Author: Sifatullah Siddiqi

How Needs of Millions of Poor People were Satisfied Through Great Sufis in India

Sufis helping poor

In India the needs of thousands of men used to be satisfied through the Sufi saints; in countless homes the hearths were lighted because of their benevolence; a vast number of people lived in their Khanqahs (spiritual seminaries) as permanent guests enjoying all the reasonable comforts of life. At the dinner-spreads of the Sufi ascetics no distinction was observed between the rich and the poor, the friend and the foe, and the kindred and the stranger.

The dinner-spread of Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia was proverbial both for its extensiveness and sumptuousness of the meals served on it.

At the Khanqah of Sheikh Saifuddin Sirhindi, a Mujaddidiya divine of the 17th century, 1400 persons used to dine every day and every one of them was served with food of his own choice.1

Another Chishti saint of the late 17th and early 18th century, Syed Mohammad Saeed alias Shah Bheek, it is reported by his biographer that, apart from the 5,000 votaries who lived permanently in his Khanqah, an equal number from among the daily visitors also joined in at the meals with the result that about 10000 persons dined with him regularly.

Once Roshanuddaula, who was a Seh-Hazari (meaning a Mansabdar commanding 3,000 soldiers) feudal lord of the Court of Emperor Farrukh Siyar of Delhi, presented Shah Bheek Rs. 70,000/- for the construction of the Khanqah. Shah advised him to leave the money and go and have little rest and construction work would commence in the afternoon. After Roshanuddaula had retired Shah Bheek sent the entire money to widows and other needy and indigent people of Ambala, Thanesar, Sirhind and Panipat through the ascetics of the Khanqah. When Roshanuddaula returned in the afternoon, Shah Saheb said to him:

“You could never have earned so much Divine reward by the construction of the Khanqah as you have by serving so many poor, helpless persons and hermits. What would an humble ascetic like me do with a palatial building ?”

On another occasion, Emperor Farrukh Siyar, Roshanuddaula and Nawab Abdullah Khan sent him promissory notes worth Rs. 3,00,000 along with their petitions. The divine had all the money distributed in the neighbouring towns and among indigent families of good birth.2

As Maulana Manazir Ahsan Gilani had very appropriately observed:

“The Khanqahs of the Sufi saints served as the connecting link between the rich and the poor. Even reigning monarchs paid tribute to the courts of these august men. Take the case of Sultan-ul-Mashaikh. It has been shown how Khizir Khan, the heir- apparent to the throne of Delhi, was his bondman (meaning a devoted disciple). Sultan Alauddin Khilji used to collect the tribute from all parts of the country, but there was one treasury in which he also had to deposit the submission money………………………………..The Khanqahs were the channels through which the share of the poor and the needy used to reach them throughout the land This is what was implied by the well-known saying that ‘the property of the Sufi is at everybody’s disposal.’ ”

“This confluence of poverty and riches, i.e. the holy Order of the Sufis to which the rich and the poor alike paid homage was the agency by means of which the needs of innumerable destitute Muslim families were satisfied. Indeed, there was no phase in the whole era of Muslim supremacy in India, and no province, in the entire sub-continent, in which the Prophet’s command that ‘it should be taken from those among them that are rich and given to those among them that are poor’ was not dutifully carried into practice by the Sufi saints, especially by those among them who, by some extraordinary circumstance, had come to acquire influence over the rich and privileged sections of the community; the fortunes of the distressed sections would then literally wake up.” 3

 

1. Nuzhat-ul- Khawatir, Vol. V

2. Manazir Ahsan Gilani: Nizam-i-Talim wa Tarbiyat, Vol. II, pp. 221-222

3. Manazir Ahsan Gilani: Nizam-i-Talim wa Tarbiyat, Vol. II, p. 220

P.S. The article has been created from the works of great Islamic scholar Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (Ali Miyan).

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How Great Sufis were Instrumental in Propagation of Knowledge and Learning in India

Imam GhazaliThe Sufis of India were great patrons of learning. Some of them were outstanding men of letters themselves. Their belief was that it was impossible to know God without knowledge, and also that ‘an ignorant Sufi is the devil’s plaything’. There are instances when they refused to admit in their folds votaries of striking promise and aptitude until they had completed their education. In future posts on this blog it would be shown in sufficient detail that how the remarkable educational and literary progress of India under the Muslims was due, directly or indirectly, to the encouragement given by the Sufi divines.

