Sufism & Shrines in Kashmir
There are not many places like Kashmir in the world where a number of great Sufis have lived and have their Shrines also.
Kashmir is the land of Saints, Sufis. It is bestowed with religious wealth in the form of numerous shrines and places of worship enjoying reverence and allegiance of people professing different faiths. There are numerous sepulchers of saints which have enchanting environs, while visiting these shrines, one feels in close proximity of Almighty. Some of the shrines have historical importance in addition to religious significance attached to them. These shrines belong to both Hindus and Muslims and are visited by thousands of devotees. Some of the shrines are the world famous such as Baba-Zain-ud-Din Wali R.A. (Aishmuqam), Baba Hyder Reshi R.A. (Anantnag), the last of the giants of the Rishi order in Kashmir about whose resting place the Alamdar-i-Kashmir (Flag Bearer of Kashmir), Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Rishi R.A. (Charar- e -Sharief) had foretold his diciples, Baba Dawood Ghoni R.A. (Vailoo), Hazrat Noor Shah Bagdadi R.A. (Kund), Hazrat Sheikh Syed Samnani R.A. (Kulgam), Baba Naseeb-ud-Din Ghazi R.A. (Bijbehara) Hazrat Syed Yaqoob Sarfi R.A.,Hazrat Baba Gulindin Sahib (R.A.),Hazrat Baba Reshi Sahib R.A. Gulmarg, Hazrat Baba Shikur – u –din Sahib R.A. Watlab Sopore, Shrine of Hazrat Peer-e-Dastgeer Sheikh Syed Abdul Qadir Geelani R.A.at Khanyar Srinagar.
Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God." Alternatively, in the words of the renowned Darqawi Sufi teacher Ahmad ibn Ajiba, "a science through which one can know how to travel into the presence of the Divine, purify one’s inner self from filth, and beautify it with a variety of praiseworthy traits."
The Sufi movement has spanned several continents and cultures over a millennium, at first expressed through Arabic, then through Persian, Turkish, and a dozen other languages. Sufi orders, most of which are Sunni in doctrine, trace their origins from the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (PBUH), through his cousin Hazrat Ali R.A.or his father-in-law Hazrat Abu Bakr Sidiq R.A..
According to some modern proponents, such as Idries Shah, the Sufi philosophy is universal in nature, its roots predating the arising of Islam. While all Muslims believe that they are on the pathway to God and will become close to God in Paradise — after death and after the "Final Judgment" — Sufis also believe that it is possible to draw closer to God and to more fully embrace the Divine Presence in this life. The chief aim of all Sufis is to seek the pleasing of God by working to restore within themselves the primordial state of fitra, described in the Qur'an and similar to the concept of Buddha nature. In this state nothing one does defies God, and all is undertaken by the single motivation of love of God. A secondary consequence of this is that the seeker may be led to abandon all notions of dualism or multiplicity, including a conception of an individual self, and to realize the Divine Unity.
Thus Sufism has been characterized as the science of the states of the lower self (the ego), and the way of purifying this lower self of its reprehensible traits, while adorning it instead with what is praiseworthy, whether or not this process of cleansing and purifying the heart is in time rewarded by esoteric knowledge of God. This can be conceived in terms of two basic types of law (fiqh), an outer law concerned with actions, and an inner law concerned with the human heart. The outer law consists of rules pertaining to worship, transactions, marriage, judicial rulings, and criminal law — what is often referred to, a bit too broadly, as shariah. The inner law of Sufism consists of rules about repentance from sin, the purging of contemptible qualities and evil traits of character, and adornment with virtues and good character.
Scholars and adherents of Sufism are unanimous in agreeing that Sufism cannot be learned through books. To reach the highest levels of success in Sufism typically requires that the disciple live with and serve the teacher for many, many years. For instance, Hazrat Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari R.A., considered founder of the Naqshbandi Order, served his first teacher, Sayyid Muhammad Baba As-Samasi R.A., for 20 years, until as-Samasi died. He subsequently served several other teachers for lengthy periods of time. The extreme arduousness of his spiritual preparation is illustrated by his service, as directed by his teacher, to the weak and needy members of his community in a state of complete humility and tolerance for many years. When he believed this mission to be concluded, his teacher next directed him to take care for animals, curing their sicknesses, cleaning their wounds, and assisting them in finding provision. After many years of this he was next instructed to spend many years in the care of dogs in a state of humility, and to ask them for support.
