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ABU ISHAQ SHAMS CHISTI

Khawaja Shaykh Abu Ishaq Sharf al-Din Shami [d.329H/940CE] 'alayhi al-rahmah wa'l-ridwan

Hadrat Khawaja Abu Ishaq Shami is one of the first amongst Chisti Sufi order, to call himself Chisti. The name Shami implies he came from [Shams] Syria or even from Damascus (ash-Sham). His title was Sharf al-Din or Sharif-ud-Deen. He was an embodiment of Uloom-e-Zahiriyah and Uloom-e-Batiniyah. It is reported that Khawaja Abu Ishaq Shami Rahmatullahi alayh had met a Sufi dervish who directed him to settle in Chisht, [Chisht is a small town, near Herat, Afghanistan] and acccordingly thus he is known as Abu Ishaq Shami Chishti. He was a great Zaahid. He would go days sometimes without eating and is known to say that;

''the pleasure and taste obtainable in hunger is not experienced in other things''

He also said that;

the Mi'raaj (ascension) of the Fuqara is hunger.

His spiritual guide and Master was Shaykh Ilw Mumshad Dinwari Rahmatullahi alayh. When Khawaja Shaykh Abu Ishaq Shami Rahmatullahi alayh contemplated to take the oath of allegiance [bay't] he made Istikhaara for 40 days in succession. He then heard a voice saying:"If you desire to reach the destination, go to Mumshad Dinwari." When his Shaykh, Khawaja Mumshad Rahmatullahi alayh asked his name, he replied: "Abu Ishaq Shami." The Shaykh said: 'From today you will be known as Abu Ishaq Chishti because the people of Chisht will acquire guidance from you and your Silsilah will be known as Chishtiya until the day of Qiyamah' [Judgement].

 Some of his (Abu Ishaq Shami) sayings are:

'Starvation excels all in bliss (this shows the ascetic character of classical Sufism) The worldly people are impure while the dervishes are pure in their souls'

'These two different natures cannot therefore mingle'

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There are urband legends that his karamat [miracles] gave good fortune to those in his majlis (gathering), as they were deemed to never ever commit sins again. Some persons who were in ill health entering his majlis would also be cured. Such was his reputation that whenever Khawaja Abu Ishaq contemplated going on a journey, as many as hundred or even more people would accompany him.

 

It is known that once during a drought, a king came to Khawaja Abu Ishaq and requested him to make du'a. Khawaja Abu Ishaq cast his tawajjuh (attention) and legend has it eventually raindrops began to fall. When the king came the next day again with some need of his, Khawaja Abu Ishaq wept. The king asked the reason for his grief. Abu Ishaq replied: "The frequency of the king's visits puts in me the fear that I have committed some sin, hence association with the affluent has increased so much resulting in a corresponding decrease in my association with the poor. I fear that suddenly my end will come in the company of the wealthy and not with the masakeen (the poor)."

 

He died in 14th Rabi al Thani 329 Hijri [940 C.E.] in Sham/Damascus and lies buried in Akkah on Mount Qasiyun, where later on also Shaykh al Akbar Muhiy al-Din Ibn al-Arabi Rahmatullahi alayh was buried. Looking at the date of his death we can say that the Chishtiyya order is one of the oldest, if not the oldest now still existing Sufi order. His khulafaa are Khawaja Shaykh Abu Ahmad Abdal, Khawaja Abu Muhammad, Khawaja Taj al-Din and others [Allah be pleased with them].

 

His spiritual successor is Shaykh Abu Ahmad Abdal Chishti Rahmatullahi alayh. The father of the shaykh for some time tried to keep him back from the Sufi path. He of course did not succeed as his son became an eminent Sufi. Another legend relates the shaykh for thirty years was totally absorbed in meditation and hardly slept. He breathed his last on the 3rd of Jamada II at the age of ninety-five in 356 A.H. (corresponding to the 16th of May 967 C.E.). He was buried at Chisht in Afghanistan.

 

 

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