Moinuddin Chishti

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Moinuddin Chishti
Dargah of moinuddin chishti.jpg
Shrine of Moinuddin Chishti, Ajmer, India
Full Name Moinuddin Chishti
Born 536 AH or 1142 [1]
Birthplace Sistan region (western Afghanistan or eastern Iran)[2]
Died 6th Rajab 633 AH
˜ Mar. 15, 1236 CE
Place of Burial غریب نواز Gharīb Nawāz،سلطان الہند Sulṭānu l-Hind "Emperor of India" Sheikh, Khalifa
Order Chisti
Predecessor Usman Harooni
Successor Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki
Disciples Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki
Nizamuddin Auliya
Fariduddin Ganjshakar
Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlavi
Religion Islam

Moinuddin Chishti was born in 1141 and died in 1236 CE. Also known as Gharīb Nawāz "Benefactor of the Poor", he is the most famous saint of the Chishti Order of Sufism of the Indian subcontinent. Moinuddin Chishti introduced and established the order in the subcontinent. The initial spiritual chain or silsila of the Chishti order in India, comprising Moinuddin Chishti, Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Fariduddin Ganjshakar and Nizamuddin Auliya, each successive person being the disciple of the previous, constitutes the great Sufi saints of Indian history.[3]

Early life and background[edit]

Moinuddin Chishti is said to have been born in 536 AH/1141 CE in Chisht in Herat, Afghanistan.[4] His parents died when he was fifteen years old. He inherited a windmill and an orchard from his father. During his childhood, young Moinuddin was different from other children and kept himself busy in prayers and meditation. Legend has it that once when he was watering his plants, a revered Sufi, Ibrāhim Qundūzī—the name deriving from his birthplace, Kunduz in Afghanistan—came to his orchard. Young Moinuddin approached him and offered him some fruits. In return, Ibrāhīm Qundūzī gave him a piece of bread and asked him to eat it. The Khwāja got enlightened and found himself in a strange world after eating the bread. After this he disposed of his property and other belongings and distributed the money to the poor. He renounced the world and left for Bukhara in search of knowledge and higher education.[5]

He became the murid "disciple" of Usman Harooni.


Moinuddin Chishti visited the seminaries of Samarkand and Bukhara and acquired religious learning from the eminent scholars of his age. He visited nearly all the great centers of Muslim culture, and acquainted himself with almost every important trend in Muslim religious life in the Middle Ages. He became a disciple of the Chishti saint Usman Harooni. They travelled the Middle East extensively together, including visits to Mecca and Medina.

Journey to India[edit]

Moinuddin Chishtī turned towards India, reputedly after a dream in which Prophet Muhammad blessed him to do so. After a brief stay at Lahore, he reached Ajmer along with Mu'izz al-Din Muhammad, and settled down there. In Ajmer, he attracted a substantial following, acquiring a great deal of respect amongst the residents of the city. Moinuddin Chishti promoted understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.[citation needed]

Establishing the Chishti Order in South Asia[edit]

The Chishti Order is found by Abu Ishaq Shami (“the Syrian”) in Chisht some 95 miles east of Herat in present-day western Afghanistan. Moinuddin Chishti established the order in India, in the city of Ajmer in North India.

Moinuddin Chishti apparently never wrote down his teachings in the form of a book, nor did his immediate disciples, but the central principles that became characteristics of the Chishti order in India are based on his teachings and practices. They lay stress on renunciation of material goods; strict regime of self-discipline and personal prayer; participation in samā' as a legitimate means to spiritual transformation; reliance on either cultivation or unsolicited offerings as means of basic subsistence; independence from rulers and the state, including rejection of monetary and land grants; generosity to others, particularly, through sharing of food and wealth, and tolerance and respect for religious differences.

He, in other words, interpreted religion in terms of human service and exhorted his disciples "to develop river-like generosity, sun-like affection and earth-like hospitality." The highest form of devotion, according to him, was "to redress the misery of those in distress – to fulfill the needs of the helpless and to feed the hungry."[citation needed]

It was during the reign of Akbar (1556–1605) that Ajmer emerged as one of the most important centers of pilgrimage in India. The Mughal Emperor undertook a journey on foot to Ajmer. The Akbarnāma records that the emperor's interest in Ajmer first sparked when he heard some minstrels singing songs about the virtues of the wali who lay asleep in Ajmer.[citation needed]

Moinuddin Chishti authored several books including Anīs al-Arwāḥ and Dalīl al-'Ārifīn, both of which deal with the Islamic code of living.

Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (d. 1235) and Hamiduddin Nagori (d. 1276) were Moinuddin Chishti's celebrated caliphs or "successors", who continued to transmit the teachings of their master through their disciples, leading to the widespread proliferation of the Chishtī Order in India.

Among Quṭbuddīn Baktiar Kaki's prominent disciples was Fariduddin Ganjshakar (d. 1265), whose dargah is at Pakpattan, modern Pakistan. Fariduddin's most famous disciple was Nizamuddin Auliya (d. 1325) popularly referred to as Mahbūb-e Ilāhī "God's beloved", whose dargah is located in South Delhi. Equally famous was his other disciple Ali Ahmed Alauddin Sabir whose dargah is in Kalyar Sharif. The Sabiri silsila is spread far and wide in India and Pakistan and to this day devotees and their descendants add the title of Sabri to their names.

