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Mu'in al-Din Chishti

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1236
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Mirza Firuz Shah
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People
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Mongols 1206-1368

Mu'in al-Din Chishti

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Chishtī Muʿīn al-Dīn Ḥasan Sijzī (1143–1236 CE), known more commonly as Muʿīn al-Dīn Chishtī or Moinuddin Chishti or Khwājā Ghareeb Nawaz, or reverently as a Shaykh Muʿīn al-Dīn or Muʿīn al-Dīn or Khwājā Muʿīn al-Dīn (Urdu: معین الدین چشتی‎) by Muslims of the Indian subcontinent, was a Persian Sunni Muslim preacher and Sayyid, ascetic, religious scholar, philosopher, and mystic from Sistan, who eventually ended up settling in the Indian subcontinent in the early 13th-century, where he promulgated the famous Chishtiyya order of Sunni mysticism. This particular tariqa (order) became the dominant Muslim spiritual group in medieval India and many of the most beloved and venerated Indian Sunni saints were Chishti in their affiliation, including Nizamuddin Awliya (d. 1325) and Amir Khusrow (d. 1325). Having arrived in Delhi during the reign of the sultan Iltutmish (d. 1236), Muʿīn al-Dīn moved from Delhi to Ajmer shortly thereafter, at which point he became increasingly influenced by the writings of the famous Sunni Hanbali scholar and mystic ʿAbdallāh Anṣārī (d. 1088), whose famous work on the lives of the early Islamic saints, the Ṭabāqāt al-ṣūfiyya, may have played a role in shaping Muʿīn al-Dīn's worldview. It was during his time in Ajmer that Muʿīn al-Dīn acquired the reputation of being a charismatic and compassionate spiritual preacher and teacher; and biographical accounts of his life written after his death report that he received the gifts of many "spiritual marvels (karāmāt), such as miraculous travel, clairvoyance, and visions of angels" in these years of his life. Muʿīn al-Dīn seems to have been unanimously regarded as a great saint after his passing. As such, Muʿīn al-Dīn Chishtī's legacy rests primarily on his having been "one of the most outstanding figures in the annals of Islamic mysticism." Additionally Muʿīn al-Dīn Chishtī is also notable, according to John Esposito, for having been one of the first major Islamic mystics to formally allow his followers to incorporate the "use of music" in their devotions, liturgies, and hymns to God, which he did in order to make the foreign Arab faith more relatable to the indigenous peoples who had recently entered the religion or whom he sought to convert. EARLY LIFE Born in 1143 in Sistan, Muʿīn al-Dīn Chishtī was sixteen years old when his father, Sayyid G̲h̲iyāt̲h̲ al-Dīn (d. c. 1155), died, leaving his grinding mill and orchard to his son. G̲h̲iyāt̲h̲ al-Dīn and mother, Bibi Ummalwara (alias Bibi Mahe-Noor), were Sayyids, or descendants of Muhammad, through his grandsons Hassan and Hussain. Despite planning to continue his father's business, he developed mystic tendencies in his personal piety[clarification needed] and soon entered a life of destitute itineracy. He enrolled at the seminaries of Bukhara and Samarkand, and (probably) visited the shrines of Muhammad al-Bukhari (d. 870) and Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (d. 944), two widely venerated figures in the Islamic world. While traveling to Iraq, in the district of Nishapur, he came across the famous Sunni mystic Ḵh̲wāj̲a ʿUt̲h̲mān, who initiated him. Accompanying his spiritual guide for over twenty years on the latter's journeys from region to region, Muʿīn al-Dīn also continued his own independent spiritual travels during the time period. It was on his independent wanderings that Muʿīn al-Dīn encountered many of the most notable Sunni mystics of the era, including Abdul-Qadir Gilani (d. 1166) and Najmuddin Kubra (d. 1221), as well as Naj̲īb al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Ḳāhir Suhrawardī, Abū Saʿīd Tabrīzī, and ʿAbd al-Waḥid G̲h̲aznawī (all d. c. 1230), all of whom were destined to become some of the most highly venerated saints in the Sunni tradition. PRACHING IN INDIA Muʿīn al-Dīn Chishtī was not the originator or founder of the Chishtiyya order of mysticism as he is often erroneously thought to be. On the contrary, the Chishtiyya was already an established Sufi order prior to his birth, being originally an offshoot of the older Adhamiyya order that traced its spiritual lineage and titular name to the early Islamic saint and mystic Ibrahim ibn Adham (d. 782). Thus, this particular branch of the Adhamiyya was renamed the Chishtiyya after the 10th-century Sunni mystic Abū Isḥāq al-Shāmī (d. 942) migrated to Chishti Sharif, a town in the present-day Herat Province of Afghanistan in around 930, in order to preach Islam in that area. The order spread into the Indian subcontinent, however, at the hands of the Persian Muʿīn al-Dīn in the 13th-century, after the saint is believed to have had a dream in which the Prophet Muhammad appeared and told him to be his "representative" or "envoy" in India. According to the various chronicles, Muʿīn al-Dīn's tolerant and compassionate behavior towards the local population seems to have been one of the major reasons behind conversion to Islam at his hand. Muʿīn al-Dīn Chishtī is said to have appointed Bakhtiar Kaki (d. 1235) as his spiritual successor, who worked at spreading the Chishtiyya in Delhi. Furthermore, Muʿīn al-Dīn's son, Fakhr al-Dīn (d. 1255), is said to have further spread the order's teachings in Ajmer, whilst another of the saint's major disciples, Ḥamīd al-Dīn Ṣūfī Nāgawrī (d. 1274), preached in Nagaur, Rajasthan.


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