Sheikh Rukn-ud-Din Abul Fath (1251-1335) commonly known by the title Rukn-e-Alam (pillar of the world) was among the eminent Sufi saints from Multan, Pakistan.
The Shaikh was the son of Pir Sadar-Al-Din Arif born at Multan on Friday, the 9th of Ramadan 649 Hijri (26 November 1251). He was the grandson and successor of Shaikh Baha-Ud-Din Zakariya.
Shaikh Rukn-e-Alam (Rukn-al-Din) died on Friday, the 7th of Jumada al-awwal 735 Hijri (3 January 1335). He was buried in the mausoleum of his grandfather, according to his own will. After sometime, however, his coffin was transferred to the present mausoleum.
The saint is still revered today and his tomb is the focus of the pilgrimage of over 100,000 pilgrims from all over South Asia who visit and commemorate his memory.
The tomb of Shah Rukn-e-Alam was built between 1320 and 1324, is an unmatched pre-Moghul masterpiece. The Mausoleum of Rukn-i-Alam could possibly be considered as the glory of Multan.
From whichever side the city is approached, the most prominent thing that can be seen from miles all around is a huge dome. This dome is the Shrine of the saint. The tomb is located on the southwest side of the Fort premises. This elegant building is an octagon, 51 feet 9 inches in diameter internally, with walls 41 feet 4 inches high and 13 feet 3 inches thick, supported at the angles by sloping towers. Over this is a smaller octagon 25 feet 8 inches, on the exterior side, and 26 feet 10 inches high, leaving a narrow passage all round the top of the lower storey for the Moazzan, or public caller to prayers. The whole is surmounted by a hemispherical dome of 58 feet external diameter. The total height of the building, including a plinth of 3 feet, is 100 feet. As it stands on the high ground, the total height above the road level is 150 feet.
Besides its religious importance, the mausoleum is also of considerable archaeological value as its dome is reputed to be the second largest in the world, after Gol Gumbaz of Bijapur, India, which is the largest. The mausoleum is built entirely of red brick, bounded with beams of shisham wood, which have now turned black after so many centuries. The whole of the exterior is elaborately ornamented with glazed tile panels, string-courses and battlements. Colors used are dark blue, azure, and white, contrasted with the deep red of the finely polished bricks.
The tomb was said to have been built by Ghias-ud-Din Tughlak (r. 1320-1325) for himself during the days of his governorship of Depalpur, between 1320 and 1324 AD, but was given by his son, Muhammad bin Tughluq to the descendents of Shah Rukn-e-Alam for the latter’s burial in 1330.
The mausoleum of Rukn-e-Alam has been admired by not only the travelers and chroniclers but also by the art-historians and archaeologist who wrote the architectural history of the subcontinent.
In the 1970s the mausoleum was thoroughly repaired and renovated by the Auqaf Department of the Punjab Government. The entire glittering glazed interior is the result of new tiles and brickwork done by the Kashigars of Multan