RELIGIOUS TRENDS OF THE MUGHAL AGE
Survey of the Preceding Age: Islam had reached the sub-continent long before the advent of Muslim political power. Even in this early pre-political phase, Islam had had important repercussion on Indian thought and life. No less an authority, Dr. Tara Chand ascribes the unityism of Sankracharya to the influence of Islam. With the establishment of Muslim political power, Muslim religious thought and activity began to assume a more elaborate, articulate and organized shape. The religious classes viz, the Ulama and the Mashaikh played a very important role in the spreading of Muslim culture and faith in Indo-Pakistan in the pre-Mughal period. The Ulema, the doctors of Muslim Law, represented the orthodox aspect of the faith. They were well versed in the Islamic lore and gave an authoritative interpretation of the doctrines and percepts of Islam. They underlined the importance of tradition and discipline in religious matters. It was, however, the Mashaikh, the Mystics who played the leading role in the propagation of Islamic ideas. Humble in address, speaking the dialect of the people, they spread far and wide and by their preaching, their noble bearing and sympathetic approach they won respect for their faith. There was much that appeared to be common to Sufism and Hindu mysticism. The dhikr of the Sufis resembled the japna of the Hindu yogis, the pir and the guru occupied almost identical places in their respective systems. Even the spiritual contents of the two systems had something in common. Thus started, almost unnoticed, a slow and silent among the mystic orders was the Chishtia Silisila. From Khwaja Moinuddin Ajmeri (Died 1236) to Sheikh Nizamuddin (1238-1325) there is an unbroken succession of great mystics, who set up a very high level of idealism in their profession and practice. They kept aloof from Kings and courts but mixed with the people, and when Sheikh Nasiruddin asked in permission of Sheikh Nizamuddin Aulia to leave Delhi and lead a secluded life, the preceptor remarked “you must remain Delhi and suffer the company of men.” A certain amount of strain between the Ulema and the Mashaikh was always there. Sheikh Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki Qazi, Hamiduddin Nagauri and Sheikh Nizamuddin Anbia were accused of anti-shariah practices by the orthodox ecclesiastics of their times. The great mystics generally laid emphasis on the observance of the Shariat but the bolder spirits among their followers sometimes transgressed the bounds of religious propriety. A number of such mystic zealots were executed during the reign of Firoz Shah. One of these had claimed divinity.
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