Some teachers, especially when addressing more general audiences, or mixed groups of Muslims and non-Muslims, make extensive use of parable, allegory, and metaphor. Although approaches to teaching vary among different Sufi orders, Sufism as a whole is primarily concerned with direct personal experience, and as such has sometimes been compared to other, non-Islamic forms of mysticism (e.g., as in the books of Seyyed Hossein Nasr R.A.).
One of the greatest Sufi ever lived in the world was Maulana Rumi.
"When I come to Love, I am ashamed of all that I have ever said about Love." -- Rumi
A brief description of some of the important shrines and historical places of the district is given here.
Main Sufi Shrines in Kashmir
Sufism in Kashmir has roots dating back to Hazrat Bulbul Shah R.A. His original name is said to be Sayyid Abdul Rahman R.A., though some call him Sayyid Sharafuddin or Sharfuddin Sayyid Abdul Rahman Turkistani R.A.. This much is certain that he was a Sayyid of Turkistan and was a disciple of Shah Niamat Uilah Wali R.A., a Khalifa of Suhrawardi Tariks (a Sufi sect) He paid his first visit to Kashmir in the reign of Simha Deo (1286-1301), but returned soon. Next time we find him again in Kashmir and this time he effected the conversion of Renchana Shah, re-christened him as Sadar-ud-Din under circumstances that have already been referred to. With the establishment of the Muslim rule other notable Sayyids began to pour into the country. Bulbul Shah was followed by Sayyid Jalalud-Din of Bukhara and Sayyid Taj-ud-Din, the cousin of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani (Shah Hamdan). Sayyid Taj-ud-Din was accompanied by his two disciples Sayyid Masud and Sayyid Yusuf. There also came Sayyid Hussain Simnani the younger brother of Sayyid Tajuddin. It is said that Taj-ud-Din and Sayyid Hussain came to Kashmir under instructions from Sayyid Mir Ali Hamdani to find if the country could give them protection against the attacks of Timur who was suspected of contemplating a wholesale massacre of the whole lot of the Sayyids. Sayyid Mir Ali Hamadani R.A. himself came to Kashmir as will be presently seen. It is said that with Sayyid Mir- Ali Hamdani R.A.about seven hundred Sayyids came. Hazrat Shah Hamaddan Mir Syed Ali Hamadani (r.a.) (1314-1384) was a Persian Sufi of the Kubrawi order, a poet and a prominent Shafi'i muslim scholar. He was born on Monday, 12th Rajab 714 AH (1314 A.C) in Hamadanand died in 786 AH/1384 in Kunar and was buried in Khatlan. He was very influential in spreading Islam in Kashmir and has had a major hand in shaping the culture of the Kashmir valley. He was also known as "Shah Hamadhan" ("King of Hamadhan", Iran) and as Amir-i Kabir ("the Great Commander"). He wrote several short works on spirituality and Sufism. He was immortalised by poets like Allama Iqbal.
His name was Ali, and titles were Amir-e-Kabir, Ali Sa'ani, Shah-e-Hamadan and Mir. Besides them, the Chroniclers had mentioned several other titles: Qutub-e-Zaman, Sheikh-e-Salikan-e-Jehan, Qutub-Ul-Aktab, Moih-Ul-Ambiya-o-Ul-Mursaleen, Afzal-Ul-Muhaq-e-qeen-o-Akmal-Ul-Mudaq-e-qeen, Al-Sheiyookh-Ul-Kamil, Akmal-Ul-Muhaqqiq-Ul-Hamadani etc.
Further his illustrious son Mir Mohammad Hamdani R.A. came to Kashmir with three hundred more Sayyid to spread Islam and Sufism to Kashmir. They stayed in Kashmir under royal protection and took to the proselytisation of the new faith. - They secured many converts to the new faith Islam having become the court religion it was but natural that some privileged position was guaranted to its votaries. This created repercussions in the Hindu mind, who saw before their very eyes definite deterioration intheir former position. In the reign of Shahab-ud-Din (1360 to 1378 A.D.) the resentment in men's minds took a practical shape. A feeble rising on behalf of the Brahmans was the result. The other castes do not seem to have participated in the rising in any large numbers. The king in order to break the upheaval amongst Hindus turned his attention towards their temples which must have provided a meeting place for them. Hassan the Kashmiri historian says that almost all the temples in Srinagar including the one at Bijbehara were greatly damaged. It seems that the kings of Kashmir had by now become completely Muslimised as a result of their contacts with the Sayyids. They began to feel that consolidation of their rule depended wholly upon extirpation of all traces of opposition, religious or political.
