Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chishti Order

The Chishtī Order (Persian: چشتی - Čištī) is a Sufi order within the mystic branches of Islam which was founded in Chisht, a small town near Herat, about 930 C.E. and continues to this day. The Chishti Order is known for its emphasis on love, tolerance, and openness.

The order was founded by Abu Ishaq Shami (“the Syrian”) who belonged to Syria introduced the ideas Sufismin the town of Chisht, some 95 miles east of Herat in present-day western Afghanistan. Before returning to Syria,Shami initiated, trained and deputized the son of the local emir, Abu Ahmad Abdal (d. 966). Under the leadership of Abu Ahmad’s descendants, the Chishtiya as they are also known, flourished as a regional mystical order.

The most famous of the Chishti saints is Moinuddin Chishti (popularly known as Gharib Nawaz meaning 'Benefactor of the Poor') who settled in Ajmer,India. He oversaw the growth of the order in the 13th century as Islamic religious laws were canonized. He reportedly saw the Islamic prophetMuhammad in a dream and then set off on a journey of discovery.

Other famous saints of the Chishti Order are Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Fariduddin Ganjshakar, Nizamuddin Auliya, Alauddin Ali Ahmed Sabir Kalyari,Mohammed Badesha Qadri, and Ashraf Jahangir Semnani.

Chishti master Inayat Khan (1882–1927) was the first to bring the Sufi path to the West, arriving in Americain 1910 and later settling near Paris, France. His approach exemplified the tolerance and openness of the Chishti Order, following a custom began by Moinuddin Chishti of initiating and training disciples regardless of religious affiliation and which continued through Nizamuddin Auliya and Shaykh ul-Masha”ikh Kalimullah Jehanabadi (d. 1720). All his teaching was given in English, and 12 volumes of his discourses on topics related to the spiritual path are still available from American, European, and Indian sources. Initiates of his form of Sufi practice now number in the several thousands all over the world.

A number of Chishti family members are now living in Pakpattan and Bahawal Nagar, North of Punjab,Pakistan.


The Chishti Order is famous for its emphasis on love, tolerance, and openness. The order traces its spiritual origin through various saints all the way to the Islamic caliph Ali and from him to the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

The Chishti saints had two hallmarks which differentiate them from other Sufi saints. The first was their ethical relations to the institutional powers. This meant voluntarily keeping a distance from the ruler or the government mechanism. It didn't matter if the ruler was a patron or a disciple: he was always kept at bay since it was felt that mixing with the ruler will corrupt the soul by indulging it in worldly matters. The second distinctive dimension was related to the religious practice of the Chishtis. It was aggressive rather than passive; a ceaseless search for the divine other. In this respect the Chishtis followed a particular ritual more zealously then any other brotherhood. This was the practice of sema, evoking the divine presence through song or listening to music. The genius of the Chishti saints was that they accommodated the practice of sema with the full range of Muslim obligations.

The Chishti Order can also be characterized by the following principles:

§ Obedience to the shaykh and/or pir

§ Renunciation of the material world

§ Distance from worldly powers

§ Supporting poors

§ Service to humanity

§ Respect for other devotional traditions

§ Dependence on the Creator and not the creation

§ Disapproval of showing off miraculous feats



The Chishti Order is now indigenous to Afghanistan and Sout Asia (mainly India, Pakistan and Bangladesh). It was the first of the four main Sufi Orders, namely Chishtia, Qadiria, Suhurawadia and Naqshbandia, to be established in this region. Moinuddin Chishti introduced the Chishti Order in India, sometime in the middle of the 12th century AD. He was eighth in the line of succession from the founder of the Chishti Order, Abu Ishq Shami. The devotees of this order practise chilla i.e. they observe seclusion for forty days during which they refrain from talking beyond what is absolutely necessary, eat little and spend most of their time in prayers and meditation. Another characteristic of the followers of this order is their fondness for devotional music. They hold musical festivals, and enter into ecstasy while listening to singing.

Notable members

1. Hasan al-Basri

2. Abdul Waahid Bin Zaid

3. Fudhail Bin Iyadh

4. Ibrahim Bin Adham

5. Huzaifah Al-Mar’ashi

6. Abu Hubairah Basri

7. Mumshad Dinawari

8. Abu Ishaq Shami

9. Abu Ahmad Abdal

10. Abu Muhammad Bin Abi Ahmad

11. Abu Yusuf Bin Saamaan

12. Maudood Chishti

13. Shareef Zandani

14. Usman Harooni

15. Moinuddin Chishti

16. Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki

17. Fariduddin Ganjshakar

After Fariduddin Ganjshakar, the Chishti Order of South Asia split into two branches. Either branch was named after one of Ganjshakar's successors:

1. Nizamuddin Auliya - This branch became the Chisti Nizami branch. Nizamuddin was the master ofNasiruddin Chirag-e-Delhi who in turn was the master of Khwaja Bande Nawaz. All these are important saints of the order.

2. Alauddin Sabir Kaliyari - This branch became the Chisti-Sabiri branch.

Over time (principly after the 17th century) many further branches emerged which routinuely united or diverged towards other popular Sufi orders in South Asia. Prominent people of later times who trace their spiritual lineage through the Chisti order include:

1. Ashraf Jahangir Semnani - He further extended the litanies the Chistiya Nizami branch. His followers became the members of the Chisti Nizami Ashrafiya branch.

2. Haji Imdadullah Muhaajir Makki - He extended the litanies of the Chishtiya Sabaria branch. His followers became the members of the Chishtiya Sabaria Imdadiya branch.

3. Shah Niyaz Ahmad- He united the Chisti Nizami order with the Qadriya order to form the Chistiya Qadriya Nizamia Niyazia branch.

4. Habibi_Silsila - In century 13th Hegira - Silsila Chishtiya Nizamia Habibia emerged at Hyderabad, India- Khaja Habib Ali Shah.

As a result of this metamorphosis of the Chisti order with other branches, most Sufi masters now initiate their disciples in all the four major orders of South Asia: Chisti, Suhrawadi, Qadri and Naqshbandi. They do however, prescribe prayers and litanies, only of the order with which they are primarily associated.

mal'>< tpSK_J-family:"Trebuchet MS"; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:black'>: Chisti, Suhrawadi, Qadri and Naqshbandi. They do however, prescribe prayers and litanies, only of the order with which they are primarily associated.

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