Dalvinder Singh Grewal

Dr Dalvinder Singh Grewal


Guru Nanak’s visit to Egypt and Habash Wilayat is recorded in Sikh chronicles. [1] According to Giani Gian Singh from Madina Guru Ji went to Ajara, Mash-had, Ali and Karbla. After visiting these cities and meeting various peers and fakirs he reached Kaikai city in Misr (Egypt) where king Sultan Mahidi Karoo used to live and stayed outside the fort. A platform commemorating Nanak Wali’s is situated outside the south gate of the fort on the bank of the canal on the route to cantonment. This place was visited by the 15 Sikhs of British-Indian Army when it went for a battle with Mahidi in 1885-1886 and offered Krah Parsad of Rs is visit to 900/-. Nanak Wali chautra is a well known place there. [2] From Medina Guru Nanak went to …. Kaikei (Cairo) in Egypt where once the King Karoon had his kingdom. He sat in front of South gate of the fort on the bank of canal on the way to cantonment where ‘a platform of Nanak Wali exists.’ When the British Forces went to fight with king Mehdi in 1885-1886 AD 15 Sikh Regiment went there and had seen this. [16]

Next, Nanak crossed to the Bay of Dajla and set up a camp near the royal fort of Karoon Hamid in a town 23 called Kaikei (modern day Cairo). Nanak started kirtan in Arabic, which attracted many listeners. When the kirtan was over, a cultured man introduced himself as Pir (spiritual guide) Jalal, and had a very collegial discussion. Pir Jalal said “I am the spiritual mentor to the king Karoon Hamid. I am greatly impressed by your character. I have a request. My disciple Karoon Hamid is very cruel and greedy. Could you please set this misguided cruel man on the right path? He has filled forty treasuries with wealth, but is still not satisfied.” The Guru asked Jalal to bring Karoon along.

Urged by his spiritual mentor, Karoon became eager to meet Nanak. He felt peace on the mere sight of the Guru. Accompanied by Pir Jalal, he came and sat near the Guru. After customary exchange about health and wellbeing, the Baba handed a needle to the king and said, “your highness, please hold on to this needle for me. I will take it back from you in the afterlife.” Karoon fell in deep thoughts: How would I take this with me; everything remains behind, nothing goes along after death. The Baba spoke in his innocent and disarming manner, “if you cannot take a needle with you, what are you going to do with this world of wealth—the forty treasures you have amassed?” Karoon said, “Please tell me the way to put this wealth to good purpose”. The Guru said, “Worship Allah. Use your wealth for the wellbeing of people. Bring comfort to your subjects and you will find salvation.” The king was ecstatic, and promised to live by the Guru’s words. Jalal, the mentor, was also pleased. Karoon kept and treasured the needle. To this day, the needle is offered for viewing as a remembrance of Nanak Shah Fakir. [3]

Dr Kohli writes further, “It has been learnt that a platform of Nanak Wali exists in honour of visit of the Guru in the suburban area of Cairo. The information has been gathered from persons serving in the British Army during the first Great War. In Sikh chronicles the place is known as Kaikei which is said to be modern Cairo. [4] Where Guru Nanak met the Sultan is located to the South of Kaikai town. [1] [2] This Platform was first seen by 20th Punjab Infantry in 1885/86. Giani Gian Singh and Prof. Surinder Singh Kohli are absolutely right when they say that A Sikh Regiment went to Cairo on their way to Sudan in 1885-86. They saw the Platform in the Citadel in Cairo. They held a congregation there and distributed the" Prasad" of nine hundred Egyptian Pounds [2] (This platform was last time photographed in 1920, photo taken by "" under the title "Architectures in Cairo".[5]

The stand of Giani Gian Singh and Prof. Surinder Singh Kohli stand confirms that a Sikh Unit of British Army went to Cairo, on their way to Sudan for "Sudan Expedition" against Mehdi. The "20th Punjab Infantry" went to Cairo. The whole Indian Contingent for "Sudan Expedition" is given in the next picture

Sikh Unit in Cairo in 1885, on their way to Sudan: By courtesy of Archnet: Org. Image no.62352.

Sir Hector Macpherson was the Colonel of the contingent and Richard Gorden was the General for this contingent. This included Infantry Brigade consisting of Ist Battalion Seafoth Highlanders, 7the Bengal Native Infantry, 20th Punjabi Infantry and 29th (2nd Baluch Battalion) Bombay Native Infantry.[6]

After 1925, the visit to this platform and "The Palace of the King" was restricted to the visitors. Bhai Harpal Singh Kasur managed to visit this platform with the help of Egyptian Police and took photographs as given below kind courtesy Bhai Harpal Singh Kasur.

