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Books and Documents

Islamic Personalities

An objective study of Indian Sufi literature, surprisingly enough, reveals that many early Islamic figures of India who were spiritually-inclined and inspired by Sufism, are mistakenly taken today as the ideologues of Wahhabism in India. Regrettably, our collective negligence and intellectual stagnation have concealed the pioneering contributions of great Indian mystics in the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment, human welfare and common goodwill. .....

Abul Qasim al Junayd of Baghdad
Sadia Dehlvi

Abul Qasim al Junayd of the ninth century is one of the most famous of early Muslim mystics. They called him “Peacock of the Poor”, “Lord of the Group” and “Master of Masters”. A central figure in many Sufi orders, Junayd is considered the greatest exponent of the sober school of Sufism. …..

 
Manto on Iqbal
Saadat Hasan Manto

For the honour of presiding over this maiden sitting of Iqbal Day which you have bestowed upon me, I should be thanking you formally, but I am not bound by the immutable laws and formalities of nature. However, I’m perplexed visualizing the presidential chair, for so long I have been abused and criticized and today….but what didn’t the Allama Iqbal himself had to contend with? In his own time, he had to face repeated curses, in addition to charges of infidelity and heresy. When I think of this, I am somewhat relieved but the next moment I am perplexed by another conundrum which is that my love of poetry is akin to Mahatma Gandhi’s love of films. Anyway, I should take advantage of this opportunity which you all have given me.....

 

Allama Iqbal: The Man, and the Existential Quest
Sir Muhammad Iqbal

Iqbal’s identification with and his concern over the fate of all colonised nations of the East—not India alone—by mighty powers of the West called for a wider shift in the entire power paradigm that was in place in his time. This he sought by transcending the relatively smaller canvas of India, which had historically shown itself to have been intellectually and militarily docile in the face of foreign aggression century after century. With the entire Muslim world under virtual colonisation of the West after the debacle of the Turkish caliphate, and considerable weakening of the Persian Empire that struggled between Russian pressure exerted from the north and British protectorates to the south, it was the Muslim East—once a formidable power and a civilization—with a history and idiom of its own, that Iqbal invoked as a counterweight to western hegemony.....

 

Perhaps it is because Imam Husain symbolises devotion and divine love that the forces propagating hate are so opposed to the remembrance of his martyrdom.....

 
Sir Syed and Paradigm Shift
Haqqani Al Qasmi, Tr.New Age Islam Edit Desk

Sir Syed and Paradigm Shift
Haqqani Al Qasmi

When Sir Syed laid a great emphasis on philosophy and said that philosophy will be in our right hand and science in our left hand, there was a great hue and cry because he had raised this political voice in a very obscurantist society where philosophy and logic were considered akin to atheism. To the community that had the tradition of burning down the writings of Avicenna and Ikhwan us Safa, the community that had punished Ibn-e-Habib with death for teaching philosophy, the community which perpetrated grave atrocities on Fakhruddin Razi only because he was a great philosopher, the community which forced the great philosopher Ibn-e-Rushd into exile for ‘atheism’, the community that forced Mohammad Bin Ahmad to remain out of his house for almost fifty years only because he was a rationalist, the community which stones and immolates rationalists, speaking of philosophy and science was not less than an atomic explosion. A Galileo could not have taken birth in such an obscurantist society. In an atmosphere when the Ash’aris and Ashraqis are in plenty, it was natural for the liberal, modernist and radical concept of Sir Syed to come under fire. That’s why Sir Syed was also called a Mutazilla.

Notwithstanding all this, if a small section of Muslims of the time accepted Sir Syed, it can be said to be a farsighted and liberal section and supporter of change. It can be said that these Muslims were aware of the changes taking place in the world. They had realized that if the Muslims did not change their attitude and outlook with the changing times and did not confront the challenges of the contemporary world, backwardness will be their destiny in every field…..

To the Muslim community Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was and is like the eye which weeps for the suffering of any and every part of the body. The sufferings of the community worried him. He took an oath to reform, educate and empower the Muslim community and was successful to a great extent in implementing it despite strong opposition from a section of the Muslim community which hated the British and their language. ....

