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Title: Chishti Sufis in the Upper Gangetic Valley: Pre-existing Linguistic and Ritualistic Traditions
Authors: Jafri, Saiyad Zaheer Husain
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Vidyasagar University , Midnapore , West Bengal , India
Series/Report no.: Vidyasagar University Journal of History;2017-2018
Abstract: Tasawwuf, its philosophy and practices occupies seminal place in socio-intellectual history of Indian Muslims. For, besides considering State as a sinful entity since the early times, sufis maintained a distance from the Umayyad and Abbasid regimes. They considered, ‘Ali, as the repository of knowledge and inheritor of ‘secrets’. Yet, they never identified themselves with shi’as politically or theoretically. They opposed the sects of kharijites and murjiets, and maintained a distinct identity. Ultimately, tasawwuf emerged as the ‘post-graduate creed of Islam’ and attracted noble and pious souls. The creed of tasawwuf kept on incorporating the newer ideas from the time of Bayazid Bustami’s (d. AD 822) ‘praise be to me as I am Thay’; to Mansur Hallaj’s (d. AD 922) ‘I am Truth’ and finally, to Shaikh Mohi Uddin Ibn Al Arabi’s (d. AD 1240)’Unity of existentialisms’. Such philosophies tend to approve diversity and plurality in society. Hence, the creed of tasawwuf emerged as extremely relevant for the regions with vast non-Muslim population. The Indian sub-continent was an ideal place for the acceptance, development and the growth of this phenomenon. The Indian sub-continent also had the creed of bhakti as (against / along with gyan), recognized way to reach the Ultimate/Truth. The Jain monks and Buddhist Siddhas along with the strong monastic traditions carried forward the tradition of spirituality. These similarities proved beneficial for the sufis to carry forward their tradition to the newer heights. Many dialects were spoken from Multan in the north to the Gujarat in the west, down to the Deccan. These dialects were the major vehicle for the transmission of ideas, but not literary languages. The Sufi intervention contributed in the development of these dialects into full-fledged literary languages, especially during the 13th century, when Shaikh Fariduddin Ganj Shakkar (d. 1265), started writing poetry in Multani/Saraiki (incorporated in the Adi Granth by Guru Arjan). Similarly, Amir Khusrau (d. 1325) also wrote in Awadhi dialect. Numerous Chishti Sufi centers were established in various parts of the Subcontinent; the Shaikh at these centers adopted local dialects, used Persian scripts to compile their writings. An innovative exercise was undertaken by the Chishti Sufis; the genre of premakhyan in line with the Persian Mathnavi tradition was practiced and developed. The characters they have used in their narrations are ‘the heroes of certain local caste groups’. This new genre was used to propagate the Islamic-Sufic ideology through the local dialects. Perhaps, it is too obvious to point out that such tradition became extremely popular in the localities like Dalmau, where Mulla Daud (d.1370?) composed Chandayan, using Lorik and Chanda as the main characters of the story, while Malik Mohammad (d.1540) wrote Padmavat at Jais using Padmavati and Ratansen as the main protagonists of his narration. Similarly, we find certain ritualistic forms of Indian traditions, were adopted by the Chishtis; such as making use of the sandal paste and the indigenously developed ceremony of Gagar in their celebrations. The way Sam’a, became an integral part of the Chishti celebrations with traditional musical instruments, irrespective of the ongoing debates on its being permitted/lawful/banned, became a testimony of the pluralistic ethos of the sufis during the last millennium. The paper seeks to discuss some of these issues.’
ISSN: 2321-0834
Appears in Collections:Vidyasagar University Journal of History Vol 6 [2017-2018]

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