New Delhi [India], April 24 (ANI): Sufism as a moral and spiritual way of life with its universal appeal of love and humanism found an exceptionally congenial ground for its growth and spread in India from the earliest phases of its history. India had a strong inclination towards mysticism which found its clearest expression in the Vedic and Upanishad literature and this outlook provided an easy access to Islamic mysticism in the country, indoislamic.org reported.
Besides, the growth of the Sufi movement was accelerated by the peculiar social and cultural system based on caste laws. The caste structure had deprived the Indian society of that dynamic energy which sustains societies in times of crises and make them respond to new situations and challenges. All amenities of civic life were denied to the majority of the Indian population who were regarded as outcasts. The mystics' spiritual style, broad human sympathies, and the classless atmosphere of their hospices attracted these deprived sections of Indian society to its fold. They could free themselves from discrimination imposed upon them by the caste Hindus. The Sufis exemplified to the people the Islamic doctrines of Tauheed as a working principle in social life.
Sufis started their mission in India long before the establishment of Muslim political authority. Their policy of 'Sulh-e-kul' and simple and pious ways attracted a number of people to Islam. Malik Dinar, who had been responsible for the spread of Islam in Malabar, was himself a disciple of Hasan al Basri, the famous mystic of Iraq. Dinar had with him a number of disciples, most of whom were his own relatives, reported indoislamic.org.
Later, when Sufism developed as a cult in the Middle East, a number of Sufis migrated to India, and dividing the country into socio-cultural territories called wilayats, they started an intensive social reformation by establishing monasteries at different parts. They lived amongst the lower sections of society firstly because of caste taboos and secondly for the facility of establishing contacts with the Indian masses.
It appears that nearly half a century, before the Ghurid conquest of northern India, isolated Muslim cultural groups had secured a foothold in the country. At Bahraich there was a Muslim settlement around the mausoleum of Sayyid Salar Mas'ud.
In some towns of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, there were Muslim shrines of which those of Miran Mulhin (Badaun), Khwaja Majduddin Bilgrami and Lala pir at Gopamau and Imam Taqi (Maner) were important. In South India, Malabar, Ma'bar, Gujarat and many other places grew as Muslim centres exclusively due to the life and work of Sufis and not by the exertion of any political power.
Almost all the sufi orders had their centres in India. Of all first and foremost is the Chishti order founded in India by Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti. Both medieval and modem scholars have showered copious praise on Muinuddin but no reliable information regarding his early life remains. However, he was the embodiment of sufi virtues and was famous for his outstanding spiritual achievements which included the performance of miracles. He was the disciple of Khwaja Usman Harwani, an eminent Chishti saint of Nishapur. Most of chroniclers say that the Khwaja came to India and settled at Ajmir when it was ruled by Prithvi Raj Chauhan.
Still, Maulana Jamali, the author of Siyar - al- Arifin says that the Khwaja settled at Ajmir after it was conquered by Muhammad Ghori and Qutubuddin Aibek was appointed as viceroy. A number of people accepted Islam at the feet of Muinuddin. He died at Ajmir in March 1236A.D. and his shrine became a centre of pilgrimage not only of the Chishtis but also of all sorts of people despite their religion, caste or creed, reported indoislamic.org.
Shaikh Hamiduddin Nagauri (d. 1276 A.D.) and Qutubuddin Bhakhtyar Kaki (d. 1235 A.D.), the disciples of Khwaja Muinuddin popularised the Chishti silsilah in northern India. Shaikh Fariduddin Ganj I Shakar(d. 1265), the disciple of Shaikh Bhakhtyar gave the Chishti silsilah the momentum of an organized spiritual movement. He trained and tutored a large number of disciples who later on set up independent khanqahs and disseminated the teachings of Chishti silsilah. Among them, the most outstanding was Hazarat Nizamuddin of Delhi. For nearly half a century he lived and worked in Delhi. All sorts of men visited him and found spiritual solace in his company.
Other renowned Chishti saints are Shaikh Nasiruddin (d. 1356), Khwaja Husyn, Shaikh Abdul Quddus (d. 1537) Shaikh Jalal Taneswari, Shaikh Abdul Aziz, Shaikh Salim and Shaikh Gesu Diraz.
