How did the reform movement of Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi influence the history of Muslim India? | Best for CSS, PMS Current Affairs, Pakistan Affairs, and Essay Papers
Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, popularly known as Mujaddid Alf-Sani, has greatly influenced the history of Muslim India by saving the Muslim society from dogmatism and secular un-Islamic beliefs and restoring an Islamic culture based on actual Islamic values. Writing influential letters to the high-rank officials of the Mughal court, he changed the tone of administration, emperors, and religious personalities and secured the future of Muslims and Islam in the Indian subcontinent.
Historical perspective: religious, social, and political situation of India during Mujaddid’s time
- The threat posed to the Muslims’ identity and existence by Akbar’s syncretism and Sulh-i-Kul concept
- Distortion of the Islamic social system by Hindu revival movements like the Bhakti movement
- False innovation in the Islamic religious teachings by wicked Darbari Mullahs
Influence of Mujaddid’s reform movement
- Rejuvenation of the Islamic social system purely based on the Quran and Sunnah
- Creation of a Muslim society free from dogmatism and un-Islamic secular beliefs like inter-religious marriages
- Individual reformation of Muslims of India and compelling them to follow sharia and sunnah in letter and spirit
- Restoration of orthodox Islamic practices in the government administration
- End of Akbar’s syncretism and un-Islamic liberal policies
- Re-imposition of jizya (Islamic tax on non-Muslim citizens)
- Implementation of the Islam justice system
- End of false innovation in the religious teachings
- Abolition of the concept of Wahdat-ul-Wujud
- Renovation of mosques that were turned into Hindu temples
- Removal of ban on cow slaughtering
Answer to the Question
Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, popularly known as Mujaddid Alf-Sani, has influenced the history of Muslim India by saving the Islamic social system, securing the Muslims’ identity, and the future of Islam in the Indian subcontinent. For this purpose, he launched a reform movement in response to the Mughal emperor Akbar’s syncretism and Bhakti movement, posing a severe threat to the Islamic social system, Muslim identity, and the future of Islam. Moreover, Viewing a danger to the Islamic social system and Muslims’ identity in the Indian subcontinent, he struggled against dogmatism and un-Islamic secular beliefs. Writing letters to the high-rank courtiers of the Mughal court, he informed them about the severity of the issue and instructed necessary actions to neutralize the effects. Furthermore, he made strenuous efforts to rejuvenate the pure Islamic social system based on the Quran and Sunnah, restore the orthodox Islamic system of administration, and neutralize the influence of wicked Ulemas. Luckily, Muslim rulers and religious leaders of his time and a subsequent period followed his suggested path and strived for the salvation of the Muslims of the subcontinent.
Looking at the history of Muslims of the Indian subcontinent, the Muslim society, religious beliefs, and administration system got distorted severely during Akbar’s era due to his un-Islamic secular policies. For political gains, Akbar tried to amalgamate Islam with other religions of the subcontinent like Hinduism, Christianity, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, etc. The amalgamation ruined the pure orthodox Islamic social and belief system. As a result, Muslims adopted various un-Islamic social and religious practices and were very close to loose their Islamic identity. In addition, the Hindu Bhakti movement damaged the religious image of the Indian Muslims equally. Hindu missionaries, benefitting from the Sulh-i-kul concept of Akbar, tried to absorb Islam into Hinduism.
During this period, a Muslim Sufi scholar, jurist, and reformer– Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi– appeared on the horizon and took a harsh stand against Akbar’s syncretism and revivalist Hindus. He launched his reform movement to purify Muslim society and Islamic social values. Social practices like inter-religious marriages and worship of worldly deities were familiar; he strictly rejected these un-Islamic social customs and traditions. These practices posed a threat to the Muslim identity. He secured the Islamic identity of the Muslims of India by rejuvenating the social system purely based on Quran and Sunnah. Furthermore, he worked on individual reformation of the Muslims as they became dogmatic due to the influence of wicked Ulemas of the Mughal court; in consequence, they started following Shariat and Sunnah in letter and spirit.
Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi knew that the root cause of this decadence was the wickedness of a few members of the ruling Mughal administration. Therefore, he made strenuous efforts to eradicate evil from the administrative circle. He wrote influential letters to some high-rank courtiers, upper-class generals, and religious personalities. Instructing necessary actions to neutralize the effects, he stressed restoring the orthodox Islamic practices in the administration system. Furthermore, he tried to turn the Mughal government into a truly Islamic government based on Quran and Sunnah.
Fortunately, he became successful in influencing the administration and the emperor himself. Mughal emperor Jahangir’s actions, such as the re-imposition of jizya (tax on non-Muslim citizens), the expulsion of wicked Ulemas from the Mughal court, implementation of the Islamic justice system, ban on inter-religious marriages, and renovation of mosques, show the influence of Shaikh Ahmad’s reform movement on him. Moreover, Jahangir’s successors Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb followed Shaikh Ahmad’s suggested path and strived for the salvation of Muslims of the Indian subcontinent.
With the change in the tone of administrative circles, the hold of ‘Darbari Mullahs’, who had misinterpreted the Islamic religious teachings, was decreased. Hazrat Mujaddid started interpreting Islamic teachings truly based on Quranic principles. He successfully neutralized the impacts of false innovation in religion. In addition, he viewed the concept of Wahdat-ul-Wujud as misleading the Muslim intelligentsia; he gave an alternative concept, Wahdat-ul- Shuhud, based on the idea that God and his creation are separate entities. He also argued for removing the ban on cow slaughtering and the renovation of the mosques turned into temples during Akbar’s era.
In summary, Akbar’s syncretism and the Bhakti movement were a great setback for the Muslim community of the Indian subcontinent. Muslims were on the verge of losing their Islamic identity. Mujaddid’s on-time and harsh response to the Din-e-Elahi and Bhakti movement restored the Muslims’ identity and secured the future of Islam in India. His correct interpretation of Islamic religious teachings restored the actual image of the Islamic social and religious belief systems. Thus, Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi’s reform movement, which filled an ample space in the religious and political history of the Muslim community of the seventeenth century, was undoubtedly a success.
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