The other side of Sufism
By R.K. Ohri, IPS (Retd)
A reappraisal of the role of Sufis working as missionaries of Islam
For centuries the Sufi creed and Sufi music have been tom tomed as great symbols of spiritualism and promoters of peace and harmony between the Hindus and the Muslims. The cleverly marketed concept of Sufi spiritualism has been unquestioningly accepted as the hallmark of Hindu-Muslim unity. It is time we studied the history of Sufis, tried to track the narrative of their coming to India and analysed their explicit missionary role in promoting conversions to Islam. More importantly, it needs to be assessed how did the Sufis conduct themselves during reckless killings and plunders by the Muslim invaders ? Did they object to the senseless mass killings and try to prevent unremitting plunder of Hindu temples and innocent masses? Did the Sufis ever object to the capture of helpless men and women as slaves and the use of the latter as objects of carnal pleasure ? These are some of the questions to which answers have to be found by every genuine student of Indian history.
In the above mentioned treatise on Sufi philosphy, Fuwaid al-Fuad, a very interesting instance of enslaving the kaffir Hindus for monetary gain has been cited which shows how another Sufi, Shayakh Ali Sijzi, provided financial assistance to one of his dervishes to participate in the lucrative slave trade. He had advised the dervish that he should take “these slaves to Ghazni, where the potential for profit is still greater”. And it was confirmed by Nizamuddin Auliya that “the Dervish obeyed”. Obviously therefore, neither spiritual ethics and nor justice to all, including the infidels, were the strong points of Sufi saints.
If the narrative of the preachings and acts of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer are taken as indication of his religious philosophy and deeds, he emerges as a sufi master who nursed a deep hatred against the infidel Hindus and showed utter contempt for their religious beliefs. As elaborated by S.S.A. Rizvi in ‘A History of Sufism in India, Vol. 1 (Munshiram Manoharlal, 1978, p. 117), there is a reference in the book, Jawahar-i- Faridi, to the fact that when Moinuddin Chishti reached near the Annasagar Lake at Ajmer, where a number of holy shrines of Hindus were located, he slaughtered a cow and cooked a beef kebab at the sacred place surrounded by many temples. It is further claimed in Jawahar-i-Faridi that the Khwaja had dried the 2 holy lakes of Annasagar and Pansela by the magical heat of Islamic spiritual power. He is even stated to have made the idol of the Hindu temple near Annasagar recite the Kalma. The Khwaja had a burning desire to destroy the rule of the brave Rajput king, Prithviraj Chauhan, so much so that he ascribed the victory of Muhammad Ghori in the battle of Tarain entirely to his own spiritual prowess and declared that “We have seized Pithaura alive and handed him over to the army of Islam”. [Source: Siyar’l Auliya, cited by Rizvi on page 116 of ‘A History of Sufism in India’].
Throughout the Muslim rule all Sufis enjoyed full confidence, royal favour and patronage of the cruel Muslim rulers. Though foolishly accepted as “secular” by most Hindus seeking spiritual solace after being battered, bruised and marginalised, almost all Sufi saints dogmatically followed the commandments contained in the Quran, the Hadith and Sharia. Historians have recorded that many Sufi saints had accompanied armies of the Muslim invaders to use their spiritual powers in furtherance of Islam’s conquests. Not one of them raised even a little finger to forbid slaughter of the innocents, nor did they question the imposition of jiziya by Muslim rulers. In fact, most of them guided the
Muslim rulers in carrying forward their mission of conquest and conversion by furthering their campaigns of plundering the wealth of Hindus of which many Sufis willingly partook share. It was almost a taboo for Sufis, the so-called saints, to accept a Hindu ascending the throne of any kingdom during the heydays of the Muslim rule. . In an example narrated by S.A.A. Rizvi on page 37 of his well researched book, The Wonder That Was India (Vol.II, Rupa & Co, 1993, New Delhi) it is pointed out that when the powerful Bengali warrior, king Ganesha, captured power in Bengal in the year 1415 A.D., Ibrahim Shah Sharqi, attacked his kingdom at the request of outraged ulema and numerous Sufis of Bengal. In the ensuing strife, the leading Sufi of Bengal, Nur Qutb-i-Alam, interceded and secured a political agreement to the benefit of the Muslim community and satisfaction of Sufis. Under dire threat King Ganesha was forced to abdicate his throne in favour of his 12 years old son, Jadu, who was converted to Islam and proclaimed as Sultan Jalaluddin - to the satisfaction of the Sufi masters. Similarly Sultan Ahmed Shah of Gujarat (1411-42), though a practitioner of Sufi philosophy, was a diehard iconoclast who took delight in destroying temples, as stated in the same tome, by S.A.A. Rizvi. The Sultan also used to force the Rajput chieftains to marry their daughters to him so that they would become outcastes in their own community. And the endgame of the Sultan could as well be that perhaps some of the outcaste Rajputs might then opt to become Muslims.
Unfortunately due to relentless colonization of the Hindu mind during 1000 years long oppressive Muslim rule, the Hindu masses till date have failed to realise that the so-called Sufi philosophy of religious harmony is a one-way street. This trend of Hindus praying at tombs and dargahs has been nurtured by the strong undercurrent of belief in spiritualism among Hindu masses, even educated classes. That is the crux of the matter. Deeply steeped in their traditional belief in spirituality and mysticism, the Hindus have developed the custom of visiting dargahs and continue to pray at the tombs of Sufis, no Muslim, nor any Sufi, has ever agreed to worship in a Hindu temple, nor make obeisance before the images of Hindu Gods and Godesses. For them it would be an act of grossest sacrilege and unacceptable violation of the basic tenets of Sufism. That is the truth about the Sufi saints and their philosophy of inter-religious harmony.
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1) The other side of Sufism