Sir Mohammad Iqbal :
Among the Kashmiris of International repute, Dr. Muhammad
Iqbal, the greatest poet and philosopher of the continent, tops the
list. Iqbal's ancestors were the Kasmiri Pandits of the Saproo
family who, after embracing Islam, cam be known as the Sheikhs. His
grandfather migrated to Sialkot in order to explore the better avenues
of livelihood and then settled there permanently. Iqbal always boasted
of being a Kashmiri and used to introduce himself in these words: 'The
seeds of this flower are from the flower-gardens of Kashmir" . The
plight of Kashmiris always dominated Iqbal's thinking which prompted him
to take' active part in the freedom struggle of Kashmir. He loved his
ancestral land immensely and did his utmost to make its inhabitants
realize the true value of freedom and the dignity in struggling for it.
For higher education Dr. Iqbal had to go Lahore where he settled
permanently. His tomb is situated adjacent to the famous Shahi Masjid in
Lahore (Pakistan). All foreign delegates and dignitaries visiting Lahore
visit his tomb and pay homage to this world famous philosopher-poet.
Besides Iqbal, Kashmir has produced numerous philosophers ,
intellectuals and poets who in their own age were considered the great
literary figures. These include Gani Kashmiri, Shaikh Nooruddin Wali, Shah-e - Hamdan, Habba Khatoon, Rasul Mir, Wahab Khar, Mehjoor,
Abdul Ahad Azad, Agha Hashar Kashmiri and
Agha Shoorish Kashmiri.
Many saints came to the valley of Kashmir to preach and to propagate
Islam, to name a few were: Bulbul Shah, Syed Jalal Uddin Bukhari, Syed
Taj Uddin, Syed Hussain Samnani, and Yousuf. But the one who lit the
torch of monotheism, in reality was Hazrat Amir-e-Kabir Sahah-e-Hamdan.
His name was Ali, and titles were Amir-e-Kabir, Ali Sa'ani, and Mir.
Besides them, the Chroniclers had mentioned several other titles:
Qutub-e-Zaman, Sheikh-e-Salikan-e-Jehan, Qutub-Ul-Aktab,
He traced his patrimony through his father, Syed Shahab Uddin, to Imam
Zain-ul-Abedein and finally to Hazrat Ali. His mother, Syeda Fatimah,
with seventeen links, reached the Prophet.
Syed Hamdani came from an educated family. He was intelligent and quick
of mind, and read the holy Qu'ran, under the care of his maternal uncle,
Hazrat Ala-Uddin and from him too he took his lessons on subjects outer
and intrinsic for a period of thirteen years.
He fought with Amir-e-Temur and so moved to Kashmir with seven hundred
Syeds and his followers, during the reign of King Shahab-Uddin. He had
already sent two of his followers: Syed Taj Uddin Samnani and Mir Syed
Hasan Samnani to take stock of the situation. The ruler of Kashmir
became the follower of Mir Syed Hasan Samnani and because of the Kings
concurrence he entered Kashmir with a large following. The King and heir
apparent, Qutub Uddin, received him warmly. At that time the Kashmir
ruler was on war with Firoz Tughlaq and because of his efforts the
parties came to terms.
Shah Hamdan started the propagation movement of the Islam in Kashmir in
an organized manner. The Kashmiri Muslims were unaware of the Deeni
spirit before his arrival there. The reason being, the people, who had
initiated the Movement, were saintly by nature and carried a deep
influence of the Hinduism and the Buddhism. In-spite of having been
turned Muslims they still observed many local rites and practices. Shah
Hamdan did not stay in the valley permanently but visited on various
occasions. First during the reign of Sultan Shahab Uddin in 774 Hijri he
came, stayed for six months and left it. Second, he visited in 781 Hijri
when Qutub Uddin was the ruler, stayed for a year and tried to extend
the Movement to every nook and corner of Kashmir, returned to Turkistan
via Ladakh in 783 Hijri. Third, he visited in 785, with the intention to
stay for a longer period but had to return earlier owing to illness.
Shah Hamadan was a Multi-dimensional personality. He was a social
reformer besides being a preacher. Among the seven hundred followers,
who accompanied him to Kashmir, were men of arts and crafts who
flourished here? They popularized Shawl-making, cloth-weaving, pottery
and calligraphy. Allama Iqbal admits that because of Shah Hamadan the
wonderful arts and crafts turned Kashmir into a mini Iran and brought
about a revolution in the thinking process of the people.
Shah Hamadan's greatest contribution was the character building of the
people to liberate them from the fear of the new system and their love
for the older one. He imbibed true awakening and taught the Shairah. The
Kashmiri people still had some of the Hindu beliefs; visited the temples
and revered the Brahmins. The rulers wore Hindu dresses, and observed
practices Un-Islamic in nature. On his instructions the rulers abandoned
Un-Islamic dress and took to long cloaks similar to the ones wore by the
Turkish rulers. Orders of the Shairah were made popular and people were
inspired to learn more about Islam. For purpose of building the
character of the Muslims he practiced truthfulness and fearlessness. He
even scolded the contemporary rulers on their Un-Islamic activities.
Sultan Qutub Uddin had two real sisters as wives. He reprimanded him and
asked to divorce one of them. He obeyed. He made Islamic teachings known
to the people in Kashmir, improved their beliefs, made efforts for the
building of their character and laid down a fool-proof system for the
propagation of the Islam.
Shah Hamadan, besides being a mystic saint and an effective preacher,
was a man of letters and wrote about a hundred pamphlets in Arabic and
Persian: Zakhira-Tul-Malik, a famous book, has been translated in many
languages. It is impossible to mention all the titles of his books here,
how ever, a few of them are: Sharah Nasoos-Ul-Hukm Farisi, Asrar-Ul-Nuqt,
Risala Nooriya, Risia Islahat-e-Ilam-Ul-Qafia-o-Qaeda, Moudat-Ul-Qurabi,
Rouzat-Ul-Firdous, Firdous-Ul-Akhbar, Manazil-Ul-Salikeen,
Khulasit-Ul-Manaqib, Chehl Asrar, and etc.
Once a king invited him. He declined. The king grew furious; ordered to
mould a horse from copper, heat it, put the saint on it, and brings him
to him. The order was obeyed. The king's servants heated the horse but
it soon grew cold (under the will of God). The king repented for his
conduct and begged of his forgiveness.
On return from his third visit to Kashmir he reached Kinar via Pikhanli
and was received as a royal guest. He fell ill there and died after five
days on 6, Zil Haj 786 Hijri.
Compiler, Hasan, in the Tar-eekh-e-Hasan mentions the date of expiry in
the Persian couplet, which means:
The great Syed Sirdar (Ali Hamadan) went to the paradise to take rest.
Hasan mentions the year of the death in this couplet.
He was buried at Kolab in Khatlani where people gather in large numbers
to pay their homage to him.
The Monastery (Khanqah-e-Mualla)
His room where he stayed for the first time, is a part of a great
building, named as Khanqah-e-Muala rose by Sultan Sikandar from 1394 to
1417 AD. The building is a beautiful model of wooden architecture of
Kashmir, with engravings on walls. Friday prayers are said here where
hundreds gather to pray. The sacred relics include the Prophet's flag,
the pillar of the Prophet's tent, and Shah Hamadan's walking stick.
During his life the place acquired the distinction of being the center
of the spiritual light. People revere the place and some call it the
second Ka'aba out of extreme devotion.
Due to his superb Persian poetry, Gani Kashmiri became famous in Iran
also. His philosophical Persian poetry prompted Saib, a famous Persian
poet, to travel all the way from Iran to Kashmir in order to see Gani
and have a deeper insight into his philosophy. On his arrival the
Persian poet went to meet Gani a number of times but was disappointed to
find the doors of his house locked. Still he didn't give up his mission
and at one occasion found the doors open. With great enthusiasm he went
inside the house but found Gani missing and the house without any human
being inside it. Ultimately when through some local contact Saib
succeeded in meeting Gani Kashmiri, he inquired about the philosophy of
locking the door while Gani himself was inside and keeping it open when
he was not in the house. At this Gani is believed to have said, "I am
the only treasure in this house. In order to protect this treasure the
doors have to be locked. Once the treasure is not in the house there is
no need to lock its doors". The Iranian poet was deeply impressed and
eulogized Gani Kashmiri for his wit and intelligence.
Gani Kashmiri wrote Persian poetry because during his times Persian was
the official language and Persian literature was at its zenith. His
poetry, because of its artistic merits, has a distinct place in the
entire Persian literature.
