Syed Shah Afzal Biabani (1795 – 1856 A.D / 1210 – 26 Safar, 1272 AH) was a Sufi from Warangal, Hyderabad State (now Kazipet 132 km from Hyderabad, India). He was appointed as Kazi of Warangal during the reign of Nizam Ali Khan (Asaf Jah II).The word "Biabani" is a plural of Urdu & Persian word "Biaban" which means soonsan (in Urdu) and uninhabited place in English. He received this nickname because he spent 12 years in Tasawwuf (a form of Sufi meditation) in the caves located in the forest of Battupalli near Kazipet.
Hazrat Syed Shah Afzal Biabani (R. A.) was born in 1210 Hijri (i.e., 1795 A.D.) at Kazipet Jagir, Dist. Warangal, Hyderabad State, India.
Hazrath Syed Shah Ghulam Mohiuddin Biabani (R.A.) and Hazrath Qasim Bibi Saheba (R.A.) were the parents of hazrath Syed Shah Afzal Biabani (R.A.). Mir Qurban Ali, the then Collector, Warangal was his father-in-law.
It was the first time the name Biabani was suffixed to the name of Hazrath Ziauddin (R.A.) since he was founder of Biabani family, it is worthy to note that the descendants from Hazrath Ziauddin Biabani (R.A.) to Hazrath Afzal Biabani (R.A.) all used to pray and meditate in the forests and there by kept the nomenclature of Biabani alive.
Hazrath Afzal Biabani (R.A.) was a saint (Vali Allah) by birth. His mother said that there was something extraordinary in him right from the childhood. Some miraculous incidents were manifested even in his childhood. Once at the residence of her brother, Syed Murtuza Hussaini at Qutbi guda, Hyderabad, playing with children of his age (4 to 5 years old) in the court yard, he dug a small pit (well), like the other children. But to their astonishment water was found in the pit dug by him, where as the other pits were dry. His maternal uncle said that Afzal Biabani would become a saint and a man of miracles in future by the grace of Allah.
Hazrath (Hazrath Afzal Biabani R.A.) received primary education from his father and Faqirullah Shah (R.A.), a great scholar of Qur’an and Hadith and a sufi saint at Fort Warangal. Once when Hazrath Afzal Biabani was going to Fort Warangal, in the evening his companions were left behind and it was getting dark. When he reached "Gunjshuhada" (Graveyard) a group of men bearing torches (Mashals) followed him. As soon as he reached Fort Warangal, they disappeared. This clearly reflects his reverence and grace of Allah on him.
Hazrath said that on account of the teachings of Faqirullah Shah R.A. his curiosity to learn more about the secrets of Islam and the spiritual power increased.
His father, Hazrath Syed Shah Ghulam Mohiuddin Biabani R.A. taught him the ‘way of knowledge’ (Maarifat), the ‘Mystical path’ (Tariqat, the ‘way of love with Allah’ (Mohabbath-e-Haqiqui) which led him to the ‘inner truth’ (haqiqat). He also blessed him with khilafat and declared him, as his spiritual successor (Sajjada Nasheen).
After the demise of his father, his mother sent him to hyderabad for further studies in the year 1807 A.D.
A strange incident on the way to hyderabad which is a clear proof that Hazrath was chosen by Allah and destined to be a "Vali Allah" a friend of Allah in his boyhood only. The great scholars of Islamic studies and Sufi-Saints Moulavi Qutubuddin R.A. and Moulavi Sadruddin R.A. taught him the holy Qur’an, Islamic law (shari’at), exegesis (tafseer) of the holy Qur’an, the tradition (Hadith) and the principles of Jurisprudence (Fiqh). He learnt by heart the holy Qur’an at the age of 12 under the supervision of above said great scholars, which is a great achievement and honour for a boy of 12 years. Following the sunnat of Holy Prophet, Hazrath Afzal Biabani (R.A.) had adopted worship, invocation and meditation in the secluded caves of hills in the jungles for gaining complete defiance and control over sensual pleasures and desires. He used to go to the hills of Papannapet in Medak District of Hyderabad state. where he invoked the name of Allah, performed prayers (Namaz) and meditation. Thus he glorified Allah the Almighty day and night. At the age of 28 he left hills of Medak and came back to Kazipet, where he continued worship (Namaz), invocation (Zikr) and meditation in the cave of Bhattupally hills (not far from Kazipet village) by renouncing the world.
In the Bhattupally hills his constant and rapt worship (Namaz), Invocation (zikr) and meditation reached great heights and he was graced with celestial illumination (Tajalli-e-Ilahi) of the Merciful Allah. He was continuously encircled by the divine light, for 12 years, in which immersed himself and experienced the spiritual delight so much that he rather lost his physical senses. Although his back was eaten by white ants, he could not feel the pain of the wounds. During this period as he had sat motionless (in Qaida) for a long period (i.e., 12 years) his thighs and shanks were stuck together. They started bleeding when he stood up. The scars of white ants’ bite on his back was seen by his son Hazrath Syed Shah Sarwar Biabani (R.A) and several disciples. He spent that entire period in a state of intuition.
He said that during the worship some evil spirits used to come and try to interrupt , but he had dismissed them all.
While he was deeply in worship under a tree on one of the hills near Kota cheru (tank) he was again graced with the celestial illumination of the merciful Allah.
Hazrath Afzal Biabani (R.A.) was so great saint and scholar that he was graced many times and continually with the celestial illumination of Divine light, where as generally friends of Allah (Aulia Allah) were graced with Divine light once or twice in their life time for a moment only.
