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Emperor Humayun's Garden Tomb

Baraka

Baraka

In the context of Mughal architecture, baraka is the perceived spiritual advantages or blessings that result from existing in close proximity, physically or spiritually, to a living or dead Awliya-Allah, such a Nizam al-Din Awliya.1 Awliya-Allah is often shortened to 'Awliya' or 'Wali,' and is often translated as 'saint.'2 More specifically an Awliya is a Muslim who has exceptional Iman and Taqwa, which translates as 'faith and piety,' and this results in having walayah, which translates as 'divine friendship.'3

Josef Meri describes what separates an saint from a good Muslim.

All righteous individuals possessed baraka, but only saints through their charisma, devotion, exemplary learning and piety possessed a sufficient degree to render them as objects of ziyara or pious visitation.4

James Wescoat clearly explains the relationship between Sufi shrines and baraka.

In the popular religion of Muslim shrines, saints have the power (barakat) to intercede on behalf of their devotees on practical matters and also to help gain admission to the gardens of paradise on the day of judgment (Troll, 1989). This power is spatially concentrated at the grave of the saint, which explains the activities of pilgrims at the grave.5

Seekers of baraka included, the poorest to the richest and the meekest to the most powerful, and sometimes it was sought ceremoniously; while other times it was sought descreetly.6 "The existence of baraka at a shrine insured miraculous cures for the infirm as it did stability, relief, abundance, prosperity and happiness."7 This means that just the commonly accepted belief in baraka had a positive impact in a larger context.

Ritual interaction was both spiritual and physical in nature. The physical component is exemplified by devotees lying upon tombs, residing within the confines of holy places, circumambulating, touching, rubbing against or trodding on a site, taking away soil and rock, and applying it to themselves. To be at holy places in the presence of holiness gave the devotee a sense of awe, fear, purpose and spiritual fulfillment.8

Humayun's Garden Tomb receives baraka both physically and spiritually. Being within walking distance from Nizam al-Din Awliya's dargah means that it is in the hotbed of Nizam al-Din's spiritual baraka. Humayun's Garden Tomb's enclosure wall physically incorporates Nizam al-Din's chilla-khana. This is comparable to a Sufi devotee that lays on a saint's tomb to receive baraka physically, but Humayun's Garden Tomb has been receiving direct baraka from the beginning of its existence. One could say that if Humayun's Garden Tomb's soil was measured for baraka as if it were radiation, it would be found holy enough to put in your pocket and take home.


1. Josef W. Meri. "Aspects of Baraka (Blessings) and Ritual Devotion Among Medieval Muslims and Jews," Medieval Encounters 5, no. 1 (1999): 46.

2. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, Islamic Studies, 2nd ed., vol. 4 (Riyadh: International Islamic Publishing House, 2005), 64.

3. ibid.

4. Meri, "Aspects of Baraka and Ritual Devotion," 46.

5. J.L. Wescoat Jr., "From the Gardens of the Qur'an to the 'Gardens' of Lahore," Landscape Research 20, no. 1 (1994): 24.

6. Meri, "Aspects of Baraka and Ritual Devotion," 65.

7. ibid, 47.

8. ibid, 58.

Illustrations

Barak radiates over Humayun's Tomb
Baraka emanates from Nizam al-Din's chilla-khana over Humayun's Garden Tomb.
Nizam al-Din and his student, Amir Khusrsau as seen in a Mughal painting.
Nizam al-Din and his student, Amir Khusrau, as seen in a Mughal painting.
Nizamuddin
The northeastern corner of the garden's wall was built directly onto one of the buildings at Nizam al-Din's chilla-khana, physically connecting Humayun's Garden Tomb to Nizam al-Din's baraka.

Additional Information

A formal bibliography is posted on the outline page.

Nizam al-Din's Chilla-khana & Khanqah

Nizamuddin Garden Wall Northeastern Pavilion Chilla-khana Ablution Tank Ablution Tank Baraka Circumambulatory Path Circumambulatory Path Circumambulatory Path Circumambulatory Path Baraka Chilla-khana