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The Shrine of Hazrat Baba Abdul Gafoor(R.A)

By: Zahid Iqbal Sheikh

The Village of Peerniya is situated on the right bank of the river Jhelum, offering panoramic view of the PirPanjal range. Located approximately 15 kilometres from the administrative headquarter of Baramulla along the well-known Srinagar-Muzafarabadroute, this picturesque hamlet is characterized by its geographical location, flanked by the river Jhelum on one side and the canal of the Lower Jhelum Hydel Power Project (LJHP) on the other.

The etymology of the village’s name lacks written documentation. Local oral tradition, however, suggests that the locale was formerly known as ‘Parivan’ or ‘Paristan’, a toponym that gradually evolved over time into ‘Peerniya’. Many of my respondents such as MohmadJaffarMassudi and MohmadSayedMassudi also confirmed this narrative.

There is no doubt that the valley of Kashmir has remained the epitome of knowledge, traditions, culture and religion. It is because of all these and more features that Kashmir was thronged by the Rishis from different parts of the world. As the religion of Islam gained fame and acceptance in the valley in the 14th century, a new era started in the history of this land –locked land. The Islamisation of the valley was mostly operated by Muslim missionaries mostly from Central Asia- popularly known as Sufis.

These spiritual emissaries not only propagated the teachings of Islam but also fostered the development of various arts and crafts, thereby contributing significantly to Kashmir’s cultural heritage.One notable figure among these luminaries who promoted and propagated Islamic teachings, art and craft was Hazrat Baba Abdul GaffoorRA. He is popularly known as “Baba Gaffoor”. Despite the dearth of written records directly pertaining to this shrine, the recent publication of his biography titled QalandariSaani provides valuable insights into his life and contributions.

Furthermore, oral traditions serve as invaluable source for understanding and reconstructing his historical legacy.According to the inscription on the “Sangh-i-meel” (Foundation Stone) of this shrine, Hazrat Baba Abdul Gaffoor was born circa 1006 Hijri (1598 C.E.) and passed away in 1105 Hijri (1694 C.E.).

The administration of this shrine is entrusted to a dedicated committee, and the information herein presented is derived from interviews conducted with few members of this body. According to MohmadSayedMassudi, “Hazrat Baba Abdul Gaffoorwas born in Narwar Srinagar and hailed from the esteemed lineage of Baba MassudinNarawariRA, ultimately passing away in Peerniya.” In pursuit of religious enlightenment, Hazrat Baba Abdul Gaffoor left for Multan, renowned as Madinat-ul-Auliya, a revered center of Islamic scholarship. Under the guidance of the venerable teacher Bu Ali QalandarRA, he acquired the knowledge and wisdom that would later enlighten his mission.

Following his education in Multan, Hazrat Baba Abdul Gaffoor received a divine directive from his Murshid (Teacher or Guide) to return to Kashmir and propagate the teachings of Islam. He subsequently settled in Peerniya, where he engaged in pastoral pursuits in the nearby village of Manzgam. It was during this time that he married to a local woman known as “Daed Saab.”

Currently, the shrine of “Daed Saab” predominantly attracts female devotees. It is documented that Hazrat Baba Abdul Gaffoor had two offspring from her, both of whom tragically succumbed in infancy. Additionally, he entered into matrimony with a woman from PeeraMuqam, a village situated approximately 20 kilometres distant from Peerniya. According to Mohmad Syed Massudi“Hazrat Baba Abdul Gaffoor is credited with numerous Karamats (miracles), among which a prominent event involves his striking of an Aasa (staff or stick) upon a stone in the village of Hakapathri, resulting in the emergence of water that is used for drinking purpose as well as irrigating the agricultural fields even today. Another noteworthy event entails the transformation of sand into rice during cooking, an act of providence extended to an elderly woman facing scarcity of rice.”

Hazrat Baba Abdul Gaffoor is remembered for his endeavours to cultivate barren lands and his encouragement of agricultural expansion. The custodians of his shrine maintain a tradition of distributing sand to individuals for sprinkling upon agricultural fields, specifically to combat agricultural diseases and rodents.Furthermore, he instituted a Langar (communal kitchen), funded by local agricultural produce contributions totalling one trakh (approximately 6 kilograms) annually from each household. This charitable initiative remains a testament to his commitment to communal welfare and social cohesion.

According to the accounts provided by Mohmad Syed Massudi and MohmadJaffarMassudi, “Hazrat Baba Abdul Gaffoor maintained a lifelong abstention from the consumption of non-vegetarian foods, including fish, chicken, beef, or any form of meat.” Syed Massudi recounted an incident where Hazrat Baba Gaffoor accepted an invitation of his uncle from Sopore, contingent upon the condition that no animal would be slaughtered along the route to Sopore. Unfortunately, this condition was breached when a butcher in Baramulla slaughtered an animal, leading to a catastrophic fire upon Hazrat Baba Gaffoor’s arrival that engulfed the entire town. Consequently,

Hazrat Baba Gaffoor refrained from visiting marketplaces thereafter. Devotees intending to visit the shrine are traditionally required to observe a three day long abstinence from consuming non-vegetarian foods. This shrine is visited by the devotees irrespective of religion, cast creed and sect. This shrine mostly visited on Thursday morning to seek blessings. Notably, Hazrat Baba Gaffoor is said to repose within a coffin rather than being buried, as confirmed by Mohmad Syed Massudi. Syed Massudi also recounted an episode which he had heard from his elders “during the Durrani or Afghan rule (1752-1819 C.E.), wherein an Afghan governor dispatched troops to forcibly open the coffin under the mistaken belief that it contained treasure. However, all soldiers of the expedition purportedly lost their eyesight and were afflicted with blindness.” This three hundred year old shrine was renovated in 2007. His Urus (Death anniversary) is celebrated with religious ferver every year on 25-26th Safar of Hijri calendar.

The writer is a Ph.D. Research Scholar, Department of History,

Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad.[email protected]

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