The Chishti saints generally lived in extreme poverty, without sufficient food and dwellings. Most of them lived on charity offered by the devotees. They developed an attitude of contempt and indifference towards the rulers who themselves felt humble before the spiritually elevated saints. Shaikh Farid advised Sayyid Maula; "Do not make friends with kings and nobles. Consider their visit to your home as fatal (for your spirit). Every darvesh who makes friends with the kings and nobles will end badly."The Suhrawardi silsilah was planted in India by Shaikh Bahauddin Zakariyya (d. 1182 -83) whose mystical ideology was radically different from that of his Chishti contemporaries. He believed in living a normal and balanced life - a life in which both the body and the spirit received equal care. Neither he himself fasted perpetually, nor did he recommend a life of starvation and self-mortification to those associated with him.
With the settlement of Muslims in India conciliation and concord between the various cultural groups became an urgent social necessity. The Muslim mystics, not the rulers, rose to the occasion and released synthetic forces which liquidated social, ideological and linguistic barriers, helping the development of a common cultural outlook. They adopted an attitude of sympathy and understanding towards all cults and creeds.
Hindu Muslim Mystical IdeasIn fact, there are numerous points of agreement and affinity between the Hindu and Muslim mystical ideas and they present similar tenets and tendencies not only in higher spheres of philosophical speculations but also on popular and devotional levels. Al Biruni points out the resemblance between the views expressed in Samkya and those of the Sufis regarding their allegorica! concept of paradise, between the Hindu doctrines of Moksha (liberation) and Muslim and Christian mystical parallel and between the ontological monism of Abu Yazid Bistami and similar doctrines in Patanjali, reported indoislamic.orgThe pantheistic monism or Advaita Vedanta and Wahdat al wujud of the sufis are different expressions of the conceptions of divinity, of man and of the universe. Though both the theories bear basic differences, for both of them the Divine Being, which is the sole ground of all that exists, manifests itself as the world and diversities are nothing but various modes of its ap-pearance. This self-manifestation of ultimate Being is spoken of in such vedantic terms as vivarta, prathibhasa and pratibimbha which are literally the same as the sufi concepts of tajalli, zuhur, aks and numud. The Sufis identifies theSupreme Soul with the soul in man leading to the state of Hama ust or anal haq which come very near to the Vedantic idea of tatwam-asi or aham brahmasmi. In both Vedanta and Sufism, we set parallel even in terminologies. In both cases jhana or ma'rifat is the only state in which the ultimate truth can be realised and the path for this is called marga or tariqa. The successive stages in the transformation of the self is called bhumika or maqamah. For the sufi terms of fana and baqa, the corresponding Vedantic terms are nirvikalpa samadhi and mukti. Other terms are as follows:Nirguna brahmam- dat al MutlaqVyakta avyakta - zahir batinNirupahika Supadhika - mutlaq, muqayyadSai and satyam - haq wa haqiqatSadhaka and siddha - Salik and wasilDhyana and dharna - dikr wa muraqabaSatyasa satyam- Haqiqat al haqaiqjyotism Jyoti - nur al anwarApparently, unconnected parallels of the doctrines of the Upanishads are found in al Ghazzali's distinction between the worldly and spiritual, in al Hujwiri's differentiation between human and divine knowledge and the doctrine of the descent of the absolute found in some sufi paths.9It has been suggested that some of the parallelisms between Hindu and Muslim mysticism might have been explained by direct and indirect Muslim influence on the Hindu centres of learning where Vedanta was developed and systematized by Shankaracharya (d. 820) and classical Bhakti by Ramanuja (d.l 137).
