A history of Sufi-ism in Bengal

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w Muhammad Enamul Haq




Prof. Muhammad Enamul Proi. Muhammad Enaraul

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Λ -brief siim y of ofthe thehistory history of ofSUfilsw Sufilsift iii Ip intha India. bref survey Introduction:: introduction: Sufiism in Bengal is aacontinuation continuation of of Stffism Swflism in in Northern Northern Sufrism in Bengal The relation between the Sufis of o f Northern India and and the Siffs Northern india the saints saints of Bengal, any Bengal,isis so so closely closelyintimate intimatethat that they they cannot, cannot, in in any way, be alienated alienated from from one oneanother, aHother,especially especiallywhen when the the question question way, fjf 'the the creed creed they theyfollowed followed comes comesup upfor forconsideration. consideration. The Thecreed creed of the Sttfis Snfis of o fBengal Bengal was was virtually virtually the same as creed of of of the the same as the creed right upto of the Northern Indian Indian Sufis upto the the close close of the fifteenth the Northern Snfls right century A. D,, after after which which SUfism SQfiism in in Bengal Bengal clearly clearly chalked A. D., it was S'afls out its own development. In In fact, it was the SUfls out its own line of development. o f Norther Norther India-I India—Imean meanthose thosebred bredand andbrought brought of up in Sufi ism in in up in that that tract tract of of land land as as well well as as those those who who were were Sflfiism &nga1 isis a /Bengal initiated, inspired or directed by by Northern Northern Indian Indian or directed continuation continuation Sufis—who notonly onlybrought brought the themessage message ooff Snfism SOfiism Snfis-who not


Bengal, but but also also established established and greatly greatly popularised popularised to Bengal, this Islämic this IslSmic theosophical theosophical philosophy philosophy in the the country country within the of a comparatively comparatively short of within the span span of. short period period of We are not denying here the possibility two centuries and half. We denying here possibility two centuries and a half, few extra-Indian extra-indian teachers Of of aa few teachers of of Siifiism, Sufiism, who who might might of the advent of But our have visited Bengal 1200 A. D. But our enquiries enquiries have have Bengal before before 1200 A. D. have visited difficult to believe that there was even any large influx made it difficult to believe that there was even any large influx made it Up till now, of non-Indian SuTls Sttfis into into Bengal. Bengal. Up now, we we have have come come of nonIndian Sufis o off Bengal, Bengal, who, across only one one or or two twoextra-Indian extra-Indian Sufis across with with only nfis of it said, had had no no connection connection with with the the Sufis of Northern India. India, it isis said, But their their stories stories are are so so much muchmixed mixed up upwith with legends legends that itit is But now well-nigh Impossible truth about about them. them. now well-nigh Impossibletoto find find out out the truth OftTf1iSm of §nfiism in in India India *



From the closing closing years years of of the thetwelfth twelfth century, century, Bengal Bengal had had From the ttfis from incssant influx of been admitting a regular and incessant influx Sufis from admitting regular J Northern Northern India, India, and and this this flqw flpw. was was not not abated abateduntil until Nature Nature cf the the after after the the close close of of the thefifteenth fifteenth century century A. A. D. This This Northern Indian of Bengal with Upper Indian religious link-up of Bengal with Upper India India is is influence on influence on the political political connection connection beginbeginto the almost parallel ID ufis of safis of ning usherment of the thirteenth thirteenth upto upto the ning from from the the usherment Bengal. Bengal, end fourteenth century realm end of the fourteenth century A.D., A,D., and in the realm r- ooff Bengali Bengali Muslim Muslim thought, predothought, such suchas asSUfiism, Sfiism, predominence of only very very conspicuous, conspicuous, but but minence of Northern Northern India India was was not only also unusually Ufis of of Noralso unusually prolonged prolonged and and over-powering. over-powering. The Sufis Nor­ thern India thern India had been been atthe at thehelm helmofofBengali BengaliMuslim Muslimthought thought for these centuries. From Situ these centuries. the different different. Sufi -centres centres oof f Northein Northern power and unquesIndia, Muslim Saints Saints of o f reputed reputed miraculous miraculous power unques­ India, Muslim tionable piety piety were were Sent sent to Bengal Bengal and and they they were were really really directly directly tionable Ifiistic ideas in responsible for propagtion of IslSm and of Snfiistic ideas in this this responsible for propagtion of IslEm and 'tif[s were country.. country.. One One thing thing to to mark mark here here is is this this that that those those Sufis were iiflisni, as these imbued ideals of SUfiism, these were were realised realised by by and and imbued with with the the ideals They were taught current among among the Northern Indian SUfis. They were taught in in current the Northern Indian StIfs. |he he school school of o f Northern Northern Indian Indian Situ Sufi thought thought ;; they worked under 'Uf is, and and applied the guidance guidance and and directions directions of o f Northern Indian Indian SUfis, the methods of o ftheir theirmasters masters to to this this country. country. Such imitative imitative state state the methods Bengal upto ,f # f Northern Northern Indian Indian Sirfi SUfi thought thought was was prevalent prevalent in in Bengal the the fifteenth fifteenth century century A. D., D,, after after which which SilfEs Sufis of o f Bengal Bengal more more or or less less severed severed theircbnnecrions their connections wwith ith their their Northern Northern Indian Indian masters masters and tried tried to adjust adjust their their own own thought thought to the the thought thought of of this province. During During the sixteenth sixteenth and and seventeenth seventeenth centuries centuries Sliflism SUfiism in Bengal, along with in Bengal, along with Siifism SUfiism in in India, India, was was in ina ametamorphic metamorphic stage, after which which it took took almost almost an anindependent independent form form with with aa mixture ofof- local well as as extra-territorial extra-territorial thoughts. local as as well

However, before detailed account account of o f the the However, beforewe we enter enterinto into the the detailed

Slifis, we SUfis, we think think it it advisable to divide divide the the whole history of

Sliflism SUfiism in in India into a few few segments. segments. We We are at at the the same same time time India into aware of the thedifficulties difficulties that are generally involved with the the involved with sticking of any particular particular label label to to any any period period that concerns sticking of any concerns a



thought movement. Though a movement movement in the realm of o f thought thought. movement. Though in the

:..?.wis:geperaHy. srted beforeitseffectsarevisibje ,·; generally started before: its::::effe are isibje Periods of. of the in outward outward actions, account .forit for-it actions,yet yet we>cannot wecannot:acount history history of -7 imtil until after after its partial manifestation -takes takes place Indian .nfjs. Indian. ;§nfis.; some concrete concrete form. form. Hence, Hence, we not wholly wholly in some we ;are are not i unjustified main current unjustified in in,our ourpresent present attempt. attempt. The .main enrrent Of; -SUfjmovement; movement:ininIndia India may thay be :heads of; SUfi be divided divided into: into! following follomng-heads in consideration consideration of certain certain conspicuous conspicuous tendencie:that tendencies that appeased appeared from from time time to to time: time : .

11. Early A D., D, toto 1150 Early 1eriod-from Period—from 1000 1000 A. 1150 A A. D D. 2. Period Period .of .of Establishment-1150 A. D„ D,, to p. Establishment—1150 A. to 1400 1400 A. A. D. 3. Period Period of Fusion1350 A. Fusion —1350 a . D. downward downward 4. Period Period of of Reforrnation-1550 Reformation—1550A A..D D.. downward. downward.

