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H.Khwaja Moin al-Din Chishti

Hazrat Khwaja Moin al-Din Chishti (1143-1236)

Khwaja Moin al-Din Chishti was born in Sistan (present-day Iran). He was drawn to an ascetic lifestyle from an early age, and travelled widely, studying at Samarqand and Bukhara. Unfortunately, little is known about Khwaja Moin al-Din’s early life, and contemporary sources for even his later life are scarce. Eventually, however, Moin al-Din reached Lahore, where he visited the shrine of Ali Hajveri (Data Ganjbakhsh). Khwaja Moin al-Din was immensely influential in spreading the Chishtiyya order in South Asia, and spent an important period of his life at Delhi during the reign of Sultan Iltutmish. However, according to hagiographers, he tired of the busy and worldly city, and moved to Ajmer. According to Hamid Qalandar, the author of Khair al-Majalis (the sayings of Shaikh Nasir al-Din Chiragh Dehlavi), Khwaja Moin al-Din Chishti encouraged the use of instruments in sama’, and it was after this that instruments such as the drum (dholak) were added to the traditional clapping as accompaniments to the music of qawwals. Khwaja Moin al-Din Chishti’s teachings remained hugely influential in the centuries following his death; in 1640, the Mughal princess Jahanara wrote a biography of the saint and his tariqa entitled Munis al-Arwah (‘The Comforter of Souls’). 

References and further reading: Madhu Trivedi, The Emergence of the Hindustani Tradition: Music, Dance and Drama in North India, 13th to 19th Centuries (Three Essays Collective: Gurgaon, 2012). 


Zarah Shah