Syed Muhammad Hussaini commonly renowned as Hazrat Khwaja Banda Nawaz Gesu Daraz was a famous Sufi saint from India of Chishti Order, who advocated understanding, tolerance and harmony among various religious groups.
Gesu Daraz was a murid (disciple) of the noted Sufi saint of Delhi, Hazrat Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlavi, who in turn was a disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya, the spiritual master of Delhi. After the death of his master, Chiragh Dehlavi, Gesu Daraz took on the mantle of the successor (khalifa). Thus later on when he moved to Daulatabad around 1398, owing to the attack of Timur on Delhi, he took the Chishti Order to South India. He finally settled down in Gulbarga, at the invitation of Bahamani King, ‘Taj ud-Din Firuz Shah’ (r. 1397-1422).
He was born Syed Mohammed Hussaini in Delhi in 1321. At the age of four, his family shifted to Daulatabad in Deccan (Now in Maharashtra). In 1397, he went to Gulbarga, Deccan (Presently in Karnataka) at the invitation of Sultan Taj ud-Din Firuz Shah of the Bahmani Sultanate. Bande Nawaz authored about 195 books in Arabic, Persian and Urdu languages.
At the age of fifteen, he returned to Delhi for his education and training by the famous Sufi saint Hazrat Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlavi, who bestowed him with his Khilafath and succession after about fifteen years. He was also a very enthusiastic student of Hazrat Kethli, Hazrat Tajuddin Bahadur and Qazi Abdul Muqtadir. After teaching at various places such as Delhi, Mewath, Gwalior, Chander, Aircha, Chatra, Chanderi, Miandhar, Baroda, Khambayat and Gulbarga in 1397 and died in Gulbarga in the year November 1422.
His name as well as patronymic was Abul-Fatah and Gesu Daraaz his title. Among the scholars and theologians he was Sheikh Abul-Fatah Sadr Uddin Muhammad Dehlavi but people called him Khawaja Banda Nawaz Gesu-Daraaz.
People from various walks of life, irrespective of caste and creed, assemble even today to celebrate the urs – death anniversary – (which takes place on the 15, 16 and 17 day of Zul-Qa`dah of Muslim calendar at the famous Bande Nawaz Dargah in Gulbarga every year. His descendents still live in Gulbarga. Almost all family members along with several hundred thousand devotees from near and far irrespective of religion and beliefs gather to seek blessings.