Shah Rukn e Alam

Inside the tomb of Bahauddin Zakariya where the Sheikh rests beneath an elevated sarcophagus under a carved wooden canopy, towards his feet is an empty grave marked with tiles
For some time his grandson Rukn ud Din Abul Fateh lay buried here

A wooden ‘headstone’ tells us that Bahauddin in a dream hinted King of Delhi to remove the elevated saint’s body from his feet for he deserved a higher rank
On the matter what happened next after Rukn ud Din’s body excavated this inscription from Faqir Dost Muhammad goes quiet

It’s Rukn ud Din’s disciple whom we know as Makhdum Jahaniyan Jahangasht of Uch Sharif who tells us that Sultan Muhammad built a shrine within an arrow’s reach from Bahauddin Zakariya’s tomb
He then pulled out Rukn ud Din’s body from his grandfather’s tomb and buried it there

If my readers are at Qila Kuhna (Old Fort) of Multan and after paying their respect at Bahauddin Zakariya’s tomb, take a walk, within an arrow’s reach they shall arrive at this magnificent octagonal structure with an imposing height and a majestic dome next to an ornate mosque

This beautiful tomb is termed as “tour de force and the finest achievement of the Multan builders” by Kamil Khan Mumtaz
This enormous structure built on octagonal plan with 90 ft wide diameter, rises well above a hundred feet to a magnificent 50 ft wide dome
Built on a terrace in Old Fort it enjoys a commanding position on surroundings where now city has encroached upon the erstwhile countryside

Timber fused into brick construction adds both strength and a fascinating texture to the outer façade
The cut and molded brick work augmented with terracotta plugs is a touch of perfection
The entire arrangement of shades of azure, blue and white is a sight to behold

Its thick walls & angular clerestory windows make the interior a pleasant escape from scorching heat & a soothing abode for our saint from the house of Bahauddin whose body was moved here from his grandfather’s feet in the neighboring tomb
Is it actually Ruknuddin who rests here?

In an interesting twist it’s again Makhdum Jahaniyan who tells us the body of our Saint Rukn ud Din was returned to Bahauddin’s tomb
He quotes Makhdum Jalal ud Din Surkh Posh Bukhari a saint of prominence from Uch who once intended to make a pilgrimage to Rukn ud Din at Multan
Surkh Posh Bukhari made public his intention to visit Rukn ud Din at Bahauddin Zakariya’s tomb for he is not in the tomb built by Sultan Muhammd bin Tughlaq ‘Don’t go there for Sheikh Rukn ud Din is not in his tomb’
So apparently our tomb is now without its patron saint!

A popular legend attributes the construction of this tomb to Ghiasuddin Tughlaq, governor of Multan who then became the Sultan and upon his death was buried in Delhi
The tomb which was then empty is said to have been gifted by Muhammad bin Tughlaq to Rukn ud Din’s descendants

This legend is contested for the reason that if there was a tomb of such magnificence in Multan, contemporary sources would have mentioned it, which they didn’t
Well then did they mention our Saint Rukn ud Din Abul Fateh a.k.a Shah Rukn e Alam?
The answer is yes, they did

Our introduction to Rukn ud Din comes to us from our greatest traveler from medieval Muslim times Abu Abdullah Muhammad a.k.a Ibn e Battuta who met our sheikh at a khanqah
Ibn e Battuta also tells us after his death there was dispute for a successor among descendants of Ruknuddin
Sheikh Rukn ud Din had nominated his grandson Hud who was contested by one of his uncles for Rukn ud Din’s nephew The matter was settled in the Delhi Court by Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq in favor of Hud
What happened to Hud thereafter is a different story

Tabqaat e Akbari while praising the abundance of prominent religious teachers in the days of Sultan Alauddin Khilji to an extent never seen before, calls our saint ‘His Holiness, the Pole Star of saints, Shaikh Ruknuddin s/o Sadruddin s/o Bahauddin, may God sanctify their spirits

Tabqaat also mentions the mediating role Shaikh Ruknuddin played while the army of Alauddin Khilji under Ulugh Khan came and besieged Multan
“The sultan’s sons, in great distress then came to Ulugh Khan, after obtaining assurance of safety through Shaikh Ruknuddin”

Tareekh e Mubarak Shahi tells of Sultan Muhammad Bin Tughlaq’s attack onto Multan when Bahram Aynah broke out into rebellion Having killed Bahram “The Sultan made up his mind to set the blood of the inhabitants of Multan flowing like rivers. Sheikh ul Islam Sheikh Rukn-ul-Huk-wa-Shra-wa-ud-Din made an intercession on behalf of the people of Multan The Sultan accepted the intercession of the holy Sheikh, and granted clemency to the Multanis who had sided with Bahram” Rukn-ul-Huk-wa-Shra-ud-Din is our Saint Ruknudddin
And Sultan Muhmmad bin Tughlaq is the same Sultan Muhammad who as per the narrative of Makhdum Jahaniyan Jahangasht (covered earlier in this post) had constructed the tomb of Rukn ud Din and assigned some villages as endowment for the operational expenditure of the Khanqah
Now this move might have caused some stir among the descendants for another shrine would have been taken as a new branch in the Silsila of Bahauddin
This explains the spiritual verdict handed down by Surkhposh Bukhari “Sheikh Ruknuddin is not in his tomb but in Bahauddin’s tomb”

Dear readers, as the matters of Sufism and their Silsilahs and their descendants are fed on spirituality and not history, we don’t have a historical record of Sheikh Ruknuddin’s body being moved from his present tomb
A magnificent tomb standing tall on a dominating terrace of Qila Kuhna in Multan keeps our learned saint Sheikh Ruknudddin from the house of Bahauddin
Who built this tomb we don’t know, and that the body of saint was moved here from Bahauddin’s feet rests on popular legend

This post is dedicated to our dear friend Dr. Syed Muzammil Hussain and Wasaib Explorer for letting me use their photographs
share this article
author bio

Imran Saeed

I am a teller of old tales. History, folklore, military, and more. Mostly covering Pakistan, my homeland, but also the Great White North, where I am currently settled.
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments