Unraveling the Sufis of India: Villains in the Guise of Saints
by Ibrahim Lone
25 Dec, 2008
India Has always was a land of diversity. Secularism and peaceful co-existence is not a concept in this land, it is a way of life. The credit goes to the understanding of our great Vedic ancestors (I count Hinduism as practiced today as not Vedic in spirit or essence) who were men of great letters and a mighty spirit. Christianity reached the Indian shores much before it reached Europe. There are Christians, know as Syrian Christians, whose links with the Christian doctrine far outdates that of any other country outside the Middle East. Jews, Zoroastrians, Bahai’s all have found home and safe refuge in this great country.
However the only exception to these immigrants was the Muslim, who did not come here to adapt himself to the local culture and live in peace and harmony. He had only one aim, which was to subdue the native populations and wave the flag through the length and breadth of this once great Nation which extended from Dhaka in the East to Khyber in the west.
Islam changed smeared the face of this country with a paint so horrific that the colours still refuse to wither out. While there is no denying the fact that Islam was spread in India mostly by the sword, there is another aspect of Islamic proselytization, which is ignored. This face is that of Sufism and the Sufis.
Most people in the India have been mislead into believing that the Sufis mostly by their own soft-headed scholars, to cherish the fond belief that the Sufis were spiritual seekers, and that unlike the Mullahs, they loved Hindu religious lore and liked their Hindu neighbors. The Chistiyya Sufis in particular have name chosen for such fulsome praise. The orthodox among the Muslims protest that the Sufis are being slandered. But the gullible Hindus remain convinced that they themselves know better. Professor Aziz Ahmad, a renowned scholar of Islam in India, clinched this matter in the following words: "In Indian sufism anti-Hindu polemics started with Muinal-din Chisti. Early sufis in Punjab and early Chistis devoted themselves to the task of conversion on a large scale. Missionary activity slowed down under Nizam al-din Auliya, not because of any new concept of eclecticism, but because he held that the Hindus were generally excluded from grace and could not be easily converted to Islam unless they had the opportunity to be in the company of the Muslim saints for considerable time." In other words the native Hindus were as a nation, not fitting to become Muslims. This is the sort of hatred that the Sufis had for the Hindus.
Of course, the Auliya who lived in a sprawling mansion and received rich gifts out of plunder was convinced that he himself was such a Muslim saint. His temper and teachings can be known easily from the writings of Amir Khusru, the poet, and Ziauddin Barani, the historian. Both of them were leading disciples of the Auliya. Both of them express intense hatred for Hindus, and regret that the Hanafi school of Islamic Law had come in the way of wiping out the "curse of infidelity" completely from the face Hindustan (India).
A similar Sufi saint who died a mere 79 years before Waliullah's birth, was Ahmad Sirhindi (1564-1624). He was always foaming at the mouth against Akbar's policy of peace with the Hindus. He proclaimed himself the Mujaddid-i-alf-i-sdni, (renovator of the second millennium of Islam). Besides writing several books, he addressed many letters to several powerful courtiers in the reign of Akbar and Jahangir. His Maktiibctt-i-Imdm Rabbant have been collected and published in three volumes. According to Professor S.A.A. Rizvi, "Sharia can be fostered through the sword' was the slogan he raised for his contemporaries.
Let us see a few specimens of his writings in which he expressed the love for the Indian infidels: "The honour of Islam lies in insulting kufr and kafirs. One who respects the kafirs dishonours the Muslims. The real purpose of levying jiziya on them is to humiliate them to such an extent that they may not be able to dress well and to live in grandeur. They should constantly remain terrified and trembling. It is intended to hold them under contempt and to uphold the honour and might of Islam." In Letter No. 81, he said: "Cow-sacrifice in India is the noblest of Islamic practices. The kafirs may probably agree to pay jiziya but they shall never concede to cow-sacrifice." After Guru Mun Deva had been tortured and done to death by Jahangir, he wrote in letter No. 193 that "the execution of the accursed kafir of Gobindwal is an important achievement and is the cause of the great defeat of the Hindus."
