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Medieval History / Delhi Sultanate

Sufi Movement in India


    Sufism is nothing but Islamic mysticism. Tasawwuf is the name of Sufism in Islamic texts. It started in 8th C in Baghdad. Sufi movement in India started in the North during the reign of Delhi Sultanate and moved to South India. It is the religious reform movement of Islam religion in India.

    Sufi Terminology

    • Pir Murid - Pir means Master and Murid means Disciple.
    • Silsila - It is a Sufi order. Literally, it means a chain, which signifies a continuous link between the master and the disciple extending as an unbroken spiritual genealogy to Prophet Muhammad.
    • Khanqah - Hospice or residence or hermitage of Pir living with dozens of Murids. Waqf lands (Waqf lands are similar to Devagraha or Devadana lands, given for an institution like mosque, madrasa, burial ground, etc.) were given to these Khanqahs by Sultans. (Sayurghal or Inam or Madad-i-Maash , similar to Brahmadeya or Agrahara, is for individuals like Ulemas)
    • Sama - It is the music and dance performed by Sufi saints. They used to propagate the movement to the masses by their performance. Tambura is used for this.
    • Dargah - It is the tomb of a Sufi saint. Annually, on the death day of the Sufi saint, big celebrations will be going on for 3 days in Dargahs known as Urs.
    • Fana - It is mysticism and its literal meaning is merger.

    Silsilas of Sufism in India

    • A movement of Sufism is known as Silsila. Sufi movement started in 13th C in North India and moved to South India in 15th C. There were 14 Sufi movements until 17th C.
    • Chishti Silsila -
      • Chishti Silsila is the most important and first Sufi Silsila. Chisti silsila was founded in 1192 AD by Sheikh Moinuddin Chishti popularly known as Khwaja Garib Nawaz (who helps the poor).
      • He came from Iran and settled at Ajmer in 1192 AD. He was the first Sufi saint in India. The Dargah of Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer is very important.
    • Suhrawardi Silsila - It was founded by Abu al-Najib Suhrawardi and expanded by Shahabuddin Suhrawardi. It was expanded in India by Bahauddin Zakariya.
    • Qadri Silsila - It was founded by Abdul Qadir Gilani. He was a native of Baghdad and he never visited India. Followers of this Silsila like Sultan Bahu and Muhammad Ghaus expanded it in India.
    • Naqshbandi Silsila - It was being founded by Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari. It was brought to India by Khwaja Baqi Billah.

    Important Sufi Saints of India

    • Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki - He was from Chishti Silsila. Qutb Minar tower in Delhi (Mehrgarh) was named after him.
    • Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya - He was from Chishti Silsila. He was respected by all the Sultans of Delhi. His Dargah in Delhi is very important and it is considered very sacred after the Dargah of Ajmer.
    • Baba Farid (Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar) - He was from Chishti Silsila. Sikh had deep respect for him. He was a Sufi saint of Punjab and he preached in Punjabi. His tomb is found at Ajodhan. His preachings are included in Adi Granth.
    • Sheikh Noor ud-Din Wali or Nund Rishi - He was from Chishti Silsila. He promoted Sufism in Kashmir. He was responsible for Islamisation of Kashmir. Except Brahmins (3% in Kashmir valley), all got converted. His Dargah is found at Charar-e-Sharif.
    • Sheikh Salim Chishti - He was from Chishti Silsila. He was the patron saint of Akbar. Akbar built a Dargah for him at Fatehpur Sikri. Jahangir is the blessed child of Akbar by Salim Chishti and is named after him (Salim Chishti).
    • Hazrat Gesudaraz - He was from Chishti Silsila. He was popularly known as Khwaja Bande Nawaz. He is the first South Indian Sufi saint. First book in Urdu literature, "Miraj-ul-ashiqin" was written by him. His tomb is found at Gulbarga.
    • Baha-ud-din Zakariya - He was from Suhrawardi Silsila. His Khanqah in Multan is very famous. Iltutmish gave waqf land for maintenance of this Khanqah.