Hazrat Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari R.A. (1318 - 1389) was the founder of what would become one of the largest and most influential Sufi Muslim orders, the Naqshbandi.
Concerning his life much information is lacking. This is not surprising since he forbade his followers to record anything of his deeds or sayings during his lifetime, and writings composed soon after his death, such as the Anis at-Talibin of Salah ad-Din Muhammad Bukhari (d. 1383), concentrate upon matters of spiritual and moral interest.
Baha-ud-Din was born in 1318 in the village of Qasr-i-Hinduvan (later renamed Qasr-i Arifan) near Bukhara, and it was there that he died in 1389. Most of his life was spent in Bukhara and contiguous areas of Transoxiana, in keeping with the principle of "journeying within the homeland" (a concept mentioned in "The Sacred Words"), and the only long journeys he undertook were for the performance of hajj on two occasions. He came into early contact with the Khwajagan (lit: the Masters), and was adopted as spiritual progeny by one of them, Baba Muhammad Sammasi, while still an infant. Sammasi was his first guide on the path, and more important was his relationship with Sammasi's principal khalifa (successor), Amir Kulal, the last link in the silsila before Baha-ud-Din. It was Amir Kulal that Baha-ud-Din received his fundamental training on the path and whose company he kept for many years. Still more significant, however, was the instruction Baha-ud-Din received in the method of silent dhikr from the ruhaniya of Abdul Khaliq Ghijduvani (ruhaniya refers to an initiation dispensed by the spiritual being of a departed preceptor). Although he was a spiritual descendant of Abdul Khaliq, Amir Kulal practised vocal dhikr, and after Baha-ud-Din received instruction in silent dhikr, he would absent himself from Amir Kulal's circle of followers whenever they engaged in dhikr of the tongue. This separation of Baha-ud-din from Amir Kulal's circle may be thought of as marking the final crystallization of the Naqshbandiya, with silent dhikr, received from Abdul Khaliq and ultimately inherited from Abu Bakr, established as normative for the order, various later deviations nontwithstanding.
Baha-ud-Din died and was buried in his native village in 1389, and the tomb that was erected there for him become one of the principal places of visitation in the Islamic East and a major element in the attraction that Bukhara radiated throughout Central Asia as a religious center. Baha-ud-Din himself entered, in Sufi estimation, into the highest rank of the saints, worthy of being mentioned in one breath with Abdel Qadir Gilani, and before long known and invoked as Shah-i Naqshband over a vast area extending from the Balkans to China.
Nothing could better exemplify the composite culture of Kashmir than the life of Sheikh Naruddin himself. The Sheikh was born as Nund Reshi or Sahazanand in 1377 AD. His ancestors came from Kishtwar and had migrated to the Valley. His father, Salar Sanz, a pious man, came under the spiritual influence of Sufi Saint. Yasman Reshi who arranged his marriage to Sadra Maji. For three days, the infant Nund is said to have refused to be breast-fed. The third day, the Yogini, Lal Ded (a very well known saint) entered the house and put the child's mouth to her own breast.While leaving, she is said to have called the infant her spiritual heir.
While personifying the Hindu-Muslim culture of the Valley, Nund, later named Naruddin, 'the light of faith', fully believed in the immanence and transcendence of God, hoped for a society based on moral values and preached against indulgence. All his life he wore a coarse pheran. Within two days of his death in 1438 at Charar, nine lakh people are said to have gathered at the Shrine, including the King, Sultan Zainul Abdin.
He preached against communal hatred and wrote: "We belong to the same parents. Then why this difference? Let Hindus and Muslims together worship God alone. We came to this world like partners. We should have shared our joys and sorrows together."
