Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi

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Introduction:

History itself is an evidence of the fact that whenever Islam came at any danger by any agency of its enemies or from any ideology, it was saved by such personalities who through their spiritual power not only served it but also gave it a new life. Such is the story of Sheikh Ahmed of Sirhind popularly known as Mujadid Alf Sani; (reviver of Islam during the 2nd Millennium) who was confronted with the great challenges. Islam was under great danger, its future was unpredictable, its spirit was deteriorated and its teachings were misinterpreted. Akbar’s policies of “Divine Faith” and religious syncretism were welcomed the Anti-Islamic Ideologies; at this hour of turmoil Mujadid Alf Sani came in front to restore and revive the glory of Islam.

His Early Life:

Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi was born on 15th June 1564. He received his early education at home. He learnt the Holy Quran by heart very early i.e., when he was ten years old. Then he took to study of Hadith, Tafsir and Philosophy and went to renowned scholars at various places. When he was at Agra studying Hadith and Tafsir, Abul Fazl and Faizi, Emperor Akbar’s right hjand men, hearing of his brilliance tried to draw him into their circle. However, this friendship did not last very long, because the sheikh took serious offence to
Abu’l Fazl’s anti-Islamic attitude. It is said that a portion of Faizi’s celebrated “Sawali-al-Ilham” was written by the Sheikh.

After finishing the education Sheikh took mystic discipline under the guidance of his father who was himself an eminent mystic and received khilafat from him in the Chishtiyah and Suhawardiyah orders. When he was 28, he went to Delhi and joined the Naqshbandiyah order and soon received its khilafat from khwaja Baqi-Billah. (The founder of this order in subcontinent. He devoted his rest of life in religious pursuits and preaching of Islam. )

Contemporary Scenario/Evils of Muslim Society

When the great Mujadid came to his task of reform, he found that Tasawwaf had taken possession of Muslim soul. A pantheistic deity had been substituted for Monotheistic personal transcendent God of Islam. Excessive belief in karamat or miracles saints was commonly cherished. Many un-Islamic means of the developments of occult powers had been introduced into Tasawwaf itself.

Many theologians were busy in the hair-splitting discussion of the problems of Figh; minutest differences were sufficed to cause perennial quarrels among them. Like Makhdum-ul-Mulk most of the Ulema resorted to legal devices of transfer of assets to avoid (permanent payment of Zakat). They could be easily persuaded to give verdicts of legality in cases of illegal things and matters. Makhdum-ul-Mulk is said to have given a verdict that Hajj was no more one of the pillars of Islam and that it had actually become harmful.

Sheikh Ahmad Revival Efforts:

  1. He sent a member of his disciples in all directions to preach Islam in its true sense. He asked them to emphasise on Ittab-i-Sunnah and the commandments of Shariah in their sermons and preaching. The work was vigorously pursued in India and neighboring countries.
  2. He also began correspondence with the prominent scholars of all Muslim countries. In his letter’s he emphasized and explained the religious doctrines and put great stress on Itttiba-Sunnah.
  3. Shaikh Ahned was greatly opposed to the concept of Atheism and openly denounce un-Islamic practices. He emphasized on the concept of Tauheed.
  4. He exposed the fallacy of Din-e-Ellahi and came out to curb the influence of its Satanic creed.
  5. He declared that the mysticism without Shariah was misleading and denounced those Ulemas who had questioned the authenticity of Shariah.
  6. He labored diligently to settle the differences between scholars and the mystics.
  7. He initiated the leading nobles near the emperor into his discipleship and through them exerted an influence to bring about a change in the life of the court. He was able to enlist Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khana, Khan-e-Azam, Mirza Aziz and mufti Sardar Jehan.
  8. In the times of Jehangir, Shaikh Ahmad was successful to a great extent to extract a solemn understanding from the Muslims that they would not obey any order repugnant to Islam.
  9. He persuaded the Muslims to adopt simple habits in the light of Islam and Sunnah. He reveals the importance of Namaz and Fasting.

Effects of Revival movement:

The revival movement of Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi crusaded against all evils prevailing socio-politico- religio sphere of the community of India in the time of Akbar.

Religiously:

His movement became an antithesis of Akbar’s divine faith and his philosophy as irreconcilable to Akbar reconciliation with Hinduism and Christianity.

