Ahmad Sirhindi

Indian philosopher

Ahmad al-Fārūqī al-Sirhindī (26 June 1564 — 10 December 1624) was an Indian Islamic scholar, a Hanafi jurist, and a prominent member of the Naqshbandī Sufi order. He has been described as a Mujaddid, meaning "the reviver", for his work in rejuvenating Islam and opposing the dissident opinions prevalent in the time of Mughal emperor Akbar. While early South Asian scholarship credited him for contributing to conservative trends in Indian Islam, more recent works, notably by ter Haar, Friedman, and Buehler, have pointed to Sirhindi's significant contributions to Sufi epistemology and practices.

QuotesEdit

  • Shariat can be fostered through the sword.
    • S.A.A. Rizvi, Muslim Revivalist Movements in Northern India in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Agra, 1965, p.247.
  • These days the accursed infidel of Gobindwal was very fortunately killed. It is a cause of great defeat for the reprobate Hindus. With whatever intention and purpose they are killed – the humiliation of infidels is for Muslims, life itself. Before this Kafir (Infidel) was killed, I had seen in a dream that the Emperor of the day had destroyed the crown of the head of Shirk or infidelity. It is true that this infidel [Guru Arjun] was the chief of the infidels and a leader of the Kafirs. The object of levying Jizya (tax on non-Muslims) on them is to humiliate and insult the Kafirs, and Jihad against them and hostility towards them are the necessities of the Mohammedan faith.
    • Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, Letter to Murtaza Khan, On the execution of Guru Arjan. Sirhindi, Maktubat-i Imam-i Rabbani, I-iii, letter No. 193, pp. 95-6. Friedman Yohanan (1966), Shaikh Ahmad Sirhandi: An Outline of His Image in the Eyes of Posterity, Ph.D. Thesis, McGill University, pp. 110-112 (This is from records of Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, composed after the punishment and execution of Guru Arjun)
  • Whenever a Jew is killed, it is for the benefit of Islam.
    • Ahmad Sirhindi, quoted from Bostom, A. G. (2015). Sharia versus freedom: The legacy of Islamic totalitarianism.
  • It is therefore enjoined upon every Muslim to wage a regular crusade against all innovations.
    • Quoted and attributed in Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi, Muslim Revivalist Movements in Northern India in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd. 1965), 256, quoted from Ibn, Warraq (2017). The Islam in Islamic terrorism: The importance of beliefs, ideas, and ideology. ch 15
  • Cow-sacrifice in India is the noblest of Islamic practices. The kafirs [Hindus] may probably agree to pay jizya but they shall never concede to cow-sacrifice…. The real purpose in levying jizya on them [Hindus] is to humiliate then to such an extent that, on account of fear of jizya, they may not be able to dress well and to live in grandeur. They should constantly remain terrified and trembling. It intended to hold them under contempt and to uphold the honor and might of Islam.
    • Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad, pp. 200-201.
  • Kufr and Islam are opposed to each other. The progress of one is possible only at the expense of the other and co-existence between these two contradictory faiths is unthinkable.
  • The honour of Islam lies in insulting kufr and kafirs. One who respects kafirs, dishonours the Muslims. To respect them does not merely mean honouring them and assigning them a seat of honour in any assembly, but it also implies keeping company with them or showing considerations to them. They should be kept at an arm's length like dogs.... If some worldly business cannot be performed without them, in that case only a minimum of contact should be established with them but without taking them into confidence. The highest Islamic sentiment asserts that it is better to forego that worldly business and that no relationship should be established with the kafirs.
  • The real purpose in levying jizya on them (the non-Muslims) is to humiliate then to such an extent that, on account of fear of jizva, they may not be able to dress well and to live in grandeur. They should constantly remain terrified and trembling. It in intended to hold them under contempt and to uphold the honour and might of Islam.
  • [To Lala Beg he wrote] Cow-sacrifice in India is the noblest of Islamic practices. The kafirs may probably agree to pay jizva but they shall never concede to cow-sacrifice.
  • The execution of the accursed kafir of Gobindwal [Sikh leader] is an important achievement and is the cause of great defeat of the accursed Hindus.' Whatever might have been the motive behind the execution, the dishonour of the kafirs is an act of highest grace for the Muslims. Before the execution of the kafirs I had seen in a vision that the Emperor had destroyed the crown of the head of Shirk. Verily he was the chief of the Mushriks and the leader of the kafirs.
    • Bostom, A. G. M. D., & Bostom, A. G. (2010). The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims. Amherst: Prometheus. quoting from S.A.A. Rizvi, Muslim Revivalist Movements in Northern India in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Agra, 1965, Y. Friedman, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi: An outline, 1971.