Baba Farid Shakarganj: Lord of the Sweet
Kulbir Kaur

Farid’s Bani is indicative of “Vairagya” — detachment from the false world which is only a mirage. One has to “turn away” or to do “Tauba” from worldly desires. According to him, the detached person is the wisest. He describes the true Faqir as the one fully detached: “On the bank of pool in the moor, the swan has come to alight. But he does not dip his beak to drink, He is eager to fly.”….

 

Abu Yazid:  The Drunken Sufi
Sadia Dehlvi

Abu Yazid of Tayfur of Bistam, Iran, who lived in the 9th century, was popularly known as Bayazid. He founded the “ecstatic” or “drunken” school of Sufism in Persia. This “drunkenness” meant to be intoxicated with the love of God. This expression did not go down well with the orthodoxy and they hounded him……

 

Single-handedly, Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817 – 1898) led the Muslims of the Subcontinent towards a modern Muslim identity. Inspired by his visit to the University of Cambridge in England, he set up a University for Muslims in Aligarh. From this institution came leaders, prime ministers, policy makers, historians, scientists and so forth. In the colonial time when there was deep suspicion of “the Other” especially after the bloodbath of 1857 when Muslims were being persecuted some Muslims were distancing themselves from all that was foreign, especially British education, Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan encouraged Muslims to progress and not to hold back but to educate themselves, learn English, and develop better relations with the other in order to create deeper understanding and better communication…..

'The Second Master'-Abu-Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

Al-Farabi’s philosophy is based on the teachings of Plato and Aristotle as they were interpreted in the school of Baghdad in the tenth century. Like all writers in Arabic he assumed there were no essential differences between the two, but he preferred the metaphysics of Aristotle, as interpreted by Neo-Platonist. He uses a Neo-platonic emanationist theory crafted within the structure of Ptolemaic cosmology to account for God’s power of creation. However, God, or the First Being (al-Awwal), does not, like “the One” of the ancient philosopher Plotinus….

 

Lessons from Prophet Muhammad’s Life: Prophet Muhammad in Loss and Grief
Tariq Ramadan

God had once more tested the Prophet (peace be upon him) through his humanity and his mission. He had lost so many loved ones- companions, his wife Khadijah, three of his daughters, and his sons. His life had been crossed with tears, but he remained both gentle with his heart and firm in his mission. It was this chemistry of gentleness and firmness that satisfied the Most Near.....

 

710th Death Anniversary:  Khusrau Believed In Affection and Respect between People of Various Faiths
Sadia Dehlvi

Deeply influenced by the spiritual philosophy of Hazrat Nizamuddin, Khusrau believed in affection and respect between people of various faiths. He wrote of his love for Hindustan, its fruits, vegetables, trees, animals and birds, likening it to paradise….

 

In his youth, Dara came into contact with numerous Sufis and Bhaktas, some of whom exercised a profound influence on him. The most noted among these was Hazrat Miyan Mir (d.1635 C.E.), a Qadri Sufi of Lahore whose disciple he later became. Hazrat Miyan Mir is best remembered for having laid the foundation-stone of the Golden Temple of the Sikhs at Amritsar. After Dara was initiated into the Qadri Sufi order, which he describes in his Risala-i-Haq Numa as ‘the best path of reaching Divinity’, he came into contact with several other mystics of his day, Muslim as well as Hindu, including Shah Muhibullah, Shah Dilruba, Shah Muhammad Lisanullah Rostaki, Baba Lal Das Bairagi, and Jagannath Mishra. Dara’s close and friendly interaction with them led him to seek to highlight the essential sameness or oneness of Sufism and Hindu mysticism......

Past Present: Understanding Azad
Mubarak Ali

He went from being a Pan-Islamist who was considered responsible for introducing the Ulema to politics to a nationalist. Yet much of his life remains shrouded in mystery.....

