July 17, 2024

Shah Rukan-e-Alam: The glory of Multan…!

by Arslan Zaheer

Multan is an oldest and historical city of Asian subcontinent. It is located in the south of Punjab almost centre of Pakistan, more or less 560 kilometers from Islamabad. Multan is known as “City of Saints”; the saints who spread Islam in each and every street of Multan.

Sheikh Rukn-ud-Din Abul Fath (1251–1335) commonly known as “Shah Rukn-e-Alam” by the title of Rukn-e-Alam which means (pillar of the world). Hazrat Shah Rukn-e-Alam was a well-known Sufi saint of Multan. Among all Multan’s Sufi saints Hazrat Shah Rukn-e-Alam is recognized as a rose among flowers. Hazrat Sheikh was the grandson of Sheikh Baha-Ud-Din Zakariya and son of Pir Sadar-Al-Din Arif.

He was born at Multan on 9th of Ramadan 649 Hijri (November 26, 1251) and died on 7th of Jumada al-awwal 735 Hijri (January 3, 1335). He is still loved and respected and his tomb is the focus of more than 150,000 people from all over South Asia who visit and honor his memory.

The tomb of Shah Rukn-e-Alam is the prime attraction of Multan. It was built in Ghias-ud-Din Tughlak’s rule; the tomb was completed in about 15 years; 1320 to 1335 A.D. The mausoleum which is considered as the glory of Multan is situated at the southwest side of the Qasim’s Fort premises. This fort was captured by great young Muslim fighter Muhammad Bin Qasim at the age of seventeen.

Before 1970, the tomb was not in a good condition both internally and externally, because of several attacks by the foreigners. In the Zulfqar Ali Bhutto’s era in 1971, the mausoleum was thoroughly repaired and renovated by the Punjab Auqaf Department. Khwaja Bashir Ahmad worked on this project as a sub-engineer and he was rewarded with an Award for Architecture from Agha Khan on September 4, 1983. afterwards, Wali-ul- Khan and his team did a great job to remodel the tomb in its real condition.

The tomb of Rukn-e-Alam has got uniqueness among all the saints’ tombs of Asia. It has been admired by the travelers, chroniclers, art-historians and archaeologists who write the architectural history of the subcontinent.

This graceful building is an octagon, 49 feet 3.50 inches in diameter internally. It has three-stories; height of the first storey is 41 feet 3 inches while walls are 14 feet 8 inches thick. At every corner, the walls are supported by the sloping pillars which are 53 feet and 3 inches high. Above this is the second and smaller storey which is 25 feet 10 inches high. On the exterior side of this storey, there is an elegant Kashi work classically done as per Multan’s tradition. The third storey contains a beautiful dome which is plastered by the pure limestone. A slight passage has been given from the top to the lower storey for the prayer calling. The dome of the tomb can be seen from miles as it is a huge dome.

The total height of the building including a base of 3 feet is 100 feet. As it stands on the high ground, the total height above the road level is 160 feet. The whole glittering glazed interior is the result of classical tiles and brickwork done by the Kashigars in Multan.

The entiretomb is built of red bricks that are bounded with beams of Shisham wood. The exterior is elaborately decorated with glazed tile panels, string-courses and battlements. Colours used are dark blue, azure, and white contrasted with the deep red of the finely sophisticated bricks.

When we enter the tomb’s premises, we need to cross the courtyard from the main gate to reach the grave of Hazrat Shah Rukn-e-Alam. There is a fine-looking and peaceful view inside as beautiful work of marble (sang-e-marmar) can be seen in all the corners of the grave. In the feet of Hazrat Rukn-e-Alam, there are 18 graves of his followers.

The building of the tomb has an elegant network of woodwork inside that is its real strength. Its foundation is established on 32 pillars. There is also a glorious mehrab which is 11 feet high and 7 feet thick; verses from the Holy Quran are delightfully written on it. In the premises of the tomb, there is also a beautiful mosque which is also made with red bricks and elegant work of Kashi is done on them.

This mausoleum of Shah Rukan e Alam is the most beautiful place to visit in Multan as it is an identity of saints who spread Islam everywhere and also enlightened the city of Multan in the name of Islam.