Mission of Pir Dadu in India

Sayed Dadu, or Pir Dadu was an acclaimed and gifted vakil in Sind. He traced his descent from a well-known vakil, Bawa Hashim, who was one of the attendants of Imam Islam Shah in Kahek. Bawa Hashim's son Gul Muhammad was the man who had arranged a meeting of Sayed Imam Shah with the then Imam. Gul Muhammad, known as Harichandra in Indian orbits, had a son, Mahr al-Din, known as Moriya. His son was Khair al-Din, known as Kherraj. His son was Aasar, known as Jesar. Aasar had three sons, viz., Aas al-Din, Jamr al-Din and Daud, known as Dadu, or Pir Dadu, who was born about in 879/1474. He visited Anjudan when he was 80 years old, where Imam appointed him his vakil for Sind and Kutchh in 961/1554.

Culling up the fragment of traditions, it seems that in accomlishing their mission with the maximum impact, the Ismaili dais in India had lowered the linguistic and cultural barriers to conversion to great extent. What was commonly known in India that the term Khoja designated not religious identity, but affiliation to a caste of petty traders. Neither the orthodox Muslims nor Hindus would claim the Khoja Ismailis as co-religionists. The mixed character of Khoja Ismailis' rituals and the Hindu elements in their society was such an index by which the Islamic character among them became hard to judge at that time. Their reverence towards the first Imam Ali, the commemoration of the event of Karbala however placed them among the Shiite Muslims, while the tributes they offered to the Iranian Imams signified their affiliation to the Nizari Ismaili branch. In matter of marriages and funeral ceremonies, they had to knock the door of the Sunni mullas. In consideration of these conditions, Pir Dadu had laid much emphasis in enhancing the sense of their belonging in Islam, and tried to define a sharp position of the Khoja Ismailis. He first reviewed the religious practices for the first time after Pir Sadruddin with the instructions of Khalilullah Ali. He also revised the old daily prayer (dua), and removed the old unnecessary practices and ginans. With a fresh mandate, he also conducted a brisk mission activities and converted a large number of Lohana tribe of Hinduism, notably the family of Khoja Bhaloo (d. 1016/1607) in 961/1554.

The early Sumra rulers in Sind were the Ismailis, but the later Sumra adhered Sunnism. The Sumra dynasty in Sind ended almost before 762/1361. Henceforward, the local feudal chiefs descended from the Sumra rulers were also known as the Sumras among the Sunnis. Pir Dadu arrived in Sind in 961/1554 and resided at Fateh Bagh. When he came in Sind, Shah Hasan the last ruler of the Arghun dynasty had died in 961/1554, and a certain Mirza Essa Khan Trakhan took the reign of Sind.

In Fateh Bagh, the local chief Muhammad Sumaro was deadly against the Ismailis, whom he used to grind under the millstone of cruelty. He therefore violently persecuted Pir Dadu. Under the vehement agitation of the bigoted Qadi, Aas al-Din and Jamr al-Din, the brothers of Pir Dadu were arrested, paraded in the streets and beheaded. Pir Dadu's life was also insecure, therefore he immediately wrote to Jam, the ruler of Jamnagar in Kutchh for seeking refuge, which had been granted. At length, he repaired to Jamnagar with forty families in 994/1587 along with the sons of his brothers, where he was feted honours. Soon afterwards, another batch of forty to fifty families was also invited from Sind. A plot of land near the town was assigned to them, which had been fortified with walls, one of its gate is still known as Dadu's Gate.

Pir Dadu then reported to have moved to Bhuj, the capital of Kutchh in the reign of Rao Bharmal I (1585-1631). He procured cordial ties with the local ruler, and continued his mission in Kutchh and sent his representative in other parts of India. He also visited Kathiawar, where he converted a bulk of the Hundu Lohana tribe. Pir Dadu died at the age of 120 years in 1005/1596 at Bhuj, where his mausoleum still exists. The Imams continued to appoint the subsequent vakils in the descendant of Pir Dadu. The best known among them was Sayed Sadik, who had visited Iran, and had been consigned the office of vakil for Kutchh. His grandsons were twin born and were named Bawa Saheb al-Din and Bawa Salam al-Din. The former preached in Halar, Sind and the latter remained active in Kutchh.

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