Among other Kashmiri poets Rasul Mir enjoys a distinguished position due
to his poetic thought and excellent craftsmanship. Even Wahab Khar, a
great mystic poet, surpassed in artistic merits to the poets of his
time. Peerzada Ghulam Ahmed Mahjoor, a great modem Kashmiri poet
following the footsteps of Dr. Iqbal, has very aptly said:
"At an opportune time Kashmir will awaken the East
Let me put this prophecy in the ears of Kashmiris"
Shaikh Nooruddin Wali
Shaikh Nooruddin is an unparalleled saint and Sufi poet whose poetry has
been infusing vibrance is thousands of inanimate souls. Born in a newly
converted Muslim family of Kaimuh
(Kulgam), in the north west of Kashmir Shaikh Nooruddin struggled hard
to bring about, through his excellent poetry, the religious, political,
social and cultural transformation in Kashmiri people. As a result of
it, he is popularly called "Alamdar-i-Kashmir" (the upholder of
the banner of Kashmir) and "Shaikh-ul-Alam" (the leader of
the world). People from all walks of life and all shades of opinion held
him in high esteem and get inspiration and
guidance from his poetry, which has become the most important part of
Kashmiri folk literature.
According to a legend, Hazrat Zainuddin Wali, a disciple of Sheikh
Nooruddin Wali known as Alamdar-e-Kashmir or flag-bearer of Kashmir, he
was born in Banderkot, Kishtwar in Doda district. It is said that once
he took very ill and his mother was weeping bitterly.
All of a sudden, a person with a radiant face appeared before her and on
the promise that she would bring the child to him in Kashmir after he
regained health, he cured him through his spiritual power. Over a period
of time, the mother forgot the promise and her child was again taken
ill. This time, however, she knew the reason and proceeded to Kashmir
along with her son.
The person who had appeared before the lady was Sheikh Nooruddin Wali.
She recognised him at the first sight as the one who had visited her at
Kishtwar and embraced Islam. The Sheikh named the child as Sheikh
Zainuddin who later became his favourite disciple.
It is said that when, on the command of Sheikh Nooruddin, Zainuddin Wali
arrived at Aishmuqam, the cave on the hillock was infested with
poisonous snakes. The reptiles vacated the place for him to meditate.
Legend has it that the disciples of Zainuddin carried the snakes in
baskets to a nearby place that later came to be known as “Puhir Paejin”
or a basket of snakes.
The saint passed away in 1448 AD. When his disciples brought the coffin
for burial of the body, they were astounded to see it empty. In
desperation they left the place and during the night, one of the
disciples saw Zainuddin in his dream asking him to raise a mausoleum at
the same place where the coffin was placed. Besides Hazrat Zainuddin
Wali, 18 of his disciples are also buried in the premises of the shrine.
The shrine is visited by people throughout the year. The relics at the
shrine include a holy staff gifted to Sheikh Nooruddin Reshi by Mir
Sayed Ali Hamadani, the 14th century preacher who influenced en masse
conversion of Kashmiris to Islam. The 8-feet long rod covered in green
cloth is originally believed to be of Hazrat Owais Qarni, the exalted
Muslim who had the distinction of being a companion of Prophet Mohammad
without having met him during his lifetime.
At the time of a natural calamity like an epidemic, the blessings of the
rod are invoked by taking it out and offering mass prayers.
Habiba, alias Habba Khatoon, was a great poetess of the late sixteenth
century. Born in Chandhar (Pampore), fifteen kilometers from Srinagar,
her parents used to call her Zoon(Moon) dueto her
extreme beauty. They educated her but did not appreciate her innate
poetic talent. They married her to an illiterate peasant, a total
mismatch to her poetic bent of mind, but the marriage ended in a divorce
as she could not reconcile with her illiterate husband.
It is said that one day she along with her friends was heard singing
love lores, in the saffron fields, by Sultan Yousuf Shah Chak. The
Sultan was so much intoxicated with her melodious voice and poetry that he fell in
love with her at first sight and proposed marriage which her parents
willingly consented. In this way Habba Khatoon the poetess became the
queen of Kashmir and a very wise adviser to the King.' Her poetry scaled
new heights of imagination and her poems became an important part of
Kashmiri' s folk literature.
Maulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri
The valley of Kashmir has also produced the world famous Theologians and
accomplished religious scholars. Among these Maulana Anwar Shah who was
born in 1875 in Lolab area of the south-west Kashmir, merits special
consideration. His father's name was Peer Muhammad Muazam Shah and his
mother was called Maalded.
Maulana Anwar went outside Kashmir for higher studies and came back
after receiving education and then started delivering sermons on various
aspects of religion and theology.
During his pilgrimage to Mecca also he got great recognition for his
erudition and knowledge of Islamic theology. He also went to AI-Azhar
University in Egypt which has a great distinction among the Islamic
Institutions of the world. On his way to Malta from Cairo he was
detained for his radical thoughts on Islam and was imprisoned for two
years. He returned India in 1920 and settled in Deoband (UP) where he
was buried after his death, in accordance with his own will.