Guru Nanak’s place (Platform) in Kaikai Cairo in 1920

1. The photo of the room where Guru Nanak and Mardana stayed in 1519.

2. Front Door of The Well in Citadel: This well of Citadel, Cairo, was connected with two canals, one from Port Said (Suez Canal) and other from Nile River. But both the canals had been changed to be roads these days. The name of the road is Port Said both ways. (Photos of Egypt, from the Album of Bhai Harpal Singh Kasur) The door to the well, which supplied water to the whole Citadel, and was linked by a canal which is closed now and the water supply, is done through piping’s. On this well, Guru Nanak Dev Ji used to take bath.

3. The Corbels (Darts) which Used to be a Part of Casser-Al- Ablaq: These are the corbels which gave support to Casser-Al-Ablaq, the official Palace of Sultan Khyar Back, Ottoman Empire. Khayr Beck stayed in the Casser-Al-Ablaq. "Casser" means Fort or Quilla in Arabic. This Quilla is located behind The Mohammed Ali Mosque in Citadel, Cairo. "Citadel" means the boundary wall, in Arabic. (Photos of Egypt, from the Album of Bhai Harpal Singh Kasur) Now it is totally forbidden for the visitors.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji is called Al-Wali-Nanaka in Egypt. A portion of it, had the name of Al-Wali Nanaka Mukam. Mukam means "Takhat" or sitting place or Platform. This image was taken in 1920. This means this plate forum was intact up to 1920 and some years later. But now it is totally restricted by the Egyptian Government.

4. Al- Abu-Alibis Ilsmore alias Sufi Mosque in Alexandria, where Guru Nanak and Mardana Ji stayed in 1519. This is the "Mukam" or the sitting place of Al-Wali-Nanaka-Mukam. This was confirmed of Mr. Ahmed Raff at, Senior Translator, Alexandria Library (Bibliotheque Alexandrina) and his friends. Sufi Mosque is located near Rasteen Road, Alexandria.

5. In This Sufi Mosque, Mr. Shaikh Ramadan (whose picture is given next) told Bhai Harpal Singh Kasur that they do the Simran (Isma) by saying Vahid Allah, which means Ek Onkar (God is One). Miss Hameera of University of Alexandria did the translation whatever Mr. Sheikh Ramadan said in Arabic. This means Sufis do the simran almost the same way as the Sikhs do. Though, we use "Waheguru", which means "O Guru! You are Great". Sikhs also believe in one God. The difference between main stream Muslims and Islamic Sufism, according to Ahmed Raffat and others is that the traditional Muslims believe that Mohammed Sahib was Prophet after he got Revelation, but Sufis believe that Mohammed Sahib was a Prophet by birth. The years before his Ilham cannot be excluded from him.

6. Painting of the port: Mr. Ahmed Raffat told Harpal Singh Kasur that old paintings and gravings are available in their "Picture Gallery of Dr. Mohammed Awadh" located in their Alexandria Library where from Bhai Harpal Singh Kasur get some old picture of the Sufi Mosque in Alexandria. The full name of this mosque is "Al-Abu-Alabes Ilsemore Mosque". [8]

Giani Gian Singh writes further: Guruji asked Mardana to play rebec and sang a hymn.[2] On this Platform, Guru Nanak Sahib uttered the Shabad----" Majh Mahala-I------Pahle Pyar Laga Than Dudh, Duje Maai Baap Ki Sudh, Tije (Third) Bhaya Bhabi Beb---------" (SGGS P.137).

Fiirst; One is attached to mother’s milk. Second; one is in the care of parents. Third; one is attached to brother and sister-in-law. Fourth; is one’s love play with lover. Fifth; one enjoys eating and drinking. Sixth: sex does not care caste. Seventh: keeping control one settles home. Eighth: anger destroys the body. Ninth: hair becomes white and breath comes with difficulty. Tenth: the body ultimately becomes ash. Forgetting any music people start crying. The soul leaves the body and shows others their future. One came and went and the name given to him is gorgotten. Food is offered for which crows are invited. One who follows one’s mind loves all darkness. The world is lost in darkness with the true guide (Guru).

The local people gathered in strength to listen and were very much impressed’. [2] Mardana later went to have bath in the canal nearby. There he met Juljalali son of Peer Jalal in chair of Peer Dastgir’s Chair. He was going to Guru Nanak along with his followers. Mardana was singing: Pataal Pataal lakh aagasa agaas; Odk odk bhaal thakke ved kahan ik vaat (SGGS, p.5).