Sirhindi ranks with Shah Waliullah as one of the topmost sufis and theologians of Islam. Referring to his role, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first Education Minister of independent India, writes in his Tazkirah: "but for these letters Muslim nobles would not have stood by Islam and but for the efforts of Shaikh Ahmad, Akbar's heterodoxy would have superseded Islam in India."' Later on, when K.A. Nizami published a collection of Shah Walilullah's letters addressed to various Muslim notables, including Ahmad Shah Abdali, he dedicated it to Maulana Azad. The Maulana wrote back, "I am extremely happy that you have earned the merit of publishing these letters. I pray from the core of my heart that Allah may bless you with the felicity of publishing many books of a similar kind." That should give us a measure not only of 'Muslim Revivalism' but also of many Maulanas who masqueraded as ardent nationalists in order to fight the battle for Islam from within the Indian National Congress.
It is strange that most of the present-day Muslim scholars refuse to cite the actual statements made about Hindus and Hinduism by their heroes such as Ahmad Sirhindi and Shah Waliullah while praising them to the skies as saviours of Islam in India. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Allama lqbal were shining examples of this intriguing silence. The late Professor Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi published two significant books on the history of Islam in India - Ulema in Politics (1972), and The Muslim Community of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent (1977). He has devoted many pages to Ahmad Sirhindi and Shah Waliullah in both the books. But he has not cited a single sentence written or spoken by the 'great sufis' on how they looked at Hindus and Hinduism. I have no doubt that Nizami has also suppressed those letters of Shah Waliullah in which the latter has poured out his heart about kufr and the kafirs. It is only Professor S.A.A Rizvi who has taken us into the secret chambers so to say. Professor Rizvi is a Shia. And the venom which characters like Ahmad Sirhindi have poured on Hindus and Hinduism is quite comparable to that which they poured out on Shi’as and Shi’ism.
Professor Rizvi has cited select passages from the original Persian of Ahmad Sirhindi's letters. It is only recently that the letters have become available in Urdu translation. Ahmad Sirhindi wrote to many Muslim notables in the reign of Akbar and Jahangir. Some of these letters were in strong protest against Akbar's liberal, equitable policies vis-à-vis Hindus. One of Sirhindi's patrons was Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khanan whom many Hindus cherish as a Hindi poet and a devotee of Krishna. It is unfortunate that quite a few recipients of these letters cannot be identified straight away because they are addressed by their titles and not by their names. As the letters are not dated, it is difficult to say whether the bearer of a particular title belonged to the reign of Akbar or Jahangir. The same title was given to several persons in succession. I reproduce below some passages from these significant letters in order to show how the mind of this great sufi functioned. He was the leading light of the Naqshbandi sufi silsila, and the foremost disciple of Khwaja Baqi Billah who brought this silsila to India in the reign of Akbar. I may add that the Prophet appeared quite frequently to both Baqi Billah and Ahmad Sirhindi in their dreams or states of trance, and gave guidance to them.
Some of his statements translated from the original Urdu script have been reproduced below:
"It is said that the Sharia prospers under the "shadow of the sword" (al-Shara' tahat al-sait). And the glory of the holy Sharia depends on the kings of Islam."
"Islam and infidelity (kufr) contradict one another. To establish the one means eradicating the other, the coming together of these contradictories being impossible. Therefore, Allah has commanded his Prophet to wage war (jihad) against the infidels, and be harsh with them. The glory is Islam consists in the humiliation and degradation of infidels and infidelity. He, who honours the infidels, insults Islam. Honouring (the infidels) does not mean that they are accorded dignity, and made to sit in high places. It means allowing them to be in our company, to sit with them, and talk to them. They should be kept away like dogs. If there is some worldly purpose or work which depends upon them, and cannot be served without their help, they may be contacted while keeping in mind all the time that they are not worthy of respect. The best course according to Islam is that they should not be contacted even for worldly purposes. Allah has proclaimed in his Holy Word (Quran) that they are his and his Prophet's enemies. And mixing with these enemies of Allah and his Prophet or showing affection for them, is one of the greatest crimes."
"The abolition of jizyah in Hindustan is a result of friendship, which (Hindus) have acquired with the rulers of this land... What right had the rulers to stop exacting jizyah? Allah himself has commended imposition of jizyah for their (infidels) humiliation and degradation. What is required is their disgrace, and the prestige and power of Muslims. The slaughter of non-Muslims means gain for Islam. To consult them (the kafirs) and then act according to their advice means honouring the enemies (of Islam), which is strictly forbidden."
