He was the Sun of Eternal Happiness. He was the Beloved of Allah, Almighty and Exalted. He was the Spirit of the People of Truth, and he was the Essence of the Spirit of the People of Taste. He was the Kacba of the Godly and one of the Flags of the Noble Messenger. He elevated the Knowledge of the Religion of Muhammad . He revived the Way of the Naqshbandi Order.
He was born in 1113 H./1701 AD in India. From his childhood the light of Guidance and the Traces of Piety shone from his forehead. His features (mazhar) were molded with the Manifestation of heavenly beauty (tajalli-l-jamal). He was famous, like the Prophet Yusuf , for his beauty, and everyone loved him because he represented beauty. That is the attribute of God, about whom the Prophet said: “God is beautiful and he loves beauty,” and it is also the attribute of the Prophet , about whom Anas said, “Your Prophet was the most beautiful in appearance and had the best voice of all prophets.” Because of this, Sheikh cAbdur-Ra’uf al-Munawi said, “The Prophet has no partner in his beauty.”
When Shaykh Mazhar (q) was nine years of age, he saw Sayyidina Ibrahim , who gave him miraculous powers through spiritual transmission. At this age, if anyone mentioned Abu Bakr as-Siddiq in his presence, he would see him appear with his physical eyes. He was also able to see the Prophet and all the Companions of the Prophet as well as all the Shaykhs of the Naqshbandi Order, especially Sayyidina Ahmad al-Faruqi.
His father raised him and educated him in all branches of religious knowledge. At a young age his heart was attracted to the spiritual light coming from his Shaykh, as-Sayyid Nur Muhammad. His Shaykh opened the eyes of his heart and fed him from the nectar of the flower of the Hidden Knowledge. The Shaykh took him out of the state of self-awareness and lifted him up to the Highest Stations, which produced in him great astonishment and caused him to faint. When he awoke, he accompanied Shaykh Nur Muhammad in further ascension. The Shaykh allowed him to observe the Mysteries of the Hidden World and gave him gifts from his miraculous Powers and Stations.
One look of his Shaykh opened in him the Nine Points, the loci of the Naqshbandi Secrets. From the knowledge of the nine points, he delved into the secrets contained in the five of the more powerful points, until his Shaykh authorized him to “activate” the Nine Points at any time and to use them. Then he brought him back down to be in his presence and only in his presence. He brought him up and down, from one stage to another, and enveloped him with his light and protected him with his gaze, until he achieved the ultimate perfection and awakened himself from Ignorance.
He stood fast in serving his Shaykh with complete truthfulness. He continued to progress by entering seclusions in the desert and in the jungle on the orders of his Shaykh. In these seclusions, his only food was grass and the leaves of trees. During his period of asceticism in the desert and jungle, he wore only what would cover his nakedness. One day, after many of these seclusions, he looked in the mirror and didn’t see himself; he saw his Shaykh.
At this stage the Shaykh authorized him to guide Allah’s servants to their destinies and to the Straight Path, and he put him on the Throne of Succession, and by him the Sun of Guidance ascended the Tower of Happiness.
When his teacher passed away, he continued to visit his grave and for two years he received whatever lights and knowledge his master was able to transmit to him from his grave. Then he was ordered through his spiritual connection to his Shaykh to connect himself with a living master.
He reached the Door of the perfect Saints of his time, Shaykh Muhammad Afzal, Shaykh Safi Sacdullah, and Shaykh Muhammad cabid. He attached himself to Shaykh Shah Kalshan and to another Shaykh by the name of Muhammad az-Zubair. He used to attend the session of Shaykh Muhammad Afzal, one of the khalifs of the son of Muhammad Macsum (q). He visited and studied with Shaykh cAbdul Ahad and received from him knowledge of the Prophetic hadith. During this class, whenever the Shaykh would mention a hadith, he would disappear through Self-Effacement, and a vision would come to him in which he would find himself sitting with the Prophet and hearing the hadith directly from the Prophet . He would correct any mistakes that might occur in the Shaykh’s narration of the hadith, and was acknowledged as a genius in the science of hadith.
He kept the company of these Shaykhs for twenty years. He progressed further and further in the States of Perfection, until he became an Ocean of Knowledge. He rose in the Firmament of the Qutbs until he became the Qutb of his time, shining like the sun at high noon. Shaykh Muhammad Afzal said, “Shaykh Mazhar Habibullah was given the state of Qutb and he is the central pivot of this tariqat in this time.”
