Imam e Rabbani Mujaddid Alf sani
Imām-i Rabbānī Shaykh Ahmad al-Farūqī al-Sirhindī (1564–1624) was an Indian Islamic scholar from Punjab and a prominent member of the Naqshbandī Sufi order. He is described as Mujaddid Alf Thānī, meaning the “reviver of the second millennium”, for his work in rejuvenating Islam and opposing the heterodox prevalent in the time of Mughal Emperor Akbar. He is said to have had considerable and long-lasting influence in India and to have given “to Indian Islam the rigid and conservative stamp it bears today.”
Early life and education
Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi was born after midnight, on 14 Shawwal 971 H. in the village of Sirhind near the city of Chandigarh in present-day India. From an Ashraf family claiming descent from caliph Umar, he received most of his early education from his father, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ahad and memorized the Qur’an. He was then sent to Sialkot where he learned logic, philosophy and theology and read some advanced texts of tafsīr and hadīth before he returned home. Sirhindi also made rapid progress in the Suhrawardī, the Qadirī, and the Chistī turūq, and was given permission to initiate and train followers at the age of 17. He eventually joined the Naqshbandī order through the Sufi missionary Shaykh Muhammad al-Baqī, and became a leading master of this order. His deputies traversed the length and breadth of the Mughal Empire in order to popularize the order and eventually won some favor with the Mughal court.
Movement for Revival of Islam
Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi’s preaching and revival was a reaction to the secular policies of Mughal emperor Akbar. He denounced Akbar’s policy of sull-i kul (mixing all religions into one), and Akbar’s reign as one where “the sun of guidance was hidden behind the veil of error.” Sirhindi believed that “what is outside the path shown by the prophet (Sharia) is forbidden.” He wrote, “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.”
Oneness of being (wahdat al-wujūd)
Sirhindi strongly opposed the mystical doctrine known as wahdat al-wujūd (‘unity of being’) or tawhīd-i wujūdi, a concept which emphasizes that in reality all things exist within God. Nonetheless, he did not hold a particularly unfavorable view of the sufi mystic and theoretician Muhyī ‘l-Dīn ibn Arabī, who is often presented as the originator and most complete propounder of this philosophy.
In refuting the monastic position of wahdat al-wujūd, he instead advanced the notion of wahdat ash-shuhūd (oneness of appearance). According to this doctrine, the experience of unity between God and creation is purely subjective and occurs only in the mind of the Sufi who has reached the state of fana’ fi Allah (extinction in God).
Most famous of his works are a collection of 536 letters, collectively entitled Collected Letters or Maktubat, to the Mughal rulers and other contemporaries. It consists of three volumes. An elaborate printing of the book was accomplished in 1973 in Nazimabad, Karachi, Pakistan. It was reproduced by offset process in Istanbul, Turkey. A copy of the Persian version exists in the library of the Columbia University. Maktubat was rendered into the Arabic language by Muhammad Murad Qazanî, and the Arabic version was printed in two volumes in the print house called Miriyya and located in the city of Mekka. A copy of the Arabic version occupies number 53 in the municipality library in Bayezid, Istanbul. It was reproduced by offset process in 1963, in Istanbul. A number of the books written by Ahmad Sirhindi were reprinted in Karachi. Of those books, Ithbât-un-nubuwwa was reproduced by offset process in Istanbul in 1974. The marginal notes on the book, which is in Arabic, provide a biography of Ahmad Sirhindi.