Shykh Ahmad Sirhindi, popularly known subsequently as Muhaddid-e-Alfe Thani (Renovator of Islam in the second Millenium) is generally acknowledged by the Muslim historian as a key figure in Indian history who, at a critical moment tried successfully to resist secularization of state and society. Among unama and at section of sufia of not only the Indian sub-continent but of Central Asia and North Africa also, he is acknowledged as a great Sufi reformer who purged Islam of some un-Islamic beliefs and precipices which had crept into the religion.
While concentrating mainly on Muhaddid’s thought I have given a brief sketch of the person delving on the circumstances which led him to play a vital role in the history of Islam and sub-continent in the second millennium. I have shown that he was neither just a reform minded Sufi. Nor a zealot revolutionary-rebel against the secular Mughal rulers. He was a thinker in his own right and if philosophy is pursuit of wisdom is action in the light of knowledge, he was a thinker with an intense concern for changing the society and the state. In the absence of the modern political paradigm of aprty politics, he used the Sufi order for his objective, continuously avoiding direct confrontation with the ruling and the religious/Sufi elite.
But the required a new “theology” (in the literal sense of the word) and a new metaphysics. Misticism had been transformed into the philosophy of Absolutism. And the main stream of Muslim tasawwuf had taken the fateful leap from monotheism to monism. I have shown the without antagonizing of Sufi follwers of lbn ‘Arabi, Junaid Bughdadi, et al, how did he try to re-establish the pristine Islamic view point of oneness of God. The only relationship which God has with the universe is that of the creator and the created. Those who see otherwise. (i.e Unity of Existence) are to be excused for they are ma’zur, the reason for their states of mind are elaborated.
I have explained that in tasawwuf. Muhaddid does not approve the traditional seclusion and the ascetic practice. Which were so much emphasized by the Sufia. To him they are of no use. When the grand agenda is not just personal salvation but restructuring the entire society on the lines paradigmed by the Prophet (upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah) the individual has no recourse but to play an active role in the society. For him this is the desired “task of prophethood” To him the “achievement” generally covered by the common people-miracles, revelations, prophesying-are of no importance. Tasawwuf. Therefore is instrumental in self-realization through a struggle for collective salvation. Myustic thought is revamped into a new dimension in his life and though.
Though not a metaphysician in the conventional sense, Mujaddid, I have shown, denies the material existence of the perceptible world. The world of sense experience according to him is a construct of our categories of understanding, which we cannot transcend. And since the universe by itself does not have an objective existence of its own, our knowledge of it cannot be designated as objective. Although Muhaddid’s ultimate Reality (God) is not kant’s “Noumena” nor his world of “shadows” is latter’s “phenomena” yet, both are in agreement that our inability to transcend our categories of understanding, renders it impossible to have a real knowledge of either. Mujaddid thus appears to stand at the confluence of George Berkeley and immanual Kanu.
All Sufi orders except Naqshbandiyyah claim Ali to be the first imam of their silsilah after the Prophet (upon whim be peace and blessings of Allah). Though he was initiated in other orders as well, he chose the Naqshbandi order, which has its beginning with Abu Bakar the first Khalifah of the prophet (Uponwhom be peace and blessings of Allah). This order to him provided the nearest and the most easy path through shariah to haqiqah. I have proved that he did not lapse into the shi’i tradition in his later life (as some readers find to their astonishment). I have also contested Y. Friedmants view that being a Sufi, he “was not completely free from Shi I elements in his thoug” and that he often lapsed to the traditional Sufi position of superiority of sainthood over propherhood. I have shown that Muhaddid’s view regarding the nature of prophethood is different from both the Sufis and the scholars. Sainthood. Even of the prophets. Is not superior to prophethood. Even a lesser companion of the prophet (upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah) is superior to the Sufi of the highest order. The Naqshbandi way, is the most direct path to higher spiritual attainments, precisely because it is the nearest path to the Prophet (upon whom bepeace and blessings of Allah).
It is generally believed that Muhaddid is a strictler to shari ah. But it is also held (and Friedmanis emphatic) that he does not elaborate the shari ah practive in tariqat. I have contested the view and elaborated Muhjaddi diconcdccpt of Sumnah and shari ah: the conflict between shari at and tariqat is resolved by a loud and clear declaration that all beliefs. Practives and rituals which are not in conformity with shari ah are reject. At the end Muhaddids concept of Ijtehad is discussed. He does not wholly subscribe to the position of “Ulama or sufia” one may have exhibited lack of subtle perception whereas the other sometimes strays from the straight path.
Shari ah in the light Ihehad, therefore is not blind following. Shari ah in reality is extraction of rules using the faculty of reasoning. Sunnah of the prophet (upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah) is his Ijrehad since the Quran is the basic source of all knowledge and legislation. Sunnah, which is binding is in fact his divinely guided Ijtehad and interpretation of the Book. But all opinions Ijtehad of the Prophet (upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah) are not binding as during his life time he gave his companions a right to differ with him in matters which not given through revelation, but were his personal judgements.