Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, a patron saint of Sindhis, was born early in the twelfth century in Marwand, now Afghanistan, to a noble Makhdum, sayed Ahmed Kabir, who was a close friend of the King of Tabriz.
Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s real name was Syed Muhammad Usman and his mother was a high-ranking princess. He showed from his infancy signs of a deep spiritual nature.
It is said that even when very young he had developed occult powers. He knew Quran by heart at age seven, and at twenty he was initiated into the Qalandar order.
The call of the Spirit came to this man who was destined to be the mystic light, the light of Sufism to India and especially to Sind.
He had three other friends: Baba Farid Shakar Ganj of Pakpattan, Jalaluddin Bukhari of Uch- Bahawalpur and Bahauddin Zakaria of Multan.
They are known to the Sufis as the four great friends, the great pioneers of 13th century Sufi movement. Lal Shahbaz Qalandar and his friends conceived the idea of coming over to India.
The King of Baghdad, who loved and revered Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, entreated him not to leave Baghdad; but he, who felt the urge from within, could not see his way to remain, and soon after led his three companions on the holy mission that was to spreads Islam in India.
Many are the stories given about their adventurous journey: tradition is resonant with the voice of miracles. It is said that when the party arrived at the Persian Gulf and after they had reached one particular island they could not find a soul.
They had to cross to some other place to secure a boat. Lal Shahbaz Qalandar said to his companions…
Depend upon God and enter the stream; but take care, you must have no attachment to the things of the world, otherwise the waters cannot give you a safe passage. Here is my bowl, lay your hands on it and it shall serve us as a boat.
The four entered the stream. In the middle of the river the bowl began to sink and the companions along with it.
one of the three companions, had carried with himself a gold brick, calculating that it might be of some use on a rainy day.
Marwandi ordered him to throw it into the river, and behold! As soon as the brick sant, the bowl came up and the friends safely reached the other side.
Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is said to have been challenged on the way by a famous ascetic to bathe in a tub of burning oil. He successfully passed the test.
Thus he earned the title of Lal (a ruby) as the ascetic said to him. This meant that Lal Shahbaz Qalandar was real gold having been tested by fire. He received no injury; only his robe turned crimson.
It is believed that Lal Shabaz Qalandar was so named because of the red robe he wore all his life, and a story is told of how Lal Shahbaz Qalandar rescued his friend Sheikh Farrid Shakar Ganj by a miracle from a baker’s wife’s accusations.
Sehwan is famous for its ancient Shiva temple and the remains of Kafir-Qila, a fort reportedly made by Alexander. Lal Shahbaz lived and died in Sehwan.
The legend has it that the incumbent fakirs in Sewhan sent him a bowl of milk filled to the brim indicating that the place was already full of faqirs and there was no room for one more.
He returned the bowl floating a single flower on the top suggesting by this reply that there was ample room for him, as he would remain among them floating as a flower. His legend spread far and wide by the time of his death. Thus a sacred flower was planted in the soil of Sind.
It is said that 17 leading tribes of Punjab accepted Islam at the hands of Baba Farid. Some of these tribes were Kharals, Dhudhyan, Tobian and also Wattoo, a Rajput tribe. Jalaluddin Bukhari converted the Soomros and Sammas of Sindh while Shahbaz Qalandar had a great following in Multan and Northern Sindh.
The shrine around Lal Shahbaz Qalandar tomb, built in 1356, dazzles the eye with its Sindh kashi tiles, mirror work and two gold-plated doors
The inner sanctum is about 100 yards square with the silver canopied grave in the middle. It attracts over half a million pilgrims mainly from Sindh and Punjab who flock into Sewhan, a small town.