Early Education and Childhood
It is a great blessing of Allah that the spiritual bounties of Hazrat Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A) continued to flow, even after his passing away, through the illustrious person of his only son and his true successor, Hazrat Syed Ghulam Muhyuddin Shah, nicknamed by his august father as "Babuji" and so referred to by all and sundry since then.
The well-known saying in Arabic "The son is the secret, i.e., a reflection, of his father", was proved eminently true in the case of Hazrat Babuji. In form as well as spirit, Babuji was a replica and a mirror of Hazrat's personality.
The Birth of the "ever-worshipping soul"
Hazrat Babuji was born in December 1891 (1308-09 A.H). When Hazrat was informed with felicitations about this happy event, Hazrat made an observation typical of a true Man of God like him: " It is natural for a person to be happy at the birth of a son. For me, however, the happiness stems primarily from the fact that a soul blessed with the constant remembrance of Allah has arrived in our family".
In line with Hazrat's foregoing observation, Hazrat Babuji never allowed himself to be distracted from the remembrance of Allah, wherever and in whatever condition he might be - at home or on a journey, in health or in sickness, alone or in company. This attribute of his was lauded on many occasions by Hazrat himself. On one such occasion, reported by Malik Allah Bukhsh, Hazrat one day saw Babuji coming towards Golra on horseback from some other place, and made the following remark to him (i.e., Malik Allah Bukhsh): " I see Ghulam Muhyuddin (i.e., Babuji) coming back to Golra." He then added with a smile :" He is riding a galloping horse but is simultaneously engaged in his own job (i.e., remembrance of Allah) as well."
This situation was in accord with Hazrat's constant exhortation to others (including Babuji) not ever to forget Allah even for a single moment, as borne out by the following Persian verse appearing frequently in his writings as well as oral pronouncements.
Translation: "I do not ask thee to forsake the world; only by with God, i.e., remember Him wherever thou mayest be ."
Early Education of Hazrat Babuji (R.A)
Hazrat Babuji (R.A) received his education and upbringing in a scholarly environment under the watchful eye of Hazrat himself. With his God-given insight, Hazrat had concluded right from the beginning that his gifted son would in course of time develop into a source of guidance for people. He, therefore, devoted single minded attention to his education and upbringing and did every thing possible that he was provided with the best of both these counts.
Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A), himself an authority on Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, in short all religious aspects, and yet appointing teachers – the action leaves a question lingering in one's mind as to why?
Approached from an analytical corner, one does succeed in digging at the philosophy behind and comprehending the much broader context in which Babuji’s training and education was to take place.
Had the father supervised the training exclusively, filial affection would have interfered and hampered the essentially required discipline leaving much sought after unachieved, i.e., an over all pruning of a personality; secondly the social and spiritual relation of mutual respect as well as the process of student – teacher enhancement, i.e., the mutual transfer of knowledge, would have been lacking. Norms of courtesy, decency, unity, discipline, service and above all trust an faith needed a stricter and broader context plus a practical field for the virtues to be applied and ingrained.
Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah’s (R.A) personality had a perfect command of these facets – these qualities in fact drew sustenance for him. He could have easily carried out Babuji’s (R.A) training, but before being a father, Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A) was a saint as well. He had a duty to God as an individual. He had been assigned a task by God Almighty to be fulfilled without at the expense of his being a father. At such a time Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah’s (R.A) stature as a Sufi saint and a religious scholar was gaining momentum and a continued remembrance of Allah had to be upheld as well. He had to accomplish a host of tasks in compliance with his varying roles, namely: the spiritual training to be perfected, the knowledge to be transferred and yet not to break his link with God – thus striking a balance between his role as a father, a saint and individual and a member of a greater civic circle.
All the principles of virtuous conduct, service to others, strict observance of Shariah in everything, and other noble traits of character worthy of the scion of such an honoured family.
Hazrat Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A) devoted great attention to the education of his son and appointed teachers of great caliber to teach him.
