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Sufis and their Significance in Indian History

Sufis and their Significance in Indian History


The word ‘Sufi’ is derived from the Arabic word ‘safa’ which means ‘pure’. Sufis were saints who were pure in thought, word and deed.

  • Among the early Sufis was a woman mystic called RABIA (8th Century AD). Mansur bin Hallaj (10th Century AD) laid emphasis on bond of love between God and the individual soul.
  • Mansur was executed by the orthodox class for heresy. Al-Ghazzali (12th Century AD) reconciled the Islamic orthodoxy with mysticism.
  • Sufis were of two shades — Ba Sara (who believed in Islamic laws) and Be shara (who did not believe in Islamic laws). The eastern variety of Sufism is influenced by Vedantic philosophy.

Nature and Significance of the Sufis:

  • The doctrine of Suleh Kul or Universal brotherhood brought about rapproachment between the Hindus and muslims.    Sufis and their Significance in Indian History
  • Under their influence, many rulers like Akbar adopted liberal attitude towards Hindus.
  • They indulged in voluntary conversion of law caste Hindus to Islam.
  • They influenced Hindus to take up the cause of social reforms and ultimately influenced Bhakti movement.
  • They believed in purification of one’s innerself in order to attain lasting spiritual bliss. They were humanistic in their teachings.
  • Sufis used the language of the common people and this led to the evolution of Urdu in north India. They also contributed to the development of Punjabi, Sindhi, Kashmiri, Gujarati, Bengali etc.
  • Sufis opposed the ritualistic interpretation of Islam and criticised the various social evils prevailing at that time.
  • They came into contact with Bhakti saints. Lifestyle of Sufi saints, especially the Chishtis was similar to that of the Indian sages.    Sufis and their Significance in Indian History
  • They preached Islamic culture to common people in India and helped in bringing about Hindustani culture.
  • In Sufi Kanqahs (hospices), link between pir (teacher) and murid (disciples) was emphasised and led to educational advancement of the society.
  • In Sufi Kanqahs, Hindustani music in forms such as Qawwalis, Taranas, Khayals evolved out of the Sufi style of sama.
  • Sufi Kanqahs encouraged trade and commerce and they promoted the idea of dignity of labour, as did the Bhakti saints.
  • Most of the Sufi orders delivered in the doctrine of Wahadut-ul-Wajud or unity of the being which identified the Unity of the haq and the Khlaq that is the creator and the created. But, Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi of Naqshbandi order propogated the doctrine of Wahadat-ul-Shujud which identified the haq and Khlaq as separate entities.        Sufis and their Significance in Indian History


Medieval History

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