a regimen of prayer and recitations, but to stress only those matters which could open the way to piety and virtue in a person’s entire life. The regimen was suitably enhanced for those seeking spiritual advancement or themselves requesting extra recitations.
Hazrat’s conversation was a model of conciseness and precision. Replies to lengthy questions were provided in a few words and in a manner fully conceived by the questioner.”
Character and attributes
Constancy of relationship
Hazrat’s relation to those known to, or in any way connected with, him was based on complete constancy, solicitude and concern for their problems and troubles. He enquired about their circumstances, consoled them with genuine compassion, and prayed for the resolution of their difficulties. The result was that he was considered by them to be not only the Pir and a guide, but also a source of comfort and solace to them. He often indulged in pleasantries with the poor and lowly, making everyone of his myriad followers feel he was kinder to him than to everyone else.
Attitude towards ill wishers and detractors
Hazrat took special care to treat his detractors and ill wishers with even greater kindness and grace than those who were loyal and friendly to him. One such person once came to him to obtain a letter of recommendation to a local official in connection with some genuine personal problem. Hazrat not only gave him the needed letter but also refused to accept some amount of money which he wanted to present by way of nazrana (offering).
Even otherwise, Hazrat gave little importance to monetary offerings made by his visitors during his daily sessions. These were collected by a person designated for this purpose, and deposited with the administrator of the langar (free kitchen), without Hazrat caring even to look at them. The same happened to the money offered to Hazrat during his train journeys by devotees who thronged in large numbers to pay their respects to him at different railway stations en route.
In the glorious tradition of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) of Islam and of all the classical sufi masters, Hazrat’s living was frugal, and his diet sparing and simple. According to Shaikh-ul-Jamia Maulana Ghulam Muhammad Ghotavi, Hazrat used to take only a few morsels of food after the Isha (late evening) prayers and then apparently went to sleep. In fact, however, he used to keep awake, spend the whole night in secret and soundless recitation, and to say his Tahajjud (pre-dawn) prayers with the same wudu (ablutions). According to his own admission made towards the tag end of his life, his total weekly food intake never exceeded a few ounces. Despite this highly austere regimen, Hazrat remained in excellent physical condition throughout the life, presumably because the physical food vacuum was made up by spiritual reinforcement. Only towards the very end did his body strength undergo a marked decline, and his digestive system showed visible signs of impairment due to prolonged voluntary abstention from food.
Complexion and General Appearance
Hazrat had a wheatish complexion, high forehead, awe-inspiring and captivating eyes, a lean and handsome nose, arched and dense eyebrows, lips of medium thickness, shining teeth, a compact beard (not too long nor too short), curly hair extending down to the ear lobes, a broad chest, soft and delicate fingers, and spacious palms. Even though of medium stature, Hazrat rose above everyone else while in company. He walked with a tender step, and his body was as a whole strong and wiry.
The aforesaid features combined to make Hazrat Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A) an embodiment of physical beauty and grace. Added to the spiritual and ideational greatness that he developed overtime, the total emerging picture was one as close to uniqueness as one could wish to be seen in a human being.
Although Hazrat did not like to be photographed, and strictly forbade anyone to do so, some of his devotees did manage to photograph him without his knowledge or permission. A couple of such photographs are included in this website. Hazrat liked white dress, and wore it immaculately clean and tidy. The dress comprised items confirming to the best traditions of Muslim ulama and divines in this part of the world. He kept the tasbeeh (rosary) constantly in his hands for purposes of silent recitation.
Hazrat was an expert rider, and was able to control even the most unruly horse without any difficulty. Examples of this were witnessed on several occasions in Golra, Sial Sharif, and Pakpattan Sharif. A number of well bred horses, offered by different devotees for his use, formed part of his stable. For his daily ride outside Golra after the Asr prayers, he used a horse specially selected by him, which came over time to recognize and defer tamely to his riding style. Because of its respectful tameness while Hazrat rode it, the horse came to nicknamed Huzuri (the reverential one).
Voice and gait
Hazrat (R.A) had a sweet and dignified voice. He spoke in measured tones, and in a manner that his words sank indelibly into the listener’s mind.
Hazrat (R.A) walked with a gait full of dignity and poise, which impressed and was admired by all and sundry. Whenever he entered an assemblage, everyone present became a picture of reverence and humility to greet him, and was anxious to shake and kiss his hand, or, if this was not possible, to at least touch his person for blessing. The attendants of the shrine often had to make a circle around Hazrat (R.A) to protect him from being squeezed in by the multitude.