26 June  1564:90|
Sirhind, Punjab region, Mughal Empire
|Died||10 December 1624 (aged 60)|
|Islamic Law, Islamic philosophy|
|Evolution of Islamic philosophy, application of Islamic law|
Ahmad al-Fārūqī al-Sirhindī (1564–1624) was an Indian Islamic scholar, a Hanafi jurist, and a prominent member of the Naqshbandī Sufi order. He has been described as a Mujaddid, meaning "the reviver",:92 for his work in rejuvenating Islam and opposing the dissident opinions prevalent in the time of Mughal emperor Akbar. 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.
Early life and education
Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi was born on 26 June 1564 in the village of Sirhind.:90 He received most of his early education from his father, Shaykh 'Abd al-Ahad, his brother, Shaykh Muhammad Sadiq and from Shaykh Muhammad Tahir al-Lahuri. He also memorised the Qur'an. He then studied in Sialkot:90 which had become an intellectual centre under the Kashmir-born scholar Maulana Kamaluddin Kashmiri. There he learned logic, philosophy and theology and read advanced texts of tafsir and hadith under another scholar from Kashmir, Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi Kashmiri (1521-1595), who was a sheikh of the tariqa Hamadaniyya. Qazi Bahlol Badakhshani taught him jurisprudence, prophet Muhammad's biography and history.
Sirhindi also made rapid progress in the Suhrawardī, the Qadirī, and the Chistī traditions, 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.
Part of a series on Islam
Ahmad Sirhindi's teaching emphasized the inter-dependence of both the Sufi path and sharia, stating that "what is outside the path shown by the prophet is forbidden." Arthur Buehler explains that Sirhindi's concept of shariah 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 shariah, 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."
Importance of Sufism in Shari’ah
According to Simon Digby, "modern hagiographical literature emphasizes [Sirhindi's] reiterated profession of strict Islamic orthodoxy, his exaltation of the shariah and exhortations towards its observance." On the other hand, Yohanan Friedmann, apparently oblivious to the fact that shariah and Sufism are not mutually exclusive terms, questions how committed Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi was to shariah by commenting: "it is noteworthy that while Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi never wearies of describing the minutest details of Sufi experience, his exhortations to comply with the shariah remain general to an extreme." Friedmann also claims "Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi was primarily a Sufi interested first and foremost in questions of mysticism.". Ahmad Sirhindi wrote a letter to mughal emperor Jehangir emphasizing that he is now correcting the wrong path taken by his father, emperor Akbar.
Oneness of appearance and oneness of being
Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi advanced the notion of wahdat ash-shuhūd (oneness of appearance).:93 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). Sirhindi considered wahdat ash-shuhūd to be superior to wahdat al-wujūd (oneness of being),:92 which he understood to be a preliminary step on the way to the Absolute Truth.
Despite this, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi still used Ibn al-'Arabi's vocabulary without hesitation.:95
Shaykh Ahmad 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.
Reality of the Quran and Ka'ba versus the reality of Muhammad
Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi had originally declared the reality of the Quran (haqiqat-i quran) and the reality of the Ka'ba (haqiqat-i ka'ba-yi rabbani) to be above the reality of Muhammad (haqiqat-i Muhammadi). This caused fury of opposition, particularly among certain Sufis and ulama of Hijaz who objected to the Ka'ba having exalted spiritual "rank" than the Prophet. Sirhindi argued in response that the reality of the Prophet is superior to any creature. The real Ka'ba is worthy of prostration since it is not created and is covered with the veil of nonexistence. It is this Ka'ba in the essence of God that Sirhindi was referring to as the reality of the Ka'ba, not the appearance of the Ka'ba (surat-i ka'ba), which is only a stone. By the latter part of the nineteenth century, the consensus of the Naqshbandi community had placed the prophetic realities closer to God than the divine realities. The rationale for this development may have been to neutralize unnecessary discord with the large Muslim community whose emotional attachment to Muhammad was greater than any understanding of philosophical fine points.
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- Ahmad al-Farūqī al-Sirhindī
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