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Analytical Indexes for the Collected Letters of Ahmad Sihindi

Arthur Buehler

Iqbal Academy Pakistan

Funded by Naqshbandiya Foundation

In acknowledgement Dr.Arthur Buehler writes "If it were not for a grant from the Naqshbandiyya Foundation for Islamic Education, founded by Dr. Ahmad Mirza, this index would not have materialized. In this regard, I thank Shaykhs Muhammad Masum Naqshbandi and Syed Afzal Hussain Jamaiti Naqshbandi, spiritual advisors to the Naqshbandiyya Foundation. It has been through Dr. Mirza s unceasing efforts that anonymous donors contributed to this project. I would like to heartily thank them and Dr. Mirza for their generous support. Through Dr. Mirza I contacted Dr. Professor Masood Ahmed, who has advised me on recent doctoral dissertations. Dr. Mirza also presented me with Zawwar Husayn s Urdu translation of the Maktubat. ".

CLICK HERE to read the Introduction and Acknowledgements of the Master Index of Maktubat Imam Rabbani Ahmed Sirhindi (rehmatullah alaihe ).

Dr.Buehler s Proposal for Grant :

Most readers already know about Shaykh Ahmed Sirhindi ( d. 1624), the renewer of Islam for the second millenium who was greatlyconcerned about the survival of the minority Indian Muslim community. He argued that the Muslim community must be circumscribedby carefully defined rules of orthodoxy and orthopraxy and the central government should support this endeavor. As a result, his ideas contributed to the political re-shaping of Islam in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent. Arguably, Pakistan is the twentieth-century politicaloutcome of a religious crystallization process initiated 350 years previously.

If we do not know about Shaykh Sirhindi s work, it is not because of dearth of worthwhile material in Persian. Of all the seventeenth-century charismatic leaders of India, Shaykh Sirhindi was the most prolific. Much material in his seven epistles and collection of 536 letters expresses a deliberate scheme to define the boundaries of the Indian Muslim community.

To date, no one has yet studied Shaykh Sirhindi s role in formulating a Muslim orthodoxy and identity. In addition , the 651 collected Persian and Arabic letters of Shaykh Sirhindi's son and principal successor, Khwaja Muhammad Masum ( d. 1668 ), are an almost a virtually untouched source. Both of these published sets of collected letters describe, both in theology terms and in orthopraxical details, how Shaykh Sirhindi and his successors proceeded to define Muslim identity in the Indian environment.

There is a pressing need to make Shaykh Sirhindi s corpus accessible to an English-speaking audience. Scholars have worked on Shaykh Sirhindi but none have really done his work justice because of one serious problem: there are no scholarly indexes to make the whole corpus of his thought accessible to a large audience. The first stage of Dr. Buehler s research involves compilation of a scholarly index { hereafter Master Index } which would include, Qur' anic and Hadith citations, names, places, technical vocabulary, and topics discussed.

First stage of research will take six to nine months and a sum of $18,000 is provided by the Naqshbandia Foundation for Islamic Education to support Dr. Buehler's work.

The second stage of Dr. Buehler's research entails, a selected translation and commentary on one crucial unstudied subject: the relationship of credal dogma ( aqa id ) and Sufism (tasawwuf) and how this crystallized the disparate Indian Muslim community into the well defined institution that has survived into the twentieth century.

One can expect that the Master Index will spur many scholarly studies of Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi which will be of great benefit to all, particularly those whose homeland is South Asia.

Dr. Arther Buehler is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Louisian State University, Baton Rouge. He did his Ph.D in religion at Harvard in 1993. The title of his thesis was "Charisma and Examplar: Naqshbandi Spiritual Authority in the Punjab ( 1857-1947 ). Dr. Buehler is also author of Sufi Heirs of the Prophet: The Indian Naqshbandiyya and the Rise of the Mediating Sufi Shaykh. In this book, he looks specifically at the role of Jamaat Ali Shah (d. 1951) to explain current Naqshbandi practices


Dedication [on separate page after basmallah]

This book is dedicated to the late Hakim Muhammad Musa Amritsari and to Shaykh Muhammad Masum Naqshbandi  who, in following the Prophet s example, have inspired many, giving more than they receive.


