Mu'īnuddīn Chishtī was born in 536 A.H./1141 CE, in Sijistān, in Persian Khorasan, modern Iran. He is a descendant of Muhammad through Ja‘far aṣ-Ṣādiq. He grew up in a Persian family. His parents died when he was only fifteen years old. He inherited a windmill and an orchard from his father. During his childhood, the young Mu'īnuddīn was different from others and kept himself busy in prayers and meditation. Legend has it that once when he was watering his plants, a revered Sufi, Shaikh Ibrāhim Qundūzī (or Kunduzi) -- the name deriving from his birth place, Kunduz in Afghanistan -- came to his orchard. Young Mu'īnuddīn approached him and offered him some fruits. In return, Sheikh Ibrāhīm Qundūzī gave him a piece of bread and asked him to eat it. The Khwāja got enlightened and found himself in a strange world after eating the bread. After this he disposed of his property and other belongings and distributed the money to the poor. He renounced the world and left for Bukhara in search of knowledge and higher education.
Umm al-Wara' al-Ma’rūf, daughter of Māh-e Nūr, daughter of Dawūd, son of ‘Abdullāh Hanbalī, son of Zāhid, son of Murās, son of Dawūd, son of Mūsā, son of ‘Abdullāh, son of Ḥasan Masnā, son of Imām Ḥasan, son of ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib.
Mu'īnuddīn Chishtī visited the seminaries of Samarkand and Bukhara and acquired religious learning at the feet of eminent scholars of his age. He visited nearly all the great centers of Muslim culture, and acquainted himself with almost every important trend in Muslim religious life in the Middle Ages. He became a disciple of the Chishtī saint 'Uthmān Hārūnī. They travelled the Middle East extensively together, including visits to Makkah and Medina.
Journey to India
Mu'īnuddīn Chishtī turned towards India, reputedly after a dream in which Prophet Muhammad blessed him to do so, and after a brief stay at Lahore he reached Ajmer along with Mohamad of Ghori after Prithviraj Chauhan lost Ajmer, where he settled down. There he attracted a substantial following, acquiring a great deal of respect amongst the residents of the city.
Founding of the Chishtī Order in India
He apparently never wrote down his teachings in the form of a book, nor did his immediate disciples, but he laid the foundations of the Chishtī order in the city of Ajmer in North India. His firm faith in Waḥdat al-Wujūd (Unity of Being) provided the necessary ideological support to his holy mission to bring about emotional integration of the people amongst whom he lived.
The central principles that became characteristics of the Chishtī order in India are based on his teachings and practices. They lay stress on renunciation of material goods; strict regime of self-discipline and personal prayer; participation in Samā' as a legitimate means to spiritual transformation; reliance on either cultivation or unsolicited offerings as means of basic subsistence; independence from rulers and the state, including rejection of monetary and land grants; generosity to others, particularly, through sharing of food and wealth, and tolerance and respect for religious differences.
He, in other words, interpreted religion in terms of human service and exhorted his disciples “to develop river-like generosity, sun-like affection and earth-like hospitality.” The highest form of devotion, according to him, was “to redress the misery of those in distress – to fulfill the needs of the helpless and to feed the hungry.”
It was during the reign of Emperor Akbar (1556-1605) that Ajmer emerged as one of the most important centers of pilgrimage in India. The Mughal Emperor undertook an unceremonial journey on foot to accomplish his wish to reach Ajmer. The Akbarnāmah records that the Emperor’s interest first sparked when he heard some minstrels singing songs about the virtues of the Walī (Friend of God) who lay asleep in Ajmer.
Mu'īnuddīn Chishtī authored several books including Anīs al-Arwāḥ and Dalīl al-'Ārifīn, both of which deal with the Islamic code of living.
Quṭbuddīn Baktiyār Kākī (d. 1235) and Ḥamīduddīn Nagorī (d. 1276) were Mu'īnuddīn Chishtī’s celebrated Khalīfas or successors who continued to transmit the teachings of their master through their disciples, leading to the widespread proliferation of the Chishtī Order in India.
Among Quṭbuddīn Baktiyār’s prominent disciples was Farīduddīn Ganj-i-Shakar (d. 1265), whose dargāh is at Pakpattan, (Pakistan). Farīduddīn’s most famous disciple was Nizāmuddīn Auliyā' (d. 1325) popularly referred to as Mahbūb-e-Ilāhī (God’s beloved), whose dargāh is located in South Delhi.
From Delhi, disciples branched out to establish dargāhs in several regions of South Asia, from Sindh in the west to Bengal in the east, and the Deccan in the south. But from all the network of Chishtī dargāhs the Ajmer dargāh took on the special distinction of being the ‘mother’ dargah of them all.
A recent Bollywood movie "Jodhaa Akbar", directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, includes a qawwālī in praise of Mu'īnuddin Chishtī ("Khwāja Mērē Khwāja"). It depicts the Emperor Akbar being moved by the song to join the whirling-dervish-like dance that accompanies the song. The song is composed by A.R. Rahman.
Today, hundreds of thousands of people – Muslims, Hindus, Christians and others, from the Indian sub-continent, and from other parts of the world – assemble at his tomb on the occasion of his 'urs (death anniversary).
Many peoples from parts of the world go to Ajmer to visit the Dargah, and pray their and visit the parts of the Ajmer. Not only the common people, but celebrities, politicians, forigners visits the Khawaja garib nawaz.
The famous Mughal generals Sheikh Mīr and Shāhnawāz Khān were buried in the enclosure of Mu'īnuddīn Chishtī's Maqbara after they died in the Battle of Deorai in 1659. Shāhnawāz Khān was the Emperor Aurangzeb's father-in-law.
Khawaja Ghareeb Nawaz’s immortal verses on the status of Hazrat Imam Hussain (A.S)
SHAH AST HUSSAIN, BADSHAH HUSSAIN DEEN AST HUSSAIN, DEEN PANAH AST HUSSAIN SAR DAD NA DAD DAST, DAR DASTE YAZID HAQQABINAY LA ILAHA AST HUSSAIN.
These verses, written in Persian, can be found written on the door leading to his tomb. The literal meaning of the saying is, "Ruler is Hussain, Emperor is Hussain, Faith is Hussain, Guardian of faith is Hussain. He offered his head, but not his hand to Yazid (He did not offer his allegiance to Yazid). Indeed, Hussain is the foundation of La-Ilaha Illallah (the declaration that none but God is Absolute and Almighty)."
Blast at the Dargāh
A bomb went off inside the complex on Thursday 11 October 2007 evening killing three people and injuring 17 others. No suspects have been arrested.
↑Bhakti poetry in medieval India By Neeti M. Sadarangani. Pg 60
↑Other accounts say that he was born in the city of Isfahān, which is in present-day Iran.