Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty (Persian/Urdu: خواجہ معین الدین چشتی ) was born in 1141 and died in 1230 CE, also known as Gharib Nawaz (غریب نواز), is the most famous Sufi saint of the Chishti Order of South Asia. He was born in 536 A.H./1141 CE, in Sajistan, Khorasan (other accounts say Isfahan) in Persia. He is also known as "Sultan-e-Hind". He claimed his progeny to Muhammad through the sixth Imam, Jaʿfar ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq (AS).
He was one of the most outstanding figures in the annals of Islamic mysticism and founder of the Chistiyya order in India.
The central principles that became characteristics of the Chistiyya order are based on his teachings and practices. They lay stress on renunciation of material goods; strict regime of self-discipline and personal prayer; participation in Sama as a legitimate means to spiritual transformation; reliance on either cultivation or unsolicited offerings as means of basic subsistence; independence from rulers and the state, including rejection of monetary and land grants; generosity to others, particularly, through sharing of food and wealth, and tolerance and respect for religious differences.
He, in other words, interpreted religion in terms of human service and exhorted his disciples “to develop river-like generosity, sun-like affection and earth-like hospitality.” The highest form of devotion, according to him, was “to redress the misery of those in distress – to fulfill the needs of the helpless and to feed the hungry.”
It was during the reign of Emperor Akbar (1556 – 1605) that Ajmer emerged as one of the most important centers of pilgrimage in India. The Mughal Emperor undertook an unceremonial journey on foot to accomplish his wish to reach Ajmer. The Akbarnama records that the emperor’s interest first sparked when he heard some minstrels singing songs about the virtues of the Awlia (Friend of God) who lay asleep in Ajmer.
Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty authored several books including ‘Anis al-Arwah’ and ‘Daleel al-Arefeen’ both of them dealing with Islamic code of living.
Khwaja Qutbuddin Baktiyar Kaki (d. 1235) and Hamiduddin Nagori (d. 1276) were Khawaja Moinuddin Chishty’s celebrated Khalifa or disciples who continued transmitting the teachings of their master through their disciples, leading to the widespread proliferation of the Chistiyya order in India.
Among Khwaja Qutbuddin Baktiyar’s prominent disciples was Fariduddin Ganj-i-Shakar (d. 1265), whose dargah is at Pakpattan (Pakistan). And Fariduddin’s most famous disciple was Nizamuddin Awliya (d. 1325) popularly referred to as Mahboob-i-Ilahi (God’s beloved) whose dargah is located in South Delhi.
From Delhi, the disciples branched out to establish dargahs in several regions of South Asia, from Sindh in the west to Bengal in the east, and the Deccan in the south. But from all the network of Chishty dargahs Ajmer dargah took on the special distinction of being the ‘mother’ dargah of them all.
A recent Bollywood movie "Jodhaa Akbar", directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, a song in praise of "Khwaja Moinudeen chisti" (Khwaja Mere Khwaja) was shot.It depicts the emperor Akbar being in awe of the song of the minstrels. The song has been composed by A.R. Rahman.