From his lettersEdit

  • It is said that the Shariat prospers under the shadow of the sword (al-Shara‘ tahat al-saif). And the glory of the holy Shariat depends on the kings of Islam…
    • Maktubat-i-Imam Rabbani translated into Urdu by Maulana Muhammad Sa’id Ahmad Naqshbandi, Deoband, 1988, Volume I, p.211. This letter was written to the Khan-i-Azam of that time.
  • Islam and infidelity (kufr) contradict one another. To establish the one means eradicating the other, the coming together of these contradictories being impossible. Therefore, Allah has commanded his Prophet to wage war (jihad) against the infidels, and be harsh with them. The glory is Islam consists in the humiliation and degradation of infidels and infidelity. He who honours the infidels, insults Islam. Honouring (the infidels) does not mean that they are accorded dignity, and made to sit in high places. It means allowing them to be in our company, to sit with them, and talk to them. They should be kept away like dogs. If there is some worldly purpose or work which depends upon them, and cannot be served without their help, they may be contacted while keeping in mind all the time that they are not worthy of respect. The best course according to Islam is that they should not be contacted even for worldly purposes. Allah has proclaimed in his Holy Word (Quran) that they are his and his Prophet’s enemies. And mixing with these enemies of Allah and his Prophet or showing affection for them, is one of the greatest crimes…
    …The abolition of jizyah in Hindustan is a result of friendship which (Hindus) have acquired with the rulers of this land… What right have the rulers to stop exacting jizyah? Allah himself has commanded imposition of jizyah for their (infidels’) humiliation and degradation. What is required is their disgrace, and the prestige and power of Muslims. The slaughter of non-Muslims means gain for Islam… To consult them (the kafirs) and then act according to their advice means honouring the enemies (of Islam), which is strictly forbidden…
    The prayer (=goodwill) of these enemies of Islam is false and fruitless. It should never be called for because it can only add to their numbers. If the infidels pray, they will surely seek the intercession of their idols, which is taking things too far… A wise man has said that unless you become a maniac (diwanah) you cannot attain Islam. The state of this mania means going beyond considerations of profit and loss. Whatever one gains in the service of Islam should suffice…
    • Maktubat-i-Imam Rabbani translated into Urdu by Maulana Muhammad Sa’id Ahmad Naqshbandi, Deoband, 1988, Volume I, p.388 ff.This letter was written to Shaikh Farid alias Nawab Murtaza Khan who was opposed to Akbar’s religious policy, and who supported Jahangir’s accession after taking from the latter a promise that Islam will be upheld in the new reign.
  • Ram and Kirshan whom Hindus worship are insignificant creatures, and have been begotten by their parents… Ram could not protect his wife whom Ravan took away by force. How can he (Ram) help others?… It is thousands of times shameful that some people should think of Ram and Kirshan as rulers of all the worlds… To think that Ram and Rahman are the same, is extremely foolish. The creator and the creature can never be one… The controller of the Cosmos was never called Ram and Kirshan before the latter were born. What has happened after their birth that they have come to be equated with Allah, and the worship of Ram and Kirshan is described as the worship of Allah? May Allah save us!
