‘BahrulIrfan’-The Ocean of gnosis

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Mirza Muhammad Akamalud Din KamilBeigh Khan Badkhshi(R.A)

By: Prof. Bashir Ahmad Dar

The Quran declares that this world is just amusement and it stresses to keep in view the eternal life or the life hereafter. Though it should not be taken to mean the renunciation of the world, yet what the Quranic verses imply is that one should not devote the entire life for the worldly affairs.The material world should be used as a means for reaching the ultimate end i.e. eternal life. And the pious deeds should be followed to achieve this end.

The Prophet(SAW) soon after marrying the richest lady of Mecca-Hazrat Khadija (RA) donated the entire riches among the deserving ones. The Seerah of the KhulfaiRashdeen (the four rightly guided caliphs) and other companions of the holy prophet do offer many such instances when riches were distributed among the destitute and deserving.

Glancing through the pages of history, one comes across many instances wherein we see that the men commanding high positions besides having material resources were attracted by this mesmerising message.Giving up the life of comfort and ease they resolved to dedicate their life for searching the ultimate truth. Though very rare but even today we do find such examples.

One such great personality is of HazratShiekhAkmalud Din Mirza Muhammad KamilBeigh Khan Badakhshi (RA) who holds a unique position in the religious and spiritual history of the Medieval Kashmir. MirzaAkmalud Din’s ancestors were the descendants of Sultan KhawajaAhamdYesvi, fifteenth offspring of Hazrat Imam Aezam (R.A). His grandfather Malik Muhammad Khan migrated from Tashqand to Badakhshan. That explains the word Badakshi being suffixed to his name. MirzaAkmaluddin describes this in a Persian couplet as under:

Boudjad i jadamzi Turkistan

Kwaja Ahmed jad i jadmundaan

It was during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Akbar that Malik MuammadKan moved down to Delhi. He was highly educated besides possessing the qualities of a veteran military commander. Considering his merit, Akbar, appointed him in the royal services as a Mansabdar granting him the title of Mohammad Quli Khan and was posted as the governor of Subah Kashmir from 999 to 1010 Hijra (1590 to 1601 A.D) during the reign of Akbar. He settled in Kashmir, died in Srinagar and is buried at ZahidPora in the vicinity of SanginDarwaza, outside the wall of the Naagar Nagar fort. Muhammad Quli Khan’s son MirzaAdil Beg Khan, too, choose Kashmir as his abode. Adil was highly esteemed in Shah Jhan’s court who granted him the title of ‘Amir-ulUmra’. The youngest son of Adil Khan was born in 1644 A.D.(1056 Hijri).

Shah Jahan happened to be in Kashmir at that time and the Mughal monarch named the baby as Kamil Beg Khan. He was named so as the maternal grandfather of the new born had died and Shah Jhan wished to console the mother of the baby. On his auspicious birth, Emperor Shah I Jhan granted the Jagir of LallaZar, yielding a revenue of ten thousand rupees annually. He studied along with the princes of Shah Jhan- DaruShikoh and Aurangzeb. Education of Mirza was then entrusted to a learned scholar, AllmaAbulFathKalluKalashpuri. He was just less than eight years’ old when once his guardian, who happened to be a disciple of KhawajaHabibulLah Attar, was carrying Mirza on his shoulders and he caught the attention of KhawajaHabibulLah Attar (R.A).

The Sufi enquired about the name of the child andsaid that the child would be his naturalised son(would receive spiritual knowledge from him) and would add to his fame. His status will prove true to his name. Rescinding all royal privileges, he became a disciple of KhawajaHabibulLahNowsheri (R.A) at a tender age of twelve years. In his social life he followed the Sunnah at every step. He devoted a period of thirteen years learning at the feet of his Murshid and on his instructions moved to India for three years as a part of his spiritual journey. Receiving the directive from his spiritual guide, he returned to Kashmir and had the privilege to remain in his blessed company till he breathed his last. Khawaja granted him the Khilafat and instructions in the KubrawiSilsilah besides the title of Akmalud din. Mirza received the instructions in other Silsilahas (orders)too. Mir Muhammad Lahori bestowed him with the Ijazah in Qadriya, whereas he is related to Suharwardiya Order through KhawjaMasoodPampori RA. As such he is referred as Jami ulSalasil(one who has received instruction in all the silsilahas or Sufi Orders).

The contemporary chroniclers report that MirzaAkmal-ud din held unique position in the Sufistic circles. A mere glance of his would turn the ignorant to the depth of Maurfat (mystic knowledge). His sayings would attract those who had the spiritual craving.  Once while passing through the Royal fort (Naagar Nagar –it was the administrative headquarters built by Akbar for Kashmir Subah-present day adjoining areas of HazratMakhdoom Sahib R.A.) he had the chance to see a good-looking lady near the SangeenDarwaza, selling fruit at her shop. He enquired about the woman. She was named Jummi. Whenever Mirza passed that way, he would halt for a while there.

In a Persian verse he has expressed that the shop of Jummi has turned to be like the congregational Masjid. Shortly after that a new Masjid was erected there, which included the shop of the lady too. And Jummi turned to mysticism due to the blessings of the Sufi, expressing her experiences in verse in Kashmiri. Her verses have been preserved in the maqamat i “Iraq” and “Nowroz I Sabah” of music.

In spite being a revered mystic, MirzaAkmalud Din would adhere to the tenets of Shariah and stressed on his disciples and the followers to follow the Islamic code in letter and spirit. To quote him:

Silsilahbegusal we Khudamejo

Ta numaindarahataz her so.

