Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi was born on Friday, the 14th of Shawal 971 AH / 26th May 1564 AD.’ at Sirhind in current Patiala district of the Punjab. His father Sheikh Ahad Faruqi, (RA), named him Abdul Barkat Badruddin Ahmad and got him tutored by Sheikh Kamal Qadri of Kaithal, whose ardent lover he was. Sheikh Ahad Faruqi, (RA), the father of Sirhindi was a celebrated Sufi- Scholar and was known for his spiritual values and scholarly qualities. He had instituted his own school at Sirhind which in course of time earned reputation of being a prominent and recognized hub of Islamic/ religious studies in the northern part of India. A great number of aspirants of Islamic Studies from the Central Asian countries and from the different places of India visited his institution to learn and got solaced from the spiritual experiences of Sheikh Ahad Faruqi. Sheikh Ahad Faruqi’s contributions in the form of Kanz al—Haqaqa ‘q and Asrar-i- Tashahhud’ divulge his insightful and discerning understanding of Islamic literature and mysticism. Sirhindi (RA) learnt and got memorized the Holy Qur’an by the help of his father. He was sent to Sialkot (now in Pakistan), which was a reputed place of learning those times. At Sialkot, he learned inclusive knowledge such as Tafsir, Hadith, Logic, Philosophy and Jurisprudence under the supervision of Maulana Kamal Kashmiri (RA) (who had migrated to Sialkot in 971 AH). Sirhindi came in contact with another celebrated Kashmiri scholar named as Sheikh Yaqoob Sarfi (RA) and received with ardor knowledge of Hadith from Sarfi. It is reported that due to the great influence of Sarfi, Sirhindi vehemently insisted upon the Prophet’s Sunnah and disliked to have any other code of belief or sect other than Sunnah. Sirhindi also studied a huge number of books on Islam and accomplished his formal education at the age of 17 years and came back to his place of birth as a reflective, thoughtful and knowledgeable scholar of Islam. In 990 AH, 1582 AD, Sirhindi visited Agra, then capital of the Mughal rulers and stayed there for a long hiatus. There he came to know about the deteriorating condition of religious beliefs and dogmas in and outside the Mughal court. He got in touch with many nobles of Akbar, the Emperor, particularly Laureate Faydi, the poet and his younger brother Abul Fadl, a recognized writer and secretary of Akbar. In the meetings which followed between the nobles and Sirhindi, the saint came to know about their multifarious ideas and indifferent attitude towards religious theology, which had influenced the Mughal ruler Akbar also and consequently, a confused and contradictory environment about the religion of Islam had been created. Sirhindi, morally and spiritually conscious and being uploaded with all kinds of inspirations and learning contested, combated and countered their irreligious and unethical harangue and diatribe.
After sometime, Sirhindi’s father called him back from Agra and while travelling, his father and Sirhindi met Sheikh Sultan Thanesari (RA) with whose daughter Sirhindi later married. At Sirhind, he made a start of his family life and also began to teach students in his ancestral seminary and devoted himself in worship and devotion. He also received inspiration from his father about the various mystic and spiritual orders and mores. His father afterwards introduced his son into his own mystic discipline and bestowed the Khilafat in the Chistiya, Suharwardiya and Qadiriya Silsilas or orders upon him by declaring him his spiritual successor. The father Abdul Ahad Faruqi left for heavenly abode on 17th of Jamad, 1007 6th of Dec, 1598 at the age of eighty years. After the demise of his father/spiritual guide, Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi, popularly known as (Mujaddid-i- alfi- i Thani), Revivalist of the Second Millennium, performed Hajj as per the wish of his father. While travelling for his pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in October, 1599, he got an opportunity to meet Maulana Hassan Kashmiri at Delhi who was his friend and batch mate at Sialkot. It was Maulana Hassan Kashmiri who introduced him to Khawaja Baqi- Billah (RA), the great saint of those times in and outside Delhi. Khawaja Baqi Billah(RA) exerted deep influence upon the thinking of Sirhindi. Even though Sirhindi was known to some great Islamic scholars and spiritual leaders of Kashmir but it is less known that he ever visited Kashmir and preached about his mission? Sihindi wrote a great number of books like (Maktubat-i- Imam Rabbani), ( Ithbat al – Nabuwat) , (Risala Radd-i- Rawafiz), (Mab da- wa- Ma’ad). ( Risala-i- Tahliliya) , ( Ma’ arif Ladunya), (Makashfat al – Ainiya), ( Sharh Ruba’ iyat). Sirhindi was a great seventeenth century saint, religious reformer and revivalist. At the time he was born, in 1564, the Muslims in India and in the sub- continent were passing through a very crucial phase of history. As already noted the Mughal ruler, Akbar had initiated policies and doctrines which were anti- Islamic and irreligious in nature and belief. His false and fabricated policies and beliefs were supported by some scholars of those times and against whom Sirhindi launched a crusade. This segment of scholars or Ulmas was known as ‘Ulma-i- Su’, or ‘Ulma-i- Duniya’. They had become materialistic and had sold their conscience and faith for lust of wealth and awards in the court of the King. They had got inclined in interpreting religion as per the desire of the ruler of those times and for his pleasure ignored actual principles of Islam and Sunnah. Sirhindi (RA) launched an indomitable and cognizant endeavor to restore and regain the real laws of Islam. He faced a lot of difficulties during the rule of Akbar in his righteous attempts and mission. During the rule of other Mughal ruler Jahangir, though initially faced the wrath and got imprisoned in 1028 AH, 1619 AD, ultimately succeeded in influencing the King and others and consequently, got a space to preach his own mission and which reached to the logical conclusion in the reign of Aurangzeb, religiously conscious Mughal emperor. The noble mission of Sirhindi changed the religious and political scenario of India because it was from here that the Muslim society got hold of a strong space and ignited the hope of existence for them in future. The great saint can be easily called as the father of the Revivalist and Reformative movement of Real and True Religion of Islam in India.
(The Author is J&K’s veteran academician and an educationist . The views, opinions, facts, assumptions, presumptions and conclusions of the expressed in this article are author’s own and aren’t necessarily in accord with the views of “Kashmir Horizon”.)