The following article is written by Maria Afzal, a student of Sir Syed Kazim Ali. Moreover, the article is written on the same pattern, taught by Sir to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. Besides, the knowledge, case studies, quotes, and examples have been taught to him by Miss Irum Arif, the country’s top CSS and PMS Pakistan Affairs coach. For years, Miss Irum Arif, also Sir Kazim’s student, has been known for her teaching methodology and how she helps her students understand questions asked in the exam. Therefore, to help thousands of CSS and PMS aspirants who visit Cssprepforum and Howfiv for better preparation, we have uploaded this article so they can understand how to crack a topic or a question, how to write relevantly, what is coherence, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.
Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi revived the true essence of Islam and led the then Muslims of the subcontinent towards the actual teachings of the Quran and the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). His reformist movement specifically targeted those Muslims of the subcontinent who had parted their way from the true principles of Islam and were indulged in lawlessness, immorality, and unnecessary innovations in the religion. He condemned the un-Islamic practices prevalent at that time and worked hard to exalt the Sunnah of the Last Prophet. In doing so, he wrote a letter to the nobles of the court, clarified the misconceptions of Sufism and Wahdat ul Wujood, and distanced the Muslims from un-Islamic practices by showing them the differences between Islam and other religions. Therefore, calling Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi a reformer of his time would not be wrong as it was the impact of his teachings which glorified the Islamic way of life in the subcontinent.
His letters to the other reformers of Islam and the denial of the Bida’at concept saved the Muslims from going into darkness and ignorance. His political, social, and religious efforts are far-reaching. The subcontinent is grateful for the important role played by a mystic saint Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi popularly known as Mujadid Alif Thani. He emphasized the reformation of the individual as well as society. His basic purpose was to implement the Islamic rules and Shariah. For him Allama Iqbal has said that;
“He the guardian of the estate of millah in India. Whom Allah awakened at the right time”
Condition of Islam in Akbar’s rule:
Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi was born in the age of Mughal Emperor Akbar. The situation of the Muslims and Islam in Akbar’s time actually lead him towards the thought that there was a dire need to revive Islam among Muslims. At the start of Akbar’s rule, he was a complete religious ruler who turned into a mujtahid but later he realized that Islam had passed away one thousand years and there was no need to follow it now. So, he took steps to disconnect Muslims from the Mohammedan Prophethood. Sirhindi labelled it as “the age of Islamic poverty”. He introduced a new religion, which was the emulation of all the religions and named it “Deen-e-Ilahi”. He banned the names of Muhammad and Ahmad; closed the mosques; prostration for respect before Akbar was made obligatory; Cow slaughter was banned and pork was permitted; Shar’iah rules were ridiculed; Temples were patronized, and Ulemas were persecuted. All of this was done to force people to accept Deen-e-ilahi if they wanted to live their lives. In these circumstances, Sirhindi debuted his work.
Impacts of Reforms of Sirhindi on Muslims:
Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi introduced different reforms and made several contributions to revive the true spirit of Islam among the Muslims of the subcontinent.
1- Condemnation of Bida’at:
According to Sirhindi, innovation (bida’at) in Islam is against the teachings of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). He has categorically opposed the division of innovation, unlike other scholars. He considered it extremely harmful to obey such a monarch who believes in any kind of innovation in the religion. He was of the view that such novelties in religion should be ruled out of society carefully and wisely. Shaikh had cited verses of the Holy Quran and the sayings of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) regarding the issue of Bida’at as:
“He who invents something false which has no linkage with the religion of Islam is forbidden.”(Hadith)
2- Criticism on Wahdat-al-Shahood:
Wahdat-ul-Wujood believes in the oneness of Allah Almighty and the mortality of all the living beings except Him. Besides, it also demands to believe and understand Allah’s miracles and demonstrations. It is a kind of “Ilm-ul-yaqeen” and this idea supported Akbar’s view of Deen-e-ilahi that through all the religious worships, no matter how they are being performed and by whom, in fact, Allah is worshipped. All kinds of worship lead to the same truth. The followers of this philosophy, according to Sirhindi, were boosting Akbar’s plan further. Sirhindi opposed this liberal approach to religion firmly. He came out with his own doctrine “Wahdat-ul-Shahood” which is the unity of witnessing or appearance. It strengthened orthodoxy and it was the negation of Akbar’s inclusive policy. Sirhindi said that rulers should rule according to Quran and Sunnah.