From Delhi, disciples branched out to establish dargahs in several regions of South Asia, from Sindh in the west to Bengal in the east and the Deccan Plateau in the south. But from all the network of Chishti dargahs, the Ajmer dargah took on the special distinction of being the "mother" dargah of them all.

Dargah Sharif[edit]

Dargah of Moinuddin Chishti, Ajmer

Main article: Dargah Sharif

The dargah (shrine) of Chisti, known as Dargah Sharif or Ajmer Sharif is an international wakf (endowment), managed under the 'Dargah Khwaja Saheb Act, 1955' of Government of India. The Dargah Committee, appointed by the Government, manages donations, takes care of the maintenance of the outer area of shrine, and runs charitable institutions like dispensaries, and guest houses for the devotees but do not take care of the main shrine (Astana e Alia ) which is under the custody of Khadims.[6] The dargah, which is visited by Muslim pilgrims as well as Hindus and Sikhs is a symbol of intercommunal harmony.

In popular culture[edit]

His poetry in praise of Husayn ibn Ali is well known, specially the following verse:

Shah ast Hussein, Badshah ast Hussein
Ruler is Hussain, Emperor is Hussain

Din ast Hussein, Dinpanah ast Hussein
Faith is Hussain , guardian of faith is Hussain

Sardad na dad dast dar dast e Yazid
Offered his head and not the hand to Yazid

Haqaq-e Bina-e La ilaha ast Hussein
Indeed, Hussain is the foundation of the shahada

The song "Khwaja Mere Khwaja" from the Hindi film Jodhaa Akbar was inspired by the life and deeds of Moinuddin Chishti.

Sufis of the Chishtī order[edit]

He had more than one thousand khalīfas and hundreds of thousands of disciples. Sufis of different orders became his disciples and took ijāzah from him. Among the famous Sufis who trace their lineage to him are: Quṭbuddīn Bakhtiyār Kākī, Farīduddīn Mas'ūd, Nizāmuddīn Auliyā', Hazrat Ahmed Alauddin Sabir Kalyari Amir Khusrau, Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlavi, Muhammad Hussain-i Gisūdarāz Bandanawāz, Ashraf Jahāngīr Simnānī and Aṭā' Hussain Fānī.

Today, hundreds of thousands of people – Muslims, Hindus and others, from the Indian sub-continent, and from other parts of the world – assemble at his tomb on the occasion of his 'urs (death anniversary).

An outside view of the Maqbara

Spiritual lineage[edit]

  1. Al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī
  2. 'Abdul Wāḥid Bin Zaid Abul Faḍl
  3. Fuḍayll ibn 'Iyāḍ Bin Mas'ūd Bin Bishr al-Tamīmī
  4. Ibrāhīm bin Adham
  5. Ḥudhayfah al-Mar'ashī
  6. Amīnuddīn Abū Ḥubayrah al-Baṣrī
  7. Mumshād Dīnwarī

Start of the Chishtī Order:

  1. [Adul-Ishaq Shami Chisti Khadas-Allah –Sirrahu]
  2. [Abu Muhammad Abdal Chishti Khadas-Allah –Sirrahu]
  3. [Abu Muhammad bin Abi Ahmed Chishti Khadas-Allah –Sirrahu]
  4. Abū Yūsuf bin Sam'ān al-Ḥusaynī
  5. Maudūd Chishtī
  6. Sharīf Zandānī
  7. 'Uthmān Hārūnī
  8. [ Muneeruddin Haji Shareef Zandani Khadas-Allah –Sirrahu]
  9. [Qutubuddin Yusuf Chisti Khadas-Allah –Sirrahu]
  10. Moinuddin Chishti

Others buried in the Maqbara enclosure[edit]

The famous Mughal generals Sheikh Mīr and Shāhnawāz Khān were buried in the enclosure of Moinuddin Chishtī's Maqbara after they died in the Battle of Deorai in 1659. Shāhnawāz Khān was the Emperor Aurangzeb's father-in-law.[7]

See also[edit]


Official website of Dargah, Ajmer

  1. ^ "Birth Date". 
  2. ^ "Birth Place". 
  3. ^ Sadarangani, Neeti M. (2004). Bhakti poetry in medieval India : its inception, cultural encounter and impact. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons. p. 60. ISBN 81-7625-436-3. 
  4. ^ Official Dargah Sharif's website. Other accounts say that he was born in the city of Isfahān.
  5. ^ Embodiment of syncretic traditions- Mohammed Iqbal
  6. ^ Gupta, K.R.; Amita Gupta (2006). Concise encyclopaedia of India, (Volume 1). Atlantic Publishers. p. 193. ISBN 81-269-0637-5. 
  7. ^ History of Aurangzeb: Based on Original Sources By Jadunath Sarkar Published by Longmans, Green, 1920, Pg 187 Public Domain

External links[edit]

Media related to Moinuddin Chishti at Wikimedia Commons