Early Period: Period : Early



The of the The early early period period of the Süfi Sufi movement movement in India, begins begins in India, from the beginning from beginningof of the the eleventh eleventh century centUry A, A. D., D., and and eldses closes with the with the usherment of the thirteenth thirteenth century Itinerant of the century A. D. Itinerant SUfis, generally of of Bukhara, SUfis, generallyknown knownasasdarvishes, darvishes, Bukir, Braly period Eraly periodand andSamarqand Samarqandand andPersia Persiaand and probably probablyalso also those those of its characteristics characteristics Arabia and Syria Syria turned turned their their attention attention to to India India Arabia and this period. during this period. The The first first and and foremost foremost duties duties in the in the lives lives of o fthese these saints saints were were to to preach preach the thetrue truefaith faithamong among those their lives to the those who who were were outside outside it and, and to to dedicate dedicate their lives to the Inspired with with those service humanity. Inspired those ideals ideals they they crossed crossed the service of humanity. western boundaries boundariesoof India, which to them western f India, which were were known known to them as as early early Who was D.. Who as the eighth eighth century century A. A .D was the first first Suft Safi to enter enter India and India and who who were were those those totofollow followhis hiswake, wake, are are not notdefinitely definitely known Stray names names of of saints saints are areavailable available from from many many aa known to us. Stray they are are so quarter India, but unfortunately unfortunately they so mixed mixed up up with with quarter of India, myth and legend that not in position to make any any myth and legend that we we are not in aa position to make definite statement statement with definite with regard regard to to these theseearliest earliestpersonalities. personalities. So far as as we we know, these these earliest earliest preachers preachers had worked worked singlehanded, singlehanded, since they had had either eitherno noworthy worthydeputies deputies (ichalifahs) ( iOialifahs )or orvery veryfew few since they followers who could could take take up the followers who thework, work,left leftunfinished unfinished by by them. them. They, came totoIndia Indiawithout withoutany anydefinite definitemandate mandatefrom from They, it appears, came

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Were aky particular gfoiup of o f SUfs Sufis. Their aotivfties adlivitles *m te 'confined confined only particu1as gtoup to where thfey they settled, settled, and and they they do they came cameorot wheife wheé they 1oa1ities Where to the localities ibagànd their hot see seem tto have have been been so so very successful In Id prbpagandaij 'ery successful owihg existing political political and and social social conditions o f the thecoUntry. country. ewing to to the the existing conditions of Their attempts attempts atatproselytism proselytismwere wereprobably probablymerely merelysporadic sporadiconCs ones and and their their advent advent to to this this land land was was really really Occasional. occasional. However, IIf I we give give below, below brief the earliest earliest SUfi we brief life-sketches life-sketchesofofaa few few ooff the missionaries of India, India, who who seem missionaries of seem to to have have been been historical historical persons. persons :

Sbavkh IsmS'll :: He came of the the celebrated Sayyad jay lsm9l He came in both family oof f Bukhara was well-versed both family Bu14r and and was weH-versed io A few early sanffs fis secular secular and and theological learning. He came to to He came of India (a) of - (a) India and and settled settled át at Lahóre LahoreininororaboUt aboutthe the year year India Shaykh Ismajl. Shaykt Isms'll. 1005 crowds 'flóókCd ’flocked to listen that crowds 1005 A. A. D. D. It iis said that A. D D.) ((1005 1005 A. .) to his sermons, sermons, and that that no nounbeliever unbelieverever ever came came to his into personal personal contact contact with with him himwithout without being being concon­ verted to the verted the faith faith of ofIslarn'. Islam’.1 (a)

