Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi, The Man Who Revive Islam And Save Sub-Continent Muslims

Sheikh-Ahmad-Sirhindi-The-Man-Who-Revive-Islam-And-Save-Sub-Continent-Muslims

The following article is written by Rida Sakina, 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.

  • Introduction
  • Historical overview of the Situation of Indian Society
  • Un-Islamic Practices of Muslims
  • Neglect of commands of Sunnah and Shariah
  • Akbar’s controversial Deen-i-Ilahi
  • Akbar’s Ibadat-Khana and restrictions on religious practices
  • Mis-interpretation of Wahdat-al-Wajood
  • Influence of Shiekh Ahmad Sirhindi on the history of Indian Muslims
  • Religious Influence
  • Highlighted the wickedness of ‘Ulama-i-Su’
  • Voiced against the ‘Innovation (Biddah)’ in Religion
  • Reinstated the importance of Sunnah and Shariah in Islam
  • Supported Whadat-al-Shahood
  • Political and Social Influence
  • Changed outlook of Muslim Nobility through Maktubat-i-Imam Rabbani
  • Impacted the rule of Jehangir
  • Impact on later Mughal Emperors
  • Promoted Muslim Nationhood
  • Critical Analysis

Introduction:

During the seventeenth century, the Muslims of India were facing an alarming situation, with respect to their religious

Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi’s contributions to the history of the Subcontinent left an impregnable impact on the lives of the then Muslims. At the time when Akbar’s policy of ‘divine faith’ and religious syncretism welcomed the anti-Islamic ideologies, Mujadid Alf-Sani came to the forefront and made a strenuous effort to turn the tide and revive the glory of Islam. For example, he gave the concept of Wahdat ul Shuhood that clarified the misconceptions generated by Emperor Akbar and his courtiers. Moreover, his preaching positively impacted the successors of King Akbar who then implemented Islamic teachings in their true spirit in society. Although Sirhindi did not initiate any formal social reform movement and his services were focused on religion, he influenced the lives of the Muslims of the sub-continent in the context of not only religion but also social, cultural and political life.

“Sheikh Ahmad is such a light which will illuminate the whole world.”

Hazrat Khwaja Baqi Billah

Historical Overview of Situation in India:

a- Un-Islamic Practices of Muslims

By the time Mujadid Alif-i-Thani appeared on the horizon, the Muslim society in India was degenerating. Muslims had embraced many widespread un-Islamic practices, such as belief in miracles of saints, celebrating non-Muslim festivals, etc., due to the cultural influence of the Hindus.

b- Neglect of commands of Sunnah and Shariah

The commandments of Shariah and Sunnah were threatened by the emergence of innovations in religion. The Ulema and religious scholars of that time were focusing on Islamic teachings based upon jurisprudence only, neglecting the law and orders of Shariah and Sunnah.

c- Akbar’s controversial Deen-i-Ilahi

In an effort to consolidate the state and bring unity, the then Mughal Emperor, Akbar, amalgamated the teachings of Hindu, Jain, Muslim and Parsi religions and proclaimed a new Deen, Deen-i-Ilahi that was also known as Tauheed-i-Ilahi. In the promulgation of this Deen-i-Ilahi, Akbar brought many innovations to Islam.

d- Akbar’s Ibadat-Khana and restrictions on religious practices

 He built an Ibadat-Khana, where Ulama and Mushaikhs used to congregate once a week and Akbar used to award them with rewards. Akbar also waived Jaziya, an Islamic tax for Non-Muslim subjects taken as a safeguard for their life and property. Akbar also banned circumcision and cow slaughter.

e- Mis-interpretation of Wahdat-al-Wajood

During the reign of Akbar, the concept of ‘Wahdat-al-wajood’ was misinterpreted and exploited as a means to bring innovations in religion. The followers of Wahdat-al-Wajood believed in the ‘Essence of Being’. Akbar misused this religious concept and asked his subjects to bow before him.

Influence of Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi on the History of Indian Muslims

Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi greatly influenced the history of Indian Muslims. Though SheikhAhmad’s reforms had a direct impact on Muslim society, those reforms were truly religious and focused on the implementation of Shariah and laws. His reforms had an impact on all classes of Muslims, including the emperor, nobility, and common people.

Religious Influences

Sheikh Ahmad Shaheed worked to save the true teachings of Islam in the sub-continent. He saved the Muslims from dogmatization and the secular beliefs of unorthodox mystics. He countered those unorthodox beliefs through his social reforms, which were truly based on Shariah and Sunnah.

a. Highlighted the wickedness of ‘Ulama-i-Su’

Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi believed that the Ulama of that time were the main channel of mischief. These Ulamas took Islamic Jurisprudence as the whole of religion and misused it for their worldly gains. Because of this wicked behaviour, Sheikh Ahmad named them “Ulama-e-Su” which means “worldly-minded Ulamas”.

