REMEMBRING SULTAN UL AARIFEEN (R.A)
Kashmir is regarded as South Asia’s cradle of Sufism. From times immemorial, it has been the cherished abode of the saints and seers. These holy-beings contributed greatly in shaping the psyche of people of Kashmir and changed the landscape of the valley by building a new religio-spiritual culture. Sheikh Hamza Makhdoomi is one among them whose role is of historical significance and constitutes indispensable part of every spiritual discourse.
Sheikh Hamza Makhdoomi, popularly known as Makhdoom Sahib was born in 900 A.H at Tujjar Zainagir (Sopore) to pious parents; father Muhammad Usman Raina and mother Bibi Maryam who were revered for their moral and spiritual excellence. The childhood of Sheikh Hamza was quite different from other children. It is said he was leaned towards spirituality right from nonage. He would spend most of the time with the hallows of his era and was strikingly truthful. The character was so impressive, people would always think great about him. Based on his behavior some had even prognosticated about his sainthood.
Interestingly, many scholars describe Sheikh Hamza as an innate saint. His elder brother and close disciple Sheikh Muhammad Ali Raina reports that before the birth of Sheikh Hamza, my father ran into a saintly person. The saint said to our father to arrange a feast for the congregation, residing at local masjid. Hazrat Usman Raina truly found a gathering of unknown but holy men, manifestly divine in the mosque and followed the instructions of the saint. Next day he again witnessed a group of people there and just after that, Sheikh Hamza came into the world. It is thus believed that this sacred gathering had appeared in connection with Sheikh Hamza’s birth indicating his grandeur.
After completion of formal education at his native town, Sheikh Hamza was confided to Hazrat Baba Fathullah (R.A) of Kubrawi order, for Quranic studies. After that Sheikh Hamza learned at Khankah’e Shams Chek and Madrasa Darul Shifa (Srinagar). In the latter, he developed habits of the religious vigil, praying, and meditation besides mastering Tafseer, fiqh, tasawuf, etc. Mentors at these seminaries contributed extraordinarily to both his spiritual and intellectual development.
Hagiographers state it was spiritually communicated to Sheikh Hamza that ‘he has to adopt discipleship of Syed Jamaluddin Al- Bukhari of Suharwardi order. After receiving information about Al-Bhukhari’s advent, Sheikh Hamza fervently went to him and became associated with Suharwardia order. Later this Sufi-order attained popularity in the valley through him. Some people even have renamed this order as – Silsilah Mehboobia to emphasize Hamza’s role in its promotion. Under the patronage of Al-Bukhari, Sheikh Hamza reached the zenith of spirituality. Sheikh Ahmad Chagili writes that Sheikh Hamza attained the status of being the spiritual leader of all Saints and other venerable people, because of which he is also famous as ‘Sultan ul Aarifeen’. Uncountable miracles have been mentioned by writers, which underscores the power Allah had bestowed him with. His notable disciple, very popular as a man of letters Baba Dawood Khakhi’s magnum opus ‘Wirdul Murideen’ is entirely based on virtues of Sheikh Hamza. It is a poetic composition in Persian comprising of 1362 verses and every verse stresses upon the elevated stature of Sheikh Hamza. It is in the form of Qaseeda that begins with the following couplet:-
Shukri-lillah haal’e man har lehza neyko’tar shudas
Sheikh-e-sheikhan Sheikh Hamza Ta mara rehbar shudas
(Thank God, my condition is meliorated every hour
As Sheikh Hamza, the guide of guides has become my mentor).
About his mentor’s spiritual position, Allama Khaki writes,
Allah blessed, I have read about the saints and their position,
His (Sheikh Hamza’s) status has been at par with them without a fraction. (Translated)
Sheikh Hamza had not restricted himself to hospice. Though he would spend most of the time in Allah’s remembrance, (spent 6 years at Koh-i-maraan in meditation and according to tradition, he would revise Quran three hundred sixty times daily) yet he established meaningful contact with the people. A good number of personages illuminated their hearts under his patronage. These include many big names that enjoy huge veneration for their asceticism, mysticism, and spiritualism. To mention a few are:-Baba Dawood Khaki, Baba Haider Reshi, Mir Haider Tulmuli, Sheikh Ahmad Chagli, Baba Roup Reshi, Shiekh Yaqoob Sarfi, Baba Ali Raina,etc. Additionally, several women and people from other countries also received his guidance. Later these transmitted the ‘light of truth’ to others, which continues to guide the people even today. This is not the end; Sheikh Hamza himself went to far-off places as a propagator of monotheism. To cultivate God’s fear, His, and Prophet’s love, and to make masses cognizant about religion Islam, he made serious efforts and succeeded. Result of which were mass conversions to Islam; thus new era of enlightenment dawned everywhere.
He constructed quite a few mosques at various places that continue to be forums of preaching the unity of God, blessings of Prophet, principles of peace, truth, sincerity, and unity. He influenced the daily life of the people and played an impressive role as a social reformer that inspired afghan governor Atta Muhammad to issue coins in his name.
Shiekh Hamza met his maker on 24 Safar ul Muzzafar – that is observed as death anniversary (Urs) of the Saint annually, in year 984 A.H at Makhdoom Mandav Srinagar. He was entombed on the Koh-i-maraan. His shrine holds great cultural, devotional, spiritual, social, and economic importance for the masses. People visit this shrine in droves and such scenes come to our sight almost every day.
Muslims of Kashmir owe a debt of gratitude to this star of Islamic galaxy, for the selfless services he rendered for promotion of Islam in the valley. And the best way of expressing the gratefulness is to follow and circulate his teachings.
- Zeeshan Rasool Khan hails from Seer Hamdan and can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org