Remembering the teachings of ‘friends of Allah’
Annual Urs of Syed Dawood Simnani (RA)
By: Rayees Ahmad Kumar
A good number of historians and scholars believe that Islam in Kashmir is as old as the religion itself as in the Prophet’s (SAW) times some pious companions arrived here to illuminate the hearts and minds of people with the Noor (light) of Islam. Raja Wanadata had been so impressed by them that he distributed 1/10th of his agricultural yield among poor and destitute.
Majority of the historians, however, believe that it was Hazrat Bulbul Shah (RA), the first saint, who sowed the seeds of Islam in Kashmir. Some historians believe that he had come from Samarqand while some state that he was from Bukhara. Majority view however states that he was from Turkistan. Kashmir was once a non-Muslim land where people were accustomed to non-Muslim practices and were mostly Hindus. Thus, there came an intervention in their lives- whether, we call it divine or by chance, Islam arrived to make its roots permeate into the lives of the masses of the valley of Kashmir.
Syed Sharafuddin Abdul Rehman Bulbul (RA) played a catalytic role in the spread of Islam to concretise the societal transformation at large. According to historical sources, many people in Kashmir embraced the creed of Bulbul Shah. After this great saint, there arrived the descendent of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamadani (R.A), a Sufi of Kubrawi order from Hamadan, Central Asia, along with 700 Sayyids to enlighten the masses with the message of glorious Islam and its practical aspects through their teachings. He was a Shafi’i Muslim scholar from an educationally well-off family. He was born in 1314 AD at Hamadan and came to Kashmir thrice- first in 1372 AD and left for Mecca. He again arrived in Kashmir and stayed briefly and left the vale again. Finally he came in 1383 and remained here for a short span of time and left this earthly world to be buried in Tajikistan.
Amongst 400 other Sayids (descendants of the holy prophet) who accompanied Syed HussainSimnani (RA) – The cousin of Syed Ali Hamadani (RA)- was Syed DawoodSimnania (RA) whose last resting place is at village Berigam in Qazigund area. He came to this village with the motive to enlighten the masses with the noble teachings of Islam. He used to deliver regular sermons to masses of this village and the adjoining areas. People from all nearby villages would throng to Berigam to listen to him. For this noble mission, he sacrificed his all belongings and left his ancestral birthplace along with his dear family members.
Syed Dawood was the QaziulQuza- present day Chief justice, at his native place. When he arrived at this village, he settled a deal with the Kumar family of this village. The assembly of people who used to receive sacred teachings from Syed Dawood increased manifold with each passing day and the place couldn’t accommodate the huge crowds. So a deal was finalised between the Kumar family of this village and Syed DawoodSimnania (RA).
According to this deal a huge area which belonged to Kumar clan was gifted to Syed Sahib for preaching and in lieu of that Syed’s small piece of land was then equally shared by Kumar families. The annual urs of this saint is celebrated each year in the month of November on 7th day of Islamic lunar month. This year it was celebrated on 22nd of November corresponding to 7th of JamadiulAwal.
For centuries the inhabitants of this village have been accustomed to this popular event. More than an Urs it has become a socio-cultural event as every household invites close relatives for a get-together on this occasion and pay obeisance to the saint.
I remember during my childhood days, like every other household, my grandparents would invite us to this village on the occasion of Urs. For four complete days heavy rush of public would throng to Berigam to pay obeisance at this revered saint’s tomb. Few decades ago folk theatre artists from neighbouring Gundipora and Akingam villages would mesmerize the gathering of thousands of people.
This socio-cultural and religious get-together has had great importance for the villagers as whenever they plan any event to be held in the near future they surely make a reference to the Urs- either the event is to be held before or after the Urs!
Previously when people lived simple but austere lives and were rearing indigenous poultries, special one’s would be kept reserved for the Urs day. A unique kind of excitement and enthusiasm is observed among children who eagerly wait and count days till the main day of Urs.
This Urs is a tapestry of love, respect, brotherhood, kindness and above all a spiritual assembly. It begets these virtuous traits among believers and helps in removing hatred, avarice, greed and malice among them.
Urs celebration at the tombs of Aulias (friends of Alllah) is indeed in accordance with the teachings of Prophet (SAW). Each year in the beginning, Prophet (PBUH) would visit the blessed graves of Uhad Martyrs and pray there for their eternal peace. The practice was even followed by his rightly guided Caliphs.
There are a number of books written by noted scholars thereby clearing the doubts about Urs celebration at revered saints resting places. Moulana Rumi says “A saint even in his grave can benefit you more than thousands of living men”. AlamaIqbal ‘Na takhtTaj main nasipahhulashkar main hai,
Jo baat Mardi qalandarkeDarbar main hai’
At some other place he again says “DarbariShahanshahi se khushtar Mardi qalandarka Astana”. About his spiritual guide Moulana Rumi and Sheikh Ahmad Sirhandi, Iqbal has composed a number of couplets reflecting his mystic attachment. Lord Curzon, the famous Viceroy of British India famously stated about HazratKhwajaMoinuddinChisti (RA) that, “I have seen through my own eyes that a man even in his grave is ruling over the minds and hearts of millions of Indians”.
On the occasion of the annual Urs, special prayers are held for the wellbeing of humanity in general and Muslim ummah in particular. Devotees participate in night long congregational prayers seeking repentance and to please Almighty Allah and dear Prophet (PBUH). The best way to pay homage to this pious saint, or to any such personality, is to adopt their teachings in our lives. He came here from the city of Simnan only to preach what the almighty Allah and the prophet (PBUH) has ordered us. To put forward his mission of inviting people to the right path and restricting them from evil doings is the real and global message of this Urs because this saint dedicated himself only for this noble deed. He, like all other friends of Allah never encouraged his followers to do Un-Islamic practises.
May almighty Allah reward this saint for his tremendous noble deeds, may his pious soul rest in ultimate peace and may almighty Allah give us the strength to follow his teachings in letter and spirit.
Author is a columnist and teaches at Govt Secondary School AnderwanGanderbal.
Kashmir Images is an English language daily newspaper published from Srinagar (J&K), India. The newspaper is one of the largest circulated English dailies of Kashmir and its hard copies reach every nook and corner of Kashmir Valley besides Jammu and Ladakh region.