Ahmad Sirhindi

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For the founder of a 19th-century Shi`i madhhab in the Persian Empire, see Shaykh Ahmad.
Imām Rabbānī
Muhammad Jaffar Sadiq
Born 26 June 1564
Mughal Empire
Died 1624 (aged 60)
Religion Sunni Islam
School Islamic philosophy
Main interests Implementation of Islamic Law, Islamic Statehood
Notable ideas Evolution of Islamic philosophy, Application of Sharia

Imām Rabbānī Shaykh Ahmad al-Farūqī al-Sirhindī (1564–1624) شیخ احمد الفاروقی السرہندی was an Indian Islamic scholar from Punjab, a Hanafi jurist, and a prominent member of the Naqshbandī Sufi order. He is described as Mujaddid Alf Thānī, meaning the "reviver of the second millennium", for his work in rejuvenating Islam and opposing the heterodoxies prevalent in the time of Mughal Emperor Akbar.[1] While early South Asian scholarship credited him for contributing to conservative trends in Indian Islam, more recent works, notably by ter Haar, Friedman, and Buehler, have pointed to Sirhindi's significant contributions to Sufi epistemology and practices.[2]

Most of the Naqshbandī suborders today, such as the Mujaddidī, Khālidī, Saifī, Tāhirī, Qasimiya and Haqqānī sub-orders, trace their spiritual lineage through Sirhindi, often referring to themselves as "Naqshbandī-Mujaddidī".

Sirhindi's shrine, known as Rauza Sharif is located in Sirhind, India.

Early life and education[edit]

Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi was born after midnight, on 14 Shawwal 971 H. in the village of Sirhind, into an ashraf family claiming descent from caliph Umar.

He received most of his early education from his father, Shaykh 'Abd al-Ahad, his brother, Shaykh Muhammad Sadiq and Shaykh Muhammad Tahir al-Lahuri,[3] he also memorised the Qur'an. He was then sent to Sialkot, in modern-day Pakistan, which became an intellectual centre under the Kashmir-born scholar Maulana Kamaluddin,[4] from whom he learned logic, philosophy and theology and read advanced texts of tafsīr and hadīth under another scholar from Kashmir, Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi (1521-1595) Sheikh sarfi was the sheikh of Hamadaniyya Silsilla (Sayyid Sadaat Salar AjumMir Sayyid Ali Hamadani order)[5][6] whereas Qazi Bahlol Badakhshani taught him jurisprudence, prophet's biography and history[7] before he returned home.[8]

Sirhindi also made rapid progress in the Suhrawardī, the Qadirī, and the Chistī turūq, and was given permission to initiate and train followers at the age of 17 ; he eventually joined the Naqshbandī order through the Sufi missionary Shaykh Muhammad al-Baqī, and became a leading master of this order. His deputies traversed the length and breadth of the Mughal Empire in order to popularize the order and eventually won some favour with the Mughal court.[9]

Sirhindi's world view[edit]

According to Yohanan Friedmann and J.G.J. ter Haar, Sirhindi should be regarded as a synthesizer who brought Sufi practices, including those regarded as antinomian, and the Islamic juristic traditions into a single system supported by rational argument, scripture, and mystical experience.

Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi's teaching emphasized the inter-dependence of both the Sufi path and Shariah, stating that "what is outside the path shown by the prophet (Sharia) is forbidden." Arthur Buehler explains that Sirhindi's concept of sharia is a multivalent and inclusive term encompassing outward acts of worship, faith, and the Sufi path. Sirhindi emphasizes Sufi initiation and practices as a necessary part of sharia, and criticizes jurists who follow only the outward aspects of the sharia. In his criticism of the superficial jurists, he states: "For a worm hidden under a rock, the sky is the bottom of the rock."[10]

Yohanan Friedmann has argued against communalist interpretations of Sirhindi's thought specifically in South Asian nationalist historiography, pointing out that there is no evidence that Sirhindi or his disciples spread "anti-Hindu sentiments wherever they went." [11]

Importance of Sharia v. Sufism[edit]

According to Simon Digby, "modern hagiographical literature emphasizes [Sirhindi's] reiterated profession of strict Islamic orthodoxy, his exaltation of the sharia and exhortations towards its observance."[12] On the other hand, Yohanan Friedmann, apparently oblivious to the fact that Sharia and Sufism are not mutually exclusive terms, questions how committed Sirhindi was to sharia by commenting: "it is noteworthy that while Sirhindi never wearies of describing the minutest details of Sufi experience, his exhortations to comply with the shariah remain general to an extreme."[13] Friedmann also claims "Sirhindi was primarily a Sufi interested first and foremost in questions of mysticism."[14]

