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Sufism in Bangladesh

by Md. Golam Dastagir

The core principle of Sufism, as introduced by the Prophet, is the theory of wahdat al-wujud, Unity of Being, which Khwaja Enayetpuri (d. 1951)1, among the greatest Sufis in Bangladesh, took as the ultimate aim of his Sufi teachings. HIs entire philosophy rests on this central issue. So devoted was he to his Tariqa (Path to Islam) and so diligently did he preach Islam that thousands of peace loving disciples from Bengal and Asam (India) followed his Tariqa.

The Sufi principles and practices of Bangladesh are completely

traced to the Qur'an and the Hadith. The mystical expressions of the Qur'anic verses of the Prophet are the direct sources of Sufism. The concepts of nafs (self), zikr (remembrance), ebadat (prayer), morakaba (meditation), miraj (ascension), tajalli (divine illumination), faqr (spiritual poverty), tawhid (Unity of God), fana (annihilation) and baqa (subsistence) are all the basic sources of Sufism, as practied in Bangladesh.

What we presently know of Sufism in Bangladesh is owed to the great saint in Bangladesh, Khwaja Enayetpuri, whose family lineage traced back to Baghdad but later on migrated to Delhi. Having reached the highest grade of theosophical, intuitional and spiritual speculation, Khwaja Enayetpuri preached his valuable Sufi teachings in which we find the influence of several traditional Sufi Orders. Hazrat Khwaha Yunus Ali, (Khwaja Enayetpuri), was born on Zilhaj 11, 1303 in Hizri (also spelled Hijrat. SJ0 er at Enayetpur in the district of Sirajgonj, Bangladesh. He possessed a highly dignified lineage. HIs father, Khwaja Abdul Karim was believed to have read a large number of religious texts in his childhood and thus was known as a great Islamic scholar. He was greatly enlightened in the light of Sufism, the germ of which is traced to passages of the Qur'an. He passed away when Khwaja Enayetpuri was only five years old. It is believed that all fo the predecessors of Khwaja Enayetpuri were well educated and originated from Sufi families.

Khwaja Enayetpuri devoted eighteen years, surrendering himself to the path of Allah under the guidance of his Sheikh, Shah Sufi Syed Wazeed Ali, with a view of achieving spiritual knowledge and right guidance for the welfare of the people.

He sought world peace and thus preached his valuable teachings which are highly respected and maintained by numbers of people in the Indian sub-continent.

Khwaja Enayetpuri believed that true knowledge could be gained through mystic intuition. HIs highest mystical literature reveals that a true Muslim should practice and experience Union with Allah. The mystic teachings of Enayetpuri are keen and have been widely embraced by his disciples. Khwaja Enayetpuri said that man has the potentiality to achieve 'tajalli', the divine illumination through which he can awaken his latent Soul and control his egocentric nafs (self) so as to attain the compassion of Allah. Throughout his teachings, Khwaja Enayetpuri's main strema of thought exhibited a silent revolution of peace and progress and morality in the greater sphere of life.

The regular Sufi practice in many of the Khaneghahs in Bangladesh is zikr, assisted with ghazals. The participants of zikr do not perform any other sama (Suif music), qawwali, or dance. The only music performed with the verbal zikr is ghazal, written and sung with rhythm and melody but without any musical instrument, by the zakers (performers of zikr). Surrounding the Pirs, the zakers start performing zikr, La ilaha illa LLah, or repeating the word, Allah, with a very soft melody and without interrupting it, a group of three or four ghazal singers led by one head singer perform the ghazals, praising their Murshids, chanting the core Sufi principles of Khwaja Enayetpuri, and expressing the beauty and love of God. Although the zikr is performed with a fast tempo, it ends without any whirling dance, instrumental music, or hand-clapping. Zikr is followed by the monazat (solicitation of blessings) to God which sometimes lasts over an hour. In performing the supplication to God, the heads of the Khaneghahs lead the monazat, asking for God's blessings for all people of the world in general, and all fo the Sufi Saints of the past and present. Sometimes special monazats are held asking for God's blessings in critical situations; for example, during a drought or flood.

Sufism in Bangladesh is a silent and spontaneous movement. The Sufis and the Sheikhs in India and Bangladesh are believed to have shown many miracles and divine activities. The Bangladeshi people are tender minded in terms of religious principle; they can be easily convinced if they are given the right direction and shown the right path towards truth.