Makhdoom Sahib (1456 – 1509): It a shrine on the southern side of the Hari Parbhat hill, is visited not only by Muslims but by people of all faiths. Sultan-Ul-Arifeen Hazrat Sheikh Hamza Makhdum R.A., entitled Mehboob-Ul-Alam, and Sultan-Ul-Arifeen, Popularly known as Makdoom Sahib, was born to Baba Usman, of the Chandra-Vanshi Rajput family,Raina Family (The Family name of Followers of Hindu Mythology called a Pandits or Brahmins in the region of India Held Kashmir) a hereditary landlord, a scholar and a mystic saint of high order. Sheikh Hamza Makhdum R.A. in this manner, inherited the mysticism.
He inherited the mysticism, and from the very childhood was inclined to the company of holy men, and to the truth. Having read the holy Quran in the village, he went to the seminary of Sheikh Ismial Kabroi for higher studies.
The great sage followed the Sunni (Tradition) strictly not only in prayers but also in table manners, dress, manners, and etc. He scrupulously followed the Prophet and his love for him knew no bounds. These things helped him to reach the highest rank. Later, he had to forsake his love for isolation in order to serve the people. He remarks:
His greatest contribution was that he instructed the people to forsake superstitions and Un-Islamic activities through his speech and actions. Numerous instances can be cited from his life. One of them is:
Two streams flowed in Nadi-hil, and there stood a bied tree between them. The blasphemous held it sacred and observed many rites. Nobody could go by it during night. If anyone did, he was stuck in superstitions and made offerings for his relief. When Sheikh reached the place he declared, "The Jins and Satins have fled." He ordered for the cleaning of the streams and building of bathrooms.
He relentlessly fought against such superstitions and practices, stayed at the, places to make the people fearless, got mosques built there, for instance cleansed the stream 'Bech-nag' at Karora and built a mosque there. Similar practices and superstitions were prevalent at Shinga-pal stream in village Barar; he too stayed there and built a mosque under the supervision of Abdul Rashid. He too built a mosque in village Aham. Wherever he observed people entangled in them, reached there, and removed their fears from his deeds.
The greatest contribution of Sheikh Hamza Makhdum is the negation of the spread of the Shiat, by Sheikh Shamsuddin Iraqi, under state patronage. He made Sheikh Shamsuddin Iraqi's efforts in effective and strengthened the tottering beliefs of the people.
Sultan-Ul-Arifin's whole life was full of strange revelations and miracles. One them to quote is:
Sheikh Hamza Makhdum died in the Hijri year 984 during the reign of Sultan Ali Shah Kochak. His colleague Tahir Rafique said his funeral prayer. He was buried near Hari parbat. Thousands of people visit the shrine to pay their respects and receive his blessings.
Hazrat Zain- Din- Walli Sahib R.A The shrine of Hazrat Azin-ud-Din Wali is situated on a hill lock, about 20 Kms. short of the famous hill resort of Pahalgam overlooking the bewitching Lidder Valley. The road to the shrine branches off to the right from main Anantnag-Pahalgam road. A few hundred metres walk or drive takes one to the foot of the stone stair leading to the shrine. The mausoleum is located inside a deep cave atop the hill, about 100 meters high than the main road. Village Aishmuqam is very well known in every part of Kashmir on account of the historical shrine of sheikh Zain-ud-din who lived in the 15th century A.D. and was one of the principal disciples of Sheikh Nur-ud-din, the leading Rehsi of Kashmir.
It is commonly known in Kashmir that Sheikh Zain-ud-din, who was known by the name of Zia Singh before his conversion was a prince and belonged to the ruling Rajas of Kishtwar. His father Yesh Singh, the then Kishtwar ruler, is said to have been assassinated when Zia Singh was only 13 years old. Zia Singh is believed to have been suffering from some disease which took a serious turn leaving no aspect of his recovery. Sheikh Nur-ud-din is said to have passed through Kishtwar just at that time and having heard of his miraculous performances, Zia Singh’s mother begged of the Sheikh to visit the patients and to pray for his recovery. The Sheikh agreed to pray on the understanding that Zia Singh would meet him in Kashmir after the recovered. Zia Singh did not however keep his promise and after sometime he was agsin confined to bed. His mother kept on crying day and night until she had a vision in which the Sheikh Zia Singh’s mother promised that she would fulfil her obligation this time if her son would recover again. With the restoration of his normal health, Zia Singh proceeded to Kashmir to meet his benedictor. The mother and the son undertook the hazardous journey from Kishtwar to Bumzua, a village about 8 miles south of Aishmuqam, where Sheikh Nur-ud-din was staying at that time. It was at this place that both Zia Singh and his mother embraced Islam under the maens of zain-ud-din and Zoon Ded respectively.
