Shah Ali Majar

Islam expanded in Bangladesh with the mission of the mystical spiritual leaders Pir Murshid and Pir Aulia, who came from Paroshoo (Iran and Iraq regions) in the Middle East. They were enlightened and devoted Sufis. Although they was Muslims and devoted to the spread of Islam they always encouraged religions centering on one God and His Love, emphasising humanity above all. Because of this they were highly respected by all. In Dhaka city there are 127 majar (shrines) devoted to spiritual leaders. Hazrat Shah Ali's majar at Mirpur and Gulap Shah's Majar are the most famous. The Shah Ali's majar is situated in Mirpur-1 area. In 1577 Shah Ali Baghdadi (called Baghdadi as he came from Baghdad) came to Hindustan from Bagdad. He moved to Mirpur, starting the mission in Dhaka by repairing the mosque at Mirpur, where he lived until he passed away in 1607. His shrine has become a centre for pilgrimage. Thousands of people come to pray every day, seeking good luck and or spiritual salvation. Every Thursday there is an organized special prayer session and many people gather to sing and make offerings. The shrine committee established a market on the periphery of the majar where candles, agorbati (aroma) along with the Holy Quran and religious books are available for pilgrims to buy and make offerings. Along with religious products food, toys and posters are also on sale here. In the grounds there is also a place where beggars may beg under the banyan tree while the stoic singer of songs, to the accompaniment of local instruments arranges the sermon. The income from the market is used for the development of the shrine. During Urosh (birthday of Shah Ali) a special celebration is organized for a huge number of devotee followers, from home and aboard, who come together to celebrate. During Urosh (and weekly prays) the management of the shrine distributes free khichuri (hospitality food). The food is supplied from the donations of the followers of Shah Ali. To fulfill their obligations the people donate money, livestock and food. Subadar Islam Khan, the successor of Shah Ali repaired and modernized the shrine and mosque in 1807. There are two other markets in Mirpur with the name of Shah Ali. There are the three-storied market named Shah Ali Shopping Complex and the Shah Ali General market, built by the government. The government now administers the majar and its markets. All kinds of ladies, gents and baby wear; cosmetics, ornaments, electronic products, and food are widely available in Shah Ali Shopping Complex. The Shah Ali general market sells daily needs including vegetables, fish, meat, rice, fruit and grocery items. Beside the established shops many mobile small shops and hawkers are found in the market area.