Love’s Martyr: Qutb ad-Din Bakhtiar Kaki



The great Indian Sufi shaykh, disciple of Mu’in ad-Din Chisti and master to Baba Farid, is said to have heard the following verses during a qawwali performance:


كشتگان خنجر تسليم را

هر زمان از غيب جان ديگر است


For the victims of the dagger of surrender

There is new life at every moment from the unseen


and fell into a trance for three days.  On the fourth day he died, and became known as the “Martyr of Love.”  These verses are now considered taboo in qawwali performances-you don’t want to kill the best members of your audience! 

Before he died, Shaykh Kaki wrote some beautiful poetry of his own that is still peformed
by qawwals today:




Translation and original (courtesy of Fuad Naeem):

 1.  Dil pareeshan deeda hairan kardah ee . . .  Jan-e mun too kardah ee haan kardah ee
دل پریشان دیدہ حیراں کردہ ای ۔ ۔ ۔ جانِ من تو کردہ ای ہاں کردہ ای
 You took away the peace of my heart, and dazzled my eyes . . . O! My life ! you have done that, have done that!


2.  Deedah giryaan, seena biryab kardah ee . . . ( 2nd part of the couplet is unintelligible ).
– – – – – – – – – – – –  – – – – دیدہ گریاں سینہ بریاں کردہ ای ۔ ۔ ۔
You make my eye shed tears, and my heart to burn . . .


3.  Shokhee o baibaki o naaz o adaa . . .  Behr-e yak-dil een cheh samaan kardah ee
 شوخی و بیباکی و نا زو ادا  ۔ ۔ ۔  بہرِ یکدل ایں چہ ساماں کردہ ای
 Your playfulness, openness, vanity and captivating demeanor . . . All this to enchant the one (poor) heart of mine!


4. Az kuja mee aayee aey toofaan-e husn . . . Aalmay ra khana weeran kardah ee
از کجا می آئی اے طوفانِ حسن ۔ ۔ ۔ عالمے را خانہ ویراں کردہ ای
Your beauty is like a tsunami . . . from where has it come to come to crash and lay bare the entire world?


5.  Jan hum shukrana ast aey dard-e ishq . . . Murdan-e dushwar az aasaan kardah ee
جان ہم شکرانہ است اے دردِ عشق ۔ ۔ ۔ مردنِ دئشوار از آسان کردہ ای
 My life is an humble offering at the alter of my (painful)  love for you . . .  You have  made my dying harder from easier ( i.e., I cherish your love so much and hence my life all the more, my life is of more value to me now as I cannot love you unless I am alive).


6.  Murgh-e sahra dar qafas afgandah ee . . . Bay-gunahay ra ba-zindaan kardah ee
مرغِ صحراء در  قفس افگندہ ای ۔ ۔ ۔ بیگئاہے را بزنداں کردہ ای
You have (captured and ) put in the cage the free bird of the wild  ( i, e , my carefree heart). . . O! you have imprisoned an innocent one!


7.  Mun cheh goyam hust too Khawja Mueen . . . Abd-e khud ra qutb-e dowraan kardah ee
 من چہ گویم ہست تو خواجہ معین ۔ ۔ ۔ عبدِ خود را قطبِ دوراں کردہ ای
O Khawaja Mueen! mine are  only the (vain) words, but you embody the reality . . . (As) you have elevated your slave to the Axial Saint (Qutb) of this age.


Sung lyrics:

Dil pareshan dida hairan kar gayi
Dil pareshan dida hairan kar gayi
Zanemangi kar dayi aaa kar dayi kar dayi
Dil pareshan
Sukhiyo baiba kiyo naazo ada
Behre ek dil eeche saama kar gayi
Man che goyam basbe to khwaja moinuddin
Ab de khudra khud pe daura kar gayi
Dil pareshan dida hairan
Kar gayi kar gayi



The following verse, which perfeclty expresses the connection between love, spirituality, and music, is also attributed to Qutb ad-Din Bakhtiar Kaki:


What is music and why there is so much of the enchantment of love in it?
Music is the secret of Love and Love is the secret of God


Sarod cheest ke chandeen fasoon-e-ishq daroast?
Sarod mehram-e-ishq ast-o-ishq mehram-e-oast



سرود چيست كه چندين فسون عشق داراوست

سرود محرم عشق است و عشق محرم اوست

Andalusian Sufi Medley

This great recording starts with a poem by al-Ḥarrāq and then includes another poem of Shushtari’s, included in another fine recording below:

I got what I sought
When I see my love
I see my Self
Why am I tired and abandoned
while I am the beloved?


