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The essence of Sufi religion is contained in the teachings and principle of Sufism. Read about the history of Sufism in India.

Sufism

Sufism is basically a religion based on the truth of life. It is a mystic tradition that consists of a varied range of ideas and practices that emphasize on the attainment of divine love and compassion of the heart. In the 14th century, a Sufi saint wrote a book known as the "Principles of Sufism" that defines the essence of Sufism as "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God". Universal Sufism has been defined by great Sufi masters as a way to travel to the presence of the Divine force and fill oneself with inner beauty and compassion. Read about the teachings and history of Sufi religion.

History of Sufism
Sufism is said to have been originated near a place called Basra located in Iraq. The Muslims located in this region started off this religion as a path to reach the divine. The divine form who is worshipped in Sufism is Prophet Mohammed and all schools of Sufism consider the Prophet as the manifestation of God. This is one reason why Sufi is considered to have branched from Islam. However, ancient Islamic scriptures have no mention of Sufism in them. Some scholars hold the view that Sufism is the evolution of Islam in a more spiritual and mystic direction. Sufism in its earlier stages was recited and meditated from the Quran.

Sufi Saints in India
India is the land of spiritualism. Some of the major religions of the world have been started over here. Sufism has also been present in India since a long time and even today we find a number of Sufi followers here. Some of the popular Sufi saints of India have been discussed below.

Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti
Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti was one of the most famous Sufi saints in India. He is the founder of the Chishtiya order in India. He was born in Persia and is said to be a direct descendent of Prophet Muhammad. He settled in Ajmer in India from where he preached the principles of Sufism to all. He had a massive following and even today, people irrespective of their religions are adopting his principles of Sufism. Every year, his death anniversary is celebrated in Ajmer at his tomb when thousands of believers gather to pay respect to this great Sufi saint.

Hazrat Nizam-Ud-Din
Another famous Sufi saint of the Chisti order in India was Hazrat Khwaja Nizam-ud-din Auliya, who was popularly known as Hazrat Nizam-ud-Din. His real name was Mohammad and at the age of 20, he became the student of Fariduddin Ganj-i-Shakkar. He was revered saint who is supposed to have been the master of Amir Khusro. His shrine located in Delhi is a popular attraction for Sufi followers.

Bulleh Shah
Baba Bulleh Shah was a revered Sufi saint of India whose real name was Abdullah Shah. He preached his teachings and principles in Punjab. During the time he was at his peak, there was much unrest between Muslims and Sikhs. He preached nothing but the truth and his words of wisdom pacified those affected by the constant tiffs between Muslims and Sikhs. Through his poems, he criticized the orthodox religious systems that were prevalent during his time. His poems were written in Punjabi and Sindhi as these were languages that common people could read and understand.

Sufi Practices
Given below is information about the various practices in Sufism that form a part of this religion.
  • Dhikr
    Dhikr is basically about remembering God for all Sufis. According to Islam, one who engages in Dhikr has awareness of God. It basically includes chanting of God's name and reciting sections of the Quran. It has similarities with the Jewish Merkavah practice of meditation used to attain a higher level of consciousness. This can be done through singing, dance, meditative music, swirling, etc. that finally leads to a trance.
  • Hadhra
    The Hadhra basically consists of various forms of Dhikr, songs and dances that are used to appeal God and Angels. The word Hadhra is Arabic and it means "Presence".
  • Qawwali
    In Sufism, Qawwali is the devotional form of music, which is common in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran, etc. The Qawwali is known for its worldly appeal and transcends all bounds and limitations of countries and different regions. Some of the modern day masters of Qawwali are Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Sabri Brothers.
  • Sama
    Sama is an Arabic word which means listening. In Sufis, the holy ritual of whirling dance is known as Sama. It is basically an act of devotion that takes a person to a higher level of consciousness. The right kind of music invokes the right kind of emotion which is elated when one does the whirl dance. This helps in the process of contemplating the divine force.
  • Khalwa
    Khalwa basically refers to a kind of retreat that a person can experience under the guidance of a Sufi teacher. There is a belief in Sufism that all prophets must have retreated into seclusion at some point of time in order to derive inspiration and divine power. Thus, the Sufis practice retreat in order to concentrate on the divinity of the Almighty.