peace and prosperity. This expectation of the establishment of the Kingdom
of God on earth was shared by the Sunnis despite their differences with the
Shias about the succession to the Imamate (Caliphate).
    From time to time bold impostors arose and laid claim to Mahdiship. This
is known as the Mahdavi movement. One such pretender, Ruknuddin of
Delhi, was put to death by Firuz Shah Tughluq. Nearly a century later Sayyid
Muhammad of Jaunpur claimed to be the Mahdi, incurred the displeasure of
Sultan Mahmud Shah I of Gujarat, and was banished to Mecca. His teachings
were imbibed by Mian Abdullah Niyazi and Shaikh Alai who were
suppressed by Islam Shah Sur. The Mahdavi movement practically fizzled
out in the second half of the sixteenth century.
    Abul Fazl represented Akbar as a mujaddid (religious reformer).
According to an Apostolic tradition a mujaddid was expected to appear
towards the end of the first millennium after the hijra. This tradition lay
behind the compilation of an important historical work of Akbar’s reign,
Tarikh-i-Alfi, which, however, was left incomplete. Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, a
pupil of the Naqshbandi saint Khwaja Baqi Billah, who died in Delhi towards
the close of Akbar’s reign, was known as mujaddid alf sani (reformer of the
second millennium).
Unorthodox Religious Thought
During the Mughal period the Chishti school of Sufis lost ground and it
produced no outstanding saint who could reinvigorate its teachings. Due to
aloofness from politics and administration it was also out of tune with the
prevailing political and social conditions.
    The Naqshbandi school attached itself closely to the court and the nobility
and degraded Sufism to the status of a handmaid of orthodox Islam. Its
programme took an aggressive form in the propaganda of Shaikh Ahmad
Sirhindi (1563–1624). He became the leading spokesman of this school after
Akbar’s death. He maintained contact with the nobles of the imperial court
and gave wide currency—through tracts and letters—to the idea that Akbar’s
liberal policy had polluted the purity of Islam and led to the political, social
and cultural degeneration of Muslims. He aimed at purging the Muslim
community of all ideas and practices which appeared to be un-Islamic. His