An Ocean of Mystical Thoughts: Mirza Akmal Ud Din Beg Badakhshi and his Progeny

An Ocean of Mystical Thoughts: Mirza Akmal Ud Din Beg Badakhshi and his Progeny

One frosty morning I treaded a snowy path beneath the Chinars with wild winds coldly blowing into my face. I entered the conference hall and sat close to the radiator to warm my frozen bones a bit. In five to ten minutes started the concluding session of the course I participated in a month ago. I presented my views about the spiritual fall and decay of man in the present technology and media-suffused environment. This was followed by a robust conversation with the audience and the evaluators. It was an exciting moment for me as my work was being appreciated by the evaluators. After the end of the session, my colleagues congratulated me on the great presentation. I wanted to meet the evaluator, Dr Syed Javed Iqbal Kamili, to clear certain doubts and exchange a couple of words about his majestic speech about intellectual spirituality. But I could not get a chance to interact with him as he was surrounded by two-three professors.
The next day, I joined my college back for teaching and received a warm welcome from the head of the institution, Principal Madam Dr Parveen Pandit. She is a great educationist and a researcher who supported me through my teaching career. A month later, there was an educational programme organised by the college. Various dignitaries from different colleges and universities were invited. Being part of the audience in the college auditorium, I was excited to see Dr Syed Javed Iqbal Kamili as one of the invited personalities. After the end of the programme, I got an opportunity to take part in the discussion with the dignitaries. The discussion on “Searching for Wisdom through 21st Century Teaching” was enlightening and had a great impact on the minds of the people present. During the session, I got an opportunity to share my ideas with Dr Syed Javed Iqbal Kamili.
Thus I realised that the professor was a very calm, stable and well-balanced personality. I tried to catch a spark of intellect from his words. Even though belonging to a high caste and high-class circle, I could not find any bias in him. One day, while discussing the spiritual traditions in Kashmir, I got a chance to know about his great father, Syed Noor Ud Din Kamili. He made discourses on mysticism to the people of Kashmir. Apart from serving the Department of Agriculture as the Dihat e Sadar, he managed to be a scholar, author, translator, and a great calligrapher. Along with his numerous writings in the Persian language, he translated various texts from Persian to Urdu.
Inquisitive about the mystic way, I went through a deep study of Dr Syed Javed Iqbal Kamili’s journey through his spiritual lineage. The journey dates back to 1644 AD(1054 Hijri) when Mirza Kamil sahib was born. His ancestors were the descendants of Sultan Kwaja Ahamd Yesvi, the fifteenth offspring of Hazrat Imam Azam (RA). His grandfather Muhammad Quli Khan migrated from Tashqand to Badakhshan and then moved down to Delhi. Muhammad Quli Khan became the governor of Kashmir from 999 to 1010 Hijri (1590 to 1601 A.D) during the reign of Akbar. He died in Srinagar and is buried in the vicinity of Sangin Darwaza, outside the wall of the Naagar Narar fort. Muhammad Quli Khan’s son Mirza Adil Beg Khan settled in Kashmir. Adil was esteemed in Shah Jahan’s times. The youngest son of Adil Khan was born in 1644 A.D. (1054 Hijri). Shah Jahan happened to be in Kashmir at that time and the Mughal king named the baby Kamil Beg Khan.
Mirza’s education was entrusted to Allma Abul Fath Kallu Kalashpuri. Rescinding all royal privileges, he became a disciple of Khawaja Habib Ul Lah Nowsheri (R.A) at the tender age of twelve years. Mirza Sahib engaged himself in the study of religious scriptures, more specifically the Persian mystical poets. For attaining spirituality, he surrendered his whole wealth containing thousands of kanals of land bestowed to him by the Mughals and adopted a simple life to become a mystic saint and poet.
Mirza sahib had beautiful handwriting and was a known calligrapher of his time. He authored several books on Islamic Tassavuf or Mysticism. He also wrote poetry in Persian. His long poem Bahrul Irfan (Ocean of Mysticism) follows the style of Maulana Rumi. The poem with thousands of verses is considered as the greatest contribution to Persian literature from Kashmir. He authored Bahrul Irfan in four volumes consisting of 80,000 couplets. These verses were written in Persian and most of the people in Kashmir were not aware of the Persian language. Having the understanding of Persian, an attempt was made by Syed Noor UdDin Kamili to translate a portion of these couplets. It was a crucial and creative step to translate the book from Persian to Urdu as no translation of the book was available till then.
Syed Noor Ud Din Kamili was a man with high clarity of vision having an authentic personality with deep spiritual knowledge and understanding that transformed him into an impassioned seeker of universal truth and love. His personality was the reflection of his ancestral spiritual wisdom. The enthusiastic approach of Syed Noor Ud Din Kamili is visible in that in in his late 80s he started translating couplets from Persian to Urdu. His poor vision could not stop him from translating. At this stage, due to his poor vision, he was being helped by Syed Ghulam Ahmad Kamili (maternal uncle of Dr Syed Javed Iqbal Kamili) and Syed Kamaal Ud Din Kamili (eldest brother of Dr Syed Javed Iqbal Kamili).
Syed Ghulam Ahmad Kamili was the then Sadar of Jammu Tablig ul Islam and a great scholar of his time. The book was named Mukhbir Ul Asrar and was calligraphed by Syed Rafi Ud Kamili (brother of Dr Syed Javed Iqbal Kamili).
A few couplets translated by Syed Noor Ud Din Kamili go like this:

