Shah e Hamadan: The Architect of Kashmir’s History and Destiny

Shah e Hamadan: The Architect of Kashmir’s History and Destiny
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By Tajamul Ahmad Sheikh

Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani (RA), the 14th century Sufi master popularly known as Amir e Kabir, was one of the most prominent representatives of Islamic thought. Besides a social reformer, he was a voyager, philosopher, poet and the religious leader. Such was his thirst for knowledge, learning and propagation of Islam that he visited the whole world thrice in his lifetime and met a number of scholars to get benefit from them. Shah e Hamadan’s(RA) main contribution to Kashmir was to build a community based on the fundamentals of brotherhood, equality and piety as is evident through his writings, particularly through his celebrated books. His arrival in the valley not only disseminated the Islamic culture and monotheism among Muslims but raised their political, social and economical paradigms as well.
Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani (R.A), the reformer of highest calibre and Sufi scholar was born on Monday 12 Rajab 714 A.H (1314 AD) in Hamadan and died in786 A.H/1384 in Kunar and was buried in Khatlan. His father’s name was Syed Shihab-Ud-din who was a descendent of Imam Hussain and his mother’s name was Saiyidnah Fatima who was descendent of Imam Hassan.
He was a very intelligent and sharp mind who memorized the whole Quran in his early childhood. At a very young age Syed Ali Hamadani was very well versed in theology, fiqh and Tasawwuf. Despite hardships and impediments in his way, he travelled extensively across the length and breadth of the then inhabited world in the pursuit of knowledge. Spiritual elevation and social interaction was the main purpose of his travels.
A good number of scholars are of the view that Hamadani visited Kashmir thrice. For the first time, Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani came to Kashmir during the reign of Sultan Shahab-Ud-Din in 774 A.H (1372 B.C.) and stayed there for six months. Later, he came again in 781 A.H (1378 A.D.) during the reign of Sultan Qutub-ud-Din, and spent two and a half years here. He attempted to extend the noble movement to every nook and corner of Kashmir, and returned to Turkistan via Ladakh in 784 A.H. Third time, he visited in 785 A.H. (1383 A.D.), with the intention to stay for a longer period but had to return earlier due to illness. The main aim of his visits to Kashmir was to accelerate the process of Islamization and motivate the common populace with true spirit of Islam.
Before the advent of Shah Hamadan in Kashmir, Islam was hanged on its eyelids. The social, economical, religious and cultural scene of Kashmir was really adverse. Morality, spirituality, integrity and ethics had been banished from society. There was complete failure of proper social set up. While religion (Islam) had become blend of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, people would offer prayer but at times going to temples and worshipping of idols also continued. Common people had become victims of repression and inhuman treatment at the hands of people who at the helm of affairs.. Society had been bankrupted morally.
But the arrival of Shah-e-Hamadan proved to be very effective and fruitful in elevating the society socially, morally, spiritually and economically. The society where you can’t imagine justice and equality prior to his arrival in Kashmir became epicentre of justice, honesty, equality and so on. The rigid caste system which was prevalent during that time made him restless and he fought against that system relentlessly. He also brought a large group of 700 people (Sa’daat) to Kashmir . many of whom were highly skilled, men of arts and crafts, who trained people of vale in the fields like engineering, architecture, agriculture, handicrafts and for centuries since then Kashmir has become renowned throughout globe and symbolises the very beauty of Kashmir.
The people of Kashmir became well-versed artists and hold much resonance and great authority in number of handicrafts like woodcarving, copper engraving, carpet weaving, paper machie, carpet manufacture, shawl Bafi (Shawl weaving), calligraphy, embroidery work and so on. He laid great vehemence on working hard and earning legal livelihood. Allama Iqbal (RA) rightly praises Shah-e-Hamadan as Salar-e-Ajam (leader of Persians) the one who shaped the fate of Kashmir and blessed the Paradise Kashmir with ocean of knowledge (‘Alim), industry (San’at), civilizational morality (Tahzib) and religion (Din) and remained a mentor of sages and kings.
Besides being a poet and saint, Sayyid Ali Hamadani was an erudite scholar and versatile writer who wrote about 170 works in Arabic and Persian. Some of his famous books which are now preserved in the form of manuscripts across the famous libraries of the world including Zakhirat-ul-Malook, Risalah Nooriyah, Risalah Maktubaat, Auwrad – ul-Fathiyah and the rest. In short, the message and personal experience of Shah-e-Hamadan not only uplifted the people of valley politically, socially and economically but he also appealed to the minds and touched the heart of the masses especially those who along with physical appetite suffered from a spiritual hunger. Alas, nowadays, people only pay tributes to him by celebrating his death anniversary and forget his real teachings, acting upon which could be the real tribute to him.

The author is a Doctoral Fellow at the University of Kashmir. He can be reached at: