Hajji Hafidh Sayyad Waris Ali Shah [d.1323H ] ‘alayhi al-rahmah wa’l-ridwan
Haji Waris Ali Shah rahmatullahi alayh of Dewah Shareef, U.P, India came from a distinguished family of Husayni Sayyads who had travelled from Nishapur in Iran. Waris Ali Shah’s genealogy shows that he was born in the 26th generation of Hadrat Imam Husayn Radi Allahu ta’ala anhu. His father, Sayyad Qurban Ali Shah rahmatullahi alayh was a pious landlord and a man of immense knowledge having completed his education in Baghdad. The date of Waris Ali Shah’s birth is disputed varying from 1233AH to 1238AH. The author of ‘Ma’arif Warisya’ has put the date of his birth as 1234AH corresponding to 1809 of the Common Era.
At the age of five he started learning the Qur’an and had committed it to memory by the age of seven.
For 12 long-years he travelled across the Arabia, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Iran, Turkey, Russia and Germany, it is said that he performed the Haj [pilgrimage] 10 times in the course of his travels. One day while inside the ‘Ka’aba’ [Sacred House of Allah, Makkah,] he began ‘humming’ a tune. The keeper of the ‘Ka’aba’ warned him and said ‘You seem to forget that it is the house of God’. A quick response came from Haji Waris Ali Shah; ‘Can you tell me a place where Allah is not present?’
From the date of his first Haj, Haji Waris Ali Shah discarded putting tailored clothes and started donning the Ihram (Unstitched cloth wrapped around the body during Haj). He had always travelled by foot and used no conveyance of any sort apart from the boats to cross the Seas.
When he returned home his own community did not recognise him or want to know him. His ancestral house was in ruins and when he went round the village no-one came to welcome him. Some of his relatives shunned him, lest he should claim back his property which they held in their possession. He smiled at their coldness and remarked ‘they seem to think that I have come back for the sake of my property, as if I care for it’ and went away to resume his wandering.
Haji Waris Ali Shah passed away for his heavenly abode on April 7th, 1905CE, [1323AH] after a brief illness. He was buried at the spot where he died and this place [Dewah] is marked by a splendid monument erected in his memory by some of his devoted followers. His mission was to teach the love of God, which he did successfully given the legions of non-muslims who travel to Dewah for his Urs [anniversary].