Today: Jun 25, 2024

Expressing Sufism in the common dialect

5 mins read

By: Prof. Bashir Ahmad Dar

During the recent years, a song has hit almost every household and everyone, young and old, men and women, murmur it often; the song is “Yare gachav diwayae”(My beloved let us go to see the fair). The verses are of the famous Sufi poet of Kashmir Known as Habib Ulllah Nowsheri who lived during medieval period.He had Hubbi as his pen name. He was born in 962 Hijra at Nowsher Srinagar and breathed his last in 1027 Hijra(1617A.D.). He was the illustrious son of Shams Ud din Ganie, who also became his first teacher in religious as well as traditional subjects. He learnt at the feet of Mulla Hassan Afaqi and later on Mir Mohammad Khalifa became his Murshid(Spiritual guide). The latter was the disciple of HazratIshan Shiekh Yaqoob Sarfi (R.A.). Hubbi (R.A) then completed his advance studies under Shaikh Yaqoob Sarfi (R.A.). In the praise of his Sufi master, Hubbi writes:

Bi Ya Hubbime go degarfsana

Bigoawsafaan peer i yagana

Shanshahi be mulkimurshidikeist

Fur o naam o nishan hum bigochiest

Zehei peer I kiameer o dashtmehboob

Buodnaamisherefush Shah I Yaqoob

Khaja Habibullah Nowsheri was a well-read Sufi of his times. He had memorized Quran in his very childhood. In fact many of his contemporaries in the medieval Kashmir were first known as the religious luminaries before turning to Sufism. We may quote the instances of Hazrat Mehboobul Alam Shiekh Hamza Makhdoom(R.A.), Sheikh Yaqoob Sarfi (R.A), or Mir Syed Shah QasimHaqani(R.A.), almost all of them were well versed with the religious tenets. This is in contrast to the modern scenario wherein some of those who claim to be the Sufis areinfactdevoid of the knowledge of the shariah .

These revered Sufis opened the doors of the house of Shariat, treaded the path of the Sufism (Tariaqat)  to reach the zenith of the Maurfat (eternal realization) and they were successful in finding the ultimate Truth( Haqiqat). It was their experiences with Islam that led them to the vistas of Tasawuf.

But it may be of interest to note here that it were not just the lips of these Awaliya or those being nearer to Allah who would recite the Quran but they adopted it as their way of life, it was the code that would govern their relations with the fellow beings and also in their professions. Most likely it was under this influence that although a trader, he would desist from weighing or measuring the goods he would sell; instead asked the customers to do it themselves.

The verse is that he (Hubbi R.A) is a trader of Nowsher, though he has ninety nine items (almost everything) in his shop but he knows nothing of the tradesman ship. But like the other Sufi poets the verse besides indicating his profession refers to something else. The Sufis as a matter of fact, following the Sunnah, would express their humility through various symbolic and metaphoric means. Though they had an excellent position (Muqam) in the sphere of Tasawuf, but they would try their best not to make a show of it or boast over it. Thus Hubbi (R.A.) expresses that he did not know an iota of the trade, Hazrat Amir-i-Kabir- Mir Syed  Ali Hamdani (R.A.) expresses the same sentiment, in a verse, that:

If the Brahman peeps into my (inner) condition

He will turn me out of his sight;

In that he would not allow a wicked man like me to present

Myself before the idol.

Besides a veteran Sufi, Hubbi was a writer of immense significance. His versatility as a learned luminary is reflected in his prose too. He has many books to his credit, mostly in Arabic and Persian besides his Kashmiri poetic compositions. These include TanbhiyalQuloob, RahatulQaloob, MiratulGayoob, RisalatulInsaf, MaqamatiHazratIshan (R.A.). In addition he has authored a Persian Diwan and Qasaid. His Dewan is a specimen of fine poetry, written in simple style and short metre, replete with fine ideas finely put and shows the originality and freshness of his imaginative mine. The main theme of his writings and poetry is Sufism and Irfan (to know Allah). He was master in the art of composing chronograms of the Prophet (SAW), his Caliphs (RA) and other notables of Islam. RisalatulInsaf is a book on Tasawuf in Arabic language, dealing with the attributes of a Murshid and the conditions a Talib has to follow .This also testifies the knowledge and the mastery Hubbi (R.A.) had acquired in Arabic language. MaqamatiHazratIshan (R.A) is in verse having about 2250 verses. It depicts an account and miracles of his MurshidHazrat Sheikh YaqoobSarfi(R.A) . It elucidates the significance of a spiritual teacher for following the path of Truth.

