As mentioned earlier, Hazrat (R.A) used to occasionally visit Sial Sharif in the company of his teacher Maulvi Sultan Mehmood, to pay his respects to the latter’s Murshid (spiritual guide), Hazrat Khwaja Shams uddin used to treat Hazrat (R.A) with special affection during these short visits. Due to this Hazrat decided to become a Murid (Disciple) of Hazrat Khwaja Shams uddin. Soon after his return from Aligarh and Saharanpur, having completed his education, he travelled to Sial Sharif and took the Bait (pledge of Discipleship) at the hands of Hazrat Khwaja in the Chishtia Nizamiyah in the school of Tasawwuf. Although Hazrat was already a disciples of Hazrat syed Fazal Din shah sahib in the Qadriyah School, but preferred Silsila-e-Chishtia.
Hazrat Khwaja Shams uddin (R.A) was born at Sial Sharif in 1214 A.H (1795-96 A.D) and passed away at the same place on 24th Safar, 1300 A.H (1881- 82 A.D) at the age of 86. Hazrat Khwaja Shams uddin of Sial Sharif, besides being a highly learned scholar, was also a spiritual guide of eminent standing. Hazrat (R.A) used to pay high tributes to the greatness of his Shaikh and regarded him as a Mujaddid of the science of Tareeqat (Spiritual Faith). Hazrat Khwaja Shams uddin (R.A) ranked among the leading Khulafa (Deputies) of Hazra Shah Sulaiman (R.A), the renowned Chishti saint of Taunsa Sharif in Dera Ghazi Khan District of the Punjab.
Grant of Khilafat (deputyship) to Hazrat by his Murshid
Cognizant of Hazrat’s special scholarly and spiritual attributes, his Murshid, Hazrat Khwaja Shams uddin, had granted him a blanket permission for the performance of all the prescribed spiritual exercises and recitations, and for the enrolment of others as his disciples.
Hazrat Khwaja Sahib (R.A) gave particular attention to his spiritual training and advancement, and accorded him a treatment distinct from the common of his disciples and pupils. As a token of his special affection for Hazrat, he once arranged for Hazrat to take the pledge (bait) from a dervish in Sial Sharif, even though it was against established tradition for a disciple of Sial Sharif Shrine (i.e. Hazrat) to adopt others as disciple of his own while staying in the native place of his Murshid.
Hazrat’s devotion to his Sheikh
Hazrat Pir Mehr Ali Shah Sahib (R.A) was exceedingly devoted to his Sheikh (spiritual guide), Khwaja Shams uddin (R.A) of Sial Sharif. Hazrat explain himself that:
“The generosity of our Khwaja Shams uddin was such that anyone coming to him with a loving heart for guidance was blessed by him beyond his deserts. Who ever saw him once longed to see him again and again. During my stay in Makkah sharif in connection with Hajj in 1307 A.H, Hazrat Haji Imdad ullah Muhajir e Makki voluntarily wished to confer spiritual bounty on me as a gesture of grace. My inner feeling, however, was that none else could match the spiritual benefits that I had already received from my own Shaikh. On Haji Sahib’s insistence I did concede to accept his kind offer, but made it clear to him that I would regard it as coming in fact from my own Shaikh. Appreciating this, Haji Sahib granted permission to me to enrol disciples on his behalf in the Chishtia Sabriya School, as and when someone approached me for this purpose”.
Impact of Sheikh’s demise on Hazrat
The passing away of Hazrat Khwaja (R.A) caused immense emotional distress and intense sorrow to him. This led him, in line with the established Sufi practice, to seek “new pastures” for spiritual growth. He therefore temporarily gave up the teaching of formal religious sciences, and resorted to travels and wanderings in deserted places and lengthy spells of self-imposed seclusion for contemplation, prayers and spiritual exercises.
Translation: "Exercise of imagination while being all by oneself is an evidence of imperfect love; The true meaning of solitude is that thou shouldst feel alone in the company of others".
Since Hazrat Khwaja (R.A) of Sial Sharif had passed away only a short time earlier, Hazrat Pir Mehr Ali Shah Sahib (R.A) was found in a state of extreme grief and emotional disquiet, and frequently in tears. In this condition, Hazrat could not carry on the teaching and thus the job was taken temporarily by the senior students until Hazrat was ready to take charge once again. This state of affairs continued for some time and was followed by a long period of travels by Hazrat outside Golra. During this period, Hazrat used to remain away from home for months on without anyone knowing about his whereabouts. He would then suddenly come back, but after a brief stay would leave again for some other unknown destination, sometimes alone and at other times with a companion. In the beginning, these travels were confined to Lahore and some other cities of the Punjab province. Later, however, Hazrat directed his attention to places outside Punjab, and his first visit was then made to the Holy shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Moin uddin Chishti (R.A) at Ajmer Sharif in Rajputana area of India. After a few days stay there, and in response to some transcendental indication received at the shrine, he returned to Golra and soon thereafter proceeded to Hijaz (now part of Saudi Arabia) for Hajj (pilgrimage) and for the Ziarah of the Holy Prophet’s (P.B.U.H) sacred mausoleum at Madina Munawwara. It was there that he was spiritually entrusted with the noble task of mentorship from the exalted court of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) himself. Carrying this high honour with him, he returned home in 1307 A.H to embark upon his mission of spiritual guidance that was to occupy him for the rest of his life.