The Hundred Letters

The Hundred Letters

The Hundred Letters

The Hundred Letters

Excerpt

This introduction will deal with (1) the biography of Sharafuddin b. Yahya Maneri, (2) the text of The Hundred Letters, (3) its translation, and (4) the notes and indices.

Sharafuddin b. Yahya Maneri

The future saint was born in Maner, a town about twenty miles west of Patna, in Bihar, a state adjacent to Bengal in northeast India circa August 1263. His father, a famous Sufi in his times, was named Yahya. Hence the full name of the saint is Sharafuddin Ahmad ibn Yahya Maneri. He later became known as Makhdum ul-Mulk, "The Spiritual Teacher of the Realm," and at present people in Bihar simply refer to him as Makhdum Sahib. He is still venerated as the most famous Muslim saint ever to have lived in Bihar. The anniversary of his death is annually celebrated, as is the custom among Sufis, and the occasion draws large crowds to Rajgir, where there is a shrine consisting of a small cave in which he used to live, a well from which he used to obtain his water supply, and a small mosque where he used to pray. Crowds also visit Bihar Sharif, the township in which he spent the last forty years or so of his life and where he now lies buried.

Sharafuddin attended a local mosque-school for his early education. He then accompanied a noted Delhi traditionist, Abu Tawwama al-Hanbali, to Sonargaon, near modern-day Dacca in Bangladesh, where he remained for some time and received a thorough education in all the standard branches of Islamic learning current at the time.

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