Civilization has existed for more than 2 thousand years on the lands of Karakalpakstan. Many kingdoms changed one another during this time, many civilizations have disappeared from the face of the earth. The memory about them is left in ancient fortresses and the remains of cities and settlements. The fortresses were built of clay but strangely enough this short-lived material could survive until our days.
One place in Karakalpakstan is especially unusual ... the sacred mountains of Sultan Waiss. They are low and famous for the absolutely black color. In ancient times there was the sanctuary of the goddess of water and fertility Anahita. Until now, a pond with sacred fish has been preserved. These fish, if they die from drought, are buried with weeping, wrapped in white shrouds.
With the arrival of Islam to these lands originated the cult of Waiss al-Qarani, a shepherd from Yemen, who was one of the first to follow the Prophet Muhammad. His mazar in Sultan Bobo complex visit thousands of pilgrims annually. In Khorezm, he is considered to be the patron of rain and underground springs, while among Turkmen and Kazakhs he is the patron of camels.
Legends say that Sultan Waiss lived here, he was a shepherded and never seen the Prophet, but was in some kind of telepathic connection with him. Sultan Waiss always walked naked and barefoot, shouting all the times one of the names of Allah - "Hu", which means "He." The rumor about him reached Muhammad, and the four companions of the Prophet brought him the clothes sent by Muhammad. Putting on clothes Sultan-Waiss appeared before God, grabbed a stone and broke his own head, bursting into tears. All the birds gathered and wept over his broken head. Sultan-Waiss demanded from God that all sinners be at his disposal to guide them on the true path. But God was indignant that he had broken his head. "Your tears turned into Daria (the river)," said the god to Waiss. "I'm asking sinners from you," insisted Sultan-Waiss. God gave him up only one-third of sinners. And Sultan-Waiss kept insisting on his own and again beat himself with a stone on the head ... Then he began to pray for the fate of the remaining sinners, and finally they were also given to him. He prayed so ardently that the stone on which he was kneeling melted beneath him. And today you can see a part of this stone with a shin print. The second part, as they say, was taken away by scientists to Leningrad for research.
This legend is among many Khorezm stories with the similar plot about the saint - his bold "trade" with God for the souls of sinners.
Many legends are associated with the ancient land of Khorezm and the legend of Sultan Waiss - one of them. To this day, many pilgrims from all over the world come here to worship the place where this legendary shepherd lived.
The cult of saints exists in all world religions, and Islam is not an exception, although here it did not form immediately, but with the establishment of this religion in various parts of the world in the process of the formation of the Muslim dogma. Worship of saints and pilgrimage to places associated with their names became the norm of religious behavior of a Muslim only with the time.
In any area of the traditional spread of Islam in our country one can find the so-called holy places. Many have long lost their former significance, they are rarely visited by believers, while others are still surrounded by veneration: this is one of the main forms of manifestation of modern religiosity.
A lot of saints of all ranks and "specialties" are known, but none can compare with Sultan-Waiss (also known as Sultan Bobo) in popularity, force of influence on the consciousness of believers.
The main center of his cult - the sanctuary of Sultan-Bobo is in the lower reaches of the Amu Darya River, far away from settlements, on the southern slope of the mountain range, which bears his name - Sultanuizdag. There is a whole complex of cult buildings here. In the early 50's, the life around the tomb of Sultan-Waiss was boiling. A hotel was built for the pilgrims, a kitchen was set up for the preparation of sacrificial rams, etc.
It is still hard to understand why the legendary character, the native from distant Arabia is so respected, that his cult has survived to our time.
One can be surprised by the fact that the main focus of the people who come here is not the grave of Sultan-Waiss, but rather a large sacred pool - houz. Pilgrims drink water from it, wash their faces, and many perform a complete ablution, for which a sheikh built a pavilion that could accommodate 20-25 people at a time. Water from the houz is also collected and taken with them in cans, bottles - it is considered a holy and should help with diseases and other troubles. But what does the Sultan-Waiss have to do with it? The explanation is that the spring water filling the pool flows out of the feet of the buried saint.