The menace of fake pirs
There is also a need for a media campaign to create awareness about the kind of fraudulent activities of fake pirs.
Published: January 8, 2013
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RAWALPINDI: According to newspaper reports, a crackdown on fake pirs has been launched in Lahore, with some fraudulent ones having been arrested recently. This move of the district administration is commendable as all those involved in deceiving people in the name of religion and spirituality should be punished. However, here some questions also arise about why people seek the help of pirs. Why do they fall prey to their shenanigans? Why do they trust these men? Why do they give huge sums of money so readily to them? Why do they agree to fulfill all sorts of demands made by these pirs?
The simple answer to these questions is that a large number of people in our country believe in the supernatural and, therefore, go to these pirs to get their problems solved. Secondly, as a people, we have the tendency to blame others for our own shortcomings. As a nation, we tend to hold other countries responsible for our difficulties. Similarly, in an individual capacity, too, we tend to blame others for our hardships. Pirs help to reinforce such beliefs by telling us that our problems are a result of black magic or a mischief of an evil jinn. Thirdly, most people here do not have access to quality medical facilities and, therefore, go to pirs to find cures for diseases.
Along with the legal action that is being taken against fake pirs, there is also a need to launch a media campaign to create awareness about the kind of fraudulent activities they are involved in.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2013
Jakir Shah of Kutub Bagh Darbar Sharif, How this fake Pir enslaves poor people
February 4, 2012 | Filed under: Bangladesh Politics,Politics,South Asia,World | Posted by: gms
Mohammed Nasim Ali
Kutub Bagh Darbar Sharif in Farmgate's Indira Road
Fondly called ‘Baba’ by his disciples, Jakir Shah, the self-styled pir or spiritual guru who runs Kutub Bagh Darbar Sharif in Indira Road, has illegally erected the arches, spelling untold sufferings to the commuters. “We have never given him the permission to make arches in the middle of such a busy road,” says Captain Bipin Kumar Saha, head of Dhaka City Corporation’s (DCC) waste management section that gives permission to build arches in the city. He tells us that immediate action is going to be taken to dismantle them.
All the festivities occupying the entire Farm Gate area finally ended. People in the area are trying to get back to their normal lives. A local resident of Farm Gate, Mohammed Nasim Ali (real name withheld due to possible threats from the Pir’s security apparatus) was curious. So he went into the building on Indira Road where the Pir calls home nearly at the end of the Urs. Here is how he described his experience at he Darbar Sharif.
When I reached the main gate of the Darbar Sharif, I found the Secretary of the Darbar Sharif waiting for me in the main entrance of building. Despite heavy security, I had no problem entering the building as the secretary himself was waiting to receive me in the main gate. The special heavy security was placed due to possible repercussion from enraged people when the followers of the Pir harassed an EVT journalist earlier on Wednesday. The journalist wanted to enter the Darbar Sharif building to interview Baba but the Pir’s followers manhandled the journalist and threw him out. They would not allow any journalists nor anyone with cameras inside. It was a very strict rule. Everyone is watching you.
When I entered the building, I was taken to the 3rd floor into a large hall room. Mr. Jakir Shah was sitting at the end of the big decorative sofa on top of the sofa’s back. He was surrounded by a few stern looking persons who appeared more like thugs. They were guarding the Pir and were giving necessary orders to the other followers as to where to stand, how to show respect to the Pir etc. I found a long queue of disciples who were desperately waiting for their turn to make their appearance to the Pir to receive his “trade mark” blessings. “He puts his finger on your heart,” which is Jakir Shah’s way of purifying a human soul.