It is quite fitting that the Iqbal Academy has printed this set of indexes. Allama Iqbal mentioned in his memoirs that further work on the Collected Letters of Ahmad Sirhindi, including translation, should be done. With this in mind, Suheyl Umar and Ahmad Javed of the Iqbal Academy in Lahore, Pakistan, suggested that I translate Maktubat-i Imam Rabbani (hereafter Maktubat) into English ten years ago. It was the idea of a partial translation that led the way to prepare an index. While reading all 536 letters and getting an overview of Ahmad Sirhindi s thinking, I slowly prepared the index. The primary goal, however, of a published index is for scholars and practitioners to have increased access to the main corpus of Ahmad Sirhindi   s writing. The profusion and complexity of intertwining topics requires one to read the Maktubat from cover to cover to even begin to get an idea of what he had to say. Needless to say, few scholars or practitioners have the time to do this , especially if they have just a special topic or question in mind. The Nur Ahmad edition has topical summaries before each of the nine sections and summaries of the subjects discussed at the beginning of each letter. Although quite well intentioned, these are very general and necessarily incomplete indications that are difficult to use. For this reason, few scholars have taken the time to investigate the collected letters of Ahmad Sirhindi to inform their research. Given the increasing scholarly interest in the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi lineage over the last fifteen years such an index has become a desiratum, if not a necessity. Many have ranked the Maktubat along with Maulana Rumi s Mathnawi in terms of vital transnational impact across the Islamic world. From a historical perspective there is no doubt that the Maktubat is the most important and widespread collection of sufi letters in the Islamic tradition. It has served as the doctrinal reference point for the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya over the last four hundred years.

Prior indexes and related material

In addition to the aforementioned summaries done by Nur Ahmad in his critical edition of the Maktubat, other scholars and practitioners have made noteworthy contributions. Prior to the Nur Ahmad edition finished in 1334/1916 (the former date is hijri and the latter Common Era), Muhammad Said, a disciple of `Abdulghani bin Abu Sa id Dihlawi, compiled some of the hadith used in the Maktubat, entitled Tashyid al-mabani fi takhrij ahadith maktubat al-Imam Rabbani (Hyderabad, Deccan: Matba Fayd al-Karim, 1311/1894). The latest, and probably the most comprehensive, study (I have not seen it) on hadith in the Maktubat is the unpublished doctoral dissertation of Babur Baig Mitaly entitled "Maktubat-i Mujaddid Alf-i Thani: takhrij-i ahadith" (Lahore: Punjab University, 1994). In a summary that the author kindly sent, he notes 267 different hadiths in Arabic, of which roughly 40% are marfu` sahih, 25% hasan, 10% da`if, and 25% without formal classification. In addition there are 95 different hadiths in Persian translation of which roughly 50% are marfu` sahih, 25% hasan, 20 % da`if, and 5% maqtu`. He notes 36 sayings of the Companions and 150 sayings of Ahmad Sirhindi that have similar meanings to hadiths. In the Maktubat-i Imam Rabbani (Karachi: Educational Press, 1972) there is a short six-page index of the addressees.

Clearly the most comprehensive set of indexes to date are in Zawwar Husayn s Urdu translation of the Maktubat, entitled Maktubat-i Hadrat Mujaddid Alf-i Thani ka Urdu tarjama, 4 vols. (Karachi, Ahmad Brothers Printers, 1988-1993). In addition to the parallel topical indexes contained here, he has indexes for things, time-related things, and acts of worship. For an Urdu reader all of these indexes are useful, although one has to search in four different volumes for any given topic. Only page numbers are given (rather than the number of the letter plus the page number) so an Urdu reader can only use these indexes with this specific translation. In the fourth volume he includes comprehensive indexes for God, Muhammad, the Companions and Intimates of God, Ibn al-Arabi, Ahmad Sirhindi, worship and supplications, and miscellaneous subjects.

