Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti – A Saint of the Downtrodden

July 15, 2008

The annual ten days Urs commemorating the death anniversary of one of the most revered Sufi Saints of India, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, who is also referred as the ‘Garib Nawaz’, which means 'the one who shows kindness to the poor', comes to an end on July 15 at his magnificent mausoleum (dargah) at Ajmer. During these ten days  millions of devotees visit and pay respect and offer floral tribute to the saint for the favours that they had received or seeking favours of different kinds.

Eminent political leaders make it a point to present ‘cheddars’ amidst fanfare and media glare to be offered at the tomb of this medieval saint whose spirituality and love of humanity has been attracting thousands of devotees not only during his lifetime but even after his death year after year for the past 772 years. This shrine is also known as  the ‘Dargah Sharif’ (Holy Tomb).

Not only during the ten days Urs, but throughout the year, devotees, pilgrims and tourists throng the mausoleum of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. People of all walks of life and faith from all over the world, irrespective of their caste, creed and belief, visit this great shrine to offer flowers and devotion. The rich and the poor stand side by side to pay homage and respect to this divine soul.

The mystic saints in Islam known as the Sufis were instrumental in spreading the ethical and spiritual values of Islam. Through spiritual attainment, piety and humanism they won over the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people. They preferred to live among the masses of people, especially among the poor and downtrodden rather than living aloof from the society in mysticism and penance. Their service and love inspired the people and enabled them to realize the Eternal Truth.

Among the Sufi saints of medieval times, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti not only gained  great spiritual and moral power but also manifested through practice his love and dedication to humanity without any worldly resources.

Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti was born in Sajistan, East Persia in the first half of the twelfth century (around 1139). Right from his childhood he manifested a spiritual bent of mind. At the age of 16, following the death of his parents, Moinuddin came under the influence of a spiritual leader and gave up his worldly belongings, distributed the money among the poor and took up the life of an ascetic. He visited great centers of Islamic learning at Samarkand, Bokhara and other places and sought the guidance of a spiritual guide (Pir). Thereafter, he proceeded to Mecca and Medina on religious pilgrimage (Haj).

From Medina Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti proceeded to India and passing through Bokhara, Heart, Lahore and Delhi and meeting a number of Sufi saints arrived at Ajmer in Rajasthan at the age of 52 in 1290. At that time Ajmer was under the rule of Prithviraj Chauhan.

At Ajmer, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti attracted a large number of followers and acquired a great deal of respect amongst the residents of the city. Those who came in touch with him, especially the poor and downtrodden received kindest treatment and blessings from him and many became his disciples. His simple teaching made great impact on common masses and his message of universal love and peace transcended the entire humanity without the distinction of creed and caste. His strong faith in the unity of God provided  the necessary ideological background to his mission of bringing about an emotional integration of the people amongst whom he lived.

Apart from the common people even the rulers and kings, both Hindu and Muslim used to visit the Khwaja and seek his intervention to solve their problems. However, he neither sought any favour nor any land grant from these rulers. He lived a simple life relying on cultivation or alms.

Generosity to others, especially through sharing of food and wealth and tolerance and respect for different religions were the cardinal points of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti’s teachings.

Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti interpreted religion in terms of human service and asked 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.”

In order to continue his mission of service to humanity, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti founded the so called Chishti Silsila (Order of Sufis) in India and sent his disciples to different parts of India to carry on his mission.

After living a simple and dedicated life in the service of common people, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti passed into eternity at the ripe age of 97 in 1236.  After his death a mausoleum (dargah) was erected on his tomb at Ajmer by Iltutmish, the Sultan of Delhi. It was beautified and enlarged later by the Mughal Emperors Humayun and Akbar. The tomb is a square white marble structure with a domed roof and two entrances.

The mausoleum of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, popularly known as ‘The Dargah Sharif’ (holy tomb) has been a center of pilgrimage for both Muslims and Hindus. However, the terrorists did not even spare this shrine that represents communal harmony and universal brotherhood. On 11th October 2007, when thousands of Muslim devotees were breaking their day-long Ramzan fast, the terrorists triggered a bomb inside the dargah complex that killed three persons and injured seventeen. In spite of this the spirit of the pilgrims to this shrine of the most revered Sufi Saint of Medieval India has not dampened and the stream of devotees has become a sea of humanity during these ten days of Urs.

Dr Eugene D’Souza, Mumbai
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Comment on this article

  • farhan malik, mumbai

    Tue, Aug 16 2011

    masha allah

  • Anil Kumar, India

    Tue, Nov 04 2008

    He was the one who invited Ghauri to attack India> so I am not so sure about all this plaudits being showered on him.

