Ahmad Sirhindi

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SHAIKH AHMAD (also known as Ahmad Sirhindi)(1564-1624), celebrated Muslim thinker and theologian of the Naqshbandi Sufi order, was born on 26 May 1564 at Sirhind in present day Patiala district of the Punjab. He received his early education at the hands of his father. Shaikh `Abd al-Ahad, and later studied at Sialkot, now in Pakistan.

About the year AD 1599, he met Khwaja Muhammad al-Baki bi-Allah, who initiated him into the Naqshbandi order. Shaikh Ahmad soon became a leading figure in that school and wrote numerous letters and treatises on many fine points of the Sufi doctrine such as the concepts of prophecy {nubuwwah) and sainthood (walayah) and the relationship between shari`ah, i.e. religious law, and tariqah, the mystic path.

He disapproved of Emperor Akbar`s liberal approach to religion and wanted the rulers to reimpose Jizyah, a special poll tax on Hindus, not only to suppress them but also to humiliate them. Basic to his philosophy was the idea that the State should be controlled by shari`ah, the Islamic law, which was not to be modified to suit changing circumstances.

He was also against the pantheistic and liberal views of other Sufi sects. He thus antagonized not only the Hindus but also an influential section of the Muslims. Emperor Jahangir, in order to placate the public sentiment, imprisoned him in 1619 in the Gwalior Fort.

He was, however, released after a year. The next four years Shaikh Ahmad spent at the imperial court. He died on 30 November 1624 at Sirhind where his tomb still stands and attracts pilgrims from all over India and abroad.

Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, the most prominent figure of the Naqshbandi order in India, has been given the honorific title of Mujaddid-i-Alf-i-Siani, the renewer of the second millennium (of Islamic era). The collection of his letters entitled Maktubat-i-Imam-i-Rabbani (literally "epistles of the divine prelate") has been hailed as a landmark in the development of Muslim religious thought in India.

His works and interpretations had a deep influence on Emperor Jahangir and his State policy. One who derived the most satisfaction from the execution of Guru Arjan under Emperor Jahangir`s orders in 1606 was Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi. In his letter as quoted at No. 193, in his Maktubat, he gave expression to his sense of jubilation over "the execution of the accursed kafir of Goindval."

See also


  • 1. Abbott, Freeland, Islam and Pakistan. New York, 1968
  • 2. Friedmann, Yohanan, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi. Lon-don, 1971
  • 3. Gupta, Hari Ram, History of the Sikhs, vol. I. Delhi, 1973
  • 4. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1983 Y. F.