Samita Das, University of Delhi, India.
The social history of Delhi sultanate has always remained an adjunct to the political history. Most scholars studied this period especially 13th and 14th century, on the basis of political chronicles and as a result, the social history is ignored. The everyday lives of people was of little interest to the historians because by the same logic historians found it an insignificant factor in the political history of the state. My paper is a contribution to the manner in which the ‘Malfuz’ (spoken words of a Sufi saint) literature can be used for the writing of social history. Fawa’id ul Fu’ad, the malfuzat of the Sufi saint Nizam ud din Auliya, portrays the medieval Indian society through the eyes of the Sufi saint. Some of the social aspects that the Chishti Shaikh reflected upon were parenting and schooling, works of different kinds and the concept of leisure. My paper seeks to explore the incidental information about material conditions, traditions and social lives of people in 13th and 14th century India and the way the saint presented his discourse on social attitudes, presuppositions concerning normative behavior to explain how an individual should live his life. The saint’s teachings were disseminated through anecdotes, a loose structuring which remain cognizant of the presence of varieties of conducts and beliefs. His teachings attempted to show that his ideas should prevail over others. My paper also brings out the problems of undertaking an empirical approach as the text Fawa’id ul fu’ad is a discursive text as it carries sheikh Nizam ud din Auliya’s teachings. Thus, there is a need to read the text ‘against the grain’ to have a sense of how the Sheikh would seek to alter the social lives of his disciples.