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Hazrat Shahi Hamdan (RA): The poet, the Sufi, the Scholar

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By: Prof.Bashir Ahmad Dar

With the spread of Islam, a new era heralded in almost all the spheres of society in Kashmir. The greatest personality who ushered this ‘revolution’ was that of Amir-i-Kabir, Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, popularly known as Shah-i-Hamdan in Kashmir.  Besides being the great missionary of Islam, he was a Sufi of high order and a versatile writer. But it is a pity on our part that even after the lapse of six centuries we know very little about the multi- dimensional personality of this great luminary- as a Sufi scholar, his missionary activities here and abroad, and perhaps the majority is still ignorant about his works.

No doubt some research works have been undertaken and many books have been penned down about Shah-i-Hamadan, but still very less is known to us about all the events of his life,the hardships he did face enroute and here, his scholarly accomplishments, the members of his caravan who contributed a lot to make our society rich and prosperous in every aspect. Though being over -busy and ever- busy in the missionary activities as also in Sufi practices, Hamdani RA was the man of letters.  His writings prove him to be a great poet and writer and more than a hundred and fifty works in Arabic and Persian are credited to him which highlight his teachings, ideas, message and philosophy with the view to reach to the maximum audience.

It is interesting to note that Moulana Jami, the well know Persian writer, particularly famous for his Naats, in his ‘NufhatulUns’, Amir Sultan Hussain, the author of ‘MajalisulUshaq’ and Dr. Mehdi Darakshan in ‘Buzurgan we SukhanSarayani Hamdan’, besides many historians and hagiographers have mentioned the titles of the works of this great Sufi. Though many of the titles mentioned in thesesources are indeed the works of Syed Hamdani (RA), there are some which have been attributed to him.

The works of this luminous Sufi are no doubt found in the libraries of the universities all over the world, in the national archives as well as personal libraries but it is still a matter of research to determine the actual number of works of this great Sufi and which of these are his real works.  Though it is not possible here to mention all the ones attributed to this great writer, some of the chief works are: Chihil Asrar, ZakhiratulMaluk, Sirat-ul-Talibeen, Risala Dah Qaida, Mirat-ul-Talibeen, RisalaDerweshia, ManazilulSalikeen, AsrariNuqt, AdaabiMurideen, RisalaMunajat, RisalaFatwia,RisalaZikriya, RisalaFarsia, RisalaHamadania, RisalaWajoodia, RisalaEitiqadia,MasharibulAzwaaq, MunqabatulJawahir, MuwadatulQurba , SharahFasoosulHikam,  AsrarulNuqt, Sharah Qasida-i-KhumriaFardia, Maktoobatdarsoorat-u-seeratiInsan, RisalaIstilahat-i-ilm-ul-Qiyafah,  MirataTaibeen, SairulTalibeen, Kitab-u-sabeen-fe-fazail Amirul Mumineen Ali, Raudatul Firdous,  FirdausulAkhyar,  Manazil-us-Salikeen,  Khulasat-ul-Manaqib.

The style of the writings of his works is simple, attractive but at the same time it is adorned with the verses from the Quran as well as Ahadith as also verses of Arabic and Persian literature. In poetry, he used pen names; ‘Ulai’ and ‘Ali’. Chihli-Asrar is one of his anthologies consisting of 40 poems mostly based on spirituality.   Abdul Wahab Noori, author of the book FatuhaatiKubraviyah quotes Syed Ali Hamdani saying; ‘I have not been appreciated in the contemporaryworld but hundred years after my death, people will start benefiting from my writings and appreciate my value’.  These writings being available in almost all the parts of the world,scholars in particular and people, in general, have no doubt benefited from them.

Among these writing, Awrad-Fathiyah is one of the great Arabic works of Syed Ali Hamdani. Written in Arabic, it contains all those verses of the Quran and the supplications which are said to been bestowed to him by one thousand and four hundred spiritual guides. Nuruddin Jafar Badakshi mentions that once Shah-i-Hamadan RA on his way to Makkah visited Baitul Muqadus in Palestine wherein the great Prophet Muhammad SAW blessed him with a pamphlet and this was the same which had been compiled by him and was titled as AuardiFathiya. Being regarded as one of the highest degree in religious and Sufi circles, it is concise primer, describing the unity and attributes of ALLAH (SWT) in an eloquent style.

