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Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti Ajmeri (1142-1236)
Khawaja Moinuddin was born in 1142 at Sanjar in the territory of Sijistan (or Sistan) and died at Ajmer in 1236 AD. He took to the life of self imposed poverty ( faqir) at the early age of fifteen when he was working in a garden which he had inherited from his father. A wandering darwish happened to come by it Moinuddin offered some grapes to him and in return he took out a piece of squeezed bread from his bag and asked him to eat. It is stated that as he ate it a change came in him and he gave up the worldly life. He sold the garden and distributed among the poor all that he had. He left his native town and started travelling from place to place. completing his studies in Bukhara and Samarqand he proceeded toward Iraq. At Harun he met Khawaja Usman and got himself enrolled among his disciples. For twenty years he remained in his service and travelled intensively in his company. After conferring on him his Khilafat, Khawaja Usman allowed him to leave and undertake travelling. During his travelling he stayed for some time with Shaikh Abdul Qadir Gilani (1077-1166), Shaikh Shahabuddin Shorwardhi and came n contact wth many prominent sufis of his time. Finally he came to the Indo-Pak subcontinent in 1192 After spending some time at Lahore and Multan, he settled down in Ajmer about 1206, which was the capital of Prithvi Raj.
Services to Islam: Khawaja Moinuddin was one of the early preachers of Islam who had left his mark on the Indian people. At his hands many Hindus accepted islam, and the local Hindu accounts are also full of his praise. An idea of the magnitude ot his efforts to spread the message of Isłam and his successors can be formed from the fact that his tomb at Ajmer is considered to be one of the holiest of Muslim shrines in South Asia. Muslims and Hindus assemble every year, bow their heads before that lofty Dargah, pay large sums to its caretakers and perform various services.
Foundation of Chishti Silsilah in Subcontinent: The Chishti order was founded by Khawaja Abu Ishaq Shami (d.940) and was brought to the subcontinent by Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti. As he established in the Indian subcontinent the first sufi silsilah, he is often referred to as Hind-ul-Wali (the Saint of india) or Sultan-ul-Hind, [the (spiritual) Sultan of Hindustan]. Within a short period Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti established his Khanqahs all over the subcontinent. These khanqahs were ordinarily situated in solitary places which provided ideal atmosphere for meditation as well as a refuge for visitors expecting to derive benefit from the company of pious saint.
His Successors: Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti infuenced and trained many prominent sufis of his time. Among his highly respected disciples are included the names of Shaikh Hamiduddin Nagori, Shaikh Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki (after whom is named the famous Qutb Minar built by Qutbuddin Aibak) and Shaikh-e-Kabir Baba Farid Ganj Shakar who carried on his mission with great vigour and success. His influence on the Indian people through the Nizami and Sabiri branches of the Chishti order is wide spread.