Sufi movement in India

RELEVANCE – UPSC GS PRELIMS & GS MAINS-I
First go through the text (given after the questions) and then attempt the questions
PRACTICE QUESTIONS
Q) Discuss about the spread and main features of Sufi movement in India.

The Sufi movement in India commenced in the 11th century A.D. Al Hujwiri, who established himself in north India was buried in Lahore and regarded as the oldest Sufi in the sub Continent. Among the important Sufi Orders in the history of Medieval
India were those of the Chishtiya, Suhrawardiya, Qadiriya and Naqshbandiya.

Chisti and the Suhrawardi silsilahs were popular during the Sultanate period. The Suhrawardis were active in Punjab and Sindh while the Chishti’s were active in Delhi, Rajasthan and parts of the western gangetic plains. By the end of the sultanate period
they had spread to the eastern regions of the gangetic plain (Bihar and Bengal) and into the Deccan.

During the medieval period the Sufis played an important role in interpreting and elaborating on Islamic theological concepts like Wahdat ul Wujud
(unity of being) and also encouraged the development of practices like Ziyarat (the practice of visiting tombs).

During medieval period there was constant tension between the liberal and orthodox views in Islam. The sufis featured on both sides, while there were those like the Chishtis who held a liberal view and argued in favour of assimilation of local traditions
there were others like sheikh Abdul Haqq of the Qadiriyya silsilah who held the view that the purity of Islam was being diluted. This Orthodox view was represented by the ulema that argued from the perspective of being upholders of the shariat. The liberal opinion found its voice among many sufis who argued against the narrow definition of Islamic laws by the ulema.

The Sufi movement as it emerged in India had the following features:
􀀠 The Sufis were organized in a number of different silsilahs (orders)
􀀠 Most of these orders were led by some prominent sufi saint or pir. It was named after them and was followed by his disciples.
􀀠 The Sufis believed that for union with God one needs a spiritual guru or Pir.
􀀠 The sufi pirs lived in Khanqahs with their disciples.
􀀠 The Khanqah (the hospice) was the centre of sufi activities
􀀠 The Khanqahs emerged as important centres of learning which were different from madrasas the centres of theology
􀀠 Many sufis enjoyed the musical congregation or sama in their Khanqahs. A musical form called the qawwali developed during this period.
􀀠 The ziyarat or pilgrimage to the tombs of the sufi saints soon emerged as an important form of ritual pilgrimage.
􀀠 Most of the Sufis believed in the performance of miracles. Almost all pirs were associated with the miracles performed by them.
􀀠 The different sufi orders had diverse approaches about the matters of polity and state.