Pir (Sufism)

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Pir Dastgir, from the Mughal era

Peer or Pir (Persian: پیر‎, lit.'elder')[1] is a title for a Sufi spiritual guide. They are also referred to as a Hazrat (from Arabic: حضرة‎, romanizedHaḍra) and Sheikh or Shaykh, which is literally the Arabic equivalent. The title is often translated into English as "saint." In Sufism a Pir's role is to guide and instruct his disciples on the Sufi path. This is often done by general lessons (called Suhbas) and individual guidance. Other words that refer to a Pir include Murshid (Arabic: مرشد‎, lit.'guide, mentor') and Sarkar (Persian: سرکار‎, lit.'master, lord').

The title Peer Baba (from Persian: بابا‎, lit.'father') is common in the Indian subcontinent used as a salutation to Sufi masters or similarly honored persons. After their death, people visit their tombs or mausolea, referred to as dargah or maqbara.

The path of Sufism starts when a student takes an oath of allegiance with a teacher called Bai'at or Bay'ah[citation needed] (Arabic word meaning "transaction") where he swears allegiance at the hands of his Pir and repents of all his previous sins. After that, the student is called a Murid (Arabic word meaning committed one). From here, his batin (esoteric) journey starts.

A Pir usually has authorizations to be a teacher for one (or more) tariqahs. A tariqah may have more than one Pir at a time. A Pir is accorded that status by his Sheikh by way of Khilafat or Khilafah (Arabic word meaning "succession"), a process in which the Pir identifies one of his disciples as his successor, which may be more than one. However, recently the term has gained a negative connotation due to the excessive innovations (bidʻah) by such modern day Pirs (especially within the subcontinent).

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Newby, Gordon (2002). A Concise Encyclopedia of Islam (1st ed.). Oxford: One World. p. 173. ISBN 1-85168-295-3.

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