To Sirhindi, mysticism without Shariah is misleading and he stressed the importance of Namaz and fasting. Through preaching, discussions, and his Makhtubat he addressed important nobles and leaders of religion. He spread his message of the exaltation of Sunnah and Quranic principles. He had raised his school of thought on the basis of Sunnah which carries the peace of the hereafter and the harmony of society. Sunnah is the only key to the success of an individual as well as the society collectively. For this purpose, he wrote many manuscripts and books and sent them to his caliphs for the training of the people of different parts of the country.
4- Impact on Jehangir:
Jehangir, unlike his father, was a more orthodox Muslim. But he still insisted on full prostration by all his subjects. Sirhindi refused to prostrate before him as a result of which he was imprisoned for two years until the Emperor’s realized his mistake. Jehangir then not only released Shaikh Ahmad but also recalled him to Agra. He thereafter abolished all un-Islamic laws implemented by Akbar. The ever-increasing impact of Sirhindi on the body politic of Mughals can be seen from the fact that on the occasion of the conquest of the fortress of Kangra by Jehangir in the 16th year of his reign, the idols were broken, a cow slaughtered, the Adhan recited, the Khutba read, and other rites of Islam observed. In the same year, Jehangir forbade inter-marriage between Hindu men and Muslim women in Kashmir by a royal decree.
5- Impact on Mughal Court:
Shaikh was given an audience by the Emperor and there he placed the following demands before him:
- Sajdah before the emperor should be abolished.
- Permission to slaughter cows should be given.
- Religious innovation should cease.
- The office of Qadi and the department of Ihtisab should be restored and the mosques in need of repair should be renovated and those which had been demolished should be rebuilt.
- The emperor granted his demands and issued a royal decree accordingly. Thus after more than a half century’s struggle for life and death, Islam came out of its agony and the Muslims heaved a sigh of relief.
6- Impact on Religious Personalities:
The tazkia-e-nafs or purification of the soul is described by the Quran as a pasture of mysticism. Regardless of giving it the very name or the other, its reality is to follow religion in true spirit. The concept of mysticism in Islam is subjected to the obedience of Allah and His Messenger Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). According to Sirhindi, the main channel of mischief were Ulama-i-su who had exclusively taken to Fiqh as the whole of religious learning. He said that;
“Every slackness and irregularity that has taken place in the matters of Shari’ah in his age, and every obstruction which has hindered the growth and expansion of Islam, is due to the wickedness of Ulama-e-Su and the result of their incompetence.”
7- The Idea of Two Nation Theory:
Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi clarified the confusion made by different religious and politically held personalities that Muslims and Non-Muslims are two different nations and their lifestyles, festivals, beliefs, and customs are different from each other. As Islam is the ruling religion in the subcontinent and the Mughal Emperors are Muslims so the system of the government should be according to the principles of Islam and rulers should not devise those ways to make Hindus happy. Non-Muslims should be treated as minorities and their defined rights should be given to them.
It is evident from the above discussion that Shaikh was not only a religious scholar and mystic but also a reformist leader. He founded his teachings on Sunnah that’s why his political and social reforms are hidden from our eyes. While analysing the age, it should also be kept in mind that it was not an age of political processions. That’s why he adopted the most proper way to correspond with the King. There is an inseparable bond between his personality as Sufi and his scholarly political role. He saved the crippling foundations of Islam and take Muslim ummah back to their actual origin.
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