Oneness of being (wahdat al-wujūd)[edit]

Sirhindi strongly opposed the mystical doctrine known as wahdat al-wujūd ('unity of being') or tawhīd-i wujūdi, a concept which emphasizes that in reality all things exist within God. Nonetheless, he did not hold a particularly unfavorable view of the Sufi mystic and theoretician Muhyī 'l-Dīn ibn Arabī, who is often presented as the originator and most complete propounder of this philosophy. Sirhindi writes:

I wonder that Shaykh Muhyī 'l-Dīn appears in vision to be one of those with whom God is pleased, while most of his ideas which differ from the doctrines of the People of truth appear to be wrong and mistaken. It seems that since they are due to error in kashf, he has been forgiven... I consider him as one of those with whom God is well-pleased; on the other hand, I believe that all his ideas in which he opposes (the people of truth) are wrong and harmful.[15]

In refuting the monistic position of wahdat al-wujūd, he instead advanced the notion of wahdat ash-shuhūd (oneness of appearance). According to this doctrine, the experience of unity between God and creation is purely subjective and occurs only in the mind of the Sufi who has reached the state of fana' fi Allah (to forget about everything except Almighty Allah).[16]

Further information: Sufi metaphysics


Most famous of his works are a collection of 536 letters, collectively entitled Collected Letters or Maktubat, to the Mughal rulers and other contemporaries. It consists of three volumes. An elaborate printing of the book was accomplished in 1973 in Nazimabad, Karachi, Pakistan. It was reproduced by offset process in Istanbul, Turkey. A copy of the Persian version exists in the library of the Columbia University. Maktubat was rendered into the Arabic language by Muhammad Murad Qazanî, and the Arabic version was printed in two volumes in the printhouse called Miriyya and located in the city of Makkah. A copy of the Arabic version occupies number 53 in the municipality library in Bayezid, Istanbul. It was reproduced by offset process in 1963, in Istanbul. A number of the books written by Ahmad Sirhindi were reprinted in Karachi. Of those books, Ithbât-un-nubuwwa was reproduced by offset process in Istanbul in 1974. The marginal notes on the book, which is in Arabic, provide a biography of Ahmad Sirhindi. These Collected Letters has been translated into Bangla by Hazrat Shah Mohammad Muti Ahamed Aftabi Dinajpuri(R.)

Naqshbandi chain[edit]


