Islamic Studies Shaṭṭārīya
Oman Fathurahman
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 May 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0242


Shattariya is one of the Sufi orders developed since the late 15th century in India; it became an integral part of the world Islamic history and civilization. In the Arabic words, a Sufi order is called tariqa, which is also often referred to in some books and sources as “path” or “brotherhood.” Most discussion of a Sufi order cannot be separated from discussion of Sufism, which always consists of two dimensions: the first is the intellectual dimension, which usually deals with the content of philosophical Sufi teachings, and the second is the organizational dimension, which deals with Sufi orders (tariqa). This is also the case of the Shattariya, as we will discuss it shortly. The origins of this order are still obscured, but some sources suggested that it is from the Tayfuri tradition, and attributed to Shaykh ʿAbd Allah al-Shattar (d. 1428/9), a descendant of Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi, who introduced this order for the first time in India. The further development of Shattariya in India is owed to al-Shattar’s pupils, especially Shah Muhammad Ghawth of Gwalior (d. 1562/3), and in the Haramayn (Mecca and Medina) thanks to Sibgatullah (d. 1606). The Shattaris defined their ritual authority from a chain of transmission (silsila) that went back to the Khorasanian mystic Abu Yazid Taifur al-Bistami (d. 874). One of the most influential figures of Shattariya during its popularity in the 17th century of Haramayn (Mecca and Medina) was Safi al-Din Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Yunus al-Madani al-Dajjani al-Qushashi, known as Ahmad al-Qushashi (d. 1660), whose teachings of meditation techniques are regarded by his followers and students as the basic guidelines of the order. In the term of Indonesia, Shattariya is the earliest known Sufi order introduced to this region in the mid-17th century. It did not originate from its homeland in India, but through Haramayn, where an Acehnese Muslim scholar ʿAbd al-Raʾuf b. ʿAli al-Jawi al-Fansuri (d. 1693) was initiated by al-Qushashi, and later became a key figure in spreading Shattariya throughout Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Al-Fansuri then proposed Qusashiya tariqa as another name of the reformed Shattariya, which propagates the rapprochement between Sufism and Sharia. Most of the works on Shattariya, written both in Arabic and non-Arabic local languages, contain its mystical teachings and spiritual genealogy of teachers (murshids) and their disciples (murids).

General Overview

Most scholarly studies on the Shattariya Sufi order pay extensive attention to the history and development of this order in three regions: India, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, with special reference to Indonesia. Among those that deal with the Shattariya in early formation in India are Rizvi 1983 (Vol. 2), discussing the origins and early development of the Shattariya in the region, and Ernst 1999, which deals with the persecution of Shaykh Muhammad Ghawth of Gwalior, one of the foremost Shattariya leaders in India. Ernst 1996, Ernst 2005, and Ernst 2013 argue the influences of yoga on Shattariya practices. Van Bruinessen 1994 contains a historical explanation of why the Shattariya became one of the crucial factors of Islamization in the Malay archipelago. As of the Shattariya’s development in the Haramayn, and particularly its transmission to other regions, Azra 2004 provides an in-depth historical analysis of the important role of Shattariya in the Islamic reformism in the 18th and 19th centuries in Southeast Asia, especially Malay-Indonesia. Kraus 2010 also briefly outlines the history of the Shattariya in India, Arabia, and Aceh. Laffan 2011 dedicates the first parts of Laffan’s discussion to outlining the dynamics and role of Sufi orders, including Shattariya, as one of the key elements in religious reform in late-19th-century Indonesia. El-Rouayheb 2015 provides a sub-chapter on the history of the early coming of Shattariya in Hejaz, and on the important role of its central figures in spreading the mystical teachings of the order. In certain areas of this current contemporary era, such as Indonesia, the Shattariya Sufi order still exists. However, an extensive study of it is hardly to find.

  • Azra, Azyumardi. The Origins of Islamic Reformism in Southeast Asia: Networks of Malay-Indonesian and Middle Eastern “Ulamā” in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Crow’s Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 2004.

    E-mail Citation »

    Provides a discussion on the networks of figures who propagated the Islamic reformism in the 17th and 18th centuries in the Malay world, including ʿAbd al-Raʾuf ibn ʿAli al-Jawi al-Fansuri (d. 1693), who was the most responsible in spreading Shattariya in this region. He became the key khalifah of Shattariya’s silsilahs in West Sumatra and Java areas, through his two disciples, Burhan al-Din of Ulakan and ʿAbd al-Muhyi of Pamijahan.

  • Ernst, Carl W. “Sufism and Yoga According to Muhammad Ghawth.” Sufi 29 (Spring 1996): 9–13.

