Sufism was a socio-religious phenomenon that occurred in medieval times. The figure of a sufi master or a Pir was the fulcrum of the sufi beliefs. Sufi master was widely viewed during and after his lifetime as a saint, one of the Auliya or friends of God. Thus the written texts were a strategy to preserve Sheikh’s teachings for the guidance of present and future generations.
During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, many great Sufi sheikhs composed significant prose treatises or poetical works. In this genre come- Malfuzat, Tadhkiras, Premakhyans and many more. (Tadhkiras- memorials or compendia of biographical notices of Saints, also an important source of information. Malfuzat is an Araic word which literally means, “What has been said” and refers to texts written mostly in Persian by the disciple of a Sufi saint recording as much as possible the conversations, activities and teaching of the shaykh. It can be perceived as a cautious development of the twin Islamic traditions of biography and collection of testaments initiated in the early centuries of the Islamic era to preserve the life and teachings of the prophet Muhammad in the forms of Sira and Hadith .Malfuzat are an invaluable source of information on- social, political and economic history.
These authors have liberally used the Malfuzat to explore often neglected issues of the social life such as- culinary habits, economic conditions, vernacular languages, topography and even past times of particular periods and localities. At a time when court history writing was in vogue, these malfuzat reflected an entirely different aspect of the Indo-Muslim society as it contained even the miniscule details of the day to day lives of the people. Malfuzat are a collaborative project spoken by the master but written by the disciple with editorial input from both. The words of the shaykh make up the greater portion of most of the malfuzat texts. In some cases, the master might involve himself in the shaping of the written text by suggesting specific points that the disciple should include, such as- choice quotes, verses or prayers with correct spelling or formulation. Sometimes the pupil used to record his own religious contemplation.
Keyword – Malfuzat, Sufism, Auliya, Pir.
Popular works of Indian authors:
- Maktub and Malfuz literature as a source of Political history by H Askari
- Malfuz literature as a source of Political and cultural history of Gujarat and Rajasthan by Z.A Desai
- Some aspects of religion and politics in India during the 13th century by Khaliq Nizami.
Malfuzat included actual teaching sessions including informal conversation, textual explanation, minilectures and other interactions between the shaykh and the audience, master’s recollection of events from his own life. Despite the polyphonic character of malfuzat/multiplicity of voices in the malfuzat, they’re all used to support coherent and unified doctrinal points. The malfuzat are narratives of life stories, biography, hagiography (study of saints and the documentation of their lives), and autobiography. On the other hand they can be considered as textbooks and anthologies (compilation) summarizing Islamic doctrines, legal rules and sufi practice. The doctrinal sections are fragmented, disorganized, interrupted and often arranged by order of explanation rather than by logical development.
Bruce Lawrence has said of Fawai’d al- fu’ad representation of Nizam al-din Auliya: “we hear him crying and laughing and praying.”
- Malfuzat attempted to reproduce the presence of the shaykh for those who cannot or aren’t endowed with the blessing of shaykh’s comradeship or to be in his coherence.
- No description of shaykh’s physical appearance can be found in
- (Author) Marcia K. Hermansen: “Religious literature and the inscription of Identity (the sufi Tadkhira tradition in Muslim south Asia.”(book)-
He commented that the focus of the comparison between malfuzat and tombs is in their preservation of the spiritual function of the saint as guide and teacher. But, there is a marked difference between the two- while the tomb might be an on-going source of miraculous power, the malfuzat is the place to learn what a shaykh had to teach.
Author Name – Shreya Singh