  1. Sayyidna Muhammad SallAllaahu Alaihi Wasallam d.11AH, buried Madinah SA (570/571 - 632 CE)
  2. Sayyidna Abu Bakr Siddiq, radiya-l-Lahu`anh d.13AH, buried Madinah, SA
  3. Sayyidna Salman al-Farsi, radiya-l-Lahu`anh d.35AH buried Madaa'in, SA
  4. Imām Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr d.107AH buried Madinah SA.
  5. Imām Jafar Sadiq, alayhi-s-salam (after which moves to Iran) d 148AH buried Madinah SA.
  6. Shaikh Bayazid Bastami, radiya-l-Lahu canh d 261AH buried Bistaam, Iraq (804 - 874 CE).
  7. Shaikh Abu al-Hassan al-Kharaqani, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah d 425AH buried Kharqaan, Iran.
  8. Shaikh Abul Qasim Gurgani, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah d.450AH buried Gurgan, Iran.
  9. Shaikh Abu Ali Farmadi, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah (after which moves to Turkmenistan) d 477AH buried Tous, Khorasan, Iran.
  10. Khwaja Abu Yaqub Yusuf Hamadani, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah d 535AH buried Maru, Khorosan, Iran.
  11. Khwaja Abdul Khaliq Ghujdawani, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah d 575AH buried Ghajdawan, Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
  12. Khwaja Arif Reogari, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah d 616AH buried Reogar, Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
  13. Khwaja Mahmood Anjir-Faghnawi, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah d 715AH buried Waabakni, Mawralnahar.
  14. Shaikh Azizan Ali Ramitani, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah d 715AH buried Khwaarizm, Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
  15. Shaikh Muhammad Baba Samasi, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah d 755AH buried Samaas, Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
  16. Shaikh Sayyid Amir Kulal, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah d 772AH buried Saukhaar, Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
  17. Shaikh Muhammad Baha'uddin Naqshband, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah d 791AH buried Qasr-e-Aarifan, Bukhara, Uzbekistan (1318–1389 CE).
  18. Shaikh Ala'uddin Attar Bukhari, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah buried Jafaaniyan, Mawranahar, Uzbekistan.
  19. Shaikh Yaqub Charkhi, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah d 851AH buried in tajikistan
  20. Shaikh Ubaidullah Ahrar, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah d 895AH buried Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
  21. Shaikh Muhammad Zahid Wakhshi, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah d 936AH buried Wakhsh, Malk Hasaar
  22. Shaikh Durwesh Muhammad, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah d 970AH buried Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
  23. Shaikh Muhammad Amkanaki, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah (after which moves to India) d 1008AH buried Akang, Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
  24. Shaikh Razi ūd-Dīn Muhammad Baqī Billah, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah d 1012AH buried Delhi, India.
  25. Imām Rabbānī Shaikh Ahmad al-Farūqī al-Sirhindī, qaddasa-l-Lahu sirrah d 1034AH buried Sarhand, India (1564–1624 CE)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Glasse, Cyril, The New Encyclopedia of Islam, Altamira Press, 2001, p.432
  2. ^ Aziz Ahmad, Studies in Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment, Oxford University Press, 1964. Friedmann, Yohannan. Shaikh Aḥmad Sirhindī: An Outline of His Thought and a Study of His Image in the Eyes of Posterity. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000. Haar, J.G.J. ter. Follower and Heir of the Prophet: Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi (1564-1624) as Mystic. Leiden: Van Het Oosters Instituut, 1992. Buehler, Arthur. Revealed Grace: The Juristic Sufism of Aḥmad Sirhindi (1564-1624). Louisville, Kentucky: Fons Vitae, 2011.
  3. ^ Itzchak Weismann, The Naqshbandiyya: Orthodoxy and Activism in a Worldwide Sufi Tradition, Routledge (2007), p. 62
  4. ^ S.Z.H. Jafri, Recording the Progress of Indian History: Symposia Papers of te Indian History Congress, 1992-2010, Primus Books (2012), p. 156
  5. ^ All historians of kashmir, by jeelani allaie
  6. ^ Anna Zelkina, In Quest for God and Freedom: The Sufi Response to the Russian Advance in the North Caucasus, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers (200), p. 88
  7. ^ Khwaja Jamil Ahmad, Hundred great Muslims, Ferozsons (1984), p. 292
  8. ^ Sufism and Shari'ah: A study of Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi's effort to reform Sufism, Muhammad Abdul Haq Ansari, The Islamic Foundation, 1997, p. 11.
  9. ^ Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, Routledge, 2006, p. 755.
  10. ^ (Arthur Buehler. Revealed Grace. Fons Vitae, 2014, p. 97)
  11. ^ Review by Simon Digby of Yohanan Friedmann Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi: an outline of his thought and a study of his image in the eyes of posterity, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1971, p.110
  12. ^ Review by Simon Digby of Yohanan Friedmann Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi: an outline of his thought and a study of his image in the eyes of posterity, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1971 Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 38, No. 1 (1975), pp. 177-179
  13. ^ Review by Simon Digby of Yohanan Friedmann Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi: an outline of his thought and a study of his image in the eyes of posterity, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1971, p.42 Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 38, No. 1 (1975), pp. 177-179
  14. ^ Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi: an outline of his thought and a study of his image in the eyes of posterity], McGill-Queen's University Press, 1971, p.xiv Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 38, No. 1 (1975), pp. 177-179
  15. ^ Sufism and Shari'ah: A study of Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi's effort to reform Sufism, Muhammad Abdul Haq Ansari, The Islamic Foundation, 1997, p.247
  16. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/10170/Shaykh-Ahmad-Sirhindi
  17. ^ http://www.islahulmuslimeen.org/golden_chain.asp
  • Classical Islam and the Naqshbandi Sufi Tradition, Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, Islamic Supreme Council of America (June 2004), ISBN 1-930409-23-0.
  • Shari'at and Ulama in Ahmad Sirhindi's Collected Letters by Arthur F. Buehler
  • NFIE Research

External links[edit]