Remembering a great soul
TRIBUTE TO PEER GHULAM HASSAN SIDDIQUI (R.A)
By: Zeeshan Rasool Khan, Irfan Shabir
The discourse of Kashmiri Sufism is incomplete without the mention of Aishmuqam town that has earned historical and spiritual significance over the centuries following the message of Islam reaching the valley of Kashmir. When Sheikh-ul-Aalam (R.A) noticed the devotion of his disciple – Zain-ud-din-Wali (R.A), he instructed him to meditate in the thick forest of Aish, now known as Aishmuqam. The influence of Zain-ud-din Wali (R.a) turned this place into a mystic abode with a never-fading spiritual aroma that can be felt even today.
Aishmuqam produced great personalities from time to time who contributed to the spread of this aroma to distant places and Peer Ghulam Hassan Siddiqui Sahb was one among them.
Hassan Sahb was born in 1931. His father Peer Yousuf Sahb was a well-read personality, a poet, a preacher, a mystic associated with Kubravia, Suharwardia, and Owaisi orders of Sufism and had a massive following. His mother Khadijah was hafiza (had memorized the noble Quran). Peer Hassan Sahb got initial guidance from his father and received primary education in his native town (Aishmuqam). He read Arabic grammar from Molana Nizam-uddin of Islamabad (Anantnag). Pundit Teacher from Lakripora – suburb of Aishmuqam, taught him the Persian Language. Peer Hassan Sahb studied at Oriental College Srinagar; there he was guided by great scholars like Molana Muhammad Yousuf Waterhali, Molana Noor-ud-din Trali, etc. For higher studies, Hassan sahb joined Lahore University and completed Munshi Fazil.
On instructions of his father, Peer Hassan Sahb started his career as an evangelist (Da’ee). His role in the construction of the Central Mosque (Jamia Masjid) Aishmuqam has been cardinal. He launched a fund-collection drive across his hometown and its adjacent areas. He approached philanthropists with avidity to raise funds for the Mosque building project.
Because of his overwhelming erudition, he was chosen as a prayer leader (Imam) and preacher (Khateeb) of the same Mosque and spent decades preaching and guiding the masses. Hassan sahib also served as a government teacher. He delivered the service as an Arabic teacher at different government-run institutions for almost seven years. His material life did not affect his spiritual pursuits. He always attached value to religious obligations. He would not take the classes during prayer time. To welcome the then Prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who was on an official visit to the state, the government had organized the ceremonial event. And Hassan Sahb was deputed somewhere for reception formalities. As the Zuhr prayers neared, Hassan Sahb preferred (Zuhr) prayers to his assignment. On noticing this apparent dereliction, the administration sought an explanation from him. In response, Hassan Sahib wrote, ‘on one hand, Hai e Alal Falah (hurry to success) was echoing and on other hand, the political leader was to be greeted’, where a believer should have gone? To prostrate before Allah or to greet a Prime Minister?. And conclusively submitted his resignation. The officials persuaded him to rejoin the department but he refused.
In contrast with contemporary clerics, who nowadays are distributing certificates of heaven and hell due to excessive pride of knowledge, Hassan Sahb was quite humble. Despite being a man of letters, he loathed pomposity. He never boasted about his intelligence and accomplishments. Whenever anyone would come to seek an answer to any query, after expounding the matter perfectly, Hassan Sahib would tell the questioner ‘do verify this from any qualified scholar’. This humbleness was the outcome of parental counseling. During the initial stages of his career as chief priest, he found that one of the local clerics is imperfect in Quranic recitation. He pointed out his error openly. When his father heard about this incident, he threw a fit and said, O Hassan how can you insult the cleric publicly. Is this a way of rectification? Are you only the scholar? After this severe reprimand, Hassan Sahib never lead prayers and confined himself to preaching.
He was an effective speaker. His passionate fondness for Masnavi and a good grip on Arabic added to his worth. Muslims of different backgrounds would attend his gatherings. His sermons used to be full of marifa – mystical knowledge and potent enough to change the audience for the better.
Even though the guidance of his father was ample to catapult him to the higher levels of spirituality, still he adopted the company of reverent personalities like Meerak Shah Kashyani and others. Ergo, Hassan Sahb reached the top rung on the Spiritual ladder. He later quit preaching and avoided contact with the people completely. According to his companions, he never visited the market thereafter. He would devote considerable time to meditation and spiritual processes. Speaking less and maintaining prolonged silence was a part of his hermit life.
After some time, he resumed social contact. He rose to prominence as a saintly figure and proved to be an observant faith healer and Samaritan for hundreds and thousands. He mentored scores of people and directed them to the religious path. He placed the stress on personal enrichment and social reformation in line with Islamic teachings. He encouraged disciples to shun the materialistic pursuits and tread the divine path. He emphasized the importance of the fundamentals of Islam and inspired his followers to adhere strictly to obligatory practices like prayers, fasting, and have a taste of verbal remembrance of Allah’s name. He fostered his children likewise and the asceticism of his son, Late Peer Rafiq ul Aalam Siddique (R.a) confirms that.
He lived a productive life, utilized his time judiciously, and authored books like; Mau’izzat-ul Hassan in Urdu and Tazkiyat-ul Hassan in Arabic. Even he has elucidated Qasida Burdah in Arabic quatrains and has composed poetry of merit. Except for Mau’izzat-ul- Hassan, all other works are unpublished yet. Anyhow, his devotees are enthusiastic about putting his work to press in times to come.
On 10th December 2014, he left for heavenly abode and was laid to rest near the Jamia Masjid, where he served for almost 35 years. He left behind a glorious legacy and wonderful teachings that inspire the people for self-introspection and self-reformation, which are the key steps to purify the self, and indeed successful is the one who became pure (Kad Aflahaa man Tazakka – Al-Quran 87:15).
Zeeshan Rasool Khan is a columnist and comments on diverse issues. Irfan Shabir is a student and aspiring writer. Feedback :- [email protected]