    E-mail Citation »

    This article discusses Muhammad Ghawth’s thoughts in his Baḥr al-ḥayat, which is very influential in the literature of the Shattariya order, on the equivalences between yogic terms and practices, on the one hand, and Sufi concepts, on another.

  • Ernst, Carl W. “Persecution and Circumspection in Shattari Sufism.” In Islamic Mysticism Contested: Thirteen Centuries of Debate and Conflict. Edited by Fred De Jong and Berndt Radtke, 3–7. Islamic History and Civilization. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1999.

    E-mail Citation »

    This is a short chapter that deals with the persecution of Muhammad Ghawth of Gwalior because of the ecstatic statements that he made regarding his spiritual status. Such an event tells much about the characteristics style of the Shattariya in its early formation in India. This understanding is useful in finding out the later transformation of the order, especially when it spread to the Hejaz and then the Southeast Asian regions, including Indonesia.

  • Ernst, Carl W. “Situating Sufism and Yoga.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 15.1 (2005): 15–43.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1356186304004675E-mail Citation »

    This article argues that some Sufi teachings, in India in particular, were clearly influenced by yoga, and the Shattariya probably did the most to integrate yoga into their practice, especially regarding the mantra. Muhammad Ghawth of Gwalior was the most influential Shattari master to include yoga, which became a significant element in the Shattariya.

  • Ernst, Carl W. “Traces of Šattari Sufism and Yoga in North Africa.” Oriente Moderno XCII.2 (2013): 361–367.

    E-mail Citation »

    This article traces the origins of adaptation of yogic teachings into Shattari practices in North Africa in the mid-19th century through al-Silsabīl al-maʿin, a work written by a prominent North African Sufi teacher, Muhammad al-Sanusi (d. 1859).

  • Kraus, Werner. “The Shattariyya Sufi Brotherhood in Aceh.” In Aceh: History, Politics and Culture. Edited by Graf Arndt, Schröter Susanne, and Edwin Wieringa, 201–226. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2010.

    E-mail Citation »

    This chapter deals with a historical and anthropological survey on the dynamics of the Shattariya Sufi order in Aceh, the northern part of Sumatra, until the contemporary era, through mapping of the existence of its followers in several rural areas of Aceh. It includes a short biography of the early figures of Shattariya in India and Haramayn, including Muhammad Ghawth of Gwalior, Wajih al-Din al-ʿAlawi, Sibghatullah, Abu al-Mawahib al-Shinnawi, al-Qushashi, and al-Kurani.

  • Laffan, Michael. The Makings of Indonesian Islam: Orientalism and the Narration of a Sufi Past. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011.

    E-mail Citation »

    This is a book that provides discussion and analysis of the historical factors that have contributed to the current formation of Islam in Indonesia. Among his wide range of discussion, the author devotes his great attention to Sufism and Sufi orders, including the Shattariya, as one of the the key trends in Indonesian Islam, and part of the important elements that have developed faces of Islam in the region.

  • Rizvi, Saiyid Athar Abbas. A History of Sufism in India. Vol. 2. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1983.

    E-mail Citation »

    This second volume of Rizvi’s book contains information on the history and origins of several Sufi Orders, including Qadiriya, Shattariya, Naqshbandiya, and Chistiya, developed in India, while the first volume traces the history of early Sufism in India in general, and its impact on Indian society. Based on primary sources of Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and Hindi, the author suggested a strong interaction between Hindu and Muslim communities of Sufi orders.

  • el-Rouayheb, Khaled. Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century: Scholarly Currents in the Ottoman Empire and the Maghreb. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781107337657E-mail Citation »

    Provides a critical discussion on the discourse of the Islamic intellectual history of the 17th century of the Islamic world, including the important roles of the figures of the Shattariya and Naqshbandiya Sufi orders in presenting and rehabilitating the more extravagant and controversial ideas of the mystical teachings of Ibn ʿArabi. His subchapter on “The Shaṭṭāri order in the Hejaz” suggested the important role of Muhammad Ghawth in spreading the Shattariya in Hejaz.

  • van Bruinessen, Martin. “The Origins and Development of Sûfî Orders (Tarekat) in Southeast Asia.” Studia Islamika 1.1 (1994): 1–23.

    DOI: 10.15408/sdi.v1i1.864E-mail Citation »

    This article provides a general picture of the major roles of Sufism and Sufi orders since the beginning of early formation of Islamization of Southeast Asia. It is highlighted that Mecca and Medina were the center from where the orders came to this region. The two prominent mystics in Medina, Ahmad al-Qushashi (d. 1660) and Ibrahim al-Kurani (d. 1693) were among the reasons some Indonesian disciples have a strong preference for the Shattariya.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.