For each branch of religious learning he was assigned to the care of distinguished teachers such as Qari Abdul Rahman of Jawnpur and Maulana Muhammad Ghazi (R.A) who had accompanied Hazrat in his memorable journey to the valley of Hamra (Vadi-e-Hamra). In addition, Hazrat himself kept a constant eye on his son and missed no opportunity into him ( either orally or through correspondence as the occasion demanding).
Knowledge of spiritual sciences was non-the-less acquired from his august father who guided him to the path that leads to the attainment of unity with Allah. His own words signify the elements of his training and education, as revealed by some of the lessons imparted to him
In one of his letters addressed to Hazrat Babuji (R.A), Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A) also advised him to contemplate and try to feel the presence of Allah with love and devotion. Communication of souls can link the human beings together irrespective of the languages they speak.
In this universe there is none else except Him who is All – loving (Wadood) and Omniscient – wise (Hakim). All the different objects of the world are the manifestations of God through which He reveals Himself.
Thus highlighting the importance of silent observation, sincere penetration and a heightened sensitivity to perceive what goes in the world around. Perception and comprehension is a process of opening up one’s petals to the world around to gradually imbibe the final reality which at times lies beyond the finite grip of the “dull brain that perplexes and regards”, as Keats, the English Poet, remarked. It is a vision to be grained by an overall culmination of human mind, body and soul where the creator and the created merge into each other to become one – as Yeats the Irish Poet, pointed out, the perfection level where one cannot tell the “dancer from the dance”.
An aspect of Hazrat's upbringing of Babuji (R.A)
Hazrat Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A) took special care to keep Hazrat Babuji (R.A) away from cultivating that feeling of superiority over others to which scions of distinguished families are apt to fall prey, mainly because of deference accorded to them by the common run of devotees. Hazrat (R.A) strongly stressed upon Babuji the need to regard himself as one of the common people, and instead of lording it over them devote himself to their selfless service at all times. On his part, Hazrat Babuji not only acted upon this command of his revered father in letter and spirit himself, but also passed on the message to his own two sons, Hazrat Syed Ghulam Muinuddin and Shah Abdul Haq.
In his own student days, Hazrat had undergone many hardships including travel and separation from home in pursuing his education. Hazrat used to distribute all the expense money that he received from home and used to often go himself without food, either fasting or just starving. Conditions during the period of Hazrat Babuji's education were vastly different. He received all his education in Golra, and enjoyed all the comfort of home while doing so. In order, therefore, to voluntarily impose a hard life upon himself, which was more in keeping with his nature and his principles and also in line with Hazrat's exhortations to him, He devised special ways of conduct. These included going to some neighbouring village every weekend with some companions, collecting crumbs of dry bread from various houses like beggars at night and eating these crumbs for food. When, however, he became known that the group of beggars included the young son of Hazrat Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah Sahib (R.A) people started sending dainty food and delicacies instead of crumbs. Hazrat Babuji was therefore constrained to discontinue this novel way of practicing austerity.
Hazrat Babuji's wedding
This very happy occasion of Hazrat Babuji's (R.A) wedding occurred in 1910. It was participated in by people from every walk of life. Sufis and ulama attended it in large numbers. These included many others, Hazrat Diwan Syed Muhammad of Pakpattan Sharif, Hazrat Khwaja Mehmood of Taunsa Sharif, Hazrat Khwaja Zia-ud-din of Sial Sharif, Maulana Mian Sher Muhammad of Sharaqpur Sharif, and Hazrat Pir Jamaat Ali Shah from Alipur Sharif as special guests.
The nikah (Islamic wedding sermon), ceremony was held at the grave-side of Hazrat Ajji Sahib (R.A), Hazrat's late revered father. It was followed by a sama sitting presided over by Hazrat. At the suggestion of Hazrat Khwaja Mehmood of Taunsa Sharif, horse-riding, tent-pegging and swordsmanship displays were also held, which were greatly enjoyed by the audience. Hazrat personally witnessed all the ceremonies and displays. Despite the fanfare with which the wedding ceremony was held, Hazrat did not allow the performance of any rites contrary to the Shariah. At the end of the proceedings, Hazrat expressed happiness at their successful conduct and completion and especially at the fact that the occasion had given him an opportunity to play host to such a distinguished assemblage of holy personalities.