Chishti Tariqah

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One of the most popular Sufi brotherhoods of South Asia. Founded in thirteenth-century India by Muin al-Din Chishti (d. 1236), it spread throughout present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The order's members portray themselves as embracing poverty and avoiding contact with temporal rulers. Its golden age was the thirteenth to fourteenth centuries, when its leadership focused on practical and emotional mysticism and the close relationship between elder and disciple, rather than academic or intellectual sophistication. It was revitalized in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries by Shah Wali Allah of Delhi, who declared their excellence in adapting early Muslim preaching to contemporary conditions. Under nineteenth-century British rule, the order was often associated with unsuccessful attempts to reform Islamic institutions. The shrine of its founder is the most important Muslim pilgrimage center in India. The Chishtis have developed a musical culture called qawwali—a group song genre of Hindustani light classical music presenting mystical poetry in Persian, Hindi, and Urdu—performed in Sufi assemblies at shrines to produce religious emotion and ecstasy. The brotherhood is particularly devoted to Ali ibn Abi Talib as Muhammad's first successor in the initiatory chain of masters.

Subjects: Islam.

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