Paragraphs on Sufism!
Sufism, or Tasaummf as it is also known, is not really a sect of Islam, but an aspect or dimension of Islam. Sufi tariqas or schools can be found in Sunni, Shia and other Islamic groups. Sufism came to India in medieval times, even before the establishment of the Sultanate.
The early Sufis traced their ideas to some verses of the Quran and traditions of the prophet, but gave them a mystic representation.
According to one interpretation, the term, ‘Sufi’ comes from suf or garments of coarse wool worn by the Sufi saints. Another view is that it comes from safa; the ‘pious’ people were called Sufis. The Sufis, who were organised into various silsilahs or orders, accepted the prophethood of Muhammad and the authority of the Quran but also absorbed a variety of ideas and practices from different sources such as Christianity, Neo- Platonism, Hindu philosophical systems, Buddhism and Zaroastrianism.
Sufi mysticism sprang from the doctrine of the unity of being which identified the creator and the creation. The Sufis had two objectives—their own spiritual development and the service of humanity. They attempted to bridge the gulf between orthodoxy and the religion of faith and devotion. They spoke the language of the masses and gave an impetus to cultural synthesis.
The stages of spiritual development of the Sufis included repentance, abstinence, piety, poverty, patience, gratitude, fear, hope, contentment and submission tb divine will. The Sufis discouraged a materialistic outlook of life but they encouraged working for the necessities of life. They did not encourage complete renunciation of the world for attainment of spiritual personality.
The Sufis in India, particularly of the Chisti and Suhrawardi orders, adopted music as a means to an end, as a way to remove the barrier between them and God and as a way to attain the supreme spiritual ecstasy.
The Sufis were divided into several silsilahs. Some of these orders are briefly discussed here.
Khwajah Muinuddin Chishti introduced the Chishti order in India. His ‘pantheistic approach’ made a great impact on Hindus. His important disciples were Shaikh-Qutub-ud-din Bakhtiyar Kaki and Hamid-ud-din. The popularity and success of the Chishti saints in India was due to their understanding of the Indian conditions and the religious attitudes and aspirations of the Indian people.
Chishtis did not practice renunciation in the literal sense, amounted to adopting a detached view towards the world and having no love for money, women government service or honours. They gave priority to social service over all other forms of devotion
Shihab-ud-din Suhrawardi was the founder of this silsila, which was introduced in India by his disciples Jalal –ud- din – Tabrizi and Bada ud-din Zakariya. Unlike the Chishtis, the saints of this order led a comfortable life.
They made ample provisions for their families and even employed teachers on handsome salaries for the education of their sons Suhrawardi Sieved that there was no harm in possessing and dispensing of wealth, if the heart was detached. The order did not prove of the Chishti pracitsce of bowing before the shaik or in sama, i.e., listening to music and song as a means to stimulating the spiritual urge.
Founded by Shaikh Adbul Qadir Gilani this sisila was introduction in India by Muhammad Gilani, who migrated to India and settled in Uchch near Multan He had enough wealth and enjoyed a good deal of influence at the court. The most famous saint of this order was Shaikh Mir Muhammad or Miyan Mir.
Shah Abdullah brought the Shattari order during the Lodhi period. The Shattari saints tried to bring Hindus and Muslims closer by laying emphasis on the similarity of their spiritual thoughts and practices. The Sufis of this order led a spiritual life in comfortable worldly surroundings. This order did not make much headway and the number of its followers was not very large.
Badr-ud-din introduced this silsila into India. He expounded that hunger is the root cause of all trouble. Any spiritual endeavour would not be fruitful if this basic need was not fulfilled.
Khwaja Bagi Billah introduced this order in India. Of all the Sufi orders, it was the nearest to orthodoxy.