Shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal
The town of Sylhet is very popular with tourists, as it is located on the banks of the Surma River and is surrounded by breathtaking lush forests, abundant wildlife, fragrant fruit tree groves and endless tea plantations. It is a small piece of paradise in Bangladesh, hidden between the rolling green hills of Tripura, Jainitia and Khasi. It is the ideal location to escape to, to experience Bangladesh at its best. Over and above the picturesque wonder of the landscape and terraced gardens found in the town, there are many attractions for visitors to explore, and amongst the religious attractions, the Shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal is probably the most sacred.
The Shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal has become a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of devotees who come to the shrine in their droves from all over the country. It has been six hundred years since Hazrat Shah Jalal was laid to rest, but his memory and a love for him has been passed down from generation to generation, and he is as admired today as he was when he was still alive.
The exact date of birth and death of Hazrat Shah Jalal is unknown, however some believe that he was born in 1271 and others have suggested that he passed away in 1347. But what is known for certain is that Hazrat Shah Jalal was born Shaikh Makhdum Jalal ad-Deen bin Mohammed. He received his education in Mecca and memorized the Qur’an, making him a Hafiz. He also studied for thirty years to achieve spiritual perfection. It is said his respect for the Muslin religion led to him establishing and preaching Islam in Sylhet region. He remained a bachelor for his entire life and had no dependants, devoting himself to religion and assisting others.
Hazrat Shah Jalal was buried in Sylhet and his tomb attracts visitors every day. His robes and sword are preserved within the mosque, but these sacred artifacts are not on display to the public. The guardians of the shrine decide who may enter to view the tomb, and sometimes visitors are turned away if the guardians feel that they are dressed inappropriately, or for other reasons, as the tomb is viewed as a place of respect and admiration, not as one of the town’s tourist attractions. Visitors who are allowed to enter are advised to treat this privilege as a great honor. In the evenings, the tomb is illuminated by candles and outside visitors will find a massive pond filled with catfish and a separate tank with gold fish, both of which are considered sacred. Not far from the Shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal, is the Shrine of Hazrat Shah Paran, who is believed to be Hazrat Shah Jalal’s nephew.
Sylhet is a town filled with tradition, culture and folklore, and the Shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal is definitely worth the visit. Learning about Jalal’s struggles and the history of this region, which are entwined, is a very rewarding experience.