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Remembering Shiekh Hamza Makhdoom (RA)

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By: Prof.Bashir Ahmad Dar

Among the most venerated Sufis of Kashmir, Shiekh Hamza Makhdoom (RA) holds a conspicuous position. In fact, Sheikh Hamza (RA) is regarded next to Sheikh Nuruddin Rishi (RA) only, who is considered as the leader of the spiritual domain here. If Sheikh Nuruddin (RA) is revered as Shiekhul Alam, Shiekh Hamza (RA) is remembered as Mehboob ul Alam. Whereas the former is known as Alamdar-i-Kashmir, the latter is called as Sultan-ul-Arifeen. The locals as well as the foreigners have regarded these two Sufis as the leading spiritual leaders of Kashmir. It may be of interest to note here that it was most probably the reason that prompted the Afghan governor, Atta Muhammad Khan to mint the coins in the name of these two sons of soil.

Baba Daud Khaki (RA) mentions an anecdote in ‘Dasturul Salikeen’ narrated by his Murshid that Allah had been gracious enough to bestow two attributes to him in the very infant age – one was that whenever a saint or a virtuous person would visit their house, he would cling to him leaving aside all childish affairs. The second one was that he would never lie. Once, while going to Madrassa, he, on the way, observing children engaged in play joined them. This resulted in bunking the school for the day. On his return he was quizzed by his father about his engagements and though fully knowing the consequences, the child informed the father of his actual engagement (play). The father beat the son (Sheikh Hamza) to pulp so much so that he got bed ridden.  It was during this illness that he made up his mind to go for schooling at Srinagar. After schooling and spiritual initiation, he was destined to become the leading Sufi of the state. The Sufi came to be known as Mehboobul Alam, Sutanul Arifeen Shaikh Hamza Makhdoom (RA)

Shaikh Hamza Makhdoom was originally a follower of Kubrawi tradition. He, in his early childhood learnt from his father. Later on, on his migration to Srinagar, he was tutored by Shaikh Fathaullh, the son of Shaikh IsamilKubrawi who had established Daru Shifa near KohiMaraan. Akhund Mulla Lutufullah was also one of his teachers. Then he moved to the Khanqah of Shams Chak. He learnt the Quran, fiqh, Hadith, allied science, Suifstic traditions and was also conversant with some works of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani (RA). He got initiation to the SuharwardiSilsilah at the hands of Sayyid Jallaud Din (1308-84) of Uchh, popularly known as Makhdum Jahaniyan-i-Jahan Gasht.

Right from his childhood till attaining the status of a Sufi, he was all through virtuous and dedicated his life to the cause of Islam. He was instrumental in reforming hundreds and thousands of Muslims. He guided several of his disciples to the path of spirituality and it was at his hands that a number of them were raised to the prominence in the Sufistic circles.  These include the illustrious Sufis Sheikh Daud Khaki, Mir HyderTulmuli, Khawaj Hasan Qari, Khawaja Ishaq Qari, Mulla Ahmad Chagli, Moulana Jami, FerozGanai, Mohammad Ali Raina, Baba Hardi Rishi, Mir Mohammad Afzal, Bayezid Shumnagi, Shaikh Roopa Rishi.

He toured the nook and corner of the valley and being a son of the soil succeeded in establishing intimate contact with the people. He insisted on the Sunnah being adhered to and the myths and legends to be discarded. The construction of mosques at a number of places particularly where the people dreaded ghosts and had ascribed myths may be regarded as a part of his campaign in furthering the cause of Islam. Hundreds of poor, destitute and hungry were fed in the Langar (hospice) established by the saint at Kohi Maran.

It was Shaikh Hamza Makhdoom (R.A) who served as a meeting ground for the Rishis and Suharwardi saints.  His influence extended to the Rishi movement as he enrolled some Rishis like Baba Hardi Rishi and Roopa Rishi as his disciple. By paying a visit to the tomb of Shaikh Nur ud Din Rishi (R.A) he extended the influence of the Rishis even to the Suhawardi circles. It proved to be the reason that his disciples have preserved, with veneration, in their hagiographies the activities of the Rishis. According to a contemporary account, ‘Tazkirtul Murshideen’ by MiramBazaz, a lesser known disciple of Shaikh Hamza, on his visit to Hardi Rishi (R.A), Shaikh Hamza Makhdoom asked the former to taste food with him.  Baba Hardi Rishi (R.A) refused to taste the meat. He is said to have cited the exhortation of Khizr (A.S), Essa (A.S), Moses (A.S), Idris (A.S) and Illyas (A.S) who are said to have been spiritually present on the occasion. Bab Hardi Rishi (R.A) informed the host about the spiritual experience as the reason why he was hesitant to taste meat. Shaikh Hamza Makhdoom (R.A) replied that it was the command of the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W) that he should share non-vegetarian food with him. In order to dispel the Rishi’s doubt, Shaikh Hamza Makhdoom invoked the help of the Prophet Mohammad (SAW) whose spiritual presence finally caused the Rishi to share the non-vegetarian meal with Shaikh Hamza Makhdoom (R.A), though it was only once in his life to do so. Likewise, Khawja Hassan Qari, the illustrious disciple of Shaikh Hamza Makhdoom, narrates an anecdote of Shaikh Hamza thrashing a dervish with a stick who was indulging in Charus, to believe Qari leading to his ‘annihilation’. May be the account is riddled with supernatural events, however the patent objective reality is that it signifies that Shiakh Hamza Makhdoom was very particular about following the Shariah.

The Sheikh breathed his last in 984 Hijra (1585 A.D.). Sultan Ali Shah Chak, the ruler of Kashmir is said to have attended his funeral prayer while it was led by Sheikh Tahir Rafiqi and it included contemporary scholars and Sufis like Sheikh YaqubSarfi. As per the instructions of the saint he was laid to rest at Kohi Maran, the centre of spiritual emancipation established by him. Nearly fifteen years after his departure from the worldly abode, Akbar, the Mughal king, built a shrine there which was reconstructed during the Afghan rule by Atta Mohammad Khan around 1821 A.D. As a mark of respect and reverence, Atta Mohammad Khan stuck the coins bearing the names of Sheikh Nur Ud Din Rishi and Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom. This is probably the unique instance in the history of world when the coins have been stuck bearing the names of saints. This is also indicative of the reverence and the popularity the saints commanded among the people and also of the rulers.

Recently during the famous TV show “Kaun Banega Crorepati” the participant (who happened to be a Muslim) sitting on “the Hot Seat” was posed a question like this: “Who among the following was a prophet?” The options in answer included Hazrat Musa (Moses) A.S. Being totally ignorant of the answer, the competitor asked to fillip or change the question. Considering the scenario, it is high time that the present generation particularly the young ones should be acquainted and sensitised with the lives and achievements of the Sufis in particular the teachings of the Sufis including the universal values– truthfulness, tolerance, human dignity, brotherhood, communal harmony, care for the have-nots, peace and prosperity.

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