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Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi, the most influential personality of the 17th century, known as Mujadid Alf-Sani, influenced the history of Muslim India by preserving Islam’s true teachings, Muslim identity, and society from un-Islamic practices; consequently, he infused a new life in Muslims of India by eradicating all religious, social, and political evils prevailing in his time.
- Historical background: religious, social, and political conditions prevalent during Mujadid’s time
- Islam’s true teachings and Muslim’s separate identity are at stake due to Akbar’s Deen-I-Ilahi
- Degeneration of Muslim society under the influence of Hindus’ customs and practices
- Hindus were placed at high positions in the Mughal court
- Influence of Mujadid’s reform movement
- Social influence
- Muslim society is free from the clutches of un-Islamic practices like believing in karamat and inter-marriages between Hindus and Muslims
- Muslims of India follow Sharia and Sunnah in true letter and spirit
- Political influence
- Subsequent rulers and successive religious personalities became a staunch follower of Islam
- Muslim political movement in India got inspiration from two nation theory
- End of Akbar’s Deen-i-Elahi
- Re-imposition of jizya (Islamic tax on non-Muslim citizens)
- Religious influence
- Ceased innovation in religion
- Removal of ban on cow slaughtering
- Abolition of the concept of Wahdat ul Wajood
Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi, popularly known as Mujadid Alf-Sani, influenced the history of Muslim India by saving Muslims from religious, social, and political annihilation during the reign of Akbar. However, despite having a stronghold of Muslim rule in India, Muslims declined religiously, socially, and politically due to the Mughal emperor Akbar’s administrative and religious policies. To counter religious, social, and political evils prevailing in Mujadid’s time, he started a reform movement. Akbar’s Deen-I-Elahi, a religious doctrine, un-Islamic practices in the society like intermarriages, and high positions of Hindus in Mughal court had adversely affected Islamic teachings, Muslim identity, and Muslim society at large. His efforts against these evils were a ray of hope for the Muslims in India; as a result, Muslim society was purified from un-Islamic practices. Moreover, the re-imposition of jizya, the end of Akbar’s Deen-i-Ilahi, and, above all, the emergence of the two-nation theory which becomes the basis of the Pakistan movement, were followed by subsequent rulers and religious personalities.
Historical background: prevalent conditions during Mujadid’s time
Under the reign of Akbar, several religious, social, and political evils were prevalent in Muslim society in India. Akbar introduced a new religion, Deen-i-Ilahi, which was an amalgamation of different religions to create tolerance and harmony among different factions of society. However, Deen-i-Ilahi had adversely impacted Muslim’s separate identity and Islamic beliefs. According to Shaikh Ahmed Sirhindi, an innovation in Deen is Bidat. Moreover, Muslim society was dominated by un-Islamic practices, such as karamat and intermarriages under the influence of Hindus’ customs and practices. Likewise, the concept of Wahdat ul Wajood, exemption of jizya, and prohibition of cow slaughtering were part and parcel of the then Muslim society.
Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi saved Muslim society from social evils. His efforts, to protect Muslim society against un-Islamic influences, bore the fruit of Sharia and Sunnah in true letter and spirit. Therefore, Muslims started to live their life according to the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah. Moreover, they shunned unIslamic practices, such as karamat, the concept of Wahdat ul Wajood, and intermarriages between Hindus and Muslims. According to Baqi Billah, “Sheikh Ahmad is such a light which will illuminate the whole world”. Hence, it is evident that Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi greatly influenced Muslim society by securing Muslim’s separate identities, preserving the true teachings of Islam, and implementing sharia.
Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi played an important role in neutralizing Akbar’s Deen-i-Ilahi. He wrote many letters to the courtiers of Akbar to aware them of their duties.
Sheikh Ahmad rightly said,
“The position of a king is the same as that of the heart in the body; if the heart is pure the body will be pure and if the heart is not pure how the body can be pure”.
His teachings greatly influenced subsequent rulers like Jahangir and successive religious personalities like Syed Sheikh Ahmad Shaheed of India. Moreover, he drew a distinct line between Hindus and Muslims by negating joint nationalism. Consequently, after the emergence of the two-nation theory, it became the basis of the Pakistan movement.
Due to the efforts of Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi, Islam was revived and purified from religious innovations. According to Sheikh, A nation which invents innovation in religion is deprived on the analogy of sunnah.” He infused a new life in Muslims by reviving Islam. Moreover, He was not only a religious scholar and mystic but also a reformist leader and his teachings are purely based on Sunnah. With the passage of time, the concept of Wahdat ul Wajood was abolished, which was against the basic tenets of Islam. This concept was countered by Wahdat ul Shahood, creature and creation are not the same. Apart from this, the ban on cow slaughtering was also abrogated.
In a nutshell, nothing distorted the true teachings of Islam in the subcontinent the way Deen-i-Ilahi did. It was an attempt to blur the religious differences between Islam and the other religions of India. Similarly, the degeneration of Muslim society under the influence of Hindus’ customs and practices, such as intermarriages, the concept of Wahdat ul Wajood, and un-Islamic beliefs were detrimental to Islam. Therefore, the efforts of Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi to purify the religious and practical life of the Muslims left an indelible impact on the history of Muslim India by freeing Muslim society from the clutches of un-Islamic practices, preserving separate Muslim identity, and reviving Islam. He was not only a religious scholar and mystic but also a reformist leader and his teachings are purely based on Sunnah.
“Sirhindi is the Spiritual Guardian of Muslims of the subcontinent.”(Allama Iqbal)
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