“every slackness and irregularity that has taken place in the matter of Shari’ah in his age, and every obstruction which has hindered the growth and expansion of Islam, is due to the wickedness of the ‘Ulama-i-Su’ and the result of their incompetence.”

b- Voiced against the ‘Innovation (Biddah)’ in Religion

Sheikh Ahmad believed that innovation (Bida’h) in the teachings of Islam’ was the main cause of change in the values of Muslims. He cited references from Quran and Sunnah against innovation and false facts and proved that these become the main reasons to destroy Islamic values in society. As these damages the real essence of the values and teachings. The Ayah and Hadith, quoted by Sheikh Ahmad, are as follows:

“الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي
“Today I have perfected the religion for you and have completed My favour upon you.”

Ayah

“He who invents something false which has no linkage with the religion of Islam’ is forbidden.”

Hadith

“A nation which invents innovations religion is deprived on the analogy of Sunnah.”

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi was of the view that innovations can be customary but these have nothing to do with religion.

c- Reinstated the importance of Sunnah and Shariah in Islam

Sheikh Ahmad reinstated the importance of the guiding principles of Sunnah and Shariah in Islam. He believed that it is a virtue to exalt Sunnah instead of innovation in religion. It is unnecessary to look for Islamic jurisprudence when the principles of Sunnah are sufficient to guide in a particular matter. Sheikh Ahmad believed that newness in religion, like Bida’h, must be ruled out of society as it has given rise to a number of different evils in the name of Islam’. To eradicate those evils, Sheikh Ahmad appreciated the ruling class playing an active role in this regard. He wrote books to exalt Sunnah. One of his famous writings at an early age is “Ithbat-i-Nabuwat”, this book was written in the life and true teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

d- Supported Whadat-al-Shahood

Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi strongly criticized the concept of Wahadat ul Wajood, which propagated that there is no difference between the creator and his creation. This was misused by the proponents of Din e Ilahi, who proved that Akbar can be considered God. In contrast, Sheikh gave the concept of Wahadat ul Shuhood which meant that God and his creation are two separate entities, so it is forbidden in Islam to consider anyone else as God.

Political, Cultural, and Social Influences:

Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi’s services and reforms also greatly impacted the culture, politics and society of Muslims of India.

a- Changed outlook of Muslim Nobility through Maktubat-i-Imam Rabbani

Making Shariah come back into society was a great milestone achieved by Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi. To make it possible he had to influence the worldly thoughts of the nobility who were involved in a number of evils due to their attachment to worldly gains. He made it possible by writing letters to the courtiers of the Emperor and strongly stressed upon them to follow the directions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). These letters have 7 volumes and are known as “Khutbat-e-Imam Rabbani”. To whom he wrote these letters included: Sardar-i-Jahan, Khan-i-Jahan and Khan-i-khana.

b- Impacted the rule of Jahangir

As a result of all the strenuous efforts made by Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi to reverse the impacts of Akbar’s era on religion, he finally succeeded in influencing Akbar’s successor, Jahangir. Jahangir was influenced by Sheikh’s sincerity and devotion to Islam. Under the influence of Sheikh’s teachings, Jahangir reversed the impacts of Akbar’s innovations and Deen-i-Ilahi to a large extent. These efforts included:

  1. Permission for cow-slaughter
  2. Prostration before the emperor was abolished
  3. Religion innovations were ceased
  4. Department of Ihtisab and Qazi was restored

As Sheikh stayed in the Court of Jehangir for some time, there he found an opportunity to preach to King and his courtiers. His teachings, of re-establishing the supremacy of Islam in the Sub-continent were carried on by his sons and students even after his death.

c- Impact on later Mughal Emperors

Under the influence of his teachings, Shah Jahan played an important role to save Islam at a time when it was becoming secular. He was given the title of ‘faith defending Emperor ‘ by historians. It was because of his teachings that Aurangzeb restored orthodox Islam and re-imposed Jizya.

d- Promoted Muslim Nationhood

As a result of the teachings of Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi the Muslim customs, practices and teachings were restored. He became the reformer of the 2nd millennium of Islam and has reformed the then degrading Muslim society by influencing through his teachings. He developed a sense of nationhood among Muslims of India and removed the cultural impacts of other religions on Islamic rules. In this way, he developed among Muslims, a sense of Nationhood.

Critical Analysis

Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi was not only an Alim and Sufi but also a religious reformer. He came to save the Muslims from un-Islamic values, the impact of Hindu culture on Islamic traditions, and the controversial policies of the Mughal emperor. He revived the preaching of principles of Sunnah and Shariah in Islamic society. He initiated a process of social change, inspired by an Islamic ideal in an age, which was becoming secular. He developed consciousness among Muslims and, influenced the wrong-led nobles of the emperor’s court. He fought against the controversial religious policies of Akbar and raised his voice against the prevalent un-Islamic practices. In every age, when the religious condition deteriorated, there came reformers for the reformation of society. Thus, in the 17th century, the reformer, who transformed the society of Muslims in India, was the Reformer of the Second Millenium, Mujadid Alif-i-Thani.

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