REMEMBRING BABA DAWOOD KHAKI (R.A)
In Kashmir 3rd Safar ul Muzzafar (2nd month of the Islamic calendar) is observed as Urs of Sufi saint Baba Dawood Khaki (R.a). Besides being a saint, Baba Dawood Khaki earned repute for his scholarship. Owing to his command on Islamic literature, Hadith, fiqh, etc, he is known as – Imam e Azam Sani. He was a calligrapher, a writer, and a poet. For composing poetry of high merit, he is regarded as ‘King of poets’.
Baba Dawood Khaki was born in 1521 A.D (908 A.H) in the Ganai family of Kailashpora Srinagar. Parents named him Daulat Dawood and ‘Khaki’ was his pen name. He lost his parents at an early age and had to face a lot of miseries. Against all odds, he received initial education at a local school, took classes in calligraphy to learn and earn. By dint of efforts and hardwork, he mastered this art. Later he had the privilege of receiving guidance from great religious personalities like – Mullah Basheer Aami, Molana Razi-Ud-din, Mulla Shamsudin Pal. Under their patronage, Khaki learned fiqh, Tafseer, Hadith, and emerged as a brilliant scholar and poet. Soon he was titled as ‘Mullah Daulatt Khaki’ for his impressive understanding of religious matters. Acknowledging his capabilities, Sultan Ali Shah appointed him as a tutor to his son. Soon after that, he was appointed as director of education, and finally, he reached the portfolio of chief justice of the King’s court.
He became a highly respected personality with the masses and servants surrounding him everytime. He had an opulent lifestyle. Boats and horses were his means of transportation. However, after meeting Sheikh Hamza Makhdoomi (R.a) he renounced his luxurious life.
Once Khaki was traveling through Aabi Guzar – a tributary of Nallah-mar, along with his boatmen and servants who were raising slogans in favor of Khaki. Sheikh Hamza was involved in meditation in a mosque located nearby. He heard the noise and asked his attendants about its cause. He was told Mullah Dualat, the chief justice is on his way to court, and his admirers are sloganeering. Sheikh instructed his disciple Baba Allah Daad to set his meeting with him. Khaki agreed and appeared before Sheikh with immense regard. Conversation began and Sheikh asked a few questions – Khaki! How many times does a person breathe in 24hrs? Khaki responded the number is equivalent to the number of Prophets, sent by God i.e., around one lakh forty thousand. Sheikh asked if one breath is left unattended without remembrance of God what is the ruling of shariah on that. Khaki replied, ‘it amounts to killing one Prophet’. Sheikh questioned; Khaki, what about you? How your nonchalance, pine for wealth, and mundane desire will help you? Khaki was answerless and could not utter a single word in response.These questions gave him the creeps. He had a pang of conscience. He went home and was lost in thoughts.The choice was to be made between the world and religion, luxury and austerity, and immoderation and puritanism. At last, conscience responded and finally the solution dawned on him that the world is transient and distraction from the path of truth. He prepared himself for self-mortification and went to Sheikh Hamza to gain his company. Sheikh Hamza deputed him to serve his disciples and to arrange water for their ablution. As hitherto-chief justice began his new journey – the journey of spirituality, everything around him changed. He omitted the prefixes ‘Mullah’ and ‘Daulat’, adopted the suffix ‘Khaki’, and Dawood Khaki as a good name.
Sheikh Hamza would perform penance and meditation in ‘Zakir Masjid’ at Koh’e Maraan and Khaki’s duty was to watch over. While discharging his duty, Khaki began to think about his relinquished fame, wealth, luxury, etc. As this thought was making rounds in his mind, Sheikh called him and said; Khaki, arrange clod of the earth (used as a purifying agent during unavailability of water) for me. When Khaki looked around, the entire Koh’e Maraan appeared golden. He was stunned, went to Sheikh, and narrated the same. Sheikh asked, could not one use gold for purification. Khaki, being a scholar replied- No. Sheikh grinned and said why you yearn for those things, which even cannot replace lump of earth. Khaki received the message well and demolished the foundation of his materialistic ideas. The training under the mentorship of Sheikh purged Khaki of all desires. The gulf between him and the world widened with every passing day. Proximity to Allah became his only objective. He engaged himself in meditation, penance and reached the position that Sheikh confided spiritual responsibilities to him, in other words, made him his deputy. Afterward, there were gradual improvements and transformations in Khaki and he achieved such a divine ascendance that whole Kashmir concedes his grandeur.
Even before his association with Sheikh Hamza, Khaki had attained notability as writer and poet but Shiekh’s blessed companionship polished his abilities further. He has to his credit many valuable works that multiplied his fame. These include Virdul-murideen, Dastoor-ul-salikeen (commentary of virdul-murideen), Qasida Jalalia (on the life of Hazrat Makhdum Jahaniyan Jahangasht – saint of Suharwadi order), Qasida Lamiyah (about Baba Hardi Reshi). All these are famous and even at present intellectuals are benefited through them, but his Virdul-murideen is highly significant. It shows his excellence in religious scholarship. Virdul murideen is compilation 1362 verses in honor of his preceptor Sheikh Hamza Makhdoomi) which are recited in Shrines and mosques even today. In this work, Khaki has quoted from over two hundred other religious works.
Khaki traveled far and near in Kashmir and relieved people of evils and myths. He contributed greatly in guiding thousands to the stages of the spiritual domain. He gained a massive following and became so popular that ‘Khaki’ almost achieved the status of a separate spiritual order.
In the final years of his life, Baba Dawood Khaki had virtually renounced the world and entered into seclusion. Before his departure, he had gone to Multan to meet other exalted murshids and peers. He had become so weak that on his return he died at Islamabad (Anantnag) in 1585 A.D. (994 A.H). He was taken to Srinagar and buried in the Shrine complex of his mentor Shiekh Hamza Makhdoomi on Koh’e Maraan (Srinagar). The shrine is one among the venerated shrines of the valley and witnesses rush of devotees throughout the year. It holds socio-economic and spiritual significance and stands as centre of spirituality for Muslim ummah.
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