Biswa Shanti Manzil
(World Peace Center)
Enayetpur Darbar Sharif
Gate of the Mazar Sharif

“Behold! verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve.”
 (Al-Quran, 10:62)

[Ala inna awliyaa Allahi la khawfun AAalayhim wala hum yahzanoona]
Al-Quran, Surah Yunus:Ayat 62
Published in Copula, vol. 19, June 2002, Department of Philosophy, Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh. ©Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh      
Some Aspects of Khwaja Enayetpuri’s Sūfism
                                                Dr Golam Dastagir


According to some sūfis, the core principle of sūfism lies in wahdat al-wujud (unity of being), and it is this tenet with which many great saints were concerned and content, leading and showing the true path for his followers. Khwaja Enayetpuri (1886 - 1952),[1] the greatest sūfi Bangladesh has ever produced in modern times, took this as the ultimate aim of his sūfi teachings. His entire philosophy rests on this central issue. So devoted was he to his tariqa (sūfi order) and so diligently did he preach Islam that hundreds of thousands of peace loving disciples from Bengal and Assam (India) followed his tariqa, showing a unique example of peace and harmony in society. In this present paper an attempt has been made to throw some light on the most important features of sūfism touching the mystic teachings found in both Eastern and Western philosophy and religion with a view to showing that true philosophy, which unites all men all over the world regardless of creed or caste and which teaches all men to love each other, is almost similar with a surface difference of culture, custom or environment in which they live. Much importance has been laid, while discussing Eastern philosophy and sūfism, on the teaching of Enayetpuri, one of the greatest modern sūfis of the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

        Sūfism in Bangladesh is more or less similar to that in the whole Indian sub-continent. India, it is claimed, is one of the five great centers of sūfism, the other four being Iran (including central Asia), Mesopotamia (at present Iraq), Syria, and North Africa.  It is true that in the then India sub-continent, sūfism traveled speedily from Iraq and Persia, as Indian congenial soil welcomed it with profound interest. As a result, a great many sūfi saints flourished in Hindustan (India) preaching the mystic teachings of sūfism that easily reached the common people, especially, the spiritual truth seekers in India. Without doubt, these people were Hindus. The sūfis tremendously influenced local Hindus and this resulted in the rise of some new Hindu sects.[2] The sūfi saints used to raise monasteries for the congregation of the common people and teach their disciples Islamic theosophy and sūfi rules of life. So the disciples afterwards used to become the successors of the sūfi principles and teach what their murshids or Pirs (Persian term used in India, in the west the preceptor as sheikh) taught them. In this line of spiritual teachings there came shrines, the tombs of celebrated saints; khanqahs (monasteries) where they lived and taught the sūfi doctrines.

        Bangladesh is a country of sūfi culture. It has given birth to many bouls (literally meaning ‘spiritual lunatic’) who have preached, and are still preaching, mystic teachings by spiritual songs, music, dance, poetry, literature, etc., but no one was able to establish a systematic sūfi School or monastery in the country until the 20th century when the country produced as ever the most celebrated spiritual leader Khwaja Enayetpuri, whose family lineage is traced back to Bagdad but later on migrated to Delhi, India. Born on Jilhajj 11, 1303 in Hizri era at Enayetpur in the district of Sirajgonj, he possessed a highly dignified lineage. His father, Khwaja Abdul Karim is believed to have read a large number of religious publications in his childhood and thus was known as a great saint. He was greatly enlightened in the light of sūfism the germ of which is traced in the passages of the Qur’ān. He left this world while Khwaja Enayetpuri was only five years old. It is believed that almost all of the predecessors of Khwaja Enayetpuri were well educated and religious minded. What we know from relic papers is that Khwaja Enayetpuri came of a very aristocratic semitic Muslim family whose roots were traced back to the famous Fatema dynasty. Once many Muslims of the Syed community of Baghdad migrated to India when a dire famine broke out as an epidemic in Baghdad. Amongst many, sheikh Ismail and Sheikh Bahadur belonging to the Semitic tradition mentioned above came to Delhi and lived there for several years under the patronage of the emperor. As time went on, they wandered from one place to another in want of food and shelter and finally moved towards Bengal while the whole sub-continent was seized by the British. Having visited many places in pursuance of a suitable habitat they reached the village Aminpur, Pabna; and with the assistance of a dignified man, some of their successors arrived in Enayetpur in the district of Sirajgonj. The widely renowned saint Enayetpuri of Enayetpur Sharif was a direct descendant of them.