There are many netherworlds under the netherworlds; there are many skies over the skies. The limits of the universe have been well researched but finally all the religious texts say only one thing that He is the One and One alone. One works according to whatever is written for him and his life ends the way written by Him. Nanak says: ‘He is said to be big; how big He is; He alone knows’. (SGGS, p.5)

Juljalali heard this and said: “Islam does not accept so many skies or underneath worlds. You must be an infidel ({censored}) to state this. Mardana said, “This is the composition of my Guru, Guru Nanak.” As the discussion became hot Juljalali took him to the religious teacher of the king. The religious teacher first heard about the details about the composer; Guru Nanak. Since he had heard the fame of the Guru, he was very much pleased to listen about him and asked Mardana to call him.

Mardana said, “He does not go to anyone when ordered as such. He is carefree and does not bother about any one. He may go of his own.” The peer said, “Paying obeisance to such God loved beings is like seeing the God Himself. Let us go and pay our regards to him.” When the Peer reached the Guru, the Guru got up and received him with all courtesies saying Salamalekum and Sat Kartar.

Juljalal said to Guru Nanak: “In Quran there are fourteen skies which you have been put to question. Until we see these skies for ourselves how can we confirm it?”

Guru Nanak replied: “Peer Jalal, The truth is that there are countless skies and countless netherlands. There is only One God over all of them”.

Guru Nanak went into meditation and took Juljalal the son of Jalal into his thoughts. Juljalal was convinced of many skies as he got into meditation along with Guru Nanak. He was convinced of many nether worlds likewise many Paigambars and Avatars on these lands with congregations singing hymns in praise of God ……Juljalal told this all to his father who accepted Guru Nanak’s greatness and agreed with the words of the hymn Mardana was singing. They both bowed before Guru Nanak.[2]

The Peer took the Guru to the King. The hagiographies of Guru Nanak Dev and Gur Nanak Parkash Granth, narrate the Advice Naseehatnama in the form of a conversation between the King Hamid Karun (King of Misar or Rum : the regions around Egypt and Turkey) and the Guru. The king was a cruel tyrant who amassed wealth by snatching the same from the people. The state was such that for money’s sake he even put his daughter on sale. A Youngman went to his mother and requested for a rupee so that he could buy king‘s daughter.

It is an epistle of advice (Naseehatnama) from Guru Nanak to the King. This however is not authenticated as Guru Nanak bani hence put as a note at the end.

Having heard the advice the king felt guilty conscious and fell at Guru Nanak’s feet. He requested Guruji to redeem from this evil world. Guru Nanak explained to him further, “The wealth of a king is his public. The richness and happiness of public is the real honour and richness of the king. The public is the garden ; the king is the gardener: the public is the like goats, the king is the caretaker. Where the public is happy the king has nothing to fear. Public offers, their self, intellect and wealth to a king who is sincere to the public. Such a king finds happiness here and heaven in the other world. The kings who get involved in power, pelf and pleasure never attain happiness their kingdom falls like an improperly constructed wall. The public becomes deadly against such a king and ensures that his genealogy does not rule further.

When this wealth is not a source of happiness, and gives pain to the public is of no use to you. The wealth snatched from public is a criminality of a king. To find peace distribute this huge wealth which you have accumulated with dubious means, to the public.

The king bowed before Guruji’s advice and distributed his entire wealth to the public. He handed over the kingdom to his son and started meditation and attended regular congregations of saints. Epistle of advice known as Naseehatnama has not been confirmed as Guru’s bani hence given as a note of reference only.

However, Dr Trilochan Singh has reported of a stone memorial (Captain Bhag Singh, Founding Managing Editor of the Sikh Review, was told about the existence of this monument when he was at Cairo during World War II. Unfortunately he could not go there and see). Dr Trilochan Singh has also reported from the work of Sydney Nettleton Fisher that in Egypt or in Istanbul (Turkey) Guru Nanak had met the Emperor of Rum Salim (1511-1520CA). Dr Trilochan Singh further says that Guru Nanak might have visited Jerusalem. [9]

Because of a lack of any solid evidence, Fauja Singh and Kirpal Singh [10] further strengthened their views that the shortest route from Baghdad to Mecca was first marked and prepared for Khalifa Harun Rashid's wife, Zubaida Begum, for Hajj (the pilgrimage) to Mecca. And then during 14th century Ibn Batuta adopted the same route for his journey from Baghdad to Mecca. They have ignored the fact that the passage to Palestine, Syria, and Turkey and then to Baghdad might be easier than that of direct route proposed by them.

They have also ignored another fact that while in Mecca, Guru Nanak was very close to the center of ancient civilization in Cairo (Egypt) and the center of the Jews, Jerusalem (Israel), and a Sufi center established by Hazrat Moulana Jallaluddin Rumi in Konya (Turkey), whose philosophy was very prevalent not only in the Middle East but also in India and now in the West.

Since Guru Nanak has not left any place connected with Sufism, and religious centers, therefore, there is every possibility that Guru Nanak might have visited the ancient civilization in Cairo (Egypt), Wailing Wall of Herod's Temple in Jerusalem, Sufi center started by Sufi Rumin Konya (Turkey) and might have met the Emperor of Rum, Salim, in Istanbul (Turkey). If the inscription on the newly discovered monument confirms that it is a memorial to Guru Nanak then it will confirm that Guru Nanak did not proceed from Mecca directly to Baghdad but went to Cairo, Jerusalem, Syria, and Konya and Istanbul in Turkey and then to Baghdad.

Nasihatanama - Guru Nanak's conversation with the King of Misar [11]

Note of reference: Naseehatnama [2] Epistle of Advice:

One has to do good deeds to obtain blessings of God.
Whatever is visible on earth is perishable.
One may have money or muscle to a great extent.
Neither the ones having Crores nor with thousand will stay.
The money belongs to the ones who spends and eat.
God gives or gets one to give and to have one’s fill.
When one gets, one should not eat it up himself.
Whosoever distributes the earned, goes to the heaven.
Say ‘no more’ and never be proud of what you have.
Do not think that the wealth will always be with you;.
Elephants, horses or thousands of troops;
Shall perish in no moment; it won’t take time.
The one who is mad about the world
Says this country belongs to me.
When death comes; the world is neither yours nor mine.
Many have left enjoying playing bands in their honour.
Only the One; the true God only shall remain.
One comes alone and goes alone.
Nothing helps while one leaves the world.
When account of your deeds is asked what shall you reply?
You will cry, ‘no more, no more’ but will not get released.
You have earned wealth through atrocities on others.
You neither ate it nor offered it to others: it all went waste.
Worried you cry ‘hai, hai.’

From God’s court you will get the due punishment.
It is shame on them and their wealth;
Who looted the world through deceit.
You drink wine and eat roast meat.
The public will watch you being degraded.
You have not remembered the One to whom you belong to.
You have forgotten God due to greed of the world.
You neither meditated nor kept your honesty.
You do atrocities daily; so says the world.
You destroy the settlements and do not settle them again;
You shall cry and call for help but no one shall come to your aid.
You call yourself ruler but you are unable to rule.
You are madly in love with the world and carelessly roam in pride.
You loot the country to have the pomp and pleasure.
Finally you will burn in the fire of hell.
O! The one mad for the world: You do not see His Being with affection.
This world will not remain so always; you do not know this.
Do not feel ashamed now: do some good to the society.
You cannot go easily with this robe of curse.
If you neglect these words now you will be beaten badly.
Neither your son nor daughter will care for you.
Say ‘no more’ and do not use the force.
Otherwise you will be burnt in to the fire of hell even in grave.
The Lords, the paighambars, the Shahs and Khans;
shall not leave any footmarks on the earth.
The life is like the shadow of flying pigeon
Many merged into the ashes; no one even asks their names.
The one who amassed wealth; lost honesty.
Karoo too was too worried at the time of his death.
O man! Never forget bowing before Him.
Don’t lose the game through pleasure, pomp and pelf.
Say no to evil and never do any wrong
Only God is the Ultimate Savior from this world; says Nanak.

1. Surinder Singh Kohli, Dr. Travels OF Guru Nanak, Publication Bureau, Punjab University, Chandigarh,1969.ICR0585.JPG, p.150.
2. Giani Gian Singh Twarikh Guru Khalsa Part-I, Bhasha Vibhag, Punjab, Patiala, 1970Gian Singh Twareekh Khalsa, p. 264.
3. Bhai Bala Janamsakhi
4. Dr Surinder Singh Kohli, p.148-149.
6. A Wargamer's Guide To The 1882 Nile Compaign and the 1884-1885 Gorden Relief Expedition (in Sudan), Jessica Productions, 186, Torbay Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA2 9QL, 1993.
7. Photos of Egypt from the Album of Bhai Harpal Singh Kasur, May, 2009.
8. Gursikhi Jivan: Guru Nanak in Turkey Part 2
9. Dr Trilochan Singh
10. Dr Fauja Singh Kirpal Singh