Hazrat Khawaja Syed Makhdoom Ashraf Jahangir Semnani Noor Bakhshi (Urdu and Persian:سیداشرف جهانگیر سمنانی) was a legendary Sufi saint of Persian origin who was affiliated with fourteen different Sufi orders. He made a notable contribution to the advancement of the Chishti silsilah in particular.
He left his home at early age and travelled extensively through many prominent places witihin the Islamic world. During his travels he met many illustrious personalities of his time before settling in Kichhauchha Sharif where his Khanqah became the focal point for those on the spiritual path. He was an ardent supporter of Hazrat Ibn Arabi’s theory of Wadhat ul-wujud (Unity of Existence).
Hazrat Makhdoom Ashraf was blessed with immense ingenuity, intelligence and knowledge. He commenced his religious education at the age of 4 and a half with the memorisation of the Quran. 2 years and 8 months later, by the age of 7, he had memorised the entire Quran as well as each of the seven forms of qirat and particularly excelled in the study of tafsir (Quranic exegesis), hadith, fiqah (Islamic jurisprudence) etc. By the age of 14 years old, he had mastered all the subjects including theology and philosophy maturing into an extremely accomplished and proficient scholar. Hazrat Makhdoom Ashraf had astounded even the greatest scholars and theologians from as far afield as Baghdad with his remarkable talent, which was noted in the form of a couplet in the famous Persian book Lataif-e-Ashrafi:
“Chuna Mashhoor Ghasht Az Darse Talim,
ke Pas Ahle Funun Kardand Taslim
His popularity excelled in his early education,
that the learned men acknowledged his ability”
After completing his education, Hazrat Makhdoom Ashraf spent much of his time teaching. Amongst his pupils was his nephew Hazrat Abdul Razzaq Noor al-Ayn – the 11th direct descendant of the Great al-Ghawth al-A’zam, Hazrat Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani.
According to Khanzinat’l Asfiya, at the beginning of Muharram in 808 AH, Hazrat Makhdoom Ashraf’s health began to deteriorate. Prior to his demise, he instructed his closest of mureeds to prepare his grave and construct his dargah (shrine). On 28 Muharram 808 AH, between Zuhr and Asr prayers, Hazrat Makhdoom Ashraf left this world.
Although this is commonly attributed as the date of his death, Hazrat Makhdoom Ashraf’s letters seem to suggest that he lived at least upto 1415 AD and beyond.
His Urs (death anniversary) is held each year between 26 and 29 Muharram. His shrine in Kichhauchha Sharif is famous for being very effective in helping those affected by Jinn and his name is still invoked for this.