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Hazrat Shah Yousaf Gardaz


Within the city of Multan, Pakistan there is a shrine of Hazrat Muhammad Shah Yusaf Gardezi, commonly known as Shah Gardez, just inside the Bohar Gate. It is a rectangular domeless building decorated with glazed tiles, a work of considerable beauty.

He came to Multan in 1088 and revitalized the then-dead city. Shah Yousaf Gardez converted many people to Islam and performed numerous miracles which can be found in history books. His descendants are known as Gardezis and are one of the few old noble families in the country.

The famous historian Arnold J. Toynbee in his book "Between Oxus and Jumna" writes,"…the tomb under whose shadow I am now writing ... is the tomb of Shah Yousaf Gardezi. I am being entertained in the Gardezi family's 'Dewan-Khanah', their family guest house, and the tomb, with the tombs of the saint’s descendants clustering round it, is only a stone's-throw away. Being named Joseph, I (like Stalin) am this saint's namesake, but I cannot claim also to be a 'Shah'; for, in Pakistan, 'Shah' signifies a Sayid: that is to say, a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. The legend declares that, nine hundred years ago, Shah Yousaf Gardezi came riding into Multan on a lion, with a live snake for a whip and a pair of pigeons fluttering over his head. He had ridden his lion all the way from Gardez in Afghanistan, and he had brought with him the teaching of the Twelve-Imam branch of Shi'ah sect of Islam (the form of Shi'ism that today is the national religion of Persia). In the course of Nine Hundred years, both the saint's descendants and the pigeon's descendants have multiplied exceedingly. This whole quarter of the city (Multan) is now occupied by the houses of the Gardezis and the Gardezis' cousins' cousins. As for the Pigeons, they live on the Gardezis' roofs and cluster, in force, on the Gardezis' Saintly ancestor's tomb. The tomb is cased in blue tiles, dating from the reign of Mughal Emperor Humayun, and at intervals there are apertures in the tile works, opening into cavities specially provided to give the pigeons a lodging as close as possible to the spot where the saint's body lies. It is a pretty sight to see them poking in and out, for the entire world as if the tomb has been built solely for their benefits. The pigeons flutter here below. The kites soar there, up aloft, at what looks almost like jet-plane altitude when one lifts up ones eye towards the sky. Since this is the Indian Subcontinent, the kites do not make pigeons their prey. They take their cue from the local human beings and leave the pigeons alone. Nine hundred years of unbroken family history. What a sheet-anchor for the fortunate Gardezis in this swiftly changing world."

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