My secret is hidden from me,
yet it is near
By God, Look my friend
 at this wondrous matter


I am hidden from me
My sun rises from me
While I’m unaware
When this beloved is pleased
Everything is pleased


He who desires union
travels swiftly
The Self conceals concealment
In every direction, always
I no longer have an opinion
I am whom I love
I drink my wine from myself
And I quenched myself


O seeker of reality
Listen to what I say
The Way is from you
And the arrival is to you
So vanish, and you will see yourself
After you disappear


You end at yourself
so there is nothing but you
And you subsist by you


نلت ما نويت * لما رأيت حبي * وذاتي رأيت
ماذا لِي وَنَا مهجور * وأنا الحبيب
وسِرِّي عَني مَسْتور * وَهُوَ قَرِيب * لِلهْ يا صاحِ وانْظُرْ * ذَا الأَمْرُ العَجِيب
عَنِيِ قَد خَفَيْتْ * وَشَمْسِي مِنيِّ تَطْلُعْ * وأنا ما دَرَيْتْ
هذا المحبوبِ إذا ارْضى * يْرْضَى كُلُّ شَيْئْ
واللي يْهْوى وِصَالُ * ذاتُ يَطْوي طَيْ * وعْلى جِهاتُ دَايْمْ * ما يْبْقَى لُ رَايْ
أنا مَنْ هَوَيْتْ * وَخمَْرِي مِنِّي أَشْرَبْ * وَعَنِّي رَوَيْتْ
يا طالبَ الحَقيقا * إِسْمَعْ ما أَقُول
منكَ هي الطريقا * ولك الوصول * فَزُلْ تَراكَ حَقا َ َ * بعدما تَزُول ْ
إِلَيْكَ انْتَهَيْتْ * ولَيْسَ ثَمَّ غيْرَك * وَبِكَ بَقَيْتْ



You want, o little faqir
to fill the streets of your wedding party
You are the slave of the leader of the journey
Your inclinations are the provisions of your insight
Be content and don’t despair
Until your soul is made sweet
None drink from our wine
except the pure of soul
The Sultan is in our hadra
The Saqi makes the cups go ’round
The Sultan of this Hadra
is the Saqi, yes the Saqi
He gets men drunk with a glance
The everlasting noble wine, O our joy, O glad tidings!
The guide of the pious showers us with existence
Our obstacles flee from us
while we are in the shadow of the wedding
The Sultan is in our hadra
The Saqi makes the cups go ’round



تُريدْ يا فُقَيرْ*** تعمر أسواق أعراسك
أنت عُبْيْد مسيَّر ***ميِلَك احكامْ ميلك أحكامْ فِرَاسَكْ
ارضى لا تتحير ***حَتىْ تِطيبْ أنفاسْك
ما يذوقْ مِنْ خَمْرَتْنا*** غِيرْ من تطيِب أنفاسو
سلطانْ في حَضْرِتْنا*** ساقي مدورْ كاسو
سلطان هاذ الحضرة *** ساقي و نعم الساقي
سلطان في حضرتنا ***ساقي مدور كاسوا
يسقي رجل بنظرة *** خمر الكريم الباقي
يا سعدنا يا بشرى***بوجود هاد التاقي
عوارضو مطرتنا *** و حنا في ظل عراسو
 سلطانْ في حَضْرِتْنا*** ساقي مدورْ كاسو

Ah Layla…

While there are many great poems about Layla, I’ve never read anything better than these two little gems from Shushtari…

Layla robbed me of my reason
I said, O Layla, have mercy on [those you have] slain


Her love is hidden
enshrined in my bones
O you who are entranced by her
Humble yourself in her love


I am mad with love for her
and for her, I am a slave
Hey, you blaming hater
Lay off me for a while


I camped out on her doorstep
and knocked at the door
I asked the doorman,
“Will I ever see union with her?”


