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HomeExpositionsHistoryAjmer Dargah demands arrest of Hindu Shakti Dal chief

Ajmer Dargah demands arrest of Hindu Shakti Dal chief

But the khadim is wrong; history says that the highly respected Khwajah of the Ajmer Dargah harboured a deep-seated animosity towards Hindus

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The khadims of Ajmer Dargah have called for severe consequences against Hindu Shakti Dal leader Simran Gupta for her ‘derogatory’ remarks on Sufi mystic Moinuddin Chishti. Sarwar Chishty, the president of the khadims’ association, has formally requested the Ajmer SP to take action by arresting Gupta for her ‘offensive’ statements.

Khadim of Ajmer Dargah complains

“It is very unfortunate and disgraceful that the members of fringe organisation ‘Hindu Shakti Dal’ deliberately, as per a well-planned criminal conspiracy, made a hate-speech filled with offensive remarks and extremely objectionable defamatory statements against Khawaja Gharib Nawaz within the premises of Ajmer Collectorate campus,” Sarwar Chishty said. He said that surprisingly, the authorities failed to take any precautionary measures or initiate any action against members of the Hindu Shakti Dal.

“There is a multi-fold rise in rumour mongering, twisted historical facts, misinformation, abusive, insulting and defamatory comments on Khawaja Gharib Nawaz, and Dargah Ajmer Sharif ‘khadims’ as well as the Muslim community. Shockingly, despite our written complaint along with documentary and electronic evidence, and multiple FIRs, no one has been arrested by police so far for curbing hate speech and maintaining social harmony and peace,” Chishty said, adding that a demonstration would be held if stringent legal action was not taken immediately and the accused persons were not arrested within a week.

Circle officer Dargah Gauri Shankar mentioned that two FIRs have been filed regarding the remarks made by Simran Gupta about a week ago, and the case is currently under investigation.

The president of Hindu Shakti Dal, Gupta, reportedly made derogatory comments about Moinuddin Chishti, labelling him as a “rapist” and “terrorist,” and claimed that the ‘Jannati Darwaja’ of the dargah was constructed by destroying an ancient Shiva Temple.

Gupta had recently handed over a petition to the district administration, urging for a survey of the dargah to be conducted by the Archeological Survey of India.

The Ajmer Dargah
The Ajmer dargah

Is the allegation against the Sufi of Ajmer Dargah correct?

The history of Khwajah Moinuddin Chishti, originally Chishtī Muʿīn al-Dīn Ḥasan Sijzī aka ‘Gharib Nawaz’, is chequered. You revere or despise the historical figure, depending on whether you believe in the spiritual powers of Ajmer Dargah or you are a student of history who looks at him with secular detachment.

Chishti was a Sunni Muslim preacher, ascetic, religious scholar, philosopher, and mystic from Sistan, who eventually settled in the Indian subcontinent in the early 13th century. This specific tariqa (order) became the leading Islamic spiritual order in medieval India. The majority of Indian Sunni saints are affiliated with the Chishti order, including Nizamuddin Awliya (died 1325) and Amir Khusrow (died 1325).

Upon his arrival in the Delhi Sultanate during the rule of Sultan Iltutmish (died 1236), Muʿīn al-Dīn later moved from Delhi to Ajmer, where he was greatly influenced by the works of the renowned Sunni Hanbali scholar and mystic ʿAbdallāh Anṣārī (died 1088), particularly his famous Ṭabāqāt al-ṣūfiyya, which may have shaped Muʿīn al-Dīn’s beliefs.

During his time in Ajmer, Muʿīn al-Dīn gained a reputation as a charismatic and compassionate spiritual preacher and teacher. Biographical accounts written after his passing mention that he was believed to have received numerous “spiritual marvels (karāmāt), such as miraculous travel, clairvoyance, and visions of angels” during this period. Muʿīn al-Dīn was universally recognized as a great saint posthumously.

Chishtī is a prominent figure in the history of Islamic mysticism. Historian John Esposito highlights his significance as one of the earliest Islamic mystics to permit the inclusion of music in the religious practices of his followers. This decision was purportedly aimed at making the Arab faith more accessible and appealing to the local population who had recently embraced Islam.

Misconception about Sufi of Ajmer Dargah

But multicultural, secular and nominal or notional Hindus appreciate Chishti, believing he ‘Hinduised’ Islam, which is ‘proof’ of a Hindu-Muslim syncretic culture in India.

Another myth is that Muʿīn al-Dīn Chishtī established or created the Chishtiyya order of mysticism. The Chishtiyya order already existed as a branch of the Adhamiyya order, which can be traced back to the early Islamic saint Ibrahim ibn Adham. The Chishtiyya branch was later named after the Sunni mystic Abū Isḥāq al-Shāmī when he migrated to Chishti Sharif in Afghanistan around 930. This was nearly 148 years before the birth of Shaikh Abdul Qadir Gilani, the founder of the Qadiriyya Sufi order.

Although Muʿīn al-Dīn played a significant role in spreading the Chishtiyya order in the Indian subcontinent, it was introduced here by the Persian Muʿīn al-Dīn in the 13th century. According to a legend, Muʿīn al-Dīn had a dream in which the Islamic prophet Mohammed appeared and instructed him to be his representative in India. This dream inspired him to bring the teachings of Islam to the region.