    Our prophets who number one lakh and twenty-four thousand have encouraged the created ones to worship the Creator… The gods of the Hindus (on the other hand) have encouraged the people to worship them (the gods) instead… They are themselves misguided, and are leading others astray… See, how the (two) ways are different!
    • Maktubat-i-Imam Rabbani translated into Urdu by Maulana Muhammad Sa’id Ahmad Naqshbandi, Deoband, 1988, Volume I, 396 Letter was written to Hirday Ram Hindu who had “expressed affinity” with Sirhindi’s school of thought.
  • Before that kafir [Guru Arjun Deva] was executed this recluse [meaning himself] had seen in a dream that the reigning king had smashed the skull of idolatry. Indeed, he was a great idolater, and the leader of the idolaters, and the chief of unbelievers. May Allah blast him! The Holy Prophet who is the ruler of religion as well as the world, has cursed the idolaters as follows in some of his prayers – “O Allah, demean their society, create divisions in their ranks, destroy their homes, and get at them like the mighty one.”
    It is required by religion [Islam] that jihad should be waged against the unbelievers, and that they should be dealt with harshly… It is obligatory on Muslims to acquaint the king of Islam with the evil customs of false religions… Maybe the king has no knowledge of these evil customs… Some Ulama of Islam should come forward, and proclaim the evils present in their (unbelievers’) ways… It will be no excuse on the Day of Judgment that they did not proclaim the tenets of the Shariat because they were not called upon (to do so)…
    • Maktubat-i-Imam Rabbani translated into Urdu by Maulana Muhammad Sa’id Ahmad Naqshbandi, Deoband, 1988, Volume I, pp.435-36. This letter was written to Shaikh Farid.
  • The Shariat prevails under the shadow of the sword (al Shara‘ tahat al-saif) - according to this (saying), the Shariat can triumph only with the help of mighty kings and their good administration. But for some time past this saying has been languishing, which means inevitably that Islam has become weak. The unbelievers (Hindus) of Hindustan are demolishing mosques, and erecting their own places of worship on the same sites. There was a mosque in the tank of Kurukhet (Kurukshetra) at Thanesar, as also the tomb of some (Muslim) saint. These have been demolished, and a huge gurudwara has been constructed on the same sites. Besides, the kafirs are holding many celebrations of kufr…
    It is a thousand pities that the reigning king is a Mussalman, and we recluses find ourselves helpless. There was a time when Islam stood glorified due to the might and prestige of its kings, and the Ulama and the Sufis were honoured and held in high regard. It was with their help that the kings made the Shariat prevail. I have heard that one day Amir Taimur was passing through the bazar at Bukhara when, by chance, the inmates of Khwaja Naqshbandi’s khanqah were beating the dust out of the mats used in that place. Because Islam was intact in Amir Taimur, he stopped at that spot and regarded the dust of the khanqah as musk and sandal. He met a good end.
    • Maktubat-i-Imam Rabbani translated into Urdu by Maulana Muhammad Sa’id Ahmad Naqshbandi, Deoband, 1988, Volume II, p.1213. This letter was written to Mir Muhammad Nu‘man, obviously in the reign of Akbar.
  • Therefore, it is necessary that infidelity should be cursed in order to serve the faith (Islam). Cursing unbelief in the heart is the lesser way. The greater way is to curse it in the heart as well as with the body. In short, cursing means to nourish enmity towards enemies of the true faith, whether that enmity is harboured in the heart when there is fear of injury from them (infidels), or it is harboured in the heart as well as served with the body when there is no fear of injury from them.
