Mian Muhammad Bakhsh میاں محمد بخش was born in 1830 in Chak Thakra in the Khari area in the current Mirpur District in the State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, northeast of District Jhelum in Punjab. His ancestors were Paswal Gujjars of Jammu in the State of Jammu and Kashmir who had immigrated to the Jhelum and Gujrat districts of Northern Punjab bordering Kashmir. Mian Muhammad Bakhsh's father was Mian Shamsuddin, whose forefathers had moved to the Khari area in Mirpur from Chak Bahram in the Gujrat District. Four generations of Mian Muhammad's family had been associated with the tomb of Pir-e Shah Ghazi in Khari Sharif, a well respected Sufi saint of the area. His great grandfather (Mian Din Muhammad) was the khalifah or successor of the saint, and his grandfather and father were the sajjadah nasheens. Mian Muhammad Bakhsh and his older brother Mian Bahawal Bakhsh studied Hadith from the madressah of Hafiz Muhammad Ali at Samwal Sharif. He was well educated in Farsi and Arabi. From an early age, he showed keen interest in poetry. He was especially fond of Yousuf Zuleikha of Abdur Rehman Jami. Following the completion of his education, he became a disciple of Pir Ghulam Muhammad. At his instructions, he traveled to Srinagar and was accepted into the circle of Sheikh Ahmad Wali. Before Mian Shamsuddin died in 1845-56, he asked Mian Muhammad to be the next sajjadah nasheen, but he proposed that his brother Mian Bahawal Bakhsh (a few years older to him) should be given that honor. After the death of his father, he stayed for 4 years in his father's room, then built a straw hut around the tomb of Pir-e Shah Ghazi, where he stayed for about 14 years. When Mian Bahawal Bakhsh died in 1880-81, he became the sajjadah nasheen. Thus he had a lifelong association with the tomb of Pir-e Shah Ghazi in Khari Sharif and following his death on 31 January 1907, he was buried next to the tomb. He never married.
Mian Muhammad Bakhsh authored several books including Sohni Mahinwal, Tuhfa-e Miraan, Qissa Shaikh Sana'an, Nairang-e Ishq, Qissa Shah Mansur (about Mansur Hallaj), Shireen Farhad, Tufah-e Rasulia, Gulzar-e Faqr, Sakhi Khawwas Khan, Mirza Sahiban, Qissa Sassi Punnun, Hidayat al-Muslimin, Panj Ganj, Tazkira-e Muqimi, Heer Ranjha, and Saiful Maluk (the most famous), which he had himself named as Safarul Ishq. Among all the Sufi poets of Punjabi, he was the one most influenced by Farsi poetry, especially that of Rumi and Jami. He had finished Saiful Maluk when he was 33 years old. It is written in the style of Farsi Masnawis and has 9270 asha'ar. The titles are in Farsi, and it is divided into 64 chapters. It is a fictional story of Prince Saiful Maluk (meaning the Sword of Kings), son of King Asim bin Safwan of Egypt who falls in with a peri (fairy), Badi ul-Jamal (meaning unique in beauty), daughter of King Shahpal of Sharistan, after looking at her drawing on a piece of cloth. She lives in the Bagh-e Iram of Sharistan. He starts an epic journey in her search which lasts 14 years. There are numerous difficulties and he encounters many fantastic situations and difficulties including man-eating humans, huge birds which can carry many humans, a country where only women live, a country of monkeys, and a djinn on the Caucasus Mountains whose life is in a parrot in a box and who has imprisoned Princess Malka Khatun of Serendip (Sri Lanka). Prince Saiful Maluk kills the parrot and hence the djinn and Princess Malka Khatun promises to take him to Princess Badi ul-Jamal. In the Masnawi there are a lot of allegorizations, discussions of Sufi themes and pieces of advice for the readers. For example, at one point, Mian Muhammad Bakhsh says that Prince Saiful Maluk is soul, the drawing of Badi ul-jamal on the cloth is love and sincerity, Malka Khatun is the heart, the djinn is the carnal self, parrot is the five senses, box is ignorance, and Bagh-e Iram is the Paradise. Interestingly, he did not mention Badi ul-Jamal with all the other characters, but it should be clear what it represents.
It is believed that the original story is from Alif Laila (One Thousand and One Nights). This story has been written by numerous authors in many languages including Farsi, Urdu, Saraiki, Sindhi, Pashto, Bangla, and Punjabi. Of all these versions, Saiful Maluk by Mian Muhammad Bakhsh is the most popular. People of the Northern Districts of Western (Pakistani) Punjab, have great affection and love for Mian Muhammad Bakhsh and Saiful Maluk ever since it was first published in 1906.
The Singer: Inayat Hussain Bhatti عنایت حسین بھٹی