I felt privileged as I was treated by the Secretary very respectfully. The Secretary then directly went to Baba and whispered something to his ear and Baba nodded meaning he agreed with his secretary. The secretary asked me to follow him. Breaking the normal rules for waiting first, I was treated with exception in that, I was directly taken inside to Baba who seemed to be waiting eagerly for me. I found him leaning against the chair and was giving blessings to his followers by just nodding his head. I was wondering why was I treated so specially. Baba moved a little forward to welcome me and to my utter surprise, he forwarded his hands toward me for shaking hand. He is a fair and good looking man, with long yet well managed beard. Very fat. He was wearing turban and long white dress. While shaking his hands I realized that I should say something. What else I can ask for? I requested him pray for my family and my parents. He did not say a single word but he kept on holding my hand. Then all of a sudden, one of his attendants who was standing next to him said, “ Baba apnar Ruhu Dekhabe” (Baba wants to see your soul). Within fraction of a second, someone came from my left side and pulled my shirt upward. Before I understood anything, I saw Baba’s Index finger was heading towards my left rib. I felt a bullet hit there. It gave me pain as if I got a stinker from a wasp. I was stunned and remained perplexed. Suddenly I heard Baba saying to his Secretary, “Uni Jeno Kheye Jaan.” (He must eat before he leaves). Baba sat back in his previous position. The Secretary came and whispered in my ear to follow him. I complied. When we reached the staircase, I wanted leave the Darbar saying thanks to the Secretary for giving me priority. But the Secretary almost ordered me to follow him and he ordered me to eat as Baba dictated otherwise, it would surmount to disrespect of the Pir; and that would not be allowed. When I told him that I already ate and was full, he warned me not to make him a defaulter as Baba has ordered him to make sure that I feasted on a good meal. I got scared and followed his instruction and complied.
Then he took me to the fourth floor where there is a big living room decorated with expensive furniture. A few people were sitting there. I was advised to sit there and wait until he arrange my food. After waiting for a long while, he came back and requested me to follow him. I was taken to private dining room. He offered me Rice, Beef and Daal in a clay made plate. While I was eating, the Secretary kept advising me, I was now admitted to KG School in Baba’s school and that I had a long way to go. Once I become a true disciple then I will be allowed in Baba’s Darbar; almost looked like a Mughal ritual. He continued saying; a Darbar is like an University and I got admission in KG school. So I must come every day and keep attached and be attentive to all kinds of activities of the Darbar. He said, I will not have to look back if I keep coming there and work for Baba, which would take me to an upper world. He explained, they wanted a few educated people in their team instead of having a big number of illiterate followers. At the end, he stated it does not matter if I fail to offer prayers on daily basis. The only way to make it to God was by adhering to Baba’s Darbar.
When I finished my food, I was taken to their library. The Secretary gave me a manual on Baba’s guideline for his followers. When everything was finished, I requested him to take me to Farm Gate park which was occupied by his organizers for a month. I faced strong security while entering into the park. I was surprised to see their arrangement. Its completely organized with full security details. He took me to the area where they slaughtered Cattles. Next to that area I found at least 50 butchers sitting and processing meat. Thereafter I found around 100 large cauldrons where large number of cooks were cooking rice, daal, vegetable and meat. The store room was huge and full of stock.
The other day, Mr. Ershad with the Awami League coalition, gave a speech in which he begged the Pir’s followers to put him to power by their votes. He promised to take care of them and their Baba once he is in power. It appeared to me, how fake the whole organization was. Politicians like Sahara Khatoon and many powerful people converge with this scam artist just to maximize their vote banks or other illegal acts. It is a pity. A fake like Ershad would turn to vulnerable people like the Baba’s captive adherents just for their votes. It is so wrong. I hope people understand this. The followers go there for salvation. In return they become captives. They give all their belongings thinking God sent this great man to salvage them. What we see is a scam who is cheating on these poor people. And people like Ershad and Sahara Khatoon and many others encourage this scam Pir.
Superman or scam, the urs that Jakir Shah is holding in Anowara Park in front of the National Parliament, the country’s highest seat of power, is confrontational with the law on conservation of playgrounds, parks, open spaces and wetlands. The law prohibits rent and lease of these places for anything other than their designated use.
To make matters even more grievous, there is a nine-year-old High Court rule that tells the government to ensure proper maintenance and protection of playground and parks. However, Kabir Ahmed Bhuiyan, Chief Engineer, Public Works Department of the Public Works Ministry (PWM) says that the Ministry has allowed Kutub Bag Darbar Sharif to use the park free of cost.
When he is reminded of the High Court rule, he grimly declares, “We will not give any such permission again in the future.”
Sharif Jamil, joint secretary of Poribesh Bachao Andolan, an organization that fights for the protection of environment, says that in our country, especially in Dhaka, our breathing space is limited as it is, and because of these kind of allowances, parks and playing fields remain unusable to the city dwellers for most of the time.
“There are corrupt officials in the Ministry who give such permissions. They take bribes and tell the media that they will never do it again,” Sharif says, “And within a few days they give another organization the go ahead to use parks and fields. I have seen a month-long handloom fare take place in Anowara Park.”
Advocate Manzill Murshed thinks the Ministry should be more cautious while allowing different organizations to use parks and fields. “Permission should not be indiscriminately given,” he says.
