By Zeeshan Rasool Khan
Syedus Saadat Salaar’e Ajam: Dast’e ou Maemar’e Taqdeer’e Ummam
Syed of syeds and a leader of Iran; who shaped the destiny of nations (Allama Iqbal)
Many great saints, sages, and savants came to Kashmir for promoting and propagating ‘Islam’- the religion about which Allah (SWT) says; “I perfected your religion for you and completed my favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Quran 5:3]. Among these personages, ‘Syed Ali Hamdani (R.A)’ is(was) the most prominent who not only preached the religion, but also influenced masses socially, culturally and economically.
Syed Ali Hamdani enjoys prestige of being Najeeb-ur-Tarafaen Syed- ( a true Syed whose lineage has never seen non- syed) with his father Syed Shaha-bu-deen Hamdani, descendent of Imam Hussein (A.S) and his mother Syeda Fatima, decedent of Imam Hassan (A.S). Born on 12 Rajab-ul-Murajab 714 AH (12 October 1314 A.D) in Hamadan (Iran), and died on 6th Zilhujjah 786 AH (19 January 1384 A.D) in Kunar (a province in Afghanistan), Syed Ali Hamdani was Sufi Saint of the Kubravi order, a scholar, a theologian, a writer, a poet and a preacher par excellence.
Known by several titles; ‘Ali Sani’, Amir-I- Kabeer, Shah-e-Hamdan, Qutub-ul-Aktaab and so on, Syed Ali Hamdani was from an educated family thus received basic education under the supervision of his maternal uncle Ala-ud-Daula Simnani for a period of thirteen years. For spiritual training, Syed Ali Hamdani proceeded to Sheikh Sharafuddin Mahmud Mazdigani who instructed him to set out on a journey, meet saints, get guidance from them, and spread the message of Islam. He traveled frequently, spent the better part of his life in traveling, and contributed enormously to the expansion of message of Islam. According to tradition, he toured around the world three times and spread Islam in many countries, which include China, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and so on. Fortunately, he also chose the valley of Kashmir, and sowed here the seeds of love, peace, and harmony that influenced masses to accept the message of the Prophet (PBUH), that is ‘There is no God but Allah. Muhammad (PBUH) is the messenger of the God.’
The valley of Kashmir is blessed in the sense that Syed Ali Hamdani came here thrice and made it the center of his activities. He came to Kashmir for the first time during the reign of Sultan Shihab-ud-din in 774 A.H (1372 B.C) and stayed here for a brief period of four months. Sultan Qutubudin (brother of Sultan Shahabuddin) welcomed the second visit of Hamdani in 781 AH (1379 A.D). This time Hamdani was accompanied by 700 members who assisted him in establishing mosques, seminaries, and centers of preaching across the length and breadth of the valley. This visit was thus a landmark in the dissemination of Islam. After spending two years, he went back to Turkistan via Ladakh, but again visited the valley in 785AH (1383 A.D), with the intenton to stay for long but had to return earlier on account of illness. Upon the return from this visit, he reached Kunar and after few days bade adieu to materialistic life (on 6th Zilhujjah 786 AH).
Shah e Hamadan’s earthly remains were taken to Kolab in Khatlan (Tajikistan) and buried there. However, due to his great efforts, he succeeded in extending the movement of the Islam to the nook and corner of the Kashmir. Before leaving Kashmir, he deputed his son Mir Muhammad Hamdani (RA) to take forward the sacred mission of enlightening hearts of people with the faith of Islam. Mir Muhammad Hamdani later institutionalized the Islamic mission in Kashmir. He supervised the construction of famous institutions like, Khankah e Maula (Srinagar), Khankah e Faizpanah (Tral), Khankah-I-Aala (Pulwama), Khanqah, (Wachi Shopian) which played a instrumental role in the spiritual, social, and educational reforms in society throughout the history of Kashmir. Even at present, these institutions continue to be source for moral excellence and spiritual advancement. For this reason, Syed Ali Hamdani is credited as the founder of Islam in Kashmir.
