Category: Muslims in India

What is the Importance of Allah in the Life of Muslims


Faith in the existence of God and a constant awareness of Him and a ready expression of this awareness is a fundamental and inalienable constituent of the life and culture of Muslims. Islamic Civilization can aptly be compared to a dress which is worn in different styles at different places according to the taste and climatic and other conditions prevailing there but its texture is the same everywhere and it is dyed in the same hue so deep that every tissue and fibre of it is totally impregnated with it. The name of God and His remembrance run like blood in the veins and arteries of Islamic Civilization.

  1. When a child is born in a Muslim home, the first ceremony it undergoes, within a few minutes of its birth, is that the Azaan 1 is spoken in its ears. Thus the first name it becomes familiar with, even before he acquires his own name, is that of God.
  2. On the seventh day, the Aqiqa 2 is performed, as approved by the Prophet, when an Islamic name is given to it, the choice generally falling on one which expresses the sentiment of loyalty to God or proclaims His absolute Unity and Oneness or is patterned after the names of that most exalted group of Monotheists-the Prophets-or their pupils or immediate disciples.
  3. When the time comes for the child to begin his education and go to school, it is celebrated with the recitation of the name of God and a few verses from the holy Quran 3. This ceremony is known among Indian Muslims as Tasmiya Khwani or Bismillah.
  4. At marriage again, the name of God is invoked to unite together in a permanent bond two mature and responsible persons who also have to take the pledge to uphold the prestige of that name throughout their lives.
  5. The wedding sermon is delivered in the manner sanctified by the Prophet’s practice, expressing gratitude to God for having created the human race in pairs of men and women and exhorting the couple to live and die in a state of faithfulness to Him.
  6. When the auspicious day of Eid-ul-Fitr 4 arrives, a Muslim is called upon to raise his voice in the affirmation of His Glory and Greatness (Allah-o-Akbar) and offer two rakats of prayers in thanksgiving, after he has bathed himself and put on a dean dress.
  7. At Eid-ul-Azha 5 he is desired to offer up animal sacrifice in God’s name.
  8. Finally, when the ultimate stage of life’s journey is reached, a Muslim is instructed to focus all his attention on that very name. Every Muslim, man or woman, has the ambition of dying with the sacred name of God on his or her lips.
  9. When the news or his death circulates, all educated (and even uneducated) Muslims who hear it spontaneously repeat the Quranic words, Inna Lillah-e-wa Inna Ilaih-e-Rajeoon (meaning to God we belong, and to Him do we return).
  10. The funeral prayers, which are the last act of service to him, reverberate with the name of God from beginning to the end. These prayers are a solemn request to the Almighty by the participants for the salvation of the soul of the departed and for themselves that they may be granted a life of loyalty and devotion to Him in this world and of peace and felicity in the next.
  11. As the body is lowered in the grave it is to the accompaniment of these words: “In the name of God, and according to the way of His Apostle’s religion and the Millet.’’
  12. In the grave, the face is turned towards that universal center of Divine worship anti Monotheism which goes by the name of Ka’aba (House of God). Wherever a Muslim may be buried his face will without exception, be in line with that one place at Mecca in Arabia.
  13. After the burial, no Muslim passer-by will, usually fail to offer the Fateha 6 at his grave and pray for the remission of his sins and the deliverance of his soul.

In fine, the name of God and its remembrance are a constant companion of a Muslim’s life from the cradle to the grave. But these were the more important landmarks of man’s earthly sojourn. In his everyday existence also, a Muslim is never destitute of God-remembrance.

14. When a Muslim sits down to eat, he begins his meal with the name of God and ends it also in the same manner.

15. Those who are particular about the observance of the Sunnah of the Prophet carry out the minutest details of life with the name of the Lord on their lips and His thought embedded in their hearts.

16. Take such a trifling thing as a sneeze. A Muslim is required to remember God when he lets it out, and those who hear it also are instructed to send up a prayer for him.

17. What is more, the daily conversation of a Muslim is interspersed with phrases like Masha-Allah (As God willed), Insha-Allah (If God wills) and La Haula-Wa La Quwwata Illa Billah (There is no power or virtue but in God). These phrases, apart from being ideal prayer-formulas, have gained currency as terms of everyday speech not only in Arabic, but in the languages of those countries too where Muslims have been living for some time and which have received the impress of Islamic Civilization. In truth, these phrases are in the nature of convenient aids to God-remembrance.

The culture, language and the daily life of no other people will be found to be so thoroughly soaked in faith in God-existence and ail all-embracing consciousness of Him. The basic ingredient of the culture and civilization of Indian Muslims, transcending the frontiers of race, nationality and geography, is this very faith and consciousness which has become the mark and symbol of their daily existence.