The two of the greatest scholars and teachers of the 14th century, Qazi Abdul Muqtadir Kindi and Sheikh Ahmad Thanesari were the spiritual proteges of Khwaja Naseeruddin Chiragh-i-Dehli. The renowned 17th century educationist and teacher, Maulana Lutfullah of Kora Jahanabad was a Sufi saint of the Chishtiya Order and through his pupils, and pupils of his pupils, educational activity was kept going till the 19th century, . More often than not, the Khanqah (Spritual Seminary) and the Madrassa (Islamic Religious Education Institution) formed the natural complements to each other. The Khanqah-i-Rasheediya of Jaunpur, the Madrassa of Shah Pir Mohammad at Lucknow, the seminary of Shah Waliullah at Delhi and the Khanqah of Maulana Rasheed Ahmad at Gangoh were the best examples of it.

P.S. The article has been created from the works of great Islamic scholar Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (Ali Miyan).

Extraordinary Courage of Great Sufis Against Tyrannical Rulers and its Impact on Indian Society

Sufi Rumi

A most valuable service rendered by the holy Sufi saints was that they stood fearlessly against the unjust and degenerate ways of powerful despots and tyrannical rulers, and saved the kingdom and the society, in general, from the consequences of their follies by boldly telling the truth at their face. Inspired by their example, people also shed fear and became courageous and straightforward. The history of Muslim rule in India offers many number or instances when Muslim saints threw the consideration of personal safety to the winds and fulfilled, at the gravest peril of their lives, the Islamic duty contained in the Prophet’s Tradition that a most superior form of Jihad is to speak the truth in front of a tyrannical  ruler.

Sheikh Qutbuddin Munawwar was a Chishti saint who lived in solitude at the time of Sultan Mohammad bin Tughlaq. On one of his tours the King happened to pass through the area in which the saint lived, but the saint did not come to meet him. The King later summoned him to Delhi. When the saint entered the royal palace, the court nobles, ministers, heralds and attendants were standing in a double row in front of the throne. On seeing this imposing spectacle, his young son Nuruddin, who was with him and had never been in a king’s court before, was seized with fright. The Sheikh admonished him sternly, “Glory is for God, Baba Nuruddin”, he said to him in a loud voice. His son later said that as soon as he heard these words, he fell a new strength surging within him, all the fear disappeared and the Court grandees began to look to him as meek as goats.

The King complained to the saint, “When i was in your neighbourhood you neither counselled me nor honoured me with visit.”

The Sheikh replied, “The Dervish (A muslim ascetic) does not consider himself worthy of royal society. In his solitary corner he prays for the King as for the general body of Muslims, He will now beg to be excused.”

After the interview the King confided to a nobleman that he had noticed with all the spiritual leaders with whom he had the occasion to shake hands, that their hands trembled at the time, but Sheikh Munawwar’s grip was so firm that he seemed to be completely unaffected by the event.

The King then presented to him a purse of one lakh (100000) gold coins whereupon the Sheikh exclaimed, “Glory be! Two seers of pulses and rice and a pice (a former monetary unit of India) worth of ghee are enough for the dervish. What will he do with all this money ?” After great persuasion and on being advised that the King would be antagonized by a blank refusal, he agreed to accept 2,000 pieces which too he distributed among his brother-saints and other poor and indigent people before returning from Delhi.”1

To take another instance, again from the reign of Sultan Mohammad bin Tughlaq, Maulana Fakhruddin Zarradi had a strong aversion to meeting him. He used often to say that he saw his head rolling in his royal court (meaning that he will not hesitate to speak the truth in his presence and the King will not forgive him and behead him). At last he was called by the Sultan to his court.

“Give me some good advice”, the Sultan asked,

“Suppress anger”, the Maulana said.

“What anger ?”, asked the Sultan.

“The anger of the wild beasts”, the Maulana replied.

The king grew red in the face at the reply, but he kept quiet. After this the royal meal was ordered. The King shared his vessel with the Maulana and sometimes even fed him with his own lane. The Maulana ate with apparent dislike. When the meal was over, the Maulana came away.2

The Sufi saints upheld steadfastly the traditions of detachment, fearlessness and undaunted championship of truth though those were the days of absolute monarchy and despotic rule. The Kings too, under the force of their spirituality, felt compelled to allow them the freedom to perform their duty even when they showed no consideration to the forthright and honest Ulema (Muslim religious scholars). The spiritual leaders guarded zealously their self-­respect and dignity before mighty rulers, chieftains and noblemen right till the last days of the Mughal Empire.

