Hazrat Amir e Kabir Syed Mir Ali Hamdani is at the top of the list of those religious scholars and spiritual guides who spent their entire lives spreading the Message of Allah (swt) in the green valleys of Kashmir. He was not only sincere but also one of the most active propagators of Islam. He was a great crusader and a man of piety, purity, courage and determination. He did a lot to promote education in the valley and aimed at bringing local Kashmiris back to the righteous path. He brought about a manifest revolution in the world of Kashmiri culture, civilisation, society and religion. With his tireless efforts, Islam penetrated deep into the hearts of Kashmiris and gained firm ground.
Shah Hamdani’s life was not only limited to religious activities and spiritual exercise; he was a man of action and lived his life thus. He toured Muslim countries three times over and surveyed the individual Islamic mission of each place within their boundaries.
According to various sources it has been noted that he was born in Hamdan in 1313 C.E. His lineage derived from Hazrat Imam Zainul Abideen. His father was Syed Shahabuddin. Some sources relate that he was the leader of Hamdan and therefore had a close relationship with the nobility and elite of society. Shah Hamdani’s mother, Seyyida Fatima, was a very virtuous lady.
Syed Ali Hamdani not only belonged to a noble family, he was very intelligent and sagacious too. He showed signs of truth and guidance from early age. He began his education under the supervision of his maternal uncle, Hazrat Alauddaula Samnani, and took his initial lessons from him. It was under his guidance that he memorised the holy Quran in addition to learning other Islamic sciences. He received spiritual training, too.
At a later date he was entrusted to saint Shaikh Taqiuddin Abul Barkat Ali Dosti. He infused in Syed Ali Hamdani a deep sense of human divinity and human service in purity and sincerity. Since Syed Ali Hamdani was a son of a ruler, it was necessary to restrain any sense of arrogance so that it may not have overpowered him in any way. Factors such as wealth, luxuries, alongside comforts and pleasures of life can lead to many evils of life. These factors can only be controlled by putting oneself into disgrace. Hence his mentor entrusted him the job of collecting the shoes of visitors. A later duty involved sweeping the khanqah. All such duties were accepted gracefully and cheerfully.
Syed Ali Hamdani returned to Ali Dosti once again after six others. After the death of his spiritual guide and mentor, he began undertaking long journeys where he made calling people to Islam the mission of his life. These journeys were very hard and tedious and he suffered untold miseries and hardships in Allah’s path. He did all this with undaunted courage. He never compromised on principles nor bowed before any power of the day. His plain talking drew many opponents around him but did not care for opposition. Scholars and rulers opposed him alike but he still called a spade a spade. He remained unchanged throughout his life because he never developed any desire for wealth and comfort.
It has been said that once Taimur had called him for a meeting. He had heard that Syed Ali Hamdani never sat with his back towards the Kaaba. The sitting arrangement was deliberately contrived so that the Kaaba would be towards his back. Taimur said to him, “I have heard that you never sit with your back towards the Kaaba, but today you seem to be sitting against your normal discipline.”
Syed Ali Hamadani replied: “Certainly one who faces you turns the Kaaba down. I have heard that you are making efforts to build your empire. About the empire I have once seen in a dream that a lame dog came and took it away.”
He then added the axiom of Hazrat Ali: “The world is a dead corpse and the desirous are like dogs”.
Taimur became highly impressed with his fearlessness and requested that he stay with him. The Syed declined the request and remarked that he was appointed for Kashmir and his duty was to spread Islam there.
There he found no trace of Islam; the place was covered by idol-worship instead of mosques. Even the ruler of Kashmir had dreamt that the sun was appearing from the south. Interpreting the dream, a Buddhist monk had said that a saint from Mawara’un nahar would come and illuminate all by the light of Islam. Some sources say that the Syed arrived in Kashmir with a big band of seven-hundred men including his relatives. After illuminating the valley with the light of spiritual power, he breathed his last on January 14 in 1385.
Having arrived in Kashmir, Shah e Hamdan settled at Allauddinpura and set up a centre at the bank of river Jhelum. It was here that he lighted a can which kept the valley illuminated for a long period. People of all classes from various parts of the land would come to the centre to quench their spiritual thirst.
Although the Kashmiris knew something about Islam before the advent of Syed Ali Hamdani, but they were quite unaware of the creed of Tauheed (oneness of Allah). They knew nothing about the purity of faith and the spirit of Islam. Some of the Muslims used to go to the places of idol worship. The masses and the ruler of Kashmir had been keeping Hindu creeds. They bowed before idols and adorned Brahmins. Shah Hamdan raised the slogan of truth and taught the oneness of God with the sound of ‘Laillaha illallaha Muhammad-ur-Rasoolullah.’ He established a pure system of propagating Islam.
Shah Hamdan was also a great moralist. Moral values of Islam were very dear to him. His moral precepts are very valuable and need to be followed because they emerge out of his Islamic sense and practice. It is the lust of luxuries and worldly power that lead men to the valley of sins and crimes. Hence all the religious guides and saints have stressed detachments from the worldly life with its luxuries and comforts. Too much attachment with the worldly life leads to moral decadence and depravity.
Besides this, they also taught his disciples and men at large to renounce the worldly life and work more towards the next life which is eternal. They explained that this world is a prison for those on the spiritual path, where the feet of the delicate spirit is fettered and chained. But in spite of this confinement, the soul is free.
The writer is studying Law at Kashmir University. [email protected]