Pir (Sufism)

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Pir Dastgir, from the Mughal era

Peer or Pir (Persian: پیر‎, lit. 'old [person]', 'elder'[1]) is a title for a Sufi master or 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" and could be interpreted as "Elder". 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 "guide, mentor") and Sarkar (Persian: سرکار‎ "master, lord"). In Alevism, Pir's are considered a direct descendant of Ali.

The title Peer Baba (from Persian: بابا‎ meaning "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. The term "Pir" is also used by Nizari Ismailis whose missionaries in the past have used the title Pir. The current Nizari Ismaili Imam Agha Khan IV is also the Pir within the Nizari Ismaili Shia sect.

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  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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