Mozaik Peradaban Islam

Wisdom From God: The Story of Tughlugh Timur Khan who Convert to Islam

in English Articles

Young Tughlugh Timur, before he become Khan, asked offensive question to Shaykh Jamal al-Din,  “Are you better than this dog, or is the dog better than you?”

Illustration of Tughlugh Timur Khan. Source:

By Sayed Hyder[1]

…granting wisdom unto whom He wills: and whoever is granted wisdom has indeed been granted wealth abundant. But none bears this in mind save those who are endowed with insight 2:269

I had come across the story about how Islam was revived in Moghulistan, in several sources, most notably in Tarikh-i-Rashidi (تاریخ رشیدی)  of Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat, who is buried in Gorstan e Shahi in Srinagar. There were several variants, which I have sought to reconcile in the following narrative.

The story revolves around the encounter of Shaykh Jamal al-Din and his son Arshad al-Din of the town of Lop-Katak with Tughlugh Timur (also known as Tughluq Tömür or Tughluk Timur)—(ruler of Moghulistan-ed).

The teenager Tughlugh had organized a hunting party, and was camped for a hunt the next day, when Shaykh Jamal al-Din and his son happened to trespass by accident. This annoyed the young Tughlugh on two accounts, one due to the trespass and the second was that the Khans considered Tajik/Iranians/Muslims as bad-luck and he was upset that it will ruin his plans for a successful hunt the next day. 

He asked them, “Why have you disobeyed my commands?” The Shaykh replied, “We are strangers, who have fled from the ruined town of Katak. We know nothing about the hunt nor the ordinances of the hunt, and therefore we have not transgressed your orders.

Still angry with them, he asked a question which was quite offensive:
 “Are you better than this dog, or is the dog better than you?

The Shaykh’s calm and composed answer really affected me, as I realized the wisdom from Allah has no equivalence in all the bookish knowledge of the world:

Right now it is hard to say. However, if I die on faith, then I may be better than this dog; otherwise for sure this dog is better than I am.”

This made Tughlugh quiet, and thoughtful.  He further asked the Shaykh, “What is this thing that renders man, if he possesses it, better than a dog, or without it, worse?”

Shaykh Jamal al-Din explained to him what Faith was, in detail, and the duties of a Muslim, while Tughlugh wept.  After listening to his heart’s content, Tughlugh said that he could not do anything now, but, “If I ever become Khan, and obtain absolute authority, you must, without fail, come to me, and I promise you I will become a Muslim.”

He then sent the Shaykh away with the utmost respect and reverence.

Many years later, as the time of his death was approaching, Shaykh Jamal advised his son Arshad al-Din, an exceedingly pious young man, to follow up on this promise because he had once dreamt that Arshad al-Din had carried a lamp up to the top of a hill, and that its light illumined the whole of the east.

Many years later, when news of Tughlugh Timur becoming Khan reached Shaykh Arshad al-Din, he proceeded to Moghulistan, but all his efforts to obtain an audience with the Khan were fruitless.  He was a simple young man, who looked like a nobody. 

However, he encamped nearby and prayed to God regularly. By chance the Khan was awake one early morning, and heard the call for prayer in the wee-hours and asked his soldiers to summon the noise-maker.  The soldiers seized him by the neck, dragged him before the Khan.

Who are you that is disturbing my morning sleep?” thundered the Khan.

Fearlessly, Shaykh Arshad replied , “I am the son of the man to whom you made the promise to become a Muslim.”  The Khan remembered his promise and became Muslim, and it is said that many of those who were Muslim from before revealed their faith, and as much as a 160,000 accepted Islam.

A faith whose adherents were considered worse than dogs, became the state religion and the Khans helped spread it far and wide. All due to the wisdom granted by Allah to Shaykh Jamal on how to answer the question: “Are you better than this dog, or is the dog better than you?” []


[1] Educator and Contributor to Gana Islamika

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