The Chisti Order
Khwaja Muinuddin Hasan Chishti: “Love Towards All, Malice Towards None”
It is a well known historical fact that in spreading the ethical and spiritual values of Islam, major and effective contributions have been made by the awlia (saints) of Allah. It was their humanism, disposition and piety that won over the hearts of millions of people. They contacted the masses directly, served and loved them, lived with them and inspired them in the realization of Eternal Truth.
The proof of this is more than evident from the history of the growth of Islam in India. The noble task of inspiring the people to Islam’s tenets and values was accomplished by Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti (ra), popularly known as Khwaja Sahib and Khwaja Gharib Nawaz.
He did it all through his own great moral power, glorious and appealing character, with love and dedication to mankind, without any worldly resources of wealth, power, force or support. He was the greatest mystic of his time. He laid the foundation of the liberal Chishtia Order of Sufis in India, and inspired millions of souls as his followers.
Perfection in faith is evident by three things: fear, hope, and love.
Early Years and Education
Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti (ra) was born in Seistan (Eastern Persia) also known as Sajistan, around 533 Hijri (1138-39 A.D.) into a well-respected family. His father, Khwaja Ghayasuddin, (ra) and mother, Syeda Bibi Ummalwara (alias Bibi Mahe-Noor), were the descendants of Hazrat Ali, (ra) through his sons Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain. Khwaja Sahib was orphaned at age sixteen. He inherited an orchard and millstone which were his means of livelihood.
One day when Khwaja Sahib was working in his orchard, and a pious dervish, Ebrahim Qandoozi, came and sat under the shade of a tree. When Khwaja Sahib saw him, he brought a bunch of grapes and presented it to his guest, who ate the grapes and was delighted. He then took something out of his bag, chewed it, and offered it to his young host. Khwaja Sahib ate it without any hesitation, and at once the light of wisdom and knowledge dawned upon the young man. Immediately he disposed of all of his worldly belongings and distributed the money amongst the poor. Having thus broken all the ties with worldly affairs, he set off for Samarkand and Bukhara—then the great centers of Islamic learning—seeking religious knowledge.
When Khwaja Sahib had acquired the best wisdom of the time, he traveled widely in search of a Murshid (spiritual guide) who could impart the best spiritual guidance. He came to know of Hazrat Khwaja Usman Harooni (ra), the greatest scholar and unrivalled spiritual guide of that period. In the very first meeting, Khwaja Sahib completely submitted himself to his Murshid and remained in the company of this great divine spiritual leader for twenty years, serving him devotedly, passing through the various stages of spiritual evolution.
Hajj and the Prophet’s Command
As the great Khwaja Sahib became accomplished and perfect in every respect, the divine tutor honored him with the robe and took him to Hajj. Both then proceeded to Madina and stayed there for some time, to received blessings from the Prophet of Islam (s). One night while meditating, Khwaja Sahib was ordered by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) appeared in a vision and said, “O Muinuddin! You are a prop of our faith. Proceed to India and show the Path of Truth to the people there.” In compliance with the above spiritual command, Khwaja Sahib left Madina for India. He continued his journey, passing through Isfahan, Bukhara, Herat, Lahore and Delhi, meeting several prominent Sufis of the period and enrolling large numbers of people into his fold, blessing thousands of others with spiritual power. He arrived at the barren and desolate land of Rajasthan.
Achievements at Ajmer, India
Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti, (ra) arrived in Ajmer at the age 52 around 587 A.H. (1190 CE). Ajmer was then ruled by Prithvi Raj Chauhan, the famous Rajput king who employed a large number of powerful magicians, with Ajai Pal as their leader. Khwaja Sahib stayed on a hill close to Ana Sagar Lake, now known as the Chillah Khwaja Sahib. When the news spread that a very pious dervish had come to Ajmer, people began to flock to him in increasing numbers. Whoever came to him received the kindest treatment and blessings. People were so much inspired by his divine teachings and simplicity that they began to embrace Islam and many became his disciples. Even Ajai Pal submitted himself to the divine powers of Khwaja Sahib, gave up all his magic and became his disciple. Meanwhile, Shahabuddin Ghori again attacked India, in 1192 CE, and in the famous battle of Tarain, defeated Prithvi Raj. When Shahabuddin Ghori came to know of the presence of Khwaja Sahib at Ajmer, he personally came to see him at his place, and enjoyed the grace of his meeting.
Khwaja Sahib continued his noble magnificent mission, showing the Path of Truth to the people. He also sent his disciples and successors throughout the country, serving the people and preaching the tenets of Islam. A few of his prominent successors are: Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Khaki, Shaykh Fariduddin Ganj-e-Shakar, Shaikh Nizamuddin Awlia, and Shaikh Nasiruddin Chiragh Delhi.
Passing From This World
After achieving the objectives of his mission and complying with the command given to him by the Holy Prophet r his noble soul left the mortal body on the 6th of Rajab 633 AH (March 16, 1236) at the age of 97. He was buried in the same cell which was the center for his spiritual activities, throughout his stay at Ajmer. Today his tomb is popularly known as the Dargah Sharif (holy tomb). People of all walks of life and faith from all over the world, irrespective of their caste, creed and belief, visit this great shrine to offer – their esteem and devotion by praying for his soul and staying there to derive from his baraka. The rich and the poor stand side-by-side to pay homage and respect to this divine soul.
Spread of His Mission
The life and mission of Khwaja Sahib have been of an exceptional character as compared with any other saints in India. His simple teaching penetrated even the stoniest of hearts, his affectionate look silenced his fiercest of enemies. His matchless piety and blessings knew no distinction and his “Spiritual Power”, amazed and defied his bitterest adversaries who came in order to harm him, but were inspired instead to embrace Islam and become his devotees for the rest of their lives. He brought the message of Universal Love and Peace. He chose the way of non-compulsion in the true spirit of the Holy Qur’an, which says: “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error; whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.” [2:256] Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti, (ra) followed this dictum strictly throughout his mission. He became popularly known as “Gharib Nawaz”, which means ‘the one who shows kindness to the poor’. This was later reinforced by succeeding Chishti Sufis, who became religious pioneers in national integration in the country. They fulfilled the objectives of bringing together the various castes, communities and races, elevating humanity from the swamp of materialistic concerns, which is leading mankind to destruction even today.