He said to me, “My friend,
Her dowry is your soul.
How many lovers
Have come to the point of loving death.”


O lover
If you are sincere
Leave behind all else
then you will win union [with her]


سَلَبتْ لَيْلى مِّني العَقْلا       قلتُ يا ليلى ارحمي القتلى
حُبُها مكنونْ               في الحشى مخزونْ
أيها المفتونْ                        هِمْ بها ذلا
إِنني هائمْ                         ولها خادمْ
أيها اللائمْ                       خَلِيني مهلا
لزمتُ الأعتابْ                     وطرقت البابْ
قالتُ للبوابْ                   هل ترى وصلا
قال لي يا صاحْ                   مهَرْها الأرواحْ
كم محبٍ راحْ                      يعشقُ القتلى
أيها العاشِقْ                   إِن كنت صادقْ
للسوى فارقْ                       تغتنمْ وصلا



There is no life but Layla
Ask her, whenever you have doubts about anything


Her mystery flows through everything
so everything inclines towards her


Whoever witnesses the secret of her beauty says
that it is everywhere, but its fullness is hidden


She is like the sun, her light radiant
but when you seek it, it retreats


She is like the mirror in which forms appear
reflected, but nothing inheres therein


She is like the eye that has no colour,
yet all colours appear therein


Her way is right, even if it is suffering
and she has a proof of this in the lifting of the veil


Her tyranny is just, as for her justice
it is grace, so seek more from her, my brother


There’s no one but her in her meadow
and so she alone is called on


A wonder: she stays distant, nowhere to be found
then union with her draws near, hands full


And union brings us fullness,
and distance from her, separation: both states are mine


In union, there’s no difference between us
in separation, I am confused


In her clothes, her enigma is displayed
for she has a mirror in everything


She unveiled one day for Qays and he swooned
saying: O people, I loved no other


 I am Layla and She is Qays. So marvel!
How is it that what I seek comes from me to me?


غيرُ ليْلي لمْ يُرى في الحيِّ    حيْ        سلْ متى ما ارتبت عنها كل شيْ
كل  شِي   سرُها   فيه     سَرَى        فلذا   يثنى   عليها   كل      شيْ
قال  مَن  أشهدَ   معنى   حُسنها        إِنه     منتشرُ     والكل     طيْ
هي   كالشمسِ   تلالا      نورها        فمتى  ما  إِن  ترُمةُ   عاد     فيْ
هيَ   كالمرآة    تُبدي    صوراً        قابَلَتْها  وبها   ما   حل     شيءْ
هي  مثلُ  العين  لا  لون     لها        وبها  الألوانُ  تُبدي   كل     زَيْ
والهدى  فيها  كما   أشقى     بها        ولها الحجة  في  كشف    الغُطَيْ
جورها   عدل    فاما      عدلها        فهو  فضلٌ  فاستزد  منه     أخيْ
هِيْ  في   مربعها   لا     غيرُها        فلذا  تُدْعى   بلا   شيء   سُوَيْ
عجباً   تنأى   ولا   أيْن      لها        ثم   تَدْنُو   وصْلُها   ملْ      يَديْ
ولنا  مِنْ   وصلها   جمعٌ     ومِنْ        بُعْدِها   فرقٌ   هما   حال     إِليْ
فبحكم   الجمع   لا   فرقَ     لها        وبحكم   الفرقِ   تلبيس      عِليّ
لَبْسُها  ما  أظهرتْ  مِنْ     لُبْسِها        فلها   في   كل   موجودٍ     مُريْ
أسْفرت   يوماً   لقيسٍ      فانثنى        قائلاً  يا  قومْ  لم   أحْبِبْ   سويْ
أنا  ليلى  وهِيَ  قيسٌ     فاعجبوا        كيْف  مني  كان  مطلوبي   إليّ