(Do not depend solely on being attached to a Sufi silsilah(order) and strive to find the path to Allah, till you’ll be shown the (true) path all around you).

To pursue the path of Tariaqat,(path followed by the Sufis) Mirza advises the followers adhere to the Salath (prayers) and Zikr, and to him, no one can claim to tread this path without these conditions. He expresses his experience that his Murshid instructed him to observe Azkar( plural of Zikr), Nawafil, Wazaif,(repetition of the Quran or a portion from it or certain prayers instructed by the guide) Soum (Fasting),

Mirza and his predecessors were on the one hand the leaders of spiritual domain and Eternal Enlightment, on the other they have shone on the literary sky too. The sole object in penning down these priceless writings was to guide the seekers to the True Path and to lead them from darkness of ignorance to spiritual light.

The greatest Contribution of the Sufi writer, MirzaAkmal is BahrulIrfan (the Ocean of knowledge) comprising of four volumes consisting of 80,000 couplets on the analogy of the Masnavi of Moulana Jalal ud Din Rumi (R.A). It is said to have been composed around 1110 Hijra. He says that he wished to write a masnavi and he saw KhawajaFaridud din Attar (R.A) with a book in his hand. Akmal (R.A) asked him about the book and Attar (R.A) replied that this was his BahrulIrfan, reciting five couplets from it. As he woke up, he found the five recited couplets well memorized. During the course of compiling the masnavi, Akmal (R.A) says he saw Moulan Jalal ud din Rumi (R.A) and Faridud din Attar (R.A) instructing to compile the masnavi. He further says that he experienced wajd as the two introduced themselves to him. As he recovered, he recited the following verse:



(He is a murid of Sheikh Attar (R.A) and he solicited aid from Moulana Rumi (R.A).

Abdul WahabNuri,the disciple of MirzaAkmaluddin(RA) views the BehrulIrfan as under:


faizbakshhamachekhas we cheaam

(BehrulIrfan is fruitful for all privileged as well as commoners) Elucidating it Nuri writes that the pious ones(Aamilan) receive instruction or get educated and imbibe manners from it while those treading the path of Eternal love find their physical form(wajud) getting lost(Fana) or to put it in simple words they reach the stage where their physical form gets subdued by their spiritual existence. As per his estimation it enables the gnostics or advanced mystics to have the audience (hazur) of the blessed gathering wherein the great Sufis possess all-inclusive witnessing of Allah(Bazm i Shahud).

The first three parts(called Daftar) of the Masnavi have already been published and it is heartening to note that despite many odds the fourth and the last one has been published just two three months ago by the SajadaNisheen of Dargah i Akmalia Dr. Muqtasid Ahmad Kamli. This is indeed the greatest homage a Sufi follower can offer to this great Sufi in this materialistic age.  However considering the fact that the number of readers of Persian is decreasing day by day, it is imperative to arrange its urdu translation .The Mathnavi is a compendium of pious and pure ideology and golden thoughts. It not only guides in the mystic sphere but provides with noble principles for leading a worldly life. The way both these things have been portrayed, it is bound to have its impact on head and heart. The experiences of the spiritual world have been expressed in lucid and eloquent manner that the reader is swayed by it.

Critics value the BahrulIrfan as a unique master piece in the malfuz literature. Considering the theme, it conveys, BahrulIrfan compares fairly with the masnavi of MoulanaJalaud din Rumi and it is placed next to the later mentioned masnavi. The source of these two rivers (masnavi of MoulanaJalaud din Rumi and BahrulIrfan) is the same and the fresh waters serve as nectar for the seekers of eternal truth. The issues and the secrets of the path to mystic cosmos are dealt in the book in a niece way. While the traditional masnavis generally narrate a particular story in verse, the BahrulIrfan describes the tips, dos and donots necessary to tread the path to Eternal Truth.

Hast azeinnoorjumlaianwar

liektaari be sad hazard anwarkasratiwahdatast azan wahid


Noor be noornoorkeidaardjuzkhuda sheik keidard

The crux of this poem which stands as introductory note to this masnavi is that the fountainhead of this universe is the noor or eternal Light of Allah. Every thing owes its life to the existence of its creator. In another verse MirzaKamil(RA) says  if you are not in a position to remove the hurdles or veils towards that noor or eternal Light, how can one find a way to that Light.


shab o rozhaqraparastarshud

(It is only with the grace of Allah that one during day and night is able to pursue the path of Allah)

Besides, a QasdiaMukhbirulAsrar, comprising of three hundred couplets and some books are attributed to the Sufi. It has been written in verse in the form of a Qasida comprising of two hundred and seventy nine verses. A commentary (shara) on this Qasidaas been done by Mir SayyidMuhtarmLahoriNaqahbandi who was a descendant of Mir Muhammad Hamdani(R.A).Akmalud din has also composed some odes in Kashmiri. The chief features of Akmal’s poetry are that his examples, similes, metaphors, stories and references are indigenous. He left for heavenly abode in 1718 A.D (1131 Hijri) and was laid to rest in GulnathPora,Hawal Srinagar where a tomb has been constructed over his grave.Thousands throng his eternal abode to seek his blessing.


Mazhabshwahdatast we yaktaie

(Akamlud din is of the firm belief that he follows the religion of wahdat or that every creature in this universe owes its existence to the creator and that though one may observe the different forms but the origin of all is one)

The author is a retired principal in the education department and can be emailed at [email protected]

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