    In the opinion of this recluse, there is no greater way to obtain the blessings of Allah than to curse the enemies of the faith (be impatient with them). For Allah himself harbours enmity towards the infidels and infidelity…
    Once I went to visit a sick man who was close to death. When I meditated on him, I saw that his heart was layered with darknesses. I intended to remove those darknesses. But he was not yet ready for it… When I meditated more deeply, I discovered that those darknesses had gathered due to his friendship with the infidels. They could not be dispersed easily. He had to suffer torments of hell before he could get purged of them…
    • Maktubat-i-Imam Rabbani translated into Urdu by Maulana Muhammad Sa’id Ahmad Naqshbandi, Deoband, 1988, Volume III, pp. 660-63. These passages are from a long letter in which Ahmad Sirhindi answered a large number of questions from his disciples.
  • Every person cherishes some longing in his heart. The only longing which this recluse (meaning himself) cherishes is that the enemies of Allah and his Prophet should be roughed up. The accursed ones should be humiliated, and their false gods disgraced and defiled. I know that Allah likes and loves no other act more than this. That is why I have been encouraging you again and again to act in this way. Now that you have yourself arrived at that place, and have been appointed to defile and insult that dirty spot and its inhabitants, I feel grateful for this grace (from Allah). There are many who go to this place for pilgrimage. Allah in his kindness has not inflicted this punishment on us. After giving thanks to Allah, you should do your best to ruin that place and their false gods… whether the idols are carved or uncarved. Let us hope that you will not act slow. Physical weakness and severity of the cold weather, comes in my way. Otherwise, I would have presented myself, and helped you in doing the job. I would have liked to participate in the ceremony and mutilate the stones…
    • Maktubat-i-Imam Rabbani translated into Urdu by Maulana Muhammad Sa’id Ahmad Naqshbandi, Deoband, 1988, Volume III pp.707. This letter was also written to Shaikh Farid alias Nawab Murtaza Khan who had reached Kangra in November 1620 to conquer the fort and desecrate its temples. Jahangir had followed the Nawab in order to celebrate the victory by sacrificing cows and building a mosque where none had existed before.
  • A few specimens should suffice to show the quality of this man’s mind. In letter No. 163 he wrote: “The honour of Islam lies in insulting kufr and kafirs. One who respects the kafirs dishonours the Muslims… The real purpose of levying jiziya on them is to humiliate them to such an extent that they may not be able to dress well and to live in grandeur. They should constantly remain terrified and trembling. It is intended to hold them under contempt and to uphold the honour and might of Islam.” In Letter No. 81 he said: “Cow-sacrifice in India is the noblest of Islamic practices. The kafirs may probably agree to pay jiziya but they shall never concede to cow-sacrifice.” After Guru Arjun Deva had been tortured and done to death by Jahangir, he wrote in letter No. 193 that “the execution of the accursed kafir of Gobindwal is an important achievement and is the cause of the great defeat of the Hindus.”
    • S.A.A. Rizvi, Muslim Revivalist Movements in Northern India in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Agra, 1965, pp. 248-249. Quoted from Goel, Sita Ram (1995). Muslim separatism: Causes and consequences. ISBN 9788185990262

