IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


29th January, 2024 History


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French President Emmanuel Macron visited the Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah in Delhi and participated in rituals.


  • Nizamuddin Auliya, also known as Hazrat Nizamuddin, was a 14th-century Sufi saint and a prominent figure in the Chishti order of Sufism.
  • His full name was Sheikh Nizamuddin Auliya, and he was born in 1238 CE in Badayun, present-day Uttar Pradesh.
  • He is widely regarded as one of the most beloved and influential Sufi saints in the Indian subcontinent.

Life and Early Education

  • Birth and Early Life:
    • Nizamuddin Auliya was born in 1238 CE to Khwaja Ahmad, a descendant of the first Caliph, Abu Bakr.
    • His early education included Quranic studies and traditional Islamic knowledge.
  • Spiritual Journey:
    • At a young age, Nizamuddin showed a deep inclination towards spirituality.
    • He became a disciple of the Sufi saint Fariduddin Ganjshakar (Baba Farid) at the age of 20.

Spiritual Legacy

  • Teachings and Philosophy:
    • Nizamuddin Auliya emphasized the importance of love, compassion, and service to humanity.
    • His teachings were rooted in the principles of Sufism, focusing on selflessness and devotion to God.
  • Sufi Practices:
    • Nizamuddin Auliya was known for his practice of dhikr (remembrance of God) and sama (spiritual music).
    • The qawwali tradition, a form of devotional music, became associated with his spiritual gatherings.

Impact and Influence

  • Khanqah and Spiritual Community:
    • He established a Khanqah (Sufi monastery) in Delhi, which became a center for spiritual activities and humanitarian work.
    • The Khanqah served as a place for spiritual seekers, scholars, and common people to gather and engage in Sufi practices.
  • Relations with the Common People:
    • Nizamuddin Auliya was known for his love and compassion for the poor and downtrodden.
    • His famous saying, "Love all and hate none," reflects his inclusive and tolerant approach.
  • Relationship with Amir Khusro:
  • Nizamuddin Auliya had numerous disciples, including notable figures like Amir Khusro and Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlavi.
    • The renowned Sufi poet and musician, Amir Khusro, was a close disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya. Their association played a significant role in the development of Sufi poetry and music.
  • Relations with Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq:
  • Initially, Nizamuddin Auliya had a good relationship with Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, the founder of the Tughluq dynasty.
  • However, their relationship soured due to differences in opinion, leading to disputes and antagonism.

Key Beliefs

  • Emphasis on renunciation, complete trust in God, and the unity of mankind.
  • Strong disapproval of mingling with rulers and the nobility.
  • Focus on helping the needy, feeding the hungry, and sympathizing with the oppressed.
  • Uncompromising attitude towards political and social oppression.
  • Acceptance of Sema (Sufi music and dance) with the condition that musical instruments and dancing are not present.


  • Nizamuddin Auliya passed away on April 3, 1325.
  • His tomb, located in the Nizamuddin Dargah area of Delhi, has become a major pilgrimage site.
  • The annual Urs (death anniversary) celebration at the Dargah attracts thousands of devotees, including people from various faiths.

Sufi Movement

Origin and Meaning of Sufism:

  • Origin: Sufism originated in the 8th-9th centuries AD from Islam, with followers seeking truth and love through direct encounters with God.
  • Etymology: The term 'Sufi' is derived from the Arabic word 'Suf,' meaning thick woolen cloth.

Geographical Origin:

  • Sufism originated in cities such as Madina, Mecca, Baghdad, Basra, and Kufa in the Arab world.

Methods of Realizing God:

  • The method of realizing God in Sufism involves renunciation of the world and worldly pleasures.

Fraternal Orders and Mentor-Disciple Relationship:

  • Sufi movement consists of fraternal orders where mentors train disciples in Sufism's philosophical principles and practices.
  • Practices include writing and reciting poetry and hymns.

Distinct Forms of Rituals:

  • Sufis engage in distinct forms of ritual prayer, known as 'dhikr' or 'Zikr' (meaning 'remembrance').
  • Some Sufi orders, like the Whirling Dervishes, practice bodily rituals involving meditation and contemplation through spinning.

Two Shades of Sufism:

  • Basara: Followers who believed in Islamic laws.
  • Beshara: Followers who did not believe in Islamic laws.

Sufism in India:

  • Emerged during the Delhi Sultanate in the 11th and 12th centuries.
  • Sufi saints played a crucial role in fostering brotherhood between Hindus and Muslims in India.

Exponents and Solution to Religious Conflicts:

  • Sufi saints had deep knowledge of Vedantic and Buddhist philosophy, contributing to the socio-religious movement in India.
  • Sufism in India was a result of Hindu influence on Islam, creating a common platform for Muslims and Hindus.