  • Ibrahim , melkar, karnataka

    Wed, Sep 10 2008

    Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti – A Saint of the Downtrodden He is large person there is no doubgt .may allah peece and for gives us by grace of khwja Moidnuddin chistiy (R A)

  • Hank Siddhanti, Mangalore/US

    Sat, Jul 19 2008

    I agree with Malik, Correa etc. The main problem with today's world is immorality, which can only be solved by the example set by the prophet mohammead(pbuh) by having older men(more than 50) marry younger 9 year old girls and if there is a dispute with husband and wife, let the husband divorce the wife and let the father-in-law marry the woman as the prophet(pbuh) showed with his example)

  • Mohammed Naushad, Mangalore/Bahrain

    Thu, Jul 17 2008

    Mariam ,

    alik i didnt got you that what your pointing out? Mr. Eugene wrote this article about Khwaja moinuddin chisti (r.a).You are discussing other point, Its totally not connected to this article.

  • Abdul Malik, Mangalore/KSA

    Thu, Jul 17 2008

    ENg. Aftab, Thanks and I will do that, to express my views I have to use Media to reach people abroad. I feel sorry for you this is modern world anybody can comment on anything.

  • Mohammed Naushad, Mangalore/Bahrain

    Thu, Jul 17 2008

    Its nice articale , Allah touch our heart with Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti's some qualities (ameen).

  • Mariam, Mohammed

    Thu, Jul 17 2008

    In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad(saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers. ‘Shirk’ or associating another in God-head with Allah, has three main parts:

    1. Shirk in Allah’s person,

    2. Shirk in Allah’s Attributes,

    3.Shirk in Allah’s Rights Shirk in Allah’s person: This would be if one were to claim that Allah has a son, or has a mother, father, brothers, sisters, family, children or to claim that someone or something originated Allah! This is committing ‘shirk’ in Allah’s person. Shirk in Allah’s Attributes: Allah has declared 99 of His attributes in the Glorious Quran, and Allah Alone knows how many more there are. For example, Allah is the ‘Al Aleem’ (The All Knowing). He Alone is the All Knowing, of the seen and the unseen! If we believe anybody else of His creation knows everything, or even has the power to know everything, then we have wrongfully elevated someone to the position of Allah’s Attributes, and this is a clear form of shirk. Similarly, Allah is the ‘As Samee’ (The All Hearing). He Alone is the All Hearing… We humans can only hear upto certain decibels below that limit we cannot hear, and above that limit is unbearable! Allah Alone hears everything… If we believe anybody else of His creation hears everything, or even has the power to hear everything, then we have wrongfully elevated someone to the position of Allah’s Attributes, and this is again shirk.

    Similarly, Allah is the ‘Al Qader’ (The One who is Able to do all things). He Alone has the Power to do anything and everything! If we believe that anybody of His creation can do whatever they want, even when Allah does not permit him, this is shirk! Everything that happens in this world, needs Allah’s permission… only when He permits, can a thing happen. To believe that somebody can hurt us, or harm us, without the permission of Allah, is a clear form of Shirk. Shirk in Allah’s Rights:

    The biggest Right of Allah is that being our Creator and our Sustainer, He Alone deserves our invocation and our worship. This is absolutely the biggest Right of Allah. No one deserves that we bow down to him and pray to him or call on him to answer our prayers …

    This is the Sole Right of Allah Alone. If anyone goes to anybody, any person, any idol, any grave, any shrine, anything… and asks them to fulfill our prayers, or even to tell them to take our Message to Allah, this is an absolute form of Shirk! Allah Alone deserves that we pray to Him, call on Him, serve Him, sacrifice for Him, fear Him, obey His laws, follow His appointed Messengers, and obey and follow the commandments of His Revealed Book!

  • Eng. Aftab, Eng. Aftab Hussain

    Thu, Jul 17 2008

    Abdul Malik,Your right! but you need to go out to people teaching about ISLAM not through MEDIA or you better keep your words with you. I think this is good enough to understand yourself.

  • Captain Stanley Latif Correa, Urwa Stores/Jeddah,Saudi Arabia

    Wed, Jul 16 2008

    I agree with the comments made by Abdul Malik, Mangalore/KSA. Worshiping Allah(SWT)& believing Prophet Mohammed(PBUH)as Allah's slave and Messenger is True & Real Islam. Submitting to Allah(SWT) alone is Islam. Islam respects all religions but worships Allah alone. All other activities are out of Islam including grave worship. May Allah(SWT) protect all of us.

  • Abdul Malik, Mangalore/KSA

    Tue, Jul 15 2008

    Kwaja Moinuddin, he was best among the servant of Islam, but the later generation started sufism by using his name. and now, people are going astray and making money by rituals and grave worship, going out of the fold of Islam.

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