Difference Between Khanqah of Fakir and Khanqah of Sajjada Nashin


Sajjada Nashin or Gaddi Nashin is the caretaker and trusty of shrine of Saint/Shaikh. He is not necessarily the spiritual heir of the Shaikh and is usually a khalifa (junior successor). After death of Saint, his family retains the custodianship of his shrine and usually appoints his son as its caretaker. The shrine custodian (Sajjada Nashin) inherits only the material assets of the Saint. Basically, his job is to take care of the matters of shrine. Moreover, the income of shrine is also his right.

The Fakir, on the other hand, is the spiritual heir of Shaikh. He has annihilated in the Shaikh to the extent that they have inwardly become the same. Shaikh has elevated him to the level of Fana Fillah Baqa Billah (annihilation and immortality with Allah). Hence, he has become eligible to hold the throne of Divine Guidance and persuasion and guide seekers on Divine path. Also, he is the Universal Divine Man of the era. He inherits complete spiritual assets of the Saint and has no interest in the matters or income of shrine. Because, the Saint has blessed him with the veritable treasure of Faqr. His responsibility is to guide the seekers of Allah esoterically as well as exoterically.

The Fakir may also be a Sajjada Nashin but merely a Sajjada Nashin cannot be a Fakir.


Before British rule in India, this was socially accepted and rightful that the shrine custodians were spiritual heirs of Saint. Unfortunately, the British included shrine custodianship in inheritance, so to destroy the sacred system of khanqahs.

Now, according to laws of inheritance, along with other properties, shrine custodianship is also the hereditary right of Saint’s son. Regardless of whether the son deserves and is spiritually eligible for this position or not. In fact, the real ownership of this position requires the heir to be true representative of the Saint. He must be the chosen disciple whom the Saint elevates to his own level so he can handle the throne of spiritual guidance and persuasion. Regardless of whether he is son of Saint or not.

It is quite unfortunate, however, that even if the Saint appoints his spiritual heir during his lifetime to be the custodian of his shrine, the court dismisses him from this position. Within a few months, the court transfers the shrine to biological son of the Saint under the law of inheritance. Actually, such laws have been made because shrine custodianship has property and wealth attached to it. Moreover, shrine custodianship also increases one’s credibility for political positions.

Conflicts and rivalries over shrine custodianship are common. People even stoop to the level of murdering their Muslim brothers over it.


The khanqah of Fakir is the center of Faqr. He distributes the spiritual treasures from his khanqah. The seekers of Allah visit or stay in this khanqah purely for attaining closeness to Allah. Furthermore, common people may also visit khanqah of Fakir to have his beneficence. Or to request him to pray for solution of their problems. In the khanqah of Fakir, the seeker’s souls gain enlightenment due to his celestial company.  Nothing against Mohammadan sharia has room here. Brotherhood, unity, kindness, tolerance and goodwill prevail here. The seekers perpetually invoke the name of Allah in the khanqah of Fakir.

Contrarily, the khanqah of Sajjada Nashin (shrine custodian) is famous only due to the shrine of Saint attached to it. People basically visit the shrine not the khanqah. Most of the people who visit the shrine do not even know who the caretaker of shrine is. Since the caretaker of shrine is void of spiritual powers, his followers cannot gain any beneficence or elevation through him. Lack of spirituality and honest relation with Allah gives way to acts against Mohammadan sharia.


History is witness to the fact that none of the most elevated, revered and popular Saints were shrine custodians. They earned their respect and honour through their own efforts and sacrifices in the way of Allah.

According to Sultan Bahoo, genuine Fakir is one who does not rely upon shrine custodianship and earns status himself. He is independent and spreads beneficence through travelling. Examples include Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani, Ali ibn Usman al-Hajveri, Moinuddin Chishti, Fariduddin Ganjshakar, Bahauddin Zakariya, Nizamuddin Auliya, Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Bari Imam Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi, Shams of Tabriz, Rumi, Sultan Bahoo, Syed Abdullah Shah, Pir Abdul Ghafoor Shah, Pir Bahadur Ali Shah and Sultan Mohammad Abdul Aziz, etc.

They all made a mark in the history of spirituality and mysticism due to their relationship with Allah. Moreover, by virtue of their efforts for betterment of Muslim umma. None of them was custodian of any shrine nor was dependent upon any shrine.


