Monday, June 11, 2012

Afghanistan Saint(s)

Chisht-i-Sharif a scant three kilometers away and as you approach it across a plateau you see the two famous gumbad or domes of Chisht on the opposite plateau. The town with its meandering bazaar street sits in the ravine between these plateaux. Winding down and up, you will find an avenue of pine trees leading directly to two ruined buildings now standing in the middle of an extensive graveyard.
As is so often the case, experts argue as to the purpose of these buildings. Some speak of them as mausoleums. Others see them as parts of a grand complex of buildings, a madrassa (religious school), perhaps, with its Masjid. The mutilated molded terracotta brick decoration can only speak softly of their former magnificence. The dome to the east bears a Kufic inscription in which the shafts of the script are purposefully bent in order to create a regular series of squares along the top which are filled with floral arabesques.
The inscription is bordered by a plain, yet nevertheless complicated, meandering braid. Inside, the south arch is decorated with a band of interlacing polygons; the north arch with a stylized floral band.
The western building has a more ornate and monumental façade consisting of a triple band of geometries beside the doorway; next to it there is a columned and arched recess composed of two square panels filled with interlaced polygons banded by a simple braid, and a rectangular panel containing a cursive inscription with flowers scattered on the background.
This decorative style has led some scholars to conjecture that this building may be earlier than the one to the east. Inside, there is a stucco Kufic inscription running across the tops of the pointed arches in the iwans. Here the “brambly” style found in one panel in the Masjid at Herat has been used.
Myriads of learned and pious teachers, philosophers and saints have lived and died at Chisht-i-Sharif. Many scores of others have travelled far, spreading the fame of Chisht by bearing the name Chishti. A Sufi brotherhood called Chishtiya founded by Muinuddin Mohammad Chishti (RA)who was born in Seistan in 1142 spread widely throughout India. One of its more famous members was Salim Chishti, a contemporary of the Moghul Emperor Akbar (1556–1605 A.D.). His ornate marble mausoleum in the Masjid at Fatipur Sikri, not far from Agra in India, is a popular place of pilgrimage today.

On the eastern side of the pine grove there is a large Masjid shrine built during the reign of Zahir Shah (1933–1973) to replace an older mud-brick building. It marks the resting place of Maulana Sultan Maudud Chishti who died in 1132 A.D. Each year pilgrims come to pay homage here, many of them from as far away as Pakistan and India.


Khwajah Abdullah Ansari
Abu Ismaïl Abdullah ibn Abi-Mansour Mohammad or Khwajah Abdullah Ansari (1006-1088)was a famous Persian poet and Sufi.
He was born and died in Herat (then Khorasan, now one of the cities of Afghanistan), and that is why he is known as Pious of Herat. He is also known as "Shaikul Mashayekh" [Master of (Sufi) Masters] and his title was "Shaikhul Islam".
He was the disciple of Shaikh Abul Hassan Kharaqani. He had deep respect and faith for him, as he has said: "Abdullah was a hidden treasure, and its key was in the hands of Abul Hassan Kharaqani."
He wrote several books on Islamic mysticism and philosophy in Persian and Arabic. His most famous work is "Munajat Namah" (literally; litanies), which is considered a masterpiece in Persian literature. After his death, his students and disciples compiled what he taught about the Tafsir of holy Quran, and named it "Kashful Asrar". Kashful Asrar is the best and lengthiest Sufi Tafsir of Quran, being published several times in 10 volumes.
He practiced Hanbali sect, a school of Sunni Islam. His shrine is a respective pilgrimage for Afghans, and was built during the Timurid Dynasty.
The Khwaja 'Abd Allah Ansari shrine is a funerary compound (hazira) that houses the tomb of the Sufi mystic and saint Khwajah Abdullah Ansari, also known as the guardian pir (wise man) of Herat. After his death in 1098, his tomb became a major Sunni pilgrimage center. The shrine enclosing the tomb was commissioned by Timurid ruler Shah Rukh bin Timur (1405-1447).

Herat is a city in western Afghanistan, in the province also known as Her?t. It is situated just north of, and in the valley of, the Hari Rud, a river flowing from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Kara-Kum Desert in Turkmenistan


Khwaja Abu Nasr Parsa
Khwaja Abu Nasr Parsa (d. 1460) was a spiritual leader of the Naqshbandi order of Sufism, and a theological lecturer in Herat, Afghanistan. His tomb is believed to be located in his shrine in Balkh.
The shrine of Khwaja Abu Nasr Parsa is located in Balkh, Afghanistan. Khwaja Abu Nasr Parsa was a spiritual leader of the Naqshbandi order and a theological lecturer in Herat. Although there is no epigraphical evidence identifying the shrine as the site of his tomb, art historians Golombek and Wilber have identified an unmarked tombstone in front of the portal as the Khwaja's grave marker.
Mawlana Faizani

Mawlana FaizaniMawalana Faizani was born 17 April 1923 (the twenty-first day of Ramadan of that year) in Herat, Afghanistan to a family of miagan (religious scholars descended from a great Islamic saint). Mawlana Faizani's full name is Mawlana Muhammad Atta-ullah Faizani. Faizani is an honorific bestowed upon him by the imam of the Kaaba during his Hajj. Faizani is a derivation of an Arabic word which denotes something that overflows with God's light (blessings).
1 Early education and profession
2 Spiritual retreat
3 The Mazari Sharif sermons and his first imprisonment
4 Becoming a sheikh
5 The move to Kabul
6 Final imprisonment
7 Education
8 Body of work
9 Hagiographical quotes
10 Additional References and External Links

Early education and profession
As a child, Mawlana Faizani was home-schooled in the traditional Afghani manner. Entering his teens, Mawalana Faizani studied at a High School in Herat and finally at Kabul University, where he graduated in 1941. For eight years following his graduation, he served as a High School principal in his hometown until a passion for God overcame him. At this time Mawlana Faizani left home and traveled widely throughout the Islamic world of the mid-20th century seeking knowledge of Islam and its various practices.

