Pir Sadr al-Din established the first Jamatkhana in the fifteenth century

Pir Sadr al-Din is credited with building the first Nizari jama’at-khana in Kotri, Sind, and subsequently in Punjab and Kashmir and appointed their mukhis or leaders.

The term is derived from the Sanskrit word mukhya meaning most important or chief.

The specific form of Nizari Ismailism that evolved in the subcontinent came to be referred to by the translation of the Qur’anic term sirat al-mustaqim, rendered as Satpanth or true path.

Pir Sadr al-Din referred to the convertees as Khoja derived from the Persian word khwaja meaning lord or master.

The mausoleum of Pir Satgur Nur at Navsari, Gujarat, India  Image: The Institute of Ismaili Studies
The mausoleum of Pir Satgur Nur at Navsari, Gujarat, India – Image: The Institute of Ismaili Studies

The Nizari Ismaili state of Alamut was established in 1090 in Persia (now Iran) and fell to the Mongols in 1256. After the fall of Alamut, the community was deprived of direct contact with and centralized leadership of the Imams, who remained in hiding for two centuries in order to avoid persecution. Under these circumstances, the various Nizari Ismaili communities developed independently and often in isolation from one another. Many Persian Nizaris migrated to adjacent lands in Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Sind in the Indian subcontinent. In Persia, the community and the Imams guised themselves under the mantle of Sufism that was spreading widely. The esoteric tradition of Sufism as well as the use of the Persian language by the Nizari Ismailis of Alamut facilitated the Ismaili-Sufi association.

Around the twelfth century, the Nizari Ismaili da’wa (missionary activities) was introduced into the Indian subcontinent. Pir Satgur Nur was the first Pir sent from Daylam (in Persia) by Imam Mustansir bi’llah to Gujarat (India), where he settled in Patan. He converted the local inhabitants of the region which came to be known as Pirna Patan or the pir’s city. He was followed by Pir Shams al-Din who was active in the first half of the fourteenth century in the cities of Multan and Uchchh in Sind (both now in Pakistan; his mausoleum is preserved in Multan under the name of Shah Shams al-Din Sabzawari. His work was continued by his great grandson Pir Sadr al-Din, who authored the largest number of Ginans.

Pir Sadardin mausoleum
Pir Sadardin’s mausoleum – Photo: Malik Mirza./Simerg.com.

Pir Sadr al-Din referred to the convertees as Khoja derived from the Persian word khwaja meaning lord or master. Pir Sadr al-Din is also credited with building the first Nizari jama’at-khana in Kotri, Sind, and subsequently in Punjab and Kashmir and appointed their mukhis or leaders.  The term is derived from the Sanskrit word mukhya meaning most important or chief. The specific form of Nizari Ismailism that evolved in the subcontinent came to be referred to by the translation of the Qur’anic term sirat al-mustaqim, rendered as Satpanth or true path.

Pir Sadr al-Din laid the foundation of the communal organization of the Indian Nizaris who henceforth became known as Khojas. According to Ginanic literature, Pir Sadr al-din died sometime between the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century; his shrine is located near Uchchh, to the south of Multan.

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References:
Farhad Daftary, A Short History of Ismailis, Edinburgh University Press, 1998
Farhad Daftary and Azim Nanji, Ismaili Communities – South Asia, The Institute of Ismaili Studies http://www.iis.ac.uk/SiteAssets/pdf/ismailis_south_asia.pdf
Research by Nimira Dewji


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