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Sufi Saints

Khwaja Muinuddin Chisti is regarded as the foremost preacher of Sufism among Sufis of India. Akbar, the Mughal emperor believed that it was his blessings which lead him a son and the heir for the Mughal throne. This belief of Akbar started a trend among the people. They also started visiting to the mazar of Chisti thinking that the mazar will fulfill their ambitions by offering prayers.

Chisti came to India alongwith the Islamic invader Muhammad Ghori. He was an advisory to Ghori. Chisti was a spy to Muhammad Gori. What chisti would have advised can be easily imagined by the fanatic and radical hostility of Ghori towards Hindus of this country.

The history of Islam stands witness to the fact that the spreading of its message to the furthest corners of the world are due to the tireless efforts of the Sufi saints and the Ulema-e-Kiram (Islamic scholars).

In particular, the delivery of Islam’s message is hugely accredited to the work of the Sufi Saints which resulted in the Muslim rule of India and Pakistan for approximately eight hundred years.

These Sufi saints emerged from the Arab world, and from the cities of Sanjar, Ghazni and Bukhara. They presented such a fine practical example of the doctrines of Islam to the inhabitants of the Indian sub-continent that people who worshipped idols of stone and multiple deities now turned to worship the one & only true God, Almighty Allah.

Amongst this group of pious accomplished Sufi saints is the great leader by the name of Khwaja Shaykh Ghulam Mohiuddin Ghaznavi.

Khwaja Ghaznavi spent forty-seven years preaching Islam in the Kashmir Valley.

Muhammad Nizamuddin Auliya , also known as Hazrat Nizamuddin, was a Sufi saint of the Chishti Order and arguably one of the most famous Sufis on the Indian Subcontinent. His predecessors were Fariduddin Ganjshakar, Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki and Moinuddin Chishti. In that sequence, they constitute the initial spiritual chain or silsila of the Chishti order, widely prevalent in the Indian subcontinent.

He, like his predecessors, stressed love as a means of realising God. For him his love of God implied a love of humanity. His vision of the world was marked by a highly evolved sense of religious pluralism and kindness. It is claimed by the 14th century historiographer Ziauddin Barani that his influence on the Muslims of Delhi was such that a paradigm shift was effected in their outlook towards worldly matters. People began to be inclined towards mysticism and prayers and remaining aloof from the worl

Shāh Nimatullāh or Shāh Ni’matullāh Wali was a Sufi Master and poet from the 14th and 15th centuries. He is revered by Shi’a as a saint and by the Sufi order Nimatullahi who consider him their founder. Ni’matullah met Abdollah Yafe’i Qadri in Mecca and subsequently became his disciple. He studied intensely with his teacher for seven years. Spiritually transformed, he was sent out for a second round of travels; this time as a realized teacher.

By the time Ni’matullah died, his fame had spread throughout Persia and India, and it is said[vague] that he initiated hundreds of thousands of followers in the path now known by his name.

Ni’matullah’s son Shah Khalilullah was the next qutb (master) of the Nimatullahi order. The silsilah (spiritual lineage) of the Nimatulli then moved to Ashtoor outside Bidar in the Deccan.

Gaisu Daraz was a murid (disciple) of the noted Sufi saint of Delhi, Hazrat Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlavi. After the death of Chiragh Dehlavi, Gaisu Daraz took on the mantle of the successor (khalifa). When he moved to Daulatabad around 1400, owing to the attack of Timur on Delhi, he took the Chishti Order to South India. He finally settled down in Gulbarga, at the invitation of the Bahamani Sultan, Taj ud-Din Firuz Shah. Having lived for over forty years in Delhi, he moved to Gulbarga at the age of around 76. Firoz Shah Bahmani ruled over the Deccan during this period. He gave him much respect. For a long time he was engaged in religious discourses, sermons, and spiritual training of the people.

Dara Shukoh is widely renowned as an enlightened paragon of the harmonious coexistence of traditions on the Indian subcontinent. He was a champion of mystical religious speculation and a poetic diviner of cultural interaction among people of all faiths. This made him a suspect eccentric in the view of many of the worldly power brokers swarming around the Mughal throne. Dara Shikoh was a follower of the Persian “perennialist” mystic Sarmad Kashani, as well as Lahore’s famous Qadiri Sufi saint Hazrat Mian Mir, whom he was introduced to by Mullah Shah Badakhshi. Mian Mir was so widely respected among all communities that he was invited to lay the foundation stone of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by the Sikhs.

Dara Shikoh subsequently developed a friendship with the seventh Sikh Guru, Guru Har Rai. Dara Shikoh devoted much effort towards finding a common mystical language between Islam and Hinduism. Towards this goal he completed the translation of fifty Upanishads from their original Sanskrit into Persian in 1657 so that they could be studied by Muslim scholars. His translation is often called Sirr-e-Akbar (“The Greatest Mystery”), where he states boldly, in the introduction, his speculative hypothesis that the work referred to in the Qur’an as the “Kitab al-maknun” or the hidden book, is none other than the Upanishads. His most famous work, Majma-ul-Bahrain (“The Confluence of the Two Seas”), was also devoted to a revelation of the mystical and pluralistic affinities between Sufic and Vedantic speculation. The book was authored as a short treatise in Persian in 1654-55.

