The Chishti Order was founded by (Khawaja) Abu Ishaq Shami ("the Syrian") (d. 941) who brought Sufism to the town of Chisht, some 95 miles east of Herat in present-day Afghanistan. Before returning to the Levant, Shami initiated, trained and deputized the son of the local Amir, (Khwaja) Abu Ahmad Abdal (d. 966). Under the leadership of Abu Ahmadâ€s descendants, the Chishtiyya as they are also known, flourished as a regional mystical order.
The most famous of the Chishti saints is Moinuddin Chishti (also known as Khawaja Baba) who settled in Ajmer, India. He oversaw the growth of the order in the 13th century as religious laws were canonized. He saw the Islamic prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be Upon him) in a dream and then set off on a journey of discovery.
Other famous saints of the Chishti Order are Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi, Fariduddin Ganjshakar of Pak Pattan, Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki and Hazrat Makhdoom Ashraf Semnani of Kichocha Shareef
The Chishti Order is famous for its emphasis on love, tolerance, openness and ecstasy. The Order traces its origins through various saints all the way to Ali and Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be Upon him) himself.
Sema or Qawwali is a type of devotional music to enhance the remembrance of Allah and is not a part of worship or prayer.
Followers of Inayat Khan claim he was the first to bring the Chishti Order to North America.
Followers of Sikh Saint Kabir think he was also part of the Chishti order.
The Nine Principles
The Chishti Order is also known for the following principles:
- Obedience to shaykh or pir
- Renunciation of the material world
- Distance from worldly powers
- Sama (or musical assemblies)
- Extreme prayers and fasting
- Dependence on voluntary offerings
- Disapproval of miraculous feats
- Service to humanity
- Respect for other devotional traditions