His spiritual perfection attracted people from all reaches of the Subcontinent. In his presence, each seeker would find what he needed, until through his blessing the Indian Subcontinent became like a Kacba encircled by flocks of angelic beings.
In his noble person were combined the power of four tariqats. He was a master of the Naqshbandi, Qadiri, Suhrawardi and Chishti Orders. He used to say, “I received the secrets and knowledge of these orders from my Shaykh, Sayyid Nur Muhammad Badawani, until I attained a very distinguished power in these Orders. He lifted me from the Ibrahamic Stage to the Muhammadan Stage, which caused me to see the Prophet sitting in my place, while I was sitting in his. Then I disappeared and I saw him sitting in the two places. Then I saw him disappearing and I saw myself sitting in both places.”
Following are some sayings of Shaykh Mazhar (q):
“Once I was sitting in the presence of Shaykh Muhammad cAbid and the Shaykh said, “The two suns at the two ends met, and if their lights were combined and spread throughout this universe, they would have burned everything.”
“Shaykh Muhammad Afzal was much older than I but he used to stand up for me when I entered, and he used to say to me, ‘I am standing in deference to the high lineage that you possess.’”
“This whole world and the entire universe is in my hand, and I can see everything in them, just as clearly as I can see my hand.”
He had innumerable miraculous experiences and numberless visions about the Heavenly world as well as the lower world.
Once he traveled with some of his followers without any food or provision. They walked and whenever they got tired they sat. The Shaykh would call them and say, “This food is for you,” and tables of food would appear in front of them.
One day during the trip there was a terrible storm and the wind was blowing everything in its path. It was freezing and everyone was shivering because of the cold. Their situation worsened until it appeared that they were going to die in that frozen desert. Then Shaykh Mazhar raised his hands and said, “O Allah make it surround us but not be upon us.” Immediately the clouds lifted from around them, and though the freezing rain continued to fall one mile away, around them the temperature rose to a comfortable level.
He said, “One time I visited the grave of Shaykh Muhammad Hafiz Muhsin. I disappeared from myself and in a vision I saw his body. It had suffered no decomposition, and his shroud was still perfectly clean except for a patch of dirt on one part by his feet. Through my spiritual power, I asked him about that. He said, ‘O my son I will tell you a story. One day I took a stone from the garden of my neighbor and put it in a hole in my garden, and I said to myself, ‘in the morning I will return it to him,’ but I forgot. As a result of that action, the dirt has appeared on my shroud. That one action has tainted my shroud.’”
He said, “As long as you are lifted upward in piety you will be lifted up in sainthood.”
One day he became angry at a tyrant and he said, “A vision came to me in which I saw that all Shaykhs, from Abu Bakr as-Siddiq up to the Shaykhs of today, were unhappy with that tyrant.” The next day the tyrant died.
A man came to him and said, “O my master, my brother has been jailed in another village. Please pray to Allah to save him.” He said, “O my son, your brother has not been jailed, but he has done something wrong and tomorrow you will receive a letter from him.” It turned out to be just as he described.
He informed his followers of great tidings and some jealous people refused to accept what he said. He said, “If you don’t believe me let us bring a judge. We will each tell him our point of view and let him judge between us.” They said “We don’t accept any judge except the Prophet , and on Judgment Day we will ask for his judgement in this matter.” Then he said, “There is no need to wait until the Judgment Day. We will ask the Prophet to give his Judgment now.” He entered a deep state of contemplation in his heart and was told to read the Fatiha. This he did, and immediately the Prophet appeared to everyone and said, “Al-Mazhar Habibullah is right and all of you are wrong.”
He said, “Existence is an Attribute of Allah alone. This world is a mere shadow of realities existing in the Divine Presence. The reality of all possible creations (haqa’iq al-mumkinat) results from the action of the Divine Attributes and Qualities on the Void (cadm). The Real Existence of all that manifests in physical creation is confirmed as a light in the Divine Presence.
