Before I write anything here, the whole situation of Jamali Kamali kind of reminds of some couplets that I read a long time ago. I will start the article with a couplet,
Na Mandir mein sanam, Na Masjid mein Khuda hota,
Hamse hi ye tamasha hai, Na ham hote toh kya hota…
Right next to Qutub Minar is another Archaeological site that very few people know about. People who do know about it just know that it is another one of several Mughal Era monuments standing in ruins all over Delhi. This is the Jamali Kamali mosque which if one is to consider has more glory to it than Qutub Minar itself but the only attention it now gets is because of the haunting stories related to Jinns that are believed to reside there.
This mosque, built in 1528-29, is located within Mehrauli Archaeological Park, which actually shares boundary with Qutub Minar premises. Entrance to this park is however about 500 meters away from Qutub Minar’s entrance gate. Within the mosque, built in a separate area, are the tombs of Jamali and Kamali. There is no entry fee here and the park is always full with kids playing and elderly people taking a walk. Within the lush green of the park, at an almost isolated corner, stands this magnificent monument which just by one look you can tell needs some serious attention of authorities but unfortunately isn’t getting any. There is a single security guard posted in the premises which I am sure must get bored a lot because there is rarely anyone around here ever. He looks like a ghost himself sitting in a corner. Right outside the gate of the mosque and as a matter of fact all over this park are several other tombs that are now just stones and walls crumbling down, exposing the graves that were once inside the tombs. In fact we wouldn’t know about the other tombs if we didn’t bother to read the signs put up by ASI. In short, it is a perfect setting for a ghost story.
So who were Jamali and Kamali?
Jamali was pseudonym of Sheikh Hamid bin Fazlu’llah who was also known as Sheikh Jamal-ud-din Kamboh Dehlawi aka Jalal Khan. He was a Sufi saint known for his poetry and came to India during the reign of Sultan Sikendar Lodi [ruled 1489-1517 AD] and settled in Delhi. He was already known by 3 different names but people, impressed by his poetry and seeing the beauty in the words, gave him his fourth name Jamali. Jamali comes from Urdu word Jamal which means beauty and positive aura. He was a disciple of another Sufi poet Sheikh Sama-ud-din and the mosque that now hosts his tomb was his place of chilla-nashini. It is said that such was the beauty of Jamali’s poems that even Sikendar Lodi who himself was a renowned poet used to get his works corrected by Jamali. After Mughals conquered India, Jamali was offered a place in their court and remained there during the reign of Babar and Humayun, until his death. It is also said that it was Humayun himself who had the tomb built after Jamali’s death.
“Kamal” in Urdu means miracle. Who Kamali was, however, remains a complete mystery. Whether he was a disciple of Jamali, or another Sufi poet or maybe just a servant, no one knows. We don’t even know if that was his real name or if he just took that name because it rhymed with Jamali. There are several stories around his identity one of which is that it was actually his works, his poems that Jamali took credit for. Another story is that they were brothers who travelled together to India. Jamali got famous because he was an excellent poet while Kamali had no such talent but he too was a Sufi saint. An even more interesting story is actually described by an American author Karen Chase in her book “Jamali- Kamali, A Tale of Passion in Mughal India” where she mentions that they were both homosexual partners.
A more believable story however, that even I am inclined to believe, is that Kamali was actually Jamali’s wife, a woman who is now, after centuries, believed to be a man because of the name Kamali which sounds a little masculine. Kamali died first and Jamali, who had an important place in the royal court at that time, built a tomb for his beloved life. After Jamali’s own death, Emperor Humayun had him buried right next to his wife in the tomb that Jamali had himself built during his life.
This mosque has a glorious history attached to it. It has been believed by many scholars that the poetry found in the Guru Granth Sahib, under tha name of Baba Farid, a disciple of Qutubudin Bakhtiyar Kaki, were actually works of Jamali. It is also this very mosque that is supposed to have laid foundation to the great Mughal architecture style and also introduced the Jharokha system which was missing from earlier monuments. Sadly enough, all this glory now seems to have been forgotten. People are scared to visit here because of tales of unexplainable phenomenon like eerie sounds, sudden white visions and presence of ghosts.
There are numerous stories about the Jinns that are now believed to reside within Jamali Kamali. Some of the interesting ones that either make people to stay away from here or to be here at night are instances of sightings of lights, apparitions, animals growling and a feeling that there is someone else standing right next to you. People have mentioned that they sometimes felt a person peeking from behind a pillar but when they walked over to it, there was no one there. A wisp of air as if someone just breathed on your neck and a laughing sound are a few other stories. The best one however is of people getting slapped by an invisible force.
According to Muslim mythology, Jinns live in what can be called a parallel world to that of humans. God created humans out of sand and Jinns out of fire. Just like our world, they have a world of their own where they go through their routine lives. Some of them are good and some are criminal-minded. While humans cannot see them, Jinns on the other hand have the power to cross over worlds. Sometimes a Jinn steps into human world and decides to stay here, primarily in abandoned places. This same phenomenon is applied to Jamali Kamali mosque. It was left abandoned for a long time until ASI took over the restoration work. The Jinn or Jinns however refused to leave and still live here. When annoyed by human presence, they slap or hurt people who visit the mosque.
I asked the only security guard sitting on duty at the mosque and his response was, “Is there a greater ghost or Jinn than humans?”
And so true it is. He spoke about how he had been at the mosque several times on duty, both during day and night but had never felt any paranormal or abnormal activity. Its just the humans, he says, who cook up stories for their own entertainment. One took at the dome of this mosque and you can see the destruction caused by no ghosts or jinns but men. People have written their names all over it due to which the staircase had to be locked down. Unfortunately I could not gain entry to the area where the tombs are located but have been told that they are a beauty in themselves. People destroying these historical monuments are the very reason that even the gate to the tombs had to be locked.
Whatever the story is or whatever the belief, one thing is for certain. This mosque doesn’t get the attention that it deserves. The stories were created either by people looking to have a good gossip or by people who wanted to make a little money by offering a night-tour of the monument which is forbidden by law. There are no ghosts here and no Jinns. Just a cool breeze of air, sounds of bird, a few graves and a very old mosque which was left abandoned, even by the Muslim community, to rot in time.
Masjid toh bana di shab bhar mein, Iman ki hararat walo ne,
Mann apna purana papi hai, barson se namazi ho na saka …..
Go to Jamali Kamali, visit the place but do not go expecting anything supernatural because there isn’t. Adore the architecture, admire the beauty, pay respect at a mosque.