Khwaja Abu Ishaq al-Chishti of Sham

I now have no fear, nor am I in danger,

In this love I have become entirely absorbed;

Oh God, take me at last unto his door.

Salutations to you, O head of the Chishti !

Khwaja Abu Ishaq Chishti..the celebrated.


Although Khwaja Moin ud Din Chishti r.a the great saint of India, is widely regarded as the pivotal figure in the Chishtiya silsilah, the actual founder of the mighty order lived over two hundered years before him. Khwaja Abu Ishaq Chishti r.a is called Taj al-auliya, or “the crown of the Saints”. He was born in Chisht, a small village in Afghanistan, and probably acquired his religious knowledge from Damascus (al-Sham) in Syria.

Seeking a spiritual teacher to perfect himself, he performed salat al istikhara (the prayer of seeking guidance). After forty consecutive days, he received his response: “if you seek to reach the destination, go to Mumshad al-Dinawari.” When he arrived in Baghadad, Khwaja Mumshad asked him for his name. He replied

“ I am Abu Ishaq al-Shami,” ( referring to the place he had acquired his religious instruction). His murshid, however, diving through spiritual intuition, replied,

“ NO; you are Abu Ishaq al-Chishti ! From you the peole of Chisht and all the surrounding areas will receive guidance; and the spiritual order (silsilah) you found will be known as al-Chishtiya until the Day of Qiyamah.

After these glad tidings, he was trained in the tariqah—the path of Tasawwuf. He became known as a great zahid (ascetic). Among his extraordinary mujahadahs was the seven day fast, and he used to declare, “ the miraaj of the fuqara is hunger.” It is said that such was the power of his companionship that those who sat with him thereafter refrained from sin, and the sick were miraculously cured. Once a king came to him complaining that his lands were undergoing a drought. Through the grace of Allah, it immediately began to rain. The next day the king returned with some other problem, and Khwaja Abu Ishaq began to wep. When asked why, he replied, “ I fear that I have committed a sin. Why else would Allah punish me with the company of rich and deprive me of the company of the poor?”

Upon perfection of his suluk, he was granted khilafat in a total of fourteen spiritual orders. Thereafter, he returned to his home town, where he founded the Chishtiya silsilah, about which mention has been made. Its foundations and practices, which today are almost emblematic of the Chishtiya , were laid by Khwaja Abu Ishaq r.a, who lived out the rest of his life in Chisht and spread the order from there. Many people accepted Islam and became muridin at the hands of Khwaja Abu Ishaq, including Khwaja Abu Ahmad al-CHishti who eventually became his foremost khalifa. He attained unity on the 14th Rabi al-Akhir 329 AH and lies buried in Acer, on the border of Syria,