The present index is a set of eight indexes: Quran citations, Hadiths, Sayings, Technical vocabulary and terms, Persons, Groups, Books, and Places. Details on these indexes and how to use them are given in the "User s Manual for the Indexes" below.


In chronological order I would like to thank Suheyl Umar, the present director of the Iqbal Academy, and Ahmad Javed, research fellow of the Iqbal Academy, for their encouragement and mentoring that they have provided over the years. The late Hakim Muhammad Musa Amritsari/Lahori and Professor Iqbal Mujaddidi have continuously assisted and advised me in this project. It was Professor Mujaddidi who suggested many years ago that I read the Maktubat from cover to cover before writing my first book. He was entirely on the mark but time constraints would have allowed me only to use an index, if such had existed. Professor Mujaddidi kindly provided me with a rare copy of Muhammad Said s book on hadith in the Maktubat. Without the friendly, scholarly, and wise support of all these individuals, this project would have never been conceived.

If it were not for a grant from the Naqshbandiyya Foundation for Islamic Education, founded by Dr. Ahmad Mirza, this index would not have materialized. In this regard, I thank Shaykhs Muhammad Ma`sum Naqshbandi and Syed Afzal Hussain Jamaiti Naqshbandi, spiritual advisors to the Naqshbandiyya Foundation. It has been through Dr. Mirza s unceasing efforts that anonymous donors contributed to this project. I would like to heartily thank them and Dr. Mirza for their generous support. Through Dr. Mirza I contacted Dr. Professor Masood Ahmed, who has advised me on recent doctoral dissertations. Dr. Mirza also presented me with Zawwar Husayn s Urdu translation of the Maktubat. For questions concerning the early Naqshbandis mentioned in the Maktubat, Necdet Tosun of Marmara University in Istanbul has been my virtual library for determining their identity.

Residing in Pakistan has facilitated the final stages of the index project during the 1999-2000 academic year. This is a result of a Fulbright Grant from the Department of Education and permission from my colleagues in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, and the administration of LSU giving me leave for the year. Here in Pakistan I have been honored to have Professor `Abdulghafar Safa , a history professor from Balkh, Afghanistan, prepare the manuscript for press.

As the Mujaddidis repeatedly say, "The end is included in the beginning." The final pre-publication stages involved the same persons who had first initiated the project. Professor Iqbal Mujaddidi carefully scrutinized the indexes for persons and for books while Ahmad Javed did the final editing for the indexes of technical vocabulary and groups while Suheyl Umar translated this introduction into Persian and edited the Quran and hadith indexes. It is Suheyl Umar who is responsible for the countless final preparations necessary to make this book in your hands an actual tangible reality.

User s manual for the indexes in this volume

The index has been keyed to Nur Ahmad s critical edition of the Maktubat, first printed in Amritsar. This edition has been subsequently reprinted at least six more times, the most recent being Maktubat-i Imam Rabbani (Quetta: Maktaba-yi al-Quds, 1999), which appeared as soon as the 1991 Peshawar edition (University Book Agency) went out of print. One edition, Maktubat-i Imam Rabbani (Lahore:1964-1971), is of smaller size and has different pagination than the other six editions. For those choosing to use this or editions of the Maktubat other than the Nur Ahmad edition, a list of the 536 letters and their page numbers has been compiled so one can more easily find entries using just the number of the specific volume and the letter. This is particularly helpful for the longer letters. Each entry in this index has three numbers: Volume.Letter:Page number so 2.23:57 is an entry in volume two, letter twenty three on page fifty seven of the Nur Ahmad non-Lahore edition. Semicolons separate entries. Except for addressee the additional topical information supplied by Nur Ahmad at the beginning of most letters has not been indexed except in special cases.