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5 Responses to Jakir Shah of Kutub Bagh Darbar Sharif, How this fake Pir enslaves poor people
Azizur Rahman February 5, 2012 - 7:22 am
There should be gono andolon against this frauds Jakir Shah and also Ershad and Sahara Khatoon and political goons. These people are destroying the sensitive fabric of people’s believes. Poor people get enslaved in that 10 story building. And our politicians are encouraging this scourge. What a country. Where is the PM. Is she sleeping? She passes through there every day. The law minister lives next door. He is busy prosecuting the war criminals. These political people are robbing people of money, their morals and finally poor people’s hope for salvation. Salvation from these very corrupted officials and politicians. Even they are robbed from there cleansing hearts.
hassan February 6, 2012 - 4:42 am
Jakir is 100% cheat
1. He has no institutional islamic education and can not read holy Quran
2. His building of farmgate is unathorized by Rajuk and gas connection is alos unathorized.
3. On his nose and secret organ , there is a cosmetic surjery which is haram by Islam
3. He is homosextual , it is many times proved.
See the anul of his follower whose name is babu in darbarsharif
4.He is fond of luxury and the price of his spectators which he wears is about 15 lac and car is about 1 core.
5. According to ETV and ATN , he has cheated one is followers whose name is shariful chisti who was confined to darbarsharif for nine monts and atlast Pir shaheb has taken power of attorny by force from him and sold it to destiny group at 16 core and 50 lac but amazingly the land owner was deprived of money and also lodged a chadabazi of ten lac taka case against him to sherebangla police station from darbarsharif and case number is 35/2012. The said chisti now is fugitive for fear of police and case.
6. Per shaheb has not permission to make murid from enayetpur darbarsharif and recently was ousted from there.
So every body should be allert regarding this vondo pir of jakir sha and shoul try to quit him from farmgate area.
khalid Hossain February 6, 2012 - 6:00 am
Thank you Mr Hassan. This man is a criminal. Our politicins
Are working with this rascal. Entire Bangladesh needs to wake up and stop this man.
Mati May 16, 2012 - 6:14 am
Jakir is not a fake pir and the comment of sariful chisty has already proved false..so realize the truth……..
S Rahman February 4, 2013 - 4:44 am
Unfortunately, we Muslims are far away from the holy Qur’an. So,in every sphere of our life we are being misleaded by these so called ‘Khaja babas”. However,let me refer some verses of holy Qur’an. In sura Jumar ( 10) verse 43 – Have they taken others as intercessors besides Allah? Say,’Even if they have power over nothing whatever and have no intelligence?’ and Verse 44- Say, ‘ To Allah belongs all intercession. His is the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth, then to Him you shall be brought back.’ Referred to sura Nazam (53) verse 26 – ‘And there are many angels in the heavens, whose intercession will not avail at all except (only) Allah has permitted (it) to whom He wills and approves’.
So, the activity which is being done by so called ‘Khaja baba’ is completely ‘haram’ in eye of holy Qur’an and no doubt he and his associates will purchase the permanent address in hell.
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“Beneath the battle cries of the jihad and an Islamic politics that draws attention to a religion of rigid rules and obsessive devotion, lies the mystical Islam, known as Sufism. What attracts so many Westerners to the faith, says former convert Ibn al-Rawandi, is its "heart made of poetry and art, vision and devotion, that can only be known fully from within." Enchanted by the metaphysics of Sufism, Rawandi studied and worshiped in Cyprus, convinced he had found the answers to life's questions. When doubts emerged for which the traditionalist authors had no answers and the Salman Rushdie affair divided Islam, Rawandi sought to critically evaluate Sufism by reviewing its origins and the best arguments for its views.
In Islamic Mysticism, Rawandi contends that unreliable sources seriously undermine the classical account of Islam and Sufism. His detailed study of the philosophy of religion -especially the work of traditionalists such as RenT Guenon and Frithjof Schuon - helps to develop a critical analysis of Islam from the inside out. Particular attention is given to great Islamic mystic Ibn Arabi, who is taken as representative of Sufism in its highest development. Rawandi offers a critical, secular perspective on Sufism and concludes that mystical experience is not a trustworthy validation of religion”
Bodyguards are vital for the Shaykhs because they travel extensively and frequently stay in western countries where the population is hostile to ordinary Muslims, let alone to flamboyant ministers of conversion. Beyond the hostility of the ignorant, crowd control and event coordination are required because tens of thousands of people may crowd around merely to catch a glimpse of Shaykh Nazim (such as when he visits the Jakarta National Mosque).
