Azan Pir

Azan Pir

Azan Pir, born Shah Miran, also known as Azan Fakir, Azan Faqir and Shah Milan, was a Syedcite book |title=The Brahmaputra Beckons |last= |first= |year= |publisher=Brahmaputra Beckons Publication Committee |isbn=1982 |pages=p. 39 |url= |accessdate=2008-09-05] Muslim preacher and saint [cite book |title=A Socio-economic & Cultural History of Medieval Assam, 1200 A.D.-1800 A.D. |last=Sarma |first=Satyendranath |year=1989 |publisher=Pratima Devi |pages=p. 230 |url= |accessdate=2008-09-05] who came to the north-eastern part of India, where he helped to unify the people of the Brahmaputra valley [cite book |title=Social and Economic Profile of North-east India |last=B. Datta-Ray |first=B. |year=1978 |publisher=B. R. Pub. Corp. |pages=p. 343 |url= |accessdate=2008-09-05] and to stabilise Islam in Assam. [cite book |title=Single Women in Assamese Hindu Society |last=Barooah |first=Jeuti |year=1993 |publisher=Gyan Pub. House |isbn=9788121204163 |pages=p. 27 |url= |accessdate=2008-09-05] The nickname "Azan" came from his habit of calling azan. [cite book |title=Sufi Movements in Eastern India |last=Tamizi |first=Mohammad Yahya |year=1992 |publisher=Idarah-i Adabiyat-i Delli |pages=p. 96 |url= |accessdate=2008-09-05]


He is said to have migrated to Assam from Baghdad [cite book |title=Communal Riots in Post-independence India |last=Engineer |first=Asgharali |year=1991 |publisher=Orient Longman |isbn=9788173701023 |pages=p. 298 |url=,M1 |accessdate=2008-09-05] accompanied by his younger brother Nabi Pir in 1634. It is said that he first came to Delhi where he became a disciple of the celebrated sufi saint, Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya. Ajan Fakir is said to have stationed at Hajo near the dargah of Pir Ghiyasuddin Auliya, on the Gaurachol hills. Hajo was then headquarters of the Mughals in Assam. He later shifted to a Muslim village called Chunpora, near the Ahom capital in Sibsagar.

Work in Assam

Azan Fakir first started preaching the pure precepts of Islam and their basic duties as adherents among the Muslims, who were then imbued in various un-Islamic practices. He is also said to have had built a mosque in the village with the help of the villagers. As he rendered the first azan (the call for prayer) at the mosque the Muslim villagers of Chunpora gave him the title Azan. He married the daughter of a Muslim named Syed Usman Gani of Khandokar village in Rangpur. In course of time, Azan Fakir roamed from village to village preaching the message of Islam. He is also said to have translated the Holy Qur’an into Assamese. He also composed devotional folk-songs, called zikr, which were set to the local musical genre. [cite book |title=Encyclopaedia of Indian literature vol. 1 |last= |first= |year=1987 |publisher=Sahitya Akademi |isbn=9788126018031 |pages=p. 949 |url=,M1 |accessdate=2008-09-05] These songs advocated the teachings of Islam and many contain the essence of friendship, fraternity and brotherhood. These songs are sung even today by the Assamese Muslims. He soon became popular far and wide.

Rupai Gariya, an Assamese Muslim who served as armour-carrier of the Ahom king, Gadadhar Singh (1681-96), became jealous of the growing popularity of Azan Fakir. He, in 1685, brought open charges against Azan Fakir [cite book |title=Assam-Muslim Relation and Its Cultural Significance |last=Saikia |first=Mohini Kumar |year=1978 |publisher=Luit Printers |pages=p. 214 |url= |accessdate=2008-09-05] before the king alleging that he was a spy of the Mughals and he was in communication with the Mughal soldiers. The king, however, paid least attention to the complaint. But, after repeated complaints, the king suggested Rupai to take action which he deemed best however he was cautioned to act with utmost care and tact, avoiding any misjudgment on the part of the royalty and also unnecessarily hurting the sentiments of the Muslim subjects. Rupai Gariya after having the king’s permission, arrested Azan Fakir and gauged his eyes. [cite book |title=History at the Crossroads |last=Saikia |first=Yasmin |year=1992 |publisher=University of Wisconsin--Madison |pages=p. 167 |url=University of Wisconsin--Madison |accessdate=2008-09-05] It is said that the event led to mysterious consequences. Suddenly, there was turmoil in the waters and earth began to shake. A zikr corroborates the event thus:

Do not throw my eyes on the earth,/ They will get wild and destroy the people, O Allah!/ Do leave my eyes,/ On the brink of the Dikhou, O Allah!/ When the eyes were thrown into the Dikhou,/The Dikhou went wild./ It started flowing against the current…

The king soon realised his mistake and released Azan Fakir. Rupai Gariya was put to death. The incident is also recorded in an archaic Assamese chronicle.Azan Fakir was then established at a place called Huaguri near the bank of river Dikhou, and rewarded with land and property. He was granted free land-grants [cite book |title=The Problem of Change |last=Singh |first=Balmiki Prasad |year=1987 |publisher=Oxford University Press |pages=p. 47 |url= |accessdate=2008-09-05] and attendants, and a khanqah was also built for him. He stationed there along with his 120 disciples for some years. He probably died some time around 1690. After his death his body was interned at Dikhomukh, located on the bank of the river Dikhou near its confluence with the Brahmaputra. His dargah is held sacred by people of all religious communities. People from far and wide come to the dargah. Annual urs is also held at the dargah.


Some of the old Assamese Sayyid families claim their decent from Azan Fakir and his brother. Azan Pir is said to have survived by three sons. Their descendants are now known as Saraguria Dewans. Nabi Pir, brother of Azan Pir, took up his residence near Simaluguri in Sibsagar, [cite book |title=Assam-Muslim Relation and Its Cultural Significance |last=Saikia |first=Mohini Kumar |year=1978 |publisher=Luit Printers |pages=p. 216 |url= |accessdate=2008-09-05] in the vicinity of the old Ahom royal palace in Nazira. His descendents are still found there.


*Radiance Viewsweekly, Vol. XLVI No. 11, 2008-06-15

Further reading

According to the late renowned author and Sahitya Akademi award winner Abdul Malik, Azan Fakir was a preacher with profound mastery over the Qur’an, the Hadith and Islamic philosophy. Abdul Malik has done extensive study on zikr. In 1955-54 Asam Sahitya Sabha and Department of Tribal Culture and Folklore Research, Gauhati, entrusted Syed Abdul Malik to gather zikrs. In 1958, Abdul Malik published a book entitled, Asamiya Zikr Aru Jari. Another Assamese scholar Muhibul Hussain made the first major collection of zikrs in his book Hajarat Ajan Pir, publishedin1954.

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