Baba Shah Inayat Qadiri Shatari, also called Enayat Shah (1643–1728) was a Sufi scholar and saint of the Qadiri-Shatari silsila (lineage). He was born in Kasur, in the Punjab region of present-day Pakistan. Qadiri was known as the murshid (spiritual guide) of the Punjabi poets, Bulleh Shah (1680 CE – 1758 CE) and Waris Shah (1722 CE – 1798 CE).[1]

Qadiri was a Sufi scholar of the Qadiri-Shatari silsila (lineage). Almost all of the Qadiri Sufi orders trace their lineage to Abdul-Qadir Gilani (1077 CE – 1166 CE). Gilani was the son of Mawlawi Pir Mohammad of Kasur, who was an Imam.

Qadiri is remembered as a preacher, a religious scholar, a philosopher and a saint. Qadiri was a scholar of mysticism. He wrote mostly in Persian. His works include Dasturul Amal, Islahul Amal, Lataif-e-Ghaibya, and Ishartul Taliban. In Dastur-al-Ama (“The Handbook of Practice”) Qadiri describes the methods of ancient Hindu rishis (inspired poets of vedic hymns) who were the ancient inhabitants of Indian subcontinent and were considered passing through stages necessary for “God-realization

Syed Abdullah Shah Qadri popularly known as Bulleh Shah was an Indian Punjabi Muslim and philosopher. His first spiritual teacher was Shah Inayat Qadiri, a Sufi murshid of Lahore. Bulleh Shah gathered spiritual treasures under the guidance of his murshid and was known for the karamat (miraculous powers) he had.

Bulleh Shah lived after the Pashto Sufi poet Rahman Baba (1653–1711). He practised the Sufi tradition of Punjabi poetry. The verse form Bulleh Shah primarily employed is the Kafi, popular in Punjabi (Saraiki) and Sindhi poetry.

Bulleh Shah’s writings represent him as a humanist, someone providing solutions to the sociological problems of the world around him as he lives through it, describing the turbulence his motherland of Punjab is passing through, while concurrently searching for God. His poetry highlights his mystical spiritual voyage through the four stages of Sufism: Shariat (Path), Tariqat (Observance), Haqiqat (Truth) and Marfat (Union). The simplicity with which Bulleh Shah has been able to address the complex fundamental issues of life and humanity is a large part of his appeal.

The Hindu Impact on Sufism

The origins of Sufism are unknown, there are many orders who’s saints claim ancestry to thefamily of the Prophet through Ali ibn Abu Talib and some Sufi orders claim silsila (chain of knowledge) from the caliphs (Umar, Abu Bakr, Usman and Ali).

Whether Sufism existed before Islam is another debate, but with the concepts of Islam whatever existed before Islam was wrong and whatever came after it is an innovation in religion which is also frowned upon. Strictly speaking Sufism should not be a subset of Islam or even remotely associated with Islam.

Sufism ended up as a result of folk Islam, when some of the religious practices were molded and adopted the mystical part which was never a part of Islam was adopted from Zoroastrianism and practiced and perfected.

The Sufi (Chishti Order) that is practiced throughout India/Pakistan first started with Abu Ishaq Shami (Abu Ishaq of Syria) and Qadiriyya Order originated from Iran around the same time, for some reason Indians ignored any Sufi orders that didn’t fall or had its origins on the the spice route between Persia/India, like Tijaniyyah. The widespread of Sufi orders in Africa/Asia is a proof that Sufism was not influenced by Hinduism.

However since idol worship was very common in some parts of Syria/Iran/Iraq during the day, it is not surprising some of the ideologies of Sufism share with Idol worshiping (in case of Sufi orders, grave worshiping).

Hinduism didn’t had any influence in establishing Sufism/Sufi orders or the core concepts of Sufism but, Hinduism practiced in India did influence in mastering the Sufi rituals/concepts such as Ziyarat & Yatra, Tabarruk & Prasad, Qawwali & Bhajan, Incense sticks, and applying Sandalwood to graves/Idols, and Wahadut-ul-wajud/Visvarupam (Everything is God).

Hinduism’s influence on Sufism outside the subcontinent is not much. Rumi in Masnavi talks about Hindoos. Some of the Sufis claim Kanha(Krishna) as one of their prophets. Scriptural influence of Hinduism on Sufism is minimal.

Sufism came to India around 11th century, right at the time when the Bhakti movement started blooming, and the two fit like hand and glove. Thus, Sufi traditions in the sub-continent have a good amount of Hindu influence, as well as influencing Bhakti movement itself. This is easily seen in the traditions like composition of devotional songs, and greater use of local languages.

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