Spiritual retreat

As this period of traveling drew to a close, there came an intensification of his spiritual rigor and practices. He returned to Herat and secluded himself within a cave at a local Masjid. There he remained for five years performing ascetic practices including long periods of fasting, Zhikr, and fikr (also called taffakkur or deep contemplation). Taffakkur is a technique by which the practictioner "contemplates the Magnificence and Perfection of Glorious God in the creation."

The Mazari Sharif sermons and his first imprisonment
After a spiritual incident at the end of his ascetic practices, he began wandering again and wound up in Mazari Sharif. Upon arriving in the city, Mawlana Faizani was overcome by the overt materialism of the elite and their unIslamic practices, based more upon tribalism and traditional power structures than upon brotherhood and religious sentiment. In response, Mawlana Faizani began preaching, filling his sermons with the fire of moral and spiritual discontent. His critical sermons addressed the corrupt political practices that surrounded the people of Mazar-i-Sharif and he spared neither cleric, nor government official, nor the landlords who participated in the crude feudalism of their country of that time. However, as is the norm when spiritual luminaries criticize established authorities in "developing" nations, Mawlana Faizani quickly became a target for men of great power who did not want to upset the status quo.
He was arrested and put in prison.

Becoming a sheikh

After his first imprisonment, his public life consisted of good works (charity, teaching, and spreading Islam), exercising public responsibility, and suffering short prison sentences for upsetting the secular authorities. Between these incarcerations, Mawlana Faizani was able to create a library in Pul-i-Khumri (Baghlan Province). It was here that Mawlana Faizani attracted a large following of professionals (teachers and government officials), military personnel, and students. In time, his followers encompassed both Sunni and Shiite Muslims, an accomplishment not repeated by other groups in Afghanistan. To this day, the school of Islam that he initiated, the Madrassa-e Tawheed consists of both sunnis and shi'ites.
The philosophy of the Madrassa-e Tawheed was unique in Afghanistan and promulgated the fusion of modern science and religion, hence its attraction amongst the young university students of that time who required more from Islam than just interpretations and fatwas given by the established, traditional mullahs out of touch with modern developments in science, technology, and politics. Additionally, the madrassa developed an intensive program of Zhikr (remembrance of Allah) and Fikr (tafakkur), which was also well-suited to military personnel stationed in far-flung and out of the way locales (a common occurrence in Afghanistan).

The move to Kabul
In 1969, Mawlana Faizani organized the Religious Scholars' Uprising at the Pul-i Khisti Masjid in Kabul. Although the authorities thought that this protest would dissipate after a short while, the protest grew in numbers and persisted for weeks. To halt the demonstrations, the government cracked down on the restive demonstrators and imprisoned many of the protest's leaders, including Mawlana Faizani. This was to be Mawlana Faizani's fifth stint in prison and lasted a year and a half.
Upon his release, Mawlana Faizani purchased a building next to the Pul-i Khisti Masjid and started a library and book business selling only those books that he had actually read himself. At this time, Mawlana Faizani also organized and managed zikr circles and invited members of the government, military, and scholastic institutions. The intention being to transform society by first transforming the self. It was through these meetings that Mawlana Faizani eventually formed the political party Hizb-i Tawheed.

Final imprisonment

Mawlana Faizani In JailTo eliminate Mawlana Faizani's strong influence amongst the upper echelons of Afghani society (especially amongst the military elites), in 1973 President Daoud of Afghanistan and his Communist advisors falsely accused the Hizb-i Tawheed of organizing a coup d'etat. This accusation led to the final imprisonment of Mawlana Faizani and hundreds of his disciples. It was during this last imprisonment that he suffered the cruelest tortures, including having his beard plucked out one hair at a time, being continually whipped, electrocuted, and having his teeth crushed.
All through this time, Mawlana Faizani continually wrote books to his followers and would have each page secretly spirited out by his visitors. These pages would later be collected and the books published. In total, he is credited with having written 52 books on topics as diverse as taffakkur (fikr), Zikr, Fiqh, conditional and unconditional worships, etc.
Mawlana Faizani disappeared from prison in 1979 shortly after the communist Khalqis came to power. It is believed by some that he was martyred (executed) by this regime.
The continuation of his work and teachings since then, has always been strongly supported in established schools in Afghanistan and in other countries by his students, led by his son, Ustad Mazhabi Sahib. The Madrassa-e Tawheed continues to this day and has established schools in various Western nations including large numbers in Germany, France, Canada, and the United States.


Baba Hatim
The mausoleum of Baba Hatim is located outside the town of Emam Sahib, near Mazari Sharif, Afghanistan. It was restored between 1978 and 1979 by the Délégation Archéologique Française.