The relationship of the Chishti Sufis with the political authorities has been quite controversial. After the inception of the Chishti Silsilah in India in the last decade of the twelfth century by Khwajah Mu'in al-Din Chishti of Ajmer, the Chishtis, in line with their traditions in Persia, made it a definite policy to keep a distance from the rulers by not accepting state services, rejecting lands grants and titles from the rulers, and by not visiting the royal court, or welcoming the Sultans to their khanqahs. By doing so, the early Chishtis in India carved out a space, or an environment for independent action and practice of Chishti principles, free from the interference of the state in the Sultanate of Delhi during the next two centuries. However, this space was contested both by the rulers and some of the ulama or religious scholars on varied counts. In subsequent decades, the space was preserved and expanded by the Chishtis, employing multiple strategies, while the state tried to encroach on it, which the Chishtis severely resisted.
Later, in response to state manoeuvring and containment of the space, the Chishti Shaykhs defended and considerably realigned it, whereas their descendants negotiated it with the rulers for their own benefits.
Publisher: OUP Pakistan