REMEMBRING FAQEER-E-MILLAT (R.A)
Kashmir is famous for being Resh-waer; meaning the ‘alcove of Sufis and Saints’. It is considered as the cradle of sufism and spirituality. In every era, one or the other personality dominated the spiritual landscape of the valley. These people exerted an immense influence upon the masses and became ever-living. When the name of these personages comes into mind, no one could pretermit Syed Mirak Shah Kashani (R.A).
Kashani, widely known as ‘Faqeer-i-Millat’ was born in Syed Family at Saraf Kadal Srinagar on 6 September 1895. His parents left for heavenly abode during his infancy and he was fostered by his brothers. Formal education started in the local seminary. His elder brother Qadir Sahb entrusted him to a teacher but his studentship did not last long. It is said; Sheikh Saadi’s ‘Bostan’ fascinated him greatly and once he asked his tutor to interpret the following couplet –
Jamal-e-Humnasheen dar mann asar kard;
Wagarna mann hama khaakam ki hastam
(It is beauty (face) of the beloved which inspired me. Otherwise, I am same soil that I used to be).
After getting an explanation, Kashani left the academy. Tutor asked where you are going; he replied “to search Jamaal e Hamnasheen”. Afterward, there was a gradual, wondrous, divine transformation in him. Surprisingly, ascetics, godly, devout, and religious people began to visit him in droves. Kashani would himself toil to manage the food and shelter for them. He used to serve them as guests. On seeing this, family bewildered. The family noticed that Kashani is avoiding social life. Elders tried hard to bring him back to the social domain but all in vain. As a solution, marriage was arranged for him. Kashani accepted the proposal and married. The couple had a baby girl. But, by now, Kashani was completely averse to materialism. He would live in seclusion and would spend most of his time in meditation. One day, brothers anxiously reprehended him for skirting his responsibilities as spouse and father. Legend has it, Kashani unrolled prayer mat and offered prayers. After a while, the news was broken to him that his daughter is no more. For which he expressed gratitude to Almighty. He thereafter divorced his wife who subsequently became his disciple.
It finally dawned on his elders that Allah has something different in store for Kashani. They refrained from further interventions.
Columnist Syed Asif Raza quotes Kashani’s devotee Mir Gh. Mohi-u-din Naqeeb and writes, “a great prescient and holy man Syed Fazlullah Gardezi (R.a) had presaged about Kashani much before. Syed is said to have told his successor Abdul Qadeer Lal, that you have received caliphate from ‘Syed’ (Gardezi) and it will return to ‘Syed’. Syed Mirak Shah will be its final recipient who will acquire it from your (lal’s) successor”. The prediction came true. Lal Sahab, who lived in Shalimar, transferred his spiritual authority to his follower Abdul Qadoos, who was later divinely instructed to pass it on to a person namely Syed Mirak Shah Kashani. Qadoos met 27-year-old Kashani and followed instructions. Abdul Qadoos also handed over the custodianship of his Shaykh’s mausoleum (Darbaar-e-Qadria) to Kashani. In this way, Shalimar became the final abode of Kashani to carry his mission forward.
Under his auspices, Darbar-e-Qadria attained the glorious position both religiously and spiritually. People from every corner would visit Kashani for his guidance and blessings. This spiritual center changed the lives of hundreds and thousands in the past and is equally important at present.
Kashani did not stop here. He continued welfare works in and around Darbaar with the assistance of his ardent followers. Supporting destitute, helpless, and addressing their needs was his striking character and routine job. He did not restrict himself to faith healing but played a significant part as a preacher. At Shalimar, he established the Islamic library and elementary school for promoting religious knowledge. That now exists as high school. Kashani also contributed to the creation of many other religious institutions across the valley.
Syed Mirak Shah Kashani is amongst the founders of Anjuman Tableegul Islam (ATI) – the valley’s first Sunni Muslim organization. He spearheaded it until his departure. With the cooperation of other members of ATI, he established madrasah ‘Madinat-ul-Uloom’ – the prestigious institute of its time. Allama Qasim Shah Bukhari acknowledges his leadership qualities and writes that under Kashani’s patronage ATI emerged as a vibrant religious platform. He says; when in 1947, religious movement ‘Anjuman Tableegul Islam’ declined into inactivity due to political instability, Kashani was instrumental in resurrection of the organization.
Kashani is most probably the first Sunni leader to organize annual Mawlid-un-Nabi (saw) gatherings in the summer capital. He would invite scholars regardless of their ideologies to his conferences and acted as ‘bridge of unity’. As a mark of respect for his marvelous contribution, Allama Bukhari dedicated the monthly magazine Al-Atiqaad to Kashani. The magazine continues to hit the stands as ATI’s official organ.
Kashani was one of those Sufis who possessed exceptional wit and knowledge without joining any Maktab. Despite having too little experience as a student, he was an excellent writer and bard. Allama Bukhari mentions that in the 1940s Kashani wrote many knowledge-based pamphlets that helped ATI to flourish as the voice of Sunni Islam and Sufism.
As a poet, he does not need any introduction. In almost every mosque and shrine, his poetry is recited in ecstasy. No religious gathering concludes without the recital of his Kalaam. Until the recent past, his work was unpublished. However, his devotees and present caretaker of Darbar-e-Qadria have made a big effort in publishing his anthology. That is now available by the name ‘Jaam-e-Irfaan’. Love of Allah, His messenger (pbuh) constitutes the nucleus of his poetry and it serves as a medium for purging hearts even today.
Kashani met his maker on 13 December 1971 (24 Shawal 1391). He was entombed at Shalimar. His mausoleum is held in great esteem and stands as the center of spirituality.
– Zeeshan Rasool Khan hails from Seer Hamdan and writes on diverse issues. He tweets @zeeshan_rk and can be mailed at [email protected]