In most of the Central Asian countries, the Muslims recite it daily after Fajar(morning) and evening prayers. InKashmir valley it is recited in almost all the mosques, shrines as well as in homes,besides the religious congregation of the shrines on the anniversaries of the Sufis. As it is recited aloud in the mosques, it is committed to memory by tens of thousands of Kashmiris, even illiterate Kashmiris have memorised it.

Besides Asian countries, in several Arab and European countries, Muslims do recite it after prayers and has been translated in many languages including English, Urdu, Kashmiri and many commentaries have been penned down. For the commoners it is a priceless gift from the great Sufi and the Sufis regard it as the effective healer for all ills.

In the pluralistic and full of conflicts world of today, the issue of understanding, tolerance, forbearance and peaceful coexistence is an inevitable urgency.   “Zakhirat-ul-Muluk” is one of the important works of Mir Syed Ali Hamadani on state craft on the style of the renowned book of Imam Ghazali known as “Nasihat-ul- Malook”.Thelearned scholar has contemplated deep thoughts about techniques to achieve a peaceful life which represents his attention towards the necessity of ‘human society’. ‘Tolerance and forbearance’ in his thought is a moral and human virtue whose origin is Islam and the holy Quran. He believes that Allah’s pardon and mercy for people is vast which presents hope and joy so that they could know their contemporary time optimistically and dynamically.And Mir Syed Ali Hamadani has laid down the instructions in the “Zakhirat-ul-Muluk” how to make it possible for the rulers to achieve it.

“MashribulAzwaq” is the commentary rendered by Shah-i-Hamadan on the famous ‘Qasida Khumriya’ of Sheikh Umer ibn Abul Hasan ibn Faarid. Though many commentaries have been written on this Qasida, but the one done by Shah-i-Hamadan is a unique one as it has followed the spiritual style. After the introduction, Shah-i-Hamadan as a true Sufi has discussed, in an interesting style, the love towards Allah. He has raised many issues which attract the attention of the reader. Commenting on the famous ‘Hadith’,‘Inalahjameelun we yuhubujamalun’ (Allah is Beautiful and likes the beauty) he says that as the Beauty is an attribute of Allah SWT, it is only He who may be regarded Beautiful and none in this universe can share His attribute. Now those who have beauty in this universe may be said to have a reflection of His Beauty. Similarly at another place he has discussed the degrees of Love as also the principles to be followed in the way towards it. He has provided with nice instances so that a reader is in a position to comprehend this compound and complicated issue. Moreover he has resorted to use his Persian verses as also of other poets to have clarity in the meaning of the verses of the Qasida. Copies of this Qasida are presently available in Russian, Iranian libraries as also in the Research Library of J&K.Though this Qasida has been translated in French as well as in English, it has also been translated in Urdu by Professor Mohammad Toyeb and published by Auqaf Committee of KhanqahiMoula. MiraatuTaibeen is another great work of Shah-i-Hamadan.Explaining the reasons for its compilation, the author of ‘KhulastulManaqib’Nurddin Jafar Badakshi, says that the author wrote it on the request of his beloved Khalifa(follower) Haji Behram Shah Kashmiri. Moreover, the author too desired to define Touba(Repentance) and on the request he got it penned down. It consists of four chapters. First ‘HaqiqatiTouba’(what is Touba) , 2nd chapter details the people who have to make a Repentance , third one lists the conditions required for Touba.

Classifying the people who seek Repentance, he says that there are four categories of these people. First those who have a firm will and people of ToubatuNusu, 2nd those who refrain from greater sins but do indulge in little ones. These are expected to join the first defined class. Third one consists of those who indulge in sins and repent on their evil doing but are trapped in the lust of evil desires (NafsLawama). It may happen so that consequent upon some incident or event, they may come to the True Path.Excluding these three categories, there are people who may be regarded as far from Repentance (Touba) as according to the author they are devoid of wisdom and without good deeds. They just murmur Touba with their tongue but do not refrain from sins. Then the author, quoting the Quranic references, details the types of sins. Further reproducing the events of lives of the Sufis elaborates the main issues in the MiratuTaibeen. The crux of this work is that to err is human but there are blessed ones,though less in number, who do refrain from the evil doing. One should strive to reform self and repent, from the core of his heart, and also seek the blessings of Allah.

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