Sufi Words and Meanings:

  • Tasawwuf: Sufism
  • Shaikh/Pir/Murshid: Spiritual teacher
  • Murid: Disciple
  • Khalifah: Successor
  • Khanqah: The hospice
  • Sama: Musical recital
  • Raqa: Dance
  • Fana: Self-annihilation
  • Ziyarat: Pilgrimage to the tombs of Sufi saints

Spread of Sufism in India:

  • Sufism spread to Kashmir, Bihar, Bengal, and the Deccan by the 14th century.
  • Sufis arrived in India willingly, emphasizing a pure life, devotional love, and service to humanity.

Sufi Orders in India:

  • Al-Hujwiri, known as Data Ganj Baksh, was an early Sufi of eminence.
  • Fourteen silsilas (orders) of Sufis mentioned by Abul Fazl, divided into Bashara (following Islamic law) and Beshara (not bound by Sharia).

Sufi Orders and Tariqah:

  • Sufi orders, also called tariqah, include various activities and became important in the religious life of the general population.
  • Orders provide the basis for permanent fellowships and emerge as major social organizations in the Islamic community.

Features of Sufism and Various Sufi Orders:

Features of Sufism:

  • Organized in Different Silsilas (Orders): Sufism is organized into different silsilas or orders, each with its own set of practices and teachings.
  • Absorption of Ideas from Various Religions: Sufism has absorbed a variety of ideas and practices from Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism.
  • Service of Mankind Through Spiritual Development: Sufis aim at the service of mankind through their own spiritual self-development.
  • Eager for Hindu-Muslim Unity and Cultural Synthesis: Sufis actively promote unity between Hindus and Muslims, advocating cultural synthesis.
  • Opposition to Orthodoxy: Sufis are opposed to orthodoxy and emphasize faith and devotion to God.
  • Discouragement of Materialistic Life: Sufis discourage a materialistic life but are not in favor of complete renunciation.

The Chishti Order:

  • Founded in the village Chishti (near Herat).
  • In India, founded by Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (1142-1236) who made Ajmer the main center for his teachings.
  • Believed in serving mankind as the best form of devotion.
  • Disciples included Sheikh Hamiduddin Nagauri, Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, Baba Fariduddin Ganj-i-Shakar, Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya, Shaikh Nasiruddin Mahmud, and Syed Muhammad Gesu Daraz.

The Suhrawardi Order:

  • Founded by Sheikh Shihabuddin Suhrawardi.
  • Established in India by Sheikh Bahauddin Zakariya (1182-1262), with a khanqah in Multan.
  • Maintained close contacts with the state, accepting gifts, jagirs, and government posts.
  • Firmly established in Punjab and Sind.

Firdausiya Order:

  • Founded by Shaikh Badruddin Samaskandi (13th Century).
  • Activities confined to Bihar.
  • Outstanding Sufi: Shaikh Sharufuddin Ahmad Yahiya Maneri opposed the execution of two sufis by Firoz Shah Tughlaq.

Kubrawi Order:

  • Mainly confined to the Kashmir region.
  • Introduced by Mir Syed Ali Hamadani.
  • Encouraged followers to demolish Hindu temples and convert Hindus to Islam.

Qadiriyya Order:

  • Originated from Abdul Qadir Jilani of Baghdad (12th Century).
  • Popularized in the Punjab and Sind in the 16th century by Shaikh Mohammad Ali Hasaini and Shaikh Abdul Qadir.
  • Started in India by Syed Mohammad Jilani.
  • Notable disciple: Mulla Shah of Badakhshan.

Naqshbandi Order:

  • Founded by Khwaja Baqi Billa (1536-1603), popularized by Saikh Ahmad Sirhindi (Mujaddid Alif).
  • Patronized by Babur and opposed liberal policies of Akbar.
  • Saikh Ahmad Sirhindi imprisoned by Jahangir for claiming a status beyond that of a Prophet.

Shattariyya Order:

  • Founded by Shah Abdullah in India.
  • Claimed to make disciples perfect by the fastest means.
  • Notable figure: Mohammad Gauth, attracted Tansen and Humayun.

Roshaniya Order:

  • Founded by Miyan Bayazid Ansari, also known as Pir Roshan.
  • Popular in tribal areas of the northwest among Yakh, Yousafzai, Afridi, and Hazarah tribes.
  • Authored a book called "Khair-ul-bayan."

Mahadawi Order:

  • Founded by Mullah Mohammad Mahdi in Jaunpur.
  • Claimed to be a Mahdi (liberator) and opposed orthodox Muslims.

Rishi Order:

  • Founded by Nur-ud-din Nurani (1377-1440) in Kashmir.
  • Known as Wali, aimed to transform the pre-existing rishi tradition into a vehicle for the spread of Islam.

Qalandariya Order:

  • Founded by Abu Wali Qalander.
  • Wandering monks known as Dervishes, living in the trans-Yamuna region, not favoring khanqahs.

Early Sufis:

  • Rabia (8th Century): Woman mystic who laid great emphasis on love as the bond between God and the individual soul.
  • Mansur-Al-Hajjaj (10th Century): Emphasized love as a significant aspect of the relationship between God and the individual soul.
  • Al-Ghazzali (d. 1112): Attempted to reconcile mysticism with Islamic orthodoxy.

