Sufism in Bihar (Islam and Bihar)
Socially, the Muslims are divided into two main classes: the Ashroff and the Ajlaf. The Saiyads, who belong to the first category, claim descent from the Prophet Himself. Others in this category are Mugals, Iranis, Afghans, Pathans, etc. The Momins, Kunjras and the Muslim castes- Julaha, Dhunia, Dhobi, Kalal, Chick, Lalbegi and others belong to the second group.
The 'Mulick' of Shahabad are all Ashroff and live by reciting poetry describing the love of Radha and Govinda. They worship certain saints and make offering at tombs and Dargahs. Bihar, like the rest of Mugal India, had witnessed a large influx of Shiaites due to the political and cultural connections between the Indian Timurids and the Persian Safavids. The Shiaites were the followers of Ali, the fourth Caliph, whom they considered the rightful successor of Mohammad. Their Fiqh (law) differed from that of the Sunnites principally in the doctrine of the Imamat or the office of the Imam as religious leader. It enjoyed considerable popularity only in the Deccan, where the Shiaites had their own kings and rulers. In Bihar, the Sunnis far outnumber the Shias. Even in pre-Mugal Bihar, all the Ulema, Mullas and Sufis were Sunni Muslims, though at that time there were no sectarian differences between Shias and Sunnis.
The Bihari Sufis, who belonged to the Wajudia School, believed that 'Everything is He (Hama Oast) 'and reconciled religion with philosophy. Some of the early Bihari Muslims, as Sheikh Aaz of Karo (Gaya) and Ahmad Bihari, held views for which they were 'ordered to be confined and punished with chains'. According to H.Shuaiv, Sultan Firuz Shah Tughluq at the instance of the orthodox Ulema of Delhi put the saint of Sheikhpura, Sheikh Aaz and Ahmad Bihari to death.
Researches have revealed that Sufism had reached Bihar and its neighbouring regions even before the Turkish conquest. Its earliest adherents belonged to the Chisti and Suharwardia order of the Sufis. Some of the well-known representatives of the Chisti order were M.Shahab-ud-din or 'Pir Jagjot' of Jethuli, H. Badr-i-Alam of Choti Dargah, Mir Fazlullah Gosain of Daira, Farid-ud-din Tawaila Bux of Chandpura, Ahmad Isa Taj of Bhaisaur, Ataullah Baqhdali of Mir Dad and Syed Sadr-ud-din Zahidi- all belonging to the town of Biharsharif (Nalanda).
Saran, another notable center of activity of the Chisti Sufis, acquired considerable fame for its association with such scholarly saints as Mir Zahid Madaria Sarani of Sepaha, Abdul Malik of Ushri and M.Syed Hasan of Hasanpura. Though the and Shutasia orders have now sunk into oblivion, there was a time when they had a great hold on the people of Bihar. Syed Jamal-ud-din Madar of Makanpur (Uttar Pradesh) who had come over to Bihar was a well-known representative of the Madaria order. His mausoleum at Hilsa contains a dated inscription. One of the greatest Sufis of the Shuttasia order was Abul Faiz Qazin Ola of Bania Basarh, near Vaishali.
The Qadri order is said to be "now one of the chief Sufi order of this province. We had one of its best representatives, Sayed Muhammad of Amjhar Sarif in the Aurangabad district". The most important of all the Sufi orders in Bihar, however, was the Suharwardia, especially its sub-section, the Firdausia Silsila, one of whose most celebrated saints was H. Sharf-ud-din Ahmad, who was born at Maner in 1262 and died at Biharsharif in 1377. The Mosques and Khankahs of the Sufi saints and preachers became centers of learning and veritable madarsas. Saif Khan's mosque and madarsa with its many saintly scholars on its staff, flourished till the end of the eighteenth century. The mosque of H. Ataullah Zasinabi at Phulwari, bearing an inscription of Akbar's time, still stands and the madarsa still continues. Mulla Abul Husan of Darbhanga, the saintly scholar who taught Princess Zebunnisa, the accomplished daughter of Emperor Aurangzeb, and the five scholarly members of the syndicate that compiled Fatwa-i-Alamgiri, were all great saints of their time.