Sufism in India

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Sufism in India


The source of Sufism was Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. The Sufi reformers started preaching main thoughts of Islam.

Main ideals:

According to Sufism, devotion and relin­quishment are the ways to reach God. They are against idolatry and believed in one God. In their opinion God is one and everything was a part of him.

They preached that from the addiction came the desire for earthly enjoyment. This desire gave the birth of sin and for that sin men suffered. So for this reason Sufi saint left the household, lived like hermits. But they did not go to forest or hills; they stayed in the society and preached the cult. In some opinion there were ten stages of Sufism.


In Sufism the relationship between the Guru and the disciple is very important. Guru is in the centre and the disciples rotate around him. Guru is known as Pir or Khwaza. The main working-place of the Pirs was known as Darga or Khanka. Their followers were called Fakirs. Within twelfth century the Sufis were divided in almost twelve silsilas or sects. Out of them Chishti and Suhrawardi Sufism were very popular during Sultan Shahi in India.

The founder of Chishti sects of Sufismwas Moin-ud-din Chishti. His main centre was at Ajmer. He died in the year 1235 A.D. Baktiar Kaki was his main disciple. Farid-ud-din also received great reputa­tion. Nizamuddin Awlia of this sect was a legendary figure (1238-1325 A.D.). Attracted by his deep knowledge and liberal opinion several people, even Hindus became his disciple. Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji adored him. We remember these people with reverence for their contribution to India’s cultural and religious harmony.

The Suhrawardi sect had some differences with the followers of Chishti. Suhrawardi took part in politics and did not hesitate to accept jobs in administration. They did not favour to live like poor man. Hamid-ud-din Nagri was a very popular saint of this sect.

Two other Sufi sects were there. They were Alkaderi and Firdausy. But their followers were very little in number. Sufi saints mixed with common men on equal terms. They wanted to arouse good sense in man. To go near the God they used to sing `sama’ songs. People of Chisti sect believed in hard temperance. The Suharawadis did not believe these things.

Influence and Impact of Sufism:

Sufism had a very deep influence and and far reaching impact on Indian society and the life of common man.

  1. Indian People, were attracted by the simple living, ethics of life and sense of brotherhood. For these things people came close to each other. It reduced the social and other types of excitement.
  2. Sufi philosophy was based on social mobility. The idea of social equality as expressed in Sufism lifted several people of the lower castes to higher grade.
  3. Sufism was very much behind the advancement of learn­ing and progress of literature in India. The Khankas were the centre of education. Many poor men came there and learned about many things.
  4. Their tolerant religious outlook brought many Hindus towards Islam. Patience of Islam, as explained in Sufism, paved the backdrop of peaceful coexistence.
  5. By coming into contact with Sufism many Muslim rulers and aristocrat accepted the ethics of toleration. So, the unity of the country became very well-established. Mughal emperor Akbar took clue of religious toleration from the Sufism of Sultan Shahi.
  6. Sufi saints wrote lyrics in Hindi and sang Hindi songs. This has popularized the language.

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