Hamdani’s economic impact on Kashmir is incredibly profound. He played a crucial and critical role in the economic upliftment of Kashmiris. His aim was to make Kashmiri self-sufficient by teaching them a skill. Thus, along with religious preachers, he brought with him numerous artists and artisans who settled down in Kashmir and taught the craft of Pashmina textile and carpet making to the local population. The establishment of shawl industry and its subsequent prevalence in this part of world has been possible because of him. The introduction of craft, handicraft, calligraphy, Copper-work and Silverwork in Kashmir is also the benevolence of Hamdani on Kashmiri people. He familiarized people with trade and commerce on the pattern prevailing in central Asia that boosted them economically.
In addition, he revived the agricultural, irrigational, and industrial system by suggesting new techniques. In this way, Hamdani changed the life patterns of Kashmiri people and shaped the destiny of Kashmir, religiously, socially, culturally, as well as economically. Apart from appreciating Hamdani’s role in Kashmir’s Islamic revolution, Allama Iqbal immortalized his socio-economic, and cultural contribution as: Khitah ra ‘aan shah’e darya aasteen; Daad ilm wa sannat wa tehzeeb wa deen (Shah e Hamdan provided (to Kashmiris) knowledge, industry, culture, and religion through his inclusive approach and oceanic vision).
Hamdani was a man of letters and in spite of having a busy schedule, he proved to be a great poet and writer. In poetry, he used pen names; ‘Ulai’ and ‘Ali’ and Chihli-Asrar is one of his anthologies consisting of 40 poems mostly based on spirituality. He wrote hundreds of pamphlets in Arabic and Persian to reach a maximum audience and to preserve his ideas, philosophy, and message (which include guidance for Kings and rulers) for the future generation, for propagation of which he spent 21 years in traveling and went through fire and water.
Historians have attributed to Hamdani as many as 180 writings. Abdul Wahab Noori, author of book Fatuhaati Kubraviyah quotes Syed Ali Hamdani: ‘I have not been appreciated in this world but hundred years after my death, people will start benefiting from my writings and appreciate my value’. And presently, these pamphlets really exist as documents of guidance for all. These writings are scattered in different libraries of the world and scholars in particular and people, in general, are benefited from them. These books being in Arabic or Persian are inaccessible to common masses of Kashmir; however, many of these books like, Dhakhirat-ul-muluk, Chihli-Asrar have been translated into many other languages including Urdu and Kashmiri. One such successful endeavor of translating Dhakhirat-ul-muluk into Urdu (under the title; Baseerat -ul- Salook) and Awrad e Fathiya into both Kashmiri and Urdu has been made by Allama Syed Qasim Shah Bukhari and another notable writer Syed Abdul Rashid Kamili has interpreted Chihli-Asrar in Kashmiri (under the name ‘Matla-ul-Anwaar’). Currently, many young scholars like Dr. Tanveer Hayat have started demonstrating interest in making people aware about these ‘treasures of wisdom’ lucidly, which is commendable.
Regarding Awrad-Fathiyah, it is pertinent to mention that it is also reflection of Hamdani’s concern for Muslims especially of Kashmir. Syed Ali Hamdani, upon noticing unsure faith and witnessing the plight of Kashmiri Muslims , asked them to recite Awrad loudly to reinforce the belief and cast off sufferings – as stated by Shah Wali-ullah Muhadis Dehlavi .It is a treasure of blessing, whosoever will recite with abidance, will surely experience its virtues (Intibah salasil awliyah).
So immense is the contribution of Syed Ali Hamdani that one column will not suffice to cover it. Detailed account of his role in preaching of Islam and influence on different aspects of the lives of Kashmiris has brought forth many books. Nevertheless, what is important for us is to understand his message, imbibe his teachings, and practice them in everyday life besides bearing in mind his instrumental role in every aspect of our existence.
Today on his 653rd Urs (death anniversary of Sufi saint), let us make a pledge of constancy with him.
The author writes on current socio-political issues. He tweets at zeeshan_rk and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org