1. The summons to prayers, generally proclaimed from the towers of a mosque.

2. The Christening ceremony among Muslims. The hair on the head of the infant is shaved, and sacrificial offering of a goat (or two goats) is made  to God.

3. Generally, the practice is to make the child recite the verse of the first Revelation or a short passage from the first part of the Holy Book. Sweets are distributed on the occasion.

4. The greatest Muslim festival held on the first of the month of Shawwaal. it is a day of thanksgiving at the successful conclusion of Ramazaan which is a month of fasting among Muslims.

5. The second greatest Muslim festival. It is celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Zil-Hijj in commemoration of Prophet Abraham’s offering up of his son Ismail.

6. Prayer offered up for the souls of the dead.


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



Which Factors Determine the Cultural Structure of Muslims Globally

Global Muslims

Two Determining Factors

The cultural structure of Muslims everywhere is determined by two major factors:

  1. Islamic belief, way of life and system of ethics
  2. The indigenous civilization and local customs which are bound to make their influence felt as a result of living and mixing with the original elements of the population.                                                                                                      

The first constituent—Islamic Faith, way of life and code of ethics is the common attribute of the cultural make-up of Muslims all over the world. Wherever they may be living, and whatever their language or dress, this attribute is shared by them universally, and, by virtue of it, they impress as members of a single brotherhood in spite of the so many things that differentiate them locally. The other component signifies that part of their culture which distinguishes them from their coreligionists living in other parts of the world and imparts to them their individual national character.

The Indian Muslims are not exempt from the general principle. Their culture, which has taken centuries to evolve itself, is a combination of both Islamic and Indian influences. This two-fold aspect has on the one hand endowed it with a beauty and richness which is characteristically its own and on the other it holds forth the assurance that this culture will operate here not like an alien or a traveller but as a natural, permanent citizen who has built his home in the light of his peculiar needs and circumstances, past traditions and new impulsions and has also made a pleasant and enduring contribution to the native environment that surrounds him.

To seek to deprive a person or to make him revolt against the transcendental values and ethical ideals which are common between him and large portions of mankind spread all over the globe will mean an attempt to freeze his spiritual fountain-heads and destroy the universality of his outlook. In the same way, it will be utterly futile and unjust to expect him to cut himself aloof from his environment and lead a life of complete immunity from the local influences.

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

How Great Sufis and their Khanqahs were the Refuge of Humanity

Sufi Helping Humanity

The company of Great Sufis imbued masses with excellent humanitarian ideals and generated in them an earnest solicitude for humanity and to render whatever service they could to fellowmen without regard to their race or creed. They believed in and fashioned their conduct on the Prophet’s advice that “God’s creatures are His family, and among His slaves He loves him most who serves His family with the greatest devotion.”

Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia is reported to have said about himself that “when a person comes to me and rclafes his trou­bles I feel twice as much distressed as him”.1 Another of his favourite dictums was : “On the Day of Judgement, nothing will carry greater weight than the desire to serve and to please.2

Many soul-weary and broken-hearted persons would find refuge in the Khanqahs of the saints. The arms of the revered Sufis were ever open to welcome those whom fate had jilted or who had been forsaken by their kinsmen or the society. The dejected, the anguished and the outcast would come to them and find shelter, food, love and recognition. They would find the balm for their broken hearts and wounded spirits.

When the spiritual guide and mentor of Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia was sending him off finally to settle in Delhi, he had bestowed this blessing upon him : “You will be like a huge, shady tree under which God’s creatures will find comfort.”3 History bears witness to the fact that for full seventy years people came from far and near to find shelter and protection under his benevolent shadow. Thanks to the Sufi ascetics, there existed at hundreds of places in India such ‘huge, shady trees’ under whose merciful shade broken-down travellers used to find new life and freedom.

1. Siar-ul-Arifeen (Manuscript)

2. Siar-ul-Aulia, p. 28

3. Ibid

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


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).

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).

How Great Sufis Morally and Socially Reformed the Indian Society

Maulana Rumi Quote

The virtuous Sufis would call upon those taking bai’at (the oath taken by a person at the time of becoming disciple the of a saint) at their hands to;

  • Offer earnest repentance for their sins
  • Make a solemn affirmation of loyalty and obedience to God and the Prophet.
  • Refrain from licentiousness and self-­indulgence, injustice, oppression and violation of the rights of others.

These pious teachers addressed themselves to the moral elevation of their disciples by

  • prescribing measures for the eradication of vices like vanity, malice, jealousy and lust for wealth and power.
  • They urged their disciples to remember God and to do well to His creatures and practice self-abnegation and contentment.

