Remembering Hazrat Nizamuddin Bukhari (RA)

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By: Manzoor Narvaw Walla

The arrival of Islam added to Kashmir’s rich religious past and also its complexity as Sufi – infused Sunni Islam slowly seeped into the valley starting perhaps from the late 1000 AD, and certainly from 1200. It came via travelers, traders, mercenaries, missionaries and returning Kashmiris. One of the most striking features of the spread of Islam in Kashmir is the key role played by an indigenous Sufi order, the Rishis and sages who were largely world renouncers rather than social reformers and were seeking individual salvation by retiring to forests and caves in the mountains and inflicting on themselves austerities in the hope of attaining release from worldly desires and bonds.

From the early 1300, Islam was brought more actively into Kashmir by Selfless Divines, such as Bulbul Shah (RA), from Turkestan via Baghdad, and more particularly by Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (RA), from Hamadan, Iran. He is regarded by the Kashmiri Muslims as the Amir -i- Kabir (The Great Leader) for his pioneering role in the spread of Islam in Kashmir along with other Iranian and Central Asian Sufi’s who had settled down in every nook and corner of Kashmir. The examples of such Sufi’s inspired people here to analyze the new faith that was being proposed in the most peaceful as well as logical manner.

While Islam ultimately became the predominant religion in Kashmir, this region had always been a spiritual place. Kashmir has a long local mystical tradition, with Rishis, mystics, saints and sages using the local Kashmiri language to reveal their ideas and to preach. Kashmir’s patron saint, Nurudin (RA), the ‘Light of the Faith’, also known as Sheikh Nuruud Din Wali or simply as Nund Rishi, was a Rishi and lived around the 14th Century.

Hazrat Syed Nizamuddin Bukhari (RA) from Bukhara, an ancient city in the central Asian country of Uzbekistan reached north Kashmir’s Narvaw area alongwith his two sisters known as BeebiSahiba. In the early years of his visit to Kashmir, he stayed in Delina Baramulla and then chose his final destination in the outskirts of Audoora village of Narvaw Baramulla. In the premises of the Shrine of Hazrat Syed Nizamuddin Bukhari  (RA) at Audora there are two graves- one believed to be of his sister and the other grave adjacent is that of his disciples namely Syed Mukhtaar (RA). The second sister of the saint is buried at the edge of forest at the outset of Malpora village. The final resting place of Beebi Rehmat shab is easily visible on Sheeri- Laridora road site on the way to Baramulla, the prime location of this place is a gorge that falls in between two mountains called Beeb Naar (Beebi means Sister and Naar means Gorge/ a narrow way in between two mountains).

Hazrat Syed Nizamuddin Bukhari (RA) had Sixty one disciples and was maternal Uncle of Syed Jamal Ud Din Attari whose shrine is located at Fatehgarh Astanpora locality. According to the Islamic calendar Sixteen Zill Hajj, an annual Urs is celebrated here each year. Large numbers of people who reach here from distant and different places visit the shrine and pay homage to the saint. Earlier it was celebrated for seven days while now it is observed for a day and night.

A yearly festival ‘Hael Bal’ is also celebrated here specifically by the residents of Audoora village at the time when rice crops get ripe. It is said that the area has a long history of drought and to overcome this natural disaster the natives of this place decided to celebrate a festival which is locally called “Hel Bal”, at the time of ripening of crops- the residents of this village come to the shrine and cook the first harvest here and share the food with each other.

The writer is pursuing Ph.D in English Literature.

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