 

Khwāja Mo`Īnuddīn Chishti Was the Torchbearer of Love, Compassion and Inter-Faith Harmony in India
Misbahul Huda, New Age Islam

Even more than 700 years after his demise, his shrine is a symbol of inter-faith love and harmony. Today deviant and extremist Islamic groups are engaged in terror and wanton killings of innocent civilians in the false pretext of spreading Islam and compelling them to change the religion on gun point. They should take lesson from Gharib Nawaz’s concept of inclusive Islam and his peaceful method of preaching.....

Uwais of Qaran Never Met Prophet Muhammad, Both Were Fully Aware of Each Other’s Spiritual Presence, Bound by the Love of Allah
Sadia Dehlvi

The Uwaisi form of spiritual transmission in vocabulary of Islamic mysticism was named after Uwais Quarni, as it refers to the transmission of spiritual knowledge between two individuals without the need for physical interaction between them. The story of Hazrat Uwaiz remains a favourite amongst Sufi circles. Sometimes the Messenger of God would turn in the direction of Yemen and say: “I perceive the fragrance of love from Yemen,” referring to the presence of a great lover of God living in that region......

Remembering Dara Shikoh - The Prince of Tolerance
Dr Amineh Ahmed Hoti

South Asia, particularly the Sub-Continent region, is home to a stunning array of diverse groups, languages, and cultures. At times living in complete harmony, at others, as in recent times with mercurial levels of tolerance leading to escalating violence, unfortunately meted out to individual properties and lives. …..

The Friend of Allah
Sadia Dehlvi

Prophet Muhammad entrusted his mystic heritage to Hazrat Ali famously saying, “I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate”. Hazrat Ali is universally recognised as the leader of the Wali’s, Sufis, the Friends of Allah. The Prophet also said, “Man Kunto Maula va Ali un Maula”. These words are known as Qaul, and inscribed on the walls of numerous Sufi spaces. Hazrat Amir Khusrau set this prophetic saying to a classical Raag, and most Sama Mahfils, musical assemblies traditionally begin with a rendition of the Qaul......

 

Allama Iqbal: Great Poet and Philosopher of Islam
Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi

The stranded Pakistanis have twice made great sacrifices. Firstly, when they abandoned their wealth, property, friends and relatives in India and migrated to East Pakistan during the partition of the Subcontinent, and secondly when they stood with the Pakistan army to protect the unity of Pakistan during the period of secession of East Pakistan and formation of the new state of Bangladesh. As a result of their position against secession, they were subjected to killing, looting and displacement…..

 

Allama Iqbal encouraged the younger generation for fresh interpretation of Quran and the Sunnah and discovers mutual harmonies that would enable Muslims to learn modern science and use science and technology to improve their material existence…..

 
The Shy Sufi
Sadia Dehlvi

The Shy Sufi
Sadia Dehlvi

Muslim mystics and Sikh Gurus were affectionate and respectful towards one another. Mian Mir often travelled to Amritsar to meet Guru Arjun Dev and whenever the Guru visited Lahore, he met the Sufi. The quest for God united Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs….

The Forgotten Inheritance of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
S. Irfan Habib

Muslims made India their home centuries ago, and according to Azad, they had a huge stake in the idea of India. However, Azad’s idea received a jolt in 1947 as the violence of partition ravaged India. Azad went on to live for another ten years, helping in healing and rebuilding the scarred and bruised new India. Azad lived many lives....

Rabia of Basra
Sadia Dehlvi

Rabia of Basra
Sadia Dehlvi

One of my favourite Sufis is Rabia Basri, who gave Sufism the concept of Divine love. The eighth century mystic woman remained a celibate as her overwhelming love for God left no room for any worldly relationships. Sufi manuals are filled with stories from her remarkable life that illustrate her teachings.....

 

When she brought the blessed child home, she had a daughter named Shaima and her sucking son, Abdullah. Shaima was about five years old and she used to help her mother take care of Mohammed. She would bath him and take him for walks and always embraced him with love. Shaima witnessed a change that happened in her family from poverty to comfort because of the blessing of this child. She used to sing songs about him and say: “Our Lord! Keep Muhammad (peace be upon him) alive for us so that I can see him become an adolescent, then a leader. Suppress his enemies and those who are envious of him, and give him everlasting glory!”…

 
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