“Hum azan shama dard e sar barzad
Zulmat o noor andran sarzad”

The candle symbolises the illuminated soul of a Sufi saint spreading light with knowledge and wisdom. It is the symbol of divine radiance of the spirit of truth, signifying the light of the eternal world. A Sufi saint goes in deep pain to produce light in the darkness, enlightening the soul with wisdom towards purification and cleansing, removing the ignorance of thousands of people. Darkness is nothing but the absence of light. A person in darkness is in ignorance adhering only to this visible world and fails to recall the invisible, the creator of this world. When the candle is unlit, it signifies the death of a Sufi saint who sacrificed his entire life to illuminate and enlighten the society.

“Aarifi kidil shud aayeena
Bainar o kayanat zayeena

The divine purity of the shining heart of a Sufi saint leads him towards self-discipline and complete freedom from lust, anger, and other evils. Throughout his life, he achieves knowledge and wisdom through different ways like ‘zikr’ and this trains him to look at the world from a different perspective. This empowers him in such a way that the world appears to be glassy rotating in front of him and he goes on observing.

“Jumla azo ha basr maish
Hum chu arshe khuda bodshaish”

The Sufi saint celebrates intimate relationship with the Creator and surrenders each part of his body in front of him. His obedience and unconditional love towards the Creator lead him to the place up in the sky, shining brightly with the stars.

Laa ke dil rastod sahib e dil
Ki bod zaat paak ra manzil”