Chisti Order:

  • Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti:
    • Established the Chisti order in India around 1192.
    • Settled in Ajmer, authored several books, including "Anis-al-arwah" and "Dalil-al-Arifier."
  • Qutub-ud-din Bakhtiyar Kaki:
    • Disciple of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti.
  • Farid-ud-din Ganj-i-Shakr:
    • Disciple of Qutub-ud-din Bakhtiyar Kaki, confined activities to Hansi and Ajodhan.
  • Nizam-ud-din Auliya:
    • Born in Badaun (U.P.).
    • Disciple of Shaik Muin-ud-din Chisti.
    • Adopted yogi’s breathing exercise, gaining the title "Sidh" or perfect.
    • His biography is mentioned in Ain-i-Akbari by Abul Fazl.

Other Sufi Saints:

  • Baha-ud-din Zakariya:
    • Belonged to the Suhrawardi order.
    • Contemporary of Iltutmish.
  • Baha-ud-din Naqshband Bukari:
    • Founder of the Naqshband order.
  • Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani:
    • Founder of the Qadariyya order in Baghdad.
    • Authored several books, including "Futuh-al-Galib" and "Al-Fath-al-rabbani."
  • Sarfud-din Yahiya Maneri:
    • Belonged to the Firdausi order.
    • His "Maklinbat" (letters) are full of advice and admonition regarding spiritual order.
  • Khwaja Baki Billah:
    • Strengthened the Naqshbandiya order in India.
    • Opposed the heresy known as Din-i-Ilahi.
  • Other Saints:
    • Dara Shikoh, follower of Hazrat Main Mir.
    • Shaikh Rukn-ud-din Abul Fateh.
    • Baba Sain Mir Mohammad Sahib (1550-1635).
    • Mullah Shah Badakshi.

10 Steps of Sufism (Realization of God):

  1. Tauba (Repentance)
  2. Wara (Abstinence)
  3. Zuhd (Piety)
  4. Faqr (Poverty)
  5. Sabr (Patience)
  6. Shukra (Gratitude)
  7. Khauf (Fear)
  8. Tawakkul (Contentment)
  9. Raja (Hope)
  10. Riza (Submission)

Importance of the Sufi Movement:

  • Spread of Islam:
    • Sufi orders played a crucial role in the missionary expansion of Islam.
    • Adaptation to local customs helped integrate Islam into popular religious activities.
  • Reformist Movement:
    • Sufi ideas influenced Indian society, promoting tolerance among Muslim rulers.
    • Sufi teachings in local languages contributed to the evolution of various Indian languages.
  • Spiritual Progress of Followers:
    • Different Sufi traditions played diverse roles in shaping Muslim responses and defining Islamic forms of modernity.
    • Sufi orders continued to be important in popular devotional life and responding to modern challenges.
  • Enrichment of Culture:
    • Sufi saints contributed to the growth of rich regional literature, writing in local languages.
    • Amir Khusrau, a notable writer of the period, took pride in being an Indian and contributed to regional literature.

Hindu Impact on Sufism:

  • Similarities with Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra:
    • Alberuni noted Sufi doctrines similar to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra.
  • Influence of Nath Panthis:
    • Shaikh Nizam-ud-din Auliya was influenced by the concept of Nath Panthis.
    • Accepted the idea that the human body is divided into Shiv and Shakti.
  • Similar Practices with Hindu Ascetics:
    • Khanqahs of Sufis were built similarly to Hindu 'Mathas' or Buddhist monasteries.
    • Shaving heads of new entrants to their order, similar to Hindu ascetics.
  • Translation of Hath Yoga Amrit Kund:
    • Text of Hath yoga Amrit Kund was translated into Arabic and Persian, influencing Sufis.
  • Respiratory System and Yogic Influence:
    • Shaikh Nasir-ud-din, Chirag-i-Dehlavi emphasized the respiratory system, called 'sidha' or perfect by Yogis.
  • Influence on Sufi Saints:
    • Shaikh Abdul Quddus Gangohi was influenced by Nath Panthis, calling Alakh Niranjan as God.
    • Sufis like Nuruddin and followers referred to themselves as 'Rishis,' a Hindu term for yogis.
  • Unity Concepts Similar to Hindu Philosophy:
    • 'Wahadat-ul-wajud' concept in Sufism is similar to the Hindu concept of the unity of being and universe.
  • Translation of Yoga Qalander:
    • "Yoga Qalander" by Saiyyad Murtaza, influenced by Hathyoga-Amrit Kund.


Nizamuddin Auliya's legacy continues to inspire millions, and his teachings have left an indelible mark on the spiritual and cultural landscape of the Indian subcontinent. The Nizamuddin Dargah remains a symbol of unity, tolerance, and love for people from diverse backgrounds.


Q. Assess the contributions of prominent Sufi saints and the role of Sufi literature in shaping the cultural landscape of medieval India. (250 Words)