This provides ample reason for the patronage of the guru silat, who, apart from being skilled in several different martial arts, may have received military training (perhaps national service). As the royal tarekat the Haqqani Sufi Order surrounds itself with the royal retinue, and includes bodyguards drawn from many different martial arts including silat, kung fu and aikido
Reading the International Haqqani-Naqshbandi Sufi Tarekat Trawling the copious literature produced by the tarekat helps to make sense of some of the thinking, ideology, and practice underlying its offshoot, Seni Silat Haqq Melayu. Naqshbandi Sufi resources include books, music CD’s, videos (VCD and DVD), websites, and a downloadable resource of speeches and talks called “Sufi Cinema.”31 Haqqani websites offer “Islamic Internet shopping” for books, prayer beads, and instructional videos, and supply chat rooms and Internet dating for “Sufi singles.” Most of the books are produced from transcripts of the recorded speeches of Shaykh Nazim, others are written by his son-in-law, Shaykh Kabbani.
Only a few works of this extensive corpus are considered reliable reproductions and “authorized” for consumption by Pa’ Ariffin. Several of these works make sense of the ideas that Pa’ Ariffin imparts alongside his silat (martial artis training) training, so much so that sometimes the words I record directly from Pa’ Ariffin’s mouth appear verbatim in texts attributed to Shaykh Nazim. Like “Chinese whispers” (same as the American game of 'Telephone' -- Corboy)these words echo through the silat troupe with ever greater degrees of distortion.32
Four Naqshbandi books are significant here. The first concerns the impending approach of doomsday (Kabbani 2003a);
the second documents the establishment of the Naqshbandi Sufi tarekat in London (Kabbani 1995); and the third, [
i]Pure Hearts[/i] (Nazim 1998) offers an exceptionally clear summary of Sheikh Nazim’s social, economic and political beliefs.
The fourth book by Shaykh Kabbani (2003b) is a hefty tome tackling the history, beliefs and practices of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order as a whole. Pure Hearts (Nazim 1998) sets out the Haqqani view of modernity.
Early on, Nazim (1998: 34) slams democracy as a recent invention, created so that the Jews could rule Palestine. According to Maulana, the Sultan and monarchy were in the way of the Jews, as Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire. Democracy led to the foundation of the parties of the “jackals,” “wolves,” “foxes,” “scorpions,” 31 32 [www.shaykhnazim.net].
Meanwhile, Nazim (1998: 35) tells us the Ottoman Caliph was gradually modernized and westernised, drugged, and left to die of shame. Nazim (1998: 51) criticizes the modern nation state, and berates the division of the Islamic ummah (community) into nationalities. The solution is to return to monarchic rule, and have one sultan for all Muslims (Nazim 1998: 52). Nazim (1998: 54) regards democracy as hypocrisy, and wonders when the British people will figure out that switching from the Labour Party to the Conservatives and back again achieves nothing.
Instead of democracy for Britain, Maulana advocates a return to a “traditional kingdom.” Echoing Wright Mills (1956), Nazim (1998: 85) criticizes the capitalist industrial complex, observing that people consume bad food that makes them sick, therefore, one multi-million dollar industry, fast food, feeds directly into another, the health industry. He is highly critical of modern technology (even refrigerators are satanic), and warns his followers to return to “nature.” Nazim (1998: 88) criticizes “officialdom” as producing a kind of bureaucratic personality disorder, and advocates “going back” to live on the earth instead of in skyscrapers.
Apparently life away from the earth exposes people to harmful bacteria, leading to illness and cancer. Collectively, Maulana’s thoughts form part of the rationale behind the Sufi community at Janda Baik, one of the sites where I conducted fieldwork. Furthermore, the silat camp that took place there in December 1999 occurred directly in response to Nazim’s apocalyptic visions. The Naqshbandis are preparing for an almighty war, “Armageddon, the biggest war which will be on earth before the last day” (Kabbani 2003a; Nazim 1998: 40).
After a gruelling prayer marathon one Friday morning, we sat around drinking coffee tongkat ali, when Pa’ Ariffin declared to Suleiman: Friday prayers “don’t count – you don’t have to go if it’s too hot, if the road is slippery, or if you are sleeping. You don’t need to learn Arabic either as the vocabulary is enormous with millions of meanings. For each verse in the Quran there are 24,000 meanings; people think they understand it when they know one. ‘Just follow’, says Shaykh Nazim, ‘there are people you can follow’ ” (Pa’ Ariffin, from fieldnotes).