A spectrum of subconscious faculties within the heart (sound and healthy) of a Sufi saint gives direction to his mind for perceiving reality immediately and qualitatively. His conscious mind skilfully uses its power to reason to clear the heart from defensiveness and illusion hence healing the soul. While following his heart, he is responding to his inner guidance of love and wisdom. The healing of his soul is completely achieved when it comes in contact with the Creator.
Mirza Sahib and his ancestors have not only turned the soil of the valley verdant with their spiritual fragrance but also immensely contributed to Persian and Kashmiri literature. The chief feature of Akmal’s poetry is that his examples, similes, metaphors, stories, and references are indigenous. Mirza Sahib was a Sufi poet though much of what he wrote in Kashmiri has been lost. This thinking personality considered the ultimate wisdom to be spiritual enlightenment. This can help people find the meaning of life and can also influence their feelings, behaviour, and mental health.
Mirza Kamil Sahib or Mirza Akmal Ud Din Sahib Badakhshi left to his heavenly abode in 1718 A.D. The shrine of Mirza Kamil Sahib or Mirza Akmal Ud Din Sahib Badakhshi is located at Hawal, Srinagar. He was a saint of high order given to simple living with a strong belief in service to mankind. He had a firm belief in Allah and believed in monotheism. The teachings of the great saint preached the message of love, amity, and brotherhood. He is revered by Kashmiris as a saint of high order.
Every year, the Urs Sharief of Hazrat Mirza Akmal Ud Din Khan Badakshi Sahib (RA) popularly known as Kamil Sahib is being observed with traditional fervour at Hawal. It is observed for three days from October 1 to October 3 during which food is given to the poor and destitute. Devotees from all over the valley assemble on the occasion of Urs Sharief. In this celebration, the devotees, including women and children, pay obeisance and offer special prayers at the shrine which resound with recitations of verses of the Holy Quran. The Ulema/ Sajad u Nisheen throw detailed light on the life, religious services and teachings, and spiritual strength of the revered Islamic scholar and saint who had devoted his whole life to the service and preaching of Islam. Besides this annual celebration, spiritual gatherings occur on the 29th of every month of Hijri calendrer where recitations of verses of the Holy Quran are held during the day.
The present surviving descendants of Mirza Kamil Sahib (RA) organise these spiritual gatherings and participate with the masses in recitations of verses of the Holy Quran. Their participation displays the “art of associating” that is often intended to uplift the mind to the spiritual. The ancestral descendants pour all their love and devotion in maintaining and beautifying the Holy Place. They have made their mark in history for serving humanity in general and the destitute, poor, and needy in particular. The spiritual dynasty of Kamili follows a culture with religious roots contributing towards the well-being of society through charity. Apart from serving the community in different ways, they have attained respectable positions in government and non-government sectors. Among these personalities are Syed Kamal Ud Din Kamili, Syed Rafi Ud Din Kamili, Dr Syed Javed Iqbal Kamili, Syed Mohd. Afzal Kamili, Syed Mohd. Anwar Kamili, Syed Ghulam Nabi Kamili, Dr Syed Saleem Kamili, and many other distinguished personalities.
Dr Syed Saleem Kamili, a renowned scientist, is working at CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) in the USA. He is the youngest brother of Syed Noor Ud Din Kamili. It won’t be out of place to mention here that Dr Syed Saleem Kamili was a posthumous child. Losing a parent is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a child. He worked with self-motivation towards his goals and made his way into a category of eminent scientists.
Ghulam Nabi Kamili, General Secretary and founder of Akmalia Welfare Trust, has been in the service of humanity since 1999. The organisation has been facilitating the weaker section of society financially, providing education and basic living standards to these people. It has been assisting widows, aged, orphans, the education of poor children, and marriage of poor girls. The trust has been working for weaker sections of society by means of engaging them in skill development and computer literacy programmes as well as health camps and blood donations. This has empowered both men and women.
Syed Kamal Ud Din Kamili worked in the Department of Census (J&K) and retired as Chief Enumerator of the Department. He was the first person who translated Census of J&K from English to Urdu. He was a famous columnist writing for the newspaper Aftab. He was also a great calligrapher and calligraphed many books including Masdar e Faizan and Mukhbirul Asrar.
Syed Mohd Afzal Kamili and Syed Mohd Anwar Kamili, apart from working in the Department of Animal Husbandry, are contributing in numerous ways to carry forward the mission of Mirza Akmal Ud Din.
Dr Syed Javed Iqbal Kamili is Principal of VB College, Srinagar, and a member of various national and international organisations associated with educational programmes for the poor. He has researched “Poverty Alleviation” and has travelled to countries like the USA, China, and various European countries. He is an author and has published various research papers in national and international journals. He is currently writing a book on Poverty Alleviation in Jammu and Kashmir. He is also a part of Akmalia Welfare Trust where he is playing a significant role in offering relief and other basic amenities to individuals who are suffering from extreme poverty.
It seems that the universe brought these characters together to remind us that it is impossible to know where our next inspiration may come from. It is the gathering of lovers, where there is no discrimination of high or low, smart or ignorant, literate or illiterate.
Apart from the above-mentioned relations, Mirza Akmal Ud Din’s further progeny and disciples who have contributed and attained significant positions shall be discussed in my next article.

—Dr Waqar Ul Nisa has been teaching as a Contractual Faculty in GDC Tangmarg, Institute of Advanced Studies in Education, Srinagar (Govt. College of Education), Maulana Azad National Urdu University (CTE, Srinagar), Govt. Women’s College, MA Road Srinagar, and has worked as a Researcher in the Institute of Advanced Studies in Education, Srinagar (Govt. College of Education). She has written a book on “Education in Jammu and Kashmir: Cross-Sectional Trends” that was released in 2018 in the auditorium of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Education, Srinagar (Govt. College of Education). Presently she is working on “The pathway from Invention to Technology to Digital Culture in the Contemporary World”. Besides, she is a Gold Medalist in Sports at District and State Level. [email protected]

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