The tales of migration and of faith
By: Prof. Bashir Ahmad Dar
The auspicious arrival of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (R.A) heralded a new era in the history of Kashmir. Almost every sphere of the society had its impact felt as the companions who accompanied the great missionary settled in the state. The traditional account puts the number of people as seven hundred comprising religious luminaries, Sufis, artisans and skilled persons which is corroborated by the contemporary and later sources.
In the spiritual sphere the mystic silsilhas or orders were introduced by these Sufis. Among the luminaries accompanying Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (R.A), mention may be made of Syed Shams ud Din Shami. Almost all the chronicles have noted a brief account about him. However it was his progeny who have caught the lime light due to their contribution in the religious and spiritual domain of Kashmir.
One such great saint was Mir Syed Shah Qasim Haqani. He was born to Mir Sayyid Mohammad, sixth descendant of Sham ud din Shami, on 29th Rajab in 958 Hijra corresponding to 1551 A.D. Incidentally these were the days when Kashmir was politically instable as the titular king was Sultan Nazuk Shah but the reins of the state were virtually in the hands of Mirza Haider Dugghlat, a cousin of Babur.
Mirza Haider ruled here from 1541 to 1551 A.D. From his very childhood Sayyid Qasim was known for being pious and virtuous. As he entered the threshold of youth, saintly virtues and characteristics were visible from his very appearance. Since his teenage he kept aloof from the worldly mundane and took to search the path of Truth. He committed the Quran to his memory. He led a strict shariah oriented life. Tazkitul Urfa, chronicled by Syed Momin Haqani mentions that Syed Qasim would keep distance from hustle and bustle and would wander around the deserted places though he would maintain the protocol of social contacts with the people.
In order to subdue the instincts of Nafs, he took very little, kept fast without eating anything. For continuous eleven years he used to give his morning bread in alms to the needy contending himself with fasts. Moving away from the capital city he would engage himself in praying at the outskirts and sometimes at Harwan Srinagar. It is here that he is said to have had the auspicious meeting with Hazrat Khizar (A.S) who instructed him in Zikr Khafi and then he reverted to Alaudin Pora Srinagar.
Being extremely inclined and himself adhering to the Islamic teachings, initially he was against Sama (music). With this in mind, he went to Zowara a locality near Pampore where Mir Mohammad Khalifa, a disciple of Shiekh Yaqoob Sarfi (R.A) was residing and entertaining himself with Sama. Sayyid Qasim intended to punish the disciples of Mir Mohammad Khalifa with hundred lashes each for indulging in an act which he claimed Shariah does not permit. On approaching the Sufi and his congregation, he lost his wits and could not recover himself up to the Zuhar (Noon) prayers. As he opened his eyes, Mir Mohammad Khalifa intimated him that Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi (R.A) had informed him in advance that it was he (Sarfi) who was deputing Sayyid Qasim to get entrapped and that he should be conferred the title of “Shah”. Sayyid Qasim came to be known as Shah Qasim and he choose to be a disciple of Mir Mohammad Khalifa in the first instance and later on of Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi(R.A.) who instructed him in the Kubravi Silsilah granting the Khatti Irshad and the Khirqa also.
The shrines and/or the resting places of the Sufis and Rishis are otherwise also attracting the commoners besides their followers. It is not here possible to trace the causes of the origin of the devotees thronging their shrines or to discuss it being permissible or otherwise. However it is of interest to note that their final resting places are conspicuous for otherwise also. It may be added here that the burial places of the Sultans and kings who held the sway of kingdoms for larger periods and whose fame extends even to present times hardly can offer a comparison to the eternal resting places of the Rishis and Sufis.
The burials of the rulers hardly attract anyone to visit there whereas the shrines of the Sufis are an attraction to thousands, the number exceeds lakhs in many instances. The people are regular visitors to the shrines whereas the graves of even prominent kings are not known to their decadents or their counterparts in the present times. The graves of the ruling class have hardly something to offer to the spiritual thirst of a devout, in fact a state of desolation dawns upon the visitors of their graves whereas the shrines of the Rishis and Sufis are a source of peace, inspiration and thought provoking.