The Sajjada Nashin are fortunate because they are born in family of a Saint. Furthermore, they inherit the custodianship of shrine without any effort, just because of blood. Additionally, they also inherit a lot of followers by virtue of the Saint. People blindly follow the descendants of Saint for generations oblivious to the fact that the present descendant does not have the spirituality of that Saint. The descendants make money and trap people to obtain offerings and derive political benefits out of it. This system of enthronement continues until another person overtakes the shrine. Those who oppose spirituality, find it convenient to quote the examples of such people to win their arguments.


Allama Iqbal RA says:

میراث میں آئی ہے ان کو مسندِ ارشاد

زاغوں کے تصرف میں ہیں عقابوں کے نشیمن

Explanation: In heritance, the sons of Saints get the throne of spiritual guidance and persuasion. This throne cannot be granted without the permission of Prophet Mohammad. It is a seat to guide Muslims and show them the path towards gnosis of Allah. Only the perfect spiritual guide stationed at the level of annihilation and immortality with Allah is worthy of this throne. Not those who have inherited it without any effort. They use it greedily to grab offerings of devotees and to establish goodwill for political purposes. These seekers of world whose inwards are void of Allah’s love and filled with greed of the world have in their clutches the khanqah of the Universal Divine Man which was once a home to seekers of Allah and where the Saints used to enlighten their inwards.

قُمْ بِاِذْنِ اللّٰہ   کہہ سکتے تھے جو‘ رخصت ہوئے

خانقاہوں میں مجاور رہ گئے یا گورکن

Explanation: Prophet Christ possessed the power of giving life to dead by uttering ‘Rise by Allah’s command’ ( قُمْ بِاِذْنِ اللّٰہ ).The perfect spiritual guides also possess this attribute as they give life to dead souls by saying this. However, they cannot be found anymore because they have gone in solitude due to prevailing ignorance and materialism. The khanqahs and shrines of Saints are now occupied by their descendants who are just selling their forefathers’ religion, along with attendants of the shrine and gravediggers. All of them have no knowledge of the glory of Saint.


The path of Faqr is not of show or display. Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen says,

  • The Sarwari Qadri spiritual guide (possessor of Trust of Faqr) never desires fame.
  • The Sarwari Qadri spiritual guide never reveals his supreme spiritual status. And regardless of his highest spiritual ranks, lives a life of common man among people.
  • Sarwari Qadri spiritual guide directs his disciples spiritually and enlightens their inward with his spiritual glance without saying anything verbally. Verbal teaching is the job of religious scholars.

However, pseudo Saints have attached number of heresy to spirituality that are totally wrong and does not lead to Allah. They adopt such ways only to gain worldly benefits such as popularity, wealth, etc. Some of which are discussed below:


Many Sajjada Nashin (shrine custodians) wrongly attach their tricks and illusions to Faqr. They are well versed in incantations. Mostly, they dress up in strange manner to attract people and show themselves different from others. Some of them even keep long hair; wear beads around neck and bangles and anklets like women. Often, they utter some double meaning phrases to prove they are acquainted with the knowledge of hidden. However, this lack of religiousness and heresy to sharia prove that this is not Faqr. Clearly, the path which does not follow Prophet Mohammad pbuh is not the path to Allah.

خلافِ پیغمبر کسے راہ گزید

کہ ہرگز بہ منزل نخواہد رسید

Explanation: Whosoever adopted the way opposite to the sharia of Prophet Mohammad will never reach the destination.

The Fakir, on the other hand, is indifferent to all these tricks. He is above the need to attract people towards him. People who seek Allah, automatically come towards him without any such display of appearance or verbosity. Allah blesses the Fakir with amazing power of spiritual attraction that pulls the true seekers of Allah towards him. He only grants them personal name of Allah (Ism-e-Allah Zaat) for invocation (dhikr) and contemplation (tasawur) along with its inscribing practice (mashq marqom-e-wajudia). All his actions are based on the way of the Holy Prophet pbuh.


The use of talisman for breaking and bonding relationships has always been common among ignorant. Using talisman to exploit people and bring them under subjugation is surely an act of Satan. There is such attraction in talisman and charms that people blindly accept them. Resultantly, such men who practise talisman have a lot of followers. Their so-called miracles are, in fact, their means of earning by conning the people. They also use black magic or jinn to destroy relationships and to derive undue advantages from people.

