The Second century of the Hijra (AD 719-816) saw the emergence of a class of persons wearing garments of coarse undyed wool or Suf and came to be known as "Sufis" or the purified. The sifis sought not to be involved in wrong- doing, to nurturer a righteous spirit, and prayed for a clean heart and the renewal of the right spirit within.
The origin of Sufism was humble, its rise phenomenal, its development rapid, its influence widespread and its impact profound.
Sufism, born in Arabia, was in course of time reborn in other countries of the world. It conquered nations inturn and nations conquered it.
The Sufi saints, belonging to various Orders, in particular the Qadiri, the Chishti, the Suhrawardi, and the Naqshbandi, came to the Indian subcontinent by way of Multan and Sind to preach and to propagate the Gospel of Truth.
By their personal example as well as their precepts and preaching, they transformed and transfigured society, endowing it with new concepts, new values, renewed vigour, and a new lease of life.
A new type of society came into being which had no invidious distinctions of caste, class, creed, or colour, and had, as its foundation, a deep routed humanism, a belief in social equality, universal brotherhood, equality of opportunity, an insistence on women's rights, protection of orphans and the handicapped, the right use of money, a sense of contentment, trust in God, emphasis on inner purification, hope belief, and faith, tolerance, a reliance on meditation, self-introspection, self-realisation, self-effacement, a belief in an ascetic life, self-help, mutual-help, selfless service, the dignity of individual and, above all, on love, which alone can transform and individual in a way nothing else can.
In the following pages an attempt has been made to describe and discuss in some detail the lives of the Sufi saints who have worked, preached, practiced, and died on the Indian subcontinent. Attention has been given to their antecedents, rituals, ascetic practices, initiation in the sufi Order, teachings sayings, and supernatural powers.
I wish in conclusion to acknowledge with love and joy the interest evinced by Khurshid Hasan and Mohammad Siraj in the life and teachings of the Sufi saints. I am only too well aware of the labour that Mohammad Siraj put into typing the manuscript at personal inconvenience.
May the saints reward them suitably and provide them amply for their labour and for their sustained interest in the life and teachings on the Sufi saints. Amen!
From the Jacket
Sufi - a man of the people called Sufiyah who profess the mystic principles of tasawwuf (mysticism). There are many silsilas (concatenations) in Sufis, but they are all agreed in their principal tenet- submission to a murshid (inspired guide). The great object of the mystic is to lose his own identity. The sole object of Sufism is to lead the wandering soul onward, stage by stage, until it reaches the desired goal- perfect union with the Divine Being.
This book The Sufi Saints of the Indian Subcontinent is a short biographical sketch of Sufiya-e-kiram (the generous mystics) of Indian subcontinent. If we want falaah wa behbood (Success and well-being) here faani (perishable) world and in aakhirat (the next world, life after death) which is baqa'e- davam (everlastingness), the teachings of Sufis (described in this book) will be very useful because Sufis have left a lasting legacy that will guide the people today and in future.
Hazrat Dr. Zahurul Hassan Sharib [(1914-96), Gudri Shah Baba IV, affectionately known as Zahur Miyan] was born in Moradabad, U. P. He received a doctorate in political Science and thereafter pursued a legal career.
However, a deep interest in spiritual life steered him towards Sufism (Islamic mysticism). He moved to Ajmer, the city of the renowned Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishti, where he spent many years in the love and service of his pir-o-murshid (spiritual guide) Hazrat Nawab Khadim Hasan Shah Sahib, Gudri Shah Baba III. In 1971, upon the demise of his spiritual guide, Dr. Sharib succeeded as the Head of the Gudri Shahi Order of Sufis. Under his inspiring guidance, the Order gained momentum both in the East and the West.
Dr. Sharib was fluent in many languages, including some modern European languages. He has, to his credit, a vast number of publications in Urdu, English, Dutch, and Italian. Apart from writing books on mysticism, he has translated classical Persian poetry into other languages. He has also authored several books on rural sociology.
Dr. Sharib Passed away into the Mercy of the Almighty on April 8, 1996. His tomb at the Usmani Chilla at Ajmer, Rajasthan, attracts scores of people throughout the year. His'urs (death ceremony) is celebrated according to the lunar calendar on Ziq'ada 19 and 20 at his tomb.
The subcontinent of India has been chosen by the Almighty as the home for the mystics and dervishes of various faiths and religious beliefs. Not only has the subcontinent seen the birth of saints, sufis and sannyasis, but even the fakirs and the dervishes from other countries have accepted it as their final abode. It is therefore not surprising to find a long list of accomplished sufi saints who made this subcontinent their final resting place.
Dr. Zahurul Hassan Sharib, or Zahur Miyan, as he was called affectionately, made it the purpose of his life to devote himself to the study of the life and teachings of saints and sufis. And later, he made the purpose larger by actually practising these teachings.
As the Head of the Gudri Shahi Order of sufis for over twenty-five years, Zahur Miyan affected the lives of thousands of people, who came to him from all over the world. Regardless of their caste, creed, country, religion, age or social stats, Zahur Miyan helped each person in the way that was appropriate for them.
This book constitutes an important milestone as it attempts to put in one place, the lives and teachings of major sufis saints of the subcontinent. However, the real magic of the book is that it is an account of the lives of saints by one amongst them.
May you be the recipient of the blessings of saints!
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