Rumi-Your hair is Laylat al-Qadr


It’s morning and there’s wine so we’re going to stand on the sky
We’re going to go beyond Taurus to the constellation of the moon
We’re not looking for a fight, and have nothing to say about others
For it’s time for union, and with that we’ll be glad
Your face is a garden of roses, and your lip a land of sugar
We all become like sweet flowers in the shadow of these two
The sun of your sweet face is as boundless as the sun’s beams
So we have to stay up with you all night just like the moon
Your hair is the Night of Destiny, your face is a new day (Nawruz)
We’re between her day and night, just like the dawn
We don’t know this face, because you appeared in that one
But if you appear in another way, we’ll come by another way
You are the sun of the world and we are but hidden specks of dust
Shine on these specks, so that we can be seen
When the sun is lost and bedazzled by your face
It’s no wonder that we specks of dust are all love-dazed
I said, “When you come, you will open 200 doors.”
They said, “This is true, but only if we come…”
I said, “Just as the sea does not come to the stream,
We, like the flowing water, will journey forth to her
O herald of the unseen, speak, so that we
From your glad tidings and good news, will be glad, blissfully.




صبح است و صبوح است بر این بام برآییم              از ثور گریزیم و به برج قمر آییم

پیکار نجوییم و ز اغیار نگوییم                      هنگام وصال است بدان خوش صور آییم

روی تو گلستان و لب تو شکرستان                       در سایه این هر دو همه گلشکر آییم

خورشید رخ خوب تو چون تیغ کشیده‌ست             شاید که به پیش تو چو مه شب سپر آییم

زلف تو شب قدر و رخ تو همه نوروز               ما واسطه روز و شبش چون سحر آییم

این شکل ندانیم که آن شکل نمودی                        ور زانک دگرگونه نمایی دگر آییم

خورشید جهانی تو و ما ذره پنهان                        درتاب در این روزن تا در نظر آییم

خورشید چو از روی تو سرگشته و خیره‌ست           ما ذره عجب نیست که خیره نگر آییم

گفتم چو بیایید دو صد در بگشایید                          گفتند که این هست ولیکن اگر آییم

گفتم که چو دریا به سوی جوی نیاید                     چون آب روان جانب او در سفر آییم

ای ناطقه غیب تو برگوی که تا ما                                     از مخبر و اخبار خوشت خوش خبر آییم


Hafez on Laylat al-Qadr



Last night, at the moment of dawn, they saved me from sorrow
And in the darkness of night, they gave me the water of life
By the rays of the light of the Essence they made me selfless
They gave me wine from the cup of the radiance of the Attributes
What a blessed dawn it was, and what an auspicious night
That night of destiny, when they gave me a new fate
From now on, it’s just my face and the mirror, reflecting beauty
Since on that night they brought me news from the unveiling of the Essence
It’s no wonder that I achieved my desire and my heart became happy
I was a beggar, and they gave me this as alms
That day, the secret voice gave me the good news of this kingdom
that gave me patience and steadiness in the face of pain and suffering
All this honey and sugar which comes from my speech
is the reward of my patience in [the trials of love] that they gave me in the form of my Beloved (Shakh Nabat)
It was because of Hafez’s zeal and the breath of those who rise at dawn
that they saved me from the chains of the sorrows of fate



                دوش وقت سحر از غصه نجاتم دادند
واندر آن ظلمت شب آب حیاتم دادند
               بیخود از شعشعه پرتو ذاتم کردند
باده از جام تجلی صفاتم دادند
              چه مبارک سحری بود و چه فرخنده شبی
آن شب قدر که این تازه براتم دادند
               بعد از این روی من و آینه وصف جمال
که در آن جا خبر از جلوه ذاتم دادند
                من اگر کامروا گشتم و خوشدل چه عجب
مستحق بودم و این‌ها به زکاتم دادند
                 هاتف آن روز به من مژده این دولت داد
که بدان جور و جفا صبر و ثباتم دادند
                 این همه شهد و شکر کز سخنم می‌ریزد
اجر صبریست کز آن شاخ نباتم دادند
                 همت حافظ و انفاس سحرخیزان بود
که ز بند غم ایام نجاتم دادند