Mian Abdul Rashid

The Revivalist Movement of Hazrat Mujaddid Alif Thani was the first great Islamic movement which sprang from this soil which, according to Ubaidullah Sindhi, secured an international position for Indo-Pak subcontinent in the Muslim world.

Its influence was deep and far-reaching, and can be discerned even today. But, to grasp its full significance we must first try to find out the causes that led to the general demoralisation, reached its climax in the days of Mughal Emperor Akbar.

As it has been already mentioned, the Sufis were the first torch-bearers of Islam in this subcontinent then followed the Ulama. In both cases, persons of high calibre held the torch originally. But afterwards, as usually happens, degeneration sets in. Sufism came to be monopolised by illiterate and ignorant persons, who made it an excuse for breaking away from the discipline of the Shariat and indulging in a life of lust and waywardness. They would laugh at and scorn the Shariat and claim that Tasawwuf was something superior to, and separate from it. Their main defence was Shaykh Ibn al-Arabi, known as the great Shaykh, whose book’ Fatoohat-i-Makkiya ‘ was considered to be the bible of Tasawwuf in those days. It would be interesting to know that the terms like Zilli and baroozi Prophethood, which have been frequently made use by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani to his advantage, were first coined and used by Ibn al-Arabi. These so-called Sufis would go to the extent of proclaiming that in certain cases wilayat (the divine’ rank of a Sufi) was superior even to Nabuwwat (Prophethood). Another theory which contributed to their waywardness was Wahdat al-Wajud (Unity of existence) or ‘Hama Ust’ (everything is Allah) which was again advocated by Ibn al-Arabi.

As regards, Ulema, they were not behind the Sufis on the downward slope. To quote a few instances, Mullah Abdullah Sultan who got the title of Makhdoom-ul-Mulk from Humayun and that of Shaykh-ul-lslam from Sher Shah Suri, and lived to see the reign of Akbar, had heaps of gold and silver kept in bogus graves, but would not pay the Islamic annual wealth tax ‘zakat’. He would keep the wealth in his name for six months in a year and then transfer it to his wife for the remaining period and thus dodge zakat collectors, because the payment of zakat is obligatory only on that wealth which is owned for a full one year or more. Maulana Zakariyya Ajodhani gave a fatwa that sajda (prostration) to the king was permissible. Some of them had gone to the extent of giving currency to the rumour that Islam was coming to an end after the year 1000 Hijra. This demoralisation among the Ulema sustained Akbar’s mischievous design.

Another factor, which was responsible for this situation was the attitude of some of the Iranian chiefs who had accompanied Humayun in his march back from Iran. Most of them would freely indulge in casting aspersions on the Companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). As they professed to be Muslims, their attitude proved a source of immense injury to Islam.

The Bhagti movement also played its part. Its advocates would glibly propagate that Raam and Rahim (a name of Allah, meaning the Merciful) are one, there is no difference between them, and all religions are alike. The common man would listen reverently to such ‘sublime’ looking Bhagti preaching amidst the confusion caused by corrupt Ulema and misguided sufis.

This was the background against which Shaykh Ahmad of Sarhand launched his movement of rehabilitation of Islam. In the first instance, he made a categorical declaration that Tasawwaf and Shariat are not the same thing. Tareeqat (the path) makes it easier to follow the injunctions of Shariat. It changes argumentative belief to experimental one and gives peace of mind, he declared.

According to him, Haqiqat (the truth) and Tareeqat (the path) are the essence of Shariat. Shariat has three component parts: (ilm) knowledge, (amal) action and (Ikhlas) sincerity of purpose. Tareeqat and Haqiqat help Shariat to complete its third part, (Maktoobat). The result of his endeavours was that Tasawwuf which was pitched against Shariat became its propelling force.

As is commonly known, the cardinal principles of Islam are Tawheed (Monotheism) and Risalat (Prophethood). But in this period of demoralisation, everything became Allah Himself on account of Hama Ust and ‘Wilayat’ (sainthood) took precedence over ‘Nabuwwat’ (Prophethood). Hazrat Mujaddid took a firm stand against this attitude and asserted categorically that most of what Ibn al-Arabi wrote was contradictory to the beliefs of Ahle Haq (Those who stand for the truth). The Mujaddid wrote: “We cannot turn to Fatoohat-i-Makkiya (the famous book of Ibn al-Arabi) for seeking Fatoohat-i-Madani meaning thereby the sayings of the Holy Prophet (Allah’s grace and peace be upon him).” At least at one place in his Maktoobaat he calls the belief of the Shaykh (Ibn al-Arabi) pure heresy.

In order to counteract Wahdat al-Wajud (Unity in existence) he expounded the theory of Wahdat al-Shahud (Unity in Appearance) and claimed that his inner spiritual progress was higher than that of Ibn al-Arabi. He further asserted that at the stage attained by Ibn al-Arabi, Wahdat al-Wajud seemed be the truth. But if one rises to further heights, as he claimed to have risen, one sees that Shariat is the only truth and that Allah is Wara-ul-Wara (above and beyond all His Creation).

Thus he purified the basic idea of Islamic Monotheism from all the adulterations that had crept into it in the garb of Tasawwuf. Secondly, he declared in unequivocal terms that no Wali (Saint or Sufi) could ever be equal to a Nabi (Prophet). He even went a step further and declared that in Tasawwuf the status of all those, who had the luck to be the companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for howsoever a brief period, was higher than that of any Wali (Saint) howsoever highly placed, who had not the chance of sitting at the feet of the Prophet (PBUH).

In order to kill the mischievous rumour that Islam was bound to end in 1000 A.H, he insisted on his being called the Mujaddid of the Second Millennium and asserted that the revival of Islam during that period was to be accomplished by him.

As regards Hindu machinations, he believed in dealing with them sternly. Some writers call him the ‘drawn sword’ and do not seem to approve this uncompromising attitude. But they forget that no other method could have wiped out the venom that had been injected into the veins of Islam by Akbar’s Din-i-Ilahi and Bhagti movements. One cannot afford to be equivocal at crucial hours. Quiad-i-Azam had also to do the same later on.

Hazrat Mujaddid also made use of the Royal Court of Jehangir. His clash with the Mughal Court in his early days on the issue of Sajda (prostration to the king) focused the attention of the whole country on him, thus preparing the public to pay heed to what he said afterwards. After about two years imprisonment, he was asked to remain with the Royal Forces. Apparently, that was a polite way of containing his influence. The Emperor wanted to restrict his activities and keep him under watch. But this opportunity proved to be God sent. He made full use of it and his ideas started permeating imperceptibility in the Royal Army to the horror of the monarch, who eventually allowed him to return to his khanqah (Spiritual Centre) at Sarhand. Thus we see that it was the Mujaddid who stood firm like a rock between Islam and its liquidation at the hands of an arrogant king, perverted Sufis and degenerated Ulema.