The palaces of the former class reflected shine of their grandeur which in some cases is preserved till date but their graves are a quite contrast to it. The royals possessed and hoarded riches during their lifetimes but the spirituals led a life of austerity. Thousands of hankers-on and others waited and do wait upon the rulers as their sun shines but the Rishis and Sufis have a limited following, so much so even the Rishi of the stature of Sheikh ul Alam Shaikh Nur ud Din Rishi narrates that he roamed about in every nook and corner of the valley but no one invited to enter his door. The rulers groan:
Bar mazari ma garieban nai chiragi nai guli
Nai pari parwana sozad nai sadai bulbule.
(There are neither lamps, nor the flowers to adorn the graves of we pitiable people;
Niether the moth would come to self immolate nor the Bulbul would sing here)
However, as said above the resting places of the Rishis and Sufis are conspicuous for other reasons also. When Khwaja Moin ud Din Hassan Chisti, popularly known as Kwaja Ajmeri reached the shrine of Hazrat Ali Bin Usman Hijwari known as Data Ganj Baksh located in the Punjab province of Pakistan it dawned to him as:
Ganj Baksh Faiz Alam Mazhar Noori Khuda
Naqisan ra pir kamil kamilan ra rahnuma.
(He bestows riches, benefactor of world, and reflector of Allah’s illumination)
Likewise Dr Sir Sheikh Mohammad Iqbal has made similar utterances on seeing the shrines of many saints like Khwaja Nizam ud Din Auliya at Delhi. Similar is the case of a local saint Sayyid shah Qasim Haqani.
The ancestors of Sayyid Shah Qasim Haqani had immigrated into Kashmir during the fourteenth century along with Amir Kabir Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani (R.A.). He became a disciple of Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi(R.A.) in the Kubravi Silsilah. Later on he acquired at Ujjain the instructions in Qadriya order from Hujatul Ullah Abul Maqarim Shaikh Fazl ullah , Naqashbandiya from Hazrat Jamal ud Din popularly known as Diwana , Chistiya from Shaikh Salim Chisti Fathapuri, Shazliya from Sayyid Sibgatullah Shariff of Makkah.
It was the 19th day of the month of Zul Hajj in 1033 A.D. Shah Qasim Haqani was not feeling well. The condition of the saint was failing day by day. One of his disciples, Mohammad Sharief by name, went to offer the Zuhar prayers at Khanqhai Moulla at Alludinpora (present Fateh Kadal). A dervish while meeting Mohammad Sharief enquired about the condition of his Murshid Sayyid Shah Qasim.The disciple retorted that considering the feeble state of health of the saint, he might not recover from the illness. The dervish remarked that Shah Qasim is no doubt unique in the present times but prayed for his better end.
The disciple of Shah Qasim exclaimed that his Murshid has guided hundred of immature (Naqisan) persons to perfection. Considering that why should he doubt his ending at Imaan. The dervish affirmed that Shah Qasim was far better than what Mohammad Sahrief was uttering but since he would arrange Sama which made him to comment so. Shah Qasim on seeing the disciple feeling sad, gave a detailed sermon to his disciples. Here it would suffice to quote that he intimated them that after his burial if something sprouts from his grave, they should consider that he had been accepted.
Many contemporaries reveal that Shah Qasim told his disciples that if reed(Nai) grows from the upper side of his grave , it should be regarded as a sign of his recognition (Qubuliat) from Allah; if not they should take out his corpse and burn it to ashes so that no one claims to be a dervish like him. Durin the last quarter of the same night on 29th Rabi Sani 1033 Hijra corresponding to 1624 A.D Shah Qasim left for heavenly abode. It was 29th of Phagun of Kashmiri calendar.
Almost all the contemporary historians and hagiographers report that the reed began to sprout from his grave. However some put it that it sprouted the moment the grave was filled with earth, some say that it happened the next day and according to some it happened on the fourth day. However all are unanimous that reed began to sprout from the neighbouring area so much so that it appeared from then kiln/oven of the ironsmith neighbouring the grave yard of Shah Qasim. The entire area was filled with the reeds and the entire Mohalla came to be called as Nar Pir Asthan or the Shrine of the Pir having reed.
Zubani ke goyed madah dar shaani Haqani
Tu Haqani kuja dani zubani aan sukhan dani
Some interesting observations may be quoted here. The urs of shah Qasim is celebrated on 29th of Phagun as per the Kashmiri calendar but the date surely falls on the 29th of a month of Islamic calendar. If you happen to be on the shrine of Shah Qasim on 29th of Phagun, one is stunt to see the reeds sprouting during the same night every year.
(The author is a sufi writer; Associated with Haqani Memorial Trust J&K. firstname.lastname@example.org)