Shrine of Mu’inuddin Chishti


Shaikh Mu’in Al-din Chishti was born in Sijistan, an eastern province of Persia, and was forced out of his town by invasions and then he moved and settled in Ajmer, India. He studied in a variety of prestigious Islamic Colleges in Baghdad, Samaqand, Tbriz and Bukhara where he mastered a number of languages, phylosophys, laws, and ethics. He established the Sufi teachings and the Sufi order in Ajmer who’s emphasis was built upon love, tolerance, and openness. Mu’in Al-din understood the benefits of crossing religions exchanges and shared

many Hindu yogis practices. He believed that the presence of the divine is manifested in everything in the universe and one is able to access the divine through inner spiritual exercises.  The foundations of his beliefs were based on the rejection of all worldly material or at least the primary Sufi rule of the Chishti order. The shrine of Mu’in Al-din receives many visitations and prayers throughout the year but specially during the anniversary of Mu’in Al-din death in 633/1236. The shrine was built upon by many of its devotees that are still remember till this day such as Akbar the Mughal Emperor, he used his fortune to improve the shrine dramatically. By the early seventeenth century the shrine was also financed by the endowments and offerings of the devotees .


The tomb of Mu’in Al-din was built by Sultants of Malwa shortly after 1455 while the other buildings were constructed later on. Akbar and S̲h̲āh Ḏj̲ahān later on built the two adjacent mosques surrounding Mu’in Al-din shrine. We must take into account the Khuddam who are servants of the shrine and who have two distinct tasks, looking after the ceremonial life of the mausolem, and looking after the pilgrims. These Khuddam are also in charge of the rituals that take place in the shrine. We must keep in mind that most Khuddam depend on the pilgrims for their livelihood, since they provide accommodation, they escort them to the various ceremonies held at the shrine and show them around the sacred sites of the city. The Khuddam also solicit devotees through the post, since they sent out cards to advertised their services. Thousands of

people come from all over the world to visit the shrines of different saints. An exceptional number of visas are granted to Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lanka citizens by the Indian government to visit the shrine. Khwaja Chishti’s Sufi doesn’t only appeal to Muslim but to Hindu, Christian, Jain, Sikh, and Buddhist pilgrims because his Sufi was meant to bring people

together. Khwaja Chishti wanted a religion in which ethnic, religion, class, and nationality boundaries wouldn’t matter for people to become a member of the religion. This is also true in the shrine of Nizamuddin Auliya because this shrine is also open to different groups of religions such as Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Muslims. Both shrines accept any individual, regardless of what their socioeconomic background may be.


Many practices are accomplish during the visits to Ajmer  and the Shrine of Mu’in Al-din. The goal of the pilgrimage is the mausoleum of Mu’in Al-din. Once the devotees reach the inner sanctum of the shrine, they bow down and kiss the tomb. They offered their thanks for the

Photo taken by Megan Adamson Sijapati

Photo taken by Megan Adamson Sijapati

favors they have received and the petitions for favors they required. Most of the prayers are a kind of bargaining. Offerings to the shrine will be made if the prayers of the devotees are answered. Most of the devotees tie strings to the pierced marble screens that surround parts of the mausoleum. These strings are removed when the prayers are answered and the offerings

submitted. Another important ritual is the Sama. The purpose of sama is to sing and to aid the mystic in his concentration on God and the saint. Several hours into sama will result in a state

of trance for the participant singer, who experiences a transcendent sense of connectedness with the divine. One major event that takes place in any shrine is the “Urs” which is the death anniversary of the Sufi saint buried there. The site bears the grave of not just of the original founder of the site but also several of his close successors as well. The practice of “urs” is not only perform in the shrine of Mu’in Al-din but in many others such as The shrine of Nizamaddin Auliya, and the Shrine of Data Ganj Baksh.


Some of the dominants believes surrounding the shrine is that your prayers would be answered by Mu’in Al-din. The people believed that death does not prevent the shayks from playing his two roles of healer and spiritual guide. There are two specific motives for devotees to keep attending this shrine which are for practical or material motives, or for ritual motives. When the motives are for practical and material, it is to ask the saint to fulfill a need or to thank him for help already received. It is also said that people turn to the saint when they are ill, there in

Photo taken by Megan Adamson Sijapati

Photo taken by Megan Adamson Sijapati

poverty, etc. Ajmer also servers has a trade market because they combined business with piety meaning that they supply the devotees with the materials needed to pray or give thanks to the saint. In the ritual motives, the people who go to Mu’in al-din shrine tend to think of this shrine as a source of power and pilgrims travel there to establish a relationship with this power. This power is not simply valued for the material and physical help that it can bring, but also a spiritual power. Much of this spiritual power takes place such as the heart of someone to be fixed or the soul to be purify. This rituals and powers are what keep people coming for devotion to this shrines and saints.