Socially:

The Muslim community had become a victim to adulteration with socio-religious practices of Hinduism. The enforcement of Din-e-Elahi badly affected the Muslims’ fundamentalism and their spirit towards Islam.

Politically:

Akbar’s concept of sovereignty such as Zill-e-Elahi made another attack to Islamic concept of sovereignty of Allah and practice of prostration to the emperor conflicted the Islamic concept of supremacy of God.

Spiritually and ideologically:

The Muslims were discomfited and scattered. The result of these where.

  1. Muslim society was ridden with un-Islamic practices and trends under the Hindu influence a firm and wide spread belief in Karamat had developed in the society which misguided the people.
  2. In Sufism many means of developing magical and supra-natural power alien to Islam had been developed. The mystic and Sufis of those days openly denied the authenticity of Shariah they even proudly manifested their indifferences towards the Sunnah.
  3. Ulemas and theologians ceased to refer to Quran and Hadith in their commentaries and considered jurisprudence as the only religious knowledge.
  4. Akbar promoted Hindusm by marrying Hindu in his court.#

Wahdat-ul-Wajood & Wahadal-ul-Shahud:

The philosophy of Wahadat-al-Wajood was presented by some Sufis of Akbar’s Era. They believed that there was no living difference between the man and his creator; both individuals and god are not separated by each other. They also advocated that every particle of universe represented the presence of God and, therefore, the worship of god’s creatures amounted to the worship of God.

Sheikh Ahmed openly negated this philosophy and declared it as ultra vires to the principles of Islam. He presented his philosophy of Wahdat-ul-Shahud; the creator and creatures were two different and separate entities.

Shaikh Ahmad Imprisoned:

Shaikh Ahmed raised voice against the practice of prostration in the court of Jehangir. He was imprisoned in the fort of Gwalior but remained confident. After one year Jehangir feeling remorseful decided to release him with honour. He issued orders of Shaikh’s release, the sheikh however, laid down the following conditions of acceptance:

  1. The compulsory reverential prostration before the emperor would be abolished.
  2. The demolished mosques would be rebuilt.
  3. Cow- slaughter would not be allowed.
  4. Posts of Qazis, Muftis and Muhtasibs should be revived,
  5. Jizya sould be re-introduced.
  6. Innovations in religious practices should be forbidden and Shariah be enforced.
  7. All persons detained for carrying on this campaign would be freed.

All these conditions were accepted. And sheikh was honoured to be religious adviser of Jehangir. This auspicious rank helped him to moved emperor’s life according to shariah AND provided him an opportunity to preach his views.

Shaikh Ahmed and two nation theory:

In order to popularize Islam, a number of Muslim reformers adopted a liberal point of views in their preaching. They however, were successful to attract a large number of people towards Islam but at the same time this liberal strategy gave rise to distinct national image of the Muslims.

Sheikh Ahmed put an end to this concept and negated the philosophy of Wahadat-ul-Wajood. He labored to keep alive the national and the religious identity of the Muslims. He was a staunch advocate of Muslim separatism and adopted very stern attitude towards the Hindus. He wanted Jizya to be re-imposed on the Hindus to save the destruction of Hindu temple.

Mujadid’s influence on the history of Muslim India.

Shaikh Ahmed the most forceful and original thinker produced by the Muslim India before the days of Shah Wali-Ullah and Iqbal, occupies a high place not only in Muslim India but also in the entire Muslim would. He was the first man who could be called as pro-pounder of Muslim nationalism in the sub-continent.  He was a staunch advocate of separateness of Muslim Ummah. The swing of balance from heterodoxy of Akbar to the orthodoxy of Aurangzeb was, in considerable measure, due to the influence and teachings of Mujadid Al Sani. The re-imposition of Jizya, on the Hindu subjects during the reign of Aurangzeb was a far-reaching result of his work.

Conclusion:

The movement of Muja did restore Shariah and Islam became the symbol of unity. His revival movement opened new avenues towards pan-Islam. Shaikh Ahmed according to Iqbal “ was a call back to prophet-hood” became the pointer of religious nationalism. It was under the influence of his movement that the future movements of reforms and revival came to be represented by shah Wali- Ullah and Syed Ahmed Shaheed which ultimately made their head way to the destination of Pakistan movement.

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