“Everything that appears in the physical creation is a mere shadow of the luminous reality projected by the Divine Qualities upon the void of non-existence. The World of the Divine Attributes (sifat) is the Origin of the Well-springs of the Created Universes (mabadi’ tacayyunat al-aclam). Because all physical creation arises from a combination of Allah’s Divine Qualities and the Void, creation thus partakes of two origins of opposite nature. From the nature of the void of non-existence and nothingness arises the dense qualities of physical substance that in the sphere of human action produce darkness, ignorance and evil. From the Divine Attributes comes Light, Knowledge and Good. Thus the Sufi, when he looks at himself sees all that is good in him as a light from the Divine that is reflected on him, but that is not of him. A simile for it would be a borrowed suit of fine clothes with which one is beautifully dressed but that does not truly belong to him and for which he deserves no credit. Conversely, he sees himself as base substance, full of darkness and ignorance, with a nature worse than that of an animal. With this dual perception he loosens his attachment to the attractions of the self and effaces himself, and turns in repentance (tawba) towards the Divine Source of all Good. With this turning, Allah fills his heart with love and yearning for the Divine Presence. As Allah said in a Holy Hadith, “If My servant approaches Me by one hand’s length I will approach him by one arm’s length; and if he comes to Me walking I will come to him running.”
Shortly before his death Shaykh Mazhar (q) was in a state of great emotion and intense love of God. He experienced a great unhappiness at having spent so long in this transient world. He spent his last days in intense contemplation and, when asked, he would always say that his state was that of Annihilation and Existence in Allah Sublime and Exalted. He increased his dhikr in his final days, and as a result of the intense light of attraction generated thereby, thousands and thousand of seekers entered into the tariqat. Each new day would bring three thousand new people to his door, and he would not let one of them go without meeting him. Finally, he became so exhausted that he scheduled only two times a day to meet with people.
One day, one of his followers, Shaykh Mullah Nasim, asked permission to travel and visit his parents in his homeland. He said, “My son, if you want to go you may, but I may not be here when you return.” This reply went from one mouth to another, shaking the hearts of people, as it indicated that his era was ending. With tearful eyes, and broken hearts, people all around the Punjab began wailing and crying. His house was full and no one knew what was going to happen when he was gone. Then he took a paper and wrote to one of his successors, Mullah Abdur-Razzaq, “O my son, I am now over eighty and my life is coming to its close. Remember me in your prayers.” He sent him that letter and he sent many others the same letter.
Thanking Allah for His Favours he said, “There is nothing left in my heart of anything that I have wished to achieve or to reach that remains to be accomplished. There is nothing for which I have asked Allah that I did not receive. My only remaining desire is to leave this world and be in His Presence continuously. Allah gave me everything, except permission to go to Him. I am asking Allah to take me to Him today, before tomorrow. But I don’t want to go to Him as an ordinary person. I want to go to him, as Allah described in the Holy Qur’an, as a martyr who is always alive. So, O Allah, make me a martyr in this world and take me to you as a martyr. This kind of death will bring happiness to my heart and will cause me to be in the presence of Your Prophet and of Ibrahim and of Musa , and with all your 124,000 prophets; and to be with all the Companions of the Prophet, and to be with al-Junayd (q) and the master of this Order, Shah Naqshband (q), and with all the masters of the Tariqat. O Allah, I want to combine the witnessing of physical martyrdom with spiritual death in the State of Witnessing, in the State of Annihilation.”
It was Wednesday evening, the seventh of Muharram, of the year 1195 H/1780 CE. His servant came to him and said, “There are three men at your door. They want to visit you.” He said, “Let them enter.” When they entered, he came out of his bedroom and greeted them. One of them said to him, “Are you Mirza Jan Janan Habibullah?” He answered, “Yes.” The two said to the third, “Yes, he is the one.” One of the men took a knife from his pocket and stabbed him in the back, piercing his kidney. Because of his age, he was unable to withstand the severity of the blow and he fell to the ground. When it was time for the Fajr prayer, the King sent him a doctor. He sent back the doctor and said, “I don’t need him. As for the men who stabbed me, I forgive them, because I am glad to die as a martyr and they came as an answer to my prayer.”
He passed from this life on Friday. When the day reached its middle, he read the Quranic chapters Fatiha and Ya Sin until cAsr time. He asked his followers, how many hours were left until sunset. They told him, “Four hours.” He said, “It is still long until the meeting with my Lord.” He said, “I have missed ten prayers in my life, all in these past two days, because my body is full of blood and I have been unable to raise my head.” They asked him, “If a sick person is in such a weak condition, is he obliged to pray with movements of his eyes and his forehead or to postpone his prayer?” He answered, “Both ways are correct.” He waited with patience for the sunset, and he died. It was the night of cAshura, 1195 H./1781 AD.