It is reported that Emperor Shah Alam was once present in the Mehfil-Simaa of Khwaja Mir Dard when troubled by a painful leg he could not help stretching it a little. The Khwaja protested, “It a against the decorum of the society of the fakir (Dervish) to sit like this”. The Emperor apologized and indicated his discomfort upon which Khwaja Mir Dard remarked, “If you were not feeling well, what was the need to come ?”4

1. Siar-ul-Aulia, pp. 253-55

2. Siar-ul-Aulia, pp. 271-72

3. Among the Sufis this term is applied to an assembly in which hymns are sung to produce spiritual ecstasy.

4. Gul-i-Ra’ana, p.171

P.S. The article has been created from the works of great Islamic scholar Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (Ali Miyan).

What are the Rights of Blood Relatives in Islam

Rights of Relatives in Islam

Islam gives very high importance to maintaining and taking care of the blood relationships of a person. Relatives have been granted many rights in Islam, some of those are:

  1. If one’s close relatives are needy and unable to support themselves with the bare necessities  of life, nor are they able to earn anything for themselves, then they should be helped with food and other necessaries to enable them to keep body and soul together, as one does with one’s own children, as a matter of an obligation.
  2. To help distant relations with necessities  of life is not so obligatory, yet it is necessary to do something for them also.
  3. Visits should be paid to them from time to time.
  4. The bonds of relationship with them should not be severed. If anyone of them ever does some harm, it is better to tolerate that.

What are the Rights of Children over their Parents in Islam

Rights of Children

Islam gives even the children their rights over parents, just as parents have  been given rights over their children. Some of those rights are:

  1. Parents should marry them with righteous women, so as to have good issues from them.
  2. To bring them up during their childhood with affection which has been considered as an act of great virtue.
  3. It has specially been emphasized that one should not feel disgusted with daughters.
  4. It is also an act of real virtue to take care of, and bring up, daughters.
  5. If it becomes necessary to engage a foster mother to give suck to a newly born baby, a foster mother of good character and right religious belief should be engaged, because the milk has an effect on the conduct and character of the suckling baby.
  6. To give them religious education and discipline.
  7. To marry them as soon as they reach marriageable age. 
  8. If the girl becomes a widow, then look after her well and bear all the expenses necessary to support her, till her second marriage.

What are the Rights of Parents & Grandparents in Islam Before & After their Death

rights of parents

The parents of a person are a means of earning religious blessings and benefits (Dua & Barakah). These are the persons whose rights have been admitted and established in the laws of the Shariah, eg. it is the parents who are instrumental in the birth and upbringing of their children. Following are some of the rights of parents in Islam:

Rights of parents when they are alive

  1. Not to harm and offend them, even if they commit some excess and offence towards their children.
  2. To respect and honour them by word and action.
  3. To obey them in all matters that are lawful in the Shariah, and to help them with money even though they may not believe in Allah or if they associate partners with Almighty Allah.

Rights of parents after their death

  1. To pray regularly for their salvation and divine mercy from Allah and to send them benefits and rewards of optional prayers and monetary donations in charity.
  2. To deal with their friends and acquaintances with monetary concessions, physical services and nice behaviour.
  3. To visit their graves after their death and offer “Fatiha” from time to time.

Rights of paternal and maternal grandparents

According to the laws of the Shariah they occupy the same rank and status as the parents. As such they should be allowed the same rights, regard and respect as the parents. Therefore, the mother’s and the father’s sisters are like one’s mother and the mother’s brother (maternal uncle) and the father’s brother (uncle) are like father. The husbands of mother’s sister and the father’s sister are also like father in the matter of rights. This has been indicated in a Prophetic Tradition.

What are the Rights of the Muhammad’s Companions (Sahaba) and his Household over Muslims

Companions of Prophet Muhammad (Sahaba)

The Holy Companions and the members of the Prophet’s household are related to the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) by religious as well as worldly relations. Therefore, the rights of these respectable personalities are included in the rights of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.). Some of these rights are:

  1. To obey these respected personalities. 
  2. To love these respected personalities. 
  3. To believe that they are just and truthful. 
  4. To love those who love them and to hate those who hate them.