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Sufi Islam


Doctrines Early doctrines of the Chishtiyyah were based on the concept of wahdat al-wujud, the negation of private property. The Chishtis viewed government and authority with deep mistrust, and refused to accept offers of patronage from rulers and wealthy persons. Spiritual rules ascribed to Mu'in al-Din, the order's founder, stressed a stern asceticism which forbade the earning or borrowing of money and begging for food.
A second key area of doctrine concerns the correct form of repentance. Sufis of the Chishtiyyah classified repentance into three categories. Firstly, repentance of the present - which is the process of being penitent about one's sins. Secondly, repentance of the past - which is a reminder of the need to respect other people's rights. Thirdly, repentance of the future - which means that one should decide not to commit any sin again. However, while seeking to liberate themselves from sin, Chishtiyyah Sufis discourage their followers from dwelling on their sins since this encourages an attitude of self-persecution.
The order places great emphasis on obedience and self-discipline. In the thirteenth century the Chishtis paid respect to their leaders by completely prostrating themselves before them with their forehead on the ground. Drugs such as hashish, tobacco and alcohol are strictly prohibited.

History The origins of the Chishtiyyah order are uncertain. The foundation of the order is generally ascribed to Mu'in al-Din Chishti (c.1142-1236), a native of Sijistan, about whose life very little is known. The movement benefited from the successive leadership of a number of famous figures, some of whom are venerated as saints. Two of these leaders - Nizam al-Din Auliya (d. 1325) and Alauddin 'Ali ibn Ahmad Sabir (d. 1291) - established their own branches of the order respectively known Nizamiyyah and Sabiriyyah. These two branches were instrumental in the spread of the order into and throughout India. Over time the movement gradually went into decline, but was revived at the beginning of the nineteenth century by Khwaja Nur Muhammad. Although the order remains one of the most important tariqas in India it has not expanded its influence beyond India. The tomb of Mu'in al-Din Chishti at Ajmer remains to this day a place of popular pilgrimage.

Symbols The Chishtis use vocal music in their religious services, and wear clothes dyed with ochre or the bark of the acacia tree.

Adherents There are no figures indicating the number of followers of the order.

Main Centre
 The order has no headquarters or main centre. Chishtiyyah groups continued to exist in India and Pakistan.