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The Shrine of Bayazid Bostami


Bayazid Bostami a famous saint of Iran, known as Sultan-ul-Arefin, was born in the town of Bostam and died in 874 AD. His name is associated with a famous flourishing dargah situated on top of a hillock at Nasirabad, near Chittagong cantonment. The dargah complex consists of the tomb enclosed in a modern pucca structure, an old mosque, built in the Mughal style and believed to be of the time of Aurangzeb and a tank in the plain in front of the tomb. The tomb is an object of veneration to the people who visit there daily in large number. The tank is the abode of a good number of sea turtles that are called mazaris or the protected tortoise and a large number of gazaris (‘gazar’ fish) or the protected fish which are objects of additional attraction to the visitors who feed them bananas, fried rice etc. There is an endowment, called Chittagong Endowment Committee, to look after the mazar as a whole.

Bayazid Bostami, a historical figure, is not known to have ever visited Bengal. Everybody admits that Shaikh Bayazid Bostami did not die here at Chittagong and the tomb at Chittagong attributed to him is a jawab or imitation. But a section of the people believes that he visited this part of the world sometime during his life. Chittagong is a seaport, and the Arabs used to visit the port with their trading vessels even as early as the 8th century AD. Hence it is not improbable that the saint came to this place in the 9th century. But this is a surmise; there is no authentic record of Bayazid Bostami’s visit to Chittagong. Some 18th century Bengali poets and bards, relying on oral traditions, remembered one ‘Shah Sultan’ of Nasirabad in their poems. Some scholars believe that the ‘Shah Sultan’ of the poems was the abbreviation of ‘Sultan-ul-Arefin’ and hence Shah Sultan and Bayazid Bostami were identical. Hamidullah Khan, the 19th century historian of Chittagong, states that in the past Muslim faqirs and wanderers used to come to Chittagong, take their seat on hill-tops surrounded by jungles and built there, in imitation of temples and Viharas, false tombs and mausoleums in the name of Sultan-ul-Arefin Bayazid Bostami and Abdul Qadir Jilani.

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