"The prayer (goodwill) of these enemies of Islam is false and fruitless. It should never be called for because it can only add to their numbers. If the infidels pray, they will surely seek the intercession of their idols, which is taking things too far. A wise man has said that unless you become a dewanah (crazy) you cannot attain Islam. The state of this mania means going beyond considerations of profit and loss. Whatever one gains in the service of Islam should suffice..."
"Ram and Krishan whom Hindus worship are insignificant creatures, and have been begotten by their parents... Ram could not protect his wife whom Ravan took away by force. How can he help others? It is thousands of times shameful that some people should think of Ram and Krishan as rulers of all the worlds. To think that Ram and Rahman are the same, is extremely foolish. The creator and the creature can never be one... The controller of the Cosmos was never called Ram and Krishan before, the latter were born. What has happened after their birth that they have come to be equated with Allah, and the worship of Ram and Krishan is described as the worship of Allah? May Allah save us!"
"Our prophets who number one hundred and twenty four thousand have encouraged the created ones to worship the Creator. The gods of the Hindus (on the other hand) have encouraged the people to worship them (the gods) instead. They are themselves misguided, and are leading others astray. See, how the (two) ways are different!"
"Before that kafir (Guru Arjun Dev) was executed, this recluse (meaning himself) had seen in a dream that the reigning king had smashed the skull of idolatry. Indeed, he was a great idolater, and the leader of the idolaters, and the chief of unbelievers. May Allah blast him! The Holy Prophet who is the ruler of religion as well as the world, has cursed the idolaters as follows in some of his prayers - "O Allah, demean their society, create divisions in their ranks, destroy their homes, and get at them like the mighty one."
"It is required by religion (Islam) that jihad should be waged against the unbelievers, and that they should be dealt with harshly. It is obligatory on Muslims to acquaint the king of Islam with the evil customs of false religions. Maybe the king has no knowledge of these evil customs. Some Ulama of Islam should come forward, and proclaim the evils present in their (unbelievers') ways... It will be no excuse or, the Day of Judgment that they did not proclaim the tenets of the Sharia because they were not called upon (to do so)."
"Therefore, it is necessary that infidelity should be cursed in order to serve the faith (Islam). Cursing unbelief in the heart is the lesser way. The greater way is to curse it in the heart as well as with the body. In short, cursing means to nourish enmity towards enemies of the true faith, whether that enmity is harboured in the heart when there is fear of injury from them (infidels), or it is harboured in the heart as well as served with the body when there is no fear of injury from them. In the opinion of this recluse, there is no greater way to obtain the blessings of Allah than to curse the enemies of the faith (be impatient with them). For Allah himself harbours enmity towards the infidels and infidelity..."
"Once I went to visit a sick man who was close to death. When I meditated on him, I saw that his heart was layered with darkness. I intended to remove those darkness. But he was not yet ready for it... When I meditated more deeply, I discovered that that darkness had gathered due to his friendship with the infidels. They could not be dispersed easily. He had to suffer torments of hell before he could get purged of them."
"Every person cherishes some longing in his heart. The only longing which this recluse (meaning himself) cherishes is that the enemies of Allah and his Prophet should be roughed up. The accursed ones should be humiliated, and their false gods disgraced and defiled. I know that Allah likes and loves no other act more than this. That is why I have been encouraging you again and again to act in this way. Now that you have yourself arrived at that place, and have been appointed to defile and insult that dirty spot and its inhabitants, I feel grateful for this grace (from Allah). There are many who go to this place for pilgrimage. Allah in his kindness has not inflicted this punishment on us. After giving thanks to Allah, you should do your best to ruin that place and their false gods ... whether the idols are carved or uncarved. Let us hope that you will not act slow. Physical weakness and severity of the cold weather, comes in my way. Otherwise, I would have presented myself, and helped you in doing the job. I would have liked to participate in the ceremony and mutilate the stones."
This is short history of the love that Sufis has for the native Indians. With the advent of Wahabism in India more and more Muslims are abandoning the practice of going to the tombs of these Sufis and offering Fatiha to them. However the funding to these shrines continues as Hindus visit these tombs. In fact many of these tombs in India get more Hindu visitors than Muslim visitors. Needless to say large amounts of money are dolled out by the gullible non believers at these tombs. What exactly this money goes on to fund is anybody’s guess. However all I can say here is that : Viva Hindus keep it up!