Syed Shabir Ali Shah Kirmani was mostly known as "Pir Peshawari" to most devotees here in Pakistan and in Britain, where he lived for over quarter of a century. But he was no Pir in the conventional description of the word. In fact, he disliked being addressed as Maulana, Allama, Sheikh or any title that was usually bestowed upon him.

Now that he is no more with us, we marvel at the wholesome life that he lived - from a spiritual student in Baghdad and Cairo to a teacher in Madinah and then delving into engineering at Oxford. But it was here, largely in the Potohar that his spiritual guidance benefited by luminaries like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and Imran Khan as well as the masses.

He was a philanthropist to the core and yet he despised being acknowledged as one. He dedicated his life to the welfare of the people around him, but refused to take credit or applause for any of his services. Some benefited from his expertise in numerology, others got spiritual guidance from him and yet some other sought financial assistance.

Syed Shabir Ali was bestowed with a wisdom that was also sought by many heads of states and monarchs. Among them were the royals of Europe, Africa and Brunei. He was unofficial adviser to many chiefs of army staffs. Pakistan People’s Party founder and former prime minister Zulfikar Bhutto was not only a devotee but also a friend of Pir Saab who would love to brainstorm in his company.

Integrity was of utmost importance to Syed Shabir. From poetry to music, he loved all such things as would enrich his mind, soul and body. He had a strong command over numerous languages from Urdu, Pashto, English, Saraiki to Persian and Arabic. Being raised in Peshawar, he however was most comfortable with Pashto.

He spent his 20s and 30s at the universities of Cairo and Baghdad, and specialised in interpreting historic Islamic scripts. He researched and relayed his profound knowledge in text, and lectured in renowned institutes all over the world, particularly in Madinah.

Pir Peshawari found spiritual refuge and awakening compassion in Madinah. But as years passed by, his trips became infrequent, with the intention to purely build up his divine craving to go there one last time in a luminary, spiritual form.

He went to Britain in his late 50s to study engineering at Oxford, but was unable to continue it due to family circumstances, primarily the passing away of his father. His path changed since then as he now carried the ancestral baton of spirituality.

Syed Shabir Ali was successor to his father, Pir Qasim Ali Shah, and custodian to his shrine in Jhelum Cantt. He was also a custodian to the shrines of three earlier generations of his predecessors in Peshawar.

Pir Saab visibly had a huge platform encompassing the Salt Range via Khushab to Mianwali which extended to Kashmir and Peshawar. He inherited responsibility of spiritual guidance across the rivers from the pinnacle and seal of Kirmani clan, hailing from Hazrat Syed Daud Bandghahi Kirmani of Sher Gargh, Okara. He extended his devotional clan to the UK and the European continent.

Syed Shabir was not a man who would force his view of the world and Islamic teachings to individuals seeking his guidance. He believed prayers were an individual link with Allah Almighty, and that God was in love with His ultimate creation. He believed that His state of unification is beyond words. Let love exist in the beings of "you" and "I", he taught to his disciples. Only then can one unlock and have the ability to perceive things which only the blessed or gifted can see, he told them.

Recently, whilst he was hale and hearty, smoking away his pipe; he had prepared his loved ones by prophesising when he would pass away. Shocking but true, he met his end due to pneumonia at the age of 78 years in London city where he was based while away from his ancestral home where his fathers' mausoleum overlooks River Jhelum. He has been laid to rest there.

His character was bold and strong and in stature he stood tall and handsome to the extent that anybody getting engaged in conversation with him would feel completely hypnotised by his aura, modesty and generosity. His manner of speech was exemplary, witty and poetic, sounding like music to the ears as he spoke eloquently about his love for people , his love for God, and his love for Prophet (PBUH).

Pir Saab is succeeded by three children: Khudija, Ameer Hamza and Ameer Turab Ali. Seeing traces and glimpses of himself in his eldest son Ameer Hamza, five years before his death, he passed on his ancestral responsibilities to him.

Syed Shabir Ali Shah Kirmani with his devoted wife, Shahnaz, enjoyed spending time with their grandsons, while he continuously kept enlightening his devotees - I myself being one of them. His "Jalal" and "Noor" have left an impression for life on us. Now his son Sajjada Nasheen Ameer Hamza is based at his ancestral home, taking on his father’s responsibilities to the best of his abilities, with patience and strength. May the legacy of an enigmatic man go on through his son today as the values instilled will visibly go on for generations to come!

Pir Peshawari’s Chehlum was held at 2pm on the 18th of September (yesterday) in Jhelum Cantt.