Besides the bai’at which symbolized forging of a special link between the guide and the disciple, the revered teachers also exhorted and gave good counsel to whoever came to them and strove to awaken in their hearts the love for the Divine and the ambition to seek His pleasure and to strive with all his might for self-correction and inner reform.

Illustrative of the powerful, inspiring and morally regenerating influence exercised on the society by the Sufi leaders through their tremendous sincerity, moral excellence, preaching and instruction is the following extract from the renowned historian, Ziauddin Barni, depicting the social conditions prevailing in India during the reign of Alauddin Khilji.

The leading Sufi saints at the time of Alauddin Khilji were Sheikh-ul-Islam Nizamuddin, Sheikh-ul-Islam Alauddin and Sheikh-ul-Islam Ruknuddin. A world received enlightenment from them and took the bai’at at their hands. Sinners were inspired by them to repent for their sins and thousands of evil-doers and habitual defaulters of Namaz (Daily 5 times Muslim Prayer)  abandoned their evil ways and became devout worshipers; a strong fer­vour was created among them for religious deeds and their repentance attained perfection. The obligatory duties of worship and Divine ordinances in the other spheres of life began to be observed as a matter of course. Excessive attachment to worldly desires and aspirations, which lies at the root of most of the evils, got reduced under the force of the high morality, asceticism and profound self-denial of these spiritual masters……………… People grew truthful as a result of their blessings; they became honest in the management of worldly affairs and were fired by the ambition to improve and evolve their inner selves due to the inspirational influence exercised by the laudable moral conduct, abstinence and spirituality of the Sufi leaders……..”1

The historian goes on to say:

In the last years of Sultan Alauddin’s rule the general moral level had improved so much that a majority of the people abstained from drink, adultery, gambling and other social and moral perversions. The major sins were shunned as equivalents of infidelity. Muslims refrained from open usury and hoarding for fear of each other’s censure. Adulteration, deceit and under-­weighing were eliminated from the market.1

It is manifestly impossible to give a coherent, historical picture of the reformation brought about in public morals by the Sufi divines in few lines. It is enough to know here that the Sufi saints have made an enormous contribution towards the evolution of a healthy, conscientious environment in India which is the nation’s greatest asset and which has provided it with worthy leaders and redeemers at every critical turn of history.

Leaving aside the intervening centuries, the material on which is widely available in the memoirs and biographies of the spiritual leaders, we give an instance from the life of Syed Ahmad Shaheed, a religious reformer and Sufi saint of the 19th century, to show the extent of the moral impact of his personality on society. It is recorded in connection with his brief stay in Calcutta that;

the liquor business in that great city was suddenly brought to a standstill. The liquor merchants complained to the authorities that though they wore paying the taxes regularly, they had been forced to close down their business since the arrival in the city of a saint under whose influence more and more Muslims were getting reformed daily and taking the vow not to indulge in intoxicants any more. They did not even look at the liquor shops now.”2

These venerable divines enjoined upon their new disciples to observe

  • fairness in monetary dealings
  • paying back of debts
  • scrupulous satisfaction of the claims of others.

To cite an example, the great Sufi Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia was bidden emphatically by his spiritual mentor, Khwaja Fariduddin Ganj Shakar to do his level best always to placate the opponent and render to everyone what was his due.

Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia owed a person some money and a book he had borrowed from someone had got lost. When on arriving Delhi, he went to settle these accounts, the person to whom he owed the money remarked, “It seems you are coming from the society of Muslims” while the owner of the book said, “Is it always like that at the place from where you are coming ?”3

People likewise were imbued with the desire to oblige and be of help to others under the guidance and instruction of the Sufi saints. During the entire course of the long Haj journey, Syed Ahmad Shaheed and the large band of his companions missed no opportunity to do an act of public service. While they were sailing down the Ganges they came across a boat which was laden with cotton at the landing-ghats of Mirzapur. The owner of the cotton was in need of labourers to remove it to the godown. Seeing his plight, Syed Saheb at once told his companions to unload the boat and so energetically did they apply themselves to the task that in a couple of hours the whole cotton was taken off and deposited in the godown. People who witnessed the deed were left thoroughly amazed;

“What sort of men they are” they commented among themselves“They did not even know the cotton merchant and yet they have toiled so hard for him without charging a pie. Surely, they are the devout men of God.”4

What was achieved by the Sufi divines in India in the sphere of general moral upliftment was solely the result of their evolved spirituality and loftiness of character. No government, no law no other institution could bring about so much improvement in so many people or keep them so steadily within the bounds of moral propriety and rectitude.


  1. Condensed from Tarikh-i-Firoz Shahi by Ziauddin Barni p. 346
  2. Waqa-i-Ahmadi
  3. Fawaid-ul-Fuwad, pp.14
  4. Seerat Syed Ahmad Shaheed, pp.249

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