        Khwaja Enayetpuri passed eighteen years by surrendering himself to the path of Allah under the guidance of his spiritual master, Syed Wazed Ali with a view to achieving spiritual knowledge and right guidance for the welfare of the people regardless of castes and classes. Having finished reading a large number of religious scriptures for nearly two decades, the sūfi reached the culmination of the highest grade of theosophical, intuitional and spiritual speculation. He sought world peace and thus preached his valuable teachings representing four tariqas (orders)—Naqshbandiya, Mozaddediya, al-Qadiri, and al-Chishti. His teachings are highly respected and maintained by innumerable numbers of people in this sub-continent, and every year on the occasion of urs (annual celebration in memory of saints) hundreds of thousands of people congregate at the mazar (shrine) from far and near to observe the day with due solemnity. Discussion and recitation of the Qur’ān and Hadith, milad mahfil, prayer—regular and special, essential and optional—for blessings and above all ‘zikr-e-qalb’ (invocation of God by the heart), distributing food among the poor mark the urs program. Pirjada Hazrat Khwaja Kamal Uddin, the direct descendent of Enayetpuri, has been successfully leading his followers, as the present spiritual master, to the path of peace and social harmony through the teachings of Enayetpuri over a decade. Enayetpuri’s main stream of thought, if practised rightly, can make a silent revolution of peace and progress and morality in the greater sphere of life.

        We shall now try to throw some light on some of the cardinal aspects of sūfism, as preached and practised by Khwaja Enayetpuri in Bangladesh. Khwaja Enayetpuri believed that true knowledge could be gained through mystic intuition. His highest mystical literature states that a true Muslim should practise and experience union with Allah. The mystic teachings of Enayetpuri are keen and were widely embraced by hundreds of thousands of his disciples. Fear, aspiration, shame, love, and friendship with Allah— these five things should be remembered by all who wish to desire His (Allah) pity, said Enayetpuri. Since undergoing a profound and purifying experience, he believed that there were four states of a saint— seclusion, devotion to knowledge, activities to attain knowledge, and finally preaching. A clear-hearted and true-tongued man, according to him, is like a saint who enjoys spiritual enlightenment in five states: ebadat (regular prayers), zikr (remembrance), uns (intimacy of Allah), rahmat (attainment of compassion of Allah), and moraqaba (meditation of Allah). He, as a matter of fact, aimed to ensure both the worldly and spiritual welfare of the people in order to eradicate all evils from human life, emancipate the human soul from faulty elements and throw some light on the path of a mumin (true believer) that can bring more peace, more progress and more compassion of Allah in this transitory world.

        Khwaja Enayetpuri says man can receive tajalli, the divine illumination, through which he can awaken his latent soul and control his egocentric life so as to attain the compassion of Allah. He always advised his followers to fight against nafs, or ego which forms the evil comprising lust, desires and attachment to the worldly things. “One who has friendship with Allah has hostility to nafs, and thus to fight against nafs is direct zehad-e- akbari (the greatest holy war). So be martyred to zehad-e-akbari”, was one of his famous teachings to the worldly people who would come to him, feeling discontent.

        In sūfism, much importance has been laid on the destruction of nafs, individual self or ego. Nafs is the source of all evils, sins, lust, crimes, slander, covetousness, hatred, errors, etc. Nafs, it is argued, tends to cause damage to rūh (spirit). Nafs is commonly

  1. Enayetpuri was named after the village Enayetpur where he lived and taught his sūfi tariqas, in Sirajganj, Bangladesh. I shall use Khwaja Enayetpuri hereafter.
  2. Ali, Engineer Asghar (ed), Sufism and Communal Harmony,  Jaipur, Printwell, 1991, p. 109
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