It is said, once during meditation a piece of burning coal fell on his thigh but he did not feel the burning sensation as he was completely immersed in meditation.
He used to prostate inversely (Sajda-e-maakus) in a cleft of hills of Bhattupally, Bodagutta and Bundum tank. He used to spend entire night in four long Sajdas inversely. On witnessing the light of Divine Essence (Noor-e-Zat-e-Ilahi) during one Sajda he used to perform another Sajda to show his gratefulness to Allah, in this way he used to perform four Sajdas till the dawn.
Once the warangal district was severely effected with drought. There was no water for irrigation and even for drinking purpose. Ali Hussain and some disciples approached Hazrath Afzal Biabani (R.A.) to pray Allah to bless with sufficient rains. First of all he refused to do so. After repeated requests, he along with his disciples went to the Laal tank situated near Kazipet village. Which was empty and dry. After doing vuzu (ablution) he sat in the middle of the tank, offered Namaz and prayed for rains by prostating sajda. The people observed that clouds were formed over the sky and with in few minutes it started raining heavily, streams began to flow and the tanks were full. Hazrath and his disciples returned to their homes fully soaked in the rain water, farmers were very happy. His prayer never went unanswered.
To stop the day today deterioration of Islam, Hazrath Mohammad (P.B.U.H) appeared in Hazrath Afzal Biabani’s dream. . He ordered to preach religious ideas based on equality and believe in existence of one God, ‘Allah’, and the Islam among the people of south India, especially among the military men, as they were good at heart.
In order to bring them on the right path Hazrath Afzal Biabani (R.A.) took the responsibilities of preaching Islam among the people and led the glorious foundation of preaching of Islamic Principles and social reformation in south India.
Hence at the age of 40 years, Hazrath Afzal Biabani (R.A.) in 1833 A.D. (1250 Hijri) having replete with much knowledge of Islam and sainthood dedicated himself for this holy work of preaching (Tableegh) to make the people know Islam and teachings of Holy Prophet, Hazrath Mohammad (P.B.U.H).
Responding to Hazrath Afzal Biabani’s apt involvement in preaching Islam, the people started following Islamic Principles and established worship of Allah (Namaz).
According to captivated by the inner beauty of the Islamic preaching most of the people abandoned ill habits and followed his teachings for purification of their souls.
The people of south India and specially the military men of Hanamkonda and Bolaram Cantonments ran on the rail of Islamic preaching and became disciples and devotees of Hazrath Afzal Biabani (R.A.).
Those who were obsessed of their misdeeds of the past felt guilty and realised themselves and prayed Allah, the Merciful of forgiveness, through their spiritual master (Murshid), Hazrath Afzal Biabani (R.A.) who was nothing but the deputy of the Prophet (P.B.U.H) and got blessings of Allah.
To gain more knowledge in the pious company of Hazrath, the followers came to Kazipet. They were taught the Islamic law (Shariath), the ‘way of knowledge’ (Maarifat), inward truth (Haqiqat), methods of Islam (Tariqat), ‘the way of love with Allah (Mohabbat).
A large number of people stood by him and became his disciples (Mureed) and pledged loyalty (bai’at) shunning all their misdeeds and adopted straight path.
A number of people of south India even embraced Islam because of effective his preachings, teachings, miracles, social and moral support in their need, humanly behaviour and principles and equality of the Islam. Some of the disciples by doing rapt prayers, fasting, invocation and meditation and dedication became saints (Valli Allah). While few of them have been blessed with saint-hood by Hazrath Afzal Biabani (R.A.) directly. Viz Hazrath Mohammad Khan, Hazrath Shamshuddin Khan, Namdar Khan, Mirza Zulfan Baig, Mohibullah Khan, Bannay Miyan (Azam Khan of Aurangabad), Syed Akbar Rahim, Sarwar Shah, Abdunabi Shah and Syed Shah Sarwar Biabani, Sahibeen Rahmatullahim Ajmayeen.
Hazrath Afzal Biabani (R.A.) saved the scheduled caste people of Kazipet and near-by villages from forced labour. It shows his act of social justice against oppression, protection of human rights and uplifting of down trodden. Hazrath Afzal Biabani (R.A.) used to teach his disciples high morals like simplicity, social equality and to serve people irrespective of their caste, creed, language, religion and region.
For this reason lacs of people belonging to different religions are devotees and followers.
Thus he proved himself to be a symbol of national integration, communal harmony, social justice and protector of human rights.
Even today, Hazrath's Shrine (Dargah) at Kazipet is much thronged and revered by Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Sikhs alike.
It is observed that most of the Hindu families of Kazipet and neighbouring villages bring the bride and bride-groom to this holy shrine (Dargah) immediately after the marriage to get the blessings for the newly married couple before they get to their homes.
Hazrath Syed Shah Afzal Biabani Rahmathullah Alaih said: "When I was immersed in worship and invocation in the hills of Bhattupally village thechief sufi-saint Hazrath Sheikh Abd al Qadir Jeelani Gous-e-Aazam Dastageer Razi Allahu Taala Anhu, appeared and blessed me with sainthood. I got theopportunity of shouldering his palankeen (Palki)." With the kind blessings ofHazrath Sheikh Abd al Qadir Jeelani (R.A.) He became a great sufi-saint ofthe rank of Hazrath Abu Yazeed Bistami (R.A.), Hazrath Shibli (R.A.) ANDHazrath Junaid Baghdadi (R.A.) of his time.
He said to his son: "I am very grateful to Allah because He has graced mewith highest rank of sainthood (vilayath) and I have received it gratefully with His Grace and His Prophet's (p.b.u.h.) blessings.