Most of us in this part of Punjab have a wrong notion as to how lslam spread on the land of Punjab. We erroneously give credit to fanatic rulers of the likes of Aurangzeb. While the truth lays elsewhere. They were in fact the Sufi saints who through their language of love took these carefree people to the realms of spiritualism. Surprisingly these saints from westwards merged in the mainstream of Punjabi culture and enriched it from all sides. Dr. Naresh, a son of Punjabi culture reminds us in short of these great men who taught us to live up to the love of contentment compassion and see God in every form visible on this earth.
  For centuries the sufi saints, through their words and deeds have played a vital role in quenching the spiritual thirst of human souls. Of the 175 orders of the Sufis, recorded by the Historian MA Shushtari, eight blossomed on the Indian soil and added to India's age- old glory in the field of spiritualism:
The Chishti order of the Sufis, established by Abu Ahmed Abdal ( 874-956 A.D.) in  Afghanistan, was introduced to India by Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti (1142-1236AD ) of Ajmer, who attracted a large number of Indians to his nine principles of meditation  namely contentment, compassion, abandonment, abnegation, generosity, truthfulness, fasting, frugality and taciturnity. The history of Chishti Sufis in this side of the divided Punjab starts with the advent of Sheikh Farid Ganj-e-shakar at Hansi in the year 1244 A.D. During his 12 year long stay at Hansi, Sheikh Farid drew the populace towards spirituality and established the first ever Chishti monastery in the East Punjab. His beloved disciple Sheikh Jamal Hansvi was the first Sufi saint authorised to initiate seekers to his order as a Khalifa of Baba Farid.
Sheikh Jamal, born in 1193 AD  came to India at the age of five. His father was a senior officer in the army of Shihabuddin Ghauri. When the Ghauri conquered India, he  appointed Jamals father as the Qazi of Hansi. Sheikh Jamal tm, in his orun time, rose to the position held by his father but soon got disillusioned with worldly and matters and retired to meditation in seclusion. Sheikh Farid not only accepted him as his disciple but helped him rise in his spiritual ascent to God. Sheikh Farid's entire stay at Hansi wasin fact devoted primarily to spiritual elevation of Sheikh Jamal.
Another pupil of Sheikh Farid, Muntakhibuddin who too lived in Hansi during the Sheikh's sojourn there, was also elevated to the Caliphate but was sent to preach Sufism in  the Deccan, where he lived until 131G A.D. A nephew of Sheikh Farid, Sheikh Allauddin Ali Ahmed Sabir, was physically and spiritually brought-up his mentor as his father, being an eccentric Faqir, was unable to look after the child. Sheikh farid nurtured Ali Ahmed with love and care and finally inducted him into the Chishti order.
As a Khalifa of the Sheikh, Sabire established his abbey at Piran Kaliyar. He was so popular with the masses that his own line with kin the order soon came to be known as the Sabiri-Chishti branch.
Sheikh Nizam Thanesari, a son-in-law of Sheikh Jamal, established a Chishti monastery at Thanesar. He was revered not only as a saint but also as as great scholar and a competent alchemist. He incurred the wrath of Emperor Jahangir by his blessing and Siding with Prince Khurram in his defiance of his father and was consequently exiled. Sheikh Jalal Thanesari, a teacher by profession, rose to be the mufti (dispenser d Muslim law) in the 15 the century. Deeply : influenced by the Sufi saint Sheikh Abdul Quddus Gangohi, he got initiated into the Chishti order and achieved a respected position.
An other prominent Sufi of the I5th century was Sheika Chain of Ladda village near Rewari. He was invited by Emperor Akbar to Fatehpur Slkri and was accommodated in a house near the famous ibadatkhana, Akbar used tc discuss with him the intricacies , of religion and philosophy. Sheikh Chain died at Fatehpur Sikri in 1590 A.D
Perhaps the most reputed sufi saint of the 15th century. Sheikh Jalal Panipati, a Chishti- Sabiri saint. He was so popular with the masses that after his death his followers Iined up as two waning sections, one each in favour of the two sons of his Khalifa. The bono of Contention was the amount of offerings at the Sheikh's tomb. The war like situation impelled emperor lbrahirn Lodhi to  visit Panipat to sort out the dispute himself. Known for his peerless forbearance and winning over fierce enemies through the power of love was Sheikh Abul Muali (1 553- 1616A.D.) of Shahabad and of the chishti- Sabiri order. He was also a poet and his 'Baramasa', composed during the last decade of the 16th century comes up to be the first in Urdu literature.
Sheikh Abul Muali's favourite disciple Shah Miran Bhik Bhikhan Shah is the one Sufi saint who is held in high esteem not only by the Muslims but by the Sikhs as well. He is belieVed to have visited Patna to have a 'darshan' of the infant Guru Gobind Singh when the later was just 21 days old. On seeing the child, he declared that the infant would emerge as a 'sanjha Pir'of the Hindus and Muslims. Thaska village, sanctified with the meditation by M
iran Bhik, is even today known as 'Thaska Miran Ji". He is burried at Ghuram in Patiala district and his magnificent shrine is considered to be a great place of pilgrimage by Muslims and Sikhs alike.
Hafiz Moosa, a disciple of Shah Salam, established his monastery at Manakpur in Ropar district. Born at Behlolpur in Ludhiana district, in a family of blacksmiths, Hafiz Moosa was initiated into the Sabiri-Chishti order by Shah Salam, a grand disciple of Miran Bhik. Hafiz's shrine attracted Shah  Khamosh, a son of the ruler of Hyderabad whose mother built grand buildings known as' Daknion ki haveli', 'Masjid' and 'Langar, at Manakpurand added 'Daknion ka baagh' to the Hafiz's shrine.
Even though the partition of India had dragged almost all Muslim residents of Punjab to Pakistan, the shrines of Sufi saints were never subjected to disrespect. To the day these shrines stand wetl-managed and continue to be thronged by the Hindu and Sikh devotees in large numbers….Z  
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