Paramedia Articles

Roshaniyya: Illuminati of Afghanistan

Roshaniyya:  Illuminati of Afghanistan
© 2013 Joshua Seraphim Leilah Publications
All rights reserved.

roshaniyyaBayazid al’Ansari {1525-1581} was born poverty-stricken into the Arab tribe of Madinah, mentioned in the Holy Qu’ran, which received the Prophet Muhammad after his flight from Makkah {Mecca}.  The name Ansari is an offshoot of the Madinah tribe and derives from the Arabic, al’ansar, meaning “assistants,” or “helpers.”  The al’ansar were the historical saintly individuals of the Madinah tribe whom assisted and gave refuge to the Prophet Muhammad who fled Makkah in self-exile from the Persian Manichaean and Zoroastrian chieftains.  Islamic Scholar Idries Shah Naqshbandi contends that the given birth name of al’Ansari was Fateh Bayazid Khan, the son of a Sufi Mullah from the family of Bayazid, in the Madinah tribe of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

During the life of Bayazid al’Ansari Afghanistan and Pakistan were governed as independent provinces often contested by the Persian Safavid Empire and the Mughal Empire in India, of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries A.D.  Raised in the humble and poor backgrounds of Sufi khanikahs {residential communities}, Bayazid al’Ansari was not born into the Pashtun tribe, yet his maternal lineage linked his family to the Pashtuns, a tribe of modern day Afghanistan.  Shah indicates that al’Ansari possibly grew up a neglected or abused child, likely common in the war torn provinces of Kandahar, Herat, and Kabul before the Mughals brought Islamic renaissance in Art, literature, music, and economics to the region.

Although there is no known historical-magical record of al’Ansari initiating into a Sufi tariqat, {order} he is known to have diligently studied Sufi practices of dhikr {chanting & mystical memory of verses}, qilwat {concentration}, and tawhid {divine unity}.  Al’Ansari eventually claimed some degree of illumination thereby, perhaps attaining ahadiyyat {oneness} or his sirr, divine genius in the practice of tasawwuf, Sufism.  Traveling to north of Peshawar, al’Ansari inaugurated and opened up a modest khanikahs {residential school}.  The Sufi devotee commenced training a small body of Aspirants in the supernatural and mystical sciences he acquired; he taught that the Supreme Being, the First Cause, Allah the Benevolent and Merciful, desired the creation of a new class of Illuminated Men and Women to govern the world.  Aspirants were placed in a carefully supervised vigil of seclusion and meditation {qilwat}.  The now zealous and illuminated neophytes turned their loved ones and patrons onto this new system, soon Ansari was lavishly provided for by wealthy merchants and Pashtun tribal Chieftains.  Al’Ansari began to prosper in wealth.

Through his increasing works and popularity among local aspirants, al’Ansari became known as the Pir’i’ Roshan, or the “Apostle of Light” by his beloved devotees.  The collected writings of al’Ansari, “Khayr al-Bayan,” “Maksud al- Muminin”, “Surat-i Tawhid”, “Fakr”, and “Hal-Nama” formed the basis of a movement referred to as the Roshaniyya by followers and critics of al’Ansari alike.  The fledgling movement rapidly flourished in the region of Kabul, spreading in popularity and sensationalism into areas of Mughal Kashmir.  The Sufi philosophy and writings of al’Ansari’s Roshaniyya sect were vigorously opposed by the Sunni ulama {religious community}.

In the mid-Sixteenth century, Mughal governors increased persecution of his followers and executed many of them in the name of orthopraxy in Islam.  Scholar Idries Shah offers that Isma’ili missionaries had direct association with the Roshaniyya sect.  Nonetheless, Bayazid Ansari seems to have been influenced with the esoteric doctrines of the Nizari Ismailites in Kandhar.  Many a bulk of the Ismailites were also scourged to death in Kashmir during the Mughal operations, forcing the surviving members of the sect to migrate to Punjab, where they emerged under the name of the Shamsi.  The Nizari Ismailites are best known for the radical sect of Hashashiyya, or Assassins founded by Hasan ibn Sabbah in A.D. 1090.

Bayazid al’Ansari instituted the foundations of the Roshaniyya sect in A.D. 1542-1543 the period when the majority of the afore-mentioned writings were collectively published.  His religious teachings spread rapidly amongst the Pashtun.  Eventually, at length, al’Ansari gained the ability to assemble Roshaniyya militias, and oppose the Mughal government. As discussed, al’Ansari was a zealous adherent of Sufi mystical practices.  Idries Shah attributes his discipleship under the notorious Mullah Sulayman {known as Jalandhari Sulayman, from the town of Jalandhar, in Panjab} to increased attention from the Mughal government.

