Sufism in Medieval India
Sufism is defined as "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God". Sufism had influenced the entire Muslim community by the 12th century.
The practitioner of this tradition is known as Sufi, Wali, Faqir or Dervish.
Sufism defined itself into various orders; the 4 most popular among these were Chistis, Suhrawardis, Qadiriyahs, and Naqshbandis.
Sufism has roots in both rural and urban areas and exerted social, political and cultural influence on the masses. Sufis brought peace and harmony to everyone’s mind in a world full of grieves and sorrows.
History of Sufism in India
Sufism which arose from Islam in 8th and 9th centuries began to gain prominence in India during the Sultanate period. Because of their spiritual influence, the mystic saints were patronized by the rulers to spread Islam among the non-believers.
During the medieval period, Sufism spread its wings to the Deccan plateau during the Tughlaq dynasty. During the reign of Akbar the Sufi movement gained momentum as Akbar followed a liberal religious policy.
The main Sufi orders followed by the Muslins of India include Chistiyya, Naqshbandiyya, Qadiriyya and Suharabardiyya of which Chisti order is the most popular one which is even followed in small villages in India.
Kwaja Moin-ud-Din Chisti who was born in Afghanistan in 1142 AD brought the order to India. He chose Ajmer as his permanent base since 1195 AD after he reached India with the army of Shihab-ud-Din Ghuri.
The four famous Islamic mystics of The Chistya order from Afghanistan namely Qutubuddin, Nizamuddin, Moinuddin and Fariuddin helped spread its roots all over India.
Impact of Sufism in India
Sufism which emphasised on liberal ideas and believed in equality in brotherhood was successful in bridging the gap between Muslims and Hindus. The liberal ideas of Sufism made the orthodox Muslims a little more tolerant towards their non-Muslim counterparts.
The language used for preaching by the Muslim saints helped in evolving common Indian languages like Punjabi, Urdu, Sindhi, Kashmiri and even Hindi. Malik Muhammad Jayasi and Amir Khusrau penned down poems in praise of Sufi teachings and principles.