Tomb of Sufi Shaikh Salim Chishti

Tomb (mazar) of Sufi Shaikh Salim Chishti(1478-1572) in Fatehpur Sikri in Indai. The workmanship on Marble gives the appearance of a delicate lace or a net.

The Chishti Sufi order (Tareeqa) was founded  in 930 by Shaikh Abu Ishaq Shami in Chist, Afghanistan. Several well known Shaikhs of Chishti order are buried in India and Pakistan. To name a few, Ali Hajvery (990-1077) known as Daata Ganj Baksh buried in Lahore Pakistan, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (1141-1230) buried in Ajmer in Insia,father of Amir Khusro (1253-1325and many others.

Amir Khusro (1253-1325)

Amir Khusro  was born in U.P in India in 1253 where his family had settled after leaving Balkh in Afghanistan He was a mathematician, a poet, a Sufi, a musician and a composer. He originated Khayal, Tarana and other forms  of Indian classical music. He  also originated Qawwali. It is said that he introduced Sitar. It is similar to a Persian instrument, the Setar(3 strings).  It is also said that he introduced the tabla. Others say that his name sake Khusrao Khan did. The tabla is an adaptation from Mridangam and Pakhawaj.

Amir Khusro died at the age of 72 in 1325 . The same year Sultan Mohammed Tughlaq became the ruler of Delhi and Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia of the Chisti Order died.
Music and dance is an integral part of Hindu worship and devotion. Khusro introduced Khyal,Tarana and other forms as a secular element of Indian classical music that does not require invoking Radha, Rama and other Avatars.Khaliq).
Here is a sample of Khusro’s poetry.
Oh Khusrau, the river of love
Runs in strange directions.
One who jumps into it drowns,
And one who drowns, gets across.
Please note that the harmonium, an integral part of North Indian music was introduced by missionaries in the early nineteen hundreds. They brought the stand up version and probably used it  for  hymn  singing in church services. The violin, an integral part of South Indian music, is also an import.

Shaikh Sadi (1208-1292) a short overview.


Continuation  of posts introducing a few scholars of the *Golden age of Islam (8th to 13th century), by giving a short overview and a sample of their work

Shaikh Saadi, (1184-1283) a thinker, teacher and a Sufi was born in Shiraz in Iran.  Maulana Rumi (1207-1273) was his most famous contemporary. They experienced and survived the turmoil, death and destruction inflicted by Mongols and continued their work after the defeat of the Mongols in 1260 by Mamelukes of Egypt.

He received his higher education, at then famous, Al Nizamya center of knowledge* in Baghdad (Bait ul Hikma or House of Wisdom and knowledge*). He studied Science, Law, History, Arabic literature, Philosophy, Logic, Religious studies and Governance.

Saadi is best known for his books Bostan(The Orchard) completed in 1256 and Gulistan(The Rose Garden) completed in 1258. Bostan is entirely in verse and consists of stories illustrating the virtues justice, liberty and modesty.  Gulistan is mainly in prose, short poems, advice and humorous reflections.

“Of one Essence is the human race,
Thusly has Creation put the Base;
One Limb impacted is sufficient,
For all Others to feel the Mace**.


Al-Azhar in Cairo is the oldest university in the world. It was established in 970. Two other institutions of advanced learning were, Ez Zaitona in Tunisia, which started in 737 and Al Quaraouiyine in Morocco established in 859.  They are both universities now. In Europe the University Bolojana is the oldest was established in 1088 and Oxford received its charter in 1248.

*Al Nizamya center of knowledge, was an institution of advanced learning and research in Baghdad that started in 790 under the rule of Haron Al Rashid.  All teaching institutions were called Madrasas. There were 3 categories of madrasas and they provided free education from primary to advanced levels throughout the Muslim world. The first category had 8 grades (from age 6 to 14) and the other 2 levels were of a 6 year duration each. For students before the age 6 was Maktab, where they learned basic Arabic and were able to read and memorize verses (Sura of Quran) that are recited in the daily prayers.

**Mace, a hammer-like weapon of the past.



Farid Uddin Attar(1150-1222) an overview of that period.

Continuation  of posts introducing a few scholars of the *Golden age of Islam (8th to 13th century), by giving a short overview and a sample of their work

Farīd ud-Dīn (Attar) a physician, a pharmacologist, a scholar of Islam and a Sufi was born in Nishapur, Iran  in 1150. At the age of 72 he was killed during the massacre of the people of Nishapur by invading Mongols.  The killing and destruction of cities, libraries, institutions of learning and Mosques was wide spread from Bokhara to Syria. In Baghdad a city of over one million*, over 500,000 people were killed. Merv, a city of 500,000 was totally destroyed and most of its inhabitants killed and it exists only in ruins today. Bokhara and Samarkand were attacked by Jochi Khan in 1220. Balkh, Nishapur and others cities were targeted in 1222, followed by Merv after that, Isfahan in 1237 and Baghdad in 1258 by Hulagu Khan. Cities in Syria were next to be invaded until Hulagu Khan was stopped by the Mamelukes of Egypt in 1260. Mongols destroyed the centers of Muslim Civilization east of Egypt, converted to Islam, rebuilt Samarkand and Bokhara and became patrons of art, science and architecture.

Hulagu Khan died at the age 40 in 1265. His mother was a Nestorian Christian.  Berke Khan, his cousin and a grandson of Genghis Khan, was an early convert to Islam. The destruction of Baghdad angered him and he had a role in the defeat of Hulagu.

Here is a selection from the writings of Attar.

“Loghman of Sarrakhs cried: “Dear God, behold Your faithful servant, poor, bewildered, old– An old slave is permitted to go free; I’ve spent my life in patient loyalty, I’m bent with grief, my black hair’s turned to snow; Grant manumission, Lord, and let me go.” A voice replied: “When you have gained release from mind and thought, your slavery will cease; You will be free when these two disappear.” He said: “Lord, it is You whom I revere; What are the mind and all its ways to me?” And left them there and then —– “Who am I now? The slave I was has died; What’s freedom, servitude, and where are they? Both happiness and grief have fled away;.. I neither own nor lack all qualities; I know not whether You are I, I You; I lose myself in You, there is no two.”


Important to note that after the destruction by Mongols, a revival in science, architecture, irrigation, Governance, literature  and other fields in the Muslim areas did take place and continued to the onset of the colonial period. The colonial occupation stifled all the creative energies and since then revival is spotty and only a few countries show sign of hope. The burden of intellectual colonialism was most severe on Muslim populations and it still lingers in some from the older generation. The focus now is on cultural domination.

It is also noteworthy that at the onset of the colonial era the quality of life in Muslim countries for an average person was better than what existed in the lands of occupiers.