Origin and development of Sufism in India
Sufi movement was Islamic in nature. It originated and developed in the Arab country and spread thereafter in the vast Muslim empire which was established by the rulers after conquering many alien lands in Europe, Asia and Africa. Retaining the Islamic Character the movement readily admitted the local influence and adapted to the social conditions, cultural features and spiritual needs of the native peoples. It may be explicitly understood in the case of India where spiritual interactions between the Sufi’s and the Yogis resulted into the inception and growth of Bhakti movement. Many Yoga and Muslim saints led and carried forward the healthy tradition of bhakti movement. In other lands also Sufism pursued the same course ensuing similar consequences. Persia, due to its rich cultural heritage and proximity of ideas, influenced the movement most widely and profoundly. Sufism admitted several conceptual elements from the Persian culture and religion, and practiced them in the course of prayer and penitence. Reason being, that it become an Islamic state following the Arab political legacy.
Major Orders of Sufism in India
Many sufies of different orders came to India to spread Islam. They presented themselves as the best examples of moral values. Local people influenced a lot by their simple life and ethical values. There are many orders of Sufism. Major orders of them are as follows.
- Chishtiya order
Chishtiya Order was founded in India by Khwaja Moin-Uddin Chishti. He came into India from central Asia. He was a student of Khawaja Usman. He came into India to serve Islam and muslims who were living here. India has been attacked by many Muslim rulers and after every attack a great number of muslims were left behind, and even they forcefully converted a large number of Indians to Islam. Thus the Muslim population went on increasing in India slowly and gradually. Native Indian rulers were not friendly to these muslims. It is obvious that how can you be friendly to someone who attacks or invades your home. Chishti helped these muslims. It is said, Chishti invited Mohammad Gauri to attack India once again help the muslims from the Ajmer King Prithvi Raj Chauhan. Prithvi Raj defeated Gauri many times, but in last with the help of some political conspiracy Gauri overcome Prithi Raj. After that Gauri established Muslim rule by appointing his slave Qutbuddin Aibak as governor of India. Chishti travelled to Bangal and other states and converted a great number of natives to Islam.
(Personally I don’t like Chishti. He was just an Islamic scholar who came to India only to help Muslims; and to convert people of other religions to Islam. A saint is a person who helps “people” not “religion”. It is said that there was caste based discrimination or inequality in Hinduism; as there were Brahamans, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. But to see people as Muslims and Non-Muslims is also discrimination. A saint is a person who helps people irrespective of their religion or caste. If a saint helps people only of his own religion and caste… he is not a saint.)
- Qadriya order
Qadriya order was founded in the name of its precursor Abdul Qadir Jilani. The sufis of this order also migrated into India from the Persio-Arab land. The Qadriyas were not much different from the chistis except that they owed allegience to their elder. Abdul Qadir Jilani considered him to be the most perfect sufi of all times. It was an unsubstantiated claim. His spiritual stage, however, was commanded and widely acknowledged. Qadriya order in India was introduced quite late in the medieval ages. Abdul Qadir of Badayun founded it here in the last decades of 14th century. The order became more popular in the Muslim world including India due to the initiation of Ibnul Arabi into the fold.
- Suharwardiya order
The suharwardi order was founded in the name of sheikh shahabuddin Suharwardi Maqtul. Like Mansoor Hallaj he was also executed on account of his heresies. He was an emanationist believing in the incarnation (Hulul) of God in man. He deemed himself to be an incarnation of God. On the basis of his mystic experience he introduced the doctrine of light (Nur) into Sufism.
- Naqsh Bandiya order
Naqsh Bandya order was introduced in India with the invasion of Babar. The King Babar and many of his soldiers owed allegiance to ubaid-ul-Ahrar. Many of other disciples also accompanied Babar in his journey to India. They settled here after the establishment of Mughal empire. The mission of the Naqsh bandi saints was similar but they emphasized the eradication of alien elements crept in Islam from the native religions.