Female Islamic Saints


The tomb within the dargâh of Musa Suhag in Ahmedabad, India.

Musa Suhag (15th century), whose name Suhag means “wifehood” in Urdu, was an Indian mystic and walî known for wearing women’s clothes. Musa was a resident of Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, in what is now India, and is often associated with the Chisti order. According to tradition, Musa left Jhunjhunu for Ahmedabad in the region of Gujarat, wearing women’s clothes and living with local eunuchs or transgender women called hijras, to evade attention. Musa danced and prayed with the hijras and gained renown as a majzûb, one so in love with God they become “absorbed” by Him. Musa even called God husband, and compared separation from God to being a widow, helping to proliferate the use of bridal analogies in Sufi poetry and discourse. In many accounts, Musa is said to have saved Ahmedabad from a drought by making duʿâʾ or a prayer in the form of a song and a dance, as is customary of hijra blessings. In other stories, Musa is variously accosted by jurists and government officials for dressing like a woman. Some associate Musa with fellow Chisti Nizmuddin Auliya, although the latter died the previous century.

By the time Musa died, the mystic had acquired a following of hijras, who would wear a red bridal gown and veil and colorful bangles, renouncing the world for their husband, God, as their shaykh did. Some refer to the members of the ad hoc tarîqah as Suhagis. People, especially women and hijras still visit Musa Suhag’s dargâh, and young women leave votive bangles at the dargâh and pray for successful marriage and seek the saint’s intercession.

Votive bangles hung on a tree outside of the dargâh.

South AsiaSuhagi OrderSufiMystic.