Another work of RisalaMiratulGayoob  is a compendium of verse and prose in  Persian.  It deals with the different shades of Sufism like Zikr,  Raza(Surrender) Wahdat (Monotheism) An Arabic Gazal often recited in the Sufistic circles is of immense fame.



The religion of love is the unique and the only religion; oh the acetic do follow it.

Risala Tasawuf is  a brief description of ‘creation’ of Hazrat Adam A.S and his superiority which  many Sufi authors like Hubbi attribute  to the fact that the main purpose underlying the ‘creation’ was to send the last prophet Hazrat Muhammad S.A.W to the world. The author deliberates upon the important Sufistic principle that ‘Juz’ (part/organ) tends to tread towards ‘Kul’ (the Whole). Ra’hatulQaloob is regarded as one of the best Persian writings of Hubbi consisting of both prose and verse. The Sufi author has elucidated the eight chapters of Ma ‘arifah (knowledge/gnosis). These include Hamt (Silence), Taqleel (meagre meals)Wadhu(Ablutions) NafiKhaatirQiyamahSumt, KhawatDhikr

Hubbi regards Dhikr or remembrance of Allah by the repetition of Divine Names or religious formulae as the path of salvation for Saalik and Shaiikh and one should never be forgetful of dhikr. Ta‘nbihulQaloob of Hubbi is in Persian verses. Like his other writings, its main theme is Taswauf(Sufism) and Irfan(gnosis/direct perception of reality).Stressing the importance of a Murshid, he clarifies that even though the Saalik(spiritual seeker) may have extensive knowledge  in different subjects and may be a thorough scholar but it is through the guidance of the Murshid that enables the former to ‘know’ Allah. He illustrates the fact through a fable comprising of a dialogue between a parrot and a cock. Claiming superiority over the cock, the parrot boasts of his outer form(Surat). The cock in his argument proposes to approach HudHud(wood pecker ), here used as  a metaphor of Murshid. The HudHud  delivers a fine sermon so much so that the parrot with humility declares as under:

Ki aeyHudhudnebudamaarifkhud


Chu ber man nasehatmehrbani

Bud umeedkiazjehlamrihani

(Oh Hudhud I was not knowing myself, It was because of your kindness that I got acquainted known to myself. It was because of your advise that I got rid of my ignorance).

It is in this Risala that Hubbi R.A, while referring g to Kamal ud din HussainKhwarzami R.A., has classified Sama into categories.  For some he ascribes it as Haram(Forbidden), for another category Mabah( better to avoid), yet for others as Mustahib(a virtous deed) and to the last and fourth category as “Sunnah”  .


Mubarak, ber Mubarak, bermubarak



The only religion is the religion of love

Oh the ascetic come and follow it.

It is said that a devastating fire broke out during the period which engulfed almost the entire old city including Jamia Masjid Srinagar. The Mughal king NuruddinJehangir was present in the valley. As the winter had set in, the presence of the royal conclave in the valley resulted in acute shortage of the food stuffs and other essentials which resulted in enormous trouble for the Kashmiris in arranging these things. It is said that Hubbi (R.A.) was instrumental in persuading the king to leave Kashmir so that people did not suffer any more. Hubbi (R.A) breathed his last on 19th ZulHuaj,  in 1027 Hijra and was laid to rest in Nowshera where his tomb is the place of solace for the commoners as well as those who follow sufi practices.

Let us conclude with a Persian couplet of Hubbi (RA):

Garmieshouqatchekard, narmiezouqatchekard

Seenakababamkabab, deedapuraabamaab

The impact of the extensity and the intensity of your love

Has burnt my body and my eyes are full of tears.

(The author is a retired principal, A Sufi writer; also associated with the Haqani Memorial Trust. [email protected])


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