As pointed out by A. Barth, it was precisely in those parts of the Deccan where early Arab travellers had established their colonies that from the ninth to twelfth century those great religious movements connected with the names of Shankara, Ramanuja, Anantatirtha and Basava took shape and out of which the majority of the historical sects came and to which Hinduism presents nothing analogous till a much later period.10 However, many historians reject the view of Muslim influence on Sankara and his doctrine by saying that the doctrines were already there in Vedas and Upanishads and Sankara was only bringing out those hidden ideals and giving them a new life. Bhattachatterjee is more correct when he suggests: "....though the exact extent of Christian and Muslim influence on Hinduism is difficult to assess, there is definitely a theistic urge in Hindu religion in the periods of early Muslim settlements in the Deccan which finds powerful expression in many Vedantic writers who came after Sankara."Mystical ideas of Islam and the sufi way of life were so appealing to the Indian mind that even the Brahmins did not remain unaffected by the influence. Prof. Essor Suniti Kumar Chattarji writes: "We learn from one of the sixteenth-century biographies of Chaitanya that in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Brahmins were taking to heterodox ways like wearing a beard instead of being clean shaven, walking with a big stick, reading Persian and reciting the mathnawi, and these the author of biography did not like, and he called them evils of Kali or iron age".'The Sufis often criticized vehemently the unfair dealings of the rulers and persuaded them to act fairly and righteously with the subjects. Mian Abdullah Ajodhani condemned openly the attempts of Sultan Sikandar Lodhi (1498-1517) for demolishing certain temples and sacred places. When Muhammad bin Tughlaq titled himself the Sultan -i- Adii (The Just Sultan), Shaikh Shahabuddin Haque criticized him by saying, "Those who are unjust cannot be called the just ones." Hazrat Nizamuddin avoided the company of kings. During his lifetime seven rulers ascended the throne of Delhi but he visited none of them. When Alauddin Khalji decided to visit him he said: "My hospice has two doors, If the Sultan enters through one I will run away through the next door." Shaikh Abdu Rahman Naqshabandi refused the land provided to him by Aurangazeb.
The sufi saints were in general highly respected by the non-Muslims who treated them with a deep sense of trust and veneration. Khwaja Muinuddin of Ajmir and other saints of the Chishti order were highly esteemed by Hindus who visit even now their shrines to fulfil their desires as that of Muslims. Sayyid Sultan Ahmad had a large number of Hindu followers who called him Lakhidatda. Lala Shah Baz Qalandar Suhrawardi was called by Hindus as Raja Bharati. When the Hindus of Sindh, under the oppression of Kalhora kings were fleeing in numbers to save their life and faith, many of them were given shelter by Shaikh Inayat Shah. All communities respected 19 Baba Farid and the fact that his devotional composition in the Punjabi language had been included in the Adigrunth of Sikh religion, bears witness to this. Chatrapati Sivaji and his family were closely connected with the Sufis of the Deccan.
The Hindu mind was moved to a large extent by the sufi teachings of the unity of God and the brotherhood of man. "The fact that," says Nizami, "the religious leaders of the Bhakti movement in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries came from the lower stratum of Hindu society - a section which had been deeply influenced by Muslim mystics and their khanqah life is too significant to be ignored. Probably never before in the long history of Hinduism religious leaders sprung from those strata of society to which Chaitanya, Kabir, Nanak, Dhanna, Dadu and others belonged.
This, along with the spread of Islam in India, Sufism continued to serve as a major medium of sympathetic inter-relation-ship between the two communities, and brought the true spirit of Islam, its higher values, and its principles of universal! equality and brotherhood and its active realistic outlook to the notice of the Hindu society. A new channel of sympathy and community feeling was opened between Hindus and Musalmans when the Sufis began to compose mystical and devotional songs in their own local languages, which were used as an instrument for preaching faith and love of God and high moral values.
The Sufis turned each of the folk languages into an independent standard language with its own treasure of literature. In Sindhi, Shah Latheef Bidhai(d. 1690); in Punjabi, BabaFarid, Sayyid Shah Waris, Sultan Baba and Ali Hyder; in Hindi and Urdu, Amir Khusrau, Mulla Dawud, Gesu Daras and Malik Muhammad Jaisi; in Bengali, Jalaluddin Tabrizi and Doulat Kazi; in Gujarati, Shaikh Ganj al Alani, Sayyid Burhanuddin and in Kashmiri, Mahamud Ghani and Khwaja Habibullah had widely contributed to the development of regional language and literature. (ANI)