Sheikh ul Alam(RA): The Patron Saint of Kashmir

Sheikh ul Alam(RA): The Patron Saint of Kashmir
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Sheikh-ul-Alam (RA) also known as NundRishi is the famous sufi saint and most influential personality that Kashmir has produced. Sheikh-ul-Alam (RA) was born in Kaimoh village of district Kulgam.
According to a tradition, Lalla Arifa used to visit Sheikh-ul-Alam’s mother during her pregnancy and took care of her. When Sheikh was born, he did not take milk for the first three days. Lalla Arifa then fed him herself by saying, “you never hesitated in coming to this world then, why do you hesitate in taking the milk?”
From his very childhood, Almighty Allah blessed Sheikh ul Alam(RA) with unique characteristics. Once, in childhood, his mother took him to a village school (Maktab) for study and learning where the little Sheikh refused to recite the second letter of the Arabic language saying that ‘alif’ was the only letter that implied Allah. His mother got disappointed and took him to a weaving center to acquaint him with skills; here too little Sheikh found a symbolic meaning in the shuttle used for weaving and refused to work.
Hazrat Sheikh-ul-Alam (RA) dedicated his whole life to serve the humanity and to spread the message of Islam in every nook and corner of the valley. He insisted that a man should control his inner self (nafs) if he wants salivation both in the world and Hereafter. The great saint preached the message of love and emphasized upon the people that they should always be ready to help others.
Sheikh –ul-Alam (RA) travelled far off places in the valley to preach and propagate Islam. His mission was to reform society. He presented the true picture of the religion Islam to the people. He was well aware about how some people exploited others in the name of religion and critiqued the Mullahs in his poems that they had made it a profession to recite the Holy Quran and gain material wealth out of it.
Hazrat Sheikh-ul-Alam (RA) stressed upon creating a congenial and friendly environment which was free from divisions, discrimination and distrust. He raised his voice against injustice and oppression as people of valley were exploited by the landlords and ruling class of that time. He worked both as a poet and a social worker. He was much concerned about the destruction of forests and water bodies as well as being deeply pained when he found that people were materialistic in approach and he raised his voice against them. Along with maintaining and preserving the ecological balance, he praised and mesmerized the beauty of Kashmir through his poetic verses.
Sheikh-ul-Alam (RA) had a deep insight into the future and his book is full of verses of the future events that have proved correct in the present times. In one verse he wrote: bronth kali asan tithe karen , tang tsunth papen tseren seeth. Maje kori hath wass kerith neren, Doh deenbarengearanseeth. ( A time will come in future, when apples and pears will ripen at the same time as apricots and mothers and daughters will move out, hand in hand and will spend their days with strangers).
He was one of the most distinguished philosophers, poets, preacher and social activists who put an influence on the literacy and cultural life of people of Kashmir.
Sheikh ul Alam’s greatest contribution was his poetry where he expressed his philosophy and ideals which almost touched every aspect of life. He took the work of propagating Islam to the people of valley in their own mother tongue (Kashmiri) so that they could understand the religion easily and clearly.
His sayings are preserved in the books Nur-Nama and Reshi-Nama easily available in Kashmir and his noble life and charter impressed the people and his message of universal brotherhood and tolerance is relevant in present and all times. If we follow his teachings we can definitely mitigate our sufferings and our lives will find peace and salvation.
The year of Sheikh ul Alam’s death, similar to the year of his birth, is a matter of dispute. It varies from 808 Hijri to 820 Hijri to 825 Hijri and to 842 Hijri. His tomb stands at Chari Sharif in the Budgam district of Kashmir where thousands of people throng every year to pay tribute and get blessings of this great patron Sufi saint of Kashmir.

—The author is a PhD Research Scholar. He can be reached at: