Shaikh Bahauddin Zakriya was born in 1182 at Kot-Krur, not far from Multan, where his grandfather, originally from Makkah, had finally settled. After receiving his early education in Multan he went to Khurasan and completed his advanced studies under well-known scholars at Bukhara and Madina. At Baghdad he got himself enrolled as a disciple of Shaikh Shahabuddin Shorwardhi (1145-1234) who conferred Khilafat on him and then directed him to return to his father-land to serve the people.
Services to Islam: In Multan he set up his Khanqah and soon became a highly respected and popular figure and a large number of people were attracted by him and joined the circle of his disciples. The well-known Shaikh of Sehwan, Usman Marwandi, popularly known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, was also his disciple. It was due to his efforts that the non-Muslims residing in these regions embraced Islam. He also took keen interest in the public utility work by helping the promotion. of agriculture, trade and the digging of wells and canals.
Foundations of Shorwardhi Silsilah in Subcontinent: The Shorwardhi order was founded by Shaikh Abdul Najib Shorwardhi (1097-1162) and was introduced into Muslim India by Shaikh Bahauddin Zakriya, who was encouraged by Shaikh Shahabuddin Shorwardhi, the pir of Bahauddin Zakriya, the famous author of an Arabic manual on sufism entitled Awariful-Maarif and virtually co-founder of Shorwardhi silsilah. With Multan as its centre the silsilah became dominant in the areas which now constitute Pakistan. Shaikh Shahabuddin and his successors at Multan were universally respected, and at the time of Mongol invasion of Multan, they became the spokesman for the common people.”
Revolt against Local Ruler: He had a great influence over the masses and had close contacts with scholars of his time. An idea of his popularity and respect as a pious religious leader can be formed by an incident. Shaikh Bahauddin did not like Nasiruddin Qabachah, Chief of Multan, because of his indifference in regard to enforcing the law of Shariat. Accordingly when he came to know that he (Qabachah) was planning a revolt against the central government he wrote a letter to Sultan Iltutmish informing him about it. A similar letter was written by the Qazi of Multan. Both of these letters were intercepted by the men of Qabachah. He called the Shaikh and the Qazi to his court and placed the letters before them; the Qazi had no explanation to offer and was executed on the spot. But not having enough courage to treat the Shaikh in a similar fashion Qabachah asked him if the letter was written by him. The Shaikh replied in the affirmative adding that it was from God (az Haq) and he could do what he-could. Qabachah was taken aback by the frank admission of the Shaikh. He thought of another trick. Knowing that the Shaikh usually did not take meals outside his house, he ordered food to be laid before him. His purpose was, however, defeated because the Shaikh partook of it. Qabachah- finding himself helpless let the Shaikh go.
Later Iltutmish defeated Qabachah and annexed his territory. The Ismailis of Multan, who once. attempted to assassinate the Sultan in order to establish their own faith as the state religion, were,uprooted by the Sultan. Shaikh Bahauddin Zakriya had a great deal to do with reconverting Ismailis to Sunnism in Multan.
His Successors: Sheikh Bahauddin had many disciples who carried on his mission successfully. Among them most prominent were his son Sheikh Sadruddin Arif and grandson Sheikh Rukunuddin, Syed Jalal Bukhari, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, and Amir Husaini. He died at Multan in 1226 and was buried in the Multan Fort.