About SirhindiEdit

  • “It was the sufi saints who initiated the struggle for the establishment of an Islamic state in India. Khwaja Muinuddin Chisti, Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia and Bakhtiyar Kaki opposed the secularist policies of the kings of the slave dynasty of medieval India. Mujadid al-Thani Ahmed Sirhindi organized a resistance movement against the Mughal Emperor Akbar and his attempts to establish a secular Indian polity. The Mujidid’s disciples and devotees included Akbar’s great-grandson, the dervish Prince Aurangzeb Alamgeer.”
    • Javed Ansari:India: The World’s ‘Largest Democracy’, in Arabia: The Islamic Review, December 1981.
  • When the Mughal emperor Akbar manifested general tolerance of all religions, the Muslim religious class, the ‘ulamā’, were not at all amused. As a result, there were a number of Islamic Revivalist Movements, some of which included a belief in the coming of a Messiah, who would sweep away all the corruption and inaugurate an era of piousness, a true, pristine Islam. One of the first to launch such a revival movement was Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindī5 [1564-1624], later known as Mujaddidi Alf-i Thānī (the Renovator of Islam). For Sirhindi, the sunna and Sharī‘a remain the most important components of Islamic culture.
    • Ibn, Warraq (2017). The Islam in Islamic terrorism: The importance of beliefs, ideas, and ideology. ch 15
  • Despite being a member of the Naqshbandi order of the Sufis, Sirhindi insists that Sufi experience is inferior to the Sharī‘a, because Sharī‘a “is based on incontrovertible proof, while Sufi experience is a result of fallible speculation only….Any Sufi experience that is rejected by the Sharī‘a is heresy.” Sirhindi denounces all innovations, even so-called good innovations (bid‘a hasanah). He does not approve of certain customs introduced by some Sufi orders, such as music (samā‘), dancing (raqs) singing (naghmah), and ecstatic sessions (wajd, tawājud). Sirhindi also attacked the Shi‘a in a most violent and bitter manner in his Epistle on the Refutation of the Shi‘is, arguing that it was his duty to denounce heretical ideas wherever they appear.
    • Ibn, Warraq (2017). The Islam in Islamic terrorism: The importance of beliefs, ideas, and ideology. ch 15 quoting Yohanan Friedmann, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, An Outline of His Thought and a Study of His Image in the Eyes of Posterity (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1971), 41.
  • Like many fundamentalists, Sirhindi has no tolerance for philosophers, since he believed that “the human intellect is incapable of understanding properly the nature of God without prophetic assistance.” But this rejection of the philosophers also “leads him to an equally indignant rejection of their [the philosophers] natural sciences. Their geometry, astronomy, logic, and mathematics are useless as far as the hereafter is concerned and fall therefore within the category of ‘inconsequential things’ [mā lā ya‘nī].”
    • Ibn, Warraq (2017). The Islam in Islamic terrorism: The importance of beliefs, ideas, and ideology. ch 15, quoting Yohanan Friedmann, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, An Outline of His Thought and a Study of His Image in the Eyes of Posterity (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1971), 53ff
  • Sirhindi also launched a vicious attack on Hinduism, and believes all Hindus, since they were guilty of shirk, must be humiliated whenever possible. Sirhindi stood for a ruthless suppression of innovations...
    • Ibn, Warraq (2017). The Islam in Islamic terrorism: The importance of beliefs, ideas, and ideology. ch 15 quoting Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi, Muslim Revivalist Movements in Northern India in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd. 1965), 256
  • Sirhindi argues one should adhere to the Prophet’s sunna and to the sharī‘a, which was most comprehensive and “the essence of all heavenly books was included in the Koran. Hence all those who pinned their faith on the Sharī‘a were superior to all peoples and nations who did not. He condemned the study of philosophy and the beliefs of the Mutazilas and their followers, in most emphatic terms.”
    • Ibn, Warraq (2017). The Islam in Islamic terrorism: The importance of beliefs, ideas, and ideology. ch 15 quoting Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi, Muslim Revivalist Movements, 255.
  • As Ayesha Jalal points out, he was “a firm believer in the need to use state power to enforce Islam”.
    • Ayesha Jalal, Partisans of Allah. Jihād in South Asia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 31-32. in Ibn, Warraq (2017). The Islam in Islamic terrorism: The importance of beliefs, ideas, and ideology. ch 15
  • Sirhindi follows up his utter rejection of the beliefs and practices of Hinduism with an equally outspoken statement of his attitude regarding the position of the Hindus in the Mughul empire. The honour of Islam demands the humiliation of the infidels and their false religion. To achieve this objective, jizyah should be mercilessly levied upon them, and they should be treated like dogs. Cows should be slaughtered to demonstrate the supremacy of Islam. The performance of this rite is, in India, the most important symbol of Islamic domination. One should refrain from dealing with the infidels unless absolutely necessary, and even then treat then with contempt. Islam and infidelity are two irreconcilable opposites. One thrives upon the degradation of the other. Sirhindi's deep-seated hatred of the non-Muslims can be best illustrated by his rejoicing at the execution in 1606 of Arjun, the fifth guru of the Sikhs.
    • . Yohanan Friedmann (Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi: An Outline of His Thought and a Study of His Image in the Eyes of Posterity [Montreal, Quebec: McGill University, Institute of Islamic Studies, 1971], pp. 73-74) also quoted in Bostom, A. G. M. D., & Bostom, A. G. (2010). The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims. Amherst: Prometheus.

External linksEdit

Wikipedia has an article about: