From Darbar-i-Sultan to Kohi Maran

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The legend of Shiekh Baba Daud Khaki (RA)

By: Bashir Ahmad Dar

Allah informs in the holy Quran (Surah Inam verse 125)that the one whom Allah intends to give guidance (by way of bounty), He broadens his breast for Islam.

The renowned Islamic Mujtahid Imam Mohammad Ghazali, in his world known treatise Kimiya-i S’adat, says that it is the indication of Allah’s love for a person that He opens the doors of wisdom to him. The quote suits aptly to the well-known medieval scholar and Sufi- Shiekh Baba Daud Khaki so well. He was born in Srinagar in 928 Hijra corresponding to 1521 A.D. Tarikh Hassan mentions his place of birth as Kalashpora whereas a modern writer has identified it as Nowpora, adding that the present progeny of the great saint lived in the same locality. His father was Shiekh Hasan Ganai, a well known Khattat or scribe.

G M D Sufi mentions that “the word Ganai comes from gan meaning a pen and the writer is, therefore, called the ganai as he uses the pen. The title of Ganai is believed to have been conferred, in Kashmir, on Baba Usamn Uchchap by BudShah, at whose burial the Sultan is said to have been present. Though Shiekh Daud lost his parents in the early childhood, yet he was destined to receive education from veteran religious luminaries like Allama Razi-ud Din, Mulla Baseer Khandabhawani, and Shams-ud-din Paul. Besides, by the grace of Allah, he had the qualities of head and heart.

As a scholar he had no parallel among his contemporaries and nobody could match his scholarship in the esoteric or exoteric knowledge. It is interesting to note that most of the Sufis of the medieval times were first the religious luminaries before turning to Sufism. May be the instance of Khawja Nizamu-ud din Auliya(RA), Hazrat Mehboob ul Alam Shiekh Hamza Makhdoom(RA), Sheikh Yaqoob Sarfi (RA), or Shah Qasim Haqani (RA), 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 Sufis are actually devoid of the knowledge of the shariat. These revered Sufis opened the doors of the house of Shariat, treaded the path of Sufism (Tariaqat) to reach the zenith of the Maurfat, and they were successful in finding the ultimate Truth (Haqiqat). It was their experiences that led them to the vistas of Tasawuf.

He was engaged in the royal services as the tutor of Sultan Nazak Shah’s son. Rescinding the court services, the excellent scholar, the courtier of Sultan’s court,  became a murid (disciple) of Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom (RA). As a disciple, Khaki would tie his belt on his waist, raising his garments, wearing the sleepers made of grass-(pulhur), and would hold the reign of the horse of his spiritual guide as he rode on it.  Completing his course in the  domain, he was bestowed a Khirqa in the Suharvardi Silsilah. He became one of the seven glittering stars who groomed under the blessed tutelage of Shiekh Hamza Makhdoom. These seven Sufis besides Shikh Daud included Mir Hyder Tulmuli, Khawaj Hasan Qari, Khawaja Ishaq Qari, Mulla Ahmad Chagli. Besides he also sought the blessings of Syed Ahmad Kirmani (RA), Moulana Shiekh Ahmad Qari (RA), Baba Hardi Reshi. Soliciting the guidance of Mir Ismail Shami, he became enrolled in the Qadri Silsilah (Order).Interestingly he has penned down a Risala (Pamphlet) under the title of Qasida Shamiya on his association with the Sufi.

Sheikh Daud became instrumental in guiding thousands of Kashmiris to the right path. Considering his depth of knowledge in the Islamic studies, he has been rightly called the Imam Azami Sani. He guided the desirous ones to the stages of the spiritual domain and had a number of disciples. The chief among them may be mentioned Haji Daud Balkhi, Mir Nazuk Qadri, Khawja Zain ud Din Rainawari. He travelled far and wide in the valley, relieving people of evils and myths. He was an author of excellence. His books include Wird-ul-Muridin, and its explanation Dastur-us-Salikin, Qasida Jallalya, Qasida Gislya, Risala Zarurya and its explanation Majmua-tul- Fawaid.

After returning from his visit to the cities of India, soliciting the company of many Sufis , he  fell ill en-route and on reaching Kashmir, he breathed his last on 3rd Safar 994 AH/ 14th January, 1586 AD. ” Initially he was buried in Islamabad (Anantnag) but later his mortal remains were shifted to the shrine of his Murshid ,Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom (RA) at Kohi Maran.  His chronogram reads خير مقدم “Khair Muqaddam” as also روى جنت بديد شيخ امم “Roui Jannat bideed Shaikh-i-umam”. Sheikh Daud had Khaki as his pen name though some assert that abdicating the royal riches and dashing the noble status along with his wishes to the ground (Khak) entitled him to be Khaki. As a profile writer he has to his credit many works of repute. These include Virdul Murideen, Dastoorul Salikeen, Qasida Jalalia, Qasida Lammiya, Qasida Shamiya, Qasida Gusliya,Risala Zarooriya and its commentary Majmutul Fawaid. His excellence in the religious scholarship may be judged from the fact that, in his Virdul Murideen, he has quoted from over two hundred religious works. Virdul Murideen, still recited in the Khanqhas and Masajid (mosques) of Kashmir on special occasions, is a compilation of 1362 verses in honour (manaqib) of his spiritual preceptor Hazrat Mehboob ul Alam Shiekh Hamza Makhdoom(RA). Dastoorul Salikeen is the commentary of the Virdul Murideen.

Besides the significance these works carry in the religious and spiritual circles, they serve an important hagiographic source for the contemporary Kashmir. Dr Ishaq Khan says that “Sufi literature does not merely hold a fascination for seekers after the Truth because of its appeal to the mind, the senses and the emotions, but related ideas that form a continuous series in the social drama. The hagiographical literature, replete with legends, miracles, dreams and spiritual experiences, thus helps us to understand Islam not only intuitively, but also rationally and historically.”

The writer can be contacted @[email protected]

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