Sunday, January 26, 2014

Syed Lal Shah Al Bukhary | A saint's tomb in the city | Masjid Al-Bukhary Kuala Lumpur


I think it's KL's best-kept secret. We all know that a saint almost always wants to remain hidden. Yet Allah sometimes reveals something special about His chosen servants.

Quietly nestled on the beautiful compound of Masjid Al-Bukhary (only 1 km away from the busiest tourist spot in KL), is a maqam of a pious man known as Syed Lal Shah Al Bukhary.  

Maqam of Syed Lal Shah Al Bukhary at Masjid Al-Bukhary Kuala Lumpur
(Died in 1918)
Locals and tourists, be they Muslims or non-Muslims who pass by Jalan Hang Tuah in KL would surely be captivated by the simply stunning Masjid Al-Bukhary. The masjid was officiated in 2007 by the then King of Malaysia, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin.

This relatively new masjid stands tall and majestic, thanks to the country's well-known tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al Bukhary whose works of charity have left some beautiful impressions on Malaysian shore and abroad. MashaAllah.

But the masjid would not even be in existence if not for the other Al Bukhary - Syed Lal Shah Al Bukhary who was working for the rather infamous Pudu Jail, located some 10-minutes walk away from the masjid. 

Someone who's close to one of the present Imams of the masjid, revealed a heartwarming story related by the Imam.

Syed Lal Shah Al Bukhary was more than just a prison staff. He volunteered to care for the dead bodies of prisoners who either had served a death-sentence or died a natural death while being imprisoned at the Pudu Jail. The plot of land on which Masjid Al-Bukhary was built had been used as a cemetery for Muslim prisoners. 

Right behind the graveyard was, and still is, a reputable school of KL - the Victoria Institution. The school's former headmaster, who's also a priest, noticed the presence of Syed Lal Shah at the cemetery and offered him a piece of land for the purpose of building a musolla. On top of taking care of the dead prisoners' remains, Syed Lal Shah who's a deeply religious man could be seen spending long hours praying and making zikr there. This had "won" him the generous offer from the priest who perhaps had wanted Syed Lal Shah to pray more comfortably.   

It was also reported that in 1860 the then Sultan of Selangor state, Almarhum Sultan Abdul Samad granted the land area for the same purpose i.e. a musolla and a cemetery and even entrusted Syed Lal Shah Al Bukhary to head the musolla which later became known as Babbul Jannah (The Doors of the Heavens). Babbul Jannah served its purpose for 147 years.

Syed Lal Shah Al Bukhary was an Indian-Muslim by race. Many believed this pious man was, in fact, a saint. One curious imam wanted to verify this fact so he consulted his guru who prescribed some practices. The guru said if the imam were to fast and perform special prayers with an intention to know Syed Lal Shah Al Bukhary, he would, by the Will of Allah, be able to see the saint in his dream. And he did meet the saint in his dream. Subhanallah!

Though a little sketchy, we now know the maqam (stature) of the owner of the sole maqam (grave) that occupies the grand Masjid Al-Bukhary. 

When the Al Bukhary Foundation (headed by Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al Bukhary) decided to rebuild Babbul Jannah circa 2004, the religious authorities were consulted on what to do with the remains at the adjoining cemetery. Approval (fatwa) was duly issued for the bones of the prisoners to be collected and buried in one space, and the body of Syed Lal Shah Al Bukhary - the former "master" of the cemetery and the musolla Babbul Jannah - be kept. And really we should say beautifully kept, as can be seen in the above photo. It is as though Allah wants to honor and repay Syed Lal Shah's devotion and vocation that he gets an abode within a beautiful 'House of Allah'. 
Al Fatihah to one and all ruhul quddus. Surely Allah rewards each and everyone who contributes to the deen

Allahu a'lam.
Pic credit: H.E

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