Among the local inhabitants the legend has it that Zain-ud-din medicated for a long time in village Mandjan of Tehsil Sopore where he attained spiritual perfection, It was at this stage that Sheikh Nur-ud-din advised him to migrate to the cave at Aishmuqam and to meditate there for the remaining period of his life. On his arrival, sheikh Zain-ud-din found the entrance to the cave blocked by snakes, cobras and reptiles, It is said that the saint carried with him a club which he had received from his master. Seeing the serpents he placed the club on the ground and it was instantaneously transformed into a dreadful cobra. The snakes in the cave got awestricken and not only surrendered to the Sheikh but also vacated it and migrated to the village Phuurpujan which is about 16 miles to the east of Aishmuqam.
According to the legend, the festival continues to be celebrated from pre-Islamic times and dates back to about 2,000 years. The shrine of Zain-ud-din is respected by all communities and they actively participate in the celebration of the anniversary. There is no restriction to the entry into the shrine which is open to visits by persons of either sex and of any community.
Hazrat Syed Simnani Sahib R.A. came to Kashmir from home town Simnan along with his family members and other disciples when Sultan Shuhab-ud-Din was ruling Dehli in 750-H after staying for some time in village Hurpora Shopain, Harzat Syed Simnani left the village and settled for ever at Pargana Devsar Kulgam on the bank of river Veshow. Hazrat Samnani started preaching Islam, the Salarsanz father of Shiekh-UL-Alaam embrassed Islam at the hands of Hazrat Samnani and was renamed as Sheikh Salar-ud-Din. Later the Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani used to attend the majlis of Hazrat Samnani (RA) for getting enlighted about spiritual teachings Islam from the Sofi Saint Hazreat Syed Samnani.
Besides the above many other Sufi’s have lived and preached Sufism in Kashmir.
Rozabal in Srinagar
The mausolaeum of the Yuz Asaf the Islamic saint Syed Nasr-ud-Dinis is today located in the middle of Srinagar's old town, Anzimar in the Khanyar quarter..The building constructed is called "Razabal" or "Rauza Bal". "Rauza" is a term used to denote the tomb of a celebrated personality, someone noble, wealthy or saintly.
Anjuna, which is Sanskit for John/Johannes, built the tomb around 89AD. The tomb was first mentioned in documents from 112AD which states, that a protective building had been constructed over the crypt.
The tomb is said to have been tended by an Israelic looking family, in an unbroken line throughout the centuries.
"Here lies Yuz Asaf, who rebuilt the Temple of Solomon at the time of King Gopadatta, and who came as a prophet to Kashmir. He ministered to the people, declared the unity with God, and was lawgiver to the people. Since then his tomb has been honoured by kings, state officials, high dignitaries and the common folk".
Many people believe "Yus Asaf" is the Islamic name for Jesus. Many ancient literary works in Kashmir testify to the fact that Yuz Asaf and Jesus are the same person. One old manuscript desribes the shrine as the grave of Issa Rooh-Allah, "Jesus the Spirit of God". Thousands of the faithful visit this tomb - not just Muslims, but Hindus, Buddhists and Christians as well. The true importance of this modest shrine has been preserved in the memory of the descendants of the ancient Israelites to this day. They call the shrine, "The tomb of Hazrat Issa Sahib", "The Tomb of Lord Jesus". But according to Quran & Muslims it is not believed so. Prophet Jesus is not buried there for sure. Therefore this is a very controversial place as to who is buried there.
In the past some great sufi poets Llike Hazrat Sheikh Noor-u-din Noorani, Lala Arifa, Shamas Fakir, Wahab Khar, Samad Mir, Ahmad Batwari, Souch Kral, Rahim Sahib, Naima Sahib, Rasool Mir, Mehjoor, Habba Khatoon and many others have lived in Kashmir & their Tombs are in various parts of the valley.
On request tours to any of the above Shrines can be easily arranged.