Muʿīn al-Dīn’s apparent soft nature contributed to the conversion of many to Islam under his guidance. He appointed Bakhtiar Kaki as his spiritual successor, who continued spreading the Chishtiyya teachings in Delhi. Additionally, Muʿīn al-Dīn’s son, Fakhr al-Dīn, played a role in further disseminating the order’s teachings in Ajmer. Another prominent disciple, Ḥamīd al-Dīn Ṣūfī Nāgawrī, preached in Nagaur, Rajasthan.

The dark side

MA Khan’s book Islamic Jihad, A Legacy of Forced Conversions, Imperialism and Slavery provides insight into the true nature of Sufi saints. According to Khan, Sufism was not widely accepted among Muslims until Imam Ghazzali incorporated Islamic orthodoxy into its teachings. Sufi sects that deviated from orthodox practices, such as the Bishariya Sufis, faced severe persecution under Islamic rulers.

In India, an article in OpIndia says, that Firoz Shah Tughlaq documented his punishment of Sufi Shaykh Ruknuddin of Delhi, who claimed to be a ‘Mahdi’ (messenger of God). Tughlaq recorded that Ruknuddin and his followers were brutally torn apart and their bones shattered by the people.

Khan further explains that Sufi leaders arrived in India alongside Turkic invaders, and many of them, including Nizamuddin Aulia, Aamir Khasrau, Nasiruddin Chiragh, Moinuddin Chishti, and Jalaluddin, held orthodox Islamic scholars, known as Ulemas, in high regard. Despite Nizamuddin Aulia and Moinuddin Chishti’s unorthodox approach to music and dance, they considered the words of the Ulema sacred when it came to matters of Islam and Islamic supremacy.

Nizamuddin Aulia once stated,

What the Ulema seeks to achieve through speech, the Sufis achieve by behaviour.

The renowned Sufi saint Nasiruddin Chiragh reportedly prohibited any practices that deviated from the Shari’ah (Islamic law).

Khan cites Prof KA Nizami to explain what the Sufi leader Ghazzali had conveyed regarding jihad. Ghazzali had stressed that his followers must engage in jihad at least once a year, bringing down the fortresses of non-Muslims, slitting their throats, drowning them, burning their holy books, and taking whatever booty they desire.

Hindu-hating Chishti

Following the traditional stance, Nizamuddin Aulia had condemned the Hindus of India to the ‘fires of hell’. He had also stated that even if non-Muslims convert to Islam, the faith would not benefit them due to their previous disbelief. He said,

He, (Allah) has created paradise and hell for the believers and the infidels respectively to repay the wicked they (infidels) have done.

Historical accounts reveal that the highly respected Khwajah of the Ajmer Dargah harboured a deep-seated animosity towards Hindus. He was one of the earliest Sufi saints to arrive in India during the reign of Sultan Iltutmish in Delhi. Upon reaching Ajmer, Chishti reportedly vowed to demolish several temples near the Anasagar lake.

Khan further elaborates that Khwaja’s followers would bring a cow daily, slaughter it near a prominent temple where the local Raja and Hindus prayed, and cook kebabs from the meat to eat, as a sign of disdain towards the local Hindu population.

Chishti had come to India to partake in jihad alongside Sultan Muhammad Ghauri against the Hindu King Prithviraj Chauhan. He took credit for Prithviraj’s capture, stating,

We have seized Pithaura (Prithviraj) and handed him to the army of Islam.

Khan asserts that the Sufi saints, Moinuddin and Nizamuddin, were highly respected figures. However, rather than promoting Islam through peaceful means, they actively supported the violent jihad carried out by Islamic invaders. In Kashmir, the Sufis were responsible for inspiring the destruction of Hindu temples, the killing of Hindus, and their coerced conversions.

According to Khan, despite the brutal wars waged by Muslim rulers against Hindus in the name of jihad, resulting in the deaths and enslavement of many Hindus, not a single Sufi saint opposed these actions. They did not advocate for peaceful conversions over forced ones, but instead wholeheartedly supported the rulers and even participated in their military campaigns.

Imperial Chishti

It is reported that Khwaja Moinuddin played a significant role in Ghauri’s war against Prithviraj Chauhan, and allegedly endorsed forced conversions, slavery, and the abduction of Hindu women.

A post by True Indology on X (formerly Twitter) highlighted an excerpt from the Sufi biography translation, Siyar Al Aqtab, revealing how Moinuddin forcibly took the daughter of a local Hindu king, who was handed over to him by a follower who had captured her during an attack on the king’s fort at night.

Recent past

In the early 1990s, Ajmer city witnessed the horrifying activities of a brutal rape gang. Many of the perpetrators belonged to the families of khadims, who are the traditional caretakers of the Ajmer Dargah. These khadims claim to be direct descendants of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti’s first followers and hold significant influence in the local communities.

Shockingly, the police initially stalled the case due to warnings from local politicians about potential communal tension. Consequently, the targeted rape and prolonged sexual exploitation of Hindu girls continued for years, resulting in tragic outcomes such as suicides and victims choosing silence out of fear.

While it is uncertain whether the perpetrators were followers of Chishti, the deep-rooted orthodox ideologies that promote hatred towards non-believers and justify the mistreatment of women as slaves or objects are reminiscent of Alauddin Khilji’s actions against Rajput kingdoms and the atrocities committed by ISIS against the Yazidis. These ideologies continue to persist within various political Islamist movements.

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