(b) Sayyad Sayyad Nathar Nathar Shah : The Mul?amrnadan Muhammadan community community ooff the the Ravuttans, Ravuttans, found found in large large numbers numbers in the the (b) (*») districts of o f Madura, Madura, Notth North Arcot, Arcot, Coimbatore, 'Sayyad Nathar Sayyad Nathar Tinnevelly Madras presipresiTinnevelly and and the Nilgiris Nilgiris in in the the Madras dency, assert that that they to Islim s pih k (d. (d. dency, they were were converted converted to Islam 1039A.D,) 1039 A.D.) by group of o fMuslim Muslimpreachers preachers among among whom whom by a group A,D.) Sayyad (969-1039 A . D . ) was was the most most Sayyad Nathar Nathar Shah (969-1039 famous said and generally generally believed famous one. one. It is said believed that this saint travelled travelled through through many many countries, such such as Arabia, Arabia, Persia, Persia, and many. parts of Northern and at last many parts Northern India and last entered entered the the Deccan Deccan to settle settle in Trichinopoly where year 1039 1039 A. A. D. D. in Trichinopoly wherehe he died died in in the year His is one, one of His tomb tomb is of the the holiest holiest places places of of pilgrimage pilgrimage to to the theMusMus­ urns of lims o f the the Southern Southern India.2 India.3 1. Preaching ooff Islam, hiam, T. 1896, p. 280 ; Indian 1. T.W. W.Arnold, Arnold, Westminster, Westminster, 1896, p. 280 Indian Islam, Islam, M..TT.. Titus, M Titus, Oxford University Press, 1930 p. p. 42. 42. Preá, 1930 2. Madras District 1907, Trióhinopoly, 2. Madras District fjazetteers, Gazetteers, 1907, Trichinopoly, 1, 1, p. p. 338 338;; Preaching I'reachlng ooff Islam, Islam, p. p. 267; 267 ; Iddlan Iddian Islam p. 48; 48 ;Es-cyclopaed(a Encyclopaedia of o f Reillion Relfglok and Etlilci, Ethics, Islam p. Vol. p. 89t 691' Vol. m XE p.




ShAh Sul;n RUtn ShS 6n SutySn R u m i:

One old old Pesidt Peisiaii docuthent docuttiemi executed to Theyear the year 1671 1671 A.D-(1O82 A. D; (1082 A.H) A. H) has has exeuted1ñ (c (c) revealed revealed thà nithe theof nanie this of saints thisinsaint whose j inmemory. whose memory hah Sutrn was §|ah Sulfan was dedicated dedicated certaitr certain: rent-free. rent-free, lands the lahdsWhich whih the Rumi. Rumi. government tried to resume from the possession gbverñment trid to resume from :the ppssession (1053 D.) ( 1053 A. A.D.) Mutawalli or or trustee. trustee. This records of the Mutawalli Th1 document recorth the Koch KochKing Kingofothe f the locality,of ofMadanpur Madanpur that the 1oca1ity in Netrakonà Netrakona subdivision sub-division of of Mymensing Mymensing district district (Bengal) ( Bengal) tried tried poison the thesaint saintwho wh6 arrived arrived at his dominion dominion sith withhis histeligious religious to poison precCptorSayyad Sayyad lh Sur preceptor §hSh Surkh ichui Khul Antiah Antiah in in the theyear year445 445-A.H. A.H. (1053 (1053 A. D.). This saitit with with his his wonderful wonderful miraculous iuiraculous power, power, baffled theaim aim oof the RaiL baffled the f the Rajar, who who afterwards afterwards was was obliged obliged to accept IslAm IslSm and and dedicate dedicatethe theWhole wholevillage villagetotothe therevered reveredmemory memory the saint saintand andfuture future spiritual spiritual successors.' successors.1 We Weshall shallelaborately elaborately of the discuss the the life discuss life and activities activities of of this this saint saint along along with with other otherlives lives ofthe saints of o f the o f Bengal. Bengal. '

(é) (c)

‘A b d u l l S h h i s saini saint landed landed on on the the shore shore of o f Gujrat Gujrat 'Abdu1Jh :-TThis m 1065 1065 A. and carried on his missionary missionary in A. D., D., and (d) propaganda in or or around ' (d) propaganda In around Cambay. Cambay. He He came came tO to Abdu1lh, •Abdullah. India from Yaman Yaman and belonged belonged to to IsthAtIi IsmS'ill faith faith India from (1065 A. A. bD.) (I0'65 .) IslSm, It is said on account account ofofhis hisactive active said that on of IslAm.

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'O “O Sarinad, Sarmad, thou thou hast hast acquired acquired much much fame fame in in this this world world : From thou hast overtotoIslffm. Islm. From the creed creed of infidelity, infidelity, thou hast passed passed over At last At last what fault didst thou find, of Allah and his of Allah Apostle after turning turning away awayfrom frombeing beingaa disciple Apostle after disciple of Lachinan Lachman and ?” and RStn Rm ?" However,onon the the death However, death of of Aurangzth, Aurangzib, the the force force of of his his reforrefor­ mation mation was was quickly quickly abated abated and and in in course of few years, years, it of aa few died a natural died natural death. death. But, reformation of orhodox scholars scholars But, reformation of the orhodox was going was going on on by by their their lieutenants. lieutenants. It did did not not cease cease for for ever. ever. 1. I. Kn K ighTn is a city is a situated city situated midway midway between betweenTehra Tehranand andIspahan. Ispahan. 2. Tadlr&jrab Tadhklrah p. p. 111. III. p. 175. 175.

CHAPTER CHAPTER II II A brief account of the Stifi Sufi orders orders and and their theirbranches branches having having a connection with India We have have already already observed observed that from the the beginning beginning of the the We that from eleventh A.D., S werecoming coming to to India. India. The scattered scattered eleventh century century A.D,, 'fufis is were account account of o f the theStxfis Ssfis of early period, does does not not early period, Early Sflfjs of furnish us Early Sufis of furnish us with with the information of the the orders orders to to the information India some which which they belonged. Certainly India had some Certainly they belonged to they belonged unknown unknownorders, orders, some other of o f the the orders orders that that were were then then existing existing some or or other in In the the Muslim Muslim world, world. But But unfortunately unfortunately we we do do not not know, know, what what were were those those early early Sufi S ufi orders orders that that came came to to India India with the the advent advent of of the the early early SUfs. Sufis. with Growth o f orders orders among among the theSufis Sufis was was not not of of recent recent origin; origin; Growth of theosophy in the Muslim the Muslim tbeosophy world. As to the theorigin origin of of Si.ifi Sufi orders orders Dr. Dr. Margoliouth Margoliouth observes observes :As to is "The growth of orders is an obscure nothing “The growth o f orders is an obscure subject, and more remarkable remarkable in Islamic Islamic history history than speed with with which which more than the speed these systems these systems have have been been propagated, propagated. It must must be be remembered remembered that eastern people are highly highly impressionable impressionable to systematic devotion devotion of eastern people to systematic any ssort: o r t : and andititisisprobable probable that thatthe theinstitution institutionofo fpilgrimage pilgrimagewhich which any gathers together crowds crowds of Muslims with with their their religious religious emotions emotions gathers together of Muslims kindled to fanaticism fanaticism facilitates facilitates such such propaganda propaganda to toan anextraordiextraordi­ kindled nary passing such such an unwarrantable nary degree." degree.” 1 Before Before passing unwarrantable remark remark on on the origin origin of of aa great great thought thought movent movent like Sufiism, one should should the afism, one consider the that the the various various forms forms of ofdevotion, devotion, which which are are consider the fact fact that IslSm, are remarkably systematic and are still prevalent in Islm, and are conspicuously unitary there is is aa good good deal deal of of diverse diverse conspicuously unitary; ; and and yet yet there about this. this. Let try to to find find out out the the reason reason for for this this Let us us try views about diversity. it is as as old old as as the the origin origin of o f Stlfi Sxtfl

1. Muhammedanlsm—D. Margoliouth,p.p.213. 213. Muhammedanisrn-D. S. S.Margoliouth,




Safi theosophy theosophy had in its origin great tendency tendency to to indivi indivi­ Snf had in origin great dualism. In its its inception, inception, it was was neither neither meant meant for for the the ordinary ordinary common folk, any coterie coterieofo fintellectuals intellectuals. common folk, nor nor for any Illumination of the individual individual soul soul by by the the culture culture Illumination of the orders of ol one’s own the ordersaccounted, accounted one's ownself selfwas wasthe theaim aimand and object object of of the early SUfis. Sufis. G Great reat Sufis Stifs' o tf the ffie eighth eighth and and ninth ninth centuries centuries A.D. A.D. achieved achieved this this illumination illumination by by individual individual exertion, exertion, Origin of Sufi tifi Origin

This individualistic mortification and austerity. This individualistic tendency tendency among among and austerity. StJfis, each individual thinking out out aa theosophic theosophic nf is, led led each individual to to the the way way of thinking system mentality and intellectual attainments. attainments. systemaccording accordingtotohis his own own mentality and intellectual Hence, an Hence, cach cach system systemofof Sufi Scifi theosophy theosophybears bearsa aclear clear stamp stamp of an individual individual who shaped shaped it it and and worked worked it it out in in the theline, line, invented invented or discovered discovered by him. In this way, when one system system took when one by him. final final shape shape and andwhen whenfollowing followingthat thatdefinite definitesystem, system,any anyindividual individual attained the attained the ideal as desired him, others others with similar tenten­ desired by by him, dencies down by him. This was a kind kind denciesaccepted acceptedthe thepath path laid laid down by him. This was of servile servile imitation; yet it was helpful helpful to to many. many. In any case, case, it was In any imitation; yet the disciples clung formed aa group group to to be be the disciples clung round round the the master master and and formed named after the the master or founder. As As it it is case with with all all named after is a case groups or sects, after the groups formation of o f a well-defined well-defined order, the formation many many new new formalities and rituals were, in course of time, introduced. The The beginning beginningofofSBFi 5th orders ordersisis thus thus as as old old as as the the origin origin of Süfism Sufism itself. itself. The earliest est of of the the orders ordersof o fWhich which we we hear hear from from the theSflfrs StXfis is is the Basri order, order, founded founded by by Hasan Hasan of of Basrah Basrah (( dd.728 728 A A .D the Basri D .). )

The The next next one one was was perhaps perhaps the Adhami, Adhami, founded founded by by IbrIhim-IbnIbrffhlm-ibnAdham (d. ( d. 777 777 A. D.). D . ). Whatever have been been the the history, history, Adharn Whatever might might have the rapidity Snfi orders were increasing1 increasin is rapidity with with which which these these Strfi Margoliouth seems in the the remarkable. Dr. seemstoto be be in Dr. Margoliouth Rapid growth growthofof right right in Rapid in assigning assigning the cause of rapid growth of the cause of rapid growth of Orders, sufi the Süf Sufiorders ordersduring during the ninth ninth and and tenth tenth centuries centuries the These orders becatne o f the the Christian Christian era. era. These becatne known known of and and their their doctrines doctrines were preached and popularised among the were preached and popularised among the masses masses of o f difrerent different countries countries through through the the agency agency of ofpilgrims pilgrims to Mecca where the Muslims Muslims ooff distant distant countries countries used used to to assemble assemble Mecca where the

once once aa year. year. AA deeper deeper cause cause was was of of course course the the appearance





invdntiv. inventive Sufis SUfis in in early centuries centuries boff Islam. Another cobAnother factor contribufcing'largely the.augmentationofof Sufi ordit Wasthe theabsorpabsorp­ tribütinirgly to to theaugmentation Suli order Was tion tiOnofc'Aran o f ' OAryan civilisation civilisation of of Persia Peiia and and ofofGreece Greeee by by Islam. Islffm. Austerity and and an an overwhelming sense Divine Presence Presence in sense of Divine Arabian: mingled with tire speculative speculative and philosophical bent Atrabian:flslam Isthm mingled with th and philosophical of Aryan mind* produced produced the result result of these these neW new experiments experiments in in -of Aryan mind, the field of of religion religion and and mystic mystic rte-s r'tes and and ceremonies ceremonies» the field However, long S lfisis to to India, India, they However, longbefore before the the advent advent of of Suf belongedtoto many manyschools schoolsofof Sufi Sfi thought. every school "belonged thought. Every school was was gndetn or family recognised recognised as as Kh