Commemorating Salar-e-Ajam­

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BY: Sartaj Ahmad Sofi

The death anniversary of Salar-e-Ajam Mir Syed ‘Ali Hamadani (714 A.H./1314 C.E—786A.H./1385 C.E) is being celebratedalmost in every nook and corner of the valley with zeal and zest. On this auspicious occasion, every Kashmiri aspires to pay great tributes to the Islamic scholar. The people are highly respectful and have devotion to this Sufi saint who brought about a radical change in the valley, as he did in many other parts of the world, by spreading the message of Islam and teaching its essence o people.

Infact the inhabitants of the valley, prior to his arrival, were in a miserable and deteriorated condition. It seems quite evident that they were waiting for someone who will come and liberate them from the stringent chains of slavery, existent cruel customs and discrimination based on race and nationality. The human-kind being reverential and worthy by birth used to be treated just like chattels in the Brahmanical Hinduism of that period. In all respects, the women were subjugated by higher caste men—Brahmans.They were degraded and exploited mostly in the shade of Sati and Devdasi systems of religious and social sanctity. In brief the whole valley was burning in the name of (so called) religion, custom and polity.

At last, the voiceless voices of oppressed Kashmiris got accepted and, were blessed with a versatile personality of Mir Syed ‘Ali Hamadani, who came from Hamadan, Iran.Here, He spends a short span of time—not more than three years, and succeeded to transform the whole society in general through his God gifted abilities. He succeed in gratifying yearns of people, freed them from chains of slavery and all means of atrocities.

To evaluate critically, his personality in the light of all available sources, it can be aptly remarked that he was a great Social reformer, Political thinker and an erudite scholar, besides a Sufi and ‘Alim, whose impact is still observed in every corner of the valley, in different aspects of the lives of Kashmiris. From Religio-spiritual to the socio-political and economic aspects of life, the influence of Hamadani can’t be undermined. Sayyid ‘Ali Hamadani is still known in Kashmir as Mohsen-i-Kashmir after more than six hundred years have passed. He influenced the contemporary Sultans, ‘Ulema’ and Hindus through his deep scholarship and spiritual legacy. Al-Hassan Ghiassuddin describes- “Sayyid ‘Ali was an eminent scholar of Gnosticism and secular knowledge”.

His teachings are based on international peace and universal brotherhood and at times are better both for the rulers and their subjects. He founded Khanqah-i-Mu‘alla—the first Khanqah of Kashmir that remain open for everyone belonging to any religion or sect which necessarily transcends a sense of pluralism or in other words what is now-a-days known as Kashmiriyat. Prof. Ishaq Khan, while quoting a verse from the letter of Hamadani writes; “The humility of the Kubrawi Sufi and his respect for true Brahman devotees of God are revealed in the following verses contained in the letter under reference:

If the brahman peeps into my (inner) condition,

He will turn me out of his sight;

In that he would not allow a wicked man like me to present

Myself before the idol” (Kashmir’s Transition to Islam: The Role of Muslim Rishis).

His works like Zakhirat-ul-Muluk, Awrad-i-Fathiyya and Risala-i-Fututia, besides several other works are concrete and explicit proof of his message based on amelioration and universalization of humanity. His teachings and methods of approaching the tense situation is really a model for us and for the generations to come.

But alas! Such a multi-dimensional personality remains confined in hospices and around the custodians of the shrines as consecrates from which they always used to get worldly benefits. On the other side, Traditional ‘Ulema’ as well as modern intellectuals had engaged themselves in debating upon some prodigal issues concerning the life history of Hamadani. Such kind of state, undoubtedly regrets a keen observer that after passing more than six centuries; Kashmiri’s failed to introduce the real contribution of Hamadani in global perspective. Now, what I think, it is high time to remember him once again in on his Urs, in the depths of our hearts, only to mould ourselves spiritually towards the peace-loving and influential teachings of this great scholar and proceed to understand him in order to get salvation from all these happenings in which the whole valley is submerged from last few decades.

Indeed, the great tribute for him and the ray of hope for the valley is neither in noisily celebrating the Urs nor in establishing glossy seminars and conferences in commemoration but to make an effort to preconize his teachings and make a pledge to follow them in letter and spirit.

The universal message of Hamadani transformed the degraded society of Kashmir into the nursery of heroes. Irrespective of all types of heterogeneity, he succeeded to create such a familiar atmosphere where everyone used to live with peace, tolerance and co-existence became the greatest feature of this land.  Besides, he prescribed guidelines for the rulers of his time regarding their approach towards their subjects. In short, he completely succeeded in bringing peace and prosperity in every aspect of life in Kashmir. However, it is a well established fact that scholars of this stature and the universal message of peace and co-existence delivered by them have an appeal not only in the contemporary times but in all times to come.

The author is Doctoral Candidate at Shah-i-Hamadan Institute of Islamic Studies, University of Kashmir, Srinager.

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