Under Mullah Sulayman, al’Ansari initiated in the tenets of the Raja Yogis, a practice among Hindu sects, and became a fast convert to the creed of the Metempsychosis, a Pythagorean system of the transmigration of souls. On these doctrines, however, he engrafted some of his own personal Sufi mystical practices, the most remarkable of which was, that the most complete manifestations of Al’Lah were attained in the persons of the enlightened, or “illuminated.” The great opponent of Bayazid al’Ansari was Akhund Darwazah, the greatest and most venerated of all the saints of Afghanistan, whom in derision of the title of Pir’i’Roshan, conferred with his initiating Mullah upon al’Ansari the name of Pir’i’Tarik, or “Apostle of Darkness,” by which name he is now chiefly known.

Bayazid al’Ansari strategic association with particular influential Pashtun P{Pathan} tribal chieftains, in addition to ostracizing himself outside of the tribal system, segregating himself independent of a single tribal patronage, al’Ansari was able to meld an identity greater than the tribal level.  He molded the sect of the Roshaniyya in the rustic mountains of Afghanistan, formulating Eight degrees of Initiation similar to the initiatic grades of the Sufi tariqas {religious orders}, thus inaugurating a greater sense of identity; a greater Islamic identity and an identity as a Roshaniyya.

Thus were given the Roshaniyya a keen edge by the anti-Mughal political maneuverings of al’Ansari. However, his opponent Darwaza’s connection to knowledgeable and established elders whom were well steeped not only in the formal sciences of Islam, but also were highly familiar with the mystical traditions of the Sufi tariqas.  Darwazah also was initiated in light exercises that form the foundations of the ascent through the planes to the Sufi Mevlevi Dervish, initiated into the magical language and allusions by which religion is transmitted.  This knowledge unfortunately offset the strategic edge of the Roshaniyya. In fact, it was a teacher of Darwazah, a scholar by the name of Mullah Zangi Pabini, whom actually first mentioned conferring upon al’Ansari the dubious title of Pir’i’ Tarik.

The Roshaniyya sect were fervently opposed by the Sunni ulama and more orthodox Sufis alike, as well as the Mughals government under Shah Akbar {1556-1605}.  With partial sovereignty over regional provinces of Peshawar, Kabul, Heart, and Kandahar in modern Afghanistan and Kashmir, the Mughal government vigorously initiated military and subversive campaigns against the Roshaniyya.  Many Roshaniyya were arrested and executed by the Mughals.

These events became the first broad scale religious and political movement uniting the then divided Afghan, Pashtun speaking, tribes of the region.  The Roshaniyya movement lingered on until the Eighteenth Century when the last Roshaniyya initiate purportedly died in A.D. 1736; nonetheless, the movement profoundly affected Afghan culture.  Modern Isma’ili scholars Farhad Daftary, Bernard Lewis, and Idries Shah theorize that Isma’ili missionaries had known albeit shadowed relations with the Roshaniyya sect, as the esoteric doctrines of Shaykh Bayazid al’Ansari are marked with influences of the esoteric doctrines prevalent of the Nizari Isma’ilis in Kandahar.

A bulk number of Kashmiri Isma’ilis were killed in reprisals from the Mughal army during Mughal campaigns in the region.  Such points to a closer connection between the Nizari Isma’ili sect of the Hashishiyya and Shaykh Bayazid al’Ansari’s Roshaniyya as scholars ambiguously suggest.  Bayazid al’Ansari died in A.D. 1581 from wounds received in the Battle of Dawlatabad.

Franz Kolmer, a Danish merchant had made innumerable trips to Egypt and Persia, living for several years in Alexandria, Egypt.  The elusive Franz Kolmer was a Freemason of good standing in the German Grand Lodge, and as the tale is circulated, heard of the Roshaniyya during his studies in Alexandria and travels to Safavid Persia, as the last Roshaniyya initiate allegedly died in 1736.  In 1770, Kolmer became acquainted with Jesuit Priest and Professor at Ingolstadt, Adam Weishaupt.

On 1 May 1776, Weishaupt and Baron Adolph-François-Frederic Knigge along with Mayer Amschel Rothschild inaugurated the Bavarian Order of Perfectibilists, later known as the Bavarian Order of the Illuminati.  Modern Scholars of the Isma’ili sect of Islam, Idries Shah, Bernard Lewis, and Farhad Daftary speculate that the Sufi doctrines of the Roshaniyya and mystical practices of the Hashashiyya lingered on in the mountains of Afghanistan, finding new fervor in such movements as Islamic revivalism and Islamic anti-colonialism of the Nineteenth Century.

nightowl
Night Owl Media, owned by Leilah Publications, is a alternative paramedia network for the 21st century. Night Owl is another digital step in paramedia, merging social media, art, activism, technology, spirituality and social, religious ,& political commentary.