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Makhdum’s Message of Wahdat (Oneness) in Times of Disharmony: By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi

Word For Peace Special 

This is an established historical fact that Islam in India owes much of its existence to Sufi saints and dervishes such as the 13th century saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti popularly known as ‘Ghareeb Nawaz’ (Benefactor of the Poor) whose abode in Ajmer Sharif stands today as the most prominent Sufi pilgrimage in India.

Gharib Nawaz came from Herat in Iran to India and rendered great spiritual contributions and humanitarian services. His message of “love for all and malice towards none” is a milestone in the path of national integration, human equality, spirituality and religious pluralism in India. Thus, this peaceful and pluralistic Indian tradition ushered in a new era of composite culture in the country which still remains well-spirited and widely accepted among the Indian common masses regardless of faith, caste and creed.

Following in the footsteps of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (R.A), another celebrated Indian Sufi saint Hazrat Sayed Ashraf Jahangir Simnani (1287 – 1386 CE) left his birthplace Simnan in Iran and settled in India. Venerated by both Indian and Iranian Muslims, Makhdum Simnani, also known as “Makhdum-e-Paak” was a prominent Sufi saint belonging to the Chishti and Qadiri Sufi orders. He became the chief disciple of the well-known Sufi sage of Bengal, Hazrat Alaul Haq Pandavi (R.A), a remarkably generous saint who used to spend large sums of money to feed the poor, and was also a desciple of of the well-known Chishti master Hazrat Akhi Siraj Aaina-e-Hind.

Makhdum-e-Paak established his own Sufi order (silsila) through his spiritual disciple Syed Shah Abdur Razzaq Nurul-Ain, the 11th direct descendant of the renowned Sufi Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (R.A), the founder of Qadiriya Order. Makhdum-e-Paak’s shrine is still revered as great Sufi hospice and is known as “Aastana-e-Hazrat Jahangir Simnani” in Ambedkar Nagar, Uttar Pradesh.

In fact, the Persian-origin Indian Sufi Mystics fervently taught and promoted global peace, inclusive spirituality and non-violence. As a result, the shrines of these saints are still attracting people from all faith traditions even after hundreds of years. In the current situation of growing religious disharmony, communal hatred and faith-inspired extremism, the Indian Sufi saints of Persian origin are the beacons of hope, light and guidance. For they have richly contributed to the beautiful mystical traditions in India. Their essential message included the brotherhood of mankind (ukhuwat-e-insani), inclusivity and a wide embrace of religious pluralism and multiculturalism. This was the key behind the vast popularity of the Sufi sages in the country.

Hazrat Syed Makhdoom Ashraf Jahangir Simnani (R.A) was one such Indian sage who came from Persia. In the land of Advaita (Non-dualism), he practiced and preached the beautiful Sufi concept of Wahdat al-Wajud (Unity of the Being) propounded by Andalusian Islamic scholar and the greatest Sufi philosopher, Sheikh e Akbar Mohiyuddin Ibn Al Arabi (R.A).

Hazrat Makhdoom Ashraf’s spiritual theories presented in his oral transmission known as “Lataif-e-Ashrafi” are our guiding light today. His discourse seeks to deepen our understanding about the basic tenets of Islam, such as Wahdat-e-insani (Unity of the mankind) and al-Tawheed (oneness of God). He introduced wahdat as a deeply nuanced and wider notion of love. “Wahdat means annihilation of the lover in the characteristics of his/her beloved”.

Explaining the essential belief in al-Tawheed (the fundamental tenet of Islam) as an all-inclusive and comprehensive Islamic doctrine, Makhdoom Ashraf has dwelled on different degrees of Tawheed:

1. Wahdat-e imani (oneness in belief): It is an act of the servants of God, confirming by heart and verbally acknowledging His uniqueness.

2. Wahdat-e ilmi (oneness in knowledge): Makhdoom Ashraf stated: “This second degree of wahdat is attained within oneself, through inner spiritual knowledge. This is also called ilm ul-yaqeen (confirmed knowledge). It urges one to believe that there is no existence other than the Almighty. All other personas, virtues and actions are nothing in comparison to His persona, virtues and actions. In this degree of wahdat, one is supposed to acknowledge the growth of each person as a manifestation of the divine persona of God.”

3. Wahdat-e hali (oneness in spiritual condition): Makhdoom Ashraf explained: “It implies that the condition of wahdat is the most essential virtue of the spiritual practitioners. All darkness of the existence is lost in the light of wahdat. In this state, one should be overwhelmed by the light of wahdat in such a way as the stars lose their light in the sun.” Finally Makhdoom Ashraf avers: “Wahdat is an ocean and the muwahhid (the believer) is a drop in it with no power of its own”.

Today, Hazrat Makhdoom Ashraf is highly venerated especially in north India, where he founded and spread a beautiful branch of the Chishti Sufi order known as “Silsila Ashrafiya”. It has widely spread in the different parts of the country as a result of the vital contribution of his distinguished mureed (disciple), Syed Shah Abdur Razzaq Noor Ayn (R.A).

Recently, the annual Urs (death anniversary) of the prominent Chishti Sufi saint Hazrat Syed Makhdoom Ashraf Jahangir Simnani (R.A.) was held in his famous spiritual hospice (Khanqah) of Kichhauchha Sharif situated in Etawah (Ambedkarnagar). This was the 636th Urs of Hazrat Makhdoom Ashraf Jahangir Simnani (Rahmatullah Alaihi) which was concluded on Sunday with the peace prayer for the country in Khanqah-e- Ashrafiya Sheikhe Azam Sarkar-e-Kalan.

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