Monday April 6, 2020

Amir Khusrou: The true essence of Sufi love


By Atul Mishra

Sufism is a mystical belief and spiritual practice in which ‘divine love and knowledge’ of God is solicited. Sufi saints, scholars, poets and musicians, all believe in what is called muridin (singular murid), meaning “desiring the knowledge of knowing and loving God”. This eternal endearment for God and the craving to attain Him, has been perpetually present in all Sufi art forms, be it music or poetry.

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Amir Khusrou is believed to be above every Sufi poet when it comes to Sufi poetry. The magnificent couplets that he wrote in his lifetime are filled with the cries to ‘become’ God and to attain the beloved God. The word ‘beloved’ in his oeuvre does not refer to any human being, but rather to the divine love. Let us look at Amir Khusrou’s life, his contributions and a few of his couplets in brief.


Born to Amir Saif-ud-Din Mahmud and Bibi Daulatnaz in 1252-53 CE, Amir Khusrou was a Sufi musician, poet and scholar. Saifuddin had to migrate from Samarkand (Uzbekistan) to Balkh (Afghanistan) and then to Delhi due to the invasion of Genghis Khan. And then he was granted a fief in the district of Patiyali. Here he married Bibi Daulatnaz and they had four children. Amir Khusrou was one of them.

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Khusrou began learning and writing poetry at the age of eight. He was an influential prodigy in the cultural history of Indian Subcontinent. He became spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi. After the death of his father, he came to Delhi.                                                                         (Source:Wiki)


Khusrou was a genius in true sense. Apart from such dense oeuvre of his poetry which stands out eternally, he has made many contributions to the Indian Subcontinent arts of music and poetry. Here are his contributions:

  • Invented musical instruments sitar and tabla.
  • Considered as father of Qawwali.
  • Introduced the ghazal style of song into India.
  • Introduced Persian, Arabic and Turkish elements into Indian classical music.
  • Originator of the khayal and tarana styles of music.
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A couple of Couplets

सेज वो सूनी देख के रोवून में दिन रैन,

पिया पिया मैं करत हूँ पहरोंपल भर सुख  चेन।
(Farsi couplet I:                    

Translation: Day and night, I see an empty bed, and cry
Calling for my beloved, I remain restless forever.

As discussed earlier, Sufi love is the love for God. In this couplet ‘beloved’ is God to the poet. The poet is crying his heart out to attain the spiritual divine love of God. He waits and waits, cries and cries, looking desperately at his bed for his ‘beloved’. And in the desperation he is left restless.

Because Sufi concept of love also asserts that love in its true sense means “becoming” each other, then it can be propounded in this context that the poet is waiting for the Unison with the God so that he comes his ‘beloved’.

ख़ुसरौ बाज़ी प्रेम की में खेलूँ पी के संग,

जीत गई तो पिया मोरे,हारीपी के संग।

(Farsi couplet II:

Translation- I, Khusrou, play the game of love with my beloved,
If I win, the beloved’s mine, defeated, I’m beloved’s.

The desperation to attain that spiritual love is so intense that the poet, in a game of love with the God, says that if he wins it the ‘beloved’ i.e. God has to become his, and if he loses he becomes his beloved’s. Thus, in any case winning the game himself, no matter who becomes whose, because his ultimate desire is to unite with God.

Next Story

A Sufi Muslim Leader Hacked to Death in Bangladesh

Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh. Wikimedia Commons

A Sufi Muslim leader in Bangladesh has been hacked to death in a case which police believe could have stemmed from a dispute over land or religious beliefs.

The body of Mohammad Shahidullah, 65, was found in a pool of blood in a mango farm near the north Bangladeshi town of Rajshahi on Friday, May 6, according to police.

The killing came amid rising concerns over a wave of machete killings by suspected Islamic extremists against religious minorities, liberal activists and foreigners in Bangladesh. Over the last five weeks, about a dozen such murders had been reported.

But police were quoted saying that it was too soon to declare that Islamic militants were behind the latest killing.

Related story: Islamic State of Bangladesh- an emerging reality

Nisarul Arif, superintendent of police in Rajshahi, told The Daily Star newspaper that police investigations are “focusing on two possible reasons.”

Shahidullah’s involvement in Sufism might have “hurt” somebody, or it was a consequence of land dispute, he said, according to the newspaper.

A rally in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Wikimedia Commons
A rally in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Wikimedia Commons

Abul Kalam Azad, another police officer in Rajshahi, was quoted in The New York Times that the attack on Shahidullah differed from the others in that it did not appear to have been carried out in the open, but rather in a secluded field.

When asked if the police suspected Islamist militants, Azad said it was too soon to tell, according to the report.

Shahidullah was a local leader in Sufism, the mystical form of Islam popular in rural Bangladesh, but considered deviant by many of the country’s majority Sunni Muslims, including the Saudi Arabia-inspired Salafis and Wahabis, who are gaining strength in the country, Agence France-Presse reported.

Sufis have been targeted in several of the 37 suspected Islamist attacks recorded by police in the past three years, it said. In September the custodian of a Sufi shrine and his assistant were killed in the port city of Chittagong.

Shahidulah’s son, Russel Ahmed, filed a murder case over his father’s death with a local police station on Friday.

In the case statement, he mentioned his father as a “spiritual Sufi leader” and that those against Sufism had threatened him in the past, according to The Daily Star.

In the past five weeks, two gay activists, a liberal professor, an atheist activist and a Hindu tailor had been hacked to death.

Islamic militants have been blamed for or claimed dozens of murders of atheist bloggers, liberal voices and religious minorities in recent years including Sufi, Shiite and Ahmadi Muslims, Hindus, Christians and foreigners. (BenarNews)