Quran has narrated the reality of the effects of magic, which is:

فَیَتَعَلَّمُوۡنَ مِنۡہُمَا مَا یُفَرِّقُوۡنَ بِہٖ بَیۡنَ الۡمَرۡءِ وَ زَوۡجِہٖ ؕ وَ مَا ہُمۡ  بِضَآرِّیۡنَ بِہٖ مِنۡ اَحَدٍ  اِلَّا بِاِذۡنِ اللّٰہِ ؕ (2:102)

“And they (the Jews) used to learn such (magic) from Harut and Marut by which they caused separation between husband and wife. Yet they cannot harm anyone by this except under the command of Allah.” (2:102)

The Fakir never involves in such lowly things. He is truly the harbinger of truth and love. His purpose is to bring people closer in the way of Allah and unite them just like Holy Prophet did. He is well-versed in the word of Allah and does not involve in acts disliked by Him and His Prophet.


Granting spiritual succession (khilafat) is a sacred act and serious responsibility. No one can do it without the permission of Holy Prophet pbuh. Only those deserve spiritual succession whom the Holy Prophet permits as they have achieved a certain spiritual level.

Passing this legacy to any person who is just popular among the Sufi circle but not spiritually elevated is not the act of a Fakir. The one who is popular without any spiritual credibility is not worthy of being the heir. This practice is common among those who only desire a name in the world. A Fakir always does justice to the Trust that Allah has given him. He always grants his succession to the next perfect Fakir (Fakir-e-Kamil) among his disciples. Regardless of whether he is his son or not. The Fakir is blinded to relations when it comes to submission to the command of Allah. His focus is on who is the closest to Allah and capable of spreading His word. Rather than, who is close to him by blood.


There is nothing wrong if a Saint grants succession (khilafat) to his son. However, what matters is credibility of person to whom it is being granted regardless of whosoever he is related to. The succession cannot be given to the son if it is only meant to keep the Sufi lineage within the family and to protect the family nobility from outsiders.

The Prophets passed their succession only to those who proved themselves worthy of the responsibility. After all, it is a sacred responsibility as its purpose is providing spiritual guidance to bring people close to Allah. This task is not easy. It takes years of exoteric and esoteric struggle of seeker to reach the level where he becomes eligible for succession. Succession only because of family name and not the individual’s worthiness is heresy in spirituality. Being the son of a Saint is special as the person is blessed. However, this does not give the son the right to lead people.

Many examples clarify this;

  • Rashidun Caliphs, who were Companions of Prophet Mohammad, succeeded him because of their competencies, without being discriminated on lineage
  • Pioneer of all orders that originated from Ali ibn Abi Talib, Shaikh Hasan of Basra was not from his family.
  • The pioneer of Naqshbandi order, Salman the Persian was not progeny of Abu Bakr Siddiq.


In Sarwari Qadri order, the Divine Trust that was transferred from Sultan Bahoo also had no intervention of genealogy. Sayyid Mohammad Abdullah Shah Madni Jilani came from Madina to whom Sultan Bahoo transferred the Divine Trust. Sayyid Mohammad Abdullah Shah transferred it to Pir Abdul Ghafoor Shah who further transferred it to Pir Bahadur Ali Shah. Afterwards, he transferred it to Sultan Mohammad Abdul Aziz. None of these Saints had blood relation with his successor.

Although, Sultan Mohammad Abdul Aziz transferred the Trust to his son Sultan-ul-Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali. However, he proved himself the most deserving disciple for the Divine Trust through his esoteric and exoteric struggle and sacrifices. Moreover, it had been decided since eternity that Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali would be the possessor of Divine Trust. If Sultan Mohammad Abdul Aziz had to transfer the Divine Trust on basis of genealogy then he would have transferred it to his eldest son Sultan Safdar Ali.


In short, Fakirism is based on spirituality and not upon genealogy or blood relation. Unlike blood relation, the spiritual relation is eternal. The spiritual heir is a Fakir himself as he is trained by the Fakir to become a Fakir. The Shaikh may also appoint him as the Sajjada Nashin (shrine custodian). But the laws of inheritance would not let him stay, unless he is also the biological son of Shaikh. Hence, being a Sajjada Nashin does not qualify for a Fakir and Fakir is hardly ever the Sajjada Nashin.

Both the terms Fakir and Sajjada Nashin hardly overlap. Their purposes are different and their focuses differ. The Fakir is always the spiritual heir of the Shaikh but the Sajjada Nashin is rarely ever the spiritual heir.

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