The Quran Index is arranged alphabetically by first letter and in the Arabic letter order (ha before waw) in this and the following index. As in early Quranic orthography, vowel markings and dagger alifs are not indicated. Such information can be found in modern published Qurans using the chapter/verse information provided. The number of the sura, a colon, and then the verse number, follows each entry; [19:3] would be sura nineteen and verse three. Of course in the Arabic this would be read from right to left so in the actual index such an entry would be sura three, verse nineteen.

The Hadith Index is arranged alphabetically by first letter and includes 309 different hadiths written in Arabic. Using Muhammad Sa id s study and Nur Ahmad s footnotes, a preliminary indication of where to find each hadith or a closely-worded hadith has been included after most entries. Following Persian usage, the definite article of the scholars nisbas has been omitted. Hadith specialists will be able to consult the sources indicated for further information. In terms of technical hadith authenticity there is a full spectrum of hadith in the Maktubat. Often what has been considered by many to be a hadith others have considered a sufi saying or a popular saying. God knows best. The criterion for inclusion in this index has been Ahmad Sirhindi, Nur Ahmad, or Muhammad Sa id declaring a certain saying to be that of the Prophet. This includes hadith qudsi where a non-Quranic saying is attributed to God. Readers interested in hadith in Persian, sayings that resemble hadith, formal hadith analysis, and remarks of the Companions are advised to consult Mitaly s thesis mentioned above.

The Index of Sayings by sufis, imams, and other notables is also arranged alphabetically by first letter. This is not a comprehensive index but a representative sample of the kind of expressions found in the Maktubat. When Ahmad Sirhindi or Nur Ahmad mentions the source of the saying, it is noted in brackets after the entry.

The Index of Technical Vocabulary and Terms is the heart of this work and is explicitly analytical. Ideally by reading entries in this index one will be able to form an idea of the concepts contained in the Maktubat. The goal has been to convey the main ideas of Ahmad Sirhindi and ideas that Sirhindi refuted, i.e., one should not assume that all ideas in the index are those of Ahmad Sirhindi. There is no claim for completeness in terms of each individual word being noted in the index; this is a conceptual index not a concordance of words. If an entry is mentioned once in a page it is not recorded again. This means that the page mentioned for an entry containing analytical information might have further mention of the same word but in a different context. Please note that the reader needs to supply the Persian idafa in some cases. For example, under the heading ahkam is ijtihadi which reads as ahkam-i ijtijadi and under the heading ahmad is ism which reads as ism-i ahmad.

Compiling this index has been challenging because of the difficulty in balancing comprehensiveness with a level of detail that does not burden the reader. For explicitly overlapping or contrasting topics, cross-references are provided. Due to the interrelated nature of Sirhindi s ideas, one sentence could often be cited in five different places. Here each reference is cited once for ease of use. The reader is advised to look under many different rubrics, e.g., for those interested in Sirhindi s sufi concepts or juristic ideas the maqam and the sharia entries are mini-indexes respectively. Other "mini-indexes" include haqiqat, sifat, tariqat, alam, ilm, qalb, kamalat, Muhammad, and walayat.

The Index of Individuals, like the indexes that follow it, has been compiled with the goal of listing each name mentioned in the Maktubat. The first priority has been to use nisbas to order the names while cross-referencing has been provided for well-known individuals and for multiple permutations of a name. Honorifics are given in parenthesis after the name. The footnotes of Nur Ahmad and of Zawwar Husayn s Urdu translation are the basic secondary sources consulted for the limited biographical information supplied in brackets. This and the Index of Groups that follows are semi-analytical and the same provisos (idafa usage and one mention per page) that pertain to the Index for Technical Vocabulary apply here. The Index of Groups, Index of Books, and the Index of Place Names are fairly straightforward. Authors of books, if mentioned in Nur Ahmad s footnotes, are mentioned in the index. Responsibility for accuracy rests with the author. He requests those using these indexes to be patient with any errors or omissions they might find.

Arthur F. Buehler
Peshawar, Pakistan
4 April 2000

Completed Project- Sufism: A Wayfarer's Guide to Naqshbandi Way- Shaykh Amin Alauddin Naqshbandi, published by Fons Vitae


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