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The Sufi Movement

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January 25, 2017

Why in news?

  • The death anniversary of Sufi Saint Nizamuddin Auliya was recently observed.

What is Sufi Movement?

  • The 10th century A.D marks the important changes in the realm of ideas and beliefs in the Islamic religion - the rise of the Sufi mystic orders.
  • The core concept of Sufi Movement is Darikh-i-Duniya / Wahad-ul-wahjud, meaning “Universal Brotherhood”. It outwardly rejected the religion and emphasized love and devotion to God and compassion towards all fellow human beings.
  • Mystics, who are called Sufis, were persons of deep devotion who were disgusted by the display of wealth and degeneration of morals following the establishment of the Islamic empire.
  • The Sufis were organized in 12 orders or Silsilahs. A Silsilah was generally led by a prominent mystic who lived in a Khanqah or hospice along with his disciples.
  • The Sufi orders are broadly divided into two: Ba-shara – Those who followed the Islamic Law and Be-shara – Those who were not bound by the Islamic Law.
  • The Sufi saints made themselves popular by adopting musical recitations called “Sama”, to create a mood of nearness to God.
  • Qawwali is the form of sufi devotional music popular in South Asia and ghazal is a form of Qawwali.

What are the major Silsilahs followed in India?

  • The four main Sufi orders – Chisti, Qadiriyya, Suhrawardiyya and Naqshbandi order were practiced in India.

Chisti Order

  • The Saints of Chisti Order were lived in poverty and lead a hermit life. They did not accept State service. This order is primarily followed in Afghanistan and Indian Subcontinent.
  • The Chisti order in India was established in India by Khwaja Muinuddin Chisti in 1192, shortly after the death of Prithvi Raj Chauhan.
  • He died in 1236 and his tomb in Ajmer was constructed by Ghiasuddin Khalji of Malwa. Mohammed Bin Tuqlaq visited the tomb and later it came under State Management during Mughal Ruler Akbar’s reign.
  • One of the other notable Sufi saints was Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki who organized work in Delhi and the contemporary Delhi Sultanate Ruler was Illtutmish who was deeply devoted to Chisti Order.
  • Another famous Sufi saint was Nizamuddin Auliya and he adopted yogic breathing exercises, so much so that the yogis called him sidh or ‘perfect.’
  • Auliya’s famous disciple was Amir Khusrow who is called as “father of Qawwali” and “Parrot of India” and introduced the Ghazal Style to India.
  • After the death of Nasruddin Chiragh-i-Delhi in the 14th century, the chishtis order declined.

Suharwardi Order

  • It entered India at the same time as the Chishtis and its activities were confined to the Punjab and Multan.
  • This order was established in India by Bahauddin Zakanya.
  • The Most well-known saints were Shaikh shihabuddin Suharwadi and Hamid-ud-din Nagori.
  • Another Saint Shaikh Fakhruddin Ibrahim Iraqi composed a treatise called Hamat which is a commentary on the Unity of Being (Wahdat-al-Wujud) and he was highly respected by the Delhi Sultans from Alauddin Khilji to Muhammad Bin Tughluq.
  • Unlike the Chishtis, the suharwardi saints did not believe in leading a life of Poverty. They accepted the service of the state and held important posts mainly under Delhi Sultanate ruler Iltutmish.

Qadri Order

  • This order was established in India by Niyammad-ulla-Qadiri and was introduced in India over Babur period.
  • A great follower of Qadri Order was Dara Shiko, who was the eldest son of the Mughal emperor Shah jahan.
  • During Aurangazeb’s reign, the Qadri order lost its patronage.

Nasqabhandi Order

  • This order was founded by Bahibillah and the followers were very orthodox compared to all other orders.
  • This order was popularized in India by Babur who was deeply devoted to Naqshbandiyya leader Khwaja Ubaidullah Ahrar.
  • One of the disciples of Khwaja was Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi who opposed all those practices and beliefs of Akbar and demanded re-imposition of Jizyah.
  • Later he was imprisoned by Jahangir for claiming a status beyond that of the Prophet.
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