Friday prayers in the mosque were only entertained when Shaykh Nazim or Shaykh Hisham were in town, or if Shaykh Raja Ashman called upon his followers to accompany him.41
During a Friday visit to Kuala Lumpur’s central mosque, the Shaykh Raja’s followers lined up and “prayed” behind him a short distance from the other “worshippers.” His followers performed dozens more rounds of prayer (raka’at) than the other men present. Finally, one-by-one, the entourage proceeded to bow and kiss (salaam) the hand of the prince.42 These demonstrations of power did not go unnoticed
Male murids sported a distinctive sunna fashion. Walking sticks were in vogue. Some men wore black eyeliner (celak). Normally applied to the corpse before burial, celak heavily applied by the living gives a bizarre hollow eyed stare. Along with the ubiquitous beards and moustaches some male murids dressed in doublebreasted striped shirts.
During the evening performances of prayers and dhikr the men donned cones surrounded by massive turbans of yellow, green, blue or white (Fig. 4.7). The turban’s colour supposedly depends upon nationality, but also relates to hierarchy and function within the order.
According to Pa’ Ariffin: “The yellow turban is a very big significance; you are supposed to be 100 percent disciplined in the art of war.” Men and women displayed rings with large colourful stones with the best ones considered to be those given by Maulana
. Haqqani homes invariably display photographs of Shaykh Nazim. Due to Islamic restrictions on displaying the human image, the pictures of the Shaykhs are often the only photographs displayed in the house. Placed in prominent positions on cabinets or bureaus, the photographs may stand together with fresh flowers in a vase, and they provide a religious focal point that differs from a shrine in that murids do not pray towards it.
All murids wore the distinctive tawis, a small black triangular leather pouch containing a circular photocopied version of a prayer or ayat written in the hand a Shaykh.
The pouch is usually tied about the neck with a leather cord. It contains a photocopy of Quranic verses drawn by Maulana, verses that have been breathed upon by the Shaykh with the breath of Isa (Jesus). In order to prevent its potency from leaking out the paper is specially folded into triangles and sealed in plastic wrap that formerly contained bread. The sealed tawis charm provides a public symbol of allegiance to the Haqqani. The tawis is also openly displayed on car windshields, private residences and business premises. The tawis serves to ward off jinn (Fig. 4.9).
Babies and toddlers are especially vulnerable to unseen malevolent forces and have the tawis perpetually attached to their clothes with a safety pin. Opened tawis are sometimes pasted on either side of doors, and function like door guardians. The tawis serves to infuse Seni Silat Haqq Melayu practitioners with the power of Naqshbandi Sufism.
For example, some robbers set upon Chief and Moone returning home late one night in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. Both of them managed to adopt the flowing ready postures of silat and after a slight scuffle the robbers fled. During the fight Chief lost his tawis. Chief believed that the tawis had saved them from the robbers, and that when its task was complete, and its powers exhausted, the tawis departed. In an altercation the tawis serves to call the benevolent powers of the unseen, such as jinn Islam or guardian angels to provide aid against the forces of evil.43 43
....It can be inconvenient to attain a replacement tawis as one must ask the Shaykh or the guru silat, and they may inquire into the circumstances of the loss of the old one. Given that the tawis can depart of its own volition, its departure might indicate the wrongdoing of the holder, who may have lost the tawis whilst engaged in some illegitimate activity that the Shaykh disapproves of, such as drinking alcohol or committing adultery. Such misdeeds would then have to be confessed to the Shaykh, which is potentially embarrassing, and could encourage his intervention. For example, confessing adultery could result in a speedily arranged marriage.
Shaykh Nazim, the head of the Haqqani-Naqshbandi Sufi order, is believed to be the last Saint, the “Seal of the Saints,” just as the Prophet Muhammad is believed to be the last Prophet, the “Seal of the Prophets” in Islam (Fig. 5.2).
For one week in Singapore Pa’ Ariffin attended to Shaykh Nazim round the clock from 5.30 a.m. to 1.00 a.m. or later the following morning. Throughout the entire week Pa’ Ariffin wore white clothes, an inversion of his usual black attire. The Shaykh enjoys boundless energy belying his eighty plus years of age. His followers describe Shaykh Nazim as a living Saint and as Allah’s representative on earth. Pa’ Ariffin and Raja Ashman form part of a group, an inner circle, comprised mainly of Malays, who serve the needs of the Shaykh. Only this group are allowed access to the Shaykh’s private quarters.
In this back region away from the scores of visitors the Shaykh, the Raja and the other members of the core group can relax, exchange stories, and tell mischievous jokes. The Shaykh doesn’t always like to be surrounded by “them” says Pa’ Ariffin, “they” also being on occasion referred to as the “Sufi goofies” (Fig. 5.3).
Some of the adherents would hand round blessed leftovers of curry puff from Maulana’s plate, and parcel out dozens of bottles of holy water from a bottle he had sipped from.
In a more revolting variation of the salaam, some of the Shaykh’s visitors would slobber their mouths all over his hands. Several of the Shaykh’s followers seemed mentally disturbed, a point duly noted by Pa’ Ariffin. Initially I could not understand the Shaykh’s English, which he spoke Fig. 5.2 Shaykh Nazim, Chief, and Raja Ashman in Singapore The Veneration of Shaykh Nazim 191 Fig. 5.3
Shaykh Nazim, Shaykh Raja Ashman and a Singapore silat group through a thick beard with a heavy Turkish Cypriot accent. Later, his speech became easier to follow, although without the aid of the others I could not always comprehend his cryptic statements. For example, Shaykh Nazim talks about a green cup. The Shaykh would then say it is a red cup: “You don’t stare at it perplexed, you don’t look amazed; you just accept it. A red cup,” says Pa’ Ariffin, laughing and looking away.
According to the Naqshbandi the most important duty for a Muslim is to find and follow their Shaykh.
As Pa’ Ariffin says: If you go to the Shaykh, nothing is private to the Shaykh. If you go to the Shaykh and he says “die” – die. If he says, “cut your hand” – cut your hand. He is not going to ask you to do that, he is not Shaytan . . . I am here to tell you that I am authorized by Shaykh Nazim, Shaykh Raja Ashman, Shaykh Hisham (Pa’ Ariffin, from fieldnotes).
In part Pa’ Ariffin derives legitimation for his own autocratic behaviour from the Naqshbandi shaykhs. Not surprisingly, however, outside of the liminal events of saint veneration, shadowing the exemplary behaviour of a Saint or Prophet can prove difficult to sustain.
From 1992 to 1996 Pa’ Ariffin was imam at St. Ann’s Mosque in North London. From “donations” he was paid £50 to £400 per week, based on fifteen percent of the takings. Free accommodation was provided. However, in the U.K. the life of a Sufi imam is not easy because, as Pa’ Ariffin puts it, “in the summer 192 5 The Guru Silat prayers start at 4.00 a.m. and finish so late! And they call all day long with all sorts of problems.” So he “got fed up.” “But,” he continues, “the winter was nice: 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. off.” However, to “dress like the Prophet, act like the Prophet – it’s a heavy responsibility, and that’s why I just couldn’t take it.” Finally, “it’s hard to deal with all these problems when you have so many (expletive deleted)problems yourself.”
THE RISE OF SUFI ORDERS:Sufi orders began to form in the 12th and 13th centuries centering around a master founder and stressing companionship (Suhbah, fellowship) as essential to the Sufi spiritual path. This was the time of the terrible Mongol invasions when the 'Abassid Caliphate in Bagdad was overthrown. Sufism was one of the forces that helped prevent the downfall of Islam. It helped convert the conquerors and had a stabilising influence on the community during those troubled times. This period was actually Sufism's golden age. In its first stages Sufism had been the prerogative of a limited spiritual elite. From the twelfth century onwards it succeeded in involving the Muslim masses on a large scale in its network of orders.
Sufi orders had an extensive missionary outreach into Africa and into Southeast Asia where they are still very influential. Each order developed its own specific set of techniques for its Dhikr and Sama', used by its members to attain to the ecstatic state. These rituals also had a social function, helping to unify people from widely varying backgrounds into a spiritual brotherhood. The orders were thus a unifying force in society, drawing members from all social classes to their Dhikr and Sama' ceremonies as well as to their joyous celebrations of the anniversaries of the deaths of their founder ('Urs).
The orders also established trade and craft guilds and provided hospices for travellars and merchants which were located along the great trade routes (such as the famous silk road). Between the 13th and the 18th century most Muslims belonged to some Sufi Tariqah.