Sufism (Sufi Movement in Medieval India)
Introduction: The Sufis from the liberal element in Islam and it is by their efforts that Islam has acquired some respect in India. There were many orders of the sufis which slightly differ from one another in certain matters. But there is a lot of common ground.
The term Sufi is generally used for that class of Muslim saints which clad itself in simple woolen garments with a view to live the life of poverty and humility and which instead of accepting the literal external meaning of the Quran lays greater emphasis on its underlying mysteries.
Main Features of Sufism (Sufi Movement)
- Instead of depriving God of form and attributes they impute to him the qualities of effulgence, love, mercy, generosity and immanence.
- Instead of inculcating fear of the wrath of god, they put forward the ideal of securing union with Him by pursuing the path of perfect love.
- The most outstanding attribute of god, according to the Sufis, is his effulgence and they dwell upon his luster, glory and splendor in various ways.
- They feel that it is His glory that is reflected in every object, nay every little particle, in the universe. That is why they recommend love and kindness to all created beings.
- As a corollary of this, many sufis were strict vegetarians.
- Removing the sheaths of ignorance and impurity encrusting the heart, they contemplate on God with a feeling of utter sincerity and purity.
- They recognize the value of repletion of God’s name and sometimes resort to music of a loving devotional character as an aid to concentration.
- The fervor of music often led to heightening of emotion which ended in ecstatic dancing.
- Their goal is union with God.
- In each of these orders, the preceptor or the pir has a great importance because it is only under his guidance that spiritual progress is possible.
Sufi Saints: The more celebrated Muslim saints of this period were Shaikh Moinuddin Chishti, Baba Fariduddin Ganj-i-shakar, Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, Nizamuddin Auliya, Nasiruddin Mahmud Chirag-i-Dehlvi, Malik Muhammad Jayasi and Muhammad Ghous Gwalior. As a result of their influence, mysticism entered the fold of Islam while the importation of the sentiment of love for the divine helped to reduce its austere rigidity.
Conclusion: Because most of them were